I recently created an imaginary character called Ivan.
Does this make me insane?
I took this idea on because of something I had read dealing with the negative self-talk we all suffer from. The premise being if we can separate this talk from ourselves, then we can look at what is being said with much more objectivity.
He is very similar to the Ivan from the Rocky movie, big and brutish, but dumb as an ox. I chose this character because I knew I could outsmart, outfox, out talk him. I may not be able to beat him in a boxing ring, but I wasn’t about to take him on in a battle of strength, but instead a battle of the minds.
When I call myself stupid, and I find myself doing this often, then I take on that persona. But when I say that was a stupid thing to do I can separate myself from the action and in essence forgive myself for whatever I did.
When I hear that whisper in my ear that I am not good enough, then I create a toxic message that has me believe the idea I am not good enough. This negative naysayer gets in the way of me becoming my best self. Without awareness of this happening, I consistently prevent myself from being my best
Now I have Ivan, I can identify him as the person whispering this negativity into my ear and decide whether or not I want to listen to him. Being able to close my eyes and tell Ivan to go away and be quiet is helping me step into those situations that create my best self, even when they are scary. But on the other hand, when I hear Ivan talk about something not being a good idea because he wants to protect me, I can listen and make my decision accordingly.
We each have multiple personalities but are mostly not aware of them. Just think about yourself at work, I will bet that is not the same person that shows up on a date or hangs with your friends.
A cautionary note. I spoke with kids in my juvenile hall program about this idea, and they were all over it. They had a ton of great characters who they identified as their negative naysayer. But as I was talking to them about my negative naysayer, I forgot to mention this was a made up character in my mind who I could use as separation from the negativity. During the early part of my presentation, they all looked at me as if I was insane. Just because I had it clear in my mind, it didn’t mean I was making the initial message clear for them. I will also caution you against having a conversation with your Ivan in a public space, or in the presence of family and friends. You may end up wearing a white jacket in a padded cell.
Don’t get me wrong, my Ivan is not all that bad. He is after all just trying to look out for me with the limited knowledge he has. My Ivan came from my experiences as a child and early adolescent. Back then I was probably not worthy of some of the things I am now, and so he is acting from that place. Back then he saved me from a great deal of embarrassment and hurt. But because I have now grown, have new skill sets, and am more equipped to take on the world, I have to check Ivan is not making decisions from my past self.
Ivan lives in the much more powerful subconscious part of the brain where storylines were formed many years ago. Some of the decisions I wish to make now live in the far more recent frontal cortex part of the brain. When we look at these two in perspective, it is like a mouse charging at an elephant. So instead of taking it head-on, let’s be smart and call on our naysayer as an ally who can help win the battles as opposed to not having us take part in the war.
So, who is it for you that turns up and tells you that you don’t have great ideas? Who is it that whispers “don’t share,” or “you haven’t got what it takes to do that,” or “you are not worthy enough to receive that position?”
As you figure this out, you can give this character a name and even a description. Paint as vivid a picture as you can about this character. You can start talking to your naysayer, in the privacy of your own mind of course. Let this character know you are now aware of its presence and will only give it voice when it is appropriate. As you develop this relationship with your negative naysayer, you can hire them as a contractor when you need some critical advice or a reality check.
To finish, I recently heard a Science of Successpodcast with Todd Herman, the author of The Alter Ego Effect. What I got from the podcast is using this same principle to don a character to help you move into a more positive space. I liked what I heard and purchased the book. As I read through the book, I will work on another article on how my new positive alter ego takes shape.
As I always do, I will also take these ideas and teach the kids of Pure Game. Who knows, this could be the message they need to become their best self.