As humans, we are used to making excuses, taking the easy way out and procrastinating things we know need doing. With so much technology available these days at our fingertips, we can always find a way to distract ourselves from the main thing. It is part of our make-up and is hard to shrug off, especially when we are constantly listening to the voices that promote such thinking. However, as humans, we are also resilient and intelligent enough to know that there is usually a decent payoff from taking the road less traveled by facing our fears and doing the “right” thing. We just choose not to do it. It is too difficult and we don’t like difficult. We want easy.
Part of this problem lies with the ingrained elements of our personality that protect us from facing difficult issues. Formed in childhood as defense mechanisms, they become a part of us as we give them more credence and strength and become the critical voices in our thinking. They get stronger every time we do what they say and before we know it, they are our first port of call for advice. They come in all shapes and forms (more here) and appear when we are triggered and flood our head with all kind of dysfunctional input. The objective is to protect us, as they have since childhood, from their idea of risk and danger. This usually means shaming, avoiding or escaping responsibility.
Powerful as these voices are and at times, they can be very strong, it is essential to loosen their grip if we are to move forward, even if that means leaving our “easy-life” comfort zone. They will only release control when you can convince them (in reality..yourself) that you can take over and take definitive action to solve an issue. Anyone who has trained dogs will know that the more powerful breeds will become the “leader of the pack” if they are not given clear, consistent direction. When this is not forthcoming, they will see the opportunity to take over and run the show. This will lead to pulling on the lead, trying to direct the owner and dominant behavior. So it is with the “protectors”. Give them an inch, they will take a mile and take a lead role and expect you to be submissive.
Many people give a lot of energy to trying to keep these voices alive and kicking and are very happy to listen to them. In therapy, we spend a lot of time with clients making them aware of the consequences of listening too much, negotiating release of control and what that might look like. There comes a time when action is the only way forward….the best remedy for this is to step forward and make this choice . That means in reality, facing the very thing you are avoiding and solving it. This is also the best booster of self-esteem that I personally know. Getting through things and consistently. So next time you are experiencing an internal conflict where you can feel the influence of the “protectors”, take charge, be solution-focussed and go for it!