Even Business Owners have Inner Voices in their Head

The inner voices I refer to here are not those of the psychotic kind! Instead they are the voices of people from our past that influence us in the present.

What are these inner voices?

A large number of my business clients’ talk about the impact people from the past  have on their work or progress.

Keith is a highly successful retailer. One inner voice that spurs him on in his career is that of a teacher. The teacher said he would never amount to anything. You see, Keith was not strong academically and did the minimum amount of work at school. Yet for the past 12 years he has worked extremely hard in his business. He openly admits that part of his success is to prove that this teacher was wrong! He still has this teacher’s voice in his head.

Andrew attained a highly sought after qualification in his industry. It is a qualification that demands a great deal of time and effort. His wife encouraged him to study further and told him he could do it. Thanks to her confidence in him he achieved what he thought was impossible.

Recently in coaching sessions with him I noticed that he brushed over his amazing business achievements. Andrew then spoke about a significant influencer who still today colours how he sees himself: his father. Andrew’s father was extremely self-absorbed. He largely ignored any of Andrew’s achievements as a youngster. Furthermore his father always had some negative comment to make. Due to his own baggage from the past he was unable to encourage and support Andrew. As a result decades later, Andrew finds it difficult to be thrilled by his own achievements.

When we started unpacking this issue Andrew discovered how much hurt he carries due to a lack of recognition from his father. He now consciously works at neutralising his father’s voice in his head. He is learning to give himself the recognition he so craved from the person whose opinion he valued the most.

Whose inner voice is it?

Sometimes we are unaware of this inner voice. But if we take time to reflect we can pinpoint exactly where it comes from. It is often one of our parents, a sibling or a teacher.

What is interesting is that in some cases the inner voice has a motivating impact. That means the individual will work hard to prove the opposite of what the person told them in the past. However, there are also times when the influences from the past have a more negative impact.

Of course many of us are also blessed by very supportive and positive influencers such as a grandparent or old family friend. Many successful business people can quote the wonderful and uplifting comments by key people. So these voices can be both positive as well as negative.

An entrepreneur recently commented that she now recognises the inner voices in her head. And when she identifies a voice as somebody else’s, she stops it immediately. She then asks herself how she feels and what she would like to do or achieve. This has been a very liberating and empowering process for her.

How to deal with these inner voices?

It is important to be aware of these voices in the first place. So be attentive and notice what the nature of your self-talk is. When you talk to yourself in your head, ask whose voice that really is?

When you hear yourself saying any of these statements, take note:

  • “I am just not good enough,
  • You are too stupid to learn this
  • I do not want to bother anyone
  • You will never amount to anything in life
  • You should have known or done better
  • Oh anybody can achieve what you have done, etc.”

Whose voice is this? Is it really yours or do you recognise that it is the voice of someone else.

Then ask yourself: what extenuating reasons are there for this person’s behaviour at the time. E.g. they could never admit their own vulnerability. Or perhaps they had parents who showed no love or support. Put yourself in their shoes. If they were completely open and honest with you on why they were unable to be more loving, caring, etc. what would they say?

A client recently said she found it extremely sobering when she realised deep down that everyone is inherently flawed. We are imperfect beings. And as a result we are influenced for a large part of our life by the opinions of imperfect significant others in our life.

Find a place in your heart to forgive them and then move on with your own life.

What is the nature of the inner voices in your head? If you are keen to let go of past influencers or find your own voice, consider business coaching.

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Posted in Business Owner, Self mastery.