Do you ever feel like there are two different parts within you, fighting it out?
One part of you knows what’s rational and reasonable. This part of you says things like: “Okay, you can have one cookie, but that’s it,” or “We need to eat a salad for lunch because that’s what reasonable people do.”
Then there’s another part of you — the part that likes to go a little crazy. The Crazy Part caused you to eat half a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream while you were watching Game of Thrones the other night, when you weren’t even hungry and the ice cream made your body feel bloated and weird afterwards.
Many people deal with this feeling of having two parts by trying to shut down the Crazy Part. “I just need to get my act together and stop eating so much candy!” is something I hear a lot.
But here’s another — far more useful — approach I want to offer:
Assume that all parts of you are fundamentally rational.
If you assume that all parts of you are fundamentally rational, then that Crazy Part isn’t crazy after all. It’s actually just rationally responding to a series of issues that you are not yet consciously aware of.
If all parts of you are rational, there’s no need to “shut down” the crazy-seeming part. Actually, just the opposite approach is needed — you need to listen to what that part is telling you. If it is having such a strong reaction, there is probably something really important that you need to know but aren’t yet aware of.
At this point, maybe you’re thinking to yourself, I’m a pretty self-aware person. I wouldn’t be missing out on something so big happening.
But here’s the thing. Most people I work with, both in my individual coaching practice and in the Dessert Club, are pretty self-aware people. I love self-aware people. And yet, every single person I’ve ever worked with — without a single exception — had more going on internally than they initially realized.
Maybe this is frustrating. If it were as simple as “I just need more willpower around sugar,” you could throw away all the sugar in your house and make one of those calendars where you cross out every day on which you don’t eat it.
But this “all parts of me are rational” approach requires you to undertake a complex and potentially messy process of self-reflection and self-discovery. What is actually motivating me that I’m not currently aware of?
To be honest, though, I actually think that I’ve given you the best news ever. You aren’t crazy! You don’t need more willpower! There isn’t a binge-loving gremlin living in your brain!
You are fundamentally rational.
And if you are fundamentally rational, but behaving in a way that seems irrational…well, I guess you’re going to have to do some sleuthing, my friend.