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Which One Of Those Voices In Your Head is Yours

Which One Of Those Voices In Your Head is Yours

“And I’m all mixed up again. Which way should I go? So many voices in my head…” – Inhabited

Did you ever have so many voices in your head that you had no idea which one was yours? I know the drill. The more serious the decision, the more voices that show up to confuse you. Who do these voices belong to?

Running away from problems

In my mid twenties I had so many voices in my head and was so sick and tired of the way they talked to me and confused me, that I decided to try and leave them behind. Literally.

So I went to Europe. Alone. I needed to get that far away to try and shut them down. Now I understand that it’s not feasible for most people, so bear with me. You do not actually have to go anywhere to begin to figure this out.

Nonetheless, desperate moments call for desperate actions and at that time, I was desperate. So, I flew from Philadelphia to London one cold December night. Within a couple of hours of landing I was standing in Picadilly Circus all alone in a crowd of people. Cell phones were virtually non-existent. Despite my exhaustion and jet lag, I was elated.

I stood there quietly, just absorbing my surroundings, and my mind was the quietest it had ever been. I felt free. Where did those voices go?

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We soak up so many versions of how our life should be

From the time we are too small to even remember, we have information coming into our brains. We are sponges soaking up everything going on around us. We have Moms and Dads, aunts and uncles, grandparents, siblings, teachers, religious leaders, coaches, television programs and even peers…all telling us how life is, how we should be behaving and what is expected of us.

We just take it all in, all the while attempting to make sense of it so we can figure out how it applies to our lives. Many of those voices, unfortunately, come from a distorted world view, at best. Sometimes those voices are just blatantly damaging.

Nonetheless, as kids, we usually believe those voices are truth. Often times, if we don’t comply with those voices we pay a price. Punishment can be a powerful motivator, especially when you are a dependent, powerless child.

It’s called survival. So we internalize a whole slew of voices and opinions and they become the “shoulds” dictating our lives.

Those “shoulds” don’t belong to us. We inherited them from someone else. So when you tell yourself you “should” or “shouldn’t” do something. Ask yourself why. Before you make that final decision, it would be helpful to figure out whose voice you are listening to…or at the very least, if it is yours.

Shift your focus to find your own voice

The place to find your one true voice will not be found in your head. It will be found in your heart. That means you have to shift your focus. Move out of your head and focus on your heart. If you did not have all those voices in your head telling you what to do or not to do or why you should or shouldn’t do something….what would you do? What do you want?!

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If you are answering, “I don’t know” then you may still be engaged in the conflict between your head and your heart. Try again….in the ideal world, without a millions reasons or excuses, what would you do?

I remember trying to make a difficult employment decision. I was working as an RN for a law firm. It was a nice gig. I had been there for five years. I liked what I was doing, despite having grown bored with it. I was paid a decent salary. I got along great with my employers and co-workers. I was good at what I did. I was respected. I had flexibility. I could take extended lunch hours, if needed. They took us on a trip to Jamaica. Who could ask for more?

I was considering returning to patient care, specifically hospice care. I had interviewed with a local hospice organization out of curiosity. I was offered a position. My brain went into overdrive. The voices in my head were relentless.

“What if you hate it?” “You will never get this flexibility in another job…certainly, no one is going to take you on an all expense paid island get-away.” “What are you thinking?” “Working with dying people…really?!” “Why would you leave a good job for something you know nothing about?” And so it goes, on and on and on…

I was paralyzed, afraid of making the “wrong decision”. I paced around my house, tormenting myself. I avoided talking to anyone about it, already having enough opinions roaming aimlessly through my head.

Legal work to hospice care was a huge and terrifying leap. After almost two weeks of grappling with it, I was no closer to making a decision. I was trying to figure it all out in my head and I was getting nowhere, but frustrated. Suddenly, during my second week of pacing around my home, losing in my head, I stopped suddenly.

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I stood still in a spare bedroom of my house. I unknowingly shifted my focus out of my head and asked myself, “What do you want to do?” The answer was clear, “I want to do hospice care.” The next silent question was, “So what is the problem?” Again, the answer was clear, “I’m scared.”

In understanding why I was unable to make a decision, I realized that I wanted to make the move, but fear of the unknown was stopping me. The voices stopped. I knew what to do.

Listen to your heart

Those voices in my head were all the well intended, nonetheless, fearful voices of my youth. They came from parental and societal expectations of what employment life “should” look like. They were all the practical, well-advised opinions that keep many from finding their true purpose.

I resigned from the law firm and within a month, I was doing hospice care. That life changing decision was a stepping stone to my current career as a psychotherapist. It was while doing hospice care that I realized I was better with the psychological and spiritual side of life than the physical.

My heart knew what my head did not. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Had I stayed in my head and ignored my heart, I might still be trudging through life. Though I may still be doing something worthwhile and honorable, it would be, nonetheless, unfulfilling.

Now, please understand, we need our heads to help us navigate life. Our heads have to work through the practical part of what we are doing. We need our heads and our hearts to work in conjunction with each other in order to make our decision work.

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But when we are making a decision about what is best for our life, the heart needs to lead. The mind is fearful.

Once you make the jump, your are heading on a journey towards your heart’s desire

Although not necessary, it can help to consider to whom those voices in your head belong. Who were the naysayers? Who told you what life was “supposed” to look like? How have parental or societal expectations dictated the life you are living? What fear has been projected on to you?

Whenever your mind is in overdrive…fear is involved. Hesitate, and ask yourself, “what am I afraid of?”

In asking myself that question, I discovered I was afraid of failing. I was afraid of regret. I was afraid I would be a lousy hospice nurse. I was afraid of facing death, not only that of others, but more importantly, my own. I could not disconnect from my own mortality and still help others grapples with theirs.

But I also knew that in desiring it, my heart was leading me to the place that was most right for me. As long as I follow the desires of my heart, I usually, likely always, land right where I am supposed to. I stayed there two years before feeling another pull at my heart, telling me it was time to move on. Each step leads to the next…and to the next and to the next.

Take that first step and you might actually discover, you are creating the life you want.

Featured photo credit: http://getrefe.tumblr.com/ via 65.media.tumblr.com

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Sandra Cooper

Psychotherapist

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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