In 2001, I attended a 4-day “Silent Retreat.”
For me, there was no silence. Chatter volume inside my mind was deafening. I won’t bore you with the subject matter of my mind noise, but since most of us have an internal chatter box, we likely share similar themes. Arising from a plethora of sources, our internal voice sneaks in, softly whispers, relentlessly yells, and harshly comments about all our so-called shortcomings.
your external communication?
Recently, a client shared his hesitation to speak up in meetings. “If I don’t have it all logically mapped out, I don’t want to say anything. And then, I disengage from the conversation.” Another client remarked he is constantly worrying about how his audience or colleagues are receiving him. According to his internal chatter, he doesn’t come out on top. Quite the opposite.
Our incessant internal messaging affects each of us differently.
- Some experience anxiety and nervousness
- Others incline toward withdrawal and powerlessness.
- And some over-react or lash out.
These sensations, thoughts and feelings then compromise our external communication. Amy Cuddy in her book Presence writes, “We use restricted gestures and speech, by hesitating, rushing, using a small vocal range, a high ptich, and so on. Studies show when we feel anxious, powerless and insecure our posture, facial expression, eye contact and breathing are inhibited. “We don’t have enough bandwidth to perform at our best…” writes Cuddy. Basically, we contract.
So that we can perform at our best, let’s look at some ways to turn down the volume!
Catch it ~
Do an experiment this week – see if you can catch the chatter. No need to respond, counter or change it. Simply start to hear your internal voice when it speaks. When you do, respond with: “There’s that voice again,” or “I hear you.” This may sound cheesy or out of step with your routine, but it works.
*Action Step: Place 3-4 sticky notes in your environment as a visual reminder that you are “catching” chatter!
Capture it ~
Now that you’ve turned on your listening ear to inner chit chat, let’s capture them – actually write them down. Keep an on-going list nearby. In doing so, you bring them out from hiding and into your awareness field.
*Action Step: As you CATCH and CAPTURE your mind-filled chatter, locate your breathing. Take 3 full, deep breaths. Often, the messages are the opposite of a “pat on the back” and can leave you feeling slightly defeated. Let your body and breath lead you back to calm and center.
Create a Response ~
You’ve spent time on the “catch” and “capture” approach for the purpose of simply recognizing the voices, the messages, the frequency and your responses (physical and emotional). Now, let’s respond. This part is very personal, and you can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach. Here are some options:
1.) Once I hear the voice, I use my breath and relaxation techniques to calm myself.
2.) Counter the voice with a strong statement: Something like – “I’ve got this, I can handle the situation, I’ve been challenged before and made it through. I can do it again.”
3.) An inner message stated I hadn’t accomplished enough that day. I responded by listing all I accomplished that day. Sometimes, facts and reason does the trick.
4.) Set a clear intention for specific situations or for your day. By doing so, you create a strong anchor to stand and act. It calibrates my focus and purpose for doing my best work.
No doubt, by bringing awareness to those internal messages, you’ll recognize them before they derail you, allowing you to thrive and connect fully.