The Battle of the Voices in Your Head

There are times when we have to do things that do not fall in our strengths wheelhouse but they need tending to. In these times, I’ve found that I am most vulnerable to self-doubt, which gives way to the Voice In My Head, the Saboteur, the Inner Critic or the Gremlin to play with my thoughts. The sole purpose of these voices is to maintain the status quo, to keep me playing safe and small. The voices highlight and heighten obstacles, create negative chatter, are judgmental and critical, which inhibits my growth.

It’s in these times that I need to be creative. I need to recognize that they are just voices in my head and that I have choices. How can I use the strengths I have been gifted to complete these tasks? Other times, I need to acknowledge that this would be a great place to collaborate with others who have been gifted with strengths that I don’t have. This is the sweet spot of interdependence!

Let’s take a deeper dive into recognizing and managing the Battle of the Voices In Your Head.

We can chose which Self dominates our thought process and way of being. Click To Tweet

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In his books on the Inner Game, author Tim Gallwey introduces the idea of Self 1 and Self 2. These “Selves” exist in everyone, whether we’re giving or receiving a message. Self 1 is the “big ego” — the know-it-all. It has been called the Voice In Your Head, the Saboteur, the Inner Critic and the Gremlin whose sole purpose is to maintain the status quo. Self 1 highlights and heightens obstacles and negative chatter, is judgmental and critical, which inhibits your growth.

Self 2 is the wise one, the authentic one — the real human being with inherent potential, including the ability to learn, grow and enjoy life.

When you act from Self 2, you are receptive and neutral. You observe and listen without any preconceived ideas. You are relaxed, focused, and able to take in and use information. You trust yourself to make good decisions. You extend trust to others because you act from a place of security and safety.

Self 1 does not trust. It acts from a place of insecurity and fear because it is always judging itself and others, while focusing on being right and protecting. Self 1 uses pressure and high standards to get the most out of itself and others. Because Self 1 does not trust natural abilities, it is critical and stressed much of the time.

These two Selves are evident in everyone; it’s a part of being human. However, we can chose which Self dominates our thought process and way of being.

The Critical Voice In Your Head

Guess which Self interferes with high performance? In everything from sports and music to work and relationships, Self 1’s stress and anxiety prevent high-performance results. With worry and lost confidence, you think about too many things at once, you tighten up, and you hit the ball into the net. That which you fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It is a vicious cycle — one that the inner game yearns for you to circumvent. Doing so involves recognizing the Voice In Your Head and observing nonjudgmentally. Don’t rush to change anything. Just observe yourself talking, listening and doing. Become acutely aware of feelings and responses. Nothing more. Just watch and learn.

You will soon see how Self 1, the Voice In Your Head, is active all the time, injecting opinions and criticisms. Self 1 distorts reality because it has an agenda — maintaining control, causing you to play small, to not take risks and all for the sake of maintaining the status quo.

Once you quiet Self 1’s voice, you have the opportunity to reframe the message of the voice. Self 2 becomes more self-assured and your authentic self emerges. It will know what to say in ways that are much more effective and influential to others. Its only agenda is to serve you.

Nonjudgmental Awareness

Author Tim Gallwey’s inner game is based on three principles:

1. Awareness
2. Trust

3. Choice

First, nonjudgmental awareness is restorative, allowing you to trust yourself and others. Awareness — noticing the Gremlin, the Saboteur, the Inner Critic — sets up the conditions for you to notice your options and then you can intentionally or consciously chose a course of action and restore the power over your thoughts.

The next time you need people to respond, communicate your message nonjudgmentally. Show trust in others. Let people be a part of choosing what needs to be done to accomplish desired results.

I would love to hear how you have successfully managed the Voice In Your Head. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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