Note: This is the second post of the Playing Big Book Club series. If you want to read the first post on the inner critic, click here.
You’re Playing Small
A client of mine said recently, “I was meant to do more than what I’m doing right now.” I said to her, “You were meant to be more than you’re being right now.” She’s been playing small. Most of us have been.
How do we stop playing small and do the things we know we are meant to do?
In chapter two of Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message, Tara Mohr discusses your Inner Mentor. After reading this, I knew I had to share the book. Tuning in to your inner mentor is the key to creating the life you’ve always dreamed of living. The concept is simple, yet tremendously powerful.
Your Inner Mentor is the wise part of yourself. The part that is free from “shoulds”, expectations and the “I could never do that’s” (all inner critic). It is the part that knows what you’re called to do.
Tuning In to Your Inner Mentor: Visualizing Your Future Self
Tara shares a guided meditation she learned at the Coaches Training Institute that leads you twenty years into the future to meet your future self. Your future self is a wiser, more authentically expressed version of yourself.
Imagining twenty years into the future gives us a glimpse of who we are called to become even if we have no idea how we want to get there.
Here’s the guided meditation. (You will need to subscribe to Tara Mohr’s email list to download the file).
When I first did this visualization with my coach, Jac McNeil, I imagined a woman who lived in a home the redwoods that wore flowing silk shirts. She invited me in and we spoke while sitting on her white couch looking through the floor to ceiling windows to the forest. Her message: “Everything is going to turn out fine.”
And you know what? I believed her. I knew she spoke the truth. Even more importantly, now when I call on her, I still have the same sense of “rightness”.
This doesn’t mean that your life will become the way that you visualized it. I don’t want to live in California. I don’t like flowing silk shirts, they remind me of hide-your-fat-rolls-underneath-a-tunic, cruise ship fashion. But the voice of my inner mentor resonates. She was relaxed and wise. She created the life she wanted to be living. She was living close to nature. Her home was minimalistic but beautiful. She was intentional in her choices.
If things don’t quite fit for you, don’t get stuck on the details. Listen to what rings true in the message and wisdom of you inner mentor.
Inner Critic vs. Inner Mentor
In contrast to the harsh voice of the inner critic, the inner mentor’s voice is kind and loving. The inner critic offers long, complex reasons whereas the inner mentor’s wisdom is simple. My inner mentor says things like: Relax. Breathe.
The inner mentor is the voice Elizabeth Gilbert hears in Eat, Pray, Love when she is sobbing on the floor of her bathroom in the middle of the night. It tells her, “Go to bed, Liz”.
My inner mentor soothes my desire to fix things in my life right now. She provides a long-term perspective and reminds me in a gentle voice that this particular thing won’t matter in twenty years. She eases the grip of perfectionism.
Why do we always hear the voice of the inner critic rather than the inner mentor?
In part we are more familiar with the inner critic than the inner mentor because we hear the inner critic voice more loudly. The inner critic demands our attention. The inner mentor waits to be paid attention to. Where the inner critic rants and raves, the inner mentor speaks softly. The inner critic interrupts and invades our thinking. The inner mentor almost always waits to be asked for input before she speaks.
You have to ask your inner mentor for guidance. She won’t offer it unless asked. In contrast, my own inner critic, Margie, yammers nonstop about all the reasons I shouldn’t be doing something, or how it won’t work out, or how I’m not ready. Tell your inner critic: Thanks, but I’ve got this.
Tara says, “what is most important about the inner mentor is that she liberates you from playing big on anyone else’s terms and shows you what playing big looks like for you.”
The inner mentor is powerful. She is free from society’s (and your inner critic’s) expectations. She defines life on your terms for you.
Cultivate the Voice of Your Inner Mentor
Sometimes your inner mentor hasn’t been listened to for so long, the voice may be faint. Cultivate this voice. Ask your inner mentor: What would you do in this situation? What guidance would you offer?
Spend your time as she would. Act like she would. When you feel unsure or need support, turn to your inner mentor.
Your Turn: Join the Playing Big Book Club Discussion
What did you see in your inner mentor visualization? What wisdom did he/she offer? Share your insights in the comments.
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