Step One: What are my Fears, Concerns, and Complaints (right now)?
For example, “My office is a mess. I am lonely. I am fat, out of shape. The house is a mess. My parents are coming to visit. I need to do the laundry.” Note: Even things that seem “good” may show up here, like, “I did the laundry...finally.” Go ahead and write down whatever comes up at this time.
Step Two: “I AM...” or “I AM A...”
Ask: “What is the most nasty, critical judgment you have about each of the items in Step One?” Don’t be nice here. You might ask yourself, “What would a bully on a playground call someone who does that?” For example, “My office is a mess” might have judgments like, “I am a lazy slob, undisciplined jerk, total idiot, good-for-nothing-failure,” etc., etc.
Step Three: Step Three: Interpretation or Fact?
For each item in Step Two, ask: “Is this an interpretation or is it a fact?” Make sure to note the ones that seem like facts. Then go back to those and make sure that you get clear that they are interpretations, using a conversation with a coach if necessary. The idea is to go beyond knowing it “intellectually,” to actually getting that it’s not a fact about you. For example, “I am undisciplined” may seem like a fact, and you may have evidence for it. In other words, you may act undisciplined sometimes and the voice in your head says, “You are undisciplined,” like a factual label about you. To distinguish that this is actually an interpretation, you can use the test of “Can I get a bowl of this?” This is sometimes useful in determining a fact, like a bowl of soup, or a bowl of peanuts, versus a bowl of loser, or a bowl of undisciplined. You might also ask, “Compared to whom?” “Compared to what?” or “By what measure?” Are you more undisciplined than your neighbor? Your sister? O.J. Simpson? The point is to notice that you’ve created an arbitrary measure for what makes a “disciplined person” versus an “undisciplined person.”
Step Four: Is this Empowering?
Obviously, these interpretations will not be empowering. So, if living from this story (interpretation) is not empowering, what there is to do is create an empowering story or interpretation. Now that you’ve “cleared” the disempowering interpretation, you have the space to create something that is not a reaction to who you think you’re not. So, from there, what way of being or declaration will you bring to life today? Not a fix or change, but look for a quality or way of being that you want to bring to life. A useful way to access this is to envision life as a party. Like any good guest, you will want to bring something to the party. What quality or value will you bring to the party called life today? Then, post your stand all over the place. Use Post-It notes all around you. Have your stand surprise you throughout the day.
- Fears, Concerns, Complaints
- I AM...(Nasty, judgmental, critical voice)
- Interpretation or Fact?
- Declare a stand for the day
- Post it somewhere you can see, or set a reminder — do whatever it takes to BE your stand all day