Quiet The Beast: How to deal with the part of your brain that says mean things to you

When I was growing up, I just thought certain things were truths. Being messy is bad. Not having cool clothes (a puffball skirt, say, or a stonewashed denim jacket and matching skirt) means people won’t like you. Being fat is my fault and something I should be ashamed of.

In my teens and early twenties, the list grew. Going too far with a boy makes you easy. Wanting to kiss a girl is weird and gross. Smoking makes you cool. Especially if you’re not drunk. Especially Benson and Hedges.

Twenty years, countless self-help books, hours of journalling and — thank you, privilege — a LOT of therapy taught me that those ideas were just that, ideas. They weren’t truths. When I believed them to be true about me, and used that to judge myself, it wasn’t because this was a reasonable conclusion to make. These thoughts were just the “inner critic.” One part of your brain that sometimes (often) lied.

But then, I faced a new problem: if I had figured this out, why was it still happening? If I’m so evolved, why do I keep saying such awful things to myself?

Since becoming a storytelling and speaker coach, I’ve spent a lot of time with brilliant, successful people, listening to their personal stories. One thing that I have come to understand is that having this voice that says mean things about you to you — a voice which I call your Beast — is part of the human experience. And that the trick is not to squash it, and not even to love it. But just to do what you can to reduce the volume and frequency with which it speaks to a level where you can start to tune it out. When you can, you have have a nicer life, and you can change more lives.

This year, I was asked to give the closing keynote at the penultimate (ever!) World Domination Summit. Instead of talking, as I usually do, about Storytelling or Sales Pages or even my I Don’t Have My iSht Together, Either project, I decided to write a brand new talk, where I shared the four steps that have helped me figure out how to master my Beast.

To watch it, click on “Read more” then on the big play button on the vid:

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How to Keep an Audience Interested when you Talk or Write – by changing their brains!

Everybody’s banging on about why storytelling is important and that you should be using it. But do you know why? Here’s my favourite fact about storytelling: It actually changes…

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How to promote yourself without feeling gross; How to stop drowning in your to-do list

If I might briefly be not very British or Canadian, I got to give some REALLY good advice last week. Some of my favourite questions to answer, in my monthly live Advice column, Yes Yes Questions.

Q1: What is the art of writing posts to promote yourself on social media without feeling like a self-obsessed narcissist and annoying everyone you know?

i LOVE this question. Because so many people…

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If you feel like everyone else is doing their lives just a little bit better than you are, you may need this

It’s mid-April. Over a quarter of the year in. What goals did you have? Anywhere close? So much time has passed and you haven’t done nearly enough towards them, have you?

Did you even get around to making any goals?

I didn’t. I printed out my YearCompass, over several days in January and Feb I got about…

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How to build a mailing list; how to approach guys in bars; how to banish your ‘you suck’ voices – Yes Yes Questions 3 review!

It was a nice mix of shy and very brave in our third Yes Yes Questions – my monthly Live Advice Column. People mostly asked their questions on the chat (with me reading them out), but they asked some goooood ones.

Before I present the questions, I’m doing it again, Monday, April 6th @ 2pm ET. Want to get a reminder – plus all the secret links and resources I promised after this call?

Here is a list of most of the questions, with a short form of the answer I gave on the recording.

Let’s mix up the order, and start with the juiciest:

How would a couple of women approach dudes in a bar in a coldish city (like Toronto) without seeming too desperate, too intimidating, or too contrived? She’s admittedly not that open with strangers, but is hoping to change that. I’m good with strangers, but the approach is always so difficult!

Short form of answer: The trick here is to cultivate a situation where it’s less ‘hi, are we allowed to hang with you?’ and more ‘we are having fun and making mischief. You can join us if you like (and you’ll clearly be missing out if you don’t).’

And don’t just make this pretend. If you can get to the point where the two of you are having so much fun that, honestly, if you aren’t joined by whichever dudes have caught you’re eye, you still have a blast, then it’s win-win. Plus we all know that the ‘I don’t need you over here to have fun’ attitude is always very appealing.

Then I gave a PS on dating wisdom from my smart friend Paul…

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If you feel like you want to disappear, this is for you.

There is a beauty in your presence

When I first read it, I didn’t even cry. I just pursed my lips and sharply breathed in. Then I took the tiny piece of paper that was attached to the tea bag string – and slid it into my pocket.   I always used to be angry at people who’d committed suicide. Furious, actually.…

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That Time I Cried On Stage (and how I dealt).

crying on stage

The first few times I practised the story, I totally fell apart. Alone in my apartment, I couldn’t speak for sobbing. A few months ago, I took a course with my storytelling teacher, Sage Tyrtle. Our final class was a live show, where we would each tell the story we’d been working on. Except… I…

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This is usually my favourite thing to do, but one woman RUINED IT.

empty plane

“Cabin crew seats for take-off, please,” said the tinny voice overhead.

I looked around, wide-eyed. I made my hand into a fist, then pumped it down.

“Yesssssssss,” I hissed, half-under my breath. This was a SCORE.

I leaned over to the other seats in my row – both empty – and grabbed their plastic-wrapped blankets. I tore them open, then lay them on top of the one that was already on my knees.

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This happens to me EVERY TIME I’m at a new event. And it’s so painful.

One Sunday morning at 8.25 in the morning, I sat at the back of an auditorium in Philadelphia, cursing myself. And then cursing everybody else: the woman I had just spoken to; my friend Laurie, who’d organised my ticket; and each person sat in front, behind, or to the side of me. Up until this…

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Want to build trust, connection, influence and loyalty? Use THIS in stories. (Science!)

“My stomach was in a tight knot as I walked up to the front door.”

If you want people to really care about your stories, and be inspired to take action, there’s one element you MUST include… and yet, I see people leave it out all of the time.

What is this magic bullet?

EMOTION.

Consider the difference between these two stories:

‘I walked up to the front door.
For thirty seconds, nothing happened.
Then, the door opened, and Sally appeared. I took a deep breath, and said, “Hello.”’

Now, read this one:

‘My stomach was in a tight knot as I walked up to the front door.
For thirty seconds, nothing happened.
I started panicking. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, I thought. Maybe I should stay out of it.
Then, the door opened, and Sally appeared, smiling. Nervously, I took a deep breath, and said, “Hello.”’

Which story do you care more about? Which one makes you want to keep reading? Which has the strongest effect on you?

I’m guessing it’s the second one. The difference between the two?

In the second, I told you how I FEEL.

Emotions make your story more powerful for five reasons:

(1) We invest in your story
In the second version above, did you wonder WHY I was so nervous – and what might be about to happen?

Telling us how you feel builds tension in a story. Suddenly, there are high stakes, that might not otherwise exist. Researcher Paul Zak discovered that tension is an essential ingredient to keeping us interested in a story.

(2) We trust you more
Have you ever got nervous…

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