Working on your behalf

Liz Sumner Coaching, Ease, Fear Leave a Comment

A client mentioned to me recently that she has deep desire to streamline her life and get rid of unnecessary clutter, but at the same time she has a strong urge to hold onto things– like out-of-date reference material and folders she hasn’t looked at in a dozen years. She explains it as a hoarding instinct inherited from Depression-era parents.

Another client tells me about the struggle between his part of self that likes nit-picky detail coming up against the part that cares only about the big picture. He describes it in astrological terms as being on the cusp between two signs. Both are him but they are often in opposition.

It got me wondering what dichotomies show up in my life. The main one that jumps out is my shyness vs. my desire to perform. People often tell me they don’t understand how I can say I’m shy when I like to make a fool of myself on stage. Inside my head they feel like two completely distinct experiences. An audience is an entirely different animal than an individual.

I work on the assumption that these parts of self that show up in our lives believe they are working on our behalf. They think they are serving us even when we wish they wouldn’t. I got these ideas from Norman Cousins’ book, Anatomy of an Illness and his work with NLP.

So if you have aspects of self that are in conflict with one another, try having a conversation with each, beginning with the assurance that this attribute really has your welfare in mind and is working in your best interest. Question it with care and respect and then see if it would be open to fulfilling its mission in a way that cooperates better with other characteristics.

For example, in my case, I’d probably have the conversation in my journal. I’d start by thanking the element I label as Shyness for it’s efforts and ask it to help me understand how it serves me. I would then do the same with the part of me I call the Ham. Once I get a sense of what each is trying to accomplish I then gently ask if they might be willing to work together. Maybe I could have the Ham’s ability to laugh and say what the heck when I’m in a one-on-one conversation. Maybe the reserved, protective part of me could help me prepare more before trying to wing it on stage.

The key is to believe that the different components of your personality are working on your behalf even if it’s in a misguided way. What does it think it’s doing for me? How might I accomplish that objective in a different way so that the undesired trait can let go?

What dual aspects of yourself come to mind?

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