Attending to Our Minds

“I Have Met the Enemy and It is Me”

Well, not you in your entirety, but rather an aspect of yourself. And, while it’s often characterized as an enemy, it can also be conceptualized as a friend, albeit a misguided friend at times. We often encounter this aspect of ourselves when we attempt to make meaningful changes in our lives, or even think about doing so.

So there you are, having established a SMARTEST goal, that is, a goal that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Energizing, Self-reinforcing, and Transformative (please see my article, entitled SMART, SMARTER, or SMARTEST: What Kind of Goals Would You Like to Achieve? for more on this topic). And working together, we’ve put action plans in place to assist you in realizing your goals.

On your mark, get set, YIKES!!!

You might experience what just showed up as a thought, or series of thoughts, that sound something like: “This was a stupid idea. What was I thinking? This is never going to work. I may as well go back to doing what I was doing before I got myself into this mess.” Or perhaps you find yourself feeling uncomfortable from an emotional standpoint: apprehension, ominous foreboding, or downright fear. You might also experience physical sensations, such as a pit in your stomach, rapid heartrate, or tension in your jaw. What’s going on?

What’s going on is resistance, which might come as a complete surprise to you. There you are, ready to embark on your journey to the life of your dreams, and resistance, which can show up in many forms (not unlike Proteus, the Old Man of the Sea), has stopped you in your tracks. Why? Because it’s trying to keep you safe. Safe from what? Safe from the unknown. Let’s face it, you’re venturing into uncharted territory here, and doing so is stirring up a primitive part of your brain that’s designed to keep you out of harm’s way at all costs; colloquially referred to as the body’s fight-flight-freeze response, it’s referred to in coach speak as ”the saboteur.”

Well-meaning as it is, sooner or later, the saboteur will do its best to sideline you. And any and all attempts to resist the resistance will only make matters worse. So, what do we do when resistance—aka, the saboteur—shows up? First, we acknowledge it. Then, we befriend—yes, befriend—it. And, finally, we figure out a way to work with, rather than against, it. The Story of Ivan, from Lawrence LeShan’s Meditating to Attain a Healthy Body Weight, offers an illustration of how this process works.

Whether you conceptualize your saboteur as a single, perhaps multifaceted, being—akin to Proteus—or a cast of characters, as presented in Shirzad Chamine’s Positive Intelligence, the process for effectively managing these aspects of yourself is the same: (1) acknowledge; (2) befriend; (3) collaborate (to see a list of my saboteurs, click here).

And you need not go through this process alone, because I, as your coach, will help you navigate these murky waters, getting you back on track to the life of your dreams.

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