#6: How to Ignore the Maniac Inside Your Head
with Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell
January 31, 2023 | 16 Minutes
On "Inside-Out Career Design" this week, hosts Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell speak about
You are living with a maniac inside your head day in and day out. We call it the egoic voice. You can hear it in the form of screaming, or jealousy, depression, violence, clinging, and generally over-reaction. The result of that is confusion, unhappiness, lack of well-being and frustration. In short, life becomes a mess and you're not seeing the actual truth of reality. That affects your decision making, judgment, and the ability to figure out what's next for your life and career. If you understand the process of the egoic voice, you can begin to free yourself from its grip. Learn some strategies to deal with your egoic voice. The key is to remember that you are the awareness that hears the egoic voice. You are not the voice.
Some questions we discuss for you to reflect on
- Is the egoic voice ever useful?
- What can you do to quiet the egoic voice?
- Find a name for your egoic voice, and if possible, some kind of object as its representation.
- Articulate your affirmation.
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About the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast
This podcast is obsessed with answering a single question: Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career?
Join Nicola Vetter and Peter Axtell, co-founders of the WhatsNext.com Career Insights platform and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment, as they follow their obsession with answering this question by sharing their insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talking with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches -- anyone and everyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of “what’s next for me?” and “what should I do with my life?”
They seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers.
Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are and what you are meant to do with the time you’ve been given.
Peter Axtell 00:00
Never listen to the egoic voice for matters of wisdom and life decisions, but for planning, coffee with a friend next Thursday, okay. The key is to remember that you are the awareness that hears the egoic voice. You are not the voice.
Peter Axtell 00:22
Welcome to Inside-Out Career Design. In this show, we're obsessed with answering a single question. Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career? My name is Peter Axtell, and I'm here with Nicola Vetter. We're co-founders of the WhatsNext.com CareerInsights platform, and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment. Join us as we seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers. We'll share our insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talk with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches, anyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of: "What's next for me?" and "What should I do with my life?" Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are, and what you're meant to do with the time you've been given.
Peter Axtell 01:37
Are you trying to figure out what to do with your life, to figure out what to do with the precious time you've been given on this earth? Or to figure out what only you as a remarkable and unique individual can bring into this world? If you are, please join us for one of our live and completely free online workshops, where we cover different topics to help you figure out what to do with your life and career without wasting precious time, taking wild guesses, or risking it all. To save your spot in our next live and free workshop go to WhatsNext.com/workshops. We can't wait to see you there. Again, that's WhatsNext.com/workshops.
Nicola Vetter 02:30
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast. I'm Nicola, and I'm here with Peter. And we are so grateful that you're spending this time with us. How are you today? If you're having a difficult day, we sure hope you will take away some fun and practical ideas from today's podcast, and to find some relief, because we will talk about how to ignore that maniac living inside your head. We call it the egoic voice. And you will hear us speak a lot about it. So, we're setting the stage here. And you might have heard of other names like the monkey mind, or mind chatter, or the voice of resistance as the author of "The War of Art" Steven Pressfield describes it.
Peter Axtell 03:33
Or one of my teachers, Michael A. Singer describes it as your inner roommate. You live with that roommate that never shuts up. You've likely never thought about it because you're so close to it. You think that it's you. You think you're figuring out the problems in your life by listening to the egoic voice. Imagine walking around with someone who never shuts up, in the dentist's office, at the supermarket, at a dinner party. Well, that's what you live with all the time. I invite you to study the content of your egoic voice for just two minutes. And what you'll hear will amaze you...how crazy what the egoic voice is actually saying. So, the problem is, it never shuts up. It gives bad advice. keeps you awake at night, keeps you confused, says one thing, and another, and another. You miss most of your life when you only listen to your crazy egoic voice that you think is you.
Nicola Vetter 04:48
And this is who you take advice from and it's the worst place to take advice from because what's the nature of the egoic voice? It's constantly dissatisfied, complaining, judgmental, indecisive, reactive, and never shuts up.
Peter Axtell 05:10
Let's talk about what's happening. The egoic voice is talking, and you are the awareness, who hears that voice. So, the content is all the same whether you hear nice stuff or critical stuff. The point is, the voice just keeps narrating your life all the time, incessantly, 24 hours a day. The result is that your reality gets distorted, you're not really experiencing the pure reality that is unfolding all the time. And that's a problem.
Nicola Vetter 05:51
But if you understand the process of the egoic voice, you can begin to free yourself from its grip. Something happens and the egoic voice reacts, either by being disturbed due to something negative, or by clinging if something positive happens, like a honeymoon, you want to last forever. In both events, the egoic voice is thrown off balance. And then it tries to get back into balance by rationalizing, justifying, and making up stories. But that only creates chaos. So, thoughts pile up on themselves in your mind. And why is that so? Because it's trying to get the world to match what it wants and doesn't want. And that never works. The world does what it does.
Peter Axtell 06:59
Yes, all the wishing in the world is not going to stop the rain. Then the egoic voice starts telling you what to do. And then a disturbance builds up inside of you like hot water in a tea kettle. You can't handle this energy anymore, and you need to release it. And this happens often in the form of screaming, or jealousy, depression, violence, clinging, and generally over-reaction. The result of that is confusion, unhappiness, lack of well-being and frustration. In short, life becomes a mess. And it's a mess because you're not seeing the actual truth of reality. And that affects your decision making, judgment, and the ability to figure out what's next for your life and career. What you want is to see clearly. That's why it's so important to know how the egoic voice works, and then learn to release its grip on your life.
Nicola Vetter 08:12
Now, you might wonder, is the egoic voice ever useful? And we say, yes, for planning your days or what tool to use to fix your cabinet. And is the egoic voice ever quiet? Again, yes, but only when it gets what it wants. But the world is not stable. It's always changing. And the egoic voice doesn't like change, it feels threatened by it. So, if you're trying to change in your life, it's going to be hard if you're listening to that maniac in your head. And then it's giving you all kinds of messages just to confuse you. But why does it do what it does? Well, it's its job description.
Peter Axtell 09:17
Every time the world doesn't turn out the way you want it and you start complaining. Then you are feeding the egoic voice. Imagine you decide to go on a trip, and you get the car out of the garage, and you put your crazy roommate in the back of the car. You start out and you get on highway 70. Things are quiet for a while and then the voice just starts to talk, talk, talk, talk. Change lanes. Don't let that bus get in front of you. They got that car color on sale, that's so horrible. What, did that guy win his driver's license in a lottery? What a jerk. And there's this nag nag nag nag nag nag nag. And then imagine at some point, your maniac in the backseat reaches over, grabs the wheel, and says, no, I think we should exit at this exit and starts to pull the wheel. What would you do? Well, of course, you would never put up with something that crazy. You would never put up with that. And that's exactly what we're doing all the time.
Nicola Vetter 10:32
Yeah. So, what can you do? Yell at it, to shut it up? Doesn't work. Reason with it? That doesn't work. Play nice with it? That doesn't work, either. It's like the Peanuts cartoon of Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football, where Lucy promises not to pull the football away when Charlie Brown comes up to kick it. But every time Charlie Brown tries to kick the football, Lucy pulls it away. And Charlie Brown lands on his back again and again and again. But one day, Lucy comes up with a tricky con. She says, hey, Charlie Brown, I promise I won't pull the football away. I've made a contract and signed it. You can trust me this time. And of course, you know what happens... That's exactly what the egoic voice does.
Peter Axtell 11:49
What does work is to stop feeding the egoic voice by ignoring what it says. A wise person once said, an ignored guest eventually leaves. And what you can do when the egoic voice starts jabbering is say, thanks, I'm driving.
Nicola Vetter 12:11
Yes, because you put yourself back into the driver's seat. Another strategy is to externalize your egoic voice. Why? Because you want to get some distance from it and be able to observe it. So, the way to do that is to give it a name. We had a client, Monica, who named her egoic voice Barbie. She even bought a Barbie doll, placed it at her computer and every time she felt this nagging voice coming up she said, you're not gonna trick me, I'm driving. I also named my egoic voice and it's Betty. Betty was my aunt who had a very shrill voice. I even have a mannequin head here that always reminds me of Betty.
Peter Axtell 13:22
Years ago, I was at a restaurant in Sebastopol with my dear friend Sean and we were having breakfast. I was thinking about this whole idea of the egoic voice and trying to come up with a name. I just couldn't come up with something that seemed to resonate. I looked at the table and there was a Heinz ketchup bottle. And I looked at that, and I said, that's it, I'm naming my egoic voice Heinz. And then I started having this ridiculous conversation with Heinz. I was imagining him, the ketchup bottle, talking to me. And I'm talking back to the ketchup bottle. And it was great because I get a distance from how ridiculous what Heinz was saying, and that I was listening to him, what the conversation was, it was very useful. So, my egoic voices' name is Heinz. Now go and find the name for your egoic voice, and if possible, some kind of object so you can easily externalize it, get some distance from it, and be able to observe it better.
Nicola Vetter 14:27
And then catch yourself reacting when things don't work out the way you want them to. Because the less you react, the quieter the egoic voice gets. Just make this a game. It's really fun to catch that pesky egoic voice.
Peter Axtell 14:49
And remember, thanks, I'm driving. Never listen to the egoic voice for matters of wisdom and life decisions. But for planning, coffee with a friend next Thursday, okay. The key is to remember that you are the awareness that hears the egoic voice. You are not the voice.
Nicola Vetter 15:17
Another helpful tip to block the chatter is to use an affirmation that you can repeat over and over again. Like, I choose to be happy no matter what. Because the world doesn't turn out the way it should, it turns out the way it does.
Peter Axtell 15:43
Thanks so much for joining us here today. For show notes go to WhatsNext.com/6, where we share links and other relevant information. Again, that's WhatsNext.com/6. And leave us a comment, a question, or a topic that you'd like us to explore in a future episode. We'd love to hear from you.
Nicola Vetter 16:15
And if you like what you've heard, share it with someone you care about. And subscribe, rate, and review our Inside-Out Career Design podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, so you'll never miss an episode. Thanks so much for joining us here today. We'll see you next week for another episode. Same time, same place.