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  • Writer's pictureJustin McLennan

Sidekick Tool Box

From the moment I wake up, that little voice in my head or as I call it, my inner child, starts rambling. He fills my head with tasks that need to be completed, reasons I need to rush out the door, and excuses of why I can’t do something. Before learning how to cope with my inner child, my days were rushed, stressful and not enjoyable. I was jumping from one task to the next, running on the autopilot my stressed self knew to run on.

The problem with our inner child is that it is a child who is trying to pass for an adult. It’s a child who worries so much about you and your future that he/she forgets to enjoy the little things in life. I like to refer to my inner voice as my inner child because that is who runs my world when I sit fearing about the day. Children don’t know the tools and resources that you have as an adult to make your life easier. And often times, we as adults forget that we have them too. It wasn’t until I learned that there are tools I could use to quiet my inner child down, that I started feel at ease and in control of my stressors. These tools help me to prove to him that I can take care of us, it is not his job and he can go play like a child should.

One of the simplest tools for quieting my inner child is making a list. Many of the times the voice in my head is going through all of the daily and weekly tasks I need to complete one by one in a recurring cycle. I see this as my inner child’s way of making sure I do not forget anything. A reminder every now and again can be great, but constantly going through each task repetitively can drive a person insane. My tool for letting my inner child know he doesn’t need to continue reminding me of these tasks is to simply make a list. Writing down the tasks at hand is my way of telling my inner child he no longer needs to remind me. He can stop repeating each task to me and go be a kid. Taking a few moments to make a list goes a long way for me and I believe it can for you too.

Another key component to quieting your sidekick is to help him/her see what is actually around them. Too often we are thinking about the past or our future that we forget to focus on what is happening in the here and now. For example, you may have just got home from work and you finally have time to relax and sit on your porch. You start to wonder off in thought, playing around with what happened throughout the day and then you stop and realize that you are now sweeping the floor at the same time. When did I start doing that? Without even knowing it, you let your sidekick become your autopilot, you turned relaxation into another task. A pivotal technique that I have learned that leads to greater happiness, is the ability to be mindful in the moment. Mindfulness means the ability to release our “doing” energy and create a “present” consciousness. Mindfulness to your sidekick means to see the world “as is.” Your sidekick doesn’t need to worry about planning how to get to the grocery store, make dinner, get the kids to bed and read a book all in one sitting…he already made a list of the tasks he wants to get done. Instead, your sidekick can embrace the moment at hand, sitting in the car with a warm cup of tea. Sure there might be traffic and horns honking, but he is safe and he is conscious.

The last tool I am going to discuss today, focuses on rewriting the stories my sidekick fills my mind with. This is a key concept we help our atheltes understand during our strength based coaching sessions. Typically, the story is negative because my sidekick wants me to step back into the safety zone where he knows I won’t get hurt. It sounds something like, “you don’t want to do this,” “let’s just stay here,” or “who cares if you don’t.” It’s a story that makes you live in fear of leaving your comfort zone. In the end, my sidekick becomes my verbal sparring partner. “Who are you to tell me what not to do?!” Each battle fuels the next and I find myself getting angrier with both myself and my sidekick. I had to learn how to rewrite the story my sidekick was telling me, turn the sparring match into a team sport. Arguing only ignited the fear of losing what was familiar for my sidekick, so instead I had to allow my sidekick to trust me and to trust that I had the tools to allow myself to stay safe. Life isn’t about staying docked on shore in order to miss the storm, instead it is about me showing myself and my sidekick's voice that we know how to use the wind to set sail. Each step I took toward a small goal that I had added to my list, was a new sentence in the chapter I was rewriting…and the novel is still a work in progress.

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