Still, Small Voice – by Florence Niven

I’ve come to rely on and trust, my still, small voice. My voice of calm and reason. I recognize however, that this voice is not alone in my head, or my heart. It shares those spaces with another. One that is neither still, nor small. In fact it’s quite rambunctious.

This other voice vies for my attention with a plethora of opinions, doled out without hesitation, in an eye-rolling, finger-wagging kind of way. It’s my inner-critic voice.

My inner critic neatly collates and categorizes all my missteps, omissions, and fumbles. Casually sorting through and highlighting them, when bored. Which seems to be quite often.

My not-so-still, nor small, voice, is very good at what it does. By repeatedly pushing my ‘rewind’ and ‘play’ buttons, it reminds me of oversights and stumbles I’d have otherwise long forgotten. It delights in recounting every embarrassing moment I’ve ever experienced, every unkind word I’ve ever spoken. Usually as part of its 2am ritual.  

It’s goal is to trap me in an endless loop of reliving, reworking and reimagining the endings of my stories. Ambushing me by pointing out the obvious: what I could have – should have – done. What I could have – should have – said.

But didn’t.

It takes practice and patience to calm the cacophony of the judgmental inner-critic voice, in order to hear – and listen – to the still, small one.

Yet the still, small voice is where wisdom and clarity reside. It’s where breathing space abounds.

I’ve learned to acknowledge the critical voice as part of the process; stay with it until it settles. Then step away. Carry on with the task of living and learning. Embrace the opportunities for sharing and growth, creativity and celebration.

In the convergence of community and collaboration, there’s an abundance of empathy, compassion and understanding just waiting to be discovered. It’s there for all of us, if we’re able to placate our inner critic, and allow our still, small voices to be our guide.

– Florence Niven, September 2021