Those small self voices that say those things that make us shudder. Do they plague you, do the bother you at all? So many times I have heard these voices, thoughts, internal dialog met with enmity, indignation, and disgust. I am guilty of this. What happens, do they disappear, go away forever? No, they just get stronger, more psychotic and unreasonable. Louder and more aggressive in return. Yes, there is a different way to deal with the inevitability of the possibility that these voices will become audible at some of the least desired times.

This way is brilliant really and quite simple. Once again I quote Ms. Gilbert.

Speak to your darkest and most negative interior voices the way a hostage negotiator speaks to a violent psychopath: calmly, but firstly. Most of all, never back down. You cannot afford to back down. The life you a negotiating to save, after all, is your own.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” your darkest interior voices will demand.
“It’s funny you should ask,” you can calmly reply.

I’ll tell you who I am: I am a child of God, just like anyone else. I am a constituent of this universe. I have invisible spirit benefactors who believe in me, and who labor alongside me. The fact that I am here at all is evidence that I have the right to be here. I have a right to my own voice and a right to my own vision. I have a right to collaborate with creativity, because I myself am a product and a consequence of Creation. I’m on a mission of (artistic) liberation, so let the girl go.”

See? Now you’re the one doing the talking.
— Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

What a liberating and empowering approach. How bold and how useful.

May we be willing to stand up for ourselves calmly and affably, but as resolved and firm as the one with all the power. May we negotiate with our darkest interior voices with strength and surety despite the fact of vulnerability. May we negotiate with our terrorists.

Side note: I once heard a story about a hostage negotiator, I think it was on NPR or something like that, I’m not sure the source. But, I remember that the speaker spoke very clearly about the need to be vulnerable when negotiating in a hostage situation. Not forceful, not aggressive, actually on the hostage takers side, hearing this person, and connecting to this person; working with this person until this person felt heard. From there, the negotiator had a chance to keep everyone alive.

May you consider this approach the next time the voices of your darkest interior arise volatile, dangerous, and demanding.