In the film “The Sixth Sense” the child actor Cole Sear said, “I see dead people.” Even if you never saw the film you likely recall this signature line. Well, you may not see dead people, but I guarantee you do hear deadly messages…all the time.
We life coaches sometimes call these deadly messages “saboteurs” or “gremlins.” They live in our brains and whisper into our consciousness. They tear us down, lead to feelings of hopeless, and can be unrelenting and life-long. These voices tell us that we are lacking something, that we are somehow defective. They are often messengers of shame that get in the way of our enjoying a powerful life.
The strongest saboteur that conspires to rob us of our confidence is the “Judge.” The Judge questions our value, worth, and self-respect. It makes us doubt our motives and performance and likeability. The Judge conspires to overshadow our intuition that wants to remind us of our goodness and capabilities.
This nasty saboteur was introduced to many of us by well-meaning parents, teachers, coaches, and (often not so well-meaning) peers. When we gave our best effort we often were told that we fell short. We had to do better, otherwise we wouldn’t make it in life. It’s one thing to encourage excellence. It’s another when a constant mantra of criticism discourages us from trying to succeed.
When we internalize the Judge its voice becomes a part of us: “You are not enough.” “You are too much.” “You will miss the mark again.” “You don’t measure up.” “Don’t even try because you’ll probably fail.” “Success is for the few, special people…and you’re not one of them.”
Judgment is at the heart of all the negativity we feel about others and ourselves. The Judge living in us will often notice others’ shortcomings because they remind us of ours. For example, many who struggle with weight learn to “hate” fat people. Children bullied for not being athletic often grow up hating sports. Youngsters who’ve been abused emotionally or sexually do not believe they deserve healthy and loving relationships.
The Judge reduces our expectations for our lives to the lowest common denominator. It tells us we have no right to enjoy a powerful, fulfilling life. And its voice triumphs over our best efforts to change. So what can we do?
Rather than fight the Judge, we can instead speak intentionally with our “Sage,” the wise, intuitive self. Using our intuition and our heart’s deepest desire we can counteract the voice of the Judge with the voice of wisdom, comfort, understanding, gratitude, appreciation, curiosity, self-management, learning, and listening.
The Sage reminds us of the non-negotiables that form the foundation of our lives. We sometimes forget these core values: empathy and compassion for self, hope, positive intentions, letting go of outcomes.
Sometimes it helps to name our Sage, to imagine what he/she/it looks like, to enter into meditative dialogue and ask, “What is the message you’d like to give me in this moment to counteract the saboteur?” Just wait and you’ll likely receive an intuitive message from your Sage that will shift you away from the Judge toward a new revelation of your worth.
The Sage gradually will restore your emotional boundaries and reboot the mind and heart to be in harmony with your clearest loving intentions. When was the last time you consulted your Sage? Have you given your Sage permission to dominate your Judge? When will you begin to counter the deadly messages and replace them with a new focus on your powerful life?