Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Listening to the echo

When you recall a piece of music in your head you are listening to an echo of your past; in the absence of the original physical experience recollection reconstructs the experience again. The moment you access the sounds, either outside of yourself or later within yourself, the experience is filtered and made sensible by a sense of self and its memories.

The mind is full of these echoes, which reverberate around the mountains of understanding and valleys of memories within the self. For example, when I talk to someone I hear the words in my head as I formulate what I’m going to say; these words are echoes from the vocabulary I originally learnt growing up. Then, in a separate act of listening, I hear the sound of my own words spoken aloud. Finally I hear the echo of the words I have just formulated and spoken. I listen to these echoes both as the instigator of what I want to say and the means of producing the sounds.

When somebody talks to me I do not hear the formulation of the words in the other person’s head; I do experience the physical impact on my eardrums when the person is verbalising their words. But, I only hear the echo of myself listening to the external sounds, not the echo of the formulation of words.

This is a crucial difference: when another person judges me I cannot hear or do anything about the formulation of the words in their head; I am not the instigator of their thoughts nor do I make the decision to verbalise their thoughts. I can only do what I think is right and react to the consequences of my actions (good or bad) and any possible judgements as they arise. However, when I judge myself I can listen to the echo of myself internally formulating the words and act as border guard to ask whether that judgement should populate my mind. By overhearing the echo I can stop unhelpful judgements impacting my emotional state.

Therefore, you react to other people when you are judged and overhear the echo of yourself when you judge yourself. Both allow the freedom to choose to believe the judgements or not.

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