How to Take Action And Design A Life That is Full
Welcome to day 22 of my daily self comittment to write each day for 15 minutes.
I am currently listening to Holiday jams, football games and the sounds of my family preparing the fish for our Christmas Eve dinner.
I am getting my writing in early today because our Christmas Eve tends to become a giant party with dancing until the wee hours of the morning. A late night post on Christmas Eve might look more like jumbled words and wine philosophy than an actual formulated post—so it’s good to get it out now :).
This morning when I called my mom’s sister to say Merry Christmas she commented on my writing and asked why I had chosen to make this self comittment. I talked to her about channeling my emotions, that typically my best writing has come from something emotional happening in my life—a reaction to a situation. I wanted to practice my writing each day so that I could get good at writing at anytime in any mood, even when life was grand and joyful. Last week I wrote a lot about the parts of us—the many different versions of us that exist inside our heads that cause all of the chatter. I deep dived into the parts of me to demonstrate the normalcy of having these different “voices” and how I have learned to navigate them. I shared an excercise to help you discover more about the chatter and get a handle on what is truly going on in your mind.
Today I want to demonstrate the next phase of this parts work—requesting a break from the parts that are causing you to be frozen. On a call with a friend last week I demonstrated this coaching style, we worked through the parts in his mind and actually had a lot of fun as he described each part and explored what they wanted from him. At the end of the call I commented on how elementary this whole coaching tool really is. All I am asking you to do is put a face to an emotion—just like you would draw on a piece of paper as a kid what is happening in your imagination. Last night my cousin’s little girl graciously described to me some of her imaginary friends, I like to think that even as a four-year old these imaginary friends are her parts—just less developed.
So if you’ve taken the time to identify the different emotionalities in your mind it is time for you to move on to the next step. If you still have the piece of paper where they are all listed, great, if not I encourage you to get out a new sheet of paper and list all of the emotions that you feel in your mind. To help give you an example I will share mine:
The caretaker and aspiring wife: June Cleaver
The rescuer: Super Woman
The negative nancy: Shame
The doubter: Fear
The appeaser: Little Teresa
The stress reliever: Yoga Instructor
The executer and performer: The Doer
The one full of possibility and ideas: The Dreamer
The one full of hope and kindness: Little Little Teresa
I’ve worked to identify these parts because the imagery really helps me understand which part is dominating our decision making. If I feel like running to an Island and giving up my entire life I am probably letting my inner Yoga Instructor take control and design our stress escape plan. If I am stuck in a mood for awhile or can’t get clarity on something, typically Shame and Fear are working together to make sure I don’t do anything drastic. I can often call on Little Little Teresa to calm them down and let them know it will be ok or The Doer to outline for them what actions are plausible and how she will execute wisely. Lately my parts have been working overtime to protect The Dreamer from burn out, because she is just completely overwhelmed and tired from trying to believe all of the time.
The real beauty in these exercises is that I can now identify in the exact moment who is showing up. I can be in a conversation with my sister and feel Little Teresa trying to make everything right by shutting down and keeping my opinions to myself. In these moments I can take a deep breath and calmly move into my ideal self, the one who can communicate with my sister from a place of love and understanding without having to compromise who I am.
So, you are looking at your piece of paper and you have some of your parts identified, you have asked them what they want for you and how they help you in life. And now it is time to take on what we will call the Conductor Role, which is when your ideal self is choosing how much of each part gets to show up for a certain situation.
You can look at each part and understand what they desire. My Dreamer wants a wonderful full and expansive life and she is always willing to make changes and take risks. Fear wants me to be safe and calculated and not do anything drastic. Little Teresa wants no arguing or fighting or conflict. Yoga Intructor wants us to quit work and have a strong body and mind without having to engage in stress. Super Woman wants to help all of the people all of the time at whatever cost. Shame wants me to be skinny and beautiful and accepted. June Cleaver wants us to be the perfect wife and mother and give our partner whatever he wants and Little Little Teresa wants to treat everyone with kindness and make them feel seen and heard.
As you can imagine, when one of these or a few of these are dominating it can be really hard to know what is right and wrong. If Yoga Instructor is planning for us to run away to Hawaii and leave it all behind, Fear is freaking out and yelling at her and Little Teresa is trying to calm them all down while June Cleaver is shouting, “You will never find a husband this way”. I cannot possibly live this way and have any sense of balance or success for my ideal self. I also probably need a lot more wine to cope. So instead of opening the Chianti I begin, one by one, asking each of these little parts to take a break.
I might say to Yoga Instructor, “I know you want to go to Hawaii, I know you need less stress, can we make a deal? If you take a break from this planning I will promise to do a Yoga session twice this week, sound fair?”. Typically she can calm down at this point and go to the corner and start meditating. That allows Fear to relax and go back to his dark underground bunker and it leaves Little Teresa to play with her dolls and enjoy her afternoon. This might leave space for me to say to June Cleaver, “I know you really crave partnership and family, can you help me make a list of those desires and get clear on what we need in a partnership to feel safe?”. This really pleases The Doer who can now enter the conversation and begin making lists.
I know it seems really bizarre to have these conversations with yourself but I can tell you from firsthand experience and many successful coaching sessions, it really really works. My clients have so much clarity after this excercise that the ideas start flowing and their sense of freedom and peace returns.
So to recap:
Identify each of your parts and give them a specific description
Ask them what they want and how they serve you
Bring out your inner Conductor to mediate
Then one by one, address each of their concerns and begin the negotiations.
Then watch with awe how clear you can get around whatever decision, plan or relationship you are navigating.
Most self love starts with acceptance. If we can accept the complex and dynamic parts of us and allow them to be heard we can really quickly move into decision making and action.
I’d love to hear how your parts work is going, or how you are tracking on your person self comittment. Comment below or shoot me an email Teresa@teresasabatine.com
And this Holiday if you find yourself getting frustrated with a sibling or feeling left out, check in with your inner team members and see who needs a little extra love so you can enter into conversation feeling seen and heard and safe.
Merry Christmas Eve