4 Tips to Shut Up the Negative Voices in Your Head

This is a Guest Post by Adam Rico. He is a corporate recruiter and career coach. Adam helps people feel fully alive by doing work they love. You can read his blog Work You Enjoy and follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Do you ever hold yourself back from success?

Everyone seems to be talking about how to be successful. You can go to any blog, magazine, or book and find a gluttony of tips to get you on the fast track.

What kind of success are you chasing? Blogging success? Success in your business, career, relationships?

Regardless of the area of your life you want success, someone has a tip or plan for you and yet, when we look at those around us, what really separates the successful from the unsuccessful?

I recently attended a career fair on the employer side of the table and a job seeker came to our table and after I explained the different available positions they said:

I’m not smart enough for those jobs.

I was blown away by this person’s response.

Most people are trying to impress me with their qualifications and charming personalities at a career fair – not this person. They told me exactly what they were thinking.

Although I appreciated their honesty, I had to politely disagree with their self-assessment. Yet, I started to think about how often I do the same thing.

When negative self talk erupts in my thoughts do I politely disagree? What about you?

Do you ever tell yourself you’re not _________ enough to do ____________?

So how is this related to success? I believe that it’s everything and I believe that we are what we think. If we believe we can be successful, we will be. Some how, some way.

If we allow negative thoughts to crowd out our confidence, we’ve already lost before we’ve begun. So where do those negative thoughts come from?

We have someone’s voice in the back of our mind that tells us we can’t do it. For some that voice may be a parent, teacher, sibling, or just ourselves. But we all have that voice and I believe that it’s the voice of fear.

So, what’s the solution? We need to have a strategy to deal with that voice when it reveals its ugly little head. Here are four of them to ponder:

1. Identify the Voice

First, identify whose voice it is. We’re not born with critical thoughts. Critical and negative thoughts were planted somewhere along life’s road. Likely by someone with good intentions. It may be your own voice, but it will help to know whose voice is behind those negative thoughts when you get to Strategy #3.

2. Identify When You Are Lying to Yourself

It may almost seem natural or “responsible” to talk yourself out of thinking big. The next time you have a big idea and then you find yourself focusing on the negative aspects, try to pause and realize what you are doing to yourself at that moment.

3. Talk Back

Question that voice. Who is that voice to challenge you? If you have identified the voice as someone in your life, this can be challenging. Especially if it is a parent’s voice. However, when you start thinking negatively, ask yourself what the opposite thought would sound like. Change your thought from, “this will never work” to “what if this works out”? You will need to choose to believe the positive thought.

4. Replace the Negative Thinking

Just identifying negative thinking is half the battle. You must have some positive thinking to fill its place. Listen to positive messages from podcasts, music, or radio. Read encouraging blogs, books, and magazines.

I would also suggest trimming or eliminating your news intake. What you put into your mind is going to come out in your thought life. Choosing to believe the positive thoughts takes some work and some time to develop better thinking habits. However, it will be worth the effort and time.

Regardless of where you are on your journey to success, at one point or another we all trip ourselves up with negative thinking. However, our success hinges on the ability to identify our negative thinking and choose to believe in our success before it actually happens.

If we can do that we can move mountains.

For further reading and to subscribe to Adam’s newsletter you can download his free ebook “5 Essential Steps to Landing Your Dream Job”

  • http://jaredlatigo.com Jared Latigo

    I do love what I do. Sometimes it’s a downfall though because I get too caught up in it. But speaking of the voice in our heads, I totally understand what you’re saying. I’ve actually said that to myself several times, the most recent being the other day. I have a tendency to compare my work to others…that’s never a good thing. :( Thanks for the encouragement, loved the post!

    • http://www.workyouenjoy.com Adam Rico

      That’s fantastic you love what you do Jared. Yes, I always go down the wrong path when I start comparing my work to others’ work. In the end I try to always just focus on how much hustle I put into my work. Have I done all I can do at that moment? That is really all I can control.

  • http://www.mirandaochocki.com Miranda Ochocki

    Interesting post Adam. Definitely something we all need to think about.
    Here is my struggle. I tend to be the “realistic” thinker. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big thinker and a big dreamer – otherwise I wouldn’t be on the path that I’m on – but at what point are negative thoughts also honest thoughts? Ones that need to be truly assessed. I struggle between knowing the line between realistic and pessimistic.

    • http://www.workyouenjoy.com Adam Rico

      That is a great question Miranda. I think it comes down to doing some reality testing with our big ideas. Have others done similar big idea things? If not, why not? Where did they get tripped up? How can I avoid those pitfalls? If others have experienced success in something similar then I know I’m probably on the right track. Very few things we do are absolutely original. There’s nothing new under the sun.

      • http://www.mirandaochocki.com Miranda Ochocki

        I like the way you put that. Maybe I’ll start asking those questions first before taking the pessimistic route! Thanks for the great post!

  • http://about.me/carolmarks Carol

    That was refreshing. I have to admit, I went in, first, thinking that this was another one of those articles but maybe it was the right time and I was ready but I heard it, this time. I have identified my voice; bittersweet.

    • http://www.workyouenjoy.com Adam Rico

      I know what you mean Carol. It’s only half the battle to identify the voice. The hardest part is overcoming the voice. I would encourage you to keep working at focusing on the positive. It will get easier over time.

  • Shari Huffey


    What great revelation on this topic. I struggle periodically with negative thoughts like most of us do. I desire to be successful and truly believe I can and will. For me, focusing in right at the moment a negative thought is swirling around in my head, identifying the source, and giving myself the truth has helped me grow in this.

    Thank-you for sharing your insight. I know there are many people trying to release their greatness and this is one big step in that direction! Great Job!

    Shari Huffey :)

    • http://www.workyouenjoy.com Adam Rico

      Thank you for your kind words Shari. It sounds like you are practicing the right principles to position yourself for further success. I wish you all the best on your journey.

  • http://www.kfdp.com Kellie

    I’ve still never actually been able to reconcile #1. However, I do try to do #2,3,4 in spite of that. Someday I’ll overcome… Thank you for this blog.

    • http://www.workyouenjoy.com Adam Rico

      That’s ok Kellie if you haven’t identified whose voice it is. The more important parts are the ones you’re already doing. Sometimes the voice can actually be more than one “person” from our lives, so that can make it more difficult to nail down.