We all have heard a lot about the value of co-operation, but have you ever considered whether or not you co-operate with yourself? This may seem like a nonsensical question on the surface, but if you think about it you will soon be able to think of many instances where parts of ourselves are in conflict.
You may decide to quit smoking or to lose weight, if all parts of yourself are in agreement, then it happens. But sometimes there is another part (or parts) that want nothing to do with this new regime, and so they will do whatever they can to sabotage the effort. One part of you may have been wanting to clean out the closet or garage for months. If you keep procrastinating, it just may be that another part has set up a roadblock. When you hear yourself saying “I really want to do it, but I just can’t seem to get it together,” that’s a good sign that there is some non-co-operation going on.
These non-co-operative parts behave a lot like some teenagers. They tell us that they really mean it this time, and they will do it, and then they don’t. Or they’ll say they already did it, but later you find out that they didn’t. They may even carry out the new behavior for two or three days, but then go back to the old habits. And if you confront them, they’ll either go into denial, or tell you that it was a stupid idea in the first place.
Now you might be thinking that it’s hard enough dealing with real teenagers without worrying about these imaginary rebellious adolescents in your head. But there is hope. Like the real teenagers, these parts want more than anything just to be heard. The more you ignore them, the more they’ll act out. So when you set a goal for yourself, it might be helpful also list all of the reasons why you don’t want to do what needs to be done to reach the goal.
You may not want to quit smoking because you’re afraid you’ll gain weight, or be too anxious. You may not want to clean out the closet because you are not ready to part with things that you know you no longer need. Once you have identified the resistant parts, you can find ways to meet the needs of that part. You may get more internal co-operation on quitting smoking if you plan snacks carefully, and begin an exercise program at the same time. You may be able to get at that closet if you give yourself permission to store unused items in the basement for a few months more to be sure that you won’t need them.
And just like real teenagers, sometimes these rebellious parts of our consciousness have a point, and they may be telling us something that we really need to hear. So if you can’t seem to get at cleaning the garage, or get stacks of thank you cards in the mail, maybe there’s a part that is telling you to slow down, do less, and enjoy more. And that’s a message worth hearing.
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