Have you ever been in a scenario where you’re doing something new, something a bit against-the-grain for yourself and just as you’re about to step forward in that plan, your mind starts to think up all the reasons why you shouldn’t do it?
I can think of many, many times in the past when I’ve been about to embark upon a new adventure in my life — one that requires a new skill set, hard work and commitment — and all the planning is moving forward, but when it comes time to finalize the deal (either signing on the dotted line, definitively saying YES to someone or putting skin in the game with money), all of a sudden, my good friend, Fear, shows up and wants to pump the breaks. Often times Fear not only wants to pump the breaks, but Fear wants to hijack the car, grab the steering wheel, do a screeching 180 and burn rubber going the opposite direction.
Fear can be a powerful emotion and all too often can hold us back from believing in ourselves and playing full out and realizing our potential. Fear wants to keep us safe, inside our cozy little nest, where no change can happen and we won’t be vulnerable to getting hurt (financially, emotionally, physically).
Where has Fear shown up in your life and stopped you in your tracks?
I recently led a Masterclass for my Transform your Approach to Weight Loss group. In it, we were talking about the cast of characters that we keep in our head. I like to think of my persona as being made up of all these characters: the Boss Lady, the Yoga Mom, the Revolutionary, the Organizer, the Fearmonger and so on. If you heard my latest podcast, you’ll know what I am talking about. They all play a role in shaping my outward actions. Often times, one of them takes the lead role while the others chill out on some folding chairs backstage. To be sure, there are protagonists and antagonists in the cast and they sit like angels and devils on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, trying to influence my actions.
You can actually apply this concept to those situations where you find yourself wanting one thing, but acting or behaving just the opposite. For example, how many of you have had those Netflix moments at the end of a long hard day? It’s late. Well past dinner. You’ve settled in on the couch and you know you’re not hungry, but you just have this need for something. You know you don’t want it, because you’ve been trying to lose weight and you’ve been good all day, but then, when you’re exhausted and those thoughts start to creep in… The angel is saying, “DON’T DO IT! You’ve worked so hard to take off those 10 pounds!” but the devil is winning out, saying, “You know you want it. In fact, you DESERVE it. It’s been such a rough day and you’ve held it together all this time. Don’t you want to just want to exhale, let your hair down, and INHALE all those chips or chocolate? Or better yet, both?!”
We have all have those moments. The cast of characters in your head might have parts that are calm and strong, and some that are like a 3 year-old, that insists on instant gratification, with no regard to consequences. These protagonists and antagonists can show up in so many situations and leave us conflicted and saying “why did I do that?!”
Just like in the beginning of this story, my Fearmonger character can be a strong antagonist in my head, trying to seed all sorts of “what if” thoughts, and stop me from doing what I really want to do. As I’ve been setting up my own private practice in Direct Primary Care, there are times when the Boss Lady CEO and Fearmonger are duking it out, just like those Netflix moments when you’re wrestling with the “chips vs celery sticks” thoughts.
Many of you might even be in the contemplative phase of making a big change and your Fear can show up and stop you. For example, perhaps you have been thinking about cleaning up your lifestyle habits, eating healthier, losing some weight, getting more sleep, or cutting back on the alcohol. Your rational brain knows you want to do it, but in order to make it happen, you have to give up something that you really love. Maybe something that makes you feel safe, or comforts you when you feel stressed. That is when the antagonist in your head (in my case, the Fearmonger) will show up and list out every single reason why this change is a bad idea. In fact, this character can really up the ante by showing up in such a sly, sneaky, subtle way, that you might not even know that he or she is on stage. This can play itself out as self sabotage. It’s like the antagonist is working undercover, in the deep dark underworld of your subconscious brain, controlling the switches and the lights, the sound system and the microphone. Just like that movie Inside Out.
My point is, we can start to turn this situation around by first, being aware of this cast of characters in our head. When we acknowledge the Fearmonger, (or whatever antagonist you have in your life) and call it out, we begin to see it for what it is. Ask this character, “what are you trying to protect me from?” Often times, we’ll begin to see the 3 year-old behind the answer — that character wants us to be safe, loved, free from stress, free from burden, and receive instant gratification without any consequences. Well, that is a wonderful intention. Thank you, Mr. Antagonist for all of those lovely desires. And while that would be really nice to have all those things, I believe that when we step out of our comfort zone and into a new behavior pattern, there can be so much more reward waiting for us in that space.
Ask yourself “What do I really need right now?” Call upon your protagonist characters: The Strong One. The Calm One. The CEO. Let them take center stage and play a lead role in your life, your decisions and your actions. Allow your actions to be in alignment with your values and goals. To be sure, the battles will show up, but when you can put your antagonist in the back row, his or her voice can be just a soft harmonizing whisper in the larger chorus of your supporting cast. Don’t ever let him or her take center stage.
If you have been struggling to get healthy, lose weight and feel better, think about joining my program, Transform Your Approach to Weight Loss. I have a whole on-line course chock-full of strategies to help you, along with a community of support. We meet live in Masterclasses twice a month by Zoom, and I promise you, it will rock your world.
Until then, remember: your health is a journey, not a destination. I’m here to help. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org