Don't let self-defeating talk steal your dreams. This article will show you how to strengthen your positive inner voice so that you can face life's opportunities with courage and confidence.
I started writing again in 1998. It had been more than 20 years since I'd considered pursuing this childhood dream of being an author.
I found myself easily frustrated when words, which sounded so heartwarming in my mind, failed to make the transition from my brain, down my arms and out my fingertips onto the computer screen. My pearls of wisdom were flat and without luster.
My inner voice would ask:
"What makes you think you can be a writer?"
"Don't you need to study English or journalism or something?"
"Don't you have better things to do with your time?"
"Do you think someone's actually going to read this?"
"Do you know how hard it is to get something published?"
Some days I would turn off the computer and walk away from my dream of being a writer. But I couldn't turn off this desire to write. So I would return to the computer, press keys, and try to create stories with my words.
This negative inner voice kept talking to me. It kept asking the same questions. It kept telling me that it would be easier if I just gave up. This voice was right. It would be easier to give up.
Yet another voice, soft and timid, kept urging me to pursue my dream. It reminded me that not every writer has a college degree in English or journalism; that there are always other uses for time, but that doesn't make them better; that someone will read and enjoy my stories; and that some writers actually do get published.
You may also struggle with self-defeating voices. They sabotage your dreams and limit your potential. They cause you, too, to doubt yourself and others. They cause you to feel envious, frustrated and hurt. They pull you down when you need to be lifted up.
When you are working to achieve your dreams, you need inner voices that offer encouragement, understanding and even forgiveness for those times when you fail in your own eyes. You need voices that remind you of all you have already done, not what you have yet to learn. You need voices that recognize failure as learning opportunities. You need voices that speak louder and more often than the voices of self-doubt and fear.
Everyone has inner voices: some positive, some negative. Which voice do you listen to most often? Do you listen to the voice that says: "I might fail" or "It's too much work. Let's watch television instead"? Your negative inner voices may be strong voices.
They may be familiar, comfortable voices. They may sound like the voices of your mother, father, schoolteacher, boss, neighbor or friend. They may be voices you have always listened to in the past.
A negative inner voice can keep you from accomplishing the easiest tasks. It can keep you where you are, where you think you are safe. Each time you try to move to a different level, it reminds you of the perils or work involved. It reminds you that you've never tried something like that before. It asks you what others will think if you try. It questions your motivation and accuses you of being selfish, greedy or jealous. It keeps you from living a happy, fulfilling life. It keeps you tied to the ground.
It keeps you down.
It keeps you down until you quiet your heart and mind enough to hear the other voice that speaks to you. It may be a soft voice, timid, frightened, barely heard. But when you open your heart and listen... the message of this voice is compelling. "You can do it," the voice says.
Both voices will speak to you. Both voices will try to be heard. Which one will you listen to? Which is the stronger voice? If you find yourself staring longingly at your dreams, and believing they are out of reach, you need to strengthen your positive inner voice.
Just like you can strengthen the muscles in your body, you can strengthen your inner voice. First, you need to assess your overall condition and identify the areas that are particularly weak. You need to think of the many aspects of your life: family, friends, community, work, health, hobby, self. Which of these areas are particularly susceptible to negative thoughts?
You can choose one area and develop a fitness plan. You can take a positive, proactive role in developing a positive inner voice. You can deal with your negative voices head on: addressing the issues the voices raise, questioning the validity of their harsh judgments, as well as the motivation behind them. Are these negative voices trying to protect you from something or are they trying to keep you from something?
What is the cost of listening to these negative voices compared to the benefits of listening to the positive voices? Each time you silence your negative inner voices with logic and honesty, you complete one strength-training repetition.
You can begin with one set of positive repetitions. To increase your strength, you will add more reps, then more sets. As you strengthen your positive inner voice, the exercises become easier. They become a part of your everyday existence.
You can't expect that a few days, weeks or months of building a positive voice will keep you healthy for a lifetime. Like the muscles in your body, your attitudes need constant exercise. They need to be pushed to their limits. You need to keep training them for the next challenge.
Throughout this book you will be given opportunities to exercise your positive inner voice. You will reflect on your character, your personality, your goals and more. You will ask yourself some hard questions and hopefully you will refuse to settle for soft answers. You will develop a healthier inner voice as you treat yourself with the same kindness, compassion and respect you would offer a special friend.
Your inner voices will do battle over the coming days, weeks, months, and years. You must prepare yourself. The victor rules your destiny.
About the Author
Donna Doyon, MAEd, helps people improve their personal and workplace relationships by showing them how to adapt their conversational style to fit any situation. She is the author of GLOW: Renew Your Spirit & Release Your Inner Beauty and Soggy Kisses & Sleepless Nights: The joys of motherhood. Learn more at www.donnadoyon.com