At the beginning of this year, in order to help me figure out why I wasn’t making progress on my writing-for-years-never-finished novel, I decided to recognize the elephant-in-the-room of my mind that represented this unfinished dream. I named her Erma. And decided to talk to her, get to know her, and see what insights I might get.
Why did I do this? Because I became addicted to reading The Fluent Self blog, and Havi’s technique of talking to monsters is exactly what I needed when I found it. After reading her ideas and thinking about my unfinished manuscript, the idea of Erma popped into my head. She’s not a monster, but she wanted to talk.
She said she’d been waiting for an opening, that sneaky girl. And I’m so glad she took it when she saw it, because acknowledging her has been one of the greatest things I could have done to move forward with my dream.
So then a few posts ago I recognized another elephant-in-the-back-of-my-mind by the name of Esther, this one grandmotherly and hat-wearing and blowing rainbows and talking to unicorns. Esther is all about the anxiety and fear that I let build up back there in my mind without acknowledging it, trying to press forward without admitting that I’m scared stiff most of the time. That which you resist, persists…so Esther popped up to say “hey there! Let’s talk about all this.”
And so today, out of the blue—after a lovely morning spent watching the royal wedding—Erma and Esther decided they wanted to sit down over coffee and chat to each other.
Otherwise known as What Happens When Sara Doesn’t Get Enough Sleep.
Take it away, ladies…
ERMA: Wow, since Sara stopped being stuck up and started talking to me, she’s gotten a lot done on her novel.
ESTHER: [blows rainbows and grins] Ahhh yes, the attention is nice, isn’t it?
ERMA: Indeed. How is she coming with your issue?
ESTHER: [adjusts her big yellow Queen-of-England-like hat] Well, she finally got round to asking me what I needed. We chatted. I explained that I’m just here to be grandmotherly, as she herself recognized when she first noticed me. I’m here to help, that’s all.
ERMA: Oh, to take care of her. I see.
ESTHER: Exactly. You see, I rather fancy myself a guardian of her inner psyche. There were a lot of Stress Soldiers mucking about in there, really getting in the way, beginning to stop things up. I kept trying to tell her about them, but she kept ignoring me, and finally I just got big enough that she could not ignore me any longer. Then she asked why I was there, and I explained. She needs to acknowledge the Stress Soldiers and send them back to the barracks (they’re just doing their jobs, of course). Letting them build up on the inner roadways just causes Psyche Rush Hour and the attending slow-down, and that’s never fun for anyone.
ERMA: Indeed. Things are definitely flowing better these days. Perhaps too well; I feel her get anxious when she has too many ideas for the book, but has to work on other projects instead.
ESTHER: Sure, that will happen. She’s getting better at understanding that there will always be Stress Soldiers around, ready to jump in and do their thing. Accepting that was a big step for her.
ERMA: Yes, it was! Does all this accepting mean you will go away? I hope not. I like having a friend.
ESTHER: Not to worry, dear. As long as she is willing to have me around, I’ll be here. And you will stick around as well, I hope?
ERMA: Of course. She has more than one book in her, so I see myself having plenty to keep me busy over the years.
ESTHER: Wonderful! Let’s make these chats a regular thing, shall we?
I suddenly feel more relaxed and calm. And beyond sleepy; I think a nap is in order.
I wish you your own dream-elephants, hat-wearing or otherwise.
Here’s to progress,
Sara, and Erma & Esther