There are always voices in our head and there will always be voices in our head. It is who we are, it is who we are meant to be. But the important thing to remember is that we can influence those voices in our head, and furthermore if we can’t influence them, we can choose not to listen.

So let’s start with the voices.

I don’t think I have to spend much time going over what they are, or how loudly and adamantly they speak to us all day long. I do think they mean us hard. I think they are just a reflection of what surrounds us and what we are influenced by. They are the product of our personal history, education, and ongoing circumstance.

So if you spend your days gossiping, complaining, and crossing yourself three times to ward off evil, your voices are probably going to be more vengeful than mine. Not that mine don’t have their gumption or their moments, they do, but if you begin to listen to good advice, absorb good ideas, and spend more time with positive people, your voices are going to naturally change and lean in a different direction over time. They will still get cranky and try to save you from yourself. They will still predict the total annihilation of all humanity, which is always around every corner, but if you change what you allow into your mind, they will allow you to mitigate with them a little better.

Since those voices will never leave you and have no way of knowing when we will hear their loud booming voice next, we have to arm ourselves with genuine compliments, and celebrate the little victories we encounter along the way. Celebrate the shit out of everything! I mean that. Celebrate every cookie that didn’t enter your mouth and every set of steps that made you sweat. Celebrate every compliment and never reject them. Learn to accept, and don’t play passive aggressive with people’s generosity. Celebrate every goal you’ve reach and every task you complete. Remember that you have a responsibility to put good things inside of your being, and not only be preoccupied with the stale, musty smells that live within.

You have to work for it. It doesn’t come easy. You have to protect yourself and build resilience on the inside, one step and one positive thought at a time.

And when it all fails and falls apart. When those sneaky consumptive voices get the better of us anyway, you have to choose not to listen. I know it is easier said than done, and in the moment it sometimes feels impossible, but you have to remind yourself that you have a choice not to listen. You have the power and all the necessary strength you need to ignore those gnawing little insensitive bastards.

  One great way to preserve your ability to choose is to be a person of principle and to have specific goals in place. Commit to something you really want and honour that commitment. Honour what you dream of, in spite of those voices. Honour something specific. Something concrete, that can actually be measured. You definitely owe yourself that much.

Don’t have wishy washy goals and dreams. Make plans to do something specific. The devil is in the details, so they say, and they might just be right. It is the details that afford us the ability to continue our courageous battle with ourselves, with our doubts, regrets, and the things we think we cannot do.

So make concrete plans to write your novel, record an EP, exercise five times a week, or open a new Jazz Cafe. Whatever your dreams or plans, know them intimately well. Know every detail and every step you need to take, and when those voices begin to talk some smack, don’t run and don’t hide, choose not to listen, and carry on.


Cover photo generously provided by photographer Ernest Brillo via