There are some places where we feel we have a right to be left to think our own thoughts. But in Amsterdam even such privacy is threatened. In a central Amsterdam café, a toilet has been installed which is fitted with sensors to detect exactly what visitors do and to pass comment if appropriate. “You might consider sitting down next time,” the toilet politely suggested to a male Reuters reporter in a female robot voice. Creator Leonard van Munster sees the project as an artistic venture. The toilet might remind you to wash your hands, ask you to lift the seat, or if you’re using the privacy for a quiet smoke, suddenly start coughing and warn you about the dangers of cigarettes.
The long term popularity of this new convenience remains to be seen but most people don’t need to go to an Amsterdam loo to hear an unbidden critical voice. In the privacy of our own minds, words are spoken which undermine our self-confidence; they suggest we ought to be doing things differently or fundamentally challenge our competence. Sometimes the phrases used remind us of authority figures from our past; sometimes their origin is less easily determined because their source is an amalgam of all those who in our lives have put us down in one way or another.
We should treat such voices with the same amusement as we would a Dutch lavatorial interlocutor. Our minds might well offer us appropriate words of caution which should be taken seriously. But our inner critics are easily distinguishable from these because of their generally scornful attitude. They don’t deserve to be taken seriously and to greet their admonitions with a dismissive smile might be the best way of silencing them for ever.
Read: Turn away from godless chatter. (1 Timothy 6.20)
Rejoice: in people whose acceptance of me builds my confidence.
Reflect: Are there people whose dismissive attitude to me, now or in the past, I allow to undermine my self-respect?
Remember: not to let it.
Resolve: to listen to voices which affirm me – God’s and other people’s.