So there you are, rowing along in the sea of life, seeking out your little island paradise where you can find happiness.
How’s it going?
If you’re struggling, it could be because your mind has turned against you. A part of you may seem bent on ruining your chances of fulfillment. Why?
The mind can do that. Even the best of circumstances can be ruined by mental and emotional turmoil. An otherwise peaceful day in nature, a candlelit dinner for two, the best vacation, or a day at Disneyland – the Happiest Place on Earth – can turn into an instant nightmare when negative emotions erupt.
What happens on the inside matters most of all.
Here’s why the nightmare of mental distress, self-criticism, negativity and emotional turmoil persists, regardless of how good or bad the outside world may be.
Earlier in your personal history, parts of you that were deemed ‘unacceptable’ were tossed overboard and now they are screaming to be rescued. You’ve probably been attempting to row through life while ignoring them, but that doesn’t work.
They make noise because need a life preserver. When they notice you trying to leave them behind, they revolt in a plethora of ways. They may even try to capsize your little vessel.
These cast out parts of you are not going anywhere.
As long as you are trying to row away from them, they will be there to stop you. At some point, after being ignored long enough, they may even start to enjoy stirring up trouble. The result is chronic self-sabotage.
Is this what’s happening to you?
Here are some signs and symptoms that parts of you need rescuing:
You criticize yourself, even when you’ve done nothing wrong.
You lack confidence, even when you are perfectly competent.
You sabotage your goals – even important ones.
You sabotage relationships – especially important ones.
You lose motivation, even when you start out excited.
You are depressed, discouraged or down for no apparent reason.
You lack discipline, as if you end up not caring about what you really should do.
And so on. When parts of you need rescuing, you never really escape inner conflict. Some aspect of your identity always seems to be holding back, or lying in wait to ruin things. Self-doubt is high, confidence is low. When you set your mind to accomplish something, you may already know ahead of time that you’re going to fail.
What to do?
As the Captain of your vessel, your job is to ensure the safety of your crew. Forget about your destination for a minute. Focus on what you’re attempting to leave behind. Circle around, search for survivors and rescue them!
To be effective at rescuing cast out parts of ourselves, you and I need to understand a couple of simple yet very important concepts.
Most ostracized parts of ourselves were first rejected in childhood by parents, caregivers or peers. Our goofiness, inexperience, incompetence, ignorance, anger, etc…were looked down upon. We may have been ridiculed or humiliated for being the children we were.
So, we attempted with all our might to hide these parts of ourselves. We went underground, which may have turned into lying, cheating or doing who knows what in private.
As our conscious minds developed, we identified with our parents, caregivers and peers and sided with them in our hatred for these aspects of our identity. We joined in. We began to reject ourselves, leaving important pieces of our identify drifting in an open sea.
Therefore, there are two levels of the problem.
1) The original pain of rejection and
2) The continuing rejection that we are now perpetrating.
When we stop #2, #1 will also end. That’s how it works.
I got this idea when a coaching client said to me, “It’s like you’ve thrown me a life preserver to save parts of myself that I had been ignoring.”
I didn’t throw the life preserver. She did. I just helped her discover that it needed to be done and coached her along the way.
It can be a messy process with lots of back and forth. The struggling part has gotten used to the water. It doesn’t trust you. You don’t trust it. It takes a little time. And when the rescued part enters your vessel and returns home, what then? All this needs to be negotiated with patience and understanding.
The end result is worth the investment. You’re no longer at odds with yourself. No more inner conflict. No more self-sabotage. You find the inner peace you’ve been looking for and can hold onto it. You begin to navigate toward your desired destination with greater ease and hope – and actually enjoy the process.
It’s worth it. As I continue my own rescuing process, I can promise that you’ll never regret saving parts of yourself.