The Tribe Inside

The many, sometimes conflicting, messages we tell ourselves are a huge stumbling block on the road to health and well-being. One voice is screaming for cake, another for sleep, yet another demands that you look a particular way which would require more exercise.

Then there are the societal demands, family, banks, bills, on and on. Watch five minutes of television and every one of these messages is reinforced tenfold.

We all do want our cake and want to eat it too. We all also want to look and feel our best, but get frustrated with the trying and then just give up, giving into self-loathing or self-pity.

There is too much to do, and not enough time, money or energy. Overwhelm comes in to slay whatever motivation is left.

This may sound crazy (as if what is what I just described isn’t) but, what would happen if you actually allowed each of these parts of yourself to have a voice!?

Set up a dialogue. Have a part of you play the adult whose job it is to just listen and respond as is appropriate. Then, allow each voice to have its turn. Loud and clear.

I do this by drawing columns on paper and heading them with each “voice.” The child voice, for example, can scream her head off. “I want cake, I don’t want to exercise!  Why don’t I get to eat whatever I want and still be skinny like some people do?! I am mad! I hate this! I never get what I want! I don’t care what you say!” Depending on how much of this gets pushed down, there could be quite a lot for this part of yourself to say. Let it all out.

Now, have the adult voice acknowledge what was said. In response to the example I gave, it could be something like; “I hear you, honey. That must be very hard for you. I know you like cake. I know it doesn’t seem fair that some people can eat whatever they want. I would love to hear more about how you don’t care what I say.”

Next have the child respond, see if there is an impact on her, and ask her what else she needs.

Let this play out for as long as need be, just like a real conversation with a child you love. You will know when you feel complete.

Another voice could be one of your parents, whose words still echo in the back of your mind. Listen to these words as an objective observer as much as possible. Pay attention to the child voice in response to the parent.

As best you can, have this be a dialogue back and forth. Always with that adult present to witness, observe and make sure no one part takes over or gets out of control. There may be some ugly, painful things said back and forth between these many parts.

Listen to your many different selves with compassion. Ask each member of your tribe if they need something in particular from you, the adult. See if that request can be granted, or maybe not.

Always tell the truth. We have some very greedy, sneaky parts of ourselves, and some demands should be denied. Gracefully, respectfully denied. Other requests are not difficult at all. A five-minute walk on a sunny day? Your adult can promise your child that easily (just make sure you follow through if you want to establish trust).

This is a process that can be done often. The more practice you have with this, the easier it is to hear from the many parts of your tribe.

Just as in any community, the more clear and honest the communication, the healthier the tribe. The more that un-felt emotions are expressed and validated, the less stress there is. The more promises that are made and kept, the more trust is gained.

Once you have established some trust with yourself, then the mixed messages start to settle down. What you need becomes distinct from what you want. Choices can be made based on a clear mind and a clear heart. Can’t lose.


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