Freedom from My Inner Task Master

inner taskmaster

I haven’t wanted to write lately.

Actually, that’s not completely true. The deepest part of me has wanted to write. But I’ve had a lot going on, and I needed to put it on the back burner.

Do you know what I noticed as a took a brief hiatus from writing?

An incessant voice inside of me saying, “When you gonna write? You should really write. Yoo-hoo, lady, over here is a pen and paper, go ahead and sit down and write.” As another week passed without something tangible written, naturally, the voice had more to say, which mostly sounded like: “That’s unacceptable,” in a finger-pointing kind of way.

So, even though I took a break from writing, I never really got a break.

It’s like going on vacation and thinking about work the whole time. Even though you physically take a break, it doesn’t register as a break because you mentally spin stories the whole time about work that keep your body in a low (or high) state of stress.

I affectionately call the internal banter that endlessly “should-ed” on me about writing my Inner Task Master (ITM).

ITM is bossy, controlling, and unforgiving. And it’s mostly active when I’m afraid – afraid that I’m falling behind, afraid that I’ll screw up, or afraid that I won’t get something done.

ITM isn’t all bad. As I’ve listened to it more and more, I’ve noticed that it’s an earnest attempt to quell fear.

The problem is, it’s an outdated coping strategy. I know how to cope with fear today in a way that I didn’t when I was young, when I’m guessing this voice first appeared.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, by slowing things down when I’m afraid, I can hear the voice of ITM trying to grab control and push me around. But as I give permission to the fearful thoughts and feelings to be present, ITM gradually relaxes and makes room for another voice to emerge.

A voice of wisdom and clarity. 

A voice of courage and strength. 

A voice that looks, feels, and sounds most like me.

I’m learning to listen to and trust this voice. Or, as Mary Oliver said in her poem, The Journey, “I’m slowly starting to recognize this voice as my own.”

I hope my story in some way inspires you to look at your own critical voices. We all have them! While they can disguise themselves as helpful (and maybe were at one time), they’re mostly going to keep us stuck in a state of fear and squander the fullest expression of ourselves. The world is calling more and more of us to be agents of change. Be the change you want to see in the world (at least as a starting point!).

Breon Michel

About Breon

Mindfulness teacher, compassionate community leader, entrepreneur, writer, stress reduction aficionado, hope igniter, adventure seeker, mountain biker, devoted to others