“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” Wayne Dyer
There seems to be an almost constant conflict within our heads. As I become more aware of what I’m noticing it is almost comical to listen to myself worry, doubt and replay my behaviors and reactions to the world around me. I used to think it was just me that had the critical voice and soundtrack of doubt constantly running through my head, but as I have discussed this with friends and clients it seems to be universal. Although I’m sure we all have slight variations, most of the common voices seem say ‘you’re not good (smart, thin, young, etc…) enough’ or ‘who do you think you are?’ I’ve often said that it would be both terrifying and comforting if we were able to invent a machine to broadcast our thoughts. Although I wouldn’t want people to hear how critical I am of myself, hearing that I’m not the only one would be comforting. When I have a decision to make there are at least two, but often many more voices that are arguing back and forth. One voice will make a point, but then another will counter with a different argument, often another voice will chime in and remind me of something else. It is exhausting to keep going over and over the same incident. The thing I should have said or done, but didn’t or the thing I shouldn’t have said or done but did. I sometimes feel as if I’ve run a marathon and in reality nothing has changed except the fact that I’m exhausted. At times it feels like a real conflict. I love Wayne Dyer’s quote because any conflict, even the conflict in our head can’t survive without our participation. So the big question is, ‘HOW DO I STOP PARTICIPATING!?!’ While those conflicting voices are part of our humanness and are always with us, here are five steps to turn down the volume:
- Become aware of the voice within. Usually we are so consumed in the voice that we forget we can become the observer of the voice. When we begin to put some space between who we are and who the voice is we can begin to talk back to the voice.
- Stay in the present. The voice likes to go to catastrophe. It is like a runaway train already worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. Bringing yourself back to the present moment and reminding yourself where you are at and what is happening now can calm the voice.
- Remind yourself that you are more than that. The voice within likes to keep us small. It will remind us of all the things that didn’t work out in the past and bring up previous data to reinforce how bad it is. You have had successes though! You have done things that have worked out well. You are more than the voice tells you you are.
- Take deep breaths and get inside your body. When our mind is focused on our breath or feeling the sensations within our body, or feeling our fingers or toes or knee the wondering voice has to stop for a moment and focus awareness inside the body. The mind isn’t a good multi-tasker, so force it to focus on the body.
- Question what the voice is saying- is it true? The voice will exaggerate and compare you to everyone else. Listen carefully and ask is that true? Is it true that you NEVER get anything right, or that you ALWAYS fail? Of course not! You can quiet your voice. You are the master of your mind.