Please bring to mind one thing that’s been preoccupying you. For instance, I am beleaguered by thoughts about a syllabus I need to revise for Fall. It pops into my head, unbidden. It can tighten me up, or get me in its grip. I can plan to get to working on it, but then somehow not! Or start, then get distracted….and later feel frustrated. I’d like to share a metaphor and strategy for such gripping, gnarly blockages.
Again, this blog will make the most sense if you let yourself acknowledge your top preoccupation these days. What’s got you? Got it in mind?
Here is my metaphoric invitation: Look for how to convert your energetic involvement or preoccupation from heat to light.
Heat is from the friction, the grating of inner conflicts. The grating sounds like these clashing voices: “I should but I can’t…” “I could, but then what if…” “I want to, but what will he (she, they) think?” “I want to, but something feels wrong, scary, too aggressive, too timid, too naive, too arrogant, etc.” Is this descriptively true for you? Can you feel the inner rub, the resistance? For me, with respect to the inner friction around my syllabus, I might write, “I want to re-do it, but (a) I don’t know if I have time, (b) I don’t know if I know how, and (b1) I don’t know whom to turn to, and (b2) If I ask for help will they think I’m not smart enough to figure it out on my own? (c) what if I try and really mess it up?”
So, what I’m doing by revealing these “I want to, but…” statements is pouring light into the friction. I am taking apart the different pieces of resistance that are locking up my engine. The first great benefit of this approach is that instead of a lump in the throat, or the stomach, or a headache, I am opening up the mechanisms to see just why I’m hung up. The light shines into the resistance, so instead of the conflicting voices locking me up, they are each, in turn, sharing their often helpful concerns. So I can logically ask in response to the resistant voices: Well, how much time do I need to set aside? Who can help me? Who can help me who won’t judge me as “not smart enough to figure it out myself?” I’m slowly and patiently listening to each big, “I could, BUT…” voice. Try it.
One critical tip in the light-shining process: Resist the urge to run roughshod over your voices of resistance. For example,when one of my inner, resistant voices says, “you might not look smart enough,” it would be highly unhelpful for me to say to that voice-in-myself, “well, how stupid of you (me!) to think you’ll be seen as stupid!” See the trap? Such an attitude – of resisting-the-resistance – will likely only matters worse. Instead, use light to learn what can be learned and to respect your resistance. (Note: This happens also to be the best long-run strategy in dealing with outside-resisters in your life and organizations: Respect them, learn and listen, rather than using force and pressure, for the latter are likely to only heighten long term resistance.
Love to hear what happens if and when you try this technique. And I’d love to hear if it would be helpful for me to suggest a more detailed, concrete strategy for engaging the gnarly resistance within, as you
Lead with your best self!