In a coaching conversation with Justine, my client, we talked about the value of learning to go within and focusing her attention, to which she said, "Oh, I don't know about that," laughing nervously.
Frequently, when I hear people say, "I don’t know," it's the same as shouting, "I'm terrified. That scares me." Putting our focus on our inner self and being disciplined about what we give our attention to is a scary, can-I-really-do-it, proposition for lots of people. It's unfamiliar and unexplored territory.
I asked Justine, "What is it about trying to silence the constant chatter in your mind that bothers you?" She had a litany of reasons: "First, I don't know if I can. I've tried before and I can't stop the chattering. It's frustrating. Plus, what if I get quiet and there's nothing in there?"
There was that nervous laughter again. Then, the bigger concerns came. "What if I hear something that I don't want to know or I have to do something I don't want to do?"
While Justine's anxiety is shared by scores of people, the only way to overcome an issue is to get still and go within to the place where it lives. Get to the emotional root. If not, you'll spend your life problem-solving that same old issue instead of living. When you only deal with symptoms by resorting behaviors or crutches that usually end in "holic," you perpetually address the same issues. Time passes and you are talking about the same difficulty you had last week, last year, ten years ago. Sound familiar?
The problem doesn't change because you haven't changed. There has been no internal shift. Obsessing about something is a definite warning sign that it's time to look within. Obsession is an alarm sounding. It signals someone else or something else has become the focus of your attention—be it for behavior you admire or disdain.
To get to the bottom of this self-sabotaging story, create a space where you can hear yourself think. Some like it noisy, others prefer dead silence. Find what works best for you. Then grab hold of your energy, quiet your mind and take a journey inside of your very self. Ask yourself:
- Why am I paying so much attention to this person or situation?
- What am I not seeing in myself that I am seeing in him, her or it?
- In what way is what I'm admiring or complaining about also true of me?
- What things within my control would make me feel better about this situation?
If you can, write down what surfaces in response. Make your notes private, inaccessible to anyone else. A diary or journal is great for this. Write down your truth and don't be afraid of the messy, negative, embarrassing, not-like-the-image-you-have-of-yourself stuff that may come up.
Within the confines of the safe and sacred space you created for yourself, admit to all the scary, shameful feelings you'd rather bury—your fears, weaknesses, mistakes you've made, things you wish you had never said or done.
Expose your deepest truth to yourself. Placing whatever you need to address on your private, personal altar can help you to get to the heart of what's been weighing you down emotionally. Then, you're well positioned to find solutions. Deconstruction can help you better understand and let go of many of the patterns at play in your life. Then, free from the self-sabotaging, limiting lies, move forward with newfound clarity and confidence. You'll be empowered to create and enjoy living the life you truly want.
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