Voices in the Head

‘Voices in the head’ were given a wider definition than the original sign of mental illness when inner dialogue became part of Assertiveness Training in the 80’s. I can remember the discipline of writing down the negative voice about a situation on one side of a page and then changing the language to a positive voice on the other. This is classic reframing of thoughts from a negative self esteem to positive ones which open up possibilities.

For example:

Negative Inner Dialogue I need to change my job. I am bored and need to have more challenging projects. My new boss Alison, does not give me autonomy. There are no jobs around. In fact I am lucky to have one with the economy as it is at the moment. I had better buckle down and go to the gym to make sure I keep the endorphins up. That will get me into trouble with June as she wants me to help with the kids when I get in. Can’t do both Life’s a bitch Positive Inner Dialogue My new boss does not give me the autonomy I had. I am bored, need more challenging projects. She needs to know this or I might have to leave. That’s got to be an option. Although the economy is tough, there are jobs around. Matt got one. Better get my CV up to date. Will get some help from June’s friend. Also will arrange to have a discussion with Alison. She has the right to know how I feel and I have the right to tell her. The ideal would be to get involved in the new project and work at home a day a week to help with the kids. Will justify my trips to the gym then.

Inner Dialogue and Intuitive Career Management

Inner Dialogue goes beyond two voices in Intuitive Career Management. The definition of I.C.M. is ‘managing your career by listening to your inner voice, the one that inspires you to use your talents and giving it a voice in the discussions that help you decide what work to do’. By voice I mean the one or ones that are helpful, have your own interests at heart not those that are your saboteurs, the ones that stop you doing what you know is right for you. Ignore these at your peril!
Some of these internal voices have been external once, belonging to influential people, past and present, in your life. They may know the real you or they may only see part of you, or not who you are now. They can have good advice or belong to people who do not want you to change. These voices may mask the one that is unique to you, the one that is there from birth to guide your life and inspire you, igniting your spark. What a leap of faith it is to let our life and work to be guided by that one.
How do you know which voice to listen to? How do you know your own voice? The easy answer is to listen to the one that is positive and encouraging! But if you take on the philosophy of Dialogue you carefully listen to contributions from all the voices in your head without judgement, allowing all to input in your decision about what work you do. This allows you to be in control, a new perspective or way forward to emerge from your own wise voice and a perspective on handling the saboteurs.

How to do it: Space and ‘Post-it’ pads

  • When faced with a career or work dilemma, engage your healthy self interest voice and create time and space to hear all your voices, externalise them and look at them on ‘post-it’ notes. Different coloured ones is a playful, creative treat!
  • Write out each voice on its own ‘post-it’ and divide them all into insightful and not helpful.
  • Order the insightful ones. Reflect on them quietly; allow your own insightful voice to emerge. Write it down.
  • Look at the not helpful ones and befriend these voices. They represent your fears, your saboteurs. Ask what they need to be transformed into helpers for the future.
  • Harvest your internal thoughts to create a plan to take the insights further in an external way which could cover: do nothing and wait for more insight, research, talk to more people or create an action plan.

    • ©Judith Mills 2008