Over the last couple of weeks, several ‘culture’ conversations have surfaced a common experience that professionals rarely have a chance to speak about – little inner voices that whisper advice.

These invisible friends can be encouraging, they can be steadying, they can be….

Well, you know how they can be: horrible.

Sometimes these voices are adding to the already high (quite enough thank you) level of anxiety being felt in the workplace. Psychologists call them toxic interjects.
It’s a deadening phrase for what many experience as a much more energetic and lively internal exchange.

These are invisible friends, right?

The content is not friendly. It can debilitate. We need some techniques for reducing the cacophony level. It may be time to reclaim a phrase that is sometimes abused these days as a tactic for not answering a challenge.

It’s the thought – ‘lighten up’.


Professional sports people, performing artists, those who expose themselves constantly to the sorts of experience where those invisible friends love to make themselves heard, all report that an ‘are the stakes really as high as I’m making out?’ question helps reduce the level.

So, they are taught to try out..

‘If anyone was filming this, they’d laugh’
‘I’ll just do what I do’
‘Anything could happen, and probably will’
‘ I’ll do my best. Yep, my best’
‘I chose to do this. I choose it.
Well, here we are and here we go’.

Or many collect and use a tranche of family sayings to ground, recalibrate, and raise an internal laugh of recognition

‘I am on dry land..’
‘Great aunt (insert fictitious and ridiculous name) is gonna love this’

and as was suggested years ago by a tutor

‘Just don’t leave this room as you found it’

Make some up, try them out, lighten up, and send those invisible friends on holiday.

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