Head’s up: There’s a voice in your head. Do you hear it? It sounds like you with a tinge of crazy. Let’s mute it.
Uh-oh, the voice hates this article already. “Seriously, so stupid, stop reading it right now,” commands it. It’s threatened, but it just told you it’s not the slightest bit threatened, didn’t it? Then why does it want you to retreat to Facebook? Don’t let the voice answer that.
The voice is a believable storyteller. Unfortunately, 95% of those stories would give Debbie a run for her Downer. It tells Juliette, the female protagonist of Finding Mr. Brightside, that she needs to get her jog in right now, what is she waiting for, a tube of chub to show up around her (already-too-skinny) waist? The voice reminds Abram he needs to take his antidepressant, not really caring if he really does NEED it, just looking for a reason to be the boss.
Just when you’re about to quit listening to the voice, it starts sounding very rational. “Wait, I’m just looking out for your best interests!” it says. Even though you have a stack of bad habits that say, “Otherwise!”
The voice loves telling us what we should be doing, but it REALLY loves asking, “Why would you do a thing like that? Stick to the routine that got us here!” The voice won’t admit that “here” is a “rut,” so don’t try to back it into a corner, watch out, the voice has a trap set for you there! “You’re safe in this corner now, so long as you never leave again,” the voice will claim in a soothing tone.
Want to write a book? Admirable, but the voice doesn’t think you have enough time. Want to save up for your dream vacation? Nice thought, maybe when you retire in 40 years—have you seen that joke you call a salary lately? Want to relax for two seconds without the voice? Hmm … the voice doesn’t think that’s a good idea, what about that same thing it wants you to do over and over again and expect a different result? Gotta get started on that, sayeth the voice.
Good news: You can get rid of the you-know-what and take back control of your mind/life. Here are a few suggestions it wouldn’t approve of:
- Shoot for 2 minutes a day or else prepare to quit after the first 2 days.
- Keep a daily gratitude journal (or Evernote notebook).
- Do things that force you to evacuate your comfort zone and be in the moment (maybe don’t skip straight to skydiving, start with square-dancing).
- Freewriting—a.k.a., just keep typing until you can’t hear the voice anymore. That’s right, TYPE OVER THE VOICE.
- Maybe read Finding Mr. Brightside, which is all about leaving the voice behind and then backing over it with your car so it can’t come along and ruin a perfectly inappropriate road trip.
Jay Clark is the author of The Edumacation of Jay Baker, which was named a Bank Street College Best Book. He’s also a random blogger. Surprisingly popular entries like “How to stop hating people in 21 minutes” and “8 tips for posting your best selfie yet!” can be found on his website. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.