When I was taking my coach training from CTI we learned some cool ways to deal with the crazy voices in our heads that sabotage our efforts to be who we really are and get what we really want. We were encouraged to name these saboteur voices, describe them and even to draw them. The idea was to create awareness about these voices that were running in our minds and messing with our lives so that we could then consciously choose different, more supportive voices to listen to.
One of my voices I call “Buster Max”. He’s a drill sergeant with a barrel-chest, big muscular arms and thighs, a deep voice, and a brush haircut; he wears army fatigues and his job is to keep me in line. He does this by marching me around until I’m too tired to think, too drained to protest, and too weak to care. “Get your nose to that grindstone!” he shouts, “or nothing is going to get done. Who do you think is going to deal with this if you don’t! What do you need sleep for anyway, you wimp!”
I used to get caught up in the momentum of it, moving from one task to another, eagerly crossing things off my list, ignoring my body, marching with Buster Max along side me with his whistle, marching, marching, marching to some victory or another trophy. And not whistling a happy tune.
After a while I’d notice that my energy was flagging and even as I wondered why I was doing things that were not enjoyable, I’d hear Buster Max’s voice in my ear, “Don’t think, girl, just do it.”
Finally about seven years ago, I decided enough was enough and I made a new commitment to myself – that nothing would be more important to me than feeling good, and I adopted a new motto: Joy First – then anything else I have time for (hence the name of this blog) and then everything about my life changed.
I discovered that if I committed to doing only those things that were enjoyable and made me happy, then life became a rich and rewarding experience.
I learned through experience that when I took the time to get peaceful within and did whatever was necessary to get into a good feeling place before I undertook any task, then everything else flowed much more easily.
It takes practice, but it truly works. I no longer need a harsh task master to rule my days and to make me do the endless number of things I don’t want to do. Now my life flows, and if it doesn’t feel good – or I can’t get it to feel good, I don’t do it.
It’s not that Buster Max is gone; it’s just that I choose to relate to him differently. So, how do I deal with Buster Max these days?
Tie him up and put him in a box? No.
Send him on a vacation to a deserted island in the middle of nowhere? No.
Make him dress up in a low cut blouse, short tight skirt and high heels? Hmmm… No.
Here’s what I do. First, I flirt with him, “Come on now Buster Max…,” I say in my best southern belle accent, as I tilt my head and flick my long black eyelashes at him, “I hear you but I’m not going to do what you want because it doesn’t make me feel good at all.”
“But,” he sputters. “Everything will fall apart if you don’t act on this now!”
“We’ll be alright,” I say.
“But, but, but, but….,” he argues. While he comes up with reasons I should listen to him I plug my ears and think about what I really want. I think about what makes me feel good and happy and alive and I throw one parting comment to Buster Max, who is shrinking by the second.
“It’s ok Buster Max. I’ll introduce you to Miss Prissy (the other voice in my head) and the two of you can figure out some way to make each other feel good, and then maybe you’ll both have better things to do than harangue me!” Poor Max, he’s left totally speechless, and gradually he becomes transparent and fades from my mind.
And with his departure I’m able to remember what a fun-loving, creative, inspired, and infinite creator I really am.
Obviously, the relationship between Max and me is a work in process – sometimes I’m more successful at shutting him up than at other times. But if I can find a way to laugh at the voices in my head then I lighten up immediately. The key is to just to notice when Buster Max is trying to run my show and remember to ask myself what I really want for and from my life.
Have you got a saboteur on board? Here are some clues:
• If you say things like “I can’t” or “I have to” implying that you have no choice…
• If you feel weary, frustrated, or as if you are constantly sacrificing your happiness for some other “higher” goal or “greater” good…
• If you feel like you are stuck or going in circles…
And – the ultimate sign – If you do not feel good much of the time!
Then, yup, you’ve got a saboteur on board!
The first step to deflating your saboteurs is simply to notice those voices in your head that are making you feel unhappy. Once you become conscious of them you can take steps to shift your thinking and change the way you feel.
There are many ways to shift your thinking and change the way you feel. You could approach your saboteur in a light and playful way, like I did with Buster Max. If you like the idea of personifying your saboteurs to become more aware of them, a good resource is the book Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson.
You could question your saboteur’s crazy pronouncements by asking questions like, “Is this really true?” For example, is it really true that everything will fall apart if I don’t take action on this right now?
Or you could focus your attention on the vision of what you really want for your life. For example, I want to feel free and in a flow from moment to moment enjoying a rich and delicious life – and I want that more than I want to listen to old Buster Max baby. Yeah!
Ultimately, living a rich and delicious life or a stifled and dull one is a choice – what thoughts are you giving your attention to? Personally, I don’t like my energy being sucked into the toilet by Buster Max and I’m not listening to him any more! I’m here for the joy of the journey. How about you?