Dan Harris, a widely known news anchor who had spent most of his professional career in front of the television covering the news in war zones and high-stress environments had a secret. Dan battled insecurities every day. He was constantly afraid he wasn’t good enough, so he pushed himself to excel in his career, and succeeded.
When Dan returned from these high-stress assignments, he had difficulty readjusting to everyday life. He felt like his mind was always ‘on’ and he struggled to find a way to quiet his thoughts. That is when he turned to using illegal substances.
His recreational use eventually caused an on-air panic attack in 2004. Determined to find a better way to cope with his problems, Dan began to study how the human mind works and what he found surprised him.
Recognizing Your Inner Narrator
Everyone has an inner voice. It’s the narrator that plays in your head from the moment you wake up until you go back to bed. At times, the inner narrator is kind and loving, helping you to see yourself in the best light.
Sometimes, your inner voice can be helpful. For example, when you hurt someone else’s feelings with a sharp reply, you may feel instant guilt. You find yourself thinking, “I should apologize.” So, you offer an apology and try to carry on with the rest of the day.
However, most people struggle with their inner narrator. They regularly think things like, “I’m not good enough at my job”, “Everyone’s going to find out I’m a fraud”, or “I have no self-control and that’s why I can’t lose weight/get a better job/have the life I want.”
Dealing with Your Inner Narrator
The problem comes when you lose the ability to shut off your narrator and seriously question what they’re telling you. When that happens, you may turn to avoidance techniques and try to medicate yourself through overeating, recreational drug use, excessive drinking and other destructive behaviors.
But like Dan learned, these are bandage solutions. They don’t really solve the problem, but they do make you temporarily feel better…until they don’t.
Quieting Your Inner Narrator
After months of study, Dan found that the solution to dealing with his inner narrator was meditation. At first, he was resistant to the idea but he found modern science supported the benefits of meditation.
Dan is quick to note that meditation isn’t a cure-all, but he does believe it works. He now uses meditation to quiet his inner narrator and ease his stress.
He was so inspired by his meditation that Dan went on to write a book titled 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story. You can find it at your local bookstore or online.
In an interview with Big Think, Dan says, “I always thought that meditation was ridiculous. Now I’m a daily meditator and even worse, I’m a public evangelist for meditation.”
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