Sometimes I just can’t force myself to do certain things, even if I don’t understand why not, and no one else can understand why not. But I’ve learned to trust that internal voice telling me that I’m not ready, or that I’m going down the wrong path, or that I won’t be able to do what’s being asked of me. I’ve learned to listen for the intensity of the I Don’t Wanna voice, because that can help me figure out if I can overcome it, or if I shouldn’t even try to overcome it.
The problem has been that my therapist (and teachers and friends) can’t hear that voice, and they don’t trust me to assess its accuracy on my own, and they tell me, meaning well, that I should ignore it and do what needs to be done, whether I want to or not, and whether I think I can do it or not. They think I can and should ignore the I Don’t Wanna voice, because they think of it as selfish, or self-destructive, or weak, or whatever else they say to themselves about their own I Don’t Wanna voices. And I hear their judgements and their impatience and their distrust of me, and it feels bad, but that doesn’t change what I can and can’t do.
But I’ve noticed, over time, that the better I get at hearing and trusting the I Don’t Wanna voice, the more clearly I can begin to hear the I Wanna voice. It turns out that I wanna teach synagogue school, even though I don’t know why. I can’t explain it, especially after spending three and a half years and a lot of money getting a degree in social work. And I wanna take online Hebrew classes, even though I can’t see the logic in it, or make a good argument for why this is the right good step forward in my life. I just know that the I wanna voice keeps getting stronger the more that I listen to it and trust that it knows what it’s talking about.
I was better at hearing these voices when I was a kid: when I knew I wanted chocolate frosting but not the cake it was sitting on, or I knew I wanted to do more math homework, even if I never got extra credit for it. But I was told so many times not to listen to myself and just do what I was supposed to do: eat what I was supposed to eat, take the classes I was supposed to take, accept the friendships I was offered; and never trust my feelings to tell me what was best. And as a result, I lost track of the I Wanna and I Don’t Wanna voices, and for a long time all I could hear was what other people wanted me to do, and their endless judgments when I couldn’t live up to those expectations, and my own confusion about why I couldn’t do what I was supposed to be able to do.
It has been a very long road back to hearing, and trusting, my own internal voices, and it’s still a struggle. There’s so much more than the I Wanna and I Don’t Wanna voices to listen to, but they all seem to crash around in my head at once, becoming noise without much meaning. I’ve been working so hard on Intuitive Eating for the past year and a half, endlessly trying to hear these subtle voices of hunger and fullness before they become shouts, instead of relying on what I think I should eat to please the diet gods, whoever they may be on a given day. But I still fall into the abyss, almost every day, thinking that my own feelings are untrustworthy and selfish and self-destructive and should be ignored. But, in favor of what?
I guess I’ve reached the point in the journey where I know there’s no other path to follow, even though I still feel all of the guilt and self-loathing for not being able to do what I’m supposed to do. I’ve accepted that I have real limitations and I’ve learned to trust them, instead of pushing forward anyway and just waiting for the inevitable disaster. One sign that I’m on the right track is that even though I still have a lot of anxiety, it’s been a long time since I’ve had an actual panic attack, or even a deep dive into depression.
Part of the internal noise I keep having to fight with is that I so desperately want to be a rational creature, with explanations for everything I do and don’t do, but given how much I don’t understand (about myself, about the world, about science and math and the energies in the universe), sometimes my gut feelings are the only map I have left to follow. I wish I could say that I understand how all of the levers and pulleys of my brain work, and that I know for sure that I’m interpreting my thoughts and feelings correctly, but I can’t. All I can do is keep listening for the I Wanna and I Don’t Wanna voices, as they whisper to me, and show them, through my actions, that I am trustworthy, and that if I choose to ignore them, I have good reasons.
I wish the guilt and self-loathing would shut up already, but I guess they count as internal voices too, at this point. They may have come from the outside to start with, but they are part of my gears and wires now and I need to find a way to respect them too.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.
Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?
Rachel, just enjoy being yourself. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. Just listen to your dogs.
Cricket will always make sure I listen to her, whether I like it or not.
That’s good to hear!
Next Saturday I post the last Chapter of Yeshiva Girl. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read your book on my short story podcast, it has been very well received 😀
Thank you so much! It has been an incredible honor!
I LOVED “Yeshiva Girl”. Posted a review on Amazon late last year. Hope it made you smile….:)
Thank you so much!!!!
I think it is a valuable life skill to hear and listen to the “wanna” and “don’t wanna” voices.
Rachel–go with your gut. Somehow, that little voice in our head, and that little twinge in our stomach, means so very much. That is my measure. And explain myself for everything? Surely you jest. That is for people who–for themselves–want to nail down your reasoning. Don’t let them do that to you. To thine own self be true. And now my gut feeling tells me Cricket is due for a chicken treat.
Cricket agrees with you wholeheartedly!
keep listening.. you’re gettin somewhere .. love it Rachel! ‘ But I’ve noticed, over time, that the better I get at hearing and trusting the I Don’t Wanna voice, the more clearly I can begin to hear the I Wanna voice” 💖
Listening to both the I Wanna and the I Don’t Wanna are so important and so hard, but that is the best way to be the truest you. Keep it up!
People who give advice usually mean well, but in the end, you are the best judge of what works for you and what doesn’t.
Listen to your inner voice, Rachel, that’s fine. Hugs.
Hugs to you!
I hope that, as you are validated again and again and again in hearing, following, and honoring the I Don’t Wanna and I Wanna voices, the guilt and self-loathing voices will fade away.
That would be wonderful!
I’ve been listening more to my “inner voice” and doing things I’m comfortable with. I don’t want to assert that this is right or wrong, but for now, I’m in a good place, or at least feel like I’m in a good place.
You have got a sweet little dog there, Rachel. I am sure he/she is a lot of fun.
Cricket and Ellie are the best comedy team I’ve ever seen!
How nice, you got a pair of them. Cricket and Ellie, I suppose they are a boy and a girl?
Both girls. Cricket is a cocker spaniel/poodle mix and Ellie is a Havanese.
Thank you for the explanatations, Rachel. Dogs are such good companions. Now I understand why your blog is called the Cricket Page. First I thought; What has this lady got to do with cricket? It is a male sport. He he he …
Our instincts are worth paying attention to. They aren’t always right, but they are usually on the right track.
I am making great progress on listening to my inner voice. I am especially happy with not needing to explain my why. Please listen to your gut. Follow the paths that are best for you. We all are better off when we make decisions that speak to our inner self.
I still feel like I need to explain and argue and prove, but I’m working on it.
The “wanna/don’t wanna” balance is sure tough sometimes. This life-long process is how we learn to be more discerning. We need to cut ourselves more slack.
It’s so hard!
I had to learn the same lesson of following my gut that you are learning. When I was following others’ expectations and failed, I’d blame them on expecting what was not possible from me. Now I go through a mental discussion of what I “wanna do” and whether I think it’s possible and what I think my level of success will be and finally, if I don’t do as well as I think I will do, am I going to be okay with accepting the blame for my choice. I’ve accomplished greater things than I thought were possible using this internal discussion.
Pingback: I Don’t Wanna — rachelmankowitz – Ramblings and Ruminations
Follow your inner voice, you have done the work to know yourself best
Trust your instincts, no one knows you as well as you
My pleasure Rachel. I love reading your posts, always so thought provoking.
Thank you so much!
Rachel, I so resonated with this as I, too, have had to work hard to trust my “I want to” and “I don’t want to” voices. I am facing one of those circumstances in my life where others have told me I should do something and so I signed up for, but I really don’t want to do it. Ugh! Thank for writing this.
It’s so hard to know what has to be done, even if we don’t like it, and what other people tell us has to be done but they’re actually wrong. I struggle with this all the time.
That sounds so much like me before I put my foot down and followed my instincts, intuition, and my own sense of things. A few false steps, but they were my own instead of someone else’s, and easier to handle internally. Go for it!
It’s tough to shut up the negative voices, but it’s possible. IMO anyway. I’ve done it to a degree, and I’ve been listening to those horrid things my whole life it seems. Your points about listening to ourselves ring so true. We know ourselves, our bodies and our preferences better than anyone else in the world, but I think to a sense we’ve been programmed to fall in line with everyone else and their versions of “normal”. I’m glad for that reason to be old. They just shake their heads at me when I ‘don’t wanna’ and I won’t. “She’s set in her ways” they say, “She is just contrary”. Mebbe so, but it’s been proven lately, to me, that even professionals don’t always have any answers and others don’t want to waste their time on others, so they regurgitate formulaic answers that they read out of some textbook in the 1970s. It’s frightening. I’m glad you’re making the journey. Learning to trust yourself is the hardest thing to do, IMO, right after learning to stand up for yourself when you know you’re right. Best wishes!
Reblogged this on Sparks From A Combustible Mind and commented:
Rachel (The Cricket Pages) wrote an amazing post today about listening to our inner instincts (gut) and how difficult it is to get others to listen, when they think they know what’s best for us. I hope you enjoy the read, if you’ve haven’t read already.
I think the fact that you’ve had no panic attacks or serious depression are the most positive indicators available–especially as you’ve been dealing with a bunch of difficult health issues affecting you and your mom. Having reached this mini-mountaintop, you’re entitled to simply banish the anguish and self-loathing–as if by magic! You’re proving to be your own wise therapist.
I love the idea of reaching a mini-mountaintop! I don’t have to get to the tippy top before I can celebrate and feel like I’ve accomplished something!
This was a timely post for me – and I appreciate life’s serendipity delivering it to me when it was needed. I was processing a similar ‘I don’t wanna’ reaction. But, taught to push through, assert self-discipline, etc., I was forcing myself to ignore my inner voice and — here’s my Nike moment — “Just do it.” When I read your post, I thought, whoa, this is where I’m at. Then I told myself, “Okay, listen to your inner voice.”
Yes, and I also deal with the other voices inculcated in my mind as a reaction to whenever the ‘I don’t wanna’ voice is heard, gritting my teeth against incipient depression, sighing to myself, dancing by myself.
I’d tell you hang in there, trust yourself, etc., but it’s all been said. It’s understood. It’s a lesson, a combat, endured again and again. Take care, Michael
This is so validating! Thank you!
Great post, and brilliant you haven’t had a panic attack or depression for quite a while is outstanding. Oscar Wilde said ‘Be yourself, everyone else is taken’. It’s so true. Small steps soon become bigger strides as our confidence grows. IMO The secret is knowing ourselves and doing things in our time frame, not someone else’s.
It’s hard work, sometimes very hard to hear my own voice over the rest of the noise in my head, but I’m working on it.
Good for you.
What a sweetheart!
Always trust your gut instincts. They won’t fail you.
I loved reading this post, and identified with it enormously.
In my journey I have had to gain the confidence you speak of. Learning to trust ourselves is probably one of the hardest things we’ll ever do.
It really is!
One of the hardest legacy of abuse is the extinction of choice. Our don’t want to was so silenced then that it comes back now with a vengeance at all sorts of times. I have learned to bite size any task and then assess how I feel after it is done. I am beginning to hear my I want to for the first time in 70 years.
I’m so glad it’s finally coming through! I wish all of this didn’t take so much time, but it’s good to know the healing is possible.
This really resonates with me. We do let a lot of other voices obscure that inner voice. And sometimes we do need to “rise above” it and do it anyway. But we need to examine it first and if it’s intuition see why that might be.
Hi Rachel! We used to follow each other. I quit blogging though. I’m back at it again. Ha! Hope you’ll follow me again. My blog is called The Aging Sunflower this time around.
Nice to see you!
Great insight, and stuff i can use, too.
I’m so glad!
This is simply brilliant, brilliant in its simplicity. I call those feelings ‘gut instincts’, but whatever they’re called, we need to listen to – and trust – our internal voices. At least those which aren’t destructive ones programmed by others. Thanks for sharing your ‘wanna / don’t wanna’.
Thank you so much!
Brilliant post. I have always trust my guts and they have never fail me. I persist in my motto not to have regrets in life and I ended up with lots of epic adventures.
I love to hear that!
I loved this. Learning find what we want can be hard. I am so glad you are hearing your voice inside you!
I’m still working at it! Thank you!