Everyone has them, those nagging voices of fear and doubt. They only get loud when you do things that matter. And since we’re going to do a lot of things that matter, we can expect some voices headed our way. So what do we do?
We’re going to beat our voices by doing three things:
1. Write them down.
Voices are invisible bullies, and they hate when you make them visible. The best way to do that is to dress them up with words. To write them down in a simple notebook. (Or at nomorevoices.com) They can’t stand to be documented, because the minute they are, you can see how stupid they are. Lies hate the light of day.
Every time you take a step toward being awesome and a voice gets loud, write it down. Don’t ask, “Is this a voice?” before you do. Just write. Fast and furious and imperfectly. Scribble as many as you can down, and then refute them with truth, like I did with the ones that told me I was too late and already behind. That’s step one.
2. Refute them with truth.
Never argue with a voice. That’s a never ending, tangled discussion you won’t escape from any time soon. Instead, just write down a single sentence of truth for each voice. For example, one Monday morning I got up and heard a voice say, “The week is already ruined. You’re late, you’re already behind. You don’t have enough time.” I wrote that voice down and then refuted it by saying, “I’m late? It’s Monday at 7AM, I couldn’t possibly have more week ahead of me.”
Seeing the truth there helped me remember what liars my voices really are. So after you’ve written one down, refute it with the truth. If your voice says, “No one is going to like your dream,” write down, “No one? My mom likes everything I do, so no one isn’t true. She’ll like it.”
3. Sharing our voices.
Do you know what fear and doubt fear? Community. One of fear and doubt’s chief aims is to make you feel alone. Like you’re the only one who feels a certain way. Fear wants to isolate you and put you on an island. As long as you keep your fear to yourself, no one can tell you the truth about it.
No one can reflect back to you that you are lying to you. No one can admit they feel the same way too. No one can help you see what is really going on. No one can encourage you.
So if you’re going to tell your voices, “Kick rocks, punk,” you’ve got to share them with other people.
Now, this is clearly a pretty easy thing to do. You’re going to want to roll up to Starbucks, order a skinny extra hot Venti Vanilla Latte, and when the barista asks, “Do you want your receipt?” say, “No, I don’t need my receipt. What I need is to stop listening to these voices in my head that tell me there are already too many professional photographers in the world. Am I right? Do you hear voices too? No? Okay, I’ll just pay for my coffee and this Jason Mraz World Music CD bundle then. Thanks.”
It’s not easy to find folks to share your voices with. At the conferences I throw, we do that as an exercise. We do a whole session on it, and the tenor of the room changes as people start to realize they’re not alone and that everyone has the same doubts and fear.
You’ve got to tell your close friends or family or a counselor about your voices. The exact person will be different for everyone who reads this book, but never waste time trying to battle a voice alone. In some cases that voice of fear and doubt will have had a ten-year head start on you. Don’t go it alone.
Those are three quick tips, but if you want some more advice about punching fear in the face, check out my book Start. That’s what it’s all about.