Why do I hold back? Why do I not risk being more dynamic? Why do I hide my true self?
Over the past few days I’ve reframed something that has bothered me for a long time and that was reintroduced this week. 20 years ago I met a man named John Cooper. John was a psychologist from Chicago who moved south for the love of good woman. John was the first person I knew who did business coaching. It was something I’d envisioned but didn’t know where to start. Once I met him I knew I wanted to do that.
One of John’s driving psychological principles was that of The Judge. The Judge lives in each of us. This nagging, persistent, negative voice is the devil on our shoulders. Just like in so much of life since Nixon began the war on the anti-war movement and the war on drugs and the war on. . .you name it, most of us would tend to think that we must make war on this voice that so often cripples our best intentions.
Whatever negative voice is talking in my ear is an aspect of me. How can I be at war with an aspect of myself, my own psyche, and ever find peace? Answer, it ain’t gonna’ happen. The alternative for me was to think differently about the source of this voice and what I came to was this: What if I embraced this nasty voice, claiming it in all its gory glory? After all, it is a part of me that was taught by judgmental others at a very early age.
I thought back to find a name that I could apply to this Judge and came up with my childhood name, Butch. Butch was a sweet kid with not a mean bone in his body. He was, however, raised by men and women who had experienced war, depression, loss and uncertainty of a magnitude most of us have never known. Their influence was pervasive in my young life and today Butch still speaks with that voice of fear and anxiety.
My reframe, which I’m just now learning to understand, is that if I can learn to embrace this judgmental voice–when I criticize myself or find fault with another–I can use that energy for more positive ends. When I catch myself finding fault, I know who’s talking and can ask, Why am I doing this? What purpose does it serve? Is it making me feel right or is it making me feel happy? Being right at the expense of my happiness is not a good tradeoff.
Check out Dan Rockwell’s, Leadership Freak post for more on this topic: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/how-to-disarm-your-inner-critic/