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Who Do You Choose to Listen To?

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

In the 1960's my great grandma bought this bus so she could pick up and house a seasonal harvest crew for our ranch in Southwest Nebraska. Over 50 years later, it's still quite the sight. Not only did she run the family farm, but also ran the local Hardware store.

While this might seem like “so what?!” these days, remember that in the 1960s, many women were homemakers. She played basketball while earning her college degree in 1915 and started much of her career endeavors before women could vote. It’s only been in recent history (1974) that women could apply for credit or get a loan without her husband’s signature. Women just didn’t do what she did.

But there she was. Land owner. Store owner. College graduate. Athlete. Wife. Mother. Tough as nails. No one, (trust me I've heard all the stories) was going to tell her what she could and could not do.

She died shortly after I was born, but I imagine she could tell me many stories about things she did because she didn’t listen to the cultural messages of “women shouldn’t do that.” I’m certain if someone told her she couldn’t do it, she likely would have done just that plus 20% more.

What dream is buried in your heart, but you’re playing small because someone told you once that “women don’t do that.” Or, “you can’t make money in that job,” or “that’s never been done around here before?” We can carry these "You can't do that" messages with us for years, and when we get a dose of inspiration to go after a dream, there they wait, ready to pull us down. I think it's pretty easy sometimes to lump a few voices of naysayers and turn them into "everybody says...."

None of these are true, but they lay ingrained in our minds and live as though they are facts. It’s time to break through and fact check some of these messages you may have heard. Have you noticed that we tend to lump a few negative voices together and label it everybody?

Calling out your everybodys

I love to do this with my teenage daughter. She says, “Mom, everybody is getting ‘brandnewgadget’!” or “Mom, everybody is going to this event. To which I say, “Oh, really? Tell me exact names. She can only ever list maybe one or two names.”

It's really not that different as adults. I’ve struggled with this. My clients struggle with this. So we make a complete list of our “everybodys.” The people who’ve told us we can’t or shouldn’t do what we desire. I’ve have yet to come up with a negative everybody list that is longer than three or four names. And, they are often people from our past or folks who seem to be critical of everything and everyone.

Calling up your supporters

List people name by name who support you unconditionally. People who love you no matter what mistakes you've made. Look at both of those lists. Which list is longer? Which group of people give you more joy? More freedom? It's probably the people who support you. But, whose narratives are you listening to?

We tend to listen to the negative voices. While fewer, they seem to hit our ego where it will suffer the most. Fear. Shame. Failure.

How do you quiet some of these negative voices? First, imagine what would your life would be like if you just stayed put because you listened to the messages that encouraged you to maintain status quo. Imagine you just kept trudging along doing what you're doing even though you're not that happy. My hunch is that you respond like many of my clients do. Since we’re on video calls, I see them sink in their chair and watch any joy drain from their face.

Now, quickly shift to reflecting on the list of positive everybodys and imagine them cheering you on as you move toward the goal that you want. Whether it's a new career, a new job or some sort of life change, imagine you taking small, brave steps in the direction you want and they are sending you texts like, “ It's going to be hard, but I'm here for you.” “You can do it. If you have doubts, call me. We'll talk through it.” Imagine enjoying your future success and living this ideal. When my clients do this, (maybe you’re doing it right now, too?), they sit up straighter, their face lightens up.

Reflect back again and imagine your life with a negative everybodys. You probably clenched back up. Return again to your life with the positive everybodys. Do you start to taste freedom again? That's how you know you're moving in the right direction for your most essential self because it feels of happiness. It feels of joy and it always feels of freedom and the more you compare and contrast those two, the more you're going to desire the freedom.

Curate Your Messages

How are you letting the negative voices into your life? Notice what's on your social media newsfeeds. It's amazing how you can change your perspective just by changing your newsfeed. Is it filled with negative people that live life as a victim and communicate harshly and negatively?

Social media algorithms are smart. They will curate your newsfeed based on what and who you follow. You can instantly realign your daily narratives with a few wise unfollows.

Notice who you’re spending time with. If you're frustrated because you're not getting what you want at work and you feel stuck, evaluate who joins your lunch table. Who are you walking over to mingle with? What gossip do you entertain at your desk?

The bestselling book, The Four Agreements gives this wise advice, most of what people say and do has nothing to do with you, but more about their own perceptions, judgments and past hurts. If the critical voices are family, find ways you can turn down the noise on some of them and bring in more family members that are supportive of your goals.

It’s time to start checking your messages, curating not only your social media, your workplace, but also the people you spend time with regularly. The right voices will always respect your boundaries and carry you forward.

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