Think of what you want most for yourself.
Then listen carefully. Not with your ears, but with your heart (I know you can’t actually listen with your heart, but we are stepping out of the norm right now, so give it a try). Listen deep down inside to the response that echoes around inside you when you imagine what you want for yourself. What does it say? Who is that voice?
We’ve all got a voice inside, telling us a story
Yes, it’s true. Whether you want it or not we all have that voice. Me, you, your mom, your best friend, your child, the guy standing at the bus stop, the person next to you in line at the store. They’ve all got their own voice inside them as well.
It’s totally normal, even if it isn’t totally awesome. For most people that voice isn’t necessarily a friend. It’s a voice that tells you everything that is wrong with you, that tells you what other people think of you, that tells you why you can’t have the things you want.
The voice in your head is a consummate storyteller. It tells stories about how everything will go wrong if you change what you do. It is full of stories about how people won’t like you if you change. One of its favorite stories is about how you won’t know who you are if you change, and how much you love being this version of you.
Whatever story it is telling, this voice almost always creates fear and insecurity within us. It breaks down our confidence in ourselves.
What to know about that voice
It is trying to help you. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. That voice is trying its hardest to keep you safe in the only way it knows how – by keeping you and everything around you just like it is now. It figures that you are alive right now, then whatever your situation is right now is a situation that you can survive.
It isn’t logical. You can’t necessarily reason with it. It doesn’t make rational sense that you would want to stay in a cruddy job, or a bad relationship. The storyteller doesn’t care about rational sense though. It only cares about keeping you in an environment that it knows you can survive, even if that survival isn’t enjoyable to you.
What to do about that voice
For most of us, the first instinct is to ignore it. Pretend that the voice doesn’t exist and hope that it will go away. Unfortunately – the voice is incredibly good at wriggling around our attempts to ignore it. Like a desperate used car salesman who needs to hit their quota at the end of the month, the voice doesn’t care how much we wish it would just go away. So what can you do instead?
Listening to it might be the most powerful thing you can do, with a caveat.
First – go ahead and pay attention to it, and do so with the knowledge that the voice isn’t you. What? One of the things that the voice does best is to convince us that the voice is us, but it isn’t. It is only a part of us. So every time you pay attention to it simply know that you don’t have to do what it says because it is only one part of you.
Next – listen to the story, but from a different perspective. Imagine if that story was what your best friend was thinking about themselves. Mentally step away from that story being about you, and pretend that it is about somebody else. Now ask yourself what that story is trying to accomplish. Is it a positive story? Is it a negative story? Does it sound rational, but really isn’t? Does it move the listener towards where they want to be, or does it keep them stuck?
These simple steps will make a huge difference in whether the story has control over you or you have control over the story.
Supercharge your results
If you really want to upgrade your life there a few additional things you can do, though they are a bit more difficult.
- Thank the voice. It’s easy to think of the storyteller as the enemy, but really it is your friend. It is your ignorant friend who has been working its butt off in order to keep you safe. It’s kind of like your grandma and her ideas around multiculturalism; well-meaning but not very polite or informed. Also, not likely to change anytime soon.Thank it for its hard work and let it know that you are going to choose something else this time around.
- Get some outside help with it. Most of the time the stories are based on old junk from our past. Talk to a therapist if you can, or call somebody you trust (hello best friend!) and hash it out with them. The storyteller will try to get you to avoid this, but step on through and make the phone call. If you prefer to do it on your own, a tool that I highly recommend is the Rational Self Analysis (here is a good page outlining the how of an RSA)
- Work with a coach to create a different future. Once you work through some of the stuff from the past, then it might be time to hire a coach to focus on the future. Setting yourself up with meaningful goals and accountability with somebody can help to give the voice a new story to tell – one of hope and accomplishment. Start parsing apart the difference between the story and trusting your gut.
- Forgive yourself. You aren’t perfect, I’m not perfect, none of us are perfect. We aren’t supposed to be perfect. Once we divorce ourselves from the story, we know this – perfection is a myth. So forgive yourself for not being perfect, adjust course towards who you want to be, and move on.
Now that you know there is a voice inside you trying to keep you where you are, how will you take your power back from it and write the story you want for your future life?