What To Do With The Voices In Your Head

(I draw on personal experiences in this post to establish that I understand what I’m writing about. I do NOT have any angst toward my father. He did the best he could do. The three illustrations presented here are simply history.)

I was twelve. My father had rigged up a system in our garage so that he could balance the tires without paying for it. “Come help me!” he called.

I obeyed. He gave a quick explanation of what he wanted me to do.

My first attempt to comply failed. “I told you to do this!” he exploded, and quickly demonstrated again.

My second attempt was no more successful.

“You’re useless!” he exclaimed. “You’ll never amount to anything!”

I have a voice in my head that repeats those words when the work I have to do is complex or difficult.

In December when I was twenty-five my then-wife said to me, “I have filed for divorce.” Understood in that brief statement was, “You’re no good at being a husband.”

A different voice in my head reminds me at odd times of that fact.

The principal called me into his office one afternoon. “I’m recommending to the board that you will not be re-hired for next school year.”

Another voice reminds me that it can be capriciously decided by anyone that I am less than what is needed for the job.

We all have voices in our heads that speak up for many reasons.

They tend to remind us of some failures or fears or inabilities that have happened to us.

Some may call them by other names: Thoughts, Dreams, Plans, maybe even demons.

It is my observation that it is impossible to get rid of the voices.

I have tried to drown out the voices that remind me of my poor past. Since I am able to remember enough to write this post, you can tell that drowning is not very successful.

But, we can influence them, we can train the voices to help us rather than defeat us.

A Plan

Step 1: Take Control

When one of the voices speaks about the past, I speak right back to it just like it was a real person speaking negativity to me about me.

Example dialogue.

“That happened, true. But the threat that I would never amount to anything is untrue! I successfully worked as a teacher for almost 50 years.”

“Many of my students attribute their success to my efforts in their education and training.”

“I have succeeded at several occupations in my life, with accclaimed success.”

I even quote my now-wife as she has spoken with superlatives about my husband skills.

The point here is that my present voice IRL is more powerful than the history voice that erupts from time-to-time.

Step 2: Teach It What To Say

It may sound crazy, but as Sheldon says, “I’m not crazy! My mom had me tested.”

Don’t let negative be the last word. Beat it down with current facts.

I tell the head voice to repeat my positive statements (facts) back to me. In my father’s voice, or ex-wife’s or ex-principal’s. It’s kind of satisfying to hear.

Step 3: Create Change

This is an extension of Step 2.

Teach the brain what to say in order to give you power to do.

Consistent Rejection of everything negative

Persistent Repetition of positive messages (that you create)

I have taught the voices to focus on the positives in my life – the accomplishments, the acccolades, the victories, the successes of my students.

Positivity has enabled me to take on challenges that I might never have attempted in my younger years.

>In retirement I decided to expand my photography skills repertoire and began working as a Wedding Photographer. In that arena you can’t make a mistake or miss a shot. High Pressure equals High Praise when the product is excellent.

>I wrote and published a young adult novel which is available on Amazon. I began writing when I was twelve, and dreamed for years (decades) of being a published author.

>I decided to illustrate a children’s story that I had written, so I began meeting with a master water color artist to learn that medium. My wife says I’m getting pretty good. And that satisfies me.

Most of the time in my life now I no longer hear the accusatory statements referenced above. The negative statements have been replaced with acknowledgements of a live well-lived.

Caution

Our inner voices are directly fed by what goes into our brains through our eyes, ears, and senses. Movies, TV shows, videos, games, where you go, your friends, the books and magazines you read feed our brain voices.

What you encourage your brain to spend time on, what you repeatedly send into your brain, feeds the voices for either positive or negative.

You get to decide. No one else can make the decision for you.

Change the input to change the output.

You are free to choose; you are not empowered to avoid the results of your choices.

Your choice will always result in a consequence.

Cause and Effect will happen.

Comments are welcomed.

Seven Spheres of Life: Relationships

At the restaurant yesterday, I asked for a Mango drink. Mango nectar and water. It was delicious.

As I sipped it, I began thinking about some of my favorite people. They qualify as delicious also. Without them my life would be less.

Naturally, I also thought briefly of some other relationships I have had. Bitter. Distasteful. Spit-it-out bad.

Relationships.

We have many kinds of realtionships.
Co-workers
Family
Recreation team members
Church friends
Drinking buddies
Club members

And there are acquaintances – people you know casually, but don’t spend social time with.

How can I look at a relationship to determine if it is Mango delicious, or Spit-it-out harmful?

Do you remember anyone teaching you how to make friends? I don’t. Mr Rogers may have for lots of people. I grew up without TV.

I did learn the Biblical injunction: if you want friends you must be friendly.

In my mid-twenties I got divorced. Suddenly the social group that I had considered ‘friends’ were unfriendly. I don’t remember getting unfriendly. But, I was no longer included in the invites.

I worked for the church, I socialized with church members. It would be pretty accurate to say that I had no close friends outside of work and church.

No, don’t feel sad for me.

I learned a lot. I matured a lot.

Looking back at the experiences surrounding the divorce, I began to recognize some clues that should have warned me about the unhealthy relationships that wove around in my life.

Let’s focus on the positive qualities of a healthy relationship. By understanding healthy relationships, unhealthy ones will become obvious.

Maslow wrote about human needs and developed what is known as “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” an ordered list of five things that humans must have. Click here to study this topic.

Relationships occupy the middle position, right after Physical needs and Safety needs.

Good Relationships are the anchor points that enable us to feel good about ourselves and achieve our full potential.

Friends help us move into the Fifth Level of Maslow’s Hierarchy, where we are empowered to reach our full potential.

But it’s an obvious point that some relationships make us have negative feelings about ourselves and drag us away from “self-actualization” or, reaching for the stars.

How do I go about measuring a relationship to see if it is diminishing me or elevating me?

A real evaluation will involve writing.

Just thinking about it probably won’t accomplish the goal.

Start by making a list of your friends and acquaintances – a written list.

Then look at and think about each individual and your relationship with him or her. Take notes.

There are some simple, straight-forward ways to get a true picture of a relationship.

How do I feel about myself and my goals for myself after spending time with _____? (Fill in the blank with a name.) Be honest with yourself. Just get the feeling.

Feelings can be more accurate than logic.

A person may be connected to many parts of your work or personal life. But the relationship may be bad for you.

Don’t look at family connections right now. If you are in a committed relationship, and you are questioning whether it is healthy, evaluate your contribution to the relationship and determine what You can do to make it better.

Some times an unhealthy friendship can be turned around when you work on being the friend the other person needs.

It’s okay to change.

It’s okay to inspire others to change.

Friendships involve Giving and Taking. Both parties need to do both – Give and Take.

A person who only takes from you will drain you, and leave little for you to give yourself.

Evaluate your role. Are you balanced? Giver and Taker?

There are quizzes online that you can take to evaluate relationships. Most of them have to do with romantic relationships.

A good relationship has certain qualities:
Respect – mutual, both directions
Trust
Honesty
Acceptance – of individuality, of differences
Communication – open, as equals
Self-control – emotional and physical
Value places value on your personal goals

Think about a friend. Take one of the ingredients from the list of qualities and assign a value between Negative 5 and Positive 5 for how that person demonstrates Respect for you.

Then take the next quality and evaluate. (I have a form in the Worksheet to help with this.)

Relationship Sphere Worksheet

The hard part might be what you need to do when you realize that a relationship is damaging you.

You can try to communicate with the person and ask him or her to change. But my experiences have caused me to believe that there are people who are takers, and they don’t see a need to change.

Sometimes there really is only one choice: end the relationship. Move that person to the Acquaintance List.

I’d love to hear your comments on this post. Positive or negative. How could I make the post better?

Thank you for reading.

Questioning

For the first time in 18 months I find myself on Tuesday with no finished article written for my blog. I will recover.

I’m questioning my message. My passion stated early in the process was “to share my Elder Wisdom”. I became convinced that the niche was too broad to really be a niche and attract followers/readers.

I changed my focus to Reaching One’s Goals in Life.

I began working on the idea of Goals within the Seven Spheres of Life.

This week was for the Relationships Sphere.

The message and worksheet are not ready for publication.


There was still no rush to join my group of readers.

In addition, I’ve had a number of technical problems recently that have perplexed me and sapped my energies:

my RSS feed disappeared;
my Mailchimp account quit working with the Sign-Up pop-up/link;
several hundred readers visited my site with no new subscribers enrolled;
my attempts to engage an expert in WordPress and podcast have so far been unproductive.

Made me question my message.

Covered me in discouragement.

I shall return.

Seven Spheres of Life: Health

You can have all the riches and success in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” – Steven Adler

When was the last time you thought seriously about your health?

The last time you were sick, right?

We tend to take our health for granted, until there’s a problem.

Too often working for a healthy self isn’t a top priority, until illness whacks us and we can’t live our normal lives.

We need a plan for living that keeps us from getting whacked. Sound good?

Let’s work out a plan for ‘Healthy You’ that increases your enjoyment of life now and that reduces risks of health issues for the rest of your life.

My Story

My father volunteered me to be the 24-hour-per-day care-giver/nurse for a quadraplegic who wanted to go to college. The only care-giver.

I had never learned to say no to my father. So Jim moved into the dorm. And I with him.

The room was normally a guest room with a half-bath – sink and toilet, hospital bed and my cot, a chair and desk.

My life stopped. Everything I did was centered around and for Jim.

By the 4th quarter of the term, I was emotionally drained. Physically exhausted.

I didn’t realize at the time that I had slipped into an unhealthy funk.

My grades suffered, my social life was a disaster, and time for spiritual considerations was nonexistent.

But I didn’t realize it at the time.

That’s common when emotional health is at the root of being unhealthy.

After college I somehow secured a job at a Christian camp working to build a walkway through a swamp. The instructions given me were – here are the supplies and equipement – build it.

It was hard, physical work and that turned out to be just what I needed. The exercise and sweat were medicine for my body, my thinking, and my emotions.

I learned that ‘Health’ is a blanket that covers the physical, the mental, and the emotional self.

The good news is that focus and effort in one part of your self, benefits your other selves also.

Reasons to Get Healthy

How does improving your health improve your life?

Regular, consistent exercise rewards you in many ways.

  • Prevents chronic illnesses (cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases)
  • Improves attention, concentration, and other functions of the brain
  • Maintains healthy thinking
  • Improves sleep
  • Lowers stress
  • Reduces dependence on unhealthy habits
  • Reduces physical illnesses

It’s Your Move That Counts

Take that first step into creating a healthier You – #BestYou

Increase the amount of daily physical activity you do.

You don’t have to buy a Gym Membership. You don’t have to buy Home Gym Equipment.

If you believe that you are too busy to start ‘going to the gym’ for exercise, here’s a short list of practical modify-what-you’re-already-doing ways to get it done.

If it’s raining, snowing, or too hot, head to the local mall for a walk as you windowshop.

Exercise at home. Push-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts, lunges, and stretching are good for you and are free of expensive equipment.

Take the stairs as often as possible. You might start by taking the elevator from a different floor than the one on which you work.

Drink plenty of water.

Sip water throughout the day. Drink enough and you have a guilt-free excuse to go for a walk to the washroom and back!

Staying well hydrated may also reduce feelings of hunger, and can often reduce chronic back pain.

Go for a family walk after dinner.

Guard Your Emotional Self with Intent

Nurturing your mind is as important as nurturing your body, and it will make you better able to deal with the stresses of your life routines. Be brave and consult with a mental health professional if your friends or spouse tell you that you need to.

Start Here

Work on Positive Thinking about Yourself.

Remind yourself of your personal value.

Read Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale, Og Mandino, James Allen. What these authors wrote are in ‘old books’ but they contain timeless wisdom.

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford

Your thinking will either give you permission and power or hold you trapped and timid.

Everything you put into your mind shapes your life. The books you read, the music you listen to, the movies and TV shows you watch. Your reality and expectations from life grow from how you spend your time.

Changing your input, changes your output. The old computer programming comment was: GIGO (Garbage In : Garbage Out)

What you feed your mind will be reflected in your thoughts and choices.

Just as what you feed your stomach is reflected in your body.

Create a healthier mind and it will show up in your physical health.

Download a Health Sphere Worksheet to help you create plans for a Healthier You.

I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts and ideas with me.

Use the online Comment option, or email me : eldon@eldonroberts.com

How to Focus Fuzzy Goals


Not every goal in life presents itself with a bulls-eye clearly marked.

Sometimes you know you want or need to move your life in a new direction, you see the direction, but can’t quite get the destination clear.

Better health. College degree. Happy life. Get a job. Publish a novel. Find a church. Get out of debt. Get married.

Those are all examples of Fuzzy Goals.

Reachable goals are focused.

A couple years ago I was lying in bed recovering from cancer surgery. I needed a goal or two that would keep me fighting to get well.

Browsing through Facebook I saw an ad for a webinar by a Blog Guru. It promised that I could learn to be a blogger and make money from the work. I bought the course and studied, and worked through the Modules.

I am fortunate to have opinions, and my college minor was English, so I had no difficulty writing blog posts. I count 60 posts that I have published.

But I have attracted only a dozen subscribers. A typical week sees only 4 who actually read the posts.

Something is wrong.

I have come to understand that my goal was unclear. Fuzzy.

My fuzzy goal was to ‘help people’ who wanted to reach Life Goals (again, Fuzzy).

An interesting thing about working toward a fuzzy goal is that when you get close to the target, you’re in the fuzz, and it can appear that you’ve hit the target.

Goals 101

Shoot at nothing and you’ll likely hit it, but, so what? What have you accomplished?

You can be very busy doing, and get nowhere.

It was time for me to take my own advice and learn more about Goals. I discovered there are:

Time Categories of Goals

1. Short-time goals – Changes and Improvements that can be accomplished in a few months to a year.

2. Long-time goals – Shaping yourself and your life that will potentially take years to complete.

3. Life-time goals – Results for these goals may take decades to realize.

Goals are reached in steps.

When the steps are carefully chosen, based on experience and study, the journey is quicker and more pleasant.

A coach is a good investment. Sometimes books, blogs, Internet search results can serve as coaches. Sometimes a flesh-and-blood coach is best.

Identify Your Goals

Get in an environment that encourages you to think, to reflect, to meditate. Have paper and pencil or your favorite device for recording your thoughts and ideas.

I like to work with noise in the background, the TV or music. That blocks out other intermittent noises that are distracting to me.

As you begin identifying goals you will undoubtedly include fuzzy ideas in your lists. That’s okay. It’s a starting point.

Create a written list, a Note on your phone, Google doc, something that you will have access to when a thought or insight pops.

Some prompts that might help you uncover your true goals:

>>You have met your Genie and have heard the fateful words, “You have three wishes to ask of me.” Only three. What would you wish for?

>>List what you DON’T want.

>>Describe your ideal self.

>>Write your eulogy.

>>What accomplishment idea motivates you to ‘get up and do’?

>>In Reflection mode: think about your life as a block-buster movie. What scenes and accomplishments would be featured?

Own Your Goals

Send me a copy of your list. I’m interested in what you want to accomplish. You can use the Comment box online or email me: eldon@eldonroberts.com

Oh, regarding my Goals for writing this blog and the content that I publish, I recently participated in a series of Webinars from Michael Hyatt which helped me clarify my purpose and my message.

Next week we’ll look at the 7 categories of goals and ways to build paths to accomplishment.