The most important conversation about change is in your head

I can’t shut off my inner voice. I’ve tried and I just have so much to say to myself!

When traveling I have long periods of solitude and began noticing just how active my internal voice is. I work through problems, reflect on nature, create lists, and think about my next newsletter topic. 

And of course, when I make mistakes, that voice can be very harsh. “IDIOT! How could you do something so stupid?”

You’ve experienced the same thing, I’m sure. The inner critic can be the biggest barrier to change. “You can’t do that – it’s impossible. You always have trouble with these changes. This is going to be painful.” 

Negative thoughts lead to negative behavior. They hamper our ability to get on with the transition.

Friend and brilliant consultant, Nicole Wilson, pointed me to a recent post by Ben Meer where he identifies 20 negative words that our inner voice likes to use against us. He suggests positive substitutes to get our thinking back on track:

1. Failure ➜ Learning
2. Exhausted ➜ Playing in overtime
3. Disappointed ➜ Delayed
4. Stuck ➜ Exploring new angles
5. Overwhelmed ➜ In demand
6. Overwhelmed ➜ Some imbalance
7. Depressed ➜ On the road to a turnaround
8. Embarrassed ➜ Aware
9. Rejected ➜ Misunderstood / Overlooked
10. Nervous ➜ Energized
11. Lost ➜ Searching
12. Hate ➜ I prefer
13. Sick ➜ Cleansing
14. Stupid ➜ Unresourceful
15. Destroyed ➜ Set-back
16. Drained ➜ Recharging
17. Afraid ➜ Uncomfortable
18. Furious ➜ Passionate
19. Sad ➜ Sorting my thoughts
20. Have to ➜ Get to

These are the terms bouncing around inside people’s heads as they contemplate difficult and unwelcome change. They may be doing laps in your head, too.

Let’s start the year right:

Challenge 1: Listen to your inner voice. When you hear these terms, reframe them into their positive counterparts. Take a different perspective on what’s troubling you. 

Challenge 2: Weave the guidance into your communication as a change leader: “You may be feeling lost, disappointed, or overwhelmed. I get that. While uncomfortable, those are normal reactions. They also tell us something positive: You are experiencing those feelings because you care about getting this right. A sense of overwhelm occurs because you and your abilities are in demand. You are important to this change! And you can’t feel lost unless there is a path you should be on; we will help you find the right path to the future.”

Fighting with ourselves is a waste of time and energy. Calming the inner critic is worthwhile as it unlocks energy we can use to transition through change. Do you have control over your inner voice?

Thoughtfully yours,
Jeff Skipper

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