One of my cousins, to whom I’ve always looked up to, keeps a magnet on his kitchen fridge which states, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are usually right.” As a coach, I find that our inner chatter can be our greatest friend or our worst enemy. I teach my clients to identify negative self-talk patterns and replace them with a more constructive inner dialogue but it isn’t easy. It is often a lifetime’s work.
My dear friend, Mary Beth Sammons is an award-winning journalist and book author who specializes in stories that inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things from a place deep in their hearts. I asked her what it personally means to pay attention to her “inner voice”.
AM: Have you had any limiting voices as you’ve pursued your endeavors and how do you cope with them?
MS: EVERYONE, teachers, parents etc. told me there were no careers in writing. So, I chose to be a journalist, thinking at least I could make some money while I became the kind of writer who wrote inspiring stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. After college, I won a scholarship to a six-week writing program – The Ragsdale Foundation, but my boss at the newspaper said it would destroy my journalism career to do that.. so i turned it down. I have kicked myself ever since. Some famous writers are from there – Jacqueline Michard.. others… I will never forget that.
The more the “negative” voices chased me, I think that it in some ways, it forced, or nudged me to turn deeper inside to my own knowing of what I wanted to do and to be protective of it. Maybe these voices telling me “no” kicked in the competitor in me who said, “just watch me.”
Specifically, I worked harder, got more training and sought out more challenges – writing for national magazines instead of just writing for the newspapers, and then writing books as the ultimate proof that I could do it.
AM: Who or what does your inner voice sound like?
MB: My inner voice KNOWS now what is right and that I am meant to have a career helping people tell their stories… and inspiring readers. But that is after 25-plus years of having my inner voice shoved aside when I ignored it and listed to what others told me I SHOULD DO.. or who I was.
My inner voice is like a good football coach – a Vince Lombardi inside that says “you can do it. The tough get going. Only quitters fail.”
AM: Do you have advice for turning the “volume” down on any inner limiting beliefs which may surface?
MB: Be confident in yourself. Network with like souls, read books that help you tap into this. Get a coach, guide or someone who sincerely cares about you, and can help you tap into your inner voice. STAY AWAY…RUN AWAY from people who put you down.. or tell you the exact opposite of what your inner voice is telling you. Naysayers, abusers… jealous people.. etc. Energy sucking people..
AM: What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome to get to where you are today?
MB: Listening to everyone else tell me who I am and what I can be. Wanting to please everyone else and have them like me…I lost me for a long, long time.
These days, I am glad that I kept true to my dreams and still keep on pursuing. A part of me wants to be angry with myself for letting the other naysayers derail me from time to time, but then the obstacles make the wins sweeter and give me a greater sense of accomplishment.
Mary Beth Sammons is an award-winning journalist, book author and women’s issues columnist whose work appears frequently in Family Circle, the Chicago Tribune’s lifestyle section and in leading consumer women’s magazines. She has written six books in the women’s self-help and mind/body/health field including co-author of “We Carry Each Other: Getting Through Life’s Toughest Times;” “My Family: Collected Memories,” “Gifts With Heart,” a collection of pay-it-forward stories from the publishers of “Random Acts of Kindness” and “InSPAration: A Teen’s Guide to Healthy Living Inspired by The Nation’s Top Spas.” She has received several industry awards, including first place from United Press International for best spot news coverage, a PR Silver Anvil Award and an undergraduate scholarship from The William Randolph Hearst Foundation.