All we do is driven by what we believe. What we think others will think, how we expect things should be, motivators built within us. Beliefs are very powerful, and for that reason they have a strong influence in our lives.
See for example how it makes churchgoers act. There is an obvious thing that makes them different, the motivation of getting up early in the morning to go pray! I certainly struggle to think of my Sunday morning as more than a sleeping in day…
But look at other characteristics believers share. Latter Day Saint followers agree that some aspects of humanity shouldn’t be messed with, and for that reason do not accept blood transfusions. Muslims have deep in their mind that mind altering substances like alcohol puts them further from God.
Sure, these may seem to be extreme beliefs, but let me give you a different example. I grew up thinking I was too skinny and lanky to fit in. Everyone was drawn to the athletic crowd. I wasn’t good at sports, and avoided the playground, so had little in common with everyone else.
The role of beliefs
But beliefs can be changed. When I went to university, I realised that what made me different was an asset. I still didn’t get involved in playing cards or other social activities involving groups. However, I discovered to be good on a one-to-one basis. There were other things I could talk about as important to making friends.
There are many things that push those beliefs forward. I want to talk specifically about self-talk. The speech you have with yourself, those things you say in your head that no one but you can hear.
In those challenging years, I used to repeat that I wasn’t good with groups and with others in general. It was a loud voice, that reaffirmed what I experienced. It made me feel bad, being out of the loop, but I justified it easily. I didn’t like that type of group activity and so I was obviously not good at it.
Your inner voice
That voice was part of me, so it was impossible not to listen to it. Like everyone, I speak to myself when thinking about things, scenarios I’m considering, or opinions I’m forming. So why wouldn’t I pay attention to those negative thoughts too?
As I said before, beliefs can be changed in many ways. But an easy one to implement right now? Giving that negative voice in your head a name! Other people agree.
If it’s not you speaking, if it’s Bob or Mary, why should you always listen? They are opinions, not facts. You can challenge them or simply ignore them. You may do that already when you disagree with what others say, so it’s not any different.
Challenging that voice
It’s a fun trick to manage that negative thinking. The rationale for this is that it helps distance yourself from those thoughts. And if you can distance yourself from them, you can chose how to respond to them.
Call it something silly even. Why should it be Bob, and not Donald Duck? You may be able to imitate his voice and make the conversation even goofier. Can you imagine following Donald’s opinions without questioning yourself if you should?
In fact, I think it will be difficult to take negative thought too seriously if the often wrong Disney character is speaking. “What is it you say? I’m not good with people? It’s too dangerous to leave the house? I’m too fat to have a romantic relationship? Says who, what do you know about me??”
So try it, have a bit of fun. Choose a name (and a voice, if you can make it as distinct as the original!) of someone or something that makes you giggle, and let them speak those things. Will you believe what they say?