The Voice of Wisdom or The Monkey Mind?
The most important voice you’ll listen to today is yourself. There are a lot of voices that clamor for our attention—like monkeys chattering as they swing through the trees. But the one voice that has the most positive upside or the most negative downside isn’t what others are saying to us. It’s what we are saying to ourselves. When we talk to ourselves we are talking out of our area of core beliefs. If I speak to myself in a positive way, it’s because I have a core belief that things are generally positive. If I speak to myself in terms of negativity, I have a core belief that generally things aren’t going well.
The ancients use to say that our thoughts come out of the heart as we encounter the issues of life. This is what I know—your self-talk is probably the most important ingredient to your success. So speak positively to yourself because you are always listening.
And herein lies the problem. We have multiple voices competing for our attention. Some voices might no longer be around, but they are living in our heads—rent free!
So just as it takes an internal cardiac team (blood, oxygen, brain signals), working together to keep our hearts beating, it also takes an internal belief team (thoughts, words, actions), working together to create a life of integrity where thoughts and behaviors align with what we truly value. Self-talk is like a donor—our belief donor—that gives positive encouragement. It gets us in touch with who we really are and what we really want.
Negative thinking infects our thoughts and is usually a reflection of imposter voices from the outside. Those thoughts are always lurking, and we empower them. When they reflect other’s thinking and not our own, we are no longer creators. We are now imitators. This leads to groupthink and enmeshment—the herd instinct. We don’t know where we end and others begin. Self-differentiation is blurred. We end up living not what we reflect, but what others expect.
You have a running commentary about everything you do. Your internal voice never lets anything go by without some comment, remark, or evaluation– good or bad. This negative self-talk sabotages our success.
These thoughts are often formed in childhood from comments you heard from parents, teachers, someone in authority, or friends. Without listening to your dialogue you will never be able to cut them loose.
You might hear, I’m not smart enough– something is wrong–I can’t do it– I have to do everything around here or it won’t get done–what are they thinking about me?–I’m never on time–I’m not organized–I’m not the weight I want to be–I never finish–this is too hard–change takes too long–people will never love and appreciate me the way I want them to.
Change the dialogue. I’m smart enough–a lot about my life is right–everything gets easier once you do it–change takes time and I am patient and disciplined–people love and appreciate me the way I am–I enjoy getting worthwhile things done by doing them right the first time–I live my values.
As you practice this, you now have more control to spot “bad thinking” or “whatever” thinking. It’s a good bet that if you don’t like what you hear from yourself, others won’t like it either. We project what we think.
So listen and observe. Don’t analyze it, argue with it, or dance with it. Simply observe what you are saying to yourself. Is it the voice of wisdom or the monkey mind?
The voice of wisdom is spacious. There’s breathing room. It’s quiet. The voice of the monkey mind creates tightness, anxiety, and fear. It is persistent and insistent. It swings from tree to tree between doubt, worry, anxiety, and fear. The chatter can be overwhelming.
Mahatma Gandhi said, your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, and your values become your destiny.
A television news anchor recently used the following words in a five-minute span: Disaster. Crisis. Failure. Scandal. Tragic. Devastation. Danger. Emergency. Threat. Crash. Defeated. Tortured. Ambushed. Betrayed.
Paul of Tarsus said, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Shift your attention from one to the other. It’s a conscious act. It is a life-skill to be mastered. And you’ll discover it’s much more interesting. Success always is.
(Mick Ukleja is the co-author of the book Who Are You? What Do You Want?: Four Questions That Will Change Your Life)