For almost two weeks, I would set up the chairs, or yoga blocks, or even just mark places outside and attempted the exercise again. Sometimes I just felt so uncomfortable being the criticizer role that I would stop, sometimes I was unable to really speak for the criticized and sometimes I got stuck in the role as the compassionate observer. Just observing both roles and while I started to gain insight into these aspects of my personality and how they were both constructive and destructive it took time for me to find words, to be able to truly speak from a place I don't often hear in my own head. That voice usually comes out when I am talking or working with people, or writing, it is not a voice I am tuned into on a regular basis.
Which is part of what the exercise was about, I am very quick to comfort, confront or console my friends; but when it comes to me, I have such a different attitude. I believe because the experience will pass it is not worth asking for help, it is not worth telling people you might be struggling, or to put it bluntly I tend to see myself as not worthy of my attention.
When I was in Denver I listened to this woman perform "At Last." It was beautiful, and as I watched her I wondered about what voices she hears after she steps off stage. Every person has all these roles and plenty more inside of them. I know that I have a lot of dialogue going on in my head, maybe that is why I am drawn to writing. However her passion, her drive, her love of singing is so intense that she continues to perform regardless of what those voices say, what any of them say even the encouraging ones. She just does it, and I can only imagine the hours of work she puts into singing, and the hours she has spent consumed by critics and still chosing to get up there, to share.
What did all this mean to me? It meant deep down somewhere I know I am worthy, I am love able and I belong. It meant that because no matter how many times I failed at this exercise and felt stuck, there was a part of me that believed this would help me. That was the part I needed to tap into, the passionate part that keeps me moving each time I want to give up.
I set the chairs up in the living room one day, and things just flowed, from each character. Did I stutter? Yep, did I feel awkward and did I have a dialogue telling me that I must be doing it wrong, yep! Did it feel like the exercise lasted forever; yep! However for tiny moments, I was those roles, no other dialogue was present and parts of me were seen and heard. Because all of these roles have a place, and I needed to understand that they exist for a reason, and then I needed to accept that no matter how many times I hear the opposite, I am worth it. I am worth all the expressions, I am free to explore any role that I chose, all it takes is practice.
Now I get to dive back into reading the book for a couple of pages before the next exercise. Trusting that, the little voice of the compassionate observer will start to grow and I will start to listen more. Maybe the voice isn't weak, maybe it is just I have spent more time focusing on the other roles?
Question of the day: When is the last time you got so caught up in what you were doing, that you didn't even notice all the chattering and buzzing happening around you?