This week we are going to write letters to our Internal Nag. You may call it by a different name -- insecurity, the Stern Inner Parent, or the Critic. What ever you choose to call it, most of us have that voice that is always whispering words of discouragement in our ear. "Now you've done it you clumsy fool." "What right do you have to do that?" "No point in trying. You'll just make things worse." The purpose is to engage that segment of our personality in a dialogue.
I can almost hear you say, "Encourage that grouch to talk? Never. I've spent all this time trying to get that nag to pipe down." But, I can promise you that if you just take a little time to listen to this nagging voice, that it doesn't mean you are going to turn your life over to it. The chances are that you already have turned over a great hunk of your energy into refuting the input of this element of your personality.
Listening to another point of view does not mean you have to surrender your own beliefs. Who knows maybe there is something you haven't thought about. Maybe that is what all the nagging is about. Listening is the only way you can find out if you are refusing to own up to an important oversight on your part. By the same token maybe the inner nag is worrying over nothing. Maybe it just needs to know why you want to do this thing. Why it would make you more self actualizing. That you've given your whole plan a reality check before you launch the project.
Once you've learned to listen to the inner nag, then you will be able to enlist its cooperation. Then you will be able to move forward without this cautious element of your personality working against you.
The best way that I know of to have a conversation is to just begin. Write, Dear One, what are you afraid of? Is it perhaps ... as you write be aware of what seems to you an obvious answer to your question. Answer that concern with a carefully examined response and then follow the answer with a question that may lead to more information from the fringes of your mind.
The alternate assignment, should you find that you are not comfortable with learning to listen to your inner nag, is one that I learned from Grace Cavalieri. She says when you are trying to get comfortable with your inner thoughts, any thing that can be done without thought is a good thing.
This exercise, "Points In Space," is just a matter of picking ten words off the shelf in random order, sprinkling them on the page, and then filling in the blanks. One place to find these interesting words is to pick up any book that suggests itself to you and leaf randomly through the pages. Place your index finger somewhere on a page. Write the word nearest your finger somewhere on a blank lined paper. (Or unlined if you prefer. You can do it on an empty word processing screen, if you prefer, but you do swap some sense of the personal grip of fingers to pen for the quickness of the computer.) When you have ten words scattered around, relax and let your writing fill in the blank spaces. I will put in a poem I did from an exercise like this that that Jennifer Clements had us do in San Miguel.
SOME THOUGHTS ON THE RELATIONSHIP OF CESAR VALLEJO TO THE MODERN
AMERICAN'S REVERENCE FOR GUGGENHEIM FELLOWSHIPS, PULITZERS, MCARTHURS
AND NEA GRANTS
She landed in Mexico
in a dark alphabet fever
seeking to place her hand in that daybreak
print of Pablo Neruda's hand
but there was the river
reflecting the moon
reflecting the sun
reflecting the anger
of that point of energy
forced through that vibration
that separates the Is from the Is Not
and now all life pulses in her ears like a stethoscope
Her assignment was somewhat different. Part of the instructions
included that if you wrote a really long title you would find that if
you just hang together a lot of lines that would make sense because the
your mind will find connections if the title gives it a point of
connection. As I look at the poem, I think I remember that the words
she gave us were:
Alphabet Fever Hand Moon Stethescope river vibration