Hello sabotage. Please come in.

Identities. 

I mean, I’m certain I have heard the word before…

But you know how you hear something that you’ve heard before and for some reason at one particular moment in time it lands with you in a new and different way?

That describes my relationship with identities.

I was at a coaching mastermind just a couple of months ago when I became acutely aware that there are different parts of me that show up in different situations.

Like, distinctly different people.

You see, there’d be moments where I was confident and bold and fierce in my language and advocacy for another and yet, there’d be other moments (in the same day or the same hour) where I felt insignificant and not good enough and like I needed to learn more before I could serve others and fully step into my powerful self.

Does this sound familiar?

In the past I have sometimes felt like a crazy woman, so if you’re thinking the same thing about me, it’s cool.  But, keep reading.

Here’s my truth:

I’ve spent over 25 years of my life trying to pretend these parts of me didn’t exist.  I shoved them in the closet (Think of it like what you might do when company is coming over and you don’t really have time to clean…) and slammed the door shut in the hopes that no one would see these “less desirable”, “unattractive”, “weak”, and “ugly” sides of me.  When my closet was overflowing, I began shoving them under the bed.  Shoving, and all the while, smiling at the world.  My exterior facade would say, “Everything is perfect.  I’m great.  I’m handling all aspects of my life brilliantly.”

And yet, internally I was terrified that you might see one of my “under the bed monsters”.  And if they happened to sneak out in a vulnerable moment, I would give ’em a low, hard, back kick and through gritted teeth, while I kept smiling, there was a stern, “Get back under there where you belong.  I’ll deal with you later.”  

What I’ve been able to discover is that the person shoving others in the closet and under the bed, the person who was being verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive to me was not actually me.

Not the REAL me anyway.

She was one of my identities.  Keep Up Appearances Kate.  She was working in tandem with Perfect Paula.  And if I slipped up and into fear, doubt, worry, or had a vulnerable moment where I showed weakness… Punisher Pam was ready to bring on the emotional, mental, and sometimes physical reprimand for my behavior.

And together, they were slowly crushing me.  The real me.

I was on a coaching call in 2016 when, for the first time, I shut Paula down.  I was DONE.  No more pretending.  No more acting as if my life was perfect and that I could flawlessly handle all of it.  That story was bullshit and I was exhausted and burnt out from telling it.  I wasn’t always “okay”.  I didn’t always feel “good”.  And I was tired of pretending.

Because of this new decision, the next step for me was to square up with my self-described “ugly” identities.  The ones waaaaay back in the closet.  The ones I didn’t want anyone to know about.  The unlovable, mean, fierce, and ferocious ones.  The ones no one clapped for.  The ones no one was proud of.  The parts of me that don’t love me.

Acceptance became my first real step toward attaining the elusive “self-love”.  Fully accepting who I was.

All of me.

And now?  Shit.  I meet new identities daily.  Just last week, I met Verbally Abusive Victoria, Self-loathing Sally, and I’m Sorry Stephanie.

The next day?  Overwhelmed Ola.

The day after that?  Self-Doubt Debbie, I Can’t Win Cathy, and Not Good Enough Natasha.

This week I’ve had encounters with many, many, many of my identities.  I believe it’s because I’m stretching.  I’m growing.  I’m expanding.  And with that, comes new layers to peel back, new sabotage to square up with, new identities to meet, and old ones to welcome back.

What do I actually DO when they show up?  Check out the 5 things that have been working for me lately.

 

1.  Name them.

I opened this conversation in a previous article, (See “Busting Through Your “Not Enough” Story in 4 Steps ) but it is important for you to differentiate your identities from YOU.  They are not YOU.  They are your sabotage developed by you.  Go ahead.  Give them a name.  As you may have noticed, I take what they “do” and use that in their name.  For example, “avoid”, “punish”, “second-guess”, or “busy work” turn into Avoidance Anna, Punisher Pam, Second-Guess Sally, and Busy Work Brenda.  I find alliteration to be helpful and fun.  My 2 rules?  Don’t stress about this part and don’t make them any part of your name.  Remember, they’re not you.  The objective here is that you’re able to distinguish and address them as a separate identity.

 

2.  Recognize when they’re trying to get your attention.

Notice yourself.  Become aware.  Pay attention to your urges, your head talk, your language, your gut reactions, and your responses.  Notice your habits, your actions, and your behaviors.  What are you doing?  What are you not doing?  What are you languaging?  How are you feeling?  Just notice.  Try and do this with no judgement.  Simply observe.  Stay as neutral as possible.

For example, how did I know Overwhelmed Ola was trying to get my attention?  Well, I heard myself saying things like, “I don’t have time to get everything done…  I am so overwhelmed…”  I noticed that I felt “off”.  I was unusually emotional, easily irritated, and sad.  I noticed that I crawled back into bed even though I had things to do.  I watched myself be needy and clingy and saw that I was seeking validation.

 

3.  Welcome them and invite them inside.

This may seem counter intuitive, but they’re showing up for a reason.  Invite them in.  Literally.  I said, “Why hello Overwhelm Ola!  It’s nice to see you.  Come on in.”  It may seem absurd, but it works.  I can’t speak for you, but personally, I would rather experience the transformation to freedom and come across as a little weird if the alternative option is to stay stuck in my stories while *appearing* cool.

 

4.  Ask them why they showed up, what they need, and engage in conversation.

Again, literally ask the question.

You can do this out loud (my preferred method) or you can journal, but you’ve got to ask the question.

In my case, “Ola may I ask you, why are you here right now?  Is there something you need?” 

The important piece here is to answer the above question as Overwhelm Ola (or whatever identity/sabotage has presented itself to you).

It is important that you let THEM speak.

In my case, it went something like… “Yes!  I need someone to acknowledge that I’m doing a good job.  I have a lot on my plate and I’m juggling a lot and I’m getting things done and no one is recognizing that.  No one is telling me good job and I’m struggling with getting it all done.  I just want someone to notice and recognize my efforts.”

5.  Love them.

Love them like you would a child.  I said, using a phrase I learned from Matt Kahn, “Ola, I hear you.  And I honor your power.”  Then, I proceeded to give her what she needed.  I said something like, “Ola, you are doing an amazing job.  I’m so proud of how you’re handling day to day life as an adult, how your navigating the early stages of buying a home, how you’re writing, coaching, how you’re taking consistent effort to build your business, how you invest time and money in personal coaching and training, and how you work your job all while trying to care for your fur babies, eat well, workout, and show up as the best wife you can.  You are crushing it and I while I know it’s not always easy, you keep showing up.  You are a champion.  A rock star.  A bad ass.  I love you so much.” 

Of course, your personal language will be different, but please allow it to be loving and supportive.

You cannot and will not abuse your identities away.

I know because I’ve tried.

6. Ask for completion.

Again, LITERALLY.

I said, “Ola, is there anything else that you need from me right now?”

She said, “I’m good.”

I said, “Wonderful.  Thank you for stopping by.  Stay as long as you’d like.  You’re welcome here.”

And you wanna know what happened?  SHE LEFT!  She didn’t stay because she didn’t need to.  She got what she came for.

Please note, if she had said, “No.  I’m not good.”,  I would have repeated a version of my earlier question asking, What do you really need right now?” and I would have continued affirming and asking until she was complete.

 

 

Of course every identity is different and each one will require individual attention.  This isn’t a one size fits all approach and I don’t want to portray it like it is.  Sabotage is personal, it’s squirmy, and it takes on different forms in each individual.

But what I know for sure is that my identities want to be heard, loved, and welcomed.  They want to be celebrated and embraced.  They’re seeking nurturing and reassurance.  The ONLY reason they are yelling is because they’re trying to get my attention.  When I fulfill their desire to be heard, there is no reason for the yelling to continue.

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Let me know if this resonates, if you’re willing to begin the process of awareness and acceptance of your identities, or if you have any questions!

 

Your “I don’t have time” story

“I’m overwhelmed.”

“I would, but I don’t have time.”

“I don’t have time to (or time for) ______________. ”

 

Go ahead and fill in the blank with all the things you SAY you want.  Fill the blank with all the things that you’re constantly THINKING about, all the things you JUDGE other people for doing and finding time for, all the things that you are intellectually committed to, but yet, you’re doing nothing about.

Let me give you some examples.  The blank is could filled with things like:  Eat healthy, workout, personal development, reading, writing, journaling, a mediation practice, a yoga practice, sleep, romance, sex, build my business, search for a new job, make the follow up calls, send the emails, make more money, market my business, take the class, do the research, learn the skill, and on and on and on….

 

Look, I get it.  Literally, earlier today I had a moment on a mastermind call where I heard myself expressing how I ONLY have 2 days to work on my business and how I CAN’T do anything Friday-Sunday when I’m at the restaurant where I work part-time and then I also NEED Monday for self care and Tuesday is my day off with my honey… How on earth can I possibly keep all this momentum going and still get everything done AND OMG NOW I’M FREAKING OUT AND I HAVE NO TIME FOR ANYTHINGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!

{cue self-induced overwhelm and dramatic meltdown}

You want to know what’s most insane about all of that?

I know that none of what I verbalized is ACTUALLY true.  In fact, it is complete bullshit.  I was pretending that in order to continue taking action on my dreams and goals I needed to have a totally clear schedule, this massive open space in my planner, this space in my life where all of the proverbial lights are green, and some big booming voice will declare, “ALL CLEAR!!!!” 

And, unless that happens, I obviously can’t do anything.  {massive eye roll}

Sounds ridiculous, right?!  That’s because it is!

In fact, that time will probably NEVER happen.  Not for me.  Not for you.  And, by me pretending that it’s a required element for me to achieve success,  I get to stay stuck in my “I can’t ever win and no matter what I do it’s never enough and I can’t get ahead.” BULLSHIT story.

You have one too.  The details may be different, but you have a story.

Thanks Michelle.  You’ve clearly identified the problem.  WHAT DO I DO ABOUT IT???

 

1.  Identify

 

Become aware of the story you’re telling.

How?

Fill in the blank from earlier.  Really fill it out.  Get out a pen and piece of paper and write the following…

I don’t have time to/time for ____________. 

If multiple things would go in the blank, write the sentence multiple times.  Complete it for each and every thing that resonates with you.

If you want to experience a shift, it is imperative that you are HONEST with yourself.  What is true for you?  What do you believe you don’t have time for?  If you get stuck, simply spend a few days in observation.  Listen to yourself.  What are you languaging?  Your language is a CLEAR indicator of what you believe to be true.

Notice without judgment.  You don’t suck.  You’re not worthless or stupid or incapable or a loser or anything else.  You’re human.

Awareness is the first step on the path to freedom.

 

2. Call bullshit on your stories

 

Recognize that what you’ve written are stories.  They may be stories you’ve repeated for a loooonnnnngg time, they may be stories that you think are true, they may be stories other people have told you are true, but they are stories.  Made up stories.

If you really desire the things you say you want, if you really want to live and experience a life of freedom, you are going to want to read these stories out loud and call bullshit on each one.

Stop lying.

Stop pretending.

Stop the excuses.

Stop all of it.

You’ve got to accept that if what you’ve written and what you’re languaging isn’t UNIVERSALLY TRUE, then your story probably, just maybe, is a little teeny tiny bit BS.  You have to be willing to look at what’s real and call yourself on your stories.  I’ll admit, it’s not easy to do on your own.  I recommend you get support.  I have accountability partners, mastermind groups, and coaches.  Today my coach boldly called me on my shit.  And when he pointed out what I was doing, I said something to the effect of, You’re right.  That’s bullshit.  I’m lying.  I’m pretending like I need a large chunk of time to build my business, I’m pretending that small progress isn’t progress, I’m lying when I say that I’m incapable of doing things on the days I work, and I’m creating my own overwhelm by speaking this way….

Listen, here’s the real deal:  If your kids or your spouse or yourself were in danger… if their lives or your life were on the line and the ONLY way to save them from death was to do the thing you swear you don’t have time to do, you would do the thing.  Period.  If that’s true, then the issue is probably one of the following:  Either the stakes aren’t high enough to push you into action, you’re behaving like something is more important to you than it really is, OR you’re pretending that the “thing” takes much longer and requires more energy than it ACTUALLY takes.

 

3.  Take SMALL action steps daily

 

The truth is, I don’t have all day everyday to devote to my business, but I do have a few minutes every day.  There are always minutes.  Can I spend an hour journaling daily?  No.  But I can spend 3-5 minutes.  Can I write workshop proposals and follow up with speaking opportunities every day?  No.  But I can spend a few minutes researching who I want to follow up with and adding to my list of prospects.  Can I spend a WHOLE DAY every week in self care?  Probably not gonna happen.  But, I can find moments every day to read or listen to healing music, or move my body, or play with my dogs, or be in nature.  I meditated for 4 minutes today because that’s what my schedule allowed for.  Some days I workout for 45-60 minutes.  Other days 15 minutes.  And other days I do squats and leg lifts while I brush my teeth.

 

 

We spend so much of our time talking about and thinking about how we don’t have time to do the things we want to do.  I propose if we simply used that SAME TIME to take ACTION, we’d see and experience progress.

 

Let me know if this resonates with you!

 

 

Image via quotesvalley.com