By Libby Gill
You know those really bad moments in life that would be bad enough all on their own, but in addition to capturing you at your very worst – either as belligerent or reckless or just plain d
By Libby Gill
umb - they also seem to go by in slow motion? Those moments are like a scene out of an old Peckinpah Western with the bullets freezing in mid-air just before they mow you down, or one of those dreams in which every step feels as if you’re fighting your way through a pool of molasses as you flee the bad guys?
I had one of those awful slow-motion moments when I wrecked my brand new BMW. The steel blue BMW which, according to the salesman who’d sold it to me not three weeks before, matched my eyes perfectly. I never even saw it coming, but on a sunny summer afternoon in broad daylight, I made a left-hand turn into an intersection and sailed right into an oncoming car. While it was happening - in what seemed like slow-motion hours instead of mere seconds - I could see the guy coming toward me in his little red Honda, looking at me through the windshield absolutely aghast. I saw the accident coming, and I saw him seeing me see it coming, but neither of us could do a thing to stop it.
I learned an important lesson about my little blue sedan that day, and that was that in a collision, BMWs are designed to collapse around instead of on their drivers. I didn’t get a scratch on me and, fortunately, the man in the Honda wasn’t hurt either. My car was another story. My fresh-off-the-line, steel blue BMW that was so new it didn’t even have the plates on yet. So new I hadn’t figured out how to use the CD player or the in-dash phone. Here was my ultimate driving machine, less than a month old, and already a total wreck. I learned another lesson that day, having nothing to do with European auto design. I learned a lesson about deservedness. And that, for me, was truly a turning point.
As the halfway mark, Chapter Seven, not coincidentally, is the turning point of this entire book. We’re about to weave together all the skills you’ve learned so far about how to tap in to your internal voice. In this chapter, you’ll use that newfound self-awareness as you learn a dynamic method of communication which will allow you integrate the multiple inner messages which you are, by now, beginning to hear loud and clear. With a simple but extremely effective technique I call Naming & Taming Your Inner Voices, you’ll learn to identify and blend the multiple aspects of your personality into one dynamic integrated being who can communicate with nuance, precision and power. Before we move on to the Third Step, we’ll take that technique even further, into your day-to-day reality, as you master the art of Inner Voice Communication. You’ll become adept at making the shift from internal to external as you learn to hear distinct inner voices offering guidance and perspective from different aspects of your personality. You’ll learn to identify the voice that would be the most appropriate in a specific situation and to externalize that point of view with that aspect of your personality foremost in your communication. Whether you need to be assertive and direct, gentle and soft-spoken, or open-minded and curious, understanding your inner voices will provide guidance for clear communication.
When I wrecked my new car, my mind was running amok. One voice was consoling, one was chastising, another analyzing. It was like an internal tug of war, pulling me in all directions. Once I sorted out all my voices, I was able to stop being hard on myself for what was, after all, an accident. As I reminded myself to try a little self-compassion, I began to put the collision in perspective. Granted, it would be paperwork and financial repercussions. But no one was hurt, I was fully insured, and the car could be fixed.
So why couldn’t I let my consoling, or at least my analytical, side win out over my chastising voice? Why was I so convinced I’d done something unforgivable? Why did I feel I deserved to be punished? As it turned out, I had plenty of time to ponder just that.
When I took my car in to the BMW dealer to have it repaired, there were no replacement parts to be had. I rented a little subcompact, which was all that my insurance would cover. Ever frugal, I refused to spend a dime more than I had to and ended up driving that little car for an entire month before they located the parts we needed. Then, of course, came the actual repair time that was required to get my car running, reconstructed and repainted. As I drove what was clearly not my brand new steel blue BMW, I listened to all my internal voices, and the loudest ones kept telling me I got what I deserved. Instead of driving my beautiful new car, the biggest splurge of my entire life, I was right back where I was supposed to be. In that dreary little car with the cigarette burns on the upholstery and the driver side window that wouldn’t quite roll up.
But you know what? I rejected that punishing voice. I rejected the notion that I shouldn’t have a nice car. I rejected my whole Jane Eyre never quite good enough, always a servant never a guest, recurring life theme. In what was one of my life’s turning points, I declared my worthiness. Finally, I had begun to listen to my loving, nourishing voice, which told me I deserved all that life had to offer me. I deserved joy, success and love. And I certainly deserved my brand new steel blue BMW. In fact, I deserved a whole fleet of BMWs.
Whether or not you’ve ever considered it before today, each of us is a multi-faceted being. Think about the different aspects of your personality. Is there a part of you that you think of as the calming presence? A frantic or worrisome piece of you? Maybe a playful, energetic aspect to your personality? Now imagine each facet of your personality as actually having its own voice, articulating that aspect of your personality. That’s what I mean by inner voices. Some of these voices may be only internal. Others may be used to communicate externally, which we’ll discuss later in this chapter. Each voice represents a distinct part of you. Look at the list of examples of inner voices below to see if any of them fit you.
EXAMPLES OF INNER VOICES
The Long-Suffering Wife
The Earth Mother
The Loving Mom
Imagine a simple “Hi, how are you?” conversation and how different it would sound coming from each of the voices listed above. A greeting from The Sexpot would certainly sound different than one from The Loving Mom, as The Leader’s greeting would probably be far different from that of The Servant. In Tool #13, we’ll get even more specific as we move on to Naming & Taming Your Inner Voices.
I’ve told you much of my personal story from my recurring life themes to my healing imagery. You’ve already become acquainted with some of those internal voices I experience. Those voices represent facets of my personality, some of which are so different from each other it seems impossible that they could all come from one person. The truth is, you’re not one type of person. We are multi-faceted beings with a range of thoughts and feelings spanning the entire spectrum of emotions from light to dark. That’s why it has always bothered me when someone sums up my personality with just one quality, negating the depth and complexity we all possess.
For example, my mother called me “the picky Virgo.” Never mind that I’m a Leo - we didn’t get that straightened out until I was in my twenties. Even though the label didn’t stick, the sting did. It meant I was snobby and meticulous. In college, I had a professor who, for an entire semester, jokingly called me “the Inquisitor,” a reference to my relentless questioning. Well, you already know my theory on flip-side logic. I just turned those baggage tags right over and made them positive instead of negative.
Those were other people’s tags for me. I’ve learned to accept or reject them as I deem appropriate. Sometimes it’s a lot more difficult to change our own beliefs about ourselves. Right now, we’re dealing with what we – not others – believe about ourselves. Although some healers and educators might disagree with me, I don’t think it’s a matter of getting rid of the negative aspects of ourselves, because I’m not convinced that doing so is possible, or even healthy. Rather than reject the negative aspects of ourselves, what we tend to think of as our dark sides, I believe we should acknowledge, embrace and even nurture those less desirable parts of our being.
For example, when I crashed my BMW, the negative or dark side of me came out loud and strong about my inherent unworthiness. I crashed the car, that voice told me, because I just plain didn’t deserve something that nice. My old belief, caused by all the little slights as well as the big traumas of my life, had become a wound which was linked to my dark side and manifested in that persistent negative voice. Although that feeling of unworthiness may never go away completely, I can now attribute it to one aspect of myself rather than give that negativity free reign over my entire being. Even though that dark side is still present, it’s now manageable. I control it instead of letting it control me. That’s an example of naming and taming our inner voices.
Rather than ignore or live in denial about our old wounds, I think we should see them for what they are, recognizing how far we’ve come in our healing process. These wounds don’t go away, they just scab and then scar over, and they can open up if they’re picked or prodded. We need to know where they are and what might open them up, in order to protect those vulnerable spots as we move along our healing path. That’s why it’s so important to be familiar with our various internal voices. So we can keep the negative inner voices in check and bring the positive voices forward when we need them.
I’ve identified a number of inner voices which are representative of the lighter and darker sides of my personality. When I hear their voices in my head or see them in writing my verbal meditations, they each have a distinctive rhythm and language. Some are strong and direct, others are more gentle. As I’ve refined them over the years, I’ve witnessed how useful these inner voices can be in managing different types of situations in my life.
First, there’s The CEO, my very adult and in-charge businesswoman. She is thoughtful and professional, always prepared and articulate, occasionally a little too over-bearing and driven. The Ever-Striving Mom is the voice of the parent that I try to be: loving and giving of my time and energy, but always with an undercurrent of unease that I’m not doing all that I can do as a parent. Then there’s The Saloon Girl, the rebellious part of me that can be quite useful in cutting through red-tape and corporate nonsense. She’s feisty, full of attitude and never afraid to say what’s on her mind. The Producer speaks for my creative side. I tend to think of that voice in male terms: he’s smart, strong, creative and always in control. Balancing out these disparate voices is The Diplomat, borne of my chaotic childhood, The Diplomat strives for peace and resolution and is often a calming voice in times of crisis or dischord.
Tool # 13: NAMING & TAMING YOUR INNER VOICES
After participating in one of my workshops on Naming & Taming Your Inner Voices, a police detective came up to me in tears, profoundly affected by the exercise I’m about to share with you. She told me that as a female officer she knew she had to approach her job differently from the men with whom she worked. She understood full well that, at different times, she was expected to be super-cop, mother confessor, babysitter, one of the boys, and shrink. But until that day, she had never understood that what she was doing instinctively could be done consciously, that she could refine each one of these distinct roles, recognize which would be most effective in a given situation, and tune into the voice that would give her the guidance she needed in the moment. When her male partner needed an on-the-job collaborator, she was all super-cop, but when he was looking for a sympathetic ear to discuss a personal problem, she could soften into the more appropriate role of mother confessor or lay-therapist. When this concept came into focus for her, she discovered she had a powerful framework for thinking about and articulating different aspects of her personality as the occasion dictated.
As you’ll see, this method is applicable to your interactions with other people – at home, at work, or socially. The technique gives you the language and skills to help you communicate at an optimum level with your clients, colleagues, children, spouse, and friends. I’ll give you an example. Two TV producers to whom I’d taught this technique were trying to coach a relatively inexperienced actress for a series of television commercials. In attempting to be “a TV personality,” the actress had lost the girl-from-Nebraska quality that had landed her the job in the first place. As the producers helped her get back in touch with her “Midwestern Girl” voice, she nailed the approachable essence they were looking for and sailed successfully through the production.
Are you beginning to sense how useful this tool can be in your everyday life? I’ve had people tell me the Naming & Taming Your Inner Voices exercise has given them confidence, clarity and the ability to communicate more powerfully and effectively than ever before. It’s not all that difficult to master, as you’re about to see. Here’s what I want you to do. Read through the following description a couple of times, then go to the place that you’ve already designated as the spot where you can relax and meditate comfortably, without interruption. Don’t worry that you’ll forget the specifics of the exercise; if you have the big picture, you’ll be fine. Alternatively, if you want someone to read the exercise for you, enlist a trusted friend or partner and have them slowly and gently guide you through this meditation as you relax and focus.
Let’s get started:
1. Close your eyes, relax and concentrate on your breathing to get into a deep meditative state. Release any tension you’ve been holding onto, focusing on different parts of your body as you let go of stress.
2. Picture a dinner table – which could be anything from a giant banquet table to a humble kitchen table – around which your dinner party guests will be seated.
3. Now look around your table and imagine all the different aspects of yourself sitting there. They might be warm and friendly toward each other, standoffish and distant, or even combative. Allow yourself to create an image or character for each of those aspects. Get a clear sense of each one’s demeanor, gender, age and style.
4. Go around the table, from one character to the next. You may have as few as three or four or as many as a dozen. Now, allow yourself to give each character a voice as they introduce themselves by name. For example, “I’m the Judge,” “I’m the Long-Suffering Wife,” or “I’m the CEO.”
5. After you’ve let your dinner party unfold, taking note of the dialogue and relationships among your inner voices, it’s time to bring your gathering to a close. Pick a unifying gesture – a song, a cheer, a toast, or a prayer – to conclude your dinner party and bring a sense of completion and unity to this meditation.
6. After you’ve finished your closing ritual, open your eyes and come back to real-world focus. Immediately record the names and descriptions of your inner voice characters in your Traveling Hopefully Daybook, as well as any remarks about each one.
How was that experience for you? Were there any surprises? Was there a leader among your group? Who was hesitant to enter into the conversation? Who was talkative? Was anyone argumentative? Were your voices at war? At peace? Can you begin to get a sense of how and when you would call upon a particular aspect of yourself, using that voice to aid you in your communication? Either to give you encouragement when you need it or to remind you to forgive yourself for mistakes.
SHIFTING FROM INTERNAL TO EXTERNAL
I originally created the exercise above as a way to understand and rationalize all my conflicting feelings about myself, my work, and my relationships. Back then, I thought most of my problems had to do with my career. If I could just climb up to the next rung on the corporate ladder, everything would be fine. So I used Naming & Taming Your Inner Voices, as well as the following exercise to help me communicate more effectively on the job with colleagues, both subordinates and superiors. Only later – after I’d had my midlife epiphany and decided that I would do what was necessary to ensure that the second half of my life would be much more joyful than the first half – did I begin to use this technique in my personal life as well. That’s when I began to look at my negative recurring themes to see how my management of my inner voices was either helping or hurting my growth. As the positive voices that brought comfort and inspiration into my life began to grow stronger, and the darker, negative aspects receded further into the background, I began to examine my external actions, starting with my career.
After heading up corporate communications and media relations departments at three major entertainment companies, I’d finally admitted to myself that I’d worked really hard to get exactly where I didn’t want to be. I began to form a plan, which was the genesis of The Fourth Step to Jumpstart Your Life - creating a Traveling Hopefully Personal Roadmap – which we’ll discuss in a later chapter. I had reached a crossroad, a turning point brought on by my burning desire to change. That’s when I began to figure out how to tune into and manage my inner voices so that they could help me speak out, transforming my life, first professionally and later personally.
Since I firmly believe that chaos breeds opportunity in the workplace, I waited until the moment was right, when my company was going through a major corporate transition, to make my move. After turning down yet another senior communications position, which would have taken me even further down the path I didn’t wish to travel, but which most people seemed to think was a great move, I pitched for a “creative job” developing reality shows. That may not seem like a badge of honor to a lot of people, especially now that reality TV’s been done to death. But the freedom and fun involved in developing television shows instead of promoting them after someone else has created them, was a huge turning point for me. To the surprise of many people around me, although not to my inner guides who were just waiting for me to get my creative act together, I was actually good at my new TV job, taking creative ideas and developing them from concept through production. Finally, I was doing it – I was successfully working my way down the corporate ladder – toward a life that suited me, all of me, much better than the one I’d been living. I lost my senior v.p. stripes, my staff, and a ton of management headaches in the process. Instead, I found the courage to come out the shadows and start traveling hopefully, one baby step at a time.
A couple of baby steps forward often meant a big step backward. Even though I was beginning to change internally, that didn’t mean those changes were manifesting externally. This period of baby-stepping into the changes I had envisioned was precisely when I wrecked my BMW (did I mention that it was steel blue?) and had to begin the arduous task of naming and taming my inner voices all over again. As I went back to all the tools that I’ve shared with you in this book, retreating to my healing sanctuary, having long conversations with my future self, and posing powerful questions every night in my Traveling Hopefully Daybook, I finally understood the message – the negative life theme – I’d been feeding myself about how I was undeserving and unloveable and how that had resulted in a devastating lack of confidence and self-esteem. That’s when my internal voice of compassion drowned out all the others - and I crossed over to an inner feeling of worthiness.
Gradually, the people around me began to see evidence of my transformation. I had changed jobs, bought and wrecked a new car, lost twenty-five pounds, and grown my neat working mom hair long for the first time in years. I gave all my buttoned-down corporate suits to a women’s shelter and bought all new clothes that reflected my newfound style. Bold, fun, sexy. Eventually, after some fashions don’ts that made me feel like a lounge singer wannabe, I learned to manage which of my inner voices got to vote on my wardrobe. I found a hip but slightly more conservative look that fit the new me. I was successfully learning to integrate all aspects of my personality, and it was, undoubtedly, beginning to pay off. Whether the outside world applauded or threw tomatoes made little difference - I was willing to be noticed.
Just because I finally began to feel worthy didn’t mean anyone else had noticed anything new, except my size 4 leather pants, that is. There might have been a little less of me, but other than that, I was exactly who I’d always been before – the hardworking, never too demanding, always there to serve employee. Only now I had a few secret weapons to call upon, namely my inner voices. When I felt I needed a little righteous indignation because I’d been slighted on the job or just needed a dash of feistiness to pull off a risky idea, I’d unleash the rebellious Saloon Girl. Or when the stakes were high on a creative project, I’d bring out The Producer who had the guts and pizzazz to throw any idea on the table, undaunted by potential criticism. And, of course, The CEO was always right there, diplomatically managing and balancing it all like a true professional. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t playacting a role. This was all me, just guided by the inner voices to have the confidence and communication skills I needed to suit the scenario.
Since I was now finding myself in unfamiliar situations and meeting new people regularly – the creative, high-power types whom I would have found intimidating just a little while before - I needed to find a way to navigate these uncharted waters. I took my system of internal communication outward. Now that I’d harnessed my inner voices and learned to bring them out when I needed them, it was time to try a little role-playing with the inner voices of the significant people in my life. Let me explain what I mean.
You know that moment when your boss walks in the door and, just from her “Good morning” or “Any calls?” you can tell what kind of mood she’s in? You know immediately if she’s the “Boss from Hell” or the “Magnanimous Mentor.” You’ve already summed her up her mood, non-verbal behavior, and tone of voice, and can probably imagine the inner voices that are dialoguing in her head. Some people call this intuitive process “reading the room,” and it’s a survival instinct that can help you enormously in your personal and professional lives. If you’re not sure that you possess those skills - or maybe you’re not even sure what I’m talking about – don’t worry. You’re about to develop them. If you’ve already got great people instincts, we’ll be taking them to an entirely new level as we learn a process of inner voice role-playing a key conversation with the outcome you desire, between you and a significant person. From there, it’s only one more step to have that conversation in the real world. Hold on, as we make that shift from internal to external through Inner Voice Communication.
Tool #14: INNER VOICE COMMUNICATION
Just because I was starting to feel the affects of my transformation, doesn’t mean the people in my life necessarily transformed along with me. I had work to do, and that’s when my internal communication went external. I developed a way of thinking about how my inner voices would dialogue with other people’s inner voices, then how that process might take place in the real world. It’s what I sometimes call “writing the script and waiting for the moment.” It allowed me to role-play different conversations, discussions, even professional presentations, before taking them to the external level. Sometimes it was uncanny how closely a real conversation mirrored the inner voice one I’d just had in my head.
1. IDENTIFYING THREE KEY INNER VOICES OF A SIGNIFICANT PERSON IN YOUR LIFE
In a moment, I’m going to ask you to choose a key person in your life, then identify three voices which represent different aspects of his or her personality. You can consider those aspects of the other person in isolation or in relation to you, or both, whatever is more useful. I’ve looked at a number of colleagues in this way and also think about my children’s key voices. Whether you do this exercise with or without the person’s awareness is up to you. If you choose to clue him in as to how you characterize his voices, make sure you choose your appropriate voice to do the job so you’ll be received as communicative and not manipulative. You’ll see what I mean by that when you read #2 below.
Here’s what I want you to do:
- Identify a significant person in your life with whom you regularly interact. Pick someone with whom you’d like to improve communication or deepen the relationship. This can be someone you’re involved with romantically, professionally, or as a friend or family member.
- Next, think of three distinct aspects of his or her personality that you are aware of. Ideally, these should be aspects of this person with which you are familiar and can think of in terms of having distinct voices. If you need some help, look back at our list of Examples of Inner Voices.
- Now, just as you named your inner voices, give this person’s three key voices names or titles that exemplify those particular aspects of the person.
Since I just told you about my switch from corporate to creative professional, I’ll use the example of Lonnie, my new boss in my development job.
Here’s how I thought of three key inner voices I heard from Lonnie…
1) Big Brother. Lonnie was one of the best bosses I ever had. He is very comfortable being in charge, and at times I could clearly hear a sort of protectiveness, almost like a big brother.
2) Creative Partner. Lonnie has great creative instincts and also enjoys collaboration, both welcome traits in a creative executive and a boss. But he’d had to overcome an unjustified industry perception that if you didn’t come up through the creative ranks or from another industry where you held a creative position, you weren’t creative. Hooey.
3) Tough Guy. The flip-side to the Big Brother, Lonnie’s Tough Guy could be very protective but also a little dangerous. A pissed-off idealist, the Tough Guy came on strong, but instead of wanting to talk things through, he’d rather break your kneecaps.
2. IMAGINE A CRITICAL CONVERSATION BETWEEN YOUR INNER VOICE AND THAT OF YOUR SIGNIFICANT PERSON
Now that you’ve identified three key personality voices in your significant person, we’re going to look at a critical conversation between your inner voice and theirs. This is a great way to determine the content, tone and timing of important discussions like asking your boss for a raise or dealing with delicate relationship or parenting issues. By choosing your appropriate inner voice, as well as identifying which voice you want to tap into in your significant person, you improve the chance for a quality dialogue with an outcome you’ve already determined and rehearsed. Your conversation won’t always go the way you’ve envisioned it, of course, but you’ll greatly increase your odds for success.
Going back to my relationship with Lonnie, let’s imagine a scenario where this concept could be effective. Say, for example, that I wanted to convince Lonnie that I was the right person to oversee a creative project that was extremely challenging because of the high costs and difficult personalities involved. Using Inner Voice Communication, here’s what I would do:
- Identify the inner voice which could most effectively have that conversation with Lonnie. I pick The Producer, who has the leadership skills as well as the business and creative savvy to pull off the job.
- Determine which of Lonnie’s key voices to whom to appeal. I pick the Creative Partner because this project definitely calls for collaboration.
- In my mind, I create the scenario of my Producer talking to Lonnie’s Creative Partner. I state my desire to handle the project and offer compelling arguments to support my request.
- I envision Lonnie’s Creative Partner reacting to me, knowing from past experience the types of arguments and objections he might raise. In my mind, I deflect these and further support my case.
- Finally, when I feel that the real-world moment is right and that Lonnie is receptive – that it, that my Producer can effectively appeal to his Creative Partner – I open the discussion in the external world.
As Steven Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” In these key conversations, you will have already determined your desired outcome and the arguments you’ll use to support it. By rehearsing the discussion in your head, your inner voice speaking to your significant person’s inner voice, you can try out tactics and role-play objections without risking the real conversation. That’s how Inner Voice Communication builds clarity and confidence.
Here’s a recap of the process. Now you give it a try:
- Identify a critical conversation you’d like to have with a significant person in your life
- Determine your best inner voice for that discussion
- Identify the appropriate inner voice to which you plan to appeal in your significant person. In other words, are you asking your Needy Child to approach your Bean Counter Boss for a raise? You might want to reconsider that match, and have your Rising Star speak to his Nurturing Manager.
- Imagine this key conversation. Add a few challenging twists and turns, so you can be as prepared as possible for the real conversation.
- Now take your internal conversation external. When you sense that your significant person is most receptive, open your discussion with the inner voice you’ve chose to represent you in this particular scenario. Find the tone that will most likely evoke the inner voice of theirs that you’ve predetermined is the best fit for this conversation.
Maybe you’re one of those rare people who finds the right tone, the right arguments, and the right moment every time you have a critical conversation in either your personal or professional life. Perhaps you even enlist a trusted advisor to coach you before you try out the real thing, as I frequently do with my clients. I applaud your foresight and preparation.
Most of us, however, just plunge into career negotiations, relationship discussions and other key conversations with barely a second thought, let alone attempting the strategic approach I’m suggesting here. But what do you have to lose by trying out a discussion internally before risking it externally? Not a thing and possibly quite a bit to gain.
Let’s look at some of your inner voices and how they might – or might not – match up with the significant people in your life when having those critical conversations. See if any of your scenarios and inner voice match-ups are similar.
INNER VOICE MATCH-UPS:
YOUR VOICE THEIR VOICE MATCH?
The Leader The Follower YES
The Critic The Judge NO
The Champion The Servant YES
The Bean Counter The Overspender NO
The Bitch The Cheerleader NO
The Teacher The Confidante YES
The Loving Mom The Baby YES
The Sexpot The Worrywart NO
As they say in the car commercials, your results may vary. Obviously, these are generalizations to get you thinking about how different personality aspects might logically match up to each other. Relationships are multi-layered and unpredictable, of course, and opposites do occasionally not only attract but complement one another, so only you can judge the dynamics of your particular situation. Take your list of inner voices from the Naming & Taming exercise and line it up against the list of inner voices you identified from the significant person in your life to see how you think you might match up and.
This will give you a way of thinking about inter-communication so you can have your script ready and wait for the right moment. If you’re one of those people who always seems to get the tone or the timing of a key conversation wrong, this framework will be especially effective in helping you improve your communications. Like athletes who envision the golf stroke or the touchdown in their minds before they see it on the green or the field, inner preparation is half the game.
It all goes back to instinct and timing. Rather than waiting to guess how to interact with your boss, friend, spouse or kids most effectively, you’ll now have a process from which to initiate the interaction. Rest assured that this is not intended to minimize or over-simplify the complexity of human nature. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. It’s meant to help organize your thoughts and give you a constructive way to approach that complexity.
SUMMARY: FLUFFY BABY KITTEN GOES ON A DATE
If you think the “Fluffy Baby Kitten” reference in the title above means I’m about to tell you a Dick and Jane-style children’s story, guess again. Fluffy Baby Kitten was actually a label I was given at a business conference.
When I recently attended a three-day training workshop, one of the exercises required that we identify and label a characteristic in each participant that seemed to be under-utilized or shoved into the background of that person’s communication style. As you might imagine, it was an extraordinary experience to have a group of people you’ve only known for a couple of days sum up what they consider to be your most overlooked asset. This group had a pretty good read on me – they saw that I was cerebral, hard-working, and dynamic. They also saw that I was afraid of having other people take care of me or of letting the more vulnerable aspects of my personality come into a professional scenario for fear of appearing weak. The image they decided should be my reminder to tap into that vulnerable self was “a fluffy baby kitten that just wanted to be pet and fed.” It’s amazing how clearly people sometimes see us, even when we’re convinced that we’re able to hide certain aspects of ourselves.
I’ve never forgotten that very fitting and slightly comical image of the little furry kitty; in fact, it’s often the image I use when I’m in social situations like, gulp, first dates. That’s not really the time I need to be the hard-headed business woman or the complicated artist. I just need to be a girl – vulnerable, warm, and open to being taken care of on occasion by someone else.
As you can see, there are all sorts of ways to employ the tools I’ve shared with you in Chapter Seven, Naming & Taming Your Inner Voices and Inner Voice Communication, both at work and at home. Sizing up a situation in advance, including giving some thought about which of your inner voices is best to guide you in a specific scenario can greatly reduce your stress as it increases your effectiveness.
In the next chapter we’ll roll on with momentum, forging ahead as we tackle the beginning stages of creating a Traveling Hopefully Personal Roadmap by distinguishing goals from dreams. Unlike vague plans, which look toward the future but fail to hold you accountable for it, your roadmap will be a custom blueprint for change. We’ll actually be jumping ahead to the Fourth Step to Jumpstart Your Life which we’ll finalize when we bring your Roadmap to life in a later chapter. For now, let’s keep building your foundation for positive life change.