Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called The Inside Voice, a moment of an encounter called The Many Faces of Like and Love, and a moment of a perspective called In Search of Peace & Happiness, Part III.
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Hello and welcome to Episode #47 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about The Inside Voice, The Many Faces of Like and Love, and In Search of Happiness, Part III.
A moment of adversity called: The Inside Voice
It says you are unwanted and unloved; that is why Mom gave you away when you were a child. It tells you that you are not good enough; that is why he had a wandering eye and cheated on you. It says they can’t stand that you are better than them; that is why they have to make up negative stories about you.
Who is it? It is my inside voice that only I can hear. It makes no audible sound, but I can hear it loud and clear. It is always saying something to me. Even when I don’t want to talk, it is constantly talking to me. Why won’t it leave me alone? Why does it like to pester me? If you always wanted to have a companion, it would be there for you. But I don’t want this companion because it is like poison. It infects, tortures, brings sorrow and pain. It tells you stories that make you feel bad about yourself or doubt yourself. It tells you everything is your fault. It creates tales of deceit, making you believe that everyone is out to get you. Sometimes, it makes you want to crawl into a hole and abandon all living things that only give you heartache or stress.
It bothers me by saying, “Why didn’t you get straight A’s? Why is your dear friend not talking to you anymore? Why did you put yourself in that toxic relationship? Why do you continue to let that person bother you?” It is not only annoying, but it is also troubling to even think about what it says to me! It loves to remind me how imperfect I am. It’s like a 24-hour parent constantly telling you that you can do better. I don’t need all the pressure; shut up, I scream!
It goes further by nagging me: Why don’t you get off your butt to exercise and lose some weight?” It reminds me that I need to do that errand that I don’t want to do. It asks me why I haven’t talked to the boss about what is bugging me. It tells me to stop procrastinating and finish my to-do list. I thought I escaped Grandma’s nagging while growing up, but the voice is like the glue that I can’t unglue from me!
If I pay great attention to it, it will anger and upset me. It has infuriated me countless times already. Stop the madness! I screech. But it is like refrigerator noise if I ignore it. Still, the constant buzz is there. It never takes a break, and I can’t seem to shut it off. If you wanted a machine on automatic, it would be great. But this is a machine you don’t wish to have on automatic. It always has a negative thing to say or says something you don’t want to hear. Even when you are asleep, it talks to you, makes you dream, and sometimes gives you nightmares!
I am tired of fighting with it. I am tired of allowing it to bring me down. The struggle is exhausting. The talks give me headaches and migraines. I need to do something about it. I don’t want to hear it telling me I am not good enough, not lovable enough, not savvy enough. I am burnt out from trying to be near perfect. What can I do?
Being that I cannot run away from it because it is connected to my inner self, the adult me has decided that I would take control of it instead of complaining about that inside voice. It has had too many years of being in the driver’s seat. It is my turn to grab hold of that inside voicebox by lowering its volume.
Before I take over, I will thank it for reminding me to do the things I need to do even if I don’t want or like to do them. I will give it credit for making me ponder and analyze so that I can improve my life. Though it functions on its own automatically and never shuts off, I can turn down its volume so I won’t hear it too well. How can I do that?
I can replace the negative stories with stories that will help me move forward. I can create stories that will make me feel good about myself. For example, instead of thinking that I was tossed over to live with Grandma because I was unwanted or unloved, I can think of being passed over to Grandma because I could get more love and care from her since my teenage mom was too busy with several other young ones at home. Instead of thinking that I was not good enough for a boyfriend who cheated on me, I can think he was not worthy of me because he didn’t know how to appreciate me. Instead of being annoyed at people for making up stories about me, I can be amused by it and see that they behave that way because I have something of value they want, and I am a treasure.
Considering that I created the negative stories in the first place, I can also recreate them and make them into stories that help me. When I have new accounts, it is harder to hear the old stories, so the volume of that voice becomes inaudible.
I can also confront that inner voice and tell it to shut up. I can shout, “Shut up; I don’t want to hear all your negativity. Stop telling me things that don’t help me or make me happy! I don’t want to listen to you! I will listen to me; I am in charge!
As the driver of my inside voice, I will make up the stories that are good for me. I will tell it when to talk and when to give it a rest. It shall not keep running its mouth, thinking it could say whatever it wants to tell me. I get to choose the stories; I get to decide when to listen to them and what I wish to hear.
The bottom line is that we all have an inner voice. We need to pay attention to it. If it says things that don’t help us, tell it to shut up! If it doesn’t have anything good to say, invent some good and helpful things. Let it know that you are in charge! And remember, if you don’t take control of it, it will take charge of you. Choose the inside voice you want.
A moment of an encounter called: The Many Faces of Like or Love
Every day after school, he seemed to follow me home after school. But I soon realized he was the next-door neighbor. At first, it was him by himself. Shortly afterward, he would have a buddy walking with him. As the months went on, he would have as many as five pals accompanying him. You could not help noticing this because they’d follow me, make noises, and call my name or call me names. If I walked faster, they’d walk faster. Today you would call it stalking or bullying, but in those days, others said that it was because Sawyer liked me.
I was only twelve years and had no interest in boys yet, so I didn’t understand how someone could like me and treat me like he hated me! One time, I couldn’t believe he chased me all the way to my front door and punched me in the stomach for no reason! It hurt so much that tears popped out of my eyes. Other times I would wait near school, hoping he would have left so he wouldn’t follow me. Even though I did that, I would find him suddenly darting around and again following me home to yell my name and say unkind things to me. Sawyer did this for an entire year. I never liked him, and he was relentless in pestering me for a whole year. Luckily I was assigned a new school the following year. I don’t know how you could call that love, but a few called it puppy love.
In junior high, one boy named Jasper would help himself squeeze in my seat to be near me. I was disgusted at the intrusion into my personal space without permission. Someone said he liked me, but that did not please me. Was that how immature boys showed they liked someone?
Another boy named Riley found my phone number on the teacher’s attendance list and called me. I was surprised but talking with him gave me laughs. I remember this because one of my uncles at home discovered our chats, gave me a stern look, and let me know that he heard me on the phone. How rude! He was invading my privacy.
When boys were boys, they didn’t know how to show they liked a girl, and the expression of like had many faces. As they matured, it became more apparent. If they were interested in you, they’d start looking at you, interacting with you in some way, start talking to you, and then ask you out on a date. And as time progressed in a relationship, expressions of like could go from flirtations to direct statements that profess their feelings.
Evan, my college friend, invited me to his home country numerous times. Keith, my long-distance boyfriend, asked me to move to his state. Daniel, my dormitory friend, asked me to the movies many times. Chase, a guy I met on a summer vacation, wrote letters to me for over two years and then moved to my state for graduate school; he finally asked me out. All these verbalizations or actions suggested deeper feelings other than a simple like.
And then there were the serious relationships. I call them such because they were lengthy, involved intimacy, or had marriage proposals. You would expect clear communication at such stages, such as the other party directly saying I love you. But I have had serious marriage proposals where the guys never uttered the words I love you.
Though I have my ideas of what like and love look like, other people also have ideas that do not always match mine. And so I must accept that there are many faces to like and love. People express those feelings in different ways. They may not be how we like or want, but they are their feelings. We can welcome different expressions and understand that others have ways to show their feelings or request particular ways to let us know. With acceptance or clear communication, we can embrace the many faces of like or love.
A moment of a perspective called: In Search of Peace and Happiness, Part III
As I leave the school, as I leave the services of the hotel staff where I was staying in Bhutan, the locals worry about me being all alone or bored. They frequently ask if I have everything I need, if everything is okay, or anything they can do for me. Perhaps it is because I am a guest or a volunteer in their country, but it is still nice to be appreciated.
Local teachers also appreciate and are open to new teaching techniques that I demonstrate to them. For a small landlocked and remote country, its educational system is quite impressive. What students learn is most modern and up to date. The demand for excellence is also there, with a 90% test score deemed passing. The teachers are highly educated. They instruct in English, their second language. It is impressive how much students learn and are held to higher levels of cognition.
While I may give the teachers some new teaching ideas in the short time I was here, what I get from being in Bhutan is priceless for the long haul or the rest of my life. The benefits are abstract, not physically tangible, but equivalent to the meaning of life itself or, at least, a reminder, a reflection of lessons to treasure.
As a tourist for only a week, from the tour guide's way of being, I experienced and was reminded that you willingly and lightly make up your mind on what to do when no demands are made on you. When you don't feel the world's pressures upon you, you can experience peace and happiness. His way of being led me not to experience the pressures; his way of being was not to demand, not tell, just let me be me.
How can I bring that to "real" life? See it in mind and alter perceptions. However, one can already know that logically, having "seen" allows me to "see" the possibility and move forward in motion. I slow down and enjoy the moments with the leisurely pace of doing things with this tour guide. Too much of life passes us by because we are too busy doing what we are doing to savor each moment, but we can enjoy them by being present in the moments. Again, knowing it is not the same as experiencing it and that I did in Bhutan.
Sometimes, I wished the tour guide would say a little more like how long before arriving at the next stop, what kind of food will I have for lunch, just the simple basics. Of course, he'd tell me if I asked, but I wish I didn't have to ask so many questions! I ponder those small instances, so what if I know how long a car ride? So what if I knew what was for lunch? Would that change anything? No, it is just my need to know. I reflect that life happens, chill, let it unfold, be comfortable with the unknown. You can't know everything anyway!
As a volunteer for a month, the experience was quite different from being a tourist for a week. I was in a remote town, but it was small for the locals. There were no great "tourist" spots. There were just schools, general stores with only snacks and drinks, hardware stores, a few hotels, and a few banks. A couple of monasteries were way up in the mountains. You could go to the outdoor market if you want vegetables and fruits, only on Sunday mornings. If you wanted meat, you could only find it at the meat shop ten months a year or go to a hotel. If you wanted milk, you'd need a cow. Where do you find anything else? I don't know. Perhaps the next town over.
So what is there to do? View the beautiful mountains in every direction, walk along the river banks, get a ride to a monastery, pray, and see a spectacular view from way above a mountain top. Go to a village in the valley, meet some locals, and chat with anyone you see. See some people trying to make a brick wall unprofessionally and see some people trying to smooth or fix a patch on the road amateurishly. See some kids planting a garden and hear dogs barking intermittently throughout the night. Though a population of around three thousand is nearby and another thousand in the mountains, it is not that quiet because there is no insulation in the walls anywhere, and there are no double pane windows either. At any rate, one can go about their business without being distracted by any sounds. Of course, alone in a hotel room, I can hear all the sounds.
Amazingly, I discovered how much of my creativity expresses itself when writing. There is no writer's block here. Ideas just come, flow, and appear in print on written pages. Time passes by quickly without seemingly doing a whole lot. Even when "working" or volunteering, I find new teaching techniques flowing out of me, springing out at the moment and demonstrated in action without much forethought or preparation. Perhaps it is because I have a history of experience, but still, the ideas flow out effortlessly. I might have known or learned some techniques before but didn't find the opportunity to implement them until placed in Bhutan. There are not too many thoughts of the past or future. There are only thoughts of the present day and what I want to accomplish in the day. Life could be so simple if we'd take one day at a time without overthinking.
It's March, but it still feels like winter. During the night, intermittently, you will hear dogs barking. When I awake in the night to go to the restroom, I often hear many dogs barking. I say to myself; they must be having a party. I even say to myself, if I were back in the USA, I would probably be annoyed by it, so why am I not annoyed here? I mention the dogs barking at night to the locals. They say that they are cold and have nowhere to cover. The next time I hear the barking, I say to myself, they are cold; I am sorry they are cold. And I am still not annoyed but feel sorry for the dogs.
When I walk to school, I see a couple of dogs lying on the campus grounds here and there. They are sleeping and basking in the warm sun. I say to myself, I am glad they are enjoying some warmth and peace and not straining themselves by barking. Such a simple scene, but a feeling of happiness comes across me. I think this is the first time I have cared about dogs! When I was a kid, I was once bitten by one, was scared of them, and now I am a little more compassionate of a human being for animals.
Surrounded by so much nature and people who also seem to go with the flow of things, I find peace and happiness in Bhutan. We do not necessarily get it from our external environment. We get it by what we choose to see and how we interact with people and places. Though you can find peace and happiness in this kingdom of Bhutan, the lessons I learned from my stay remain with me. And I can generate the feelings and perspectives that would allow me to enjoy peace and happiness on my terms and no matter where I am.
Key Takeaways: Though my inside voice is negative and on automatic, I can take control and be its driver; I can choose to invent stories or perceptions that would help me. I can choose to lower its volume or tell it to shut up when it is too loud!
Though there are different ways of expressing like or love, it is important to accept the differences, communicate clearly, and embrace love in its many forms.
Though what surrounds us may not necessarily bring peace and happiness, observing and appreciating nature helps. Going with the flow instead of making many demands can help with relaxation and peace. Crucial is to see possibilities and generate those that would allow one to enjoy happiness.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called Three Ways to Overcome Adversity, Remarkable Encounters, and Valuable Perspectives. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe or click like on Youtube, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!