Whose Voices Do I Empower to Influence My Mind?

Barbara A. Bernard

Barbara A. Bernard

Recently I’ve written about the voice of the wonky champion, the one that Arianna Huffington refers as the “obnoxious roommate” that lives in our head. But sometimes we might hear a different voice. Perhaps it’s the voice of someone from our childhood who chided us, belittled us, or told us what we couldn’t be.

Does such a scenario ring true for you? Does the voice of a parent, teacher, coach, person of authority, older sibling, or even a bully from school echo in your mind with words of criticism you’ve never forgotten? If any of these people are influencing your current decisions or views of yourself, they are members of what I call your Internal Advisory Committee. This committee is made up of the individuals whose thoughts, words, actions, and lives affect your thinking when you are choosing among options, trying new things, facing a challenge, or embarking on a new life direction.

InternalAdvisoryCommitteeGraphicGreenReflect for a moment about who your committee members are currently. Where are they now? How much power can they actually have over your life in this moment? How old were you when you first heard their messages? Six? Eight? Fourteen? Do you really want that much younger version of yourself directing your decisions and actions today?

Many of us grew up hearing the adults say, “Children should be seen and not heard.” Sometimes we were criticized for speaking at all when we were little, and later we were told our ideas didn’t count when we began to question the traditional beliefs accepted in the family. Now, as adults, we understand that we can have opinions of our own. Even so, allowing the opinions of others, past or present, to direct our choices often prevents us from speaking our truth or living authentically.

Take a look at your current Internal Advisory Committee and ask yourself whether each person is truly supporting you in living an inspired life. If you find that some are no longer serving in that way, consider that it may be time to mentally acknowledge those committee members for any positive contributions they’ve made to your life and express gratitude for all they have done for you. Then silently excuse them from their role in helping you make decisions. If any of them are actively present in your life right now, you can continue to have a constructive relationship with them, even though they are no longer on your committee.

Because you are the one responsible for the thoughts in your mind, you get to choose who has power to voice an opinion. When you come across someone who models ways of living that you’d like to develop within yourself, you may want to add that person to your Internal Advisory Committee. Invite people into your consciousness who give you words of encouragement, whose advice you value, or who live a life that you admire—people who are also on a journey of self-discovery. Think of them when you’re about to take action, and let their voices guide you. By revising former beliefs, you free yourself to choose the thoughts, words, and actions that you want to empower in support of your inspired self.

As for me, I want to hear the voices of those who believe in themselves and who believe in the possibilities residing within me. When I’m approaching a change or challenge that makes me unsure of myself or makes me question my abilities, I often choose to hear Maya Angelou say, “Go, girl!”

This blog is the fourth in a series called “Harnessing the Full Power of the Mind.” The series explores some of the tools and strategies featured in our forthcoming book, The Art of Living in Discovery: Thriving in Life with Intentional Resilience. Designed to help you to take responsibility for your mind, the blogs offer a variety of ways to become more aware of how your mind functions and how to identify when your mind is wonky. As you play with and practice these ideas, you will find that you can bring your mind back to an inspired state and into balance.