“You’re not good enough, and those past successes were just a fluke.”
The little voice in my head tells me this often. It has a tendency to pipe up whenever things aren’t going well, but sometimes it also pipes up when things are.
Maybe the little voice in your head tells you something different; or maybe you don’t have a little voice like that in your head at all, but a lot of us do.
Over the years I’ve tried a bunch of different things to quiet that little voice:
I’ve tried to ignore it.
I’ve attempted to argue with it by seeking out hard evidence to the contrary.
I’ve tried to crush it, suffocate it, or otherwise destroy it, and I’ve beaten myself up endlessly for being stupid enough to pay attention to it.
None of those things worked.
Why didn’t those things work? It’s because that little voice in my head is me.
I was trying to ignore myself, argue with myself, seeking to destroy myself, and then I was beating myself up because none of it was working.
This is not a recipe for a happy life, and it makes it much harder to do good work.
This year I’ve been doing a course with Kirsty Hulse called Confidence Now; and Kirsty suggested trying something a little different:
“Listen to that little voice, and think about what it’s trying to tell you”
She suggested that there’s likely a positive intention buried somewhere in there. Most of the time those little voices in our heads are trying to protect us.
And so, I gave it some thought. Here’s what I think my little voice is trying to say:
“You keep on trying to do these things which don’t always work out well, and then you feel bad about yourself.
Don’t you think you’d feel better about yourself if you just stopped doing these things?”
That little voice is actually pretty smart.
Because I do sometimes think things like: “Would I be happier if I didn’t do this job?”.
But deep down I know that doing something other than what I’m doing right now would actually make me less happy.
As a result of doing this exercise I have a better relationship with the little voice in my head. It’s still not quiet, and I don’t think it ever will be. But now I understand what it’s trying to tell me I don’t feel the need to try to argue with it, or get angry with myself about it.
Being less preoccupied with that little voice has made it easier for me to do my work.
If you have a similar little voice, maybe trying that exercise will help you too.