Many long-time readers of this space know that I have written extensively on the topic of resistance. For new readers, let me explain briefly about resistance. Resistance is a negative force, which is the enemy of your higher performance self. No matter what area of improvement you have decided to engage in, resistance will be there to attempt to thwart your best attempts. Anything from being a better parent, to losing some weight, to better performance in your chosen field, resistance is there to be your biggest enemy.
One form of resistance that shows up in everyone’s journey is the self-talk voice in your head. Let me tell you right off the bat, you cannot stop the stream of self-talk you hear. Our brain activity continues to generate a thought stream as long as we are living, so we all have to deal with the voice in our heads. The objective is not to stop it, the objective is to change and modify it. Over the years in working with my coaching clients, we have identified in many of them, not only what that voice sounds like, but also, how it got that way. You see, your stream of thought has been programmed, molded and shaped over your lifetime. Through people of influence and your personal experiences, that thought pattern, sound, and tone has been well developed and will take some focus and work to reclaim it and re-record it.
Not everyone’s thought process voice is negative, some people have worked on this and never allowed it to find its own way to the negative side. Typically, though, if there’s been no work in this area, the natural default position is negative. Today, I want to identify for you some of the most common resistance voices I have encountered in executive coaching situations.
The Victim Voice: Always starts with “I can’t” or “You can’t”
The Failure Voice: “You will fail at this”
The Revenge Voice: “You just wait”
The Self-Doubt Voice: “You aren’t ready” or “What makes you think you can do this?”
The Injustice Voice: “Just look at what they’ve done to you now” or “done to them now”
The Scarcity Voice: “There isn’t enough for me/or us/or everyone”
The Apocalypse Voice: “Things are about to crash or come apart at any time now”
The Hide from It Voice: “Just lay low and don’t say anything about this”
The Wallflower Voice: “Just blend in and fit in, don’t rock the boat”
The Drama Voice: “WOW, nothing like this has ever happened before”or “Can you believe what is happening now?”
The Pleaser Voice: “Just work harder at trying to make everyone happy, they’ll appreciate you then?”
Can you identify any of these examples as your own? These are only a few examples of what the voice of resistance may sound like to you. This is content of what the thought stream is saying to you.
Next, what does the tone and volume sound like? For some, the tone is very critical and harsh. For others, it’s soft and seductive. Another thing to consider is who does it sound like? Many of my clients have carried around the sound of their Mom or Dad in their heads, with a harsh tone and critical content. For others, it’s an athletic coach, high school teacher or some other highly influential person who was participating in their early development years.
Another reason this topic is so important for your success in performance is that your thoughts set the total direction of your life. For instance, if you have a very harsh and critical victim voice constantly hammering away in your thought stream, you are defeated before you even begin. Then, over a short period of time, after having these thoughts, you give up on that weight loss program, you surrender on being a better parent and you settle for whatever performance level you have. It seems like no matter what you do, you can never get above a certain level, so why even try? While identifying and working on that thought voice in your head is not a total answer, it’s often a great place to begin in any improvement plan.
Identification of these things improves your self-awareness, so then you can employ some self-regulation tactics to change. To start out though, just simply capture these thoughts in your journal, so you can see them and examine them. More times than not, being able to look at them on paper makes them more implausible than ever. Your thoughts inform your beliefs and there is nothing more important than what you believe about yourself.