October. Time for spooky movies, haunted houses, and gory costumes. But even these Halloween traditions are not as scary those terrifying voices. You know the ones I’m talking about. Those voices that come from the shadows, that you can’t see, and that say the most vile, horrible things.
I’m talking about the voices that live in your head.
We all have them.
You’re not good enough.
Not ready enough. Not smart enough.
Not a good enough mom. Not a good enough partner.
Not doing enough to get that promotion.
YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH!
Ooof. That one is scary. But look out! Here’s another one.
Are you sure that’s right?
Did you make a mistake?
Oh my goodness, it wasn’t right and now everyone is going to know you don’t know what you’re doing?
Do you have any idea what you are doing?
YOU NEED TO BE PERFECT!
Run! Maybe it’s safe over here.
Don’t even think about trying something new.
That’s not who you are. You’re going to mess up.
Everyone is going to think you look ridiculous.
What if you fail? Isn’t it just easier to not even try?
DON’T TAKE ANY RISKS!
What are your inner voices saying to you? Coaches have lots of names for these voices: inner critics, saboteurs, gremlins. Whatever you want to call them, they are scary!
Learn Their Names
A recent client told me that her inner critics say horrible things. They say things that she would never imagine saying to anyone else. And yet these voices run rampant in her head.
Can you relate? I know I can.
In a recent session with my coach (yes, coaches have coaches too!), I identified a new inner critic that I’ve been dealing with. I’ve named him The Sucker. The Sucker who lives in my head looks like a panther with mean eyes and huge paws with sharp claws.
I named him The Sucker because he sucks my joy, confidence, and/or motivation whenever I’m doing something that’s a little bit out of my comfort zone. He’s like a vacuum cleaner for my mojo.
The Sucker is actually here with me right now as I write this. He’s telling me, “No one cares about what you have to say. Just stop.”
Excuse me while I have a little conversation with The Sucker…
I think I have something important to say. I’m not going to stop. Go lay down and take a nap.
Don’t Be Scared
These voices are persistent, but you can outlast them. Here are a couple things to try to make them less scary:
- Give them a microphone. This might sound counterintuitive because we want to get rid of these voices. But one way to lessen their power is to actually turn up the volume. Let them talk. Let them get it all out. Recognize that this is just one perspective that is not necessarily true.
- Talk back. You might feel like a crazy person if you talk back to the voice in your head, but you’re not. This is your chance to explore new perspectives and think about what is true, what is scary, and what you really want to do.
And when I say talk back, I mean actually use your voice. Your inner voice wants to fight you in your head. As soon as you start saying these thoughts out loud, you’ll notice they have a lot less power.
These voices can be scary but that doesn’t mean you need to be scared. And imagine what is possible when the voices aren’t holding you back!
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