This article was last updated on September 5, 2017
For many years mindfulness wasn’t a priority for the public. Often relegated to alternative circles, emotional intelligence as a skill for the public wasn’t in the limelight. But more recently researchers, entrepreneurs and professionals have begun to value the stability that clear and conscious contemplation provides. Researchers have also argued that children who exhibit greater emotional awareness and regulation earn higher grades, stay in school and make healthier choices. If these benefits are granted to emotionally aware children, I thought. why haven’t I made mindfulness and mediation a priority? Mediation for eliminating self-doubt is the perfect tool to remove that pesky inner voice of doubt.
My own journey into mindfulness started with a desire to create a more organized psyche. However, I found many other gifts along the way. I am no expert by any means, but I found that even 10 minutes without social media produced positive changes. One benefit I hadn’t counted on was feeling that the nagging voice of self-doubt grew weaker as my resolve and daily consciousness increased.
The most obvious benefit I found from my 10 minute retreat was that I could easily figure out which of my daily tasks were vital and which ones were simply white noise. Reducing the “cross chatter” of our busy minds was an early victory in my journey into mindfulness.
Had I known that setting aside all my usual distractions and consciously acknowledging my opportunities every day for 10 minutes would make such a calming different, I would have started much sooner. We have all heard the adage of counting to 10 and deeper breathing when angered, but does deeper respiration have a physiologically calming property?
Researchers have found that genetically modified mice utilizing deeper, slower breathing patterns exhibited a calmer conduct than their peers. The mice that breathed deeper were calmer, spent more time being still and less time exploring their environment. I too began looking at my world from a more placid perspective, which is helpful from a productivity and wellness standpoint. But the benefits continue, especially since we all want to have a focused mindset.
While I climbed more comfortably into my quiet mindset, I found I could tune into my internal vision with much more accuracy. The quiet reflection allowed me to focus on my personal goals and celebrate the elements of my life which were deserving of gratitude.
I have since incorporated gratitude as a part of my meditation and have realized that there are many blessings in my life that are worth celebrating. Between having a happier psychological framework and a focus on my personal goals, my own outlook was more resistant to external stresses and the ultimate undermine, a phenomenon I have called the “Little Voice”.
Quiet “the Little Voice”
How often have you heard that “we are our own worst enemies”? I am no exception and am confident that there is one or many little voices within each one of us. Whether it’s an integration of negative perspective of ourselves expressed by a peer or colleague, or our own doubts contributing to our own negativity, we all have the little voices telling us we aren’t good enough or we are unworthy.
A degree of this is necessary, since we all strive to be fully actualized adults. But the level of self-scrutiny that humans subject ourselves to in a modern, wired society is quite often a heavy burden to bear. People from all walks of life hold themselves to standards that have been implanted by society, the media and our peers.
While I have never been able to erase the persistent doubts that everyone experiences, I began to identify the patterns that made my “Little Voice” a loud tyrant in the back of my head. Rather than focusing on my insecurities and doubts, I began looking for outlets to correct these issues.
The “Little Voice” can be different for everyone, but often has a script or follows a motif that touches on the following issues:
- Beauty or Physical Attractiveness
- Relationships or Societal Status
- Career Progression
While I dove into meditation, I found that my personal goal setting mitigated some of the negativity from my little voice. After I had laid a framework that celebrated progression on some of my voice’s favorite topics, the frustration from my own doubt began to soften.
Here we come to another aspect of Quieting that Voice, progression. I found that strengthening my internal vision to make personal changes was great at first. But pitfalls quickly emerged. With any skill-set, you will reach plateaus. The best example I can think of is when I remember learning the guitar. Quite often the songs I worked on would seem insurmountable and I would never achieve such mastery. But through consistent effort, you can really surprise yourself, until the next step.
Humans are good about not celebrating our own progress. With every mastered song, a new one would appear with even more difficulties. This often results in a skill plateau, where each step of progression required even more practice than the previous steps. Consistent progress and dedication are critical to every skill. You lose hope when you compare your progress to some of the virtuosos, masters and experts.
Learn to Stop Comparing
This is where I began to feel the most profound benefit of my daily ritual. Prior to my 2017 embarking on my mindfulness mission I, like many of millennials, would gawk at the staggering finesse that entrepreneurial ninjas like, Richard Branson, would display in every industry conference or soundbite. When we read stories of 18 year old MIT graduates who hold dozens of patents in various industries or industry masters who have perfected their craft, how are we to hold ourselves to that standard?
Simply put, I won’t.
My meditation allowed me to crush many of those little voices who had nagged me about my own progression. In my quiet moments, I acknowledge my own path, choices, skill-set, goals and how the interaction of these elements collide to create my personal, stalwart internal vision.
When I get on the treadmill, I am not comparing my times with Usain Bolt. However, I take pride when I managed to run further than I could a mere month ago. With each step in progression, you will find a new slew of gratitude to celebrate and the machine moves forward. Learning to be happy with my daily progression was a worthwhile strategy. I have found it to be the greatest quieter of my little voice.
I hope that my journey into mediation and quieting my little voice has helped you identify the ways you can maximize your potential with fewer personal pitfalls. For those just starting out, a consistent 10 minutes per day away from all distractions is a noble goal. Now go out and make some changes from the inside-out!