Make those negative inner voices shut up...or laugh along with you
Posted April 20, 2011
We all have voices in our heads that tell us we’re not good enough. These voices grow from seeds that are usually planted early in our lives by others—parents, siblings, teachers, friends, society. Our job is to quit watering them. And for heaven’s sakes, don’t fertilize them!
Many of the things people have told us about ourselves become part of our own thinking without us even realizing that these thoughts didn’t originate with us. We may hear voices that say: I’m not good at my job, I’m lazy, I’m unlovable, I’m failing as a parent, these shoes make me look fat, I embarrass people (and not just my children), or I used to be thinner, smarter and more attractive. As long as you don’t hear voices that say you have tiger blood and Adonis DNA, you’re probably perfectly normal!
Most of our voices come from fear of failure and the more we allow that fear to dictate to us, the more stressed out and paralyzed we become. Studies have found that people with very low self-esteem have the most vicious and demoralizing inner voices. And it can be a never-ending cycle.
Studies into the placebo effect have found that the way we react to the idea of something has as great an effect on us physically as the event itself. This is true of both positive and negative thinking. In fact, studies are now suggesting that our mind isn’t located just in the brain, but throughout the body, so when our voices think negatively, it is our entire body doing the thinking and feeling the consequences. And when we think positively, the same is true.
Here are some tips for quieting your negative inner voices and thinking more positively with your entire body:
1. Hang out with people whose positive voices can shut off your negatives ones. When you’re laughing so hard you spit coffee (or tea, milk, soda, chocolate milk…) out your nose, your inner voices are going to laugh right along.
2. Draw your inner voices. If you recognize a voice as, say, a junior high school teacher, you don’t have to draw the person—draw what the voice represents to you (a hammer, a zero, a horned-toad, etc.) By drawing, you help take the voices out of your head where you can look at them and what they do to you.
3. Talk back to your voices. Say things such as: “No one around here believes you! or “I’m rubber and you’re glue…”
4. Use the power of distraction. Focus on something else. Something funny, something fuzzy, something sexy. All of these work. Exercise and play are really good distractions because they move you from your head to your body.
5. Hang around young children whose voices are fun and positive. Children before the age of approximately 5 don’t have all those voices in their heads and can help remind you of the joy of being free of negative voices. Plus, you get such good advice from young kids, such as “Never let your mom comb your hair when she’s mad.” One of my favorite quotes from Brian Andreas is: “I wouldn’t mind being a grown-up, she said, if I didn’t have to wake up and be grumpy first thing every morning.” True that!
6. Learn to take the negatives your voices spew at you and turn them into comedy. The pivot point at which things don’t go as we had hoped is when we fall into confusion, embarrassment, guilt, frustration, apathy, etc. This is also the point where you can choose to find humor.
Leigh Anne Jasheway is a motivational speaker and stand-up comic who speaks at 40-60 conferences and workshops and performs at more than 30 shows a year. To date, more than one-quarter million people have seen her presentations. She has a masters degree in public health, is an expert in stress management, and has 15 published books. Leigh Anne has won numerous writing awards, including the 2003 Erma Bombeck Humor Writing Competition. Her website is AccidentalComic.com.