Have you ever listened that tiny voice in your head? The one that tells you that you are not able to take into your passion. That one that plays you down in the most crucial of the moments. The one I called the inner naysayer.
That one is your inner voice, it may be a bit neurotic, and have a lot of negativity going around. But as anything, it can be changed, and you can turn it into an empowering ally, if you are willing to so some work.
If left unchecked, your inner voice can lead you to something called self defeat. Let’s explore this terrible consequence.
The inner demon of self defeat
It’s time to remember for a little while. Do you remember that time when you were about to do something and that little voice in your head said “you are going to screw this one up” and it just happens?
If you answered yes, relax you are a human being, you can even ask around and most people can recall one moment like that. I could go on and on about several of those, but that’s boring.
Self defeat is a very problematic consequence of a negative inner voice. It simply puts you down each time you want to succeed. The problem is that you may have been suffering it for so long that now is simply normal or second nature.
If you still don’t believe or are not sure if you are inflicted with a self defeating inner voice, just answer this simple question: Would you allow someone else to talk to you in the same way you talk to yourself?
Some time ago, I would have said no, because I was inflicted with a very abusing inner voice. Now I would tell you, yes of course. I hope everyone would talk to me like my current inner voice.
If you suffer from destructive beliefs, you probably suffer from a negative inner voice too.
The good news is that you can change this, the not so cool news is that you will have to work really hard, but trust me on this one, it’s well worth it.
Finding a more positive inner voice
Before any true change can really happen you need to find the right inner voice for you. As usual I will use myself as a example, as I have dealt with an inner voice that was so abusive you could even think I hated myself.
When I started into my path towards a better me, I decided that one thing that really had to go was my terrible inner voice. I was filled with great intentions and a passion to do things, but I always thought I was inferior, just because my inner voice kept saying it over and over.
The first step is that I would love to have an inner voice that would allow to feel good with myself. So I started to design an inner voice that I would really love. As usual, this process starts by asking yourself some questions.
- How would you describe it? Your voice should be empowering, but you may want to add some other values to it, perhaps a little bit generous or kind, loving and warm, or epic and heroic.
- How do you want to feel? Your voice may act heroic, and that may make you feel powerful and full of courage. Define how you want to feel and you will certainly find the right voice.
- How can it be better than the one you have now? This may seem obvious but it’s truly important that you answer it. Yes, it’s because you want to feel better, but what would change? The answer will become truly important during this process.
I encourage you to write it down, but as long as you remember it clearly, it’s ok. Now it’s time to start changing one for the other.
Applying the Kaizen way
Have you ever heard the concept of Kaizen? I will spare you all the details, but it’s a concept you may want to explore further. In very simple words, it would mean something like constant improvement. The idea is to make small sustainable changes so that you can always find room to improve.
The advantage here is that the change will be meaningful and you will be able to accept it and make true long lasting change, which is exactly what you need to get rid of any negativity in your inner voice.
In my particular case, I decided to stop playing down my own skills and start empowering myself to grow and always improve on my existing skills. To achieve this, I had to find the precise moment when my inner voice played me down. I started to look for the trigger.
The trigger is no other thing that an action or feeling that as the name implies, triggers the action. In my particular case the trigger was looking to other work that was better than mine.
I applied two different strategies to keep me on the route to a more empowering inner voice. First, I removed as many possibilities as I could that led me to the trigger, to accomplish this I unsubscribed a lot of design blogs, that way I avoided all the showcase articles. The second, I decided to start shifting the way I talked about my work. I started to refer to my latest work as better than the previous one, this felt like growing.
You can do the same idea, try as hard as you can to remove whatever triggers your negative inner voice into action, and start using a more positive version (the one you designed) as often as you can.
Take notice that, at first, you won’t have super amazing results, that’s why I like you to understand the Kaizen way, slowly but surely you will start to fade the negative version and replace it with the more positive one.
Destroying the old trigger
After a some time and practice, your positive voice will start to be more dominant. You will have fewer occurrences of the old negative inner voice. This is the best time to strike the final blow and end your self defeating demon and his minion, the negative inner voice.
It’s time for you to destroy the trigger, because no matter how much I tried, I would still find great examples of design around the world. So I started to build a compendium of proof that I was producing great designs too.
I would ask to friends and teachers for feedback, as well to my little client base I had back then. I asked them about the results of my work and some were truly amazing. This made me feel like I had been doing some awesome work.
If you start to pile up proof against your negative inner voice, you will soon realize that one day the old trigger just vanishes in thin air, leaving you only with the powerful and positive version in your life.
Taking your inner voice to the next level
Once the old trigger is gone, it’s time to start looking for more ways to improve your self talk. You won a hard battle and you should really celebrate, but it’s also a perfect moment since you built some momentum to start reaching for a little bit more.
Take another moment to discover other small triggers that let your inner voice behaves badly and keep repeating the process.
Sooner rather than later you will see that your inner voice is now enabling you to take some bold actions and it’s ready to help you even the hardest of the challenges.
Now, you know how to take charge of your inner voice, and the best time to start is right now!
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