You know the saying, ‘think before you act’, or ‘think with your head not your heart’. These pearls of wisdom get thrown around in conversations on a daily basis. We are encouraged not to act rashly or rush into big decisions; using our rational train of

Listening to ourselves can sometimes be our biggest asset in life. Yet could that little voice be just as damaging to our success as it is beneficial?

People need some spontaneity with their choices and actions but, their inner dialogue might well curb those brave impulses. At times, we really are our own worst enemy.

Too often, our thoughts are filled with negativity and unhelpful perceptions of ourselves. The reason we are not achieving success or fulfilling our potential is due to these negative criticisms floating around our minds.

Instead of putting ourselves forward for promotions at work, leaders in work/study groups or even trying out a new activity, we hide in the shadows because we tell ourselves that we are no good.

We say things like, ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘no one is going to listen to you’ or ‘you won’t be able to do anything like that’. The majority of the time these are largely self-inflicted beliefs as a result of doubt and low self-esteem. That little voice inside prevents you from letting the best version of yourself shine through.

If you are at risk of blending into the background, then it’s time to stop and take back your mind. No longer can you blame other people for holding you back, claiming they intimidate you or are more equipped to take charge.

Take control

It’s time you took control and identify what it is that is causing all the doubt. Becoming aware that there are negative thoughts swirling around your head is half the battle.

Once you realise that they are there you can develop a way of filtering them to your advantage. You can convince yourself in moments of high pressure that the doubts are just part of the process, not part of your downfall. Ignore the negative and act on the positive.

Like most problems, there is a source for the issue. You need to ask yourself why you’re crippled with pre-conceptions regarding your ability and decision-making. Were your parents or teachers highly critical of your behaviour growing up? Did you get bullied or did you struggle academically? All these past experiences can have a detrimental effect on a person’s mind set in adulthood. Even if an individual is in a relatively stable mental state and full of confidence, when big decisions need to be made, they crumble under the pressure.

Overcoming fears

It’s important, especially for young people, to not let the past dictate their future actions. Realising that you have no reason to doubt your abilities is what you have to do to overcome personal fears.

Dr Simon Rego, Director, CBT Program, Montefiore Medical Centre, gives this advice: “You need to challenge the thoughts or behavioral patterns as though you were a lawyer. Be rational and scientific. Look for evidence that supports that thought; then play the other side, and come up with evidence that it’s not true.”

Challenging yourself with small tasks helps build confidence; small activities such as finishing a project before the deadline, public speaking and cooking meals for people other than yourself slowly allows you to grow into yourself. Soon you will begin to do more than you normally would and that negative voice in the head will be relegated to the darkness.