How to Quiet the Voice in Your Head That Tells You “You Can’t”

Health & Wellness

Photo by Colleen Phan-Eversman at 2ndTruth

Originally published in February 2018

I will preface this by giving my routine “I don’t have all the answers” schpeel, BUT! I have learned a few key things since I was recently booted out of the nest (fired from my job) and have had to rework the way my brain has lived for twenty-seven years. Although it’s a massive work in progress, I’m getting there, and I want to assist you if I can, should you be in a similar mental state as me. This state is usually some derivative of, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT THING YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE because of X, Y, and also Z.”

You don’t come into this world immediately assuming you’re not capable of achieving your dreams. No, instead you’re pummeled with messages that manifest into these little pathways in your brain that control the way you think! They’re extremely messed up little bugs just forging brain roads without your consent! You begin to assume you can’t accomplish what you want, well, partially because of someone else’s beliefs about how life works—how YOUR life should work. But it’s all bullshit and let me explain why.

You start as a little kid assuming anything in the entire world is possible. That’s why it’s so fun to ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. They’re just like, “Well I’m going to be president of the United States or an astronaut?” with this “I haven’t decided yet among every single option in the world please give me some time?” attitude. The speed at which we lose that confidence in ourselves (*cough* women *cough*) is absolutely devastating. You were born thinking you could achieve anything and somehow you taught your subconscious the opposite. But it’s merely a state of thought.

So, don’t believe your thoughts. I’m not trying to be all coffee table self-help book on you and tell you what to do. And I know this is a very, very hard thing, but it’s something I repeat to myself all day every day and it *does* help. You have to realize that this voice in your head is not real. It *seems* real. You can hear it crystal clear. It’s not. It’s as fake as my eyebrows. It’s this imaginary little implant you’ve built inside of your head (the pathway bugs built it remember?). You’ve built it purely with the help of other people’s negativity combined with your own self-doubt.

You have to realize that this voice in your head is not real. It *seems* real. You can hear it crystal clear. It’s not. . . . You’ve built it purely with the help of other people’s negativity combined with your own self-doubt.

Liz in my head is not nice at all. But she’s only a major b*tch to me which is soul-destroying and extremely exhausting. I’m guessing you’re the same way? You’d never in eight million years talk to or treat another human the way you internally address yourself?

However, I’ve recently started this really odd thing where I force myself to believe ALL THE GOOD THINGS people say about me. I’ve been doing this instead of brushing them off as just their way of making conversation or being nice. And it’s actually starting to work. I write down every single thing that someone says about me that makes me feel good. I screenshot every text and email. Put them all into a folder, or a corresponding journal. Put them on Post-its and tape them to my mirror. Seeing these affirmations about yourself multiple times a day/week *will* definitely have an overall effect on the thoughts you have. They can be pretty powerful. (Note: It’s okay to ask your friends what you’re good at/what they love about you. I do this frequently and because they’re the best people in the world, they always answer. On a similar wave: Cleanse your life of people who don’t make you feel good. Are we still wasting time on negative relationships in 2018?)

So, to recap, here are my top six tips for quieting that voice inside your head that tells you “you can’t,” because we both know, you can.

  1. First, tell yourself that the voice inside your head TRULY is not real—it’s something you’ve made up over time with the help of other people or by compiling past negative experiences.
  2. Next, believe that your thoughts are your reality. The more you think positively about yourself the more your life will become more healthy and positive. Remember the law of attraction: You attract what you are and the energy you give off to yourself and others is very important.
  3. If you are having trouble with number two, talk to someone you trust. Start to integrate other people’s reality of you into your new thoughts, until they become YOUR reality.
  4. Make a list of all the things you’ve accomplished in your life thus far that you are proud of, both big and small.
  5. Next, make a list of why you cannot accomplish your future goals and ask yourself, Is my self-doubt fear-based? If it is, ask yourself, What am I really afraid of?
  6. Talk to yourself. Tell yourself every day, I believe in you. Tell yourself in the mirror, tell yourself with Post-its in your bathroom, bedroom, and office. Words of affirmation really work.

You got this.

BY Liz Welle - September 14, 2019

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Thank you for these tips. I’ve always struggled with my inner critic and my self-esteem/confidence isn’t the best, but I’m doing the best I can each day. This was a very, very relatable read.

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

February 11, 2018 4:12 pm

I’m with you. Our inner critic has a “special” way of bringing ourselves down. And I’m with you, when you’re in a place where things seem to be over, your inner critic seems to be much harsher than usual. But like you, I’m doing things to not only quiet that voice but to also change that voice’s perception.
Thanks for always being real! -Mailinh

February 11, 2018 4:37 pm

Hi Liz,

Thank you for the reminder — why the hell are white men so naturally confident and we women need to work our asses off just to feel worthy? Oh, right, they haven’t been repressed and restricted to non-consensual roles for centuries and centuries.

Anyways, you’re funny and I love reading your material on W&D. Daily affirmations til’ death do us part.


February 13, 2018 4:21 am
Reply to  Sam

Sam, may you go forward with the confidence of an average white man!

August 15, 2020 12:00 am
Reply to  Sam

Those are some big assumptions and assumptions are just that. Color of skin has nothing to do with any one individuals own confidence in themselves. You will continue to have problems until you are aware of your own and then own them.

February 11, 2018 10:18 pm

YES. This is exactly what I’m focusing on this year, loving myself and believing in myself. It astounded me that I was so able to readily believe in other people wholeheartedly yet I couldn’t do the same for myself. No matter the external factors that shaped this self-doubt, in the end, it is up to me and only me to lift myself up and be my greatest cheerleader. I love that you address this in this post because it’s been very important to me lately! Trying to use positive affirmations to get rid of all the negativity in my brain.

February 11, 2018 10:38 pm

Absolutely LOVE this. Just what we needed before a new week <3 Xoxo, K&E

February 12, 2018 5:58 am

I totally love this. One of the ways I deal with it is to talk to myself. I sometimes use positive affirmations to talk myself out of whatever it is that’s making the voice in my head loud.

February 12, 2018 9:31 am

I needed this today, especially, thankyouthankyouthankyou for writing it.

Also, Liz, if you see this you should know that whenever I click on the newest W&D post and see your name listed in the byline I mutter “Yes!” out loud to myself like a calm human person. You are v good at this writing thing and I hope you never stop.

Liz Welle
February 12, 2018 10:13 am
Reply to  Jackie

Girlfriend I just silent-cried in the back of a meeting when I read this. I needed that this morning, and the Universe has a way of being like “here ya go” when things slip a little too far, so THANK. YOU. <3

[…] How to Quiet the Voice in Your Head that Tells you “You Can’t” […]

February 12, 2018 4:47 pm

Yes to believing ALL THE GOOD THINGS people say to us (seriously, why do we discount the good stuff??) and yes to realizing “this voice in your head is not real” and yes to all the rest of this. So good and so true, Liz! Thank you.

February 13, 2018 12:28 pm

You know, I’m going to be the voice of dissent on believing all the good things people say about us because….it leads to believing all the bad, as well. You can’t separate them. You have to let all the comments, voices and opinions roll of your back and get down to your own thoughts about yourself, your own beliefs and your own soul, buried as it is underneath the heaps of comments that have layered up over the years, from so many sources. I think the key is to do the work, always do the work, regardless of the comments… Read more »

February 14, 2018 3:09 pm

Love the article! I say I have monkey mind when my head is too busy. I can relate to alot you say from the work I have done on the Inner-critic. Thank you!

February 17, 2018 9:52 pm

Thank you for the great insight Liz! It’s a good reminder that our perception is reality – therefore we can change it for the better!

I just finished reading an excellent book on this subject called “Fearvana” by Akshay Nanavati. It dives deep into have we have these negative thoughts and how we can train ourselves to use our fears to our advantage. It’s a must read!

February 18, 2018 9:14 am

thank you – p.s. loved your reference to the fake eyebrows 🙂

February 18, 2018 9:17 am

by the way that photo was an awesome choice

April 17, 2018 3:58 pm

Yes too true! We need to get back our child mentality in that we can do anything we put our minds to.

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July 20, 2018 10:09 pm

All credit is given to the author of this article. I really eager to see future posts.

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I like the way you have presented this post

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July 25, 2018 6:48 am

Love the article! I say I have monkey mind when my head is too busy. I can relate to alot you say from the work I have done on the Inner-critic. Thank you!

August 6, 2018 1:31 pm

Very nice article keep it up.

October 23, 2018 7:23 am

I really appreciate how genuine this post (and your bio) is. I feel like a lot of self-doubt is just internalised criticism from others, even if it wasn’t meant to be. I always try to think of the period when this through in my head didn’t exist yet.

October 23, 2018 7:24 am
Reply to  Isla


November 16, 2018 2:34 am

Thanks for this great motivation text.
It;s always pleasure to read stuff like this.

November 17, 2018 6:22 am

Thanks for great thoughts.

Justin Jack
November 19, 2018 4:10 am

That’s not fair with us

November 19, 2018 4:10 am

That’s not fair with us. We not think about this.

December 9, 2018 6:41 am

Thank you!

December 26, 2018 7:22 am

Thanks for this great motivation text.
It;s always pleasure to read stuff like this.

December 26, 2018 7:23 am

Thanks for sharing

September 8, 2019 6:58 am

Thnkx man keep up the good work.

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