As I sit here, having just re-read a post Steve Scanlon wrote about me joining REWIRE and the courage it took to quit my job and step into the unfamiliar, I’m so drawn to the reality of the crying, screaming Lizard voice in my head that says, “WHAT, ARE YOU NUTS?!?” and the importance of surrounding yourself with encouraging people.
Firstly, I want to point out that I absolutely know that we all hear voices in our head. If we’re honest, we have more conversations with ourselves than we care to admit and if we haven’t been trained differently, many of those conversations aren’t positive. Research supports the fact that our brains are wired for the familiar; what we’ve always done. As a result, the voices that we hear will support our brain and what it has been familiar with hearing over time. Hence, the “Are you nuts!?!” question and the host of others that are less than encouraging when you’re looking to make a change.
Our past experiences shape our feelings about the present. I believe support is a key element in fighting any familiarity battle. Whether we’re trying to start a new healthy habit, stop an old (not so healthy) one or move beyond that which is good into something amazing: we all need help. While there are tangible things that any of us can and should also do on our own, there truly isn’t anything that replaces good old-fashioned accountability and encouragement. "Iron sharpens iron," as the old proverb says.
That said, I urge you to exercise caution. Choose carefully the people with whom you share and from whom you seek wisdom and encouragement. You don’t want their voices to merely match the ones in your head!
I was recently at a conference where I had the awesome pleasure of meeting Dr. Henry Cloud. In one of our sessions, he spoke about choosing the right monkey to join you in your cage. He made this point by citing a research study conducted on monkeys that concluded that having another monkey in the cage diminished the stress level of the first monkey greatly. That we can easily understand. However, he went on to explain a situation where a someone was repeatedly going to someone else who had a history of squashing them and yet expected encouragement or approval. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t invite that into your life. If you must inform those people about your life changes, make sure that you balance that with people who are going to support you. Prepare yourself for the negative by surrounding yourself with other people who will be honest and help you think, but simultaneously lift you up and walk along side you in your new journey! You can do it and we’re here to help!