Everybody, regardless of age indulges in conversation with oneself. Whether at home, office or any other place; irrespective whether in a state of happiness, unhappiness, hopeful or pessimistic, we love to talk to ourselves. Even while performing tasks like driving, gardening etc, or many a times even while being in prayers, or listening to lectures, music, we continue to speak to ourselves. In essence, therefore, in every action, we are in conversation with our inner person, who is continually being fed with data, positive and negative.
This collated data and information, then passes through our in-built, filter of distinct and different intellect and judgment standards, leading to action. The filters, assume great significance, in our responses, that are generated from internal conversations.
Once thought, can never be un-thought. We must therefore keep our internal conversations in constant check; harness them each day. They have potential to unlock an Eldorado. Just as happiness can be a habit of mind, so can negativity be; we must learn to keep the distinction in perspective, all the time. These conversations with self are directly within ‘your sphere of influence’ as Steven Covey, Coins. Be in absolute control of them. When one is good to oneself, you owe nothing to anybody.
“The Secret thoughts of a man run over all things holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave and light; without blame or shame” (Thomas Hobbes). In our internal conversations, we experience, stiff competition between opposite and colliding thoughts. Some thoughts feed our conscience with goodness and some create disturbance.
Is conscience relevant to today’s corporate world? Does the environment recognise a ‘feel’ called conscience? Do we have the ability to provide convincing and logical answers to our inner person, when it challenges the validity of our numerous acts on a daily basis? Without meandering into social chaos, of whether society has ‘conscience’ that is alive, let’s ask, ‘do managers have conscience? Do they feel answerable and responsible to it? What therefore defines conscience?
‘A state of conscience is higher than a state of innocence’. It is the frame of character and upbringing. A good conscience leaves, the person, who refuses to hear it, because it possibly represents, the divinity, within. Even in a lawless society, the conscience prevails. The bite of conscience is lethal and deadly, for those where it is awake and not entombed. William Shakespeare says in Richard III, “My conscience hath a thousand several tongues. And every tongue brings in a several tale; And every tale condemns me for a villain.” Conscience never cheats or lies. The conscience is the inner person that we remain in conversation with all our existence.
What does the conscience do; it gives us internal hurt, if the action is unjust; gives immeasurable pleasure, when you are abiding it towards nobility of thought that is followed by a deed of virtue. It is the unarmed guard at the gates of evil. You have to be courageous to kill it, only then can you enter, the doorway to all that is bad. Contrarily, it keeps us at bay from deviation towards, defiling the naturally, pure, inner persona. If the conscience (guard) is well fed, with values, it will emerge strong to repel and banish thoughts that may propel a deceitful action towards, a colleague or the organisation. How others talk to themselves, should be of no concern to you. What matters is what you talk to yourself. Your thought pattern is your guide, to either success or failure.
A manager, who relates to divinity on a regular basis, will most likely be blessed, with internal conversations that lead him to making a better assessment of his reactions to situations and also of his own inter-personal skills with his colleagues.
We are, what we think. We end up, what we want to be. In the philosophical parlance of Descartes, “I think, therefore, I am”. The power of harmonious thought should never be lost while in conversation with self. Envy, is the worst enemy to the contents of internal conversation.
It is important to synchronise, your internal conversation with your actions. As a case in point, I have always been an ardent fan of Audrey Hepburn. As a ten year old, when I saw her in “My Fair Lady”, with my Father, I was bewitched by her beauty of innocence – all her fans who watched her on celluloid screen, would also be only thinking (thoughts) about her, in the realm of grace, honesty, beauty, truth and fairness – it was just not possible to talk to anything, internally, except her.
That brings me to the ability of the manager to ensure that when he is leading a charge on the market place or when he is holding a meeting, he does not let any member to talk to their selves, except with his own-self. Keep them engrossed to the flow of proceedings – and that’s only possible if the manager has ‘thoughts’ that are filled with purity.
Your infant off-spring trips and falls… and you remark, ‘O’ how brave you are, nothing happened, get up and brush yourself – his (infants) internal conversation might say to him, you are in pain; but since he believes you, he trusts that nothing has happened. His trust controls his internal conversation. As managers, there is need to develop from our surroundings that ‘innocent level of trust’ – this is done, only when colleagues are assured of your nobility.
In a fit of anger and in a mood of extreme irritability, we talk to ourselves, so negatively that it starts to affect and injure our physical and health condition. If met with some discord with your supervisor, you sulk, and start to visualise how you would “give it” to him. This excitement in thought, leads to release of greater quantum of acids than the human body naturally needs; the liver, the pancreas, the digestive system and in cases of extreme anger, the nervous system refuse to perform their ‘ordained’ duties. You end up with rapid pulse, irregular breathing etc...while note here, you have not even spoken a single word……yet!
Against this visualise that you would present your view point to your supervisor in a serene ad calm state of mind – gradually you talk yourself into the positive zone. It releases a completely different set of energy that propels good and positive action and re-action. If internal conversations are pure, actions are bound to be pure.
Never de-humanise behaviour with your colleagues and environment. Walter Savage Landor says, in ‘Imaginary conversations’ my thoughts are my company; I can bring them together, select them, detain them, dismiss them…...” We think, therefore, we act. A thought borrowed from ‘Moby Dick’, internal conversations ought to be within the confines of, coolness and calmness, for our hearts throb faster and our minds work overtime. Negative conversations lead to ill-health and then to cemetery, much before the call!
Good thoughts contribute towards your enrichment. Our intentions are seeds that germinate action. The inner soul is dyed with the colour and fragrance of our thoughts. We are only as miserable as we think, we are. Speech, spoken and silent, is the picture of our mind. Practice, we must to talk to ourselves, when alone talking to yourselves, in company, can be perilous.
Internal conversations or conversation with self can be the most satisfying and pleasurable activity. Fill your mind, with serene thoughts and they will talk back. Never let your mind be professionally unemployed – it can become a devil’s workshop.
“The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie- deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought,” JFK in an address to students at Yale University. Control conversation with self and you are in control of your actions.
The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist