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Dealing with our inner conflicts

You may have noticed that whenever you are pursuing a goal there’s an inner struggle that takes place. On the one hand you have a deep desire, dream or goal for your life. And on the other hand you experience challenges, obstacles and roadblocks. The pursuit seems difficult.

These conflicting forces within us are natural. We are hardwired for them. Our hearts long for vitality, wellbeing, joy, love, freedom. But we also have a natural instinct to survive and stay safe which keeps us cozy in our comfort zones.

As we pursue our dreams and desires we are taken out of our comfort zones and when change starts to take place we get scared. Fear creeps in and doubts arise because our brain wants us to stay safe and secure in our old ways.

These conflicting forces to play big but to also play safe are neither good or bad. They just are. We need both of them. Frankly, they keep life interesting, exciting, challenging.

These natural forces within us show up every day many times as we face life’s decisions and choices. We call these critical moments of choice:

For example:

  • Do you eat the healthy lunch you packed for work or go to the local greasy spoon for lunch with your coworkers?
  • Do you go to the gym at the end of the day or stay at work late to send that one last email?
  • Do you spend your Sunday afternoon prepping healthy food for the week or flop on the coach and watch Netflix?

You can see there are always two paths (or more) in these moments of choice. One path leads you toward your dream of a healthier more vibrant life. The other path leads you away from that goal.

If you end up choosing the path that leads you away from your health goal, you might think something like, “Oh I sabotaged myself. I have a saboteur living inside of me that just doesn’t want me to succeed. I’ve become weak and to self-sabotage.”

Let’s reframe this shall we because self-sabotage actually feels pretty judgement and critical. As a coach I practice judgement-free awareness and believe that this self-sabotage way-of-thinking really doesn’t get us very far. It doesn’t get us to the truth of the matter.

In coaching we like to think of it in a different way.

It’s not self-sabotage, it’s self-preservation. 

You are simply dancing between these two innate forces. What you might call the saboteur is really your natural tendency to stay safe. Let’s not call that bad. Instead welcome that part of yourself that keeps life interesting, knowing that it is a very crucial aspect of your survival mechanism. It’s what keeps you safe and protects you in dangerous situations.

Next time you find yourself in one of these critical moments of choice – between pursuing your dreams and giving in to your imperative to stay safe, – I offer the following technique to help you get to what the true roadblock might be:

  • Take a pause and become aware that you are in this critical moment of choice.
  • Can you be with the conflict? Notice the dance and pull between the two forces within you.
  • Feel what’s happening in your body. Do you notice sensation of any sort? Tingling, sweating, tension, tightness, knots, stress, breath, etc. Where is your energy centred and focussed?
  • What are you thinking? Is there an old story/pattern/thought coming up? One that is keeping you stuck from moving forward?
  • If yes, how can you reframe the story into one that propels you forward toward your dream/desires?
  • And finally, can you make a more mindful decision based on this new story?

If you notice you do have old stories, patterns or thoughts that are keeping you stuck from achieving your dreams of a healthier life, I’d be honoured to help coach you through this process. I’m accepting new 1:1 clients in January. Drop me an email and we’ll set up a time to chat. 

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