self talk

Head Trash: Three Tips For Controlling Your Internal Dialogue

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For many years of my life, when asked a question I felt insecure about, I’d outwardly say one thing, but if I was honest with myself, I’d be feeling something a bit different. My external dialogue and my feelings didn’t always match up. An example is how I’d compare my level of successes with others. Outwardly, I’d say, “I don’t really care what others think.” In reality, this may have been more aspirational than factual – I did care what others thought. In the not-so-distant past, I’d compare my house, car, lack of private jet, etc. to those of others. I learned how this is an ever-losing proposition because there will always be someone who can kick your butt in the arms race of bigger, better, and more stuff. Nevertheless, it’s still a great source of head trash.

When I was younger, I worried that I was a fraud and not an expert (“Why would someone listen to me?”), even when I was a bonified expert. Unfortunately, the variety of ways in which we beat ourselves up and question our abilities is only bound by the amount of time we have in a day. In other words, if left unchecked, our own head trash can be limitless and debilitating.

I was recently invited to a do specialty training with a peer group. To be part of this group, one has to be recommended, interviewed, and then invited. I knew of some of the people attending, as a few of the top experts in the field and the individual putting on the workshop had an amazing reputation. When we started, right off the bat, the presenter said something along the lines of, “Head trash: every one of us in this room has it. Let it go. It serves no purpose”.

I loved hearing that even this rockstar presenter has his own head trash and he would also have to let it go. It reaffirmed that we all have insecurities about this or that – “Do I deserve to sit at the leadership table?” or “Am I leading or just wandering in the dark?” or “Who am I to give my opinion?”…and on and on. It’s okay, I get it. I’ve been there and, candidly, there are still times it creeps back in and gives me that annoying little tap on the shoulder, as if saying, “Hey, remember me? I’m your insecure head trash talking. I’m here to hijack your productivity and grow seeds of self-doubt.” Today, ninety-nine percent of the time, I let it go quicker than it arrives.

I’ve come a long way in dealing with this and I feel confident I have my head trash on the run – most of the time. However, at that conference, in the small room filled with heavy hitters, I found camaraderie and value when our presenter kicked off the workshop with, “We all have head trash. Let it go.”

Sometimes, the concern that creeps in is more than an insecurity; it’s actually experience questioning, and it may be a valid point. This is where it gets a bit tricky. You need to be as objective as possible to assess if what has just crept into your thinking is a valid concern or just head trash. If it’s valid, I’d advise you to address it immediately and to take the next steps as defined. Keep in mind that more often than not, head trash can be hidden in these “valid concerns”. When a valid concern arises, review it, assess it, and deal with it as soon as possible.

I believe that head trash thrives when we postpone, hold off, kick the can down the road, or decide that something needs “further analysis”. To me, this sounds like code for “I’m being a wuss and I’m afraid to deal with my head trash”. You need to dive in and deal with it. Will you be right every time? Nope, sorry. But you will be right much more often than you’d think. Further, and perhaps of more importance, you’ll begin taking control of your internal dialogue, thereby empowering your success.

The next time that annoying, questioning voice creeps into your head and attacks your confidence, try these three steps:

  1. Embrace the thinking that you aren’t alone. Everyone deals with head trash…EVERYONE.
  2. Assess if the feeling/concern is valid or if it’s simply your insecurities . poking its head in to complicate the situation.
  3. If your assessment presents a valid concern or if it’s an insecurity, review it, assess it, deal with it, and continue moving forward.

Remember, you’re the expert. Focus your energy on the right stuff, not your head trash.

I become energized when I get to help individuals and organizations identify what success looks like on their terms by outlining a plan to achieve their dreams and empowering all team members to contribute in a way that lights them up.

Is your internal dialogue in need of a major overhaul? Are you interested in learning more about taking out your head trash? We can help with that! Contact us today to find out how.

2 thoughts on “Head Trash: Three Tips For Controlling Your Internal Dialogue

  1. Kris,
    This is a terrific article. Thank you! I have a really loud critical voice, and my business coach taught me a couple of ways to deal with that voice. The first is to invite it to sit next to me as I’m working. And when it chimes in with “what were you thinking?!”, thank if for sharing, and go on with my work. This technique acknowledges the presence of my critical voice, and does not allow it to hijack my thinking. The other strategy is to look at the criticism and ask yourself three questions: what did I do well?, what could I have done better?, and what did i learn? – summarized as well, better, learn. Those questions allow for the potential that my critical voice may have brought up a valid point, and then allows me to put it in perspective rather than go down that slippery slope of useless head trash.

  2. Great stuff, Kris. I am one filled with head trash. I deal with it by asking more questions, writing things down so I can look into later, etc. Appreciate the share.

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