Wednesday, July 8, 2015
As I am in the midst of my writing sabbatical and honoring the voice of my soul by taking this time to write, I realize that there are many other voices that need to be drowned out and ignored. Those are the voices of judgment, criticism, and misinterpretation about what I’m doing. Some of those voices are my own and some are not. What I’ve discovered the past few weeks is when others start questioning what I’m doing, this triggers my own self-doubts and the fearful voice in my head that also questions what I’m doing.
For example, last week I spoke with someone who read my last blog post about heeding my own advice and it was clear she either didn’t really read it or completely misunderstood it. She assumed I was making a major life change and becoming a full-time writer. Um, no. I had to explain to her exactly what was in the blog post – that I was taking a sabbatical… by definition this means a period of leave from one’s normal work. “Period of leave” being the key words here…
After she realized that perhaps she hadn’t read the blog post but made some assumptions based on word of mouth, she began questioning me on various things associated with my writing sabbatical such as what my clients thought of this and how they were reacting. Of course this was really none of her business but she was making it her business. In fact she was making my life her business and this was a trigger for me. After this conversation, I found myself questioning what I was doing and my decision to take the sabbatical. The discussion triggered my judgmental fearful inner voice that started to tell me I was crazy to take these few months off to write. Thankfully I have been coached by others and also coached myself enough to recognize that this voice was not that of my soul but of my fearful reptilian brain: my inner lizard. This is the oldest part of my brain that is trained to look for lack and attack situations. Martha Beck describes the inner lizard perfectly in her book, Steering By Starlight:
“The entire purpose of your reptile brain is to continuously broadcast survival fears—alarm reactions that keep animals alive in the wild. These fears fall into two categories: lack and attack. On one hand, our reptile brains are convinced that we lack everything we need: We don’t have enough love, time, money, everything. On the other hand, something terrible is about to happen. A predator—human or animal—is poised to snatch us! That makes sense if we’re hiding in a cave somewhere, but when we’re home in bed, our imaginations can fixate on catastrophes that are so vague and hard to ward off that they fill us with anxiety that has no clear action implication: The Republicans (or the Democrats) are trying to ruin our lives! Our feet are full of toxins, which can only be removed through the diligent use of coffee enemas! Every person’s fears are unique, but the themes of lack and attack are drearily repetitive. Because the reptilian brain is so thoroughly hardwired in place, and because (as medical psychologists recently determined) there is no way to stop it from broadcasting fear impulses…”
My inner lizard was triggered by a short conversation with someone who really had no idea what my writing sabbatical was about; and, because of this conversation, I had to remind myself of two critical things that we all need as we embark on new territory in our lives or make decisions that seem to go against the “normal grain of society”.
First, we must consistently surround ourselves with people who support our journey and support us as individuals. There is no room for naysayers and people who feel the need to enforce their opinions on you based on their own filter of life. We are each here to live our own unique experience and purpose. What is right for one person may be drastically wrong for another. Unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent others from judging what we do and enforcing their fears or uncertainties upon us. This is why, if and when you are at a vulnerable place in your life, doing something that is right for you but perhaps not deemed “normal” to society, it’s important to surround yourself with loving souls who will nurture and support you and your choices.
Second, it’s critical to always discern between the voice of your soul (what I call the Divine Self) and that of your inner lizard. How do you discern? It varies for everyone and also takes some practice paying attention to the voice of your Divine Self so you can fully make the distinction between that and the voice of your inner lizard. For me, messages from my Divine Self bring a sense of peace and freedom. They don’t instill fear or worry. They may not always be easy or wonderful messages to receive but the underlying theme and feeling is one of peace. There is a calm knowing in my gut that I am on the right path. The voice of my inner lizard tends to produce feelings of anxiety, worry, tension, and fear. She speaks in phrases such as “what if you fail, lose something important, or lose control?” without having any proof of such things. And, she wants me to make choices based on things like seeking approval from others or fear of what they may think. These types of choices automatically create feelings of tension or anxiety.
I also discern by using my body’s signals. When my inner lizard is in charge I physically feel tension in my gut or chest and heaviness in my shoulders. My Divine Self messages produce feelings of lightness in my chest and an overall feeling of openness in my body. Start paying attention to how your body responds to the different choices you’re making in your life and you will quickly become aware of whether you’re allowing your Divine Self to take the lead or are allowing your inner lizard to run the show. As I continue with my writing sabbatical (and my life) I know I cannot shelter myself from the opinions of others but I can shield myself from allowing those opinions and voices to trigger my inner lizard. I can stay tuned into the voice of my Divine Self so that the other voices are drowned out; because ultimately the only voice that matters and the one that won’t lead you astray is that voice of your Divine Self.