Dr. Wall Says

Speak up, listen up, bridge the gap

Who is censoring you?

Who is censoring you?There are people in this world who think big, do big and live big. I’m thinking of  Jeff Bezos, Arianna Huffington or Blake Mycoskie, people who are capable of seeing potential (in themselves and their creations) that is so far beyond the rest of us, and who go for it. These individuals stand out as visionaries, leaders, builders, and as so vastly different from the average person. So, what’s the deal with the rest of us? Do we lack creativity? Possibly. Do we lack drive? I don’t believe so, everyone has an inner drive to excel at something. Is it about opportunity? Certainly, that can play a part in the examples that I provided, but not in general. No, I think that what makes those types of individuals so unusual is their ability to think big and not censor themselves.

Adults are small minded:

There is something that happens when we transition to adulthood; we begin to lose the ability to dream big, to see or pursue our true potential. It’s as if reaching for the stars and taking chances was relegated to teenagers and people in their 20’s. As we grow older, and supposedly wiser, there is a tendency for most adults to buckle down, do what’s right, and put aside all the “silly” thoughts and dreams that once buoyed their hearts. This shrinking of the mind leads to a type of inner censorship that ends-up limiting our potential, and, I believe, driving much of the dreaded mid-life crisis.

What does small mindedness look like? It’s that voice in your head that reminds you not to be silly, and to get back to what you know you should be doing.

“You can’t possibly do this!”

IMG_0463That voice, I’m going to call it the jerk, is probably the worst, the inner naysayer who constantly calls into question your ability, your talent and worth. For example, thinking about going into business for yourself; don’t be silly, you have no idea how to run a business, so give it up. Considering taking art classes; don’t be silly, the last time you drew anything you were in grade school, doodling while on the phone doesn’t qualify as art, and there is no way you could draw anything good. Your manager has a special project and needs someone to step up to the plate; don’t be silly, you’re not that good at what you already are charged to do, leave it to someone more competent. You want to back squat what? Don’t be silly that’s just too heavy for you!

You get the picture, this small-minded censor doesn’t believe you are capable of much more than what you’re already doing. As long as it’s the loudest voice in your head you’ll never take chance, you’ll never find out what more you are capable of, and worst of all you’ll give up on some great opportunities before even trying.

“It’s not possible!”

Ah, the pessimist! This censor isn’t questioning your ability to succeed, it just doesn’t believe the dream itself is possible. This is the voice that stops you in your tracks as you start to plan a project. There is no way that garage will get cleaned in a weekend, don’t be silly, it’s not possible. That great idea you had for an online business, drop it! If it the pessimisthad any chance of gaining momentum, don’t you think someone else would have thought of it by now. You want to take two months off and travel to Asia? That’s just crazy, can’t be done, too many impediments, with work, and bills and responsibilities; don’t be silly. Want to go back to school and get another degree, sure you’re smart enough, but honestly, there is so much standing in the way, don’t be silly it’s not really possible.

The inner pessimist is well-meaning, at least that’s how it comes across. It knows you can do it, but really, the issue is with the project itself, and the pessimist is just trying to save you some pain and effort by reminding you that in the real world your dreams don’t make sense. Beware of this one, it’s a foe, disguised as a friend.

“Don’t be silly, you’ll look like a fool!”

Teenage losers

The teenager is always on the lookout for ways in which you might ridicule yourself. It cares not what you are capable of doing, or whether it is even feasible. Its only concern is whether you are going to look stupid, dumb, foolish, awkward or in any way unflattering. You are at an important corporate meeting, you have a great idea to help your company, the inner teenager will caution you not to speak up. What if it’s not a good idea? What if someone else already thought about it? Don’t be silly, you’re here to listen, so zip it. You want to do what? Parkour? You’re over 30, you’re going to make a fool of yourself, don’t be silly, leave the jumping and the running to the kids and stick with a treadmill. You want to start saving to move out on a farmette, no one else you know wants to do that. You’ll look like tree-hugging wannabe, don’t be silly, stay put, your neighborhood and lifestyle are just fine.

The inner teenager is sure that everyone is looking at you and just waiting for you to make a misstep. It’s a part of us that is a relic of our younger years, but its voice and insistence on conformity grow with the ever-increasing pressures of adult presence.

How to dream big:

Chances are, if you are human you recognized yourself in one of these, if not all three, censors. If so, do you want to stop limiting yourself? Dreaming big is a skill in adulthood. It takes a large amount of willpower and self-awareness to 1) recognize the inner censor, 2) respond to it, and 3) practice dreaming. If you are up for the challenge, here are a few things you can try:

  1. Say “shove it” to your inner censors when you hear them.

    What’s the worst that could happen? Failure? Well, at least you’ll have to answer to whether the dream was within your scope of competency, feasible or foolish. Using that feedback you can adjust your course and at least move forward with your life.

  2. Dream on:

    Maybe you’re not quite ready to take those steps, and you’re just starting to build the courage to face your censors. Maybe, you still believe them. Well, at least you can dream right? So, despite the nay-saying of your censor, why not at least continue to daydream about this project, activity, business or lifestyle you want to pursue. Dreaming never hurt anyone, and at the very least you are building a fundamental skill, the ability to think big; it could just pay off soon.

  3. Write it out:

    Where is that voice coming from? What is the fear? Why does that fear exist? Can you answer back? Can you logically, and objectively refute your inner censor? There is something very powerful about writing your thoughts down and working on paper to disprove them. Based on the evidence you came up with, is there another way of reframing your chances of making good on your dreams

The inner censors are not interested in what’s right for you. They may not even be interested in what is right, all they really care about is avoiding any possible failure. Failure, however, is part and parcel of trying, so choosing to avoid failure means you’ll also always avoid acting.

There are things that should never be said. Words we utter, thoughts we have that hold us back from dreaming big and taking action. Here are 5 of them, and some ways to change what you say! Grab you FREE PDF just click on the image.

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Hi! I'm Dr. Alessandra Wall

I help smart driven women and forward-thinking companies bridge the gap & build real conversations.

Here on the ‘Dr. Wall Says’, I share tools, tips, and insights about speaking up, getting heard and how women can take up space and thrive in the 21st century.

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