Do you ever catch yourself saying and doing something, then thinking to yourself “why the fuck did I do / say that!?”? Someone offered to introduce me to Elon Musk if (1) I write the email I want him to forward and (2) I include in the email a quote from Esther Perel about the work I’ve done with her on 2 TED talks (first here, second here).
It seemed like a fair offer so I worked with my coach on creating 2 emails for my contact to choose from. I send him everything as agreed and he replies me a long email back with how to improve the emails and questions about my coaching.
I worked with my coach so I’m confident about my approach and annoyed by his reply: he told me he would forward my email, not that he would first put me through a “test”. I answered to every questions and finished by explaining that if he's insecure about making the introduction, I don't want to deal with that.
It turns out I was full of shit.
When he replied with “I believe you asked me for suggestions for improvement...”, my initial reaction was "I can't believe he's now shifting the blame to me". Then I thought about it and went back to my original email to prove that he was wrong. That's when I found a sentence that had creeped into my first email:
“Are you happy to forward one or both of these, or do you have suggestions for improvements first?
I can't remember writing this sentence... but reading it made it clear that I was NOT as comfortable with my approach as I thought I was. Tthe problem was MY insecurities, and he replied exactly like I had asked him. Expressing his insecurities was simply a reflection of mine.
If something similar ever happened to you, you may have your own version of the insecure teenager who lives inside my head. His face is full of pimples, he has thick glasses, mid-length greasy hair, is socially awkward and feels insecure. He doesn’t feel like society wants him, and he constantly seeks validation and approval.
Sometimes it creeps into my life without me noticing, and takes control over my thoughts, emotions and actions.
We’ve all got voices in our head that are a combination of people from our pasts, stories we’ve heard and experiences we’ve had. When we notice the differences between the voices, it makes it easier to understand why we do or say things that seem not to match with who we “really” are (ie. who we want to be).
The voice that creeped into my email, I have named “the insecure teenager”. Other voices in my head include the obvious “mum”, “dad” but also “MacGyver”, the “Nerdy Engineer”, the “Explorer”, the “Fearless Samurai” and many more.
- What are all the voices in your head that you can name?
Each voice serves a purpose. The purpose of the insecure teenager is that he makes sure I don’t make a fool of myself and that I ask for help when I don’t know.
- What is the purpose of each voice you named?
Each voice also has a drawback or a slippery slope. For me, the slippery slope with the insecure teenager is that he makes a fool of himself by not being confident when he has all reasons to be, and he asks for help when he doesn’t want help… then blames people for offering advice.
- What are the drawbacks for each voice you named?
- Now that you look back at the voices you named and a deeper understanding of their role in your life, what difference does it make for you?