“I told you that you can’t do this”
“Who do you think you are to try and achieve this?”
My favorite voice….
“Messed it up again Maggie, you always fail to finish anything successfully.”
Although I have long held that it is not a gender thing to have negative voices in our heads, undermining us at some of the most critical points in our lives, I would be wrong to say that women don’t experience this. It is one of the most frustrating things to have these voices be the very ones that stop us from achieving our dreams.
There are various talks, books, and training programs on mind-over-matter. This is because what you continue to tell yourself subconsciously is what will come to be. At the simplest level, continually telling yourself you can’t do something means you won’t succeed.
I have been as guilty of this as anyone. A voice in my head kept on telling me I was no good, that I would never be able to do things I dreamed of and, strangely enough, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
There are many names, I have heard, for the voices in your head. You may have heard them too. Names such as Pixie, Auntie ‘so and so’ and even evil me! Whatever you call them these ‘voices’ are often based on perceptions of the world built up during our childhood and carried into adulthood. If there is a person you attribute these to, they would probably be astonished. It is amazing how the mind of a child can interpret quite innocent words and actions
My ‘voice’ is my Mum’s. If she was to read this article, I know she would be shocked at this. My Mum, in real life, is nothing like the ‘voice’. As a rational, thinking adult I know that, but, as a child, I didn’t see things in the same way. Funnily enough, it is the child who has created the “voices”, but it is the adult who allows them to steer us off track or get in the way of our success at times.
You see that “favorite voice” I mentioned earlier, that is my Mum’s voice! Said in a moment of anger and frustration at what she saw me doing at the time. She has seen me quit ballet, quit my athletics, and start not to finish many projects as a kid, and in one of those moments of frustration, the comment came flying out. I know it is not what she meant but unfortunately, it went into my negative mental talk data bank and comes out just when I need it the least!
If we were to stop and seriously reflect on some of the things that our “voices” are saying to us not only would we be appalled (you know that if you heard someone speaking like that to someone else you would intervene and call them on their bullying words!) and you would do your level best to find a balance so it wouldn’t affect you.
Or would you?
The way to stop these voices from affecting you is to actually reflect on them. How do we do this? I have a little exercise I like to get the women I work with to do. What I ask them to do is this (and if you are reading this, I think you should do it too!):
Take a note book (I say a note book rather than a piece of paper as it is good to have a safe hard copy so you can reflect back on it whenever you need to). At the top of a fresh page write these words:
The voices in my head are saying…
Now I want you to keep this with you for at least a day. Whenever you have a negative or positive thought about something you are doing I want you to take the time to write it down (I don’t suggest you do this on a day when you have a lot of meetings as I am not sure others will fully get what you are doing).
At the end of the day, take the time to sit down and reflect on the things that your “voices” are saying.
Mark next to the statements if they are positive or negative.
Then starting with the negative ones start to look at why you might be saying that to yourself. Where do you think it came from?
By doing this exercise, two things will start to happen:
- You will become conscious of the voices, and so you can start to take conscious control over their impact on your life and career.
- Eventually, it will become automatic to counter negative talk with your own voice (still in your head or out loud) using a positive mantra.
Why is it so important for us to get to know and understand the voices in our heads?
As I mentioned above you will be more conscious of what is happening, but you can also start to use the voices as a positive measure rather than a negative one.
As Tara Mohr talks about in her book Playing Big, we can use our positive voices to actually help not only imagine the future we want but to help work towards making it happen. We can’t do this if we are constantly letting those negative voices send us down false paths or take, what they tell us, is the only path we are capable of walking down.
It is in this way that these voices can sabotage our careers, businesses, and even our personal lives. They tell us we need to be in a certain place before we can do something, that we need to have certain qualifications and not to get “above ourselves” and our mind looks for all the “signs” around us that tell us that this is the case. So it is proven that what we are saying to ourselves is right.
Oddly enough, those same signs can show us the way to achieving our success. We need to do it consciously.
At the end of the day, what we say to ourselves the most often will become what we get.
The question you need to ask yourself is:
What do you want and are you willing to do what you need to get it? including getting to know those voices in your head!
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