Sound so simple doesn’t it? We all talk to ourselves, generally not out loud, but that inner voice is almost always there. Sometimes your inner voice is speaking to you even when you’re busy doing other things. It talks to you when you’re working on a project, chatters in the background when you’re listening to something interesting, it might even interrupt you when you’re speaking.
What does it know?
That inner voice gets really chatty if you give it space and it isn’t always nice. The astonishing thing is the amount of authority and credibility we give it – even though it may not have any experience on the subject.
I coach a lot of people who are terrified of public speaking. Interestingly, I’ve heard that from people who have never spoken in public, so how would they know? What’s their inner voice telling them and what is it based on? Why do we so quickly believe that voice in our head when it is negative?
Talking your language
One reason we believe it is because it talks in our own voice and it uses our own language. Often we believe it because it says the same thing over and over to us in a thousand different versions.
A quick test
Fill in your own blanks if you recognize any of these as statements you have said to yourself on occasion:
This won’t turn out very well because I’m really rubbish at __________
I don’t know why I started this, I’ve never been much good at ________
I don’t know why anyone would listen to me about ______ it’s not like I’m an expert.
Or simply: I’ll bet I trip when I walk to the front… I’m sure to forget their name when I have to introduce them… I know I’m going to be standing by myself at that “networking” event.
Stop shouting at me
Whether the inner voice yells at you or whispers, it is constantly planting seeds that you aren’t going to be happy, successful or enjoy yourself.
So, can you get it to shut up, turn down the volume or change the channel to a positive one?
Of course you can, you change your mind all the time. It’s just a thought and any thought can be changed.
My great grandmother used to say “don’t give energy to thoughts you don’t want to happen”. It’s wisdom that holds true today.
When thoughts pop into your mind that you don’t want to occur just say “Stop, I don’t want that. What’s going to happen is…..”
Then talk nicely to yourself – give yourself some encouragement, allow yourself to picture the good stuff, the positive outcome.
Its all about encouragement
Would you ever encourage a child or someone on your staff by saying “I don’t think you should try that, you won’t be very good” or “Why are you going, everyone else will be cleverer” or “If you do that, you’re bound to embarrass yourself?”
Good parents and managers encourage by building someone’s confidence “give it a go, you did really well with this before”, “try it, you learn quickly, you’ll have it in no time”, “I know this is new for you, but I have faith you can do it.”
If you’d encourage someone else by finding a positive reason why they’ll succeed, why allow that nagging, critical voice to be the authority in your head?
Talk to someone who’s good to you
Retrain your inner voice. Tell it what you want it to do for you. When it drags up old doubts, stop it, reframe it, look for positive reinforcements.
Stockpile examples of things you’ve done well. If you struggle with this, write down 5 things you did well that day, for a month. They don’t have to be big things, just five things that you can look back on and think – yes, that was alright.
You are the only person that can change the inner chatter. You can go through the day listening to negative stuff that you repeatedly tell yourself, or you can chose to change it to something that will help you.
Tell yourself that things WILL go well, picture the applause and the buzzy feeling at the end of the speech, tell yourself the conversation with your boss will go brilliantly, that they’ll be open and receptive. Chat with yourself about the things you do well, the things people around you appreciate and enjoy.
Tell that inner voice to make you feel good or shut up. Remember the childhood lesson “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”, we can apply that to ourselves.
It’s your inner voice. Make it do what you want.