Since When Did I Become The Dream Dominatrix?

Back View of Woman Sitting and Tying Leather CorsetShe wears thigh-high boots with six-inch stiletto heels, fishnets and a black laced-up corset. She stands powerfully, feet planted wide, arms akimbo.

She is wielding a whip and she is fierce.

She is my Inner Dominatrix and she comes out to spank me when I’m not living my dreams (or doing whatever else it is that I’ve decided that I “should” be doing at any given moment in time).

My “Devil On the Shoulder…”

Some people have a devil on their shoulder. I have a Dominatrix.

She is me, in miniature, with fiery red hair and a wicked temper. Pain is her medium. She lives for my suffering, and loves to see me squirm.

I pictured this imaginary little figure perched on my shoulder one day when a life coach suggested that I try visualizing my critical inner voices. What does my inner judge look like?

I was clear that mine was a mean S.O.B. That she had no mercy with me.

Bear in mind that I’ve been living with this punishing vixen for as long as I can imagine — perhaps since I was about three?

“You Are Not Enough…”

I’m not sure when I first decided that it wasn’t OK to be real and human (that I needed to be “perfect,” whatever that means, at all times in all ways) or when I first decided that it was up to me to personally and single-handedly save the world. But somehow, somewhere along the way, I developed a wicked inner critic who constantly beat me into submission for not being “good enough.”

No matter what I did, I should be doing more. No matter how fit I was, I should be more fit.

I should be: Thinner. Faster. Smarter. Prettier. More accomplished. Wealthier. Just… better.

How Dare She Get Near My Dreams…

It occurred to me last week, when I was busy beating myself up again for not meeting my writing page-count goals, that she was up there again, cracking that whip.

You’ve been traveling? So what! You’re tired? So what! You have work deadlines? So what!

You should be living your dreams anyways, taking steps forward every day.

In theory, absolutely, yes. And yet, as another one of my fellow dreamers put it so aptly last week, “I believe life ebbs and flows…”

Sometimes we just need a little breather from our dream to let our bodies, minds or spirits rest, or to take care of the some of the multitude of other details in our busy daily lives.

Trying A New Practice

My sister Carrie and I created a new practice for ourselves years ago when we realized that we were beating ourselves up for not going to the gym as often as we hoped. Say we’d decided that we needed to go to the gym three days a week, but went twice.

Instead of celebrating the fact that I went to the gym twice (vs. not going at all), I’d give myself a hard time for not going that third time.

At some point I decided to shift my perspective, and instead started to celebrate myself for the times I DID go. Maybe I didn’t hit my gym goals every week, but I started to appreciate it when I did and to remind myself that this was a gift to me (and to those in my life), keeping me happy, active and healthy.

Suddenly I started enjoying going to the gym more. Suddenly it wasn’t a big deal if I missed a workout once in a while. I’d just get back on track the following week.

Let’s Try This With Our Dreams, Shall We?

This week I’m going to try this with my dreams again. Every day that I write and make progress (and I DID start back with my writing practice last week, and made progress!), I’m going to celebrate that.

I’m not going to punish myself when I don’t write. Life happens.

It’s just about making incremental progress, and getting back on track whenever we veer off our chosen path — of living our dreams!

Besides, last week, I briefly forgot my own cardinal rule of dreaming which is to HAVE FUN while doing it. This week, I am going to envision myself with a happy little girl on the other shoulder (Lisa as a small, joyful, bouncy, grinning girl, with big blue eyes and curly red pigtails!) whenever the Dominatrix (Little Evil Whip-Wielding Lisa) pops up again.

I’ll remind myself that living our dreams is all about honoring the childhood spirit , harkening back to a time when we thought anything was possible (really, it still is!) and when we loved to just play. I want to PLAY while living my dreams this week.

LIGHTEN UP…

Best-selling Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert writes about taking the top off the pressure cooker we women tend to live in, creating intense pressure on ourselves with the stories we tell ourselves, when we indulge and listen to our inner critics.  “Can we lighten up a little?” she asked the readers of Oprah’s O Magazine in her article The Key to A Well-Lived Life: Lighten Up!

Oh, Elizabeth, I agree… and I needed the reminder myself this week. I can stay focused and on track AND still forgive myself when I screw up, don’t “get it right,” skip a day of meditating or writing, do something that seems out of line with my dreams.

We are all works in progress after all, and not one of us has all the answers… We are all stumbling through this life doing our best. Let’s at least have fun with it!

Join Me…

Let’s play, shall we? What little figures do you have on your shoulders, encouraging or discouraging you? Can you choose to listen to the positive encouraging voices in your life this week?

Lisa

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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  • Rachel

    Lisa, so glad to hear you made progress with the writing this past week :)

    I think the best thing I did back when I was losing weight, was be happy with it whenever I was moving in the right direction. I didn’t have to lose 2 pounds a week, or even one… as long as it was _something_, I was happy. That had me losing over 40 pounds within a year. Yeah, that’s an average of less than a pound/week, but I got there, and I’m still at a healthy weight. I knew so many women who put so much pressure on themselves, and would be disappointed when their losses were too low.

    I’ve taken that attitude with me into other areas of life — as long as I’m moving in the right direction, I can feel good. I like to think it’s done some good.

  • Toni Schram

    We really do need to give ourselves credit for the things we do for ourselves and not stress, that we’re not doing enough.

    Ah, a dominatrix for you inner voice. I knew you had it in
    you.

    I’m glad you gave yourself time to breathe and to be…
    and now you’re back on track.

    You got it going on girl-

    Saint Bitch

  • I think I would like the dominatrix a bit too much :) That’s a great illustration! I’m not sure what my voice looks like… probably the thin 16 year old version of me wondering where my waist went.

    Thanks for the visual!

  • Rayne

    For me, that person is my mother after a box of wine. I have learned to laugh at her. I hear it, tell myself it’s not real and make my own choices. Thanks Lord for the sanity.

  • @Cath – love it that your mom is reading Eat, Pray, Love! Let me know what she thinks! (love that book and as you know it’s one of the inspirations for my memoir…)

    @Jak, LOVE THIS: “enjoying the connections in the moments — rather than being lost in future (no matter how tantalizing) is what it is all about…” Amen brother! Miss you Coach! Love to the fam!

    @Kate, cursing is actually allowed here ;) and I LOVE the “Itty Bitty Shitty Committee..” i.e. IBSC… wow. Great way to think of it! Am a huge Pema Chodron fan as well… Like the toad image too. We all so torture ourselves for the silliest things sometimes (I know I do..). It helps me to conceptualize/visualize it this way…

    @ Remy can’t wait to see/hear about your IBSC ;) (the devil on YOUR shoulder!). And I love this: “I have to remember to honor myself, chose things on purpose, and love.”

    We all do! Amen to that!

    xoxo
    Lis

  • Remy G

    Ah, the little voice. Sometimes in my childhood it was a marching band, waving flags with sayings of all the things I wasn’t…wasn’t thin wasn’t smart wasn’t liked wasn’t all those things…that created a need to have others like me to the point that I accommodated everyone. Flash forward post college years, 2 ex husbands and a life I feel like I backed into sometimes. I have to remember to honor myself, chose things on purpose, and love. Thanks Lis. I will have to find a picture for me! xox Rem

  • Kate

    (I’m guessing cussing isn’t allowed, so I’m re-writing; please delete if redundant.)

    My little person/IBSC is a squat little toad that blushes at all the ways I’ve embarrassed myself by not being perfect. Little, er… freak.

  • Kate

    oh, and my IBSC/little person is a squat little toad that blushes ferociously at all the ways I embarrass myself by not being good enough. Little fucker.

  • Kate

    Good stuff, Lisa.

    Jill Bolte Taylor calls that little person “the itty bitty shitty committee,” which I think is a beautiful description. Pema Chodron says we need to appreciate whatever we can do (though she says it far more eloquently), which is sometimes an appreciation of our ability to see our own disappointment. That is itself a wonderful insight!

  • Jak

    my initial thought on this post was — wow. if my Survival Mechanism looked like that I’d hang out all day…

    then realized — as much as I know the pain and loss that result from being scattered, disconnected, angry, indecisive, and ego-centric… I do have a powerful pull for me — no matter how dysfunctional the relationship.

    enjoying the connections in the moments — rather than being lost in future (no matter how tantalizing) is what it is all about…

    rock on Lis

  • Julita

    love the photo, and it is kind of shocking. agree with Catherine that it is perfect!!

    best wishes!

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    lol love it. I like what you call the person in our head! And the photo is perfect!

    My 82 year old mother is reading Eat Pray Love – that is the magic of Elizabeth Gilbert. I can’t wait to read your book.

    Hugs, Cath