A father gives his son six ways to drown out the voices of doubt and fear.
Yes, I played football in high school, I was not the best, but I was pretty good as a tight end and a second line wide receiver. Then I was given the opportunity to run an offensive play. I was so afraid to mess up that I refused to do it. Needless to say my football career ended quickly.
Recently I was asked to give a talk at church for the Knights of Columbus. They needed me to help recruit younger members. I told them I was too busy. The truth was I was afraid I’d do bad job.
These are just two examples of many in my life where I have let opportunities pass me by. I don’t know whether I would have done well, but I failed before I tried.
There was this movie way back in 1986 about space travelers that were infected by aliens that grew inside them and finally killed them. Aliens. It was an awesome movie.
The scariest thing about that movie is that it is true. In life it isn’t an alien that kills us, but a voice in our head.
You see, we all have this voice in our head. The voice creates doubt and uncertainty. It is sometimes quiet, but often blaringly loud, and its sole purpose is to get you to buy into negative self-talk. It is never positive. When an opportunity comes along that takes you out of your comfort zone the voice says, “What if you fail? You will mess up and people will see.”
The voice never encourages. When you need to give yourself positive reinforcement, you have to put a lot of effort into it. You tell yourself, “Go for it! Don’t be afraid.” But it’s hard when you’re listening to that alien voice.
Negative self-talk is subconscious. That means you put yourself down even when you don’t mean to. If unchecked, like the alien, it will eat you alive.
I’m here to tell you that it is NOT OK to listen to this voice. Many adults have fallen prey to this alien. But you, my son, will be armed with an arsenal to deal with it. Be Ripley.
Here are some common situations where the alien speaks out:
You’re about to try out for the basketball team at school. It says, “You’re not going to make it don’t bother trying. You’ll feel horrible when you fail.”
You want to put your hand up in class. It says, “You’re asking a stupid question. Your answer is wrong. Everyone will laugh at you.”
You want to ask a girl out for a movie. It says, “You’re not good looking enough. She’s going to laugh at you.”
Your friend didn’t meet you for lunch. It says, “You’ll sit at the cafeteria by yourself. You have no friends. Everyone will think you’re a loser.”
You’re trying your hand at a new business venture you thought up, like your video editing idea. It says, “No one will pay you to make videos for them. You’re not good enough, why even try?”
Why did God put this voice in our head? I really don’t know. It is just there. It is quiet at times but sometimes the voice can be debilitating. It will weaken you and stop you from doing something worthwhile.
How do we deal with this alien?
First we have to acknowledge that it is real. This seems trivial but it is important. This voice is real. If you were in an Archie’s comic this voice would be the little devil that sits on your shoulder.
Second you have to know that listening to this voice is wrong! It is not OK to listen to it. It will kill you!
Like Ripley in the movie, you can deal with it. There are several ways, practice one or all of them.
#1 — Challenge it. Once you hear it speak, ask yourself, “Is it what this voice saying true?” Then look at the facts.
#2 – Talk back to it. Tell yourself, “If I don’t bother trying (for the basketball team) I would really have failed before I started. If I raise my hand and ask, I will also be helping other students that don’t know. Or I’ll be sharing what I know. I look good, once she gets to know me she will like me even more. I would like to give her a chance to. I have friends and I am not the only one eating lunch by myself. In fact this is a great opportunity to meet a new friend. With a little practice every day, I will get better (at video editing) and when I become good enough – there will be people and companies that require my passion. I’ll get started now.”
#3 — Quiet it. The voice gets quieter through doing. When you practice, you get better and the voice gets quieter. Confidence muffles it and confidence is built when you practice and do.
#4 — Be with people that encourage you. Do not waste a moment with people who agree with that alien and just pull you down.
#5 — Put things in perspective. This means look closely at what worries you. Is the worst outcome that bad? There are things in the world that are far worse. It makes the voice sound trivial.
#6 – Silence it! This one is a little harder and takes time. It is like when Ripley shoots the alien into space. (Spoiler alert! It doesn’t die!) There are people who are able to shut the voice up. You can never shut it up for good but people like Michael Singer, author of Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment, have spent many years meditating to the point where they can silence that voice.
You can certainly do that too, and with practice you will succeed. The greatest athlete, the most successful business person, and the most talented artist all have to deal with this voice. What differentiates these people who have great experiences in life from the people who doesn’t is their ability to shut it up.
Michael Jordan didn’t make the varsity team during his second year in college because he was too short. Could you imagine if he had listened to that alien voice and given up? Your Air Jordans would just be Air.
Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper he was working at. The editor who fired him said he lacked imagination and had no good ideas. After he was fired, Walt started several businesses that also failed. I’m sure the voice screamed, “I told you so! Give up already!”
Jay Z couldn’t even get one record label to sign him. Other rappers laughed at him. Rather than listening to the voice that said, “I told you so!” He started his own label and is now worth over $500 million.
My son, you don’t want that alien inside you. It will burst out of your gut and kill your crew. (We’ll watch Aliens together if you want.)