How to Answer the Voice in Your Head that Creates Things You Dread
Stress is self-inflicted. You might like to blame high prices or bad bosses, but stress is creating all our own crosses.
Stress is made by voices in your head, not circumstances, people, or events you dread.
You have a house full of voices whispering in your ear. Most are motivated by anxiety and fear.
The waiting place:
There’s a voice in your head that says, “You better not do that. You could end up dead.” Sometimes that voice is right. But more often, the voice of caution is an excuse to stay in bed.
The false safety of inaction prolongs the agonies of life.
Dr. Seuss believed the waiting place was the most useless place.
“You can get so confused
That you’ll start in to race
Down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
And grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
Headed, I fear, toward a most useless place,
The Waiting Place…”
The waiting voice justifies inaction.
- “They didn’t give me what I wanted.” Blame makes others responsible for your failure.
- “The timing isn’t right.” But perfect timing doesn’t even exist in fairy tales!
- “You need more information.” But it’s better to learn AS YOU GO instead of BEFORE you go.
Action answers the voice of dread in your head:
Mistakes of action are better than excuses for apathy.
Have you ever put something off because it was hard? Did your stress go down? Yes! But, in the end, inaction is more stressful than action.
Imperfect progress today is better than perfect progress tomorrow.
Distill your goal into something you can do today. Forget about great results. Take small action today.
Our ability to excel is only exceeded by our fear of screwing up.
A goal you can’t act on today is an anchor.
What excuses do leaders make for inaction?
How might leaders answer the seductions of inaction?
‘A goal you can’t act on today is an anchor.’
Thanks tooarbie. One of the things this means is few goals is better.
Everyone has these voices…Earlier in life, I don’t even know that I realized they were voices. They were just there…compelling me to do things and to not do things. Then I began recognizing and identifying them for what they were…self-constructed voices. Voices echoing anxiety, fear, unworthiness, etc.
A pivotal moment in my journey was beginning to question WHY they were even there to begin with and WHY some of those voices had such sway over me in certain circumstances.
Once you open a dialogue with those voices and challenge them with questions, their volume goes down and it opens up space for other, more positive voices to jump into the conversation.
Love this one Dan!
Thanks Josh. Such a useful comment. Nothing like a good dose of transparency to give power to ideas. You remind me that growth requires self-awareness. We have to notice something before we develop in that area.
Having a conversation with yourself is also essential, even if it is surprising. It’s still unexpected to me that we have inner voices that don’t help.
One other thought is that when you don’t take action and remain stationary, you are easier for the negative voices target. When you take action, even small action, you become a moving target that’s harder for the voices to lock in on. Oftentimes, I find that the antidote is to simply keep moving! And, as positive action occurs it brings reassurance that progress is being made.
When our demands (tasks, things we need to do, self-imposed standards) exceed our coping skills, we have a stress reaction. High demands often leads us to reduce or stop using some of our copings skills (working out, meditating, yoga) –so our stress reaction increases. We feel overwhelmed. We freeze and do nothing. Not good.
In high demand situations–decide one or two things you can stop doing immediately. Identify one or two things you can delegate, and keep using your coping skills.
Here is my formula
D > CS = Stress Reaction. So reduce your demands and increase your coping skills so you don’t get stressed out.
Taking action builds your confidence and helps you gain momentum.
Here is my video on managing your stress.
Thanks for extending the conversation Paul. I was just working on tomorrow’s post. I’ve defined stress as my response to the gap between ability and responsibility. I think that aligns a little with your idea of demand/coping skill. Cheers.
Love the formula and video Paul. Thanks for sharing!
Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
When you’re stressed and do nothing, you stop learning. Taking action, if nothing else helps you to keep learning.
This post is excellent. Dr. Suess has traveled these paths!
Four related resources:
Great at Work by Morten Hansen – Do less, then obsess.
Chatter by Ethan Kross – The voices in your head must be managed well.
Positive Intelligence by Sharzid Chamine – Some of your voices are Sabatuers. Identify them faster and accelerate the move to your Sage, who is open to learning and defining action.
Tim & Brian Kight’s socialization of E+R=O (Event + My Response = Outcome)
I think it was Bruce Lee who said, “The problem isn’t the problem. The problem is your attitude towards the problem.” And you know…that has helped me understand that 99% of problems are entirely internal, not external.
Thank you for a thought-provoking post. Some excuses leaders make for inaction include being so busy there is an inability to focus and not thoroughly evaluating the return. Finally, an issue I have sometimes fallen victim to is hopelessness due to feeling an innovative idea is impossible — a belief that everything good has been done.
A way to potentially combat these starts with, as you said, “Distill your goal into something you can do today.” On top of that, having a truncated to-do list that is more project-oriented. This can hopefully provide focus, lead to accomplishment, and combat exhaustive busy work. Inaction is like not communicating — it heightens stress in the long run.
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