The War Within

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 6:22 AM

People come to me for life coaching because they are at war with themselves. That pretty much sums it up, whether the war campaign is in pursuit of fitness, wellness, fulfillment, pain relief, career change, or relationship change.

They are not doing the things they know they should be doing to bring about the health or success they want.

They for the most part know what they need to be doing, but are in some way stuck or overwhelmed. And if they don’t know what to do next, they are too stuck or overwhelmed to engage in the study, learning, and experimentation necessary to find out.

And they judge and demean and deride themselves. They declare war.

So we start with a basic reframe: we are not actually at war with ourselves, but rather a part of us just sees things differently from another part. Part wants to create change while another part—or parts—wants to stay put.

This usually rings true and is accepted, but then most often people go immediately to the question of how to eradicate or overcome the resistant part, which is yet another form of declaring war—not against the whole self but this time against an aspect of self.

I guess we’re made that way. We apparently like to fight with ourselves. And in my experience it never works. As one of my mentors used to say, “Whenever we set up a fight with ourselves, one of us is going to lose.”

So instead we take a different approach. We make peace. We shine the light of curiosity, empathy, and understanding on these parts that seem to be acting against our best interest. And we find that not only are these parts not opposing us, they are our friends and most loyal supporters.

The problem, however, is that they bring gifts to offer and valid concerns to voice, and we have not been receiving and listening well. So they put their foot down until we do. They yell louder. They keep us stuck until we are willing to listen.

So next time you feel stuck or “of two minds” about something you want to do for your health and fitness, try talking to yourself—literally talking out loud or via a written journal.

Ask some questions to the part who seems to be causing trouble. Act out both parts or write out the question and response.

  • Are you willing to talk with me for a bit? (I’m willing to listen.)
  • How would you like me to address you?
  • What concerns do you have about this change I’m making?
  • Would you be willing to help me with this change if I do my best to accommodate your concerns?
  • How do you serve my best interest?
  • Anything else for me?
  • (Thanks!)

It seems we are a cast of characters—all of whom ultimately serve our very best interests. But if we don’t acknowledge them and their reasonable needs, they will reliably put on the breaks until we do.

Today’s take-away:

It takes two to go to war, but only one to make peace.

Together, let’s end the fight to get fit!