What is “head trash?”
I’ve heard the term off and on for years, and it came up a lot in a sales class I spent a year in a few years back. The teacher, Brad Kleiner, often referred to the mental blocks we put in front of ourselves as “head trash.”
I think it’s a good term, as good as any to describe the ways we keep ourselves from doing what we know we should do.
If you’re a booth staffer that knows you should put yourself out on the edge of the booth with a foot in the aisle to greet passersby, but you’re too shy to do that, that’s head trash. If you’re creating a plan to double your lead generation but think that doubling leads from last year is just way too much to plan for and you scale back your expectations, that’s head trash.
In essence, head trash is the conglomeration of thought patterns and emotions rattling around in your head that keep you from doing your business (or personal life) in a professional way.
It happens to all of us. Lack of control. Insecurity. Shyness. Paranoia. It mostly comes down to avoidance of the thing that you know deep down you really should do.
In my early life, especially my teens and twenties, I found myself stressing about something coming up on the calendar, something I really didn’t want to face. One instance stands out. I was a DJ at a local station and was tasked with emceeing a Halloween costume party promotion at a local mall.
I freaked out. I liked being on the radio. Being behind the microphone was fun. It was home. It was a gas. But getting out in front of a large crowd and trying to emcee an event was about the worst thing I could possibly imagine. As the day drew closer and closer, I become more stressed out and no matter how much I tried to not think about it, it weighed heavily on my mind.
Somehow, I made it through. And forgot about it as quickly as I could. And moved on.
But over the years I had more opportunities to get in front of people. And was never comfortable. Finally, nearing 40, I joined a Toastmasters group and slowly over the next few years learned public speaking. I got over the head trash I had around getting up to speak in public.
I realize that public speaking is a hard thing for lots of people. But anyone can learn it. And while we may have head trash around a lot of smaller things, like hating to make cold calls, or thinking that some person has it in for you when in fact that’s not the case at all.
Head trash is a bevy of self-defeating emotions and stumbling blocks that keep you from moving forward. Self-awareness will help in identifying them and admitting that they’re holding you back is the first step.
It’s easy to make up negative stories about ourselves. The challenge is to work to change those negative stories and get more objectivity about who we really are. Sometimes it takes another person’s perspective.
As I was putting this article together, I check the email and found Andrew Bennett’s latest newsletter, which had a link to a video, which – surprise! – was about the very thing I was writing about.
Check out Stop Telling Yourself Negative Stories:
Andrew was a guest on TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee a couple of years ago. Worth a look!