Here’s a little secret. Most of our decisions and actions are determined by the voice in our head. Yep, the one that just went…’what voice?’
Whilst this might seem surreal at first, let’s look at it more closely.
We see a new dress, the voice says “that would be perfect for so-and-so’s party next week” and out comes the credit card.
We want to ask for a raise, the voice says “they’ll never give it to me” and so we never set that meeting.
We have a big dream, the voice says “you can never make it happen” and so we don’t do anything about it.
Sounds familiar? If so here’s my early Christmas present. 5 top tips to show that voice who really is boss!
Understand why it’s there
In evolutionary terms, life for human beings has changed at super-sonic speed in the last 100,000 years. We’ve gone from nomadic hunter gatherers to life as we know it today.
Our mind hasn’t had enough time to catch up. It interprets daily modern threats like failure, embarrassment, disappointment, in the same way it would interpret being attacked by a huge lion tens of thousands of years ago.
Our thoughts are there to protect us against such threats. They don’t care if we remain stuck, unhappy or dissatisfied with life. What they care about is keeping us safe. And whilst many years ago that meant staying in our cave, today it means keeping things exactly as they are.
Be aware of it
Most of us are not even aware of this voice that controls so many of our actions. Just like a fish in water, we don’t hear our voice because it’s with us all the time. Becoming aware of it is simple – we just have to pay attention to it. Unfortunately this is much easier said than done, and it requires a bit of practice.
Test it out: Next time you feel discouraged, or de-motivated to do something pay attention to what’s going on in your head. Chances are there’s some thought there telling you how you can’t do it, or there’s too much of a risk or something along those lines.
Remind yourself, ‘there is no lion, there is no lion’.
Give the voice a character
This is one of the more unconventional steps.
The more we ignore our voice, the louder it’s going to scream. It’s a lot more helpful to pay attention to what it’s saying.
That’s doesn’t mean we have to take it seriously though.
Giving it a character can help make it less authoritative. I like to imagine my voice as Donald Duck, warning me in that mumbling, funny voice of his. It’s impossible to take my voice very seriously when it’s talking like Donald Duck.
Pick a character that you find funny or ridiculous and give your voice that character.
Write that thought down
This is a truly magical step.
Our mind loves drama, after all it’s a great strategy to stop us from taking risks. If it had to meekly suggest that we be careful, chances are we would ignore it. So instead it amplifies and exaggerates and makes the threat so scary that it achieves the required result. It freezes us in our tracks.
Whenever I’m coaching a client and we talk about their fears, the very process of saying them out loud often takes away a lot of their power. Some of the most common reactions are ‘that’s not very likely to happen’ or ‘now that I think about it, that fear doesn’t even make sense’.
So go ahead, grab a piece of paper and write down now what scares you from following that big dream of yours.
If some of the risks you’ve listed above are real, this step is for you.
Next to each risk or threat, brainstorm a few ideas of how you could minimize that risk. Who could help you? Who’s done this before? How did they do it? The more you focus on the elements that you can control, the more manageable that risk will become.
When I was about to move to London to study for my Masters in Psychology I took a £15,000 loan. It was a very real risk. Before taking the loan I talked to other people who had studied abroad and brainstormed a few ideas of my own. Those actions resulted in me finding out about a special ‘study abroad scheme’ for masters students which meant I got very low interest rates, a year’s payment holiday and 10 years to pay off that loan. Suddenly it didn’t feel so massive after all.
Try these steps out, my hope for you is that they stop your voice from deciding for you, letting you do what you really want.
I’d love to hear what you’ve found most useful from these tips. Comment below or email me at Karen@the1bigthing.com
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