I recently found myself returning to an old writing exercise I love. The self-reflective and personal growth kind that does in fact involve talking to yourself. I swear it helps though.
Because when we are stuck (read: anxious, frustrated, uncertain, impatient, unclear, resistant, etc.) in any aspect of our lives, we are often of two (or more minds) about the matter.
Reminds me of the Walt Whitman quote, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."
Don't we all contain multitudes?
Recently some clients got to identifying some of these multitudes. An angry self, a fearful self, a trusting self, an obstinate self, and so on. Each disparate part wanting to be heard.
As in any relationship though, we need to get the opposing parties talking to achieve the peace we desire.
So here is the exercise: Write out a dialogue between any 2 parts. Have them go back and forth with an intention of being curious, compassionate and creating resolution, while being honest about the feelings along the way. This dialogue usually arrives at some kind of insight or resolution within 10-15 minutes of writing.
Frustrated Self (FS): I’m so angry, I don’t know what to do with myself! And you’re not helping.
Timid Self (TS): I know but I’m scared. I don’t know what to do either! What do you think would help?
FS: I think it would help if you’d be willing to x, y, z.
TS: But I’m afraid. What if I fail? Etc…
One client had a dialogue between her angry self and her scared self. Going into it she thought her angry self would do most of the "talking", but it turned out that fear had a lot to say! It was very illuminating for her.
I took to the exercise myself in an effort to bring reconciliation between the part of me that wants to lose weight and the part that is resistant to giving up excess food. On the other end of the dialogue I felt less self judgment, more compassion and greater willingness to stick to my food plan.
This exercise is perfect whenever you’re trying to break a habit but keep repeating the same pattern (frustrating much?). Or if you want to trust something or move forward, but a part of you is scared and holding you back. It can also help bring clarity and integration when approaching big decisions. To have a baby or not to have a baby? To home birth or not to home birth?
Let me know if you decide to give it a try. I’d love to hear how it goes for you!