On average, a person speaks around 5000 words a day but easily can go up to 20,000. Let’s assume that the typical conversations, which include small talk and casual interactions, are between 50-100 words; then that person has between 100-200 conversations a day.
Some of these conversations are more valuable than others. Research has shown that out of the 5000 words, only 600-700 are adding value, the rest are just fillers and, well, noise.
Then, we have certain categories of conversations. Let’s keep it simple and split them into: valuable, neutral, and detrimental. And we can have these categories of conversations with two kinds of people: the ones you can distance yourself from and those you’re stuck with.
Generally speaking, do your best to stay away from the detrimental category – conversations and people who are sucking the energy out of you. This may seem like a simple tip, but it will transform your life. But beyond this, there is one particular combination that many of us encounter multiple times a day, and it’s poisonous to our lives, happiness and success. Detrimental conversation with the one person you cannot get away from: yourself.
It’s the one where YOU are talking yourself out of doing the right thing, bumming yourself out instead of pumping you up.
If you’ve been following me on social media or through my articles for some time now, you’d know I’m all about personal development, about being outstanding and getting the best out of yourself – anything but being average and settling for mediocracy. Living a life where #OKisNOTenough.
One of the greatest skills everyone should develop is the ability to shut up that internal voice when it’s working against you. We all have tasks and goals, things we need or want to do. This typically requires us to push and make an extra effort, to do something new, uncomfortable, potentially embarrassing or even risky.
Whether it’s going to the gym, publishing your first article or book, or just putting yourself and your ideas out there, that little voice comes to do its best to find every possible reason to talk you out of it.
It’s smart. It’s as smart as you are (because, well, it’s you).
It’s like playing chess against yourself, and it’s just hard to win.
The problem is that this voice has all the negative emotions on its side. The fear, discomfort, laziness, apathy, and it plays these cards one after another until it breaks you, and you use your brains to justify why it’s better that way.
“Nah, today is not the right day. I’ll be more ready tomorrow.”
“It would not work out anyway. I’d better try that other method.”
“I think I should read another book, then I’ll be more ready.”
And tomorrow, or after reading that next book, you play again, and the voice has yet another full deck of cards! “Because there is always another book, and there is always tomorrow.” (Snap out of it – no there isn’t)
I bet it does.
So how can you outplay the “devil”?
Easy: you don’t play.
You simply need to train your mind to stop yourself from having that conversation. I’ve been learning about personal development for a decade now, and this is one of the best, fastest and most effective techniques to deal with it.
But how can you shut that inner voice up?
You need to practice to have control over your own mind. Which is funny to say because, if you don’t, then who does?
Below are a few techniques that will help you practice it.
Meditation is really a miracle. The simple practice of being present, quietly, in the moment, observing without judgment, opinions, interpretation. Take a moment every day to just sit and think of nothing (men are typically better at that than women, especially if you put a fire in front of them). If some thoughts come up, just let them pass by. Developing the ability to quiet your mind will help you quiet the inner critic as well. Above all, when you commit to meditating daily for 10 minutes, it will do wonders for your life. And if you’re too busy and don’t have time to meditate for 10 minutes, you should meditate for 20.
2. Shush technique
Start practising to simply shush the inner voice when it’s trying to talk you out of the right thing. You know what the right thing is and you probably even know that the reasons against it are far from reality anyway. Just go shuushhh every time it pops up. Try it before you criticise it. (It’s the voice criticising it anyway because it knows its days are numbered!)
3. ‘F*ck it’ method™
Don’t get too excited. It’s not fun. A few years back I used to take cold showers. Supposedly it’s good for you. At the end of each shower, I set the tap to cold water for 30 seconds or so. Interestingly, the hardest bit was turning the cold water on, not the actual cold water. Initially, it took me up to a minute of hyping myself up to do it. With time I got better, especially when I created my trigger mantra “oh, f*ck it, let’s do this!” Over time, I started noticing that I got much better at jumping into other uncomfortable situations and even using the same line. The cold shower helped me develop the “F*ck it” mental muscle of just going for it. I still take short cold showers every now and then to keep that ability in shape.
So if you don’t want to be at mercy of the fearful inner voice that talks you out of doing the right thing, practice the above.
(And if you’re already put off by the tips above, then you know exactly what – and who – you’re up against.)