Skills to Keep Stress Useful - Too Much Mind Chat
When you’re worried, anxious or upset, that voice in your mind can have a huge effect on how you're feeling. If you find yourself experiencing low confidence, or being self-critical, that’s probably got a lot to do with your inner voice too. It might be that you’ve learned to suppress it, so it doesn’t always reach your awareness; but by grumbling away underneath, it’s still affecting you.
Maybe you talk yourself out of things you’d really like to do; or beat yourself up after a conversation that didn’t go so well, about what you should have said and didn’t, or did say and wish you hadn’t…
Maybe it’s someone else’s voice, playing through your mind – the memory of an argument, or some unpleasant criticism. There might just be too much mind chat, and you’d like to be able to quieten it down and focus on one thing at a time; or sleep more restfully.
So let’s explore some simple ways to change your inner voice.
CLICK HERE to explore more about this technique and how to get the best from it
Click the 'Play' icon above to listen
Rachel thrives on stress. Managing a busy city-centre hotel, she experiences quite a lot of it, and she was used to putting in long hours to have everything running like clockwork before she went home. Which was never a problem, until she came back from her first Maternity leave. Knowing that she had to leave work on time to collect her son, and worrying that she’d leave loose ends, she’d clock watch – from about 9am! Her inner voice was harsh and critical, ripping her to shreds for any tiny mistake, and reminding her over and over that she just wasn’t up to being both a Manager and a Mum. With that distraction, she found it hard to concentrate or multi-task like she used to, and made even more mistakes. She’d tried reasoning with it, arguing with it and trying to ignore it, all of which had just given it even more energy. She was exhausted.
She described that inner voice as loud, domineering and incredibly judgmental. Often, the most effective tweak is the opposite of what you’re starting with – so I asked her to imagine having that voice inhale a whole balloon full of Helium. Even though it was saying the exact same things, hearing them in a high pitched squeak made her giggle. One after another, she thought of another three things she’d given herself a hard time about that day, each time letting the voice take centre stage, and giving it Helium. By the fourth time, she couldn’t get that voice back again.
To her surprise, it stayed gone. All of the months of battling with herself, resolved by a few minutes imagining. And with the bossy voice banished, it left room for the helpful one to come back – the one which reminds her what she needs to do, and gives her that extra bit of encouragement if she’s feeling under the weather.
Maybe Helium’s not the way to change your inner voice. Maybe you want to make it quiet, or reeeeeeeeaaaaaaallllllly sssssslllllloooooooowwww (because it’s really difficult to give yourself a hard time slowly). Get curious, and enjoy experimenting