The horse shoe of have-to

Yesterday I thought about the dynamic my inner school master often starts, when it bosses me around. I’ve tried to draw what happens, to make it easier to understand.

At the bottom of the horse shoe is option 1. It’s my school master (the strictest form of my inner parent) drawing out my inner toddler (the least cooperative form of my inner child). One says “You have to”, the other one says “I don’t want to”. Sometimes my school master wins, sometimes my toddler. Either way, their fight leaves me drained.

The slightly milder version is nr. 2, the pink part of the horse shoe. The bossing around is less strict: “You should” – leaving at least some space to the possibility that it might not happen. My inner child responds with “I’m not sure I will”. A bit of a tricky situation: there’s less discussion, but who knows what will happen? If it doesn’t happen, my inner critic will have a field day: “You should have done that you… [insert appropriate form of unfriendly name calling].

Nr. 3 leaves more space. The schoolmaster has been replaced by a much friendlier form of inner parent, one who likes to give advice, to guide, to support – though from a place of authority still. The “you could” has that vibe that says “it’s your choice, but it would be wise if you did”. My inner child responds with “I might”. Which is meant as a tentative yes.

And there’s area 4… The green fields of “I want to”. There’s no inner parent, no inner child (or not much of them, anyway) just my healthy inner adult that says “I want to… more or less”. The more or less creates a lot of space. There’s room for making my bed for example. My inner child knows I don’t like that, and I don’t want that. My inner parent says you should. My inner parent wants it – more or less: it has arguments that matter to me, like that it’s hygienic and will make my partner happy. This way it motivates me to get that boring, repeating, senseless job done and don’t even complain about it (yes, my inner child has a strong opinion on this specific task ;)).

I’m now training my inner critic to say ‘well done you’, when my inner adult and me have gotten a job done. The inner critic is at a loss. It has way more experience in finding fault than in providing more inclusive feedback (both mistakes and things that went well).

I’m quite curious if you recognise any of these types in you: your inner critic, inner toddler, inner healthy adult? Never mind the exact words, they are loosely based on different types of theory and therapy I know of. For me, these are the words that describe those parts of me best. Yours may have different names, and different characteristics.

horse shoe have to

I haven’t written this much in ages. Thank you #NaBloPoMo, I’m enjoying it!

12 thoughts on “The horse shoe of have-to

  1. Smitha V

    👏👏great way to begin the NaBoPoMo. Love the way you’ve written it. I’m sure everybody can relate to this constant conflict. It differs with age and maturity and responsibility but it’s always there.

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    1. Angela van Son Post author

      Thank you! *Bows for the applause* 🙂 Yes, age, maturity and the feeling of responsability, but also mood sometimes. I think it’s a nice way for me to check: which part of me is holding me back, and what can i do about it? My constant journey as procrastination coach, with so many differents roads to take. Sometimes it’s a simple trick that works, sometimes I need to do more digging.

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  2. toetsie

    I love it! Yes, i have my creative wild inner child and my polite smart social all adequate behaving inner child. They need to work together and let each other be in their strength to make it work well and fine! Listen to each other to not have one ruin all by “don’t want to” or by ‘this is how it should be done!”. They both can blossom together.. that brings out the good stuff! ❤

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  7. TooFullToWrite

    I can get my inner child to behave much better if I give them sweets and treats as rewards for doing difficult tasks. Not good for my waistline but I don’t smoke and although I enjoy drinking, I don’t do it that often, so I can justify a bit of food as my vice, especially since I am not overweight either 🙂

    There are many times when I feel like being an adult is such a chore and a bore and that childish ways give you so much more freedom (but then the inner adult has to find the balance between the push and pull of what each one wants otherwise nothing productive will get done). I agree that it is all about fostering teamwork between the two and giving yourself the creative flexibility to achieve goals without punishing yourself if you don’t meet them all in the day you are doing them, particularly if you are stretched for time and they are things that require a lot of commitment and effort to get them done. Just pick yourselves up, dust yourselves off and try again tomorrow until you get there, both inner adult and inner child be jumping for joy in the end 🙂

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