How to deal with the voice in your head

Published on May 3, 2022

I don't know if you smiled or if your stomach churned when you read the title. 

What I am sure of is that you knew exactly what I was talking about: the voice in your head that seems to fulfill several roles, sometimes simultaneously. 

You may recognise how it’s providing a running commentary of what is going on, with an added dose of meaning attached to it: they didn’t respond to your job application (which is what happened) so they probably think you are not experienced enough (added meaning), and anyway it’s a shit company (more added meaning).

Or perhaps you recognise its opinions or its ability to tell you what not to do: don’t go for a bigger job because you’re not ready, and you’re not good enough, and imagine what happens if you make a mistake, how they will judge you for not being a good fit, and they will regret hiring you, and then they’ll find ways to sideline you, and then you’ll have to leave, and then what happens to the mortgage?

If you don’t manage the voice in your head, it will start managing you. It will take over. It will keep you stuck. Sometimes it may even keep you in what appears to be a perfectly content and safe place - and yet, something will be missing.

If you’ve even wondered how to distinguish between the voice in your head and your intuition, your heart or your gut, here’s a tip: the voice in your head will always have a negative tone. It will always have a criticism, a ‘what if’, will always make you feel bad, guilty, not (insert quality here) enough. Whereas your heart will always tell you what you desire most.

So how do you manage the voice in your head?

 1. Allow it

The first thing to know is that it has your best interests at heart. This may sound strange but all it really wants is for you to stay as you are, doing what you know, stay safe. Not change, not dare, not take risks. Knowing that it is trying to protect you will help you take the first step: allow it to be.

Make room for it, don’t try and silence it, ignore it, shut it. It will never work. It has a job and it will never cease doing it.

Instead, recognise it and allow it to be. Observe it.

The person observing it is usually you, completely separate from the voice. You are not that voice.

Understanding this will help you take the next step.

2. Acknowledge it 

By this I mean recognise that it has a role and that it is trying to protect you. Acknowledge that you may be in a challenging or triggering situation and that it makes sense the voice would appear. Acknowledge it needs to be heard.

3. Act 

When you allow and acknowledge the voice, you recognise yourself as distinct from it. You are no longer reactive. You can choose how you want to act, regardless of the voice that is telling you not to do it, that you are not good enough, that it may not work, etc.

I sometimes tell my clients to imagine the voice being on a chair to their side. They can allow it and acknowledge its presence, say ‘thank you, but I’ve got this’, and then take action. Apply for that job. Make that call. Give that presentation. Ask for that payrise. Do the very thing the voice told you not to.

This is a practice. Do it over and over again. You will see huge difference in your life.

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