“If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.” Don Draper, Mad Men Part II

 

Who is that narrator in your head telling you what you should be doing? (see Part I)

 S/he’s also the one telling you, “You better not _________(join an exercise class, try out for choir, raise your hand in class), you’ll make a fool out of yourself.” Or, “You’re not quite ready to _________(advertise your services, date, plant a garden),, wait until you’ve had more training, experience, lost a few pounds, or grown a few inches..” Or, “The more you worry the better it will turn out.” Or “Big Girls/Boys Don’t Cry.”

That voice is with you all day long, telling you who you are and interpreting all your experiences. He wants you to accept him as the voice of authority and reality. He’s very slick, perhaps, the ultimate “(m)ad man,” selling you his version of who you are and what will happen, seemingly in your best interest, but his everlasting goal is to make you as miserable as possible. He is the source of your negative thoughts. He uses your negative memories or fears to paint a horrifying picture of your future for your viewing pleasure. 

For example, your spouse forgets to take out the garbage. The mind chatter begins: “He forgot! He knows how important it is to me. He is inconsiderate and doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t love me.  I bet he rushed off to the office because he is love with the girl who sells sandwiches there. He said he had a great sandwich yesterday. Sandwich, my foot. He’s falling in love with her and they are going to run off and get married. I’ll be left with nothing. He’ll take the children, the house…I’ll be a bag lady …alone, rejected and left to die…”

The first step to “changing the conversation” is awareness that you are not your inner narrator. You have the ability to stand back and observe the narrator. 

Arguing will not work-he’s got every angle covered. Changing the conversation works. You become aware of the chatter. Pause. Breathe. (Always a good idea to breathe.)  And say, “Thank you very much Mr. Narrator (choose your own pet name), I am sure you have my best interests at heart. I hear what you are trying to say, but I am way too busy living my life to listen to you. Please take these tickets to______ (the ball game, Hawaii, the new Jon Hamm movie) and leave me be.” Or a simple, “So you think we’ll get a lot of rain this year?” or “Here’s a newspaper go sit in your favorite chair and read it.” 

If you don’t like what is being said in your head….don’t get sucked in to the muck and stuck…change the conversation…and release yourself.