Doug and Lynn Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

This may sound like a personal question, but are you hearing voices in your head? Maybe those voices are talking now and asking, “What kind of a question is that?” or “Why do you want to know?” or “Is that a problem?”

Actually, we all have “voices” that influence us. They may not be voices that we actually hear audibly, but they are thoughts that run through our head. Sometimes those “voices” are competing with each other. It’s like that picture of someone with an angel, or positive voice, on one shoulder talking into the person’s ear and a devil, or negative voice on the other shoulder.

Have you had that experience? Maybe you get excited about something you could do that could positively impact your life — and maybe even those around you. It’s much bigger than anything you’ve ever attempted before … and then the “voices” start.

The “angel” voice says things like, “Wow, that’s an amazing idea. You can do it! That could help so many people.” You get the picture. They are words of encouragement, affirmation of your skills and talents, all supporting your higher self.

However, the “devil” voice is not shy and is never afraid to speak up. It knows your psychological weaknesses intimately and will use every trick it knows to discourage you from taking any action. That voice says things like, “Who do you think you are? You’ve never done anything like this before. You could fail and look really stupid. You’re ___. You fill in the blank, such as, too young, too old, too inexperienced, too poor, too dumb, etc., etc., etc.

They are words of discouragement meant to keep you from risking and keep you in your "comfort zone." Robin Sharma said, “Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well.”

We’ve talked about the “angel” voice and the “devil” voice so far. There’s actually a third voice — yours. Your voice gets to respond to the other two voices. How does it do that? One way is to ask questions, such as, “Are the competing voices lifting me up or putting me down?" "Is that voice saying things that are true or false?" How we answer those questions is based on our beliefs about ourselves. Those beliefs then become our reality.

We recently heard about an interesting study out of Dartmouth College that proves this point. Subjects had an artificial ugly scar placed on their face. They were then sent into a room to have conversations with the people in that room and report back as to how the people responded to them. However, right before they left to go into the room, the experimenter said, “Hold on a minute, we want to touch up your scar a bit.” Rather than “touch up” the scar, they removed it completely. So unbeknownst to the subjects, the subjects went into the room looking completely normal.

Despite this, the subjects came back and reported how awkward their conversations were and that people kept looking at their scars. They also reported that the people were very tense and uncomfortable and that they had trouble making eye contact.

What the researchers found was that the subjects’ belief about having an ugly scar on their face led them to see, and hear, things that weren’t really there and to put negative meanings to innocent behavior or conversation. Their beliefs created their reality. Lest we think that study is an isolated result, other studies have indicated similar results.

We all look at life through the filter of our own belief system. Sometimes those beliefs can hold us back; sometimes those beliefs drive us forward to success.

If we find that the negative voice in our head is winning the argument too many times, it may be a good idea to reflect and use our voice to ask questions such as, “Are the words from the negative voice true? And are those words meant to improve my life?” As Lisa M. Hayes said, “Be careful how you talk to yourself because you are listening.”

The words we tell ourselves can be very powerful. Our words affect our thoughts. Our thoughts affect our beliefs. Our beliefs affect our intentions, which affect our actions, which ultimately affect our outcomes.

What about you? What limiting beliefs has the “devil” voice caused that aren’t true? You may find it helpful to spend some quality time pondering that question. Also, listening to your “angel” voice can help you feel comfort and support on your life journey. After all, if you don’t give voice to your best self, who will?

Chanhassen residents Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at