Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up.*

– attributed to Ann Bradford

Is this something you needed to hear?

I saw this quote immediately after I’d told someone that prior to our meeting earlier in the day, I’d had an imposter syndrome moment.

They had been surprised at this. As they had messaged me to say thank you again, and how much they had gotten from the meeting.

Seeing the quote in that moment felt like humourous and blessed timing. So I messaged them back and shared the quote with them.

Even if imposter syndrome isn’t a particular challenge for you, I’m sure all of us can attest to tussling with negative thoughts at some point in our lives.

It is natural, in many spheres of life, to have doubts and fears. As touched on by Susan Jeffers in the introduction of her famous book,  Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,

Fear seems to be everywhere in our lives. We fear change, and we fear staying stuck. We fear success, and we fear failure. We fear living, and we fear dying.

– Excerpt from the ‘Introduction’ (pg 5),  in the Kindle version

The challenge comes when we allow such fears to limit and even sometimes paralyse us.

Who’s on the Committee?

The negative committee in our head can often feed or exacerbate our fears. Always quick to bring them up when we are facing something unfamiliar or contemplating embarking on something new or on a scale we haven’t encountered before.

To counter this, it could be useful to try and figure out who’s sitting on the committee. Is it formed of:

  • your own limiting beliefs/negative thoughts or lack of confidence?
  • the critical words of others or the weight of their expectations?
  • past performance or experiences or that you view as failures? etc.

I’m not suggesting you have to do a deep analytical introspective dive—although that might be beneficial for some of us. Just a quick scan to see if you recognise any of the attendees.

Being able to name a limiting belief, can aid in being able to quieten it, or as the opening quote suggested, tell it to shut up!

Fear is a Given

Accept that fear is a natural part of life, as well as part of the process of growing and maturing.

TRUTH 1 The fear will never go away as long as I go on growing.

As long as I went on pushing out into the world, as long as I went on stretching my abilities, as long as I went on taking new risks to make my dreams come true, I was going to feel fear.

– Susan Jeffers, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, chp. 2, pg 13 (Kindle version)

Even though it will be widely accepted that not all fear is bad, we have sometimes been socialised to think that it is. Or at least that it is always something to be overcome or got rid of.

The trouble with this perspective? When we can’t get rid of it, some of us give up on our pursuits entirely

or don’t even start.

“Shut it down!”

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have...

1 Peter 3:15 (in context verses 14-16, New International Version)

Although this Biblical quote is referring to hope in Jesus Christ, the instruction to always be prepared to give an answer is a transferable one.

When we have identified some of our limiting beliefs/negative thoughts, we we will hopefully be able to permanently mute some of them.

It is likely, however, that some of them will be recurring—like a proverbial thorn in the flesh.This is why you need to be prepared with your answers. So that when they pipe up, you can quickly shut them down.

Permission Granted to Be Proud

To aid with this, and also because it is a healthy habit to develop, regularly conduct a ‘Proud Inventory’.

I am basing this on the concept of an app, ‘Proud‘, that one of my cousins was developing. The primary premise of which is: you are encouraged to note down the answers to one question:

What have you done today?

I have borrowed this question and added two extensions of it.

Proud Inventory How-to:
  • Note down the things you have done during the day (daily)
  • Note down the things that you did well/felt good about during a meeting, presentation, project, assignment etc, (immediately or ASAP after completion)
  • Note down your personal and professional achievements (monthly or quarterly)

Adopting this practice as a way of life is good, in and of itself, for your wellbeing and mental maintenance.

It also has the potential to fortify your self-belief and bolster your confidence.

In addition, the more you do this, the  easier it is likely to become to that negative committee to shut up!


*This quote (along with others) is in a Rama Llama Ding Dong journal (by Ellie Claire), that I was given for my 50th birthday.