From Stalemate to Collaboration: a process of befriending your internal "Beasties"Nov 09, 2020
We have all been there, when feeling like being in your head is the most crowded space in the world and totally antagonistic, when your greatest enemies are your own thoughts and you just want it to all go away. It turns out that ignoring these voices, these aspects of ourselves can be more detrimental then actually listening.
In this article and video I teach you how to transform antagonistic still made with yourself with healthy dialogue to an empowered sense of teamwork.
In my new book, Date Yourself , I write about your "beasties."
On first approach the beasties are mischievous, obnoxious, self-sabotaging obstacles; but maybe by the end of this practice we can feel differently about them.
I managed to shift my relationship with my beasties from stalemate to entourage. In this article I share the practice I teach my clients and expand on the beasties from chapters in my book.
Watch the video where I describe the practice and purpose in depth.
As we get to know these "undesirable" parts of ourselves, these parts of ourselves that we wish weren't there at all, play with what it feels like to get to know them instead of resisting them. Think of your beasties as being essential parts of your team, your entourage, your backup band.
In fact, who would you be without them?
Without your anger, your fear, your judgment. Who would you be without your doubt your stubbornness?
Share your discoveries and any questions in the comments.
Read an excerpt from my book, Date Yourself, Chapter 6. Communication:
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Self-Talk & Putting the Nasty Voice in the Back Seat
Scientists estimate that humans have 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day. Of those thoughts, a staggering number are repeated from day to day. A heartbreaking eighty percent are determined to be negative thoughts. Every time you have a thought, you are impacting the physical structure of your brain, which actually makes it easier to have that same thought again in the future, like building roads and super-highways that can support greater and greater traffic over time. If you are repeating the same negative thoughts, with greater speed and ease, then you are feeding your mind a diet of negativity. Most of these 50,000+ thoughts are what we might call “self-talk”.
We are so accustomed to this litany of thoughts, the constant voice in our own head, we often are completely unaware of it. However, the things we say to ourselves can be worse than what we say to any other person. We are more critical of ourselves than others because we have learned behaviors that permit such harsh self-criticism. This section has a tool to help you curb that habit.
On the flip side, we tend to be quick to blame others if they treat us unfairly. This might be a tough cookie to eat, but people treat us the way we treat ourselves. We have much more responsibility to ourselves here than you’d expect. When we allow people to treat us badly, we set a standard of what we will tolerate. This standard usually aligns with how we treat ourselves. If we commit to loving ourselves, we would not permit such damage from anyone, ourselves included.
When I started to tune into the voices in my head, I was stunned by what I heard. It was familiar, but at the same time heartbreaking and cruel. I thought, “Wow...do I really think such horrible things about myself? Do I really have such a low assessment of me?” How many times, cumulatively, had I heard myself say something that undercut my self-worth or reassured me that no one would ever love me? Hundreds of thousands of times per year for decades! I ache to own that truth. But, there it is. Even more heartbreaking is knowing I am like most human beings in this regard.
Part of my discovery was that there wasn’t just one voice, one consistent train of thought. There were various threads. I started to think of myself as being in a crowded car on an eternally long road trip. Like we played with in the beginning, getting to know our beasties. There was the driver, of course, the conscious mind that liked to be in control, but it wasn’t me! It was this other not-quite-me person. Until I started listening, I couldn’t figure out who else was in there. In the beginning, it felt like a jumble of arms and legs. Feet in faces; just limbs and sweat and discontented voices. Welcome to my head. It was so unpleasant, I didn’t want to take any more time paying attention to it than was necessary. My few moments of mindfulness were so horrifying that I often chose to flee and ignore the mess for as long as possible.
Eventually, I tired of that strategy and it really didn’t lead to anything good. The more I listened, the more clearly I saw that the dominant voice, the driver, if you will, wasn’t anybody nice and I didn’t want her in my ear all the time, let alone making the significant and insignificant decisions in my life.
Get to know the characters in your car. Untangle the bodies crammed in there. Open dialogue amongst these folks. You all have to live together! Might as well figure out a way you can work together. This is in opposition to how we usually think of ourselves, so we circle back to this idea to give it another exploration.
When I had the courage and patience to listen through all the discomfort I heard:
- The kid in the back: Always complaining, “Are we there yet?”. A total brat.
- Fear Beastie: “No, don’t go that way! Remember what happened last time.”
- Anger Beastie: fuming in a corner, ready to blow at any given moment.
- Judgement Beastie: like a pair of conjoined twins, criticism and snark
- Defeatism Beastie: like a saboteur willing to key the car or slash the tires, if ever given the chance.
Never forget the Driver, oh, the driver! She gets her own name and many paragraphs; of course, she does, she has been sitting front and center for too long.
My, was it crowded in there!
There was a tender little voice in there too, bullied into silence and shame by all the others. Yet, there she was. Once I identified everyone else and put them in their place, this sweet fragile voice had the space she needed to once again speak. She is my intuition.
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Earlier, you took some time to acquaint yourself with your beasties: your fear, your anger, your snarky judgemental bitch, and so on.
At first glance, most of us think of these things as undesirables. We should just have pretty and light thoughts, love and light and all that jazz. Keep in mind that by listening in and getting to know your beasties you can transform a seeming enemy into a member of your super hero posse!
There will always be a little voice (or five) nagging, commenting, or narrating your life. My car is still full. That’s fine. The essential thing to note here is that we will never be rid of this voices, nor is that the goal. The saboteur is an evolutionary part of our human psychology. Eliminating any part of you is not the goal. Having a goal like that only sets you up for a lot more torture later. Can you set aside any attachment to that ideal?
On the contrary, we need to get to know these “undesirable beasties” better. Have them over for tea. Interact with them. See what they want. See if they represent a wound from the past or present insecurities. What are they trying to protect you from? Was there a time that you needed this? Do you still need them or can you give them a break? Understand that they are separate from you. Although they are aspects of your inner culture, none of your voices are YOU. By getting familiar with all the folks in your car, you can start functioning as a team to collaborate using the various strengths of different beasties when needed.
I named my dominant, most vocal beastie, Mildred. She is snarky and has something to say about everything and everybody. None of it is nice, or true. Mildred turns that same nasty on me, sometimes. Once I could see her, recognize her and name her then I could say, “Back seat Mildred” when I sensed her acting up. It is okay to get to know your “nasty” self better. There was a time when Mildred was my front-line of defense. She had my back, because she was a shit-talker and tried to keep me from getting hurt or being naïve. “Thanks Mildred. Now shut it.” For a long time, she was the driver. I don’t outrightly reject her. That actually flies in the face of dating yourself. I appreciate her. I simply notice what she says, then put her in her place, mainly in the back seat so I can drive. I’ll never leave her on the side of the road, though. I feel better knowing she is there if I should ever need her again.
Place these critters in the back seat, let them come along for the ride, but don’t let them get behind the wheel. With your authoritative voice, tell your beasties, your destructive self, to take a back seat. Once the voice is in its proper place, it loses much of its power.
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