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A different look at The Happier Approach characters not just how we talk to ourselves but how we interact with others. Which character are you? How do you interact with those around you?
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This is Episode 88. Are you a BFF, Biggest Fan, or a Monger?
Hello, gang. I am happy to be back here. I’m talking about the characters in my book from The Happier Approach in a slightly different way today. So if you have or haven’t read the book, I think you will find this intriguing because it’s a different way of looking at this concept. I have written a book called The Happier Approach: Be Kind to Yourself, Feel Happier and Still Accomplish Your Goals. That book is available on Amazon. You can buy it, listen to an audiobook or Ebook or a physical book, whatever you feel like doing.
In the book, I talk about the Monger, the BFF, and the Biggest Fan, and these are the three voices that are in our heads and relate to our productivity and how we talk to ourselves. To give you a quick refresher on the voices and what the characters mean, I’m going to talk about the Monger first. And so the Monger is the voice of shaming and belittling, and this is the voice that a lot of us are used to. It’s a voice that’s telling us where we’re not living up to snuff, where we’re not doing a good job. This is the perfectionist’s voice, and you could do it better and who do you think you are and all of those messages that drive us all crazy.
So, the Monger is what a lot of people call the inner critic, and I called it a Monger because it’s spreading propaganda and encouraging us to be better by using shaming and belittling. The counter to that voice, which can drive us crazy and make us feel crappy about our lives, is the BFF. The BFF is all about fun. She wants to support you and let you have fun. She’s not so much into holding your feet to the fire, and that’s why she’s called the BFF because she is your best friend forever. She is going to make sure that you’re having a good time, you’re not taking yourself too seriously, that you can cut loose and do all that fun stuff. So, when the Monger becomes, that shaming and belittling voice becomes too much, in steps the BFF kind of as a pressure release valve to be like, “Screw it, have fun. Who cares?”
We get in trouble when we dance between those two voices. The middle voice that I like to call is the Biggest Fan. The Biggest Fan’s voice is there to help us feel good about ourselves and to be kind to us, but also hold our feet to the fire. So the Biggest Fan is the voice that’s going to be like, “Oh, sweetheart, oh, that was tough to get that bad feedback, but let’s figure out a way to improve. What do we need to do differently? This goal is important. How can we keep working on it?” Whereas the BFF would say, “Let’s have a drink, that was too stressful. I don’t want to deal with it.” The Monger would say, “I told you-you couldn’t do that. Who do you think you are? You are such a loser.”
So, the three voices are constantly playing out in our heads. Yesterday, I did a presentation. I was fortunate enough to speak at this leadership conference for women, and afterward, a few women came up to me to talk about how these voices play out in their work environments, with how they talk to each other. It was an interesting way of thinking about it because I had always taught it from the perspective of the voices are in our heads. But we also personify these voices in how we interact with people around us, and so it’s helpful to kind of think about it that way in the sense of in our relationships, am I a Monger to someone? Am I being a BFF? Or am I being a Biggest Fan?
Let me give you an example that might help reframe this. If you think about a Monger, and that is someone that shames and belittles someone, we tend to be Mongers sometimes to those we love when we see they’re not reaching their potential or we see a bigger picture for them. So, we can do this with our kids or people we’re mentoring or people we are trying to pull along. We can use shaming and belittling as a way to motivate them. At least that’s what our intention is. We think we’re motivating them, but in reality, we’re just making them feel like crap because we aren’t encouraging them. We’re just pointing out their flaws, and pointing out flaws is not a motivator.
So, to recognize am I being a Monger to my employees, to my kids, to anyone that I’m mentoring or trying to pull along. To that same extent, am I being a BFF? Am I giving my employees or my best friend a pass and not helping her hold her feet to the fire? Am I saying, “It doesn’t matter. That’s no big deal. Who cares that your boss said that”? When in our heads, we know it’s a big deal. We know it matters that her boss gave her negative feedback, and we know that it would be helpful for us to help her figure out how to work past that. So, when we’re acting out of the BFF, and we’re just in the, “I want to make you feel better” mode or “I want to whip by this as quickly as possible so we can get back to the fun part of the evening,” we aren’t doing a service to our friends or our co-workers. Or anyone else that we know that are struggling when we’re immediately trying to pick them up and pull them along and get them into the fun place.
This is where, if you’ve listened to me for a while, you know my favorite phrases of think positive and be grateful step in. So we as a BFFer (that’s a new way of saying it) tend to scoot on by any of that negativity or anything that’s bad. You tend to pretend it’s not happening and you’re the one headed up to the bar to get another round rather than sit with someone and help them move through it. One of the women that came up to me yesterday was talking about the people on her staff and how they are all BFFing each other instead of encouraging each other to grow and learn. They’re not giving each other that tough feedback.
I want to talk a little bit about what does that mean to be a Biggest Fan for someone. And the way this works that I hadn’t even thought about, which I’m so excited about, is if you can learn to be a Biggest Fan for someone else, you can learn to be a Biggest Fan for yourself, which is the whole point of The Happier Approach. This may be another way of expanding on this concept. By practicing being Biggest Fans to those around us, we can also learn how to be a Biggest Fan to yourself. And so how do you become a Biggest Fan? And it’s the same as you do it for yourself. You’re going to acknowledge what they’re feeling, “Wow, that must have been hard to get that feedback.” Or you’re going to acknowledge to a co-worker, “Wow, that must be hard to be supervising staff that isn’t getting it, and it must be hard to give a negative review about that.”
So, to be able to meet people where they are and listen to what it is they’re saying without jumping in to give advice. Without jumping in to solve the problem, without shaming and belittling them, just listening to what it is they’re feeling and mirroring that back to them to say, “Wow, that must really be hard to be that uncomfortable,” or to be that sad or to be that angry or whatever it is that person’s feeling. And then to help them pull back and see that there is a big picture, to see that there is more to the story and how can we solve this problem and I’m here with you and we’re doing this together. Where do you need to go? Who can help you better than me? Who can give you better resources? How can we get in the nitty-gritty of this situation and tear it apart and look at it?
Another way of being a Biggest Fan is to ask the person you’re with, “What do you need from me right now? Do you need me to be a BFF? Do you need me just to cut loose and have fun and let’s not worry about this right now, or do you need me to unpack this with you and look at the situation and come up with some, some answers here? What is it you need?” When I come home with a problem my husband will frequently say to me, “Do you need me to give advice or do you need me just to listen? What are we looking for here? I need to know before we get diving in.” And that’s a great way of being a Biggest Fan because a Biggest Fan is empowering. They’re going to give you the power back to say, “What is it you need in this situation right now and how can I give that to you?”
Figuring out how you’re showing up for people is a powerful way to find out how you’re showing up for yourself because those of us who tend to be Mongers to other people tend to have a strong Monger themselves. And to the same extent, those of us who tend to be BFFs for people tend to have a strong Monger for ourselves because we are tired of the Monger, and so we just want to comfort the person so much and give them so much love and have fun and we don’t want them to feel bad.
We have a hard time being that Biggest Fan because the BFF is all about making the other person feel better. The Biggest Fan is also all about making the other person feel better, but they’re also about helping them move forward, helping them figure out what needs to happen next, helping them solve the problem, not with advice, not with solutions, so to speak, but with kindness and discernment and wisdom and offering them grace and compassion. So, it’s a harder concept to unhook the idea of the Biggest Fan, but it’s one I want you to be thinking about. How are you showing up for those people around you? Are you being a Monger? Are you being a BFF? Are you being a Biggest Fan? And how is that? How would you like to change that? How would you like to show up for people differently?
I would love to hear from you, and you can let me know how this resonates with you. You can send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can also reply on Facebook. Hit a reply to this post and say, “Hey, this is what’s bugging me.” Either way, I love to hear from you. I have a request for all of you. I don’t usually do this, but I’m trying to get the Happiness Hacks Podcast to be heard by more listeners, and the one way to get it to be heard is for more reviews to happen.
So, if you enjoy this podcast, please go and leave a review. You can do that on iTunes, and it will help more people find me and find this podcast, and you can just simply go to the website, live-happier.com/episode 88, and I will have instructions for you on how to leave a review. I would appreciate it if you could just head over there and leave a review and let people know what you think of the podcast.
Just a quick reminder, you can purchase The Happier Approach and dive deeper into these characters. It’s available on Amazon. Google The Happier Approach and you will find it. If you’ve read The Happier Approach and you’ve enjoyed it, leave a review there too. The more reviews, the more people hear about the book, the more people buy the book, the more we can spread this amazing message.
So, that’s the show. Thanks for listening. Here’s to living happier.
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