How do you get better at being you? How do you get past the stuck points - that gap between what you know you could/should do - and what you actually do? We have a vast amount of inner resource available to us to help get unstuck and learn new ways of showing up - and today we’re going to bring that resource online. Our guest is Erica Ariel Fox, author of the New York Times Bestseller Winning from Within. Erica is part of the Harvard Negotiation Project, and her book follows up where Difficult Conversations leaves off - addressing that question of “How come this still isn’t working even though I know what I’m supposed to do?” Often, it comes down to the inner work that needs to be done - so that the outer strategies can actually be effective for you.
(if you’re curious - you can listen to our interview with Sheila Heen, one of the authors of Difficult Conversations, here in Episode 59)
So - where do you start when you’re trying to figure out why what ought to be working...isn’t? How do you figure out what parts of you need attention, growth, and development? Let’s dive in!!

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Identify the performance gap: All of us have experienced times in which our behavior and actions were incongruent with what we wished we were doing or knew that we were capable of. Instead of being the reflective listener in a conversation you find yourself yelling… Instead of taking that walk you find yourself sitting eating the last of the cookies… Everyone of us has moments in which we know what to do, but do not do it. Can you notice these moments? Can you have a lookout part that observes the gap between intention and action? And can you work to separate this awareness from a judging part?

Talk to yourself! The process of going inside and checking in is critical in building self-awareness so that we can make new choices in how we relate to ourselves and the world. Slow down and begin listening in on your internal thought life. Are you constantly criticizing yourself? Judging others? Is your mind filled with gratitudes or grumblings?

Mindfulness moments: Make these internal life pulse checks frequent rituals. Perhaps you choose to check in every hour on the hour to see what you are thinking, feeling, doing, needing, and wanting. Taking intentional pauses to check in with your physiology and inner life leads to an increased sense of curiosity - the key catalyst for change. By listening with curiosity to the story you have of yourself at any given moment you begin to open to the possibility of growth and aliveness.

Centering on the continuum: As you turn inward can you find the 4 big archetypes? They are the Thinker, the Warrior, the Lover, and the Dreamer. Each one of us holds these four ways of navigating life and the world around us, however they may be elevated or deflated at any given moment. There is a middle ground with all of these- and we are constantly working with these parts to integrate them into a balanced whole. When centered these parts of ourselves are helpful, and can begin to give us counsel. Tune in regularly to see which parts are silenced, and which parts are on overdrive. By checking in on the status of these archetypes inside ourselves we can gather a lot of information regarding what we need more or less of.

The Thinker: A centered thinker collects information, synthesizes, finds logical answers, and remains open to changing their thinking. An elevated thinker might think they know the answer. They might stay convinced they are right and remain closed off to other perspectives. A deflated thinker is someone who doesn’t think their ideas matter at all. They are constantly questioning themselves, filled with doubt, and are rarely able to stand up for their ideas.

The Warrior: The warrior is the assertive part of ourselves. If inflated it becomes aggressive, if deflated it makes us avoid conflict and confrontation.

The Lover: The lover is the part of us that has emotional intelligence and is naturally inclined towards relationships. If this part is inflated we may become emotionally flooded and too dependent on relationships. If the lover in us is deflated we may devalue our emotions, and become distrustful of the emotional urges we have.

The Dreamer: The dreamer is the part of us that is connected with our imagination and with envisioning the future. It helps us get excited about the future, about possibilities, and helps steer us to what is next. If the dreamer is inflated we may become ungrounded and unrealistic. An inflated dreamer gets too far ahead too fast. A deflated dreamer feels lost with no sense of purpose or direction.

The Lookout: As we’ve already mentioned, this is the part of you that can be aware of patterns that are going on, who can assess which of your Big 4 is in the limelight (and which ones are lurking in the shadows). Your lookout helps you assess any situation and determine which of your Big 4 might need to step up more fully (and which might want to step back a bit) - as well as to notice the larger dynamics at work.

The Captain: In addition to the Big 4- we each have a captain. We want the captain at the helm, and the big 4 as passengers. The captain represents our capacity for high level functioning and integration. The captain helps us self-regulate and be conscious in our choices.

Take advice from the advisory council: If you are feeling uncertain about how to best navigate a process or a decision, try sitting down with a piece of paper and asking each of your big 4 if they have any advice for you. What is their perspective? What is their best advice to the captain? Then write from the captain’s perspective. - take in advice from advisory council. So much insight can come from honoring the ‘advisory council’ with your attention and attunement.  

Engage with your inner life. Running away or ignoring your inner life is dangerous and is very unlikely to help you in making good choices in relationships, work life, or community. Can you instead begin to engage in a genuinely open dialogue with yourself and all the different parts of yourself?

Make it concrete: In an effort to remain engaged with your inner life it can be helpful to have external reminders. Get creative! Find several small symbolic items to help represent the Big 4 and place them around your space. Imagine small altars that remind you to pause and check in. Finding what might represent each part is in itself a great way to get to know these parts of you more deeply.

Move around: Another important way to connect with the quality of each part is to move your body in ways that help you access this part. Take on the body posture of each part. By embodying each one individually with intention and attention you can begin to tap into the mood, values, perspective, and energy of the archetype. From here you can begin to gather their wisdom somatically and then integrate it emotionally and intellectually.

The Voyager- Another important archetype to recognize and cultivate in ourselves is that of the voyager. The voyager is a part of us that we can activate in order to help us on the path of exploration. It embodies a growth-oriented mindset and inspires us to remain curious, and to continually follow our impulse to learn.

Invite the Dreamer to help inspire hope: When our relationships get in a rut it is often because we have become stuck in a limiting set of dynamics and patterns. We reenact the same conflicts and conversations over and over again- sometimes without awareness. The Dreamer helps break these cycles by inspiring us to ask what is possible. When one partner begins to engage with the relationship from a Dreamer perspective, the entire dynamic can shift. Many of us are longing, perhaps subconsciously, for this part of our partner to show up. When it does, we can experience incredible relief and revived hope as it shows us that our partner is in a place of curiosity, openness, and engagement with the future. By taking some time to check-in with the Dreamer, you are investing energy in helping imbue your relationship with that critical sense of possibility that creates safety and spark!

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Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

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