You say, "what voice?” I'm talking about that voice in your head that just said, “what voice?” I am in your head and I am not here to be your friend — unless you want a "less than" life. I am coming clean today so that you will have a chance for a super life, more free choices and it may be your last chance to master me. I am telling you the inside scoop, for the last time; please pay close attention. Tom has gotten me to unveil myself — which I will call — “your little voice.”

First off, I am not very little. I don't sound very loud, but I have very strong persuasion skills. Let me give you an example of how I operate. John make a promise to himself to get up at 7 a.m. the next morning. He is feeling very strong, resolute and determined to end his game of hitting the snooze button multiple times. When he does that, he feels like his day is off to a bad start because he has already broken his word to himself (promise). Here is where my work comes in. The alarm goes off at 7 a.m. I am alert and ready to influence John. I say to him as he hears the alarm ringing, “You shouldn't have made that promise last night. You had a very long, stressful day; you were up very late and if you're going to kick this insidious habit you should start it another time, under better preparations. Don’t worry you can start this program again tomorrow.” I’ve planted the seeds of self-defeat. Do I sound familiar to you? John will hit the snooze button several more times and get up around 7:40 a.m.. He will be disappointed with himself. "Why can't I ever get up like I plan to? My day is already ruined. I have no backbone to my word; I give in all the time.”

Here is another example. Mary decides that she is going to give up deserts for the month as a way to lose a few pounds. Unexpectedly, an old college roommate calls her to go for an impromptu dinner. The waiter asks, what would you like for desert. Here is where I (your little voice) come in. “Mary, did you see the cheese cake on the desert table. You really look fine. Enjoy this night out with your old friend. You meant no deserts when you are home; this is different. Have that cheese cake; there's always tomorrow."

For me, your insidious little voice, mission accomplished. My job is to whisper deflating, negative, restrictive, confusing messages into your ear to stop you from finding your passion and accomplishing your goals. Here are some familiar messages that I use: “oh, you can’t do that, you don’t have any training in that area; you don’t have to be on time for appointments, everybody comes late nowadays; what’s the big rush, there is always tomorrow; don’t initiate that, you might get in trouble.” How can you tell if it’s your little voice talking to you or not? Your little voice is always negative, belittling, or suppressive. It is like a radio playing in the background — all the time — sometimes louder than other times.

Your job now is to recognize your little voice; that’s the first step in starting to get control over it. You can’t turn it off; it’s like Muzak playing in the office waiting room — always there, sometimes you notice, sometimes you don’t. When you decide to make a decision, you can count on your little voice coaching, supporting, pushing you to do “less than.” I don’t know why it’s there; that answer is above my pay grade. We all have one; you are not special; you are not schizophrenic.

Mastery is defined as: the status of master or ruler, control. Therefore, it takes a lot of work to accomplish this. It is a life time work. You must be vigilant. One way to begin recognizing the voice is to give your word, make a promise to do something. Make it small, objective and measurable to begin. For example, “I promise not to eat desert; because I want to lose weight.” The voice is guaranteed to appear. Here goes. It’s 5:30 p.m. Your wife brings home a box of cider belly donuts. You can smell them immediately. You grab 2 out of the bag and head for a cup of coffee. You have a hot donut in your hand when you remember, “no deserts.” Here comes the voice. “You said desert — is this really a desert…it’s not after a meal…so how could it be considered a desert…your starving…you’ve worked hard all day…it’s getting cold.” You eat the donuts; the conversations continue to go in your mind — did I or didn’t I say? Rule of thumb here: if you still have questions after eating the donuts — you probably at least broke the intent of the promise. The problem is that your promise was not exact enough and measurable; it was too broad. You might have said, “I am not going to eat deserts or sweet things from 6 p.m. until midnight.” That is a little more specific and measurable; but your voice might still try to use, “how do you define a sweet thing?”

Your voice is very tricky. If you feel bad or still have questions after listening to your little voice, then you have probably sold yourself out. You usually know immediately after if you have succumbed or given in. This is very difficult work. This is why some people never give their word (make a promise) because they feel they will fail. You have to build up that muscle; it takes practice and determination to have a super life. Send me an email, if you have more questions on taming your little voice. Let’s continue the discussion at:www.familyconsultationservices.com/articles

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Tom Power is a family relationship consultant and the author of “Family Matters: A Layperson’s Guide to Family Functioning.” You can check out his website at www.familyconsultationservices.com or email questions to changeUprogram@gmail.com.

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