In Parts 1 and 2, I wrote about the thinking-feeling spectrum and how our tendency to prefer T or F leaves a shadow tendency that seems to play a strong but invisible role in how we feel and behave. I likened it to an ambivalent, sometimes hostile alien that resides within us, sometimes exerting a negative influence on us, without our knowledge.
Your alien thoughts/feelings can actually work for you, but you have to befriend it and become its ally. Like a temperamental child, the alien within wants to be recognized and heard. Failure to do so means the alien will ramp up the stakes, screaming and thrashing at me until I acknowledge its needs. Like an unruly toddler, that internal tempest wreaks havoc and damage until it is heard.
The hardest part is acknowledging the alien’s existence and dysfunction. But have you noticed that when you listen to a toddler and truly try to understand their world, they get strangely calm and cooperative? You can then negotiate with them, “I know you want to go have an ice cream sundae but we don’t have time to do that now. How about I give you an apple right now, or a cookie when we get home? Which do you want?”
Our inner alien is the same way. “I know the way your co-worker talks to you makes you feel unimportant and inferior, just the way your parents did when you were a child. You can believe it and feel angry and resentful, or you can go to the gym and work through your frustration and realize that this isn’t about you. Which would you prefer?” Suddenly, inner alien is cooperative, because she just wants to be heard and acknowledged. She’s your Lifelock monitor who alerts you issues (have you seen those commercials?) but it’s your responsibility to deal with the problem.
Make no mistake: she will scream in my head until I do. Furthermore, I’ve learned that she’ll scream at others through my tone, behavior, perspective and choices without my knowledge. Others can sense her, even if I can’t. Others refer to my alien as the b***. Now you know what I’m talking about.
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way as I’ve spent many years in denial about my aliens. I don’t always know they’re there, or if I do, sometimes I just can’t quite wrangle and calm them. It gets easier with practice and time. Now, I feel like I mostly have cleaned house, though I do still relapse and invite those crazy little devils back into my life. Living without them though is an amazingly light and freeing feeling. There are few things that I have done that have had such a profound impact on the quality of my life. And like all things I have been afraid of, shining a light on them always seems worse at first than it really is. They’re not scary in others. You see them. You know what they need to do. Do the same for yourself and exorcise that troublemaker.