The other day something unexpected happened.
All because of a ridiculously simple exercise I did.
And this week, I want to share with you what it was so you can try it out for yourself.
So if you've got some emotional block, some fear or some bundle of bad habits you can't seem to get past...
Give this exercise a go because it may help you overcome it.
Now for you to understand what the exercise was and why it worked so well, you need to know my mindset going into it.
The truth is... I’ve recently been struggling with procrastination.
And not only that but all the bad habits that come with it.
Don't get me wrong.
I enjoy my life and I'm happy with how everything is going...
But every now and then something in me takes over.
Something that wants to hide.
I've met this something many times before.
I call him my inner teenager because that's how it feels.
He's around 15, has a shaved head and he's rebellious as fuck.
And when he takes over...
All momentum ceases.
Everything takes more energy.
My limbs feel like they're made of cement.
I crave junk food. Pizza. Fried chicken. Kebabs.
I end up watching porn sometimes 3 or 4 times a day.
I spend hours playing Skyrim.
And yes that's a game that came out like 12 years ago which is even more embarrassing.
He took over 2 weeks ago.
And I've been trying to keep it together since.
At least, that was until the other day.
As I sat journalling outside the cafe across the street from my house like I do every morning, I felt a wave of anxiety.
But instead of going into workaholic mode to avoid it, I decided to turn towards my pain and listen to it.
I let my inner teenager take over the pen and speak his piece.
And what came out astonished me.
This is what he said:
"Fuck it. What's the point? We can always do this personal growth thing later. Fuck dad. He's an asshole. Why do I have to be what he wants? Fuck him. Stop trying to make me do things. I'll fucking hit you. I do what I want. If I want to eat fried chicken at 2am on a Monday, that's exactly what I'm gonna do. You can't fucking stop me. Stop judging me. Fuck you. I do what I want. Fuck you. Why do you always tell me what to do? Why can't you just love me? Why do I have to be perfect all the time? I am my own man! Get the FUCK off my back you judgemental cunt!!"
As the pen stopped moving, I sat there stunned.
I never realised how this part of me felt.
But now I knew that:
- He feels judged.
- He feels trapped.
- He wants people to respect him as his own man.
- He feels unloved.
As I sat there, I felt deep compassion and sadness for that part of me that's still in pain.
And I get why he feels that way.
I always felt judged by my father and rarely, if ever, respected.
He was a controlling, powerful and intimidating man.
He had this gravitational pull which I found almost impossible to escape from.
And I guess the most painful thing was that I never felt loved by him.
I told myself I knew he loved me.
But I never felt it.
After I read this letter back, I felt so guilty.
Because I before writing the letter I was treating that part of me the same way my father treated me when I was younger.
So no wonder my inner teenager was in rebellion mode.
Writing this letter put me in contact with the source of the procrastination.
But what came next shifted everything.
I wrote a 2nd letter.
This time it was me speaking.
Here's a snippet:
"Ollie. I'm sorry you were always judged. I'm sorry Dad wasn't there for you in the way you needed. I can tell you're in pain and I just wanted to let you know that I'm here now. You aren't alone. I'm listening and I will never leave you."
I carried on writing expressing warmth and support.
Then without warning, the floodgates opened.
Tears streamed down my cheeks, but it felt good.
The more I wrote, the more I cried.
Until I was a blubbering wreck.
But it wasn't me crying.
It was my inner teen who had been alone in there for so many years.
Now here's where I should mention the thing I didn't tell you.
At around age 15 my mum died.
Right after that, my family fell apart.
My dad started drinking.
My life turned upside down.
And to this day, I've never felt so completely lost and alone.
It was so traumatic that this part of me got stuck there.
Because I never fully healed from it.
But as the tears cleared, I felt lighter.
After waking up the following day, I didn't notice a difference at first.
Until I was in the cafe ordering my coffee.
The cashier asked if I wanted sugar.
And a voice came from within that said...
"you don't need it, mate"
It was actually my voice.
I could hear it now because my inner teen wasn't making so much noise anymore.
For the first time in a long time, he was happy.
And the pull of procrastination lifted.
Now I'm back feeling good again, eating protein pancakes, drinking smoothies and writing 1000 words a day.
So next time you're suffering from bad habits, procrastination, laziness or the pull of passivity.
Instead of beating yourself up and forcing yourself to change.
Maybe all you need to do is write a letter…
From the part of you, that might be in pain.
And treat that part with love.