Shutting out the noise

EDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: Shutting out the noiseEDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: Shutting out the noise
EDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: Shutting out the noise
IT took me a long time to learn to enjoy the silence and allow it to help.

It makes people uncomfortable and they feel the need to fill the void, but if you shut out the noise you can discover more about yourself.

The sounds and the voices don’t even have to be real. They can be inside your head.

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I remember taking a penalty kick in a shoot-out after a vital tie in the Crosshills Gala five-a-side competition circa 1980. My head was telling me left, right, belt it, place it, just don’t look pathetic. In the end I hit it as hard as I could and it sailed over the bar. It didn’t look bad though as I had given it a good crack, far better than having a weedy effort easily saved and looking anything less than macho.

Years later in another big match – massive, as they say – played out in the pouring rain in a park outside Bolton I again took a deciding penalty. I shut out the whispers around and inside me, gave the keeper the eye and swept the ball into the top right hand corner as he dived despairingly to his left.

Things would change. But not yet.

Somewhat randomly, those memories returned and incidents a good 12 years apart joined together to teach me that one of the reasons I had suffered from a crippling lack of confidence was because I had always listened to the noise.

That’s not to say my inner voices or those of others were always wrong, but you don’t have to obey them and you can shut them out.

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I would avoid situations and challenges because I/the voice would internally list the reasons I might fail. I would put myself off from even trying and so would never know whether something would have worked out or not.

It could be sport, a job application, a challenge, learning something new, attempting to write a book.

If someone advised me not to do it I wouldn’t, and if they said to go for it I would tell myself no.

My dad used to use the mantra “if I first you don’t succeed...” but I didn’t get to the next bit. The negative in that sentence drowned out the rest.

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It can work the other way too – you shouldn’t always be persuaded into pursuing something you don’t fancy.

The best sportspeople can act fast or they can take their time, slow down a move, buy themselves time until the right opportunity comes up.

Those best at life in general do the same.

Those inner voices can tell you it’s not worth the effort, nothing is, you’re nothing, end it all, and they can be quite persuasive, but every effort, every connection helps to build a better world. It is worth it. Trying that is.

I have got better at it as the years have gone by, and maybe that’s just part of growing up, but if it is it took me a hell of a long time to realise what I was doing wrong. So much so that some of those wrongs can’t be undone. You don’t get those “what if” moments back.

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We’re not here long enough to carry the weight of those regrets with us though and I may have paid the penalty for not being able to clear my head and make calm choices, but hopefully there’s still time to demand a retake or two.

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