The Board of
Private Enemy #1

Board of Mis-Directors

These are the guys you don't want running your life - but all too often, they do. More...

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The Board of Mis-Directors PrimerBoard of Mis-Directors Primer
The Board of Mis-Directors - our internal dialogue, inner critic, etc. - takes us in all sorts of unproductive directions.  And they're just plain mean!  Yet, they are surprisingly, disturbingly effective at directing the course of our lives.

What to do about these guys?

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Board of Mis-Directors Tactic: Take It Personally!

On The Relationship between the Board of Mis-Directors and Distractions and Seductions

Just What Is a Raging Magma Life?

Distractions? Seductions?

Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute; what you can do, or dream you can, begin it; boldness has genius and power and magic in it.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Our Internal Dialogue: The Kernels of Truth

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who really wanted to be a writer. Her mother told her, however, that she couldn’t make a living at that, that she needed a real job She was defiant, but her mother’s voice became a voice of her own, living inside her head. In time she grew up and got a “real” job and she pretty much gave up writing for a long time.

Many – perhaps all – of us have stories like this. Do you? Which of your passions or interests bring out the voices that say, “You’re not smart enough!” or “That’s too frivolous or selfish!” or “Sure, you can do that, but you have to do a few years – or decades - of preparation first!”

And then, when you actually do something, do you sometimes hear “Oh, my God, that was awful!” or “You’ll never succeed at that!” or “They didn’t like me!” – even when all signs point to a successful experience?

All of us have this internal dialogue. Perhaps we even consider it to be the voice of common sense! But true common sense moves us toward our goals. These voices cut off options, stop us from doing something that truly matters, tell us why we shouldn’t do it again if we have the gall to try it once.

Honoring PhenomeNEWS

This article was originally published in January of 2008 in PhenomeNEWS, the long-running Michigan paper. PhenomeNEWS ceased publication as of the end of 2008, approximately. We honor their 30 years of good work, and send them best wishes for their future endeavors.

But, what if…  What if we looked at these voices as neon signs identifying exactly the direction we most long to go?  What if we said the bigger the fuss they make, the more dire their warnings, the more certain we can be there's something of value to us there?  The challenge then becomes: How do we get to it?

One strategy is simply to write these voices down. While they run around inside our heads, elusive and unexamined, they carry a lot of power.  When we bring them into the light of day, we can often see their absurdity.

Try carrying around a small notebook. Anytime the "you can't because…" tirade begins, take notes. Don't censor, don't analyze - just give it some air.    Sometimes this alone allows us to see their deceit.

However, sometimes that’s not enough.  These voices typically carry some small kernel of truth.  Without this, we’d just laugh at them and be done.  But when they use reality as a basis for their drama, it can feel almost impossible to just dismiss them. 

If we listen to them wisely, though, these voices can aid our journey.  That means ignoring the insults, threats and high drama and just asking neutrally:  what is the truth in this?

In our own lives, we find it helpful, and even fun, to do an audit of our voices to see what they have to teach us.  We start by 'fessing up:  here's the negative chatter in my head, what's going on in yours? 

Here are some examples:  

Devastating!  Paralyzing!  And yet, as we observe the results of our efforts and get feedback from those involved, we see that there is no external support for these extreme assertions. So, what are the grains of truth that these voices use as fuel for their attack? How do we get at this underlying truth, confront the falseness of these statements, and turn the ship around?

This is what we found:

Now, these are truths that we can work with!  These truths name what we can do to improve our skills and perspective.  There’s nothing here that says we can never do it again, or that we should take up a different line of work, or that we deserve to go live in a broom closet for the rest of our lives.

Here are some other common negative voices:

  1. I don’t look good enough.
  2. I could never succeed in this field.
  3. Nobody is interested in what I have to offer.

Sound familiar? What truth do you see here?  How about:

  1. Many people spend more time and money on their appearance than I do.
  2. To succeed in this field, I will have to work hard and smart.
  3. I don’t know the value of what I have to offer.

Now use these to open possibilities rather than close them: 

  1. What unique beauty do I have, and how do I want to invest in it?
  2. What leads to success in this field?  How can I build on my strengths?  What do I need to develop?
  3. It's time to find out the value of what I have to offer!   How can I start putting things out?

Our internal voices have plenty of information for us.  They tell us that we’re getting hot: we’re going into a place where our desire is high enough to provoke anxiety.  They also tell us something true about ourselves and our next steps – but not the thing they pretend to tell us.  What truths are hidden in your voices?

What's the relationship between the Board of Mis-Directors and Distractions and Seductions? Read more here!

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