I once complained to a therapist that I often felt there were competing voices in my head, each with their own agenda. I would say I wanted one thing, and an equally strong voice would assert that what it wanted was the exact opposite. Was I crazy? Did everyone mentally shadowbox with different parts of themselves?
My therapist told me, “We can think of our psyches as having a few voices, much like a boardroom in a company. All the disparate parts of us have a say, an agenda, and have something at stake. Each want their input and desires to be heard, to be important to the whole.”
Hmm…the conference table in my head. It was an image I never forgot, probably because it felt so true.
Sitting around the big conference table in my head were a motley cast of characters. I’ll introduce you to some of the key power players:
My Inner Child
(Usually around the age of trauma or woundedness.) In my case, she’s very young and suffers from fear of abandonment, pain from neglect, and a huge certainty that she’s not worthy of love. She doesn’t speak much but presses out with her feelings like a superpower and has infused many of our choices with her massive fears.
My Inner Man
To say I’m in touch with my masculine side is probably an understatement. I’m an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging – Myers-Briggs) to a fault and have a very unemotional, distancing, definite, pragmatic side that:
- loves to ‘splain things
- loves for other people to back the hell off cause I’ll take care of it my dang self.
- Loves to be in charge
My Inner Martha
She’s the voice that runs me ragged trying to prove myself through perfectionism. (Sorry to the real Martha if this is offensive but if I ever want to know how to loom my own monogramed entry mat with fuzz I harvested from my own alpaca, you’re my go-to.) A harsh taskmaster, she assigns certain chores on certain days and doesn’t like excuses or throw blankets that aren’t folded. She has a certain image to uphold and it’s a castle built on the back of the Inner-Child’s sense of unworthiness.
My Inner Teenager/Young Adult
This bodacious and resilient chick was running the show and had been since an early age. In fact, she stepped up and stepped in far earlier than she should ever have needed to. I’m forever grateful to her for that. She’s probably why I’m a young adult author.
Trainer Tracy and Lazy Susan
These two duke it out on the daily.
My Higher Self
The true grownup of the bunch, the wise older woman who whispered and urged, and helped make some of our better decisions on the rare occasion that she got a word in edgewise. In my journals, I’d taken to calling this woman my Higher Self or “HS” for short. She waited placidly in the wings; poised to step into her rightful place but the young star of the show wouldn’t let her.
HS was growing impatient. I could feel it like a warning.
It was becoming increasingly clear that it was time to name a new CEO of Tracy, Inc. Maybe even initiate a hostile takeover.
The truth was that living in a perpetual juvenile state was wearing on me, killing my spark, derailing my goals, and literally making me sick. I’d finally come to a point where I was willing to rethink EVERYTHING.
To allow the woman I wanted to become to emerge, there had to be a true retirement of the woman I’d been—a changing of the guard. Overthrowing a government is a violent enterprise and I could feel the resistance come up every single time I contemplated change. Someone with the emotional maturity of a twenty-year-old, sometimes sixteen, directed much of my life. No slight to twenty-year-olds, but that is not the age that should govern your midlife and beyond.
To give my inner young adult credit, she’s a tenacious go-getter. She is the energy of a stubborn young woman who won’t take anyone’s shit and who hasn’t been ready to let anyone tell her to sit down, take a back seat, or shut up and she was certainly not going to let anyone else take over her hard-fought life.
Frankly, it’s because she’s never trusted anyone but herself.
She had lots of reasons not to.
There are positives and negatives to the strong, stubborn energy of youth. The negative aspects are: lack of self-control, instant gratification, recklessness with my heart and the hearts of others, a truthful tongue to a fault, and the belief that she knows what she’s doing and doesn’t need to change a thing.
On the positive side, that vibrant, pulsing energy has pushed me to be bold and go after my dreams. It’s made me jump out of airplanes and get my pilot’s license. It’s been the burning coal in my gut to fight for myself and for those I care about, and the causes I’m passionate about. It’s given me the courage to dare and live according to my own plan, no matter how crazy that plan seemed to other people.
God, she is fierce.
In the most real sense, that girl has saved my life—a few times.
But I was beginning to see that different crises call for different saviors.
Recently, I was in crisis physically, mentally, spiritually, and professionally. And while I had no intention of abandoning my former selves (that’s probably their worst fear), I knew I needed to be led down this new path by an experienced, calm, wiser older woman. The woman who deserved to have her turn had been knocking on the door of our life while my adolescent pushed with all her might against her. The protracted battle of wills was fracturing me.
Chances are, the wise woman or man in you has given grand presentations to The Board on the possible life that’s waiting for you if you’d just make these few tweaks and changes. Are they being heard?
Books I’d read over the years alluded to a Higher Self. For many years, especially when I was younger, I understood it as an existential idea, maybe an all-knowing observer hovering above my life that could only be accessed through meditation or drugs or inherent holiness, which I was sure I did not possess.
I see that I was always holy enough to receive her. She was the angel on my shoulder when my devil wanted to play, she was there in the advice I somehow gave friends that was more full of grace and wisdom than I thought I possessed, and she was ever-present as my intuition. She was always there, not that I always listened. But she never abandoned or ignored me in return.
Now she was asking for me to allow her into being, to walk our walk, talk our talk, and love and mother and create, and strive as her—the highest version of myself. She’s asking for advancement.
I think It’s high time she was promoted.