Imagine someone you care about was about to walk into traffic.

You are not close enough to grab them back.

And if they carry on walking, they’d get hit.

What kind of voice would you use to alert them to the danger?

Would you be timid and polite?

“Excuse me, I don’t want to tell you what to do but it may be a good idea to pause right now.”

Or would you scream at them at the top of your voice?

“Hey! Stop!”

Taken out of context, that tone might not sound too nice. Go round talking to folk like that all the time, and you won’t have too many friends.

Yet nobody would blame you in this instance.

Who wouldn’t use the harshest voice possible to protect someone from perceived danger?

You’d have done or said pretty much anything to stop them walking forward at that moment.

Most of us are used to having such harsh voices in our heads. We carry them around with us. It’s our self talk.

“Who the hell are you to be thinking you can do that?”

“Who said you can feel happy?”

“What are you doing thinking you can feel proud of yourself?”

“Ha! You failed! You’re stupid!”

These voices don’t talk nicely to us. They seem like enemies. Whenever we are brave enough to open our wings, the voice comes out to clip them.

No wonder it’s hard to reach our full potential. We have enemies in our own heads getting in our way.

But what if they’re not enemies? What if they are misled friends?

What if they use the harsh voice not because they hate you, but because they’re scared for you?

What if they are being so harsh because, like you when a loved one steps towards traffic, they want to protect you?

And they’ll do whatever they can to do it.

They see danger. So they come to the rescue. Even if that means talking to you horribly.

Maybe the problem with these voices isn’t that they trash talk us, but that they see danger when it is no longer there.

Perhaps the danger they see is from years ago.

Even though you’ve outgrown that situation, the voice hasn’t realised. Even though you have lots more resources today, the voice is locked in time.

So it still talks to you badly, because it wants to protect you from a danger that isn’t there anymore.

When you spread your wings, the voice remembers that this once wasn’t safe. So it panics. It sees you moving towards something it fears is dangerous for you. So it screams at you.

Anything to keep you away from “the danger.”

If you check it out, is it still dangerous? Or has the danger long past?

If the latter, what if you changed the way you view the self talk? Not as something oppressive and antagonistic. But as something that is a panicky, misled friend.

Not as something to keep you small and to be frightened of. But as something you need to soothe and educate about the new reality.

“Hey, I’ve check ed it out. I’m safe now. It’s okay for me to spread my wings. Thanks for thinking of me, but now I’m ready to fly.”

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