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How are you holding yourself back?

Updated: Jun 17, 2021



What are you telling yourself? We all have an inner monologue – a stream of voices in our head. Often, they are in planning mode – “Remember to buy bin bags”, “What shall I have for dinner?”, “I need to finish the report for Thursday”.


Sometimes they are brooding and resentful “I can’t believe she said that to me”, self-flagellating “I can’t believe I did that!” or perhaps a commentary on things “This is nice”.

For a lot of people, the negative voices can be particularly loud, and not particularly helpful (there’s an often quoted saying that if a friend or partner spoke to us the way that we general speak to ourselves, we’d leave them immediately!)


In A Job to Love, the authors suggest that we take an audit of our inner voices. Here’s the exercise you can try:

  • What do you usually say to yourself when you:

  • Are worried that something bad will happen?

  • Assess how things are going

  • Are annoyed at someone

  • Find a task tricky

  • Realise that someone is late

  • Have to do something that you don’t want to do

  • Achieve something

  • How would you characterise the things you say to yourself? Which ones are positive and which ones are negative?

  • Can you relate any of these inner voices to people from your past

  • How could you get the kinder voices to speak more?

It’s an interesting exercise to do both on your own and with others. In a group we can see particularly clearly how inner voices vary between people. It’s also interesting to think about how our inner voices may be internalised external voices - for example, perhaps one of our parents worried a lot, and as a result our inner voice constantly tells us to watch out for something bad happening.


How much of our success is down to our inner voices? It’s not something that the book provides any research on, but it’s not unreasonable to think that talking to ourselves more kindly might be no bad thing….




Another way in which we often hold ourselves back - and it’s a topic that has been written about a lot - is imposter syndrome. In our session we talked about situations where we have felt like an imposter, and how we’d managed to overcome it. The prevailing feeling was that the solution was to recognise and acknowledge the feelings – and then to do it anyway – “fake it till you make it”. After a while, you’ll stop feeling like an imposter.


Of course, sometimes you need to find a gentler way in. This could be trying a scaled down version of what you want to do, or perhaps surrounding yourself with people who want to do the same thing – especially if they are at a similar level to you.


Generally, when we are feeling like an imposter, it is because we feel like we have certain vulnerabilities, and are worried about other people discovering them. A Job to Love encourages us to take a look at these vulnerabilities - what things would people by surprised to discover about you? Why do you hide these aspects of yourself? Would it be so bad if people found out?


Speaking positively to ourselves can help in our career change. So – how could you try it for yourself?



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