Most people seem to have more than one voice in their heads. They have these internal running ‘monologues’ that are really closer to dialogues or even committee meetings. Different parts of ourselves want different things for different reasons. This can make decision making confusing, frustrating, sometimes feel impossible.
I’ve had more than one client this week who was playing tug of war inside themselves. Two different needs, two different priorities, each holding their own ground, and the client stuck going nowhere. Trapped between competing values, competing desires, they end up immobile. Sometimes this tug of war can go on for years. I’ve heard so many people come to coaching saying ‘I’ve wanted this forever, I don’t know why I can’t do it!’ I’ve said this myself. One part of us has wanted change, while another part of us has wanted to maintain the status quo.
The most common tug of war I see with clients, probably because of the growth mindset nature of coaching, is the battle between change and safety. Am I willing to strike out in an unknown direction? Will I make an internal shift, and try things that are scary, uncomfortable, out of my control? When we start down these paths, it’s common for our saboteurs, our survival strategies, our past ideas, to swarm to the front of the internal conversation. They are acting as protectors of us, of our safety, they try to maintain control for the sake of our security.
The simplest definition of courage is being afraid and taking action anyway. Courage is allowing the dreamers, the visionaries, the gut truths inside us be the conversation guides and the decision influencers. We don’t need to completely shut down our saboteurs, but just allow that their truth might not be ‘the truth.’ Just allow for other perspectives, other guides, to come to the internal podium.
I think I keep noticing this with clients this week because I’m in a moment of being in internal dialog myself. I’m hearing loud, internal, potentially conflicting calls for both safety and courageous action. I know what my values are, and I’m in a moment where two of my strongest values are not totally aligned: one is to do the right thing, to pursue justice relentlessly, for all, and the other is to keep my family safe.
One of the blessings of my work is knowing that I don’t have to chose one. I don’t need to be frozen in indecision, and I don’t need to be reactive in time honored ways. I can trust these two quite different core values, and move forward down a path where they are not in opposition but in alliance. Where there is internal room for both voices to be heard, accepted, and to collaborate together on my next steps. Where there is even room for third and fourth voices to come in to the conversation, to question and challenge these values, and also to uphold these values as my truths. I can explore how far I can push the boundaries of my courage and where it feels essential and prudent to hold a line of safety, and whether either of those are more flexible than I imagine.
This is really up for me today, and I could use your support to not end up in a tug of war. My community, would you please hold me accountable? Please support me in finding more and more of my courage, in showing up in ways that will be effective and impactful, in seeking opportunities to support justice that will land. And also please support me in assuring to the best of my ability the safety of my family, in not becoming paralyzed by fear or demoralization, and instead taking proactive steps toward their safety. And the safety of all. When I have moments of feeling I have to choose, please remind me that I do not. That these are my values and I can honor them together. That they provide each other balance and can be aligned with each other. Would you please do that for me?