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Changing the Conversation Inside Your Head

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Changing the Conversation Inside Your Head

Learning how to shut down the voice that’s holding you back isn’t easy, but it’s certainly possible

There’s a constant companion I’ve had by my side most of my life. I didn’t invite her, yet there are times when she is loud, seeming to undermine me, and never cheering me on. She implies that something really bad is about to happen or that I am not worthy of more than I have now.

That “companion” is fear.

Don’t get me wrong: As a healthy, productive adult, I know how to quiet this voice, to power through it, and feel the fear and do “it” anyway. I am where I am today despite the presence of fear and, in some cases, even because of it. Sure, I’ve had some anxiety and even a panic attack or two along the way, but mostly I’ve learned a whole set of coping mechanisms and strategies to quiet my inner critic and to move forward with confidence, strength and conviction.

The most powerful of my strategies is what seems on the surface like the simplest one of all, yet it has been a real game changer for me.

It’s the notion that I – and I alone – get to choose which of my thoughts, voices and ideas I want to believe and which ones I prefer to release. I get to decide if the message that says, “You are going to fail at this,” or “You aren’t qualified/smart/capable enough to succeed at this,” or one of the many other negative affirmations we all hear from time to time, are valid.

Making the choice

Consider those times when you know you’re in a bad situation—you admit it’s not best for you, yet you remain, regardless. From relationships to careers to even where we live, we’re often hardwired to “stay put” with the “devil we know” because that inner critic is telling us it could be worse…and we believe it!

In speaking to advisors, this comes up a lot. They’ll say they don’t feel supported by their firm, they’re frustrated with excessive bureaucracy, or know they can be doing better by their clients—yet they stay. Why?

To be sure, inertia plays its part, but it’s also because confronting or ignoring the voice of fear isn’t easy. It drones on about things that seem to be plausible concerns at the moment, such as:

“If I leave, my clients might not follow.”

“My clients are attached to the big name brand of my firm.”

“What if I blow up my business?”

So fear says, “Stay where you are and live with the status quo—as imperfect as it may be.”

Related: Meet the New Acquirers: Familiar Faces with Deep Pockets and New Motivations

Changing the pre-programmed messages

I know now that much of my hardwiring was pre-programmed during my childhood, having internalized messages and fears passed on by my parents. But, what if those inputs were simply wrong? What if we don’t have to feel scared to fail, but rather empowered to take appropriate risks and succeed? Said another way, we can choose to release the beliefs that hold us back and replace them with positive affirmations that inspire, motivate and strengthen.

How cool is that?

Yet many times we forget that we have a choice to ignore those stifling feelings and remain stuck in our tracks, our fear-filled companion holding us hostage.

Tempting fate, uncertainty and that powerful voice of fear – instead of considering your options and alternatives – becomes far less frightening when we are armed with knowledge. Thinking through what you’re most afraid of, getting trusted advice and input, and thoroughly reviewing all of your options will help dispel the uneasiness, change your internal conversation and say goodbye to that negative voice.

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