We all have one but no one else can hear it. Yep, you got it. I’m talking about that little voice in your head. Sometimes it can do more harm than good. Nobody else can hear the voice whisper “Oh, I can’t do that” or “I’m not good enough”. Do you remember the first time you heard it? How about the first time you hesitated to do something? When I was a child, I watched from the sidewalk as the kids on the street played hockey. The other kids would invite me over to play, but I would just shake my head sideways. “I can’t” The voice whispered. I sat back and watched the kids smile, laugh, and yell in excitement. Even though I really wanted to join the fun, my inner voice held me back.
Now don’t get me wrong here, sometimes the voice keeps you in line with the values you were taught as a kid growing up. Let’s call that part of your inner voice your moral compass. Right or wrong? Good or bad? Our moral compass allows us to function in society according to our cultural norms. It’s the part we want to keep and once awhile retune. Let’s address the inner voice that puts you down, stops you from new experiences, or limits your opportunities. This the voice we can change.
It is one thing to just think of happy positive thoughts but let’s take it a step further. Let’s beyond “I can do it” or “You can do it!”. These phrases alone will only encourage us temporarily. Let’s aim for lasting change. A tool in our toolbox that we can turn to time and time again when that little voice whispers doubt.
Over the years, I started to have a dialogue with my inner voice. Strange as you might find it, I started questioning the “I can’t do that” moments. I started asking “Why”? Why can’t I? Once I found the answer to why? It then brought me to “What” do I need to do?Then once I found the answer to What? I then started to ask myself “How do I”? This simple process in itself has led me towards countless opportunities and experiences. Hell, I wouldn’t be writing in this blog if I stopped at “I’m not good enough”. I went through Why, What, & How, and Here I am now! ( You can quote me on that one 🙂 )
Eventually, my inner dialogue stopped using the words “I can’t”. If it does, It’s only for a moment, and then my habit” “Kickz” in. ( Yep ) I begin to think oh yeah why not? I perceive obstacles as challenges, mountains to climb so to speak. You too can free yourself to your limitations of your mind with these three words. Confidence comes with knowledge and practice of a craft. Why What & How will give what you seek in all of your endeavors.
Show me the proof you say?
In a University of Waterloo study “Training Impulsive children to talk themselves: A means of developing self-control”, Meichenbaum and Goodmen use instructional self-talk as a means for impulsive children to tackle their problems. Below is an excerpt of their work, but before you read on I’d like you to bring you to a different state of mind. Remember as a child you when you were naive and ignorant of the world? Filled with so much imagination and wonder? Take a moment to imagine you as your five-year-old self. Ok ready? Now try speaking the words out loud. ( Or in your head – readers choice )
Okay, what is it I have to do? You want me to copy the picture with the different lines. I have to go slow and be careful. Okay, draw the line down, down, good; then to the right, that’s it; now down some more and to the left. Good, I’m doing fine so far. Remember go slow. Now back up again. No, I was supposed to go down. That’s okay. Just erase the line carefully. . . . Good. Even if I make an error I can go on slowly and carefully. Okay, I have to go down now. Finished. I did it.
How good did that feel? Now, what if your five-year-old-self came across trying to copy the same picture, failed, threw pencil down and said with teary eyes: “I can’t do this It’s too hard”. What kind of feeling does this kind of attitude leave you with? Not so good is it? I bet you would do everything you could to convince your past self otherwise!
The Two Wolves
A Cherokee elder was teaching his grandchildren about life.
He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight between two wolves.
One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, hatefulness, and lies.
The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, humbleness, kindness, friendship, generosity, faith, and truth.
This same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person, too.”
The children thought about it for a minute. Then one child asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”
The Cherokee elder replied…
“The one you feed.”
The study goes on to show children who followed this model of verbalized behavior were more adaptive to learning and achieved higher test scores. They then applied the same model of self-verbalization towards other applications such as smokers, addicts, & the speech anxious. When this process was used, all groups showed greater behavioral change & persistence. If you followed along in our little exercise you can clearly see why this method works.
Question. Answer. Self-instruction. Self-reinforcement. This is the whole process in a nutshell. Begin to ask yourself Why & What & How and guide yourself through any problem you come across. Don’t you dare let the five-year-old in you wallow in defeat!
Till next time!
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Did you follow along with our little exercise? What was it like? What would YOU like our next “Why?” to be about? and Why!? ( I hope you have been enjoying the theme! ) Be sure to write your thoughts in the comments below!