That Nagging Voice Hasn't Always Lived In Your Head
Next time you feel beaten down, like you can't do anything right, listen to that berating voice inside your head - and ask yourself who it actually is.
Having been plagued by negative self-talk for years, what actually freed him was recognising where it actually came from.
When he realised that he was in fact repeating the exact words his father had said to him, he was immediately able to distance himself from the voice. It no longer belonged to him, so he could begin a conversation with it, rather than just soak up whatever it was saying:
"I had realized that I had been battling my father’s voice my entire life. It was him, not me, saying, “You are no good for nothing, and you’ll never amount to anything,” Schriefer told Ballard. "My mind was just repeating it."
"Once I realized that, every time I heard those words in my mind and every time I was faced with something that I didn’t think I could accomplish, I said, “Stop! I am capable. I’m able (to do whatever I set my mind to).”
Writer Isabel Allende had a similar experience with her grandfather, which is worth listending to in the second interview above. In addition to being able to separate herself from the high expectations her grandfather placed on her, (which she then placed on herself) - she was also able to see how it actually benefited her.
The upside to being harsh on yourself is it can drive you to be better. Allende was able to create a successful career for herself in a time where it was unusual for a woman to do so - and she had her intolerant grandfather cracking the whip to thank for it.
"It helped me for years and years to become someone freer, more successful and more independent than most women of my generation did in that place," Allende told Global Leadership TV.
The downside was, she could never switch off, feeling guilty if she ever stopped working. Being able to give the voice - and herself - a break has been the key to achieving a bit more balance. "When I learnt to identify the voice, I can say "back off". I hear it - clearly, clearly - and then I say "back off, I heard you" and then I can separate myself from that voice.".
And now she is in charge, using this critical voice to her advantage as and when she needs it. "Sometimes it's useful. Sometimes when I am in a situation of great stress or when I have to really perform, the voice comes and helps. But it doesn't tie me up, it doesn't imprison me like it did before."
The next time we get swept up by the voice inside our heads, the act of being able trace it back to its originator is well worth trying out.
Not only can it free us from the negative aspects of what it is saying - but it in some cases (depending on what it is saying) it might actually help us as well.