Confidence at Work: How Do I Stop That Negative Voice in My Head?
The Mental 'Gremlin' Voice
Ugh...that negative voice in your head.
You know the one.
It tells you things like: "That was a really stupid thing to say," and "You should have done that," or "You should have known that." (More about stopping 'shoulds' here.)
What does your negative voice say to you?
What’s it sound like?
Can you isolate it?
We've all got a negative voice. Some term it a gremlin, an evil twin. Arianna Huffington called that voice 'the obnoxious roommate in your head.'
And we all have a positive one.
Listening for the 'Evil Twin'
When I work with clients on confidence, usually we start by having the client just notice when the negative voice is 'talking.' What's the situation? What's the voice saying? What's s/he sound like?
A few months ago I was working with a client I'll call Jill.
Jill tried the 'just notice' exercise for a week and we talked about what she noticed.
What did her negative voice say?
She told me that the voice says: "I don't deserve to be in this job. That I really should have spoken up in that meeting but I was afraid I was going to say something stupid."
Well, no WONDER she lacks confidence. I would too, if that's what I told myself.
Where Does the Evil Twin Come From?
This negative voice is a reflex...a habit.
And as we grow and listen and evolve, we either choose to listen to this voice and give it an attentive audience, or we learn to develop a different muscle and talk back.
The negative voice can gain traction and become a bigger muscle, or it can be balanced out by logic and reason by your real self, your logical self.
So for right now...
Notice what you're saying to yourself. Notice the situations where negative self-talk happens more. Make a note when you can of the situation, who else was there, and what you were saying to yourself.
Keep it up for about a week.
After that, check your notes. Do you see/feel any patterns? Common situations, certain people?
This takes practice. We're looking to identify that negative voice so we can isolate it.
Right now, you may not even be aware of what it's doing and its power in your head.
(And by the way, that negative voice? It's not you.)