Thursday, April 28, 2016

There's Someone In My Head

I couldn’t resist. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Pink Floyd inspired post...

For effect, feel free to play Brain Damage as you read the rest of this.

I’ve got voices in my head. They speak to me all the time. They think they are keeping me safe, but in reality they are not my friends. They are not capable of speaking in my best interest. It’s not their fault. They aren’t evil. Just stupid.

We listen to the voices in our heads because of instinct. They started out smart, telling us to stay out of traffic, away from high ledges. They learn from pain, or from witnessing of pain. I burned my hand in fire, so the voices in my head tell me not to put my hand in fire. I am afraid to put my hand in fire. I saw someone fall from a high place and hurt themselves. The voices in my head tell me not to go to high places. I am afraid of high places.

But then we get hurt emotionally. Maybe an idea we have is criticized. Maybe someone tells us we aren’t good at something. The voices learn from this pain, too. And so they start to tell us not to put our ideas out there. Or they tell us not to try something. We become afraid to put our ideas out there, afraid to try something.

Theres a problem with this: physical pain is governed by physical laws. Every time I stick my hand in the fire, I will get burned. The voices are right every time that I think about sticking my hand in the fire and they tell me not to.

Emotional pain is more complex. Maybe you truly had a bad idea. Does that mean that every idea you have is bad? Of course not, but the voices aren’t smart enough to keep up. They are saying, “don’t get burned again.”

Maybe your idea wasn’t even bad. Maybe the person who criticized you had the problem. They’ve got voices too. Maybe you threatened their sense of self-worth, or expertise. What was the criticism, really? Would everyone think it was a bad idea, or was the person you spoke with narrow-minded?

See, every human interaction has an infinite number of possible outcomes and nuances. They won’t always reject your idea. They won’t always criticize you. Which means the voices in your head won’t always be right.

The only way to find the people who want your ideas is to keep putting them out there. And this requires you to be smarter than the voices in your head. This requires you to tell the voices to SHUT UP!

Well, I’ve asked thousands of people over the years, "What do your voices tell you?” and I’ve learned something: no one has a positive internal voice.
START, Chapter 3
Jon Acuff

There’s someone in my head, but its not me.