You know that voice in your head – the one that tells you that you will never succeed, that you will never be good enough, that you will never BE enough and that it is stupid to believe in yourself when you don’t know if you can do it yet. That right it’s the voice of self-doubt.
We learn to self-doubt very early in life. The first time we fall over, when we don’t stop running and our well-meaning parents tell us to be more careful. We learn not to do painful things. And the little voice in your head – well his or her job is to stop you doing painful things, to keep you safe. It learns as a child that grown-ups are always right – because when they say – “If you run down the stairs you will fall and hurt yourself” guess what happens? Yep – you find out they were right. When they say “don’t touch that it’s hot” – guess what happens? Yep – you touch it and hurt yourself. And when they say (as happened to a good friend of mine) “Yes it’s lovely that you have a good voice and are the leader of your school choir, but you can’t make a living out of singing” – guess what happens? She believed them and never became a singer (despite having a voice of an angel).
And then, when you are a grown up – your voice of doubt really comes into its own. You see, now there are no parents there now to tell you those things (or maybe there are! Lol), so it’s your little voice of doubt has to do it all the more. It wants to keep you safe at all costs, and comfortable. And if you ignore it and try doing something and you fail – well it is there to tell you ‘I told you so. Why did you even think you could do that. Stop that craziness’. And you do.
You see, the problem with fighting the voice of self-doubt is that it just fights back harder and stronger. It turns out that the voice is not the little devil (as portrayed in cartoons), it is a small child – fearful, afraid, in fact terrified. And like a scared child, it will shout and scream and holler to hide the fact that it’s scared. So how can you deal with it?
Well, think of it as your own, real, small child. Would you ‘fight back’ against a small child? Would you scream at him or her? Would you put them down, tell them they are wrong and stupid? Would you ignore them until they went away (which they never do by the way – your children don’t leave home till they are adults. Just thought I’d mention it). Or would you nurture them and love them and try to understand them? Would you show them how to be brave? Would you take little steps?
My friend – the one with the unfulfilled singing potential, had a real situation with a small child which illustrates how to handle your inner voice of doubt. Her daughter at about 6, fell on an escalator and bruised her knee. She was then, understandably, frightened of escalators and stated she was never going on an escalator again. So my friend tried little steps. The first one was ‘will you go on the escalator if I carry you?’. This then progressed to ‘How about if you hold my hand and Daddy’s hand at the same time and if you are scared we can lift you up’. Then it was ‘Let’s you and me go on this together holding hands’. Gradually the little girls fear receded until she was able, as she got older, to go on without holding hands (though she still prefers to link arms on an escalator!).
So – here’s what I want you to do with your inner voice of doubt. Try to understand why it is saying the things it is saying. Know that it is trying to protect you – but that as a 6-year-old, it cannot know what is real or perceived danger. Be kind to it. Hear it but don’t accept what you hear as the whole truth. It is just the truth of a scared little child. Take small steps out of that comfort zone it wants to keep you in. And in doing so your inner voice will be placated and your comfort zone will expand, and you will be able to believe in yourself more and more, which will lead to you ultimately, being able to BE YOU. Because, contrary to what your inner voice may have been telling you, you ARE enough. In fact, I invite you to write this on every mirror in your house (I learned this from a very WHYs Woman – Maria Peer).
Which is what the fabulous WHYs Women on the Live Love Laugh Retreat are finding out about this weekend – amongst other things. Wish you were here! But since you aren’t – remember to Live, Love and Laugh every day and continue to BE YOU in your own unique way!