Why does a two-foot putt become daunting? Why does public speaking make us so nervous? Why do we choke up when we need to present an important proposal where the stakes feel high?
It could be that chatter you hear in your head! Even with the recent Disney movie release of Inside Out, it is fascinating how little attention this human condition commands. Every person nearly every waking moment is hearing the chatter of “their inner voice.”
Lining up to two-foot putt, it begins. “This is an easy one. You don’t want to miss it and look stupid. Stay focused. See how the green slants to the right? Relax your hands. Why is the sun so bright? Come on, let’s get on with this. You’re too stiff. Keep your head down! The flies are buzzing. I wonder what’s for dinner?"
It is no wonder that when we start paying attention, we just want to make it stop! Too much information!
So here are some ideas that may change your relationship with the chatter.
First, acknowledge it is there. Simply notice it without trying to change anything about it. Do not try to stop it, do not try to change what it says, do not try to do anything. Just listen.
Second, once you’ve started to listen, you might recognize that it is very opinionated and judgmental, mean perhaps. It may be instructive. Demanding. Sometimes it may be enlightening. Again, just listen.
Third, acknowledge what you hear. Feel free to mentally respond by saying “thank you” or “that’s completely B.S.” or “wow, what a brilliant observation.” (If you have a tendency to use your “outside voice” for this type of thing, you may want to do this in the privacy of your car, the shower or somewhere people won’t think you’re talking to them!)
Commonly, the acknowledgement will quiet the voice. Now, go tap in that putt.