July 19, 2011
If you are a woman in business, you would be well served to reclaim your power from the relentless voice in your head. In fact, this action alone may be the single biggest contributor to the future success of your career. Much like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, you will find that though the voice means well, it is actually full of tricks masquerading as the wizard from behind the silk curtain.
The voice in your head so badly wants to be the all knowing wizard that it labels, judges, exaggerates and takes things personally, all in an effort to control. Labeling and judging people and circumstances makes us feel as though we have a handle on them and so the voice obliges, evaluating, slotting and categorizing. The sad result is that instead of enjoying the new office that came with the promotion the voice is busy pointing out all that is wrong with it. Soon, neither the office nor the promotion, feel special at all. Listening to it is not only distracting, even immobilizing, it is an obvious drag on your business performance.
With the busy, busy voice talking all of the time, it is easy to read too much into everything. It is easy to take things personally, and ultimately to become paranoid. Your supervisor doesn't respond to your email because she is in meetings all day but instead of considering that possibility, the voice announces that she read your email and thought your ideas were stupid. The voice goes on to say that you'll never get anywhere with her as she clearly doesn't like you.
This hyperbole continues in its inevitable downward spiral, exaggerated and larger-than-life until at last the voice arrives at the conclusion that your colleagues probably don't like you either. It then makes the next obvious deduction and suggests that maybe it is time to start looking for another job. All this histrionic confusion from an unanswered email? It is crazy-making.
It is a fickle master, though, that voice. One minute it is stating categorically that your supervisor doesn't like you, and yet moments later when she drops by your office to seek your opinion, it will exultantly exclaim with glee that you are loved. The voice simply adjusts its viewpoint and keeps nattering away, even when proven wrong.
If you can see yourself in these scenarios, consider using one of the following approaches to quiet the relentless voice in your head:
Script a Different Story
I recently heard a highly accomplished business woman describe a situation where she had a lightbulb moment about the voice in her head. She was very passionate about a charitable cause, to which she devoted copious hours and expended huge amounts of energy. While describing a project to the CEO of her company, she thought and the voice concurred, that he rolled his eyes. She was incensed for the remainder of the day and later that evening went on to indignantly describe the event to her husband. After listening to her retell it, her husband nonchalantly responded with a shrug, "Maybe he just had something in his eye".
Upon consideration, she decided that her husband's version was just as likely to be the correct account of the encounter and that the alternate conclusion was both, far more pleasant to believe and offered the additional benefit of providing great relief. Rather than listening to the negative prognosis that comes from the voice, determine to consciously make up a positive story as to why things could be happening the way that they are. For example, perhaps the guy that just cut you off in traffic had to get his mother to the hospital and so there is no need to waste valuable energy being angry at him!
Watch Your Life as You Would a Movie
Spiritual gurus suggest that to remain objective you should observe your life from a distance as though you were watching the latest film on the silver screen. Look at the situation, contemplate, and try to take it in, without becoming overly involved or attached. It can be very illuminating to recognize that, like a movie, life will happen regardless of what the voice has to say about it. In fact, much as it would have you believe otherwise, the voice has no effect on events that occur in the external world. Take the opportunity instead, to sit back, relax and eat your popcorn!
When Dorothy painstakingly made her way to the Emerald City and discovered that the Great Wizard of Oz was, in fact, a mere mortal she said, "Oh, you are a very bad man". To which he replied, "Oh no my dear, I am a very good man, I am just a very bad wizard".
You are not the voice in your head any more than the little man was the wizard. The only power that it has is that which you give it and there is little benefit from listening to it. Like Dorothy, you will come to realize that you are capable of getting yourself back to Kansas in spite of the voice that tells you that it is not possible. Pull back the curtain, take back your power and give the relentless voice in your head a rest. It will be one of the best things you can ever do for your career.