There is a Boxing Match Happening In My Mind
Welcome to day 3 of my self commitment of writing for 15 minutes every day!
When I first moved to New York City after college and six months after my mom died I kept a blog. It was raw. It was a combination of the pain I was feeling of losing her, the struggles I was having being a broke twenty something in Manhattan and my journey into the film business. I laid it all out there, the good, the bad, the ugly. Somewhere on the internet you can probably still stumble upon it and get a really good look at my psyche. I was twenty something, so I was honest and held nothing back.
As I look back on that time and reflect on what was going on for me, it was simple; I had not yet learned how to manage the boxing match in my brain. The writing became this intimate outlet for me to process all of the conversations happening in my mind. Type, review, process, publish. With each click of that publish button I felt a sense of relief. The boxing match was paused in my mind and actively working itself out on the internet.
Since then I have developed tools to manage my brain. If I had to measure my progress over the past decade I would say, like most people, I have a come a very long way.
However, even with all of that progress, training, therapy, education and spiritual exploration, I still have days where I wake up with a boxing match happening inside my brain and today is no exception.
You’re probably wondering what a boxing match in my brain really means. Yesterday I wrote about the ideal self and gave you insight into some of the conversations my brain has when I am in a dressing room contemplating a fashion purchase. The back and forth, the volley of the thoughts. When I refer to a boxing match what I mean is a rapid pace of thoughts all contradicting each other, often times not very positive and somewhat stressful. They are, to put it very simply, fighting. Sometimes it feels like I am in the middle being pulled in a lot of directions and my ideal self is very unsure of how to stop the pulling or how to choose a direction.
An amazing and hilarious viral video dives a bit deeper into this concept and I think if you are anything like me, you will thoroughly enjoy the dedication this woman had to demonstrating this for us: Juggling the Jenkins
I have gotten to a point where I can watch this fight happening and feel a lot less emotion. I can see the thought, observe it, have a slight emotional reaction to it and then ask it to move on. This is the result of hundreds of hours of mediation and a commitment to not suffering. Now, I used to manage this boxing match by overworking. I would not allow myself to slow down, I overcommitted, I drove the car as fast as it could possibly go in a very clear direction so that I never had the space or time for perspective to even witness these thoughts. And if I am being honest, I thought that was a perfectly wonderful way to deal with my brain. And, maybe for you, it is. I am not here to judge how you manage the boxing match in your brain. I have friends that run 15 miles a day to manage, I have friends who paint and write music. My outlet, when available to me, is obviously writing. But deeper than that, I decided awhile ago that I really needed to understand the patterns of the thoughts in my mind, where they stem from, how they function and what they want from me. Why? Because my gut tells me that in some capacity they are going to be there for the rest of my life, and I want to know what I am working with.
This morning I woke up to a full on heavy weight championship match. Guilt showed up, shame showed up, insecurity showed up, self doubt showed up, frustration, empathy, remorse, fear, and exhaustion. They were fighting so aggressively that they told me to stay in bed. Luckily I have a 7 month old puppy and he doesn’t care what kind of championship match is happening in my brain, he has to go outside and go to the bathroom. The puppy, who if you care, is named Billy, and is by far my favorite thing in the whole world and he definitely serves as a tool to help me manage the boxing match in my brain. I knew in times of great mental anguish that he would need me, and it would snap me out of it and bring me back down to the ground.
So we get up, we go outside, and it is snowing. My brain tries to tell me this is terrible and instead I say to Billy, “Look Billy! Snow! What is that? How exciting!” and I toss some on top of him so he can see what it feels like. We head back inside so I can feed him and I start the coffee. I battle with doing my morning review exercise before or after taking him to the doggy daycare and my ideal self says, “Take the time for yourself, the daycare will be there.”. I sit down and I go through the projects I am working on, what needs to be done and what I will do today. The boxing match pauses.
I get bundled up and I put Billy in the car because like all little baby puppies he still makes me pick him up and put him in the car even though he is perfectly capable of jumping in. I oblige because I am a softy and I never want him to grow up. A podcast comes on the car radio because my bluetooth is connected. It is overwhelming for this early in the morning and I turn all of the sounds in the car off fully knowing that the boxing match is going to start up again if there is silence.
The boxing match picks up at rapid pace, all kinds of punches are being thrown at this point. “I can’t believe you ever moved home to where it snows and is freezing.” Guilt and Shame can’t stand that Negative Nancy has the floor so they chime in with, “Maybe if you didn’t have that glass of wine last night we wouldn't be so agitated.” Then self doubt and self loathing want a chance at the title so they start shouting, “And at this pace no one is going to love you, you can’t just go around setting boundaries and expect people to still show up for you.”’
Ouch. Mean voices in my head are definitely winning this round.
I observe. I take the hits standing strong in the middle of the ring sure that I can handle these punches because after all, I am actually trained in boxing in real life and I understand their tactics very well, both literally and figuratively. I start taking some deep breaths and imagine myself standing in my flower and tea shop chatting with a regular customer. I imagine myself at the book launch and interviewing with Ellen. Why? Because the mean voices in my head cannot stand, they absolutely cannot stand the ideal self images. They are no match for my ideal self image.
And now, as the morning moves forward they are all resting because they are tired. They are no match for my stronger, more self loving self. And do you know why? Because I’m keeping my small but mighty self commitments and I am holding space for my ideal self in my mind and heart. I liken it to dealing with a bully. A bully craves the drama, they crave your reaction, they want you to be hurt and afraid. If you stand up to that bully, show them that you can take whatever they choose to throw at you, they often back down. The ideal self is the perfect shield to the bully inside of your brain.
I have trained for years to be able to manage this all so well and I even know a lot of the ways that my nervous system gets triggered and so I do my best not to spend time in those environments or doing anything that causes more boxing in my mind.
With that said, there are some amazing coaching tools that I use with clients to help them manage their internal boxing match. Most effective is what we call, Internal Family Meeting. You spend some time identifying and naming the parts that are showing up in your brain, then you ask them to join you at a conference table so you can all talk it out. And there, in that imaginary conference room in your brain, you hash out their needs, what they are afraid of, what they want you to do and you decide how you are going to move forward without chaos and fighting. Pretty elementary, right?
It is so fascinating what our brains our capable of, and even more so, how capable we are of training and educating our brains to function to our benefit.
If you’re interested in talking more about your internal boxing match or if you want to share with me your own self commitment please comment below or send me an email! firstname.lastname@example.org
I am so excited to be on this journey and would love to help you on yours.