"I can't stop the noise in my head. Not sleeping well and finding it hard to focus. What can I do about this?"
Those comments were from a client who is the city manager of a mid-sized city in Canada. He's a successful guy, a consistently high performer; gets great reviews on the job front, and his family life is solid. But he suffers with an "inner voice" that's constantly disappointed and critical of him.
Perhaps you know people like him. Maybe you're like him yourself. Ever find yourself unable to sleep because your head is too busy? Maybe second-guessing yourself or full of negative self talk? You probably know what I mean, self feedback like:
- "why didn't you do better?"
- "when will you FINALLY learn to do that right?"
- "face it — you're lucky to have gone this far"
- "sooner or later, (s)he will discover who you really are..."
In my experience, this issue is fairly common. And it's insidious. It gets worse with time, unless it's dealt with head-on. Because the problem rarely goes away on its own, it can derail both one's career and one's personal life if you don't address it. Otherwise it will prevent you from enjoying whatever success you've earned.
Negative self talk — or past voices from others in your life (parents are often cited) — can keep you from enjoying good rest. Just as important, this hassle can also keep you from moving ahead with your career. It becomes performance limiting. On the personal front, it certainly prevents you from having a positive life experience, one where we're thankful and generous.Here are 5 things I recommend if you're suffering with this:
1. Recognize this for what it is. It's one thing to review the day while you're lying in bed, something entirely different when you're allowing negative self-talk.
2. Course correct. When you catch yourself saying negative things, try to reframe them into positives. For example, rather than: " Why do I keep screwing up on...?" try something more like: "For greater success I'm going to be more conscious of ..."
3. Understand that what "was" isn't always what "is". Just because Dad said you'd never be a great player, doesn't mean he was — or still is — right. You're a grown-up; don't let old recordings hold you back.
4. Track your successes. Write down 10 things that if you did each day would make you feel great. These can be personal ("tell hubby I care about him"), professional ("finish project on time"), or financial ("save money by not going out for lunch").
5. Find a success partner. One of the most frequent reasons people cite for using a coach is to hold them accountable. Use a friend or colleague in this role; share your successes and misses with her or him.
The reality is that many high achievers suffer from busy minds or troubling self-images. By way of example, think of that golfer who is the best in his field and yet failed personally.
Now, go give yourself a GOOD talking-to....
John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion dollar organizations and launching start-ups in both the U.S. and Canada. The author of two published books, he is frequently seen providing advice on TV, in magazines, and newspapers.