Ever heard of stinkin’ thinkin’? In psychology, stinkin’ thinkin’ refers to the internal dialogue that each of us engages in. More specifically, it is our negative inner voice.
I rather prefer how C.S. Lewis brings this concept to life allegorically in The Great Divorce. The “toxic voice” is depicted in the form of a tiny red lizard sitting on the shoulder of a man, whispering into his ear. He constantly reminds his human of his weaknesses and failures, reinforces his insecurities, and interferes with potentially positive messages and opportunities for change. With the help of an angel, the man ultimately chooses to go through the agonizing pain of removing his lizard. And though the procedure nearly kills him, like a Phoenix he is reborn, renewed, and free to become his true self.
Who hasn’t spent some time indulging our lizard? Sometimes it just feels good to give in and affirm our misery. Unfortunately, the more we listen, the larger this little bugger grows and before we know it, the negative message pollutes our thinking and affects our behaviors. The inescapable reality is that we cannot positively affect anyone or anything while we’re wallowing in the mire.
I admit, that I still occasionally feed my lizard. But I've discovered there are those who, like the angel in Lewis’s story, are willing to help us pull our lizards off so we can get to work becoming who we're meant to be.
To all the lizard pullers in my life (you know who you are) . . . thank you.