So, I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about the complete jerk face in my head. You know the one, we all have it. It’s that nagging, inner monologue that keeps us from our full potential. I don’t know about yours, but mine sounds a lot like one of those mono-toned announcers during an NFL game, constantly (and annoyingly) giving a play-by-play overview of just about everything: “Man, you need your roots done…is that another gray hair?…while you’re at it, you should probably get your lip waxed, you’re starting to look a little cave woman-ish. Did you seriously forget the milk again? Tomorrow morning’s gonna suck when the kids realize that one, how forgetful can you get? Speaking of forgetful, what about the treats for Cameron’s game tonight?…Wow, did you just see what that girl was wearing? Did she even look in a mirror before leaving her house?”…and on and on and on. Could you imagine if our inner narrator were actually a person we had to spend time with? They would be the most boring, monotonous, cynical, negative person ever. I would never want to hang out with myself.
Eight months ago, my life coach, Malay, gave me homework for a few weeks while I was seeing her to get my shit figured out. (More on how awesome she is here.) I was to keep a journal about how Judgy McJudgerson I was throughout my day about others and myself…from the major to the minuscule. It completely opened my eyes to just how judgmental I was without realizing it. Here are some of my chicken scratches that are tame enough for blogging; the others, I’m not brave enough to publicize my inner asshole. To paraphrase: The first one: Mommy guilt about my daughter. 2. Negative self-talk about not being good enough 3. More Mommy guilt – I was head coach for my son’s soccer team and missed practices and games because of vacation. 4. Being too overly sensitive – talking myself into hardening my shell and “toughening up”
Malay then had me personify the voice in my head – I’ve heard the phrase, “Name it to tame it” so I knew where she was going with this strategy. I named my voice “Vice Grip” since it has a tendency to freeze me in my tracks by telling me how small I am, and to not get too big for my britches: “How could you possibly pull that off, why would you ever be successful in doing “X” you don’t have what it takes, you don’t have the education, experience, personality, time, the drive. Really…why would you think you’d be smart enough to do THAT?” That jerk has been so successful in keeping me on the sidewalk where it’s “safe”. However, the perceived fear was not helping me in any way feel fulfilled in my life or career. With Malay’s help, and a shit load of self-help books the last few years, I finally realized that this voice is attempting to keep me away from perceived harm, when in reality, I’m remaining stagnant by staying in my comfort zone. There is no room for growth if you don’t put yourself out there and learn to sit with fear and the unfamiliar. There has to be discomfort in the process. Vice Grip was not serving me anymore or helping me reach my goals. I had a conversation with the Jerk in my head about six months ago. I thanked it for attempting to take care of me, however, I didn’t need his so-called services anymore. Shortly after training myself to turn toward this negativity with curiosity, I felt an immediate shrinking of this previously overpowering, overwhelming force.
Don’t get me wrong, Vice Grip is still EVERYWHERE I go. Especially when I’m in uncharted, and a bit frightening territory, putting myself out there to grow my business. However, he’s on a tight leash these days and not the size of a dump truck on my shoulders. On good days, he’s like my shadow, present and part of me, but not center stage. Other times, he’s like a slobbering, growling Rottweiler staring me in the face…BUT, I can see he’s attached to a leash, connected to a very grounded steel pole. Potentially scary, but not going to devour me whole.
The purpose of non-judgment is not to control or suppress our thoughts. The aim is to withhold judging to see things more clearly, and not be so hard on ourselves by chattering such harsh opinions and negativity. Our thoughts constantly push and pull at us. We create stories and negative self-talk about ourselves and others that isn’t necessarily true most of the time. The really cool thing is, we can learn not to listen so closely or believe that they’re always true or beneficial.
With some discipline, we can become the objective watcher or observer in our own minds. Realizing that our thoughts are “just thoughts,” events in the field of our awareness, and we don’t have to take them so personally or get yanked around by them so much. Our awareness is larger than that, it can actually hold our thoughts, emotions, sensations as they come and go. By shifting our stance in how we relate to our massive Jerk-wad, we can be in wiser relation to make better choices for ourselves.