My Journey from Discovery to Acceptance to Change
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Hope Through Authenticity

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Battling the Enemy Within

No aspect of me is actually an enemy.  I need every single element of my personality.  BUT, let’s be honest, sometimes parts of who we are feel like the enemy, wound like the enemy.  Even though all parts of me are actually trying to help me thrive and survive, some aspects are more misguided than others.   As I watched Game of Thrones this afternoon (yes, I’m at GOT junkie) Tyrion said the following: 

“You need to take your enemies side if you’re going to see things they way they do.  And you need to see their side if you’re going to anticipate their actions, respond effectively and beat them.”

He left out one extra piece – we have to identify the enemy.  So, let’ start there.

Identify Your Own Personalized Enemies

Let’s state unequivocally that feelings are NEVER the enemy.  I say that because my first impulse was to say that “fear” is an enemy.  Fear is NOT an enemy.  Fear is information.  I had to dig deeper … here is what I came up with:

  1. The Inner Critic
  2. The Teenage Rebellious Dragon
  3. The Sugar Monster
  4. The Hamster on The Wheel

Yes, these are all “voices” but the subtle distinctions are important.  Each voice speaks differently, uses a different tactic, has varied volume and strength.  While I’m sure there are many more, these four were very obvious, loud and often insidious.   I actually think I battled each one sometime in the last 24 hours.  Let me show you how:

Today’s Specific Battles

  • The Inner Critic – she was quite loud today – telling me to give up my novel because I’m not good enough (and, let me be frank, I lost this battle today – I “pretended” to write by reading articles, thinking through plot lines, etc. I did NOT pick up my pen and actually create).
  • The Teenage Rebellious Dragon – One of my goals is to stop eating sugar and processed carbs.  I’m not doing this because I want to lose weight – I’m actually happy with my body at this very minute.  Immediately that dragon that lives in my chest started to rattle and rebel – not because I “needed” sugar but because she, quite simply, did not like being told what to do.  She also does not like begin told she must do something.  She’s 13 in a 52  year old body and she’s dang embarrassing!
  • The Sugar Monster is a bit different.  This guy specifically yells at me via cravings.  This monster assures me I have to have to piece of chocolate.  It tells me that I cannot LIVE without it.  Like, literally, that I’ll die without one morsel of sugar.  Right now, this enemy is the loudest.
  • The Hamster on a Wheel – we all know what this feels like – those thoughts that just won’t stop or spiral in a vortex of pain.  This one is running strong right now beating me up about not writing, about having to struggle so much against a tiny piece of sugar, about spending money on stuff I didn’t really need.  Shall I go on?  The hamster wheel turns and turns. 

You have a different list, I’m sure.  But I think you get the idea.  Our personalized enemy is that part of us that seeks to hold us back or drag us down or force us silent. 

“Anticipate Their Actions”

Just doing this small bit of writing has helped me identify the enemies’ actions.  But I must be more vigilant.  I must pay better attention and I must be attuned to all of their strategies.  A good commander has sneaky methods of attack.  Sometimes the attack is direct, sometimes it’s sneaky.  The only way to anticipate the actions is to pay close attention.  One thing I have begun to see more clearly is that when one enemy fails, another rises to the same challenge.

For example, I was able to beat the sugar monster by having a cup of coffee sans sugar.  But now the teenage rebellious dragon is rattling in her cage, demanding I drive to the ice cream store.  I won’t be able to do that, so my guess is the Inner Critic enemy will rear its ugly head and tell me how weak I am.  Well, you get the picture.  

All I can do is be intentional in my watch for the attack.  Just seeing the attack will help defend my authentic self.

Respond Effectively

That’s what this entire blog is about – developing strategies to respond effectively.  Every blog is an attempt to anticipate and find ways that work for me.  One skirmish at a time.

Here are a few responses I’m using today:

One:  I’ve been doing this great 5-5-5 breathing thing – breathe in for five seconds, hold it for five seconds, breathe out for five seconds.  It’s been amazingly effective in calming me down. 

Two:  I’ve also posted several notes to remind myself of my goals, my strengths.  Every day I found a new one … this is today’s:

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily.  The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.”

John C. Maxwell

My day is coming to a close.  Tomorrow, I’m going to have the following routine:

  1. Make the bed – sounds silly, but I’ll explain it in another post
  2. My healthy shake (no sugar J)
  3. Exercise
  4. Walk Dog
  5. Morning Pages
  6. Meditation
  7. Actually go into my office – stay there for four hours – even if all I do is fret and worry – I will act like a professional writer
  8. End my “working” day designing my routine for the next day
  9. Read Blink (that’s my current non-fiction)
  10. Take the Spanish class
  11. Cook dinner

Three:  My morning pages is also a strategy – it’s a place to put in writing my battle plans.  It’s a place for me to whine and then close the book.  It’s also a place for me to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.  It’s a place I can be perfectly, wonderfully authentic!

Those are all SMALL acts – but they are doable and they are footsteps on the path of success.

Four:  I’ve already laid out the ingredients for healthy eating tomorrow.  It’s kind of like going into to battle with all my supplies ready and within easy reach.  The less decisions I have, the less I have to listen to any voices.  Oh, I’m no fool, I know the enemy is strong and will have many tactics to throw my way – but, I’ve done what I could for now.  And, that’s all I can ask of myself. 

Beating The Enemy

As I get stronger, as I recognize their voices, as I identify their battle plans, I can develop my own battle plans, my own strategies.  I can win the next battle.  That’s all I can do for now. 

Soldier on!

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    In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....

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