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Hands down one of the biggest obstacles to Living Happier is that nasty voice inside our heads. I call this voice the Monger.
According to the dictionary a Monger: “is a person who promotes a specified activity, situation, or feeling, especially one that is undesirable or discreditable.”
That is EXACTLY what our Mongers do they tell us how much we suck, how we are total failures, terrible parents, worthless employees and all around a loser of a person. (Sound a little harsh? Listen to yourself one of these days and I bet I am not too far off.)
In addition to making us miserable, these Mongers cause our anxiety to increase, leave us exhausted and frustrated, and they can keep us stuck and immobilized.
The truth is the Monger isn’t the enemy. It isn’t a bitch or an evil part of us. The Monger’s job is to keep us safe. Their sole mission is to scan the environment for any potential harm, risk or danger and protect us from it. The mission is a positive one; it is their method of completing this task that is the problem. They prefer to use shame, belittling, guilt and negativity to convince us that they are here to help us to keep us motivated and to protect us.
The thing is Mongers are tricky little foes. The Monger tends to go unchecked, and we believe everything the Mongers says without question. Even when we have the best intentions they can engage us in a battle of wills and unless we are aware, they will usually win.
Here is an illustration of what goes wrong when we deal with our Mongers.
Step One: Build Awareness: You start building awareness of when you hear the Monger’s voice. As you are building this awareness and hearing the Monger you engage in conversations like this:
Monger: “Way to go you just blew that phone call! What were you thinking telling the client you could get that job done in 10 days…there is no way…you are an idiot.”
You: “I know, I am an idiot. I am just going to have to work harder to get it done. I always over promise and then get myself in a mess”
You: “OMG There I go again listening to my Monger voice, I am such an idiot, I should be able to kick this thing ass. Why am I still listening to it? Oh my gosh, it is just keeps winning!! Why am I letting this voice control me? I am so stupid” (And probably a few more curse words in there.)
See what happened there? In the spirit of building awareness of the Monger’s voice, you end up belittling yourself every time you hear it.
You realize the idea is to be more loving and appreciative of yourself not belittling so you move on to:
Step Two: Try thinking positive and being grateful
You: “I am so negative about myself. I should be happier–I have so many things to be grateful for…I need to concentrate on those things and stop being so whiny about your life. Oh my gosh, I am so negative, even when I am telling myself to be positive I am negative..what an idiot I am. Let’s try again…Well, I am grateful for my job.”
Monger: “Well, you’d better be grateful because you are going to lose it if they ever catch on to how bad you are at your job.”
You: “Yep, you are right, I’d better take some work home tonight so I can get ahead and hit the deadline.”
Again the Monger won by telling you even when you are trying to be grateful how much you suck.
And then eventually it moves to:
Step Three: Actually, I think I need the Monger
You: “I mean really, what would happen if I didn’t have this voice telling me what to do. It keeps me on task, it helps me be successful, it gives me a high standard to reach.” I am grateful for my drive, for my need to do it well. If it wasn’t for this voice I wouldn’t be half as successful as I am.”
Monger: “Yep, you have a lot to get done today and you have wasted a lot of time…better get cracking and quit being such a whiner.”
You: “Ok I will tell my husband we can’t watch that movie tonight because I have to get some work done”
And there you are back to where you started from…with the Monger winning and you working late.
So what are you suppose to do? How can you deal with this very tricky foe?
There are 3 keys:
Compassion: We will never quiet our mongers without compassion for ourselves. Bottom line you can never have enough self-compassion.
Awareness: Build awareness of your Monger with compassion. The Monger is a part of you. It is a part of you who in a misguided attempt to keep you safe is treating you like crap, but it is a part of you. So when we yell, belittle or rationalize the Monger it just gets louder and more belittling. So start noticing when you Monger is talking and when you simply say, “Wow there you are again…you know I appreciate your help, and I don’t need you today.”
After my Mongers had spent the morning hammering me, I stood in the kitchen and said, “Stop, that’s it Mongers will not be entertained today so simmer down because I have work to do.”
That might happen once a day…it might happen 50 times a day. Building awareness with compassion takes time.
Honor the Truth with Compassion…your Monger might have some truth to what he/she is saying. In the example above, maybe you did overpromise on a deadline. Maybe you did underestimate how long something will take. Here’s the kicker, just because you did something wrong and made a mistake DOES NOT MEAN YOU DESERVE TO BE BELITTLED AND SHAMED. When we own the truth, we can then move on and make appropriate changes. We can make amends or learn how to do it differently fo next time. Honoring that we aren’t perfect, we do make mistakes, and we do mess up without the shame, and the belittling component is extremely important to working with our Mongers.
Remember: the goal isn’t to silence the inner critic. The goal is to build strategies, so you aren’t being controlled by the inner critic. You are building discernment and knowing when the monger is serving you or not.
Over the next few posts, I am going to be looking at Dealing with our Monger in much more detail. Including, addressing my favorite myth: We need our Mongers to be more productive.
***Special thanks to John Hain for the photo above—check out his website: http://www.Built4Love.com
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