How do I quiet the noise?

Even in a quiet room the noise can seem so loud. Your thoughts. Those voices in your head, critiquing your every move. 

Sometimes the expectation from friends, family members and loved ones is so palpable, that even when nothing has been said you can hear it, and even feel it … becoming a burden. 

What is this “noise” anyway? 

Remez Sasson, in this article, defines it this way: “mental noise is the constant chatter of the mind that never stops. It is the inner conversation or inner monologue that goes on constantly in the mind”. This inner monologue though, doesn’t only contain your voices or opinions; because we are social beings much of what we know; accept; and hold as true about ourselves is derived from other people. Therefore, the expectations and opinions of others also enter our inner chatter. 

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Usually we can’t even tell that this is happening because it’s a subconscious habit; it is a deeply embedded activity. When we begin to notice it though, that's usually a red flag. That means the noise has gotten too loud and is now prohibitive. The inner chatter is stopping us from moving beyond this point (wherever that may be). It is causing us to second-guess ourselves and all our choices; it is bringing to light [irrational] fears. It wants us to stay stagnant; it never wants us to move beyond our fears - instead it rationalizes those fears. 

In most cases the “mental noise” we’re referring to is negative messages, but sometimes it’s also positive messages. Messages that might over-estimate our scope, talent and qualifications which will ultimately lead to a feeling of entitlement. 

Two different inputs but they both produce similar poor outputs. What we need to do is find a way to turn the noise down and then find a way back to the path we were on before - the path where we knew our capabilities; strengths; weaknesses; and fears and were willing to work within and beyond them to be the person we really want to be, regardless of whether this matches with the society’s ideal; your family’s expectations; or your friends’ opinions. 

Become tone deaf to the mental chatter. Do whatever you think will reduce this inner noise (listen to your favourite song; repeat affirmations; do some yoga; meditate). Those rumbling sounds that keep you from being your best self; those voices that tell you that you can’t, that you’re not good enough, or that you don’t have what it takes. 

Measure the voices in your head with your reality, and how badly you want to achieve a specific goal.

For years I told myself that I am not a runner. Since I was in prep school I was horrible at running. I flourished while in grades 1-3 with the math race, because my computing skills were great so I could finish the calculations before everyone else but when it came to an actual race - 100 metres just felt like a long way to run and I honestly couldn’t do it. So, for more than a decade I told myself no matter how hard I went in the gym, I will never be a runner. 

Then my partner and I started signing ourselves up for 5Ks. He eventually pushed me to “attempting” to run every morning. After a few days I felt like I was going to die, then after a few weeks I realized I could actually run 2.5K and within months I ran a 5K. 

Sometimes, you’ll need help to silence the mental noise; but shushing those little buggers means that you will be able to unlock a whole new superpower you never new existed! 

Quiet the noise; reclaim your autonomy and do not deprive the world of the greatness that you are capable of.