Devil you vs. Angel you

I want you to think about a person you really adore. Someone you love and admire. Now, I want you to imagine that they came to you and told you all about something they were hoping, planning and working for. Then, they told you a small part you could play in helping them achieve that something. They told you about how much this something meant to them, how it was going to make their lives better, how excited they were about it. And YOU can help. You can help this person you love and admire.

Would you do it?

I know you would. And I know you wouldn’t flake out.

Now, think about the last time you set a goal for yourself. The last time you got a bit worked up, a bit nerdy about planning how you’d achieve it. Remember how you contemplated the things you’d have to do to achieve that goal. Remember how you decided, firmly, smartly, optimistically that you would do it.

Then what happened?

That part is not fun to think about. But, let’s talk about it for a minute.

That you that we were just talking about is what I call the angel you. That’s the you that has your own best interests at heart. She loves you and wants what’s best for you. With a level head and her amazing prefrontal cortex brain, she designed a plan to achieve a goal that would make you happier and more like the you you want to be. This part of your brain is what’s cool, it’s uniquely human. It’s special.

But then. Then what I call the devil you showed up. This devil you, what others call the caveman brain or the back brain, taunts you into giving in to what’s easier or more gratifying right now rather than going for that long term satisfaction. That devil you on your shoulder whispers that the bag of chips, that yelling at your kids, that hitting the snooze alarm, that missing church is just not that big of a deal.

Think of how yummy those chips will be, how good you’ll feel right now if you eat them!
They never listen to you, the only way to get through to them is to yell.
You’re so tired, getting up is not better than getting more sleep.
You’re so comfy in your pajamas on the couch, why get up and change that?

The devil you wants you to forget that the best version of you came up with those goals for your own greater good. You came up with those goals because you’re really tired of not feeling confident in your own skin, in your own clothes. You know how much better you’ll feel with a few unwanted pounds gone. You know how awesome it’ll be to wear anything in your closet. You know how good you’ll feel when you stuck to something hard and achieved a goal. That kind of long term joy and satisfaction just keeps giving. It lasts longer than ten minutes of instant gratification. But the devil you wants you to forget that in the moment.
Now, knowing that you have a battle within–that all of us do is one thing. It does kind of help you. Next time you hear him, tell devil you to hush because you’ve got your own back.

Yes, not keeping to your goals is really about you not honoring the commitment you made to yourself. Not respecting yourself enough to do what you know is best for yourself. Sometimes that does come from having a really low opinion of yourself. Do you believe you can achieve your dreams? Do you believe you deserve to achieve your dreams? Those are some harsh questions and you should be really honest with yourself. You can work on it (with me even) if you find unfavorable answers. If this is your problem, you must work on this if you want to achieve anything for yourself and future you.

Sometimes, instead, not having your own back has to do with prioritizing your commitments to others consistently over your own commitment to yourself. How many times do you say yes to others and no to yourself? We think that’s selfless but really it’s not. You showing up to the world as the best version of yourself is the best case scenario. You showing up as someone who isn’t living out their desires or trending toward a goal is just blah. Don’t be blah.

Now, back to the original scenario. If the person you adore asked you to help them achieve their goals, you’d be honored. You’d treat that request with honor. I know you would, because you’re a stand up person. And this other person is awesome.

You need to think of yourself in the same light. You’re a person you like and adore. You’re a person you admire. You’re thrilled to help you achieve your goals. And you’re not going to let you down. Moreover, in a world where sometimes it feels hard to depend on others, you’re going to have your own back.

When it comes to that bag of chips, you’re going to remember angel you. She made the no chips decision for you ahead of time. She made that decision because she loves you, because she knows the postive consequences of that decision are way better than the ten minutes of tasting those chips will be. You’re going to honor her and her plan.

Do not negotiate with devil you. Yes, devil you can find excuses and reasons to talk yourself out of your own best interests. But love yourself more than that. Be in charge.

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