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Hope Through Authenticity

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The Dragons Inside Us

"I wasted so much time being other people.  But I’m good enough just being me."

Kelly Osbourne interview on Good Morning America on 4/25/2017

How Many Personalities Do I Have?

Think about you … the ways you behave, think, interact.  How many personalities do you have?  For example, how to you act when you are at home alone?  With your partner?  With your kids?  How do you act at work with colleagues?  With your boss?  Are you a different person with friends, family, strangers?  How about at church?  What do those people see?  How about in an intellectual environment?  Or a political discussion?

Before I could answer that question, I had to decide what “personality” meant.  I found lots of stuff on the Internet, of course.  But these are the personality characteristics that resonated the most for me:

  • Attitude
  • Mode
  • Goal
  • Role
  • Perspective
  • Center
  • Dragon

Over the next several posts, we’ll look at all of them and then play a game (I’ll share my source at the bottom, but please don’t go to it yet.) 

The DRAGON intrigued me the most.

Which Dragons Do You Have?

​​ Several years ago, I used a dragon metaphor to describe how I felt when I tried to deny myself a certain food.  For example, I love Oreos.  They are a “danger” food for me because I can’t seem to stop eating them.  I never buy them.  When I visit my parents, they always have a bag.  When I walk in the door, I feel myself begin to rattle, to crave, to fantasize about those cookies.  I literally feel like I have a dragon in my chest and she’s shaking the bars of her cage demanding I feed her.  Kind of a Cookie Monster but not as cute and much more powerful. 

The article I read described The Dragon like this:

The part of us that provides challenges to overcome in achieving our goals.  The Seven Personality Dragons are: Self-Destruction, Greed, Self-Deprecation, Arrogance, Martyrdom, Impatience, Stubbornness

The article went on to say that most people have two.  Hmmm, I think I have all seven.  Seriously.

  • When I overeat or eat a bag of Oreos – my Self-Destructive Dragon rules the day
  • When I want that book or that outfit no matter what my financial situation – my Greed Dragon runs amok
  • When I’m about the send something I’ve written to a friend I almost always start by saying, “I’m sure this needs a lot of work but …” – Self-Deprecation
  • When I talk to someone who wants to lose weight and I brag about my success – Arrogance has arrived
  • When I allow someone to violate my boundaries (I say ‘yes’ when I should say ‘no) – Hello, Martyrdom
  • My Impatience Dragon is always running around –
  • When I want my husband to agree with me on a parenting issue – Stubbornness enjoys some time in the sun

I think we all fall victim to each dragon type.  But, which one (or two) are my dominant?

Which Dragon Creates the Most Chaos?

Does it matter which dragon dominates me?  I think it does.  I can’t slay them all at once.  I also don’t think you can ever slay these dragons entirely.  When we are stressed, emotionally charged, over-tired, I believe these dragons have a doorway in.  We can’t eliminate stress, exhaustion.  Therefore, these dragons never die.   But are they trainable?

But I can begin to watch for my primary dragon and work to calm her.  I’ve been sitting here eating my peanut butter sandwich and pondering.   Before my mental breakdown, Martyrdom was king.  Now, I think its Self-Destructiveness with Martyrdom a close second.

So what?  I think my first step in calming her is to try to understand why she exists.  Why do I behave self-destructively – what need is being fed or what story am I proving right?  Remember, the ego wants to be right so it will seek ways to prove your story.  I don’t have the answer to that yet. 

In an earlier post, I admitted that being a DISAPPOINTMENT is one of my destructive core beliefs.  Maybe, when I act self-destructively I prove it to myself.  Here’s a scenario:

Me:  I’m not hungry at all.  I’ve worked hard to get my weight and lifestyle healthy.  As nice as that ice cream looks, it can wait until I’m hungry.

SDD (Self-Destructive Dragon):  You know you’re never going to keep that weight off. 

SDD:  You know you’re gonna eat it – just admit to yourself – throw in the towel and eat.

SDD:  But eat quick because we need to hide evidence.

Did you notice how SDD escalated things.  She went from a focus on body to a focus on the deeper core of disappointment?  I know it’s a dragon when I feel the need to hide – see that last comment by SDD. 

Did you also note that the Greed Dragon was there lurking in the halls?  And, if I do feed SDD, the Guilt Dragon will arrive.  That’s why I think it’s important to recognize and understand our dragons – once one gets in, a party starts.

Taming Our Dragons

The task now is to 1) recognize her as quickly as I can so that I can 2) find ways to calm her before she gains power and invites friends over. 

Recognizing her requires me to pay attention.  I’ve learned to recognize her presence – that rattling I mentioned earlier.  When SDD is here, I feel very anxious, out-of-control.  My chest literally vibrates.  This is when I need to intervene.  My other dragons show themselves in different bodily ways. 

My dragon likes me to talk to her – out loud.  It’s almost like the two-year-old who just wants some attention.  I printed a picture of a dragon just so I had an image in my mind when I talk to her.  I ask her a series of questions and try to hear answers:

What about these Oreos is so exciting?

Are you “feeling” something you can’t name?  [at this point, I run through the primary feelings and see if anything fits]

  • What about this circumstance is making you so anxious?
  • Why do you feel the need to have them right now (you know we can get more later)?
  • Do you want to taste them or just consume them?
  • Do you think just two would satisfy you – and let’s savor them?
  • If we gorge, will Guilt come to the party? 
  • Do we want to spend time with Guilt?

I know these sound silly.  Trust me, it feels silly to have this conversation with a mythical non-existent creature.  Often, however, these questions calm her down.  She becomes rational and helpful.  Two satisfies. 

Give it a try.  Next time a dragon is taking over, just talk to it.  Let me know if it helps. 

If the dragon imagery doesn’t work for you, what does?  Find a picture to make her “real”.

Source & Caution – My Disclaimer

Remember that I am not a therapist.  I am a fellow sufferer.  I got this information here:  https://www.itstime.com/jul99.htm.  I do NOT know anything about these articles/authors.  I just found the articles intriguing – they opened a way for me to “hold” myself.   “Holding myself” is always my goal.  Reading a variety of ideas simply gets my mind playing, evaluating, assessing.  

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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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