Do you actually need that screaming voice in your head telling you to get out of bed? Is there a kinder way to treat yourself?
Tania is the name of one of my screamers. She’s like a personal assistant: in charge of the mundane parts of my existence — paying bills, doing laundry, looking for work.
She used to push push push, all the time, past the point of exhaustion: query editors! mow the lawn! build a website!
Tania made long, long lists — with tight deadlines — that tired me out just to look at them.
Out of desperation one day, I invited her into my morning meditation. “What!?” I said, “What is the problem?”
“You’re not listening to me,” she said.
“Because you are screaming,” I pointed out.
“I am screaming because you are not listening to me,” she said.
Neither one of us (and yes, I know I’m talking about a part of my own brain) likes chaos. So we made a deal. I would stop tuning her out, and she would stop screaming. It’s been a slow process, but it started like this:
“Pay the bills!” screams Tania.
“I can’t,” I say, “I don’t have the money.”
“Can you pay one bill?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say, “I can do that. I can pay one bill. But I was going to the library. Can I pay it later?”
“No!” she’d say, at the beginning. “Pay it now!”
After awhile, as I did what she asked when she wanted me to, she was willing to negotiate deadlines. As long as I kept my word, she was quite reasonable.
These days she seldom speaks above a whisper. And I’ve come to rely on her to remind me to take care of business. “The Visa bill is due,” she said last night. “Oh, thanks,” I said, and sat down and paid it.
When I ignore her – screaming.
When I listen and communicate – no screaming.
Which would you choose?
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