6 steps to getting past the noise that traps us from moving forward
We all have a voice that guides us. Call it what you like: gut instinct, intuition, radar, or inner GPS. Sometimes that voice serves us well and protects us. It has our back and lets us know that something isn’t good for us; it prods us to exercise more, eat well, take better care of ourselves, and pushes us to do great things. But, for sure, that same inner voice can also be the noise that serves as adversary, betrayer, foe, disputant and, ultimately, “the saboteur”.
Whose voice is it?
What I have come to learn is that for me the saboteur’s voice represents the old, worn-out, toxic and no longer relevant non-truths that play in my head as if on a loop, rooted in one phrase: “I am not enough.”
Unfortunately for many of us, that negative voice is not new. If you’re like me, the voice of my saboteur often sounds like my authoritarian father who had a way of saying things like, “You only got a 99 on that test?! Why not 100?!”
As a mature and healthy adult, I can see the absurdity of my dad’s message to me: “Be perfect or you are not good enough.” Truth be told, that message served me very well for most of my life. I graduated high school and college with almost straight As, got a job with a Big 8 public accounting firm, built a national recruiting firm, married well and had 2 beautiful children. But at almost 55 years old, I realize that the same voice that encouraged me is also my worst enemy; the opposition that makes me feel “less than” and limited all too often.
This isn’t a “Self-Help” blog, why here?
I share this insight with you because I am pretty sure that while everyone’s voice of the saboteur comes from a different source and sends its recipient a different message, I do believe there is a common theme. Our old recordings that play over and over in our minds serve us; that is, until they no longer do. And when those messages constrain us, it’s definitely time to let them go.
While I could wax poetic about all the times in my life when that pesky foe’s voice sowed the seeds of doubt and stopped me from having fun or feeling totally at ease, I think the more important message here is how it affects us professionally. There is a constant inner struggle that we all have between the friend and the foe: The one voice in our head that simultaneously sends two conflicting messages—one that cheers us on and the other that holds us back.
So, how do we get past all this noise?
- Become the observer of your thoughts. Just watch them as if they were the passing clouds in the sky or waves in the ocean. And pass they will, if you allow them to.
- Know that you are not your thoughts. The old recordings that play – the betrayer’s voice, the toxic messages – are only the truth if you choose to believe them.
- Don’t get attached to your thoughts. Choose to relax and release the ones that no longer serve you.
- Come up with a positive mantra to replace the negative ones. Tell that negative voice it’s not in charge. “I am enough; I am more than enough,” is my personal favorite. I also like: “I have before and I will again.”
- Be willing to take calculable and appropriate risks. Trust the multitude of times when you heard the negative speak, but chose to leap in spite of it.
- Take your cues from your inner champion instead. Identify your passions and be true to them. Learn to channel your own intuition, not one manufactured by outside sources.
It took me all these years to come to the realization that while I have been hard wired to believe the “CRAP” – Constant, Repressive, Annoying, Poppycock – I can choose to override and ignore it.
As a recruiter, I talk with people everyday who are faced with choices:
“Is this the legacy I want to leave?
“Do I want to retire from my firm?”
“Do I want to work as an employee or become an entrepreneur?”
“How do I decide between stay vs. go?”
…and a million others, too numerous to mention here.
Of course, running a business is all about forks in the road and decisions we have to make in order to move forward. But what becomes problematic is staying stagnant by default, allowing inertia to take hold because you are hearing the voice of the betrayer—that old annoying voice in your head that tells you that you aren’t smart enough, good enough, capable enough, or successful enough to accomplish anything more than you are right now. And so, as a result, you choose to ignore the champion’s voice – the soulful one that is encouraging you to follow your true passion and purpose – and listen instead to the noise that drags you down and makes you feel really bad, limits and constrains you. What a shame that is!
That inner struggle does not need to be a constant. While inaction is an option, it will likely keep you from finding and achieving your full potential. Learning to trust the “right voice” – your own gut instinct – can allow you to stretch beyond the edges that constrain you. It takes courage; but trust me, it is SO well worth it.