The Battle of the Mind
The stages may vary from sports arena, to business board room, but the appearance of the mini saboteur in your head however is ubiquitous. No sooner have you begun to harbour notions of success and then BANG, up he pops to try and ruin everything, like rain at a barbeque. The inner dialogue can go really wrong, really fast.
Jesus H I’m blowing hard here. Maybe I’m not as fit as I thought?
This pace is ferocious. Am I past it at this level?
The others waiting to go into this interview look so calm and confident. Why am I not feeling that way?
Is that guy laughing at my presentation. He is. He definitely is, the bollo*!
And on and on the voice in your head goes, filling you with absolute nonsense. The minute you are thrust into uncomfortable situations, it emerges with gusto. Mine is called Jimmy, but more on that later.
Have you ever come up with a really great idea and managed to talk yourself out of it before a finger was even lifted? Have you ever been in a meeting and wanted to raise your hand to ask a question, or volunteer to take part in a project, but you let your inner chatter talk you down? Likewise have you ever been in a game and just hid on the fringes, not looking for the ball, because you were afraid of making a mistake?
I’m sure the answer for many of you is yes, and if not in these specific scenarios, then in something similar. These are all opportunities that are flashing by you every day. The fillet steaks of life that you are leaving on the table untouched. Chances for progression, fulfilment and success that you so deeply desire. There is a convenient lie people like to tell themselves when it comes to fighting back against these ANT’s (Automatic Negative Thoughts). It is that people who are successful in their field do not experience self doubt, or fear, and that somehow the voice in their head merely validates them. I have met, interviewed and read about enough people at the elite levels of their craft to know that this is a lie and that everyone has their doubts. Everyone. So how then do they manage to fight back against this rogue of the mind?
“Fear does not stop death. But it can stop life”
Question It: Not everything your inner voice says is true, so you need to start questioning it and the validity of its ramblings. For example you can check in to see if you have done something similar to this successfully in the past. Don’t just accept what it says carte blanche, as most of it is utter BS.
Turn Down the Noise: Literally turn down the volume of the voice in your head like you would on a TV. The lower and more muffled it is, the less power it will have over you.
Give it a Silly Voice: If it sounds like you, then it must be you. If it sounds like someone else then it is easier to dis-associate from the emotion of it. Pick someone who makes you laugh, like Homer Simpson and give it that voice. Yep you just smiled didn’t you. Job done!
Tell it to F**k Off: Depending upon where you are when it kicks off, you can say it in your head, or out loud. Tell it to F off. The less welcome it feels, the less it appears. Kinda like your in-laws.
Give it a Name: Jimmy in my case. Jimmy is not John and hence I can distance myself from this nuisance to my dreams. John is a solid ambitious bloke. Jimmy is a negative pest.
Create a Mantra: This is particularly useful in sport, but also has value in business. It is a simple statement you can repeat to yourself in advance of, and during a performance, when the self-doubt creeps in. Here are some samples, but it is best to create your own and use words that resonate with you. Keep repeating it in your head and fight back when the doubts arise, which inevitably they will.
Ok John you’ve got this!
Stay focused on the process here, you have the work done
Nerves are a good thing. It means your pushing yourself to do something worthwhile
Let’s just enjoy this and have fun. This is what you worked so hard for man
The ANT’s will kill your dreams, if you let them. You must be prepared to fight back and take action before you feel fully ready. It is all out there for you, if are just willing to put your hand up and start taking back control in the battle of the mind. You will be amazed at where it takes you. Try some of the above and see which works best for you. You can’t stop negative thoughts coming in, but you most certainly can manage the impact they have on you and your ambitions in life.
Ciao for now and lets go sleigh it in 2017