Have you ever paid attention to your inner dialogue? Do you even know that you have an inner dialogue? Most people are so busy in their lives that they haven't slowed down long enough to realize what is going on in their head. You have a little voice in your head that is constantly running a dialogue about everything that is happening in your life. It's important to become aware of your inner dialogue because that little voice is managing your life, without you even knowing it. At my company, The Handel Group, we have broken down that voice into two distinct personas: the chicken and the brat. We say any time you are not living your dream, you fall into one of two buckets -- the chicken or the brat.
The Chicken and the Brat Are Keeping You From Your Dreams
First, let's talk about the chicken. The chicken is the voice in your head that is fear-based. It appears in your life when it's time to speak up. For example, you need to have a difficult conversation with someone, but you keep putting it off because you're scared. You want to ask someone out on a date, but you don't because you're afraid of being rejected. Your boss asks you to work on the weekend, and you want to say no, but you're worried about how he may react. The chicken is a coward. It's afraid of the unknown and worries about the outcome.
The chicken is also the realistic voice in your head. You shouldn't apply to graduate school. You'll never get in. You're not smart enough. Where are you going to get the money? It's a dumb idea. The chicken stops you from going after what you really want by rationalizing away reasons it might not work out. It keeps you from moving forward in your life. The chicken is also accommodating. You're on a first date and your date wants to see a horror film. You hate horror films, but you say OK. You just met him and don't want to appear difficult. No, you were a chicken and afraid to express your true feelings.
The Chicken Does Not Take Risks and Will Convince You to Play It Safe
I had a client who had a disagreement with a colleague in her office that evolved into a serious, three-year issue between them. My client was so afraid to speak with her colleague that she ignored the problem until the relationship deteriorated to the point where they stopped speaking. Finally, one day her work environment had become so stressful that she had to address the situation. She walked into his office and spoke with him about what happened. The conversation went extremely well, and they cleaned up everything. He even apologized for what happened. Not long after that, they started working on a new project together. It took her three years of being miserable in her job to finally get the courage to speak with him. The chicken keeps you unhappy and stuck in your life. The Brat Is the Adult Version of a Four-Year-Old Throwing a Temper Tantrum The brat is your inner dialogue that appears whenever you're trying to get out of something you don't want to do. The brat also shows up when you want something you're not supposed to have. For example, you're on a strict diet. It's dinnertime, and you want pizza. The brat starts convincing you to order pizza. You've been so good on your diet. You deserve it. You're not that fat -- it's OK to have a slice. Everyone else is eating pizza; why can't you? The brat manipulates the situation, so you get whatever it is you want. It is like a child kicking and screaming. The brat is fighting for that pizza. It will come up with a thousand excuses why you deserve that pizza. The Chicken and the Brat Are Not Your Friends
- Listen to your inner dialogue. You can't stop the chicken or the brat from running your life unless you're aware of them. Listen to your little voice. Pay attention to what it says. What is the chicken afraid to do? How is the brat manipulating you today? Once you can hear the chicken and the brat in your head, you are one step closer to getting those voices to shut up.
- Make promises. Once you see the chicken and the brat in your life, make promises to stop the behavior. For example, if you're afraid to tell someone how you feel about them, then you should make a promise to tell the person by a certain date. If you want to lose weight but keep cheating on your diet, make a promise to eat healthy.
- Implement Consequences. Now that you have made a promise about stopping a certain chicken or brat behavior, give yourself a consequence if you break that promise. A good consequence is an action that is annoying but also has a positive impact on you. An example would be anything from losing your Friday night wine to cleaning out the basement. You have to find the right triggers for yourself. Everyone has got their own good ones. The right consequence works and will keep you on your promises. What do you care about not losing or not doing? Find it right there.
- Be accountable to someone. Having to account to someone is the perfect way to stay on your promises. When you have someone watching over your shoulder, you are more likely to stay committed to stopping a chicken or brat behavior. Make sure it's someone who won't let you slide and is dedicated to helping you win.