Friday, April 21, 2017

Little Voice Management

What are "little voices"?

So what do I mean when I say Little Voice Management? Well, I'm talking about the thoughts that come into our minds. These thoughts can come from either internal (what I think about myself) or external (what others think about me) sources. These voices can be positive or negative. The trick is to figure out how to properly manage these voices so that the negative ones are rooted out and the positive ones get planted properly.

Personal Experience

The earliest I can remember letting negativity take root was around 8 years old. I started to have thoughts about myself that weren't elevating. I then began to find external voices that mirrored those negative thoughts. These thoughts would show up when I was about to try something new. Negativity was my mindset and it affected my actions.

Through my teenage years these kind of thoughts were persistent. There were times when I felt that no one cared about me. I even had a moment where I wondered if people would even notice if I weren't around.

With these types of thoughts comes a heaviness. It feels like you are weighed down and can't move forward. The thoughts always had a similar tone, such as:
  • You're not good enough
  • You can't do that
  • People don't like you
  • It's too hard
Eventually, I developed a chip on my shoulder. Everyone was out to get me.

At age 25, a co-worker finally told me "Not everyone is out to get you, you know". That stung. I didn't realize my attitude was apparent in my actions. It stuck with me, but I didn't know what to do about it.

Over the next few years I struggled with changing how I thought. I tried a few things, but I really didn't find anything that solved the problem.

As parents, we had been through a lot. With three special needs kids, life can be exhausting, especially when your mindset is negative. Then we began taking some classes and something clicked. I learned techniques that could help me change the negativity into something positive. This helped me as a father to look at things in a new light. I am able to dismiss the negativity when it surfaces instead of allowing it to affect my children negatively.

Personal Mantra

One of the techniques I learned is to have a personal mantra(s). My go to mantra is:

"I control and manage my internal noise"

It is a simple statement, but it tells my brain that I am in control and that I decide what to think. I have been using this mantra for the past year. There are occasions when I have to repeat this mantra in order to get rid of stubborn negativity, but using it consistently and persistently forces the negativity out of my mind. 

I am more positive person. I have become less reactive to external situations. My outlook on things has shifted from the negative to the positive.

I have used other mantras to help me stay positive. These are ones that I have used to chase the negative away:

"I am a good father"
"I have knowledge and experience to share"
"I am balanced, empowered, and inspired"
"I am courageous"
"I have faith"
"I have wisdom and understanding"
"I endure to the end"
"I spend time with my children"
"I look for teaching opportunities"

Each of these mantras helps me to get past the negativity that comes into my life and focus on the positive.

Controlling my thoughts has also led to being a better parent. I find that when I have control, I am more patient with my children. I listen more. I help more. I play more. I stop trying to fix and/or solve everything for them. 

As a parent, I can see when my children's thoughts are turning negative. I teach them to recognize negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. 

The law of replacement

I have found that when I remove the negative thoughts from my mind that something needs to fill the void left behind. I call this the law of replacement. For instance, recently I gave up drinking caffeinated soda. This habit had to be replaced by something otherwise I would go right back to drinking soda again. I've replaced that habit with drinking water.  

When it comes to replacing negative thoughts, you need to put in something positive or another negative thought will fill the gap.

Using a personal mantra is one technique I employ to help keep my mind free from negativity. I have another technique that I use nightly that really helps me prepare for the next day. I will share that technique in my next post.

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