The Secret to Finding Your Own Voice
The voice in your head is someone else, who sounds like you. Don’t trust it.
Inner voices are the disguised voices of people from your past.
Your inner critic is the voice of an angry parent, teacher, or family member. Remember how they put you down? Now, you do the same to yourself.
Nothing satisfies. You always fall short.
When inner critics win, insecurity and people-pleasing take over.
You don’t try new things because you were protected from failure while you were growing up. They didn’t let you try new things. When you stumbled, they rushed in to keep you from skinning your knee.
Over-protection is rejection.
When parents or bosses over-protect, they tell people they’re not capable. If you had a dominant protector in your past, your inner voice keeps saying, “Be careful,” and “You can’t do it, so you better not try.”
You tell yourself you’re awesome, but you haven’t earned it. You can’t distinguish between intrinsic human value and performance. Someone helped you accept mediocrity by coddling you.
Today, you expect something for nothing, because you “deserve” it.
I’ve been on this planet over half a century. Once in a while, I hear my own voice. But, most of the time, I’m reacting or responding to intruders in my head.
If you’d like to find your inner voice, eliminate outsiders. The next time your inner voice tells you something, ask, “Who are you,” and “What do you really want?”
Sadly, the voices you’ve been hearing, sound remarkably like someone else. Have them take a seat on the bench. Eventually, the last voice you hear will be yours.
The only way to find your voice is to silence the others.
How are you finding your inner voice?
“:When parents or bosses over-protect, they tell people they’re not capable.” Light.Bulb.Moment.
Thanks Susan. Best for the journey!
I agree fully to this “When inner critics win, insecurity and people-pleasing take over.”… it is so true about the “INNER VOICE”–we either miss it as we are too afraid to mess with it… what if it is true?
Thanks sourabh. I’m an expert at listening to my inner critic. 🙂
Prayer and Meditation.
It is all in the Steps. You just have to figure that out.
YW Dan, also wanted to say how profoundly appreciative I AM to all Veterans and their loved ones who have sacrificed for me to be FREE.
For me, life is a duet. Best results come when I harmonize with who I am and who I am called to become.
Thanks Anthony. The forward-facing aspect of your comment feels great!
For me, listening for the voice of God is critical here. I don’t mean to over-spiritualize this. It’s just a reality that God knows me better than I know myself and is eager for me to find and grow into my own voice. The Spirit of God also helps me discern which voices are lying to me and stealing from me.
Great post Dan! Meaningful reminder to keep listening, discerning, and living into that voice God has put within us. It certainly contributes to better leadership!
Thanks Steve. I’m glad you brought your spiritual journey to the conversation. I struggle with discerning my voice from the voice of others or God. They all sound like me.
Thanks for the post Dan. Perhaps someone could comment on the way we manage our health and the strength of these inner voices.
WOW – “the only way to find your own voice is to silence the others” and first I need to ID them. Thanks.
One way to find your inner voice is to forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made. I have found it’s easier to forgive others for hurting me than it is to forgive myself and allow myself to move on. Too often we define ourselves by what we did wrong or failed to do right, when it’s the opposite we should be remembering and building upon. Lies that have taken root in our hearts can be overcome when we acknowledge them to ourselves and others whom we trust – that’s when our true inner voice really begins to assert itself, and watch out world when that happens!
Amazing how much power the inner voice has over us. It lives in that box called our comfort zone. To have an extraordinary experience, we have to think “outside the box”.
It is said we are born with only two fears: The fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All other fears are taught to or socialized in us. But inadvertently, not knowingly–as our parents and authority figures learned what they lived too and thus cannot be blamed.
Like every other aspect of our personal and professional life, our answer and solution is to unlearn. UNLEARNING is as important as learning. Unlearning is learning! What was once thought–is hard to be un-thought. It is almost as difficult to make someone unlearn one’s errors as their knowledge. All of us who are worth anything–invest in UNLEARNING our follies or expiating the mistakes of our youth. We unlearn to learn what unites and what separates us, and what gnaws at our heart.
Excitement vs. fear. What’s right vs. who’s right. Critique vs. criticism. What’s grounded in professional fulfillment vs. behavior based on fear, guilt and anger. When we’re focused on betterment, we reboot our mind’s computer, replace that negative inner critic with a set of new commands, and head in the direction of our positive input.
Sitting in silence for extended periods of time, focusing on a single positive thought (mantra), gently dismissing the thousand other thoughts that creep in…
By ignoring ALL the inner voices, we allow ourselves a break from mind chatter. Choose a mantra that resonates for you. Mine is ‘peace.’
During my lunch hour, I shut my office door, close the blinds, and set a timer for 20 minutes to do just this.
I spend 90-95% of the time inadvertently listening to chatter, but the 5-10% that remain are spent redirecting and focusing on peace. The supervisor who gently redirects my thoughts back to peace is definitely my higher self connected to my inner voice. As I continue the practice, I suspect I will get to know this “still small voice” that Steve Young recognizes as God. Building a relationship with that voice is key to my mental and spiritual well-being.
Great post, Dan. I like the open ended ness…I expected an answer, but it came as a question to your body of readers. Thank you for the opportunity to share my personal method.
I recently was promoted to a leadership position within my company. Seems I could keep the voices at bay in my previous position, but they are loud and intrusive in my new role. Appreciate your insight on the subject. Keep ’em coming Dan.
Here’s a clue to distinguishing the voice of authentic self and the malignant echo of negative self-talk. If the voice you hear is in the second person – as in “you should or shouldn’t” or “you’re not ready, good enough, smart enough” or “you’re fat, ugly, unlovable” – it’s almost always that malignant echo of things said to you in the past – words that hurt, stuck, and metastasized (that’s what cancer does).
If what you hear is in the first person – as in “I really want to or need to…” or “I’m not ready for that test tomorrow” or “If I could be or do anything I would…”
Note: for most of us the default mechanism is the second person echo. It usually takes a conscious act of will to speak to yourself in the first person – which is why the most effective affirmations are in first person and not second person.
Caveat: the malignant echo of negative self-talk is devious and will try to impersonate the authentic voice of first person. If you hear an inner voice whining “If only I won the lottery…” you can be sure that is not your authentic best self talking to you, it’s the malignant echo of negative self-talk trying to convince you that you yourself are not capable of achieving your dreams unless someone else gives you the money or takes the risk or does the work for you.
This is so paradigm shifting I am struggling with the right preface to share out this post and ensure others open and read it. There is no single word I can find, via my internal voices or others, that encapsulates the potential for an “aha” moment here.
I plan to work this evocative concept into my meditation and see what I find.
“If you’d like to find your inner voice, eliminate outsiders. The next time your inner voice tells you something, ask, “Who are you,” and “What do you really want?””
Great piece. As per usual, has me really reflecting.
I feel that the problem is that for some they have come to depend on others to be their voice and when they strip back all of those voices in their head they are left with nothing, no one or does EVERYONE have a voice, they just need to find it.
Profound, thought provoking words. Thanks for sharing.
It took me many years to learn that you can dialog with the inner voice ( silently of course ) – when I read it in a book, it was a great relief – but a great sadness for the years lost.
Dan, wonderful as usual.Particularly loved the line “Can’t distinguish between intrinsic self worth and performance”.
First thought: I relate. Second thought: I must share this post with my daughter, since no doubt I have contributed to the conversations in her head – for which I hope she will forgive me. Third thought: what wonderful wisdom has been shared by all those who have contributed to this post. Thank you.
To Shelley – Agree completely and wondered to myself – “how can I keep from becoming that voice that over protects (ie – doesn’t trust) or over praises (ie – celebrates mediocrity for the sake of building self esteem)?”
One of the more astute posts I’ve read in awhile.
Interesting discussion following the post. I don’t know if I agree that the chorus of inner advisors who inhabit my noggin are a negative. Are the voices in your head encouraging you to act, and informing your decisions with the lessons learned over a lifetime? Or are the voices encouraging you to avoid risk and fail to act?
The inner critic can be the negative voice, telling you that nothing you do is good enough. Or it can be the positive voice telling you that you can do better this time than you did the last. The inner protector can be a negative, over protector discouraging action, or it can be the wise voice of experience helping you to avoid unnecessary risk.
The key is self awareness. If you are self aware, actively seeking feedback and striving to improve, your inner liar should be noticeably absent, allowing the other voices to be heard in a positive manner, and not in a negative one.