Whose Voice Is It Anyway?
I was so lucky when my friend Dave said “Who says you’re not good enough?!?”
That was many years ago. Needless to say, our conversation blew my mind. He was actually asking who I was listening to in my head and questioning whether it was really my voice!
I had never thought it wasn’t my voice. After all, it was in my head.
I had been complaining about a work situation, my social life, etc. But really my situation was fine. It was how I was feeling about it, and what I was believing about both the situation and myself that was the problem. “Not good enough.” “Not Good Enough.” “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”
Those words—in their varying intensities at various moments—were affecting my life. Those words… not good enough… created other unhelpful thoughts as well. I would struggle with something I knew I was fully capable of doing but feeling I couldn’t do. I would express doubt and need good friends to help me see myself accurately, or I would give myself a good talking to so that I could proceed.
What a struggle! Where did this contradiction come from?
It was so exciting to imagine—and then recognize—that what I believed was my own internal voice was actually one that I co-opted from teachers, parents, or disheartening situations. The self-criticism came from messages I received growing up.
Why is it easier to hold on to the negative messages than the positive?
My experience as a psychotherapist and coach is that we tend to feel the impact of negative messages more deeply because they often catch us off guard or conflict with our self-perception. Unconsciously, we internalize these negative inputs more than we should.
That was what I had been doing. That self-talk had become a habit and a belief system. It was so incredibly freeing to realize that I could evaluate each of those questionable thoughts.
First, I became curious about when and where I had heard that message. Then I began to evaluate and decide whether I agreed with the message.
That gave me the agency to choose! Did I believe it? Was the thought really true? Did the negative message evolve over time? Was it a real representation of the real me? If not, I wasn’t born with it. Did I want that message to be mine?
Mostly, that negative talk is not true. It comes from hurt, unkind words, and moments when we have not been at our best. If you aren’t happy with some of the self-talk/self-doubt/self-critical messages that you are experiencing, try to be a detective and begin choosing which messages to listen to. Sometimes it helps to talk to a good friend, or a professional (like a life coach or a therapist) to sort it out if you get stuck.
Bottom line: The time has come to choose. Choose to allow you to be you – fully and freely -without restriction!
Have a comment or a question? I would love to hear your thoughts!
In the meantime, choose you!