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Better Days: How To Tame Your Inner Critic – With Neal Allen

Guest Interview

Hello beautiful souls! When you can identify the voice of your inner critic, it makes it easier for you to also (simultaneously) identify the voice of your intuition. Neal has a fascinating way of helping you hear your own inner critic by looking for the voice of your parents within your own thoughts. He also says that scientifically, the voice of your inner critic is most likely to be felt behind the head. This interview is laced with incredibly valuable insights to help you tune into your own inner critic, see it differently and work with it differently. I hope this interview shifts your life, like it did for me!

To learn more about Neal Allen and his work:
Neal’s book Better Days: Tame Your Inner Critic is available at all major book retailers 


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Julie Jancius: You want to know what’s coming up on today’s episode?

Julie Jancius: Here’s a preview.

Neal Allen: The one way you know that the inner critic is influencing you and contaminating your scene. It’s a parasite, right? And it comes in and influences you. The one way you know, the simplest way you know that is if you are in conflict and are defending yourself, the inner critic is there. It establishes, maintains and exaggerates all of your defensive systems.

Julie Jancius: Beautiful soul, have you ever wanted to speak to angels? Do you believe angels can support you in your daily life? If this is you, go to my website homepage, theangelmedium.com and sign up for my weekly angel message email. As a gift for signing up, I’m giving you access to free resources, including 31 healing meditations that if you do daily, are going to help you hear your angels and your own intuition more clearly. Start using these today and you’ll see changes in 31 days. Now take a deep breath. Feel the presence of your angels as they fill you with love, joy, peace, bliss and ease. And remember, your angels. Say the messages that resonate with you in today’s episode are meant just for you.

Julie Jancius: Hello, beautiful souls. Welcome back to the angels and awakening show. My name is Julie Jancius. I’m your host and author and friends today.

Julie Jancius: We are here with Neal Allen.

Julie Jancius: He is the author of Better Days and we are talking all about your inner critic today.

Julie Jancius: Neal welcome to the show.

Neal Allen: Hi. I’m glad to be here.

Julie Jancius: I’m so excited you’re here. So you talk about, being on a date or maybe that was Anne’s intro in the book, being on a date with Anne Lamott and, she’s famous author. You’re on a date with her and you’re talking about the inner critic. Has this been a book that just wanted to be inspired, created through.

Julie Jancius: You for a long time?

Neal Allen: I’m a writer by default. So I was a journalist for 15 years and then I had a corporate career for 15 years and I started that corporate career in marketing. And so I was using my writing even when my corporate career took me in far flung places that weren’t really about communication primarily. Writing has always been my default. So I’m first a writer and then I have subject matter and so I kind of wait around until there’s subject matter. I’d been a coach for several years and I had been particularly, interested and active in coaching my clients about their inner critic. And it came a time when I thought, oh, I have something to say on this. And by default, I’m a writer. I’ll go ahead and write about it. So it really emerged out of my clients. I learned a lot from them about, techniques that had been brought to me in rougher form and that I had been able to refine through my clients over time until I felt as if I was getting, not universal responses, but frequent, predictable enough, reliable enough responses that it was a good time to write a book about it.

Julie Jancius: Amazing. I love how you kind of called that out as you have these skills as a writer, as a coach. I think that those are two amazing skills and that you wait for that subject matter to kind of just present itself, because we’re always in this flow with the universe of what kind of wants to be created. But, you need those skills through which it can kind of come out and manifest.

Neal Allen: Yeah. I think that most adults have three or four grooves that they use in their life. And I, use as an example the garbage men that I had in my childhood who were on the back of the garbage truck, and they had a groove, and if you wanted to see a happy person, watch the guy on the back of the garbage truck. And they were often middle aged men who had been doing it for years and who had this lovely life of. From 07:00 a.m. Till or 06:00 a.m. Till 02:00 p.m. Riding on the back of a garbage truck, leaping off, throwing the garbage can into the hopper, putting it back onto the sidewalk, and leaping back on. And what I notice about them is they’re so in the flow of their job, and they’re so delighted by the fact that they’re in the flow of their job that they’re able to spend all their time watching what’s going on around them and very little time clearly consciously doing their job right. Being in the flow means if I have a groove, if I have a skill that I’m able to use as a groove through life, then what I want to do is let go of my mastery at the point at which, or, let go of virtuosity at the point at which my mastery is so easy for me that instead of doing my mastery, I can watch everything else that’s happening at the same time. Writing to me after a while, after a lot of practice with it, became a thing that I can just kind of do as, it almost feels like a parlor trick, but what it allows me to do is watch all these other things. So I don’t really care about what the content is I’m not here to provide a book that’s going to help people.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: It’s just the content that arrived.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: And I can write a business letter and be in the exact same flow and watch and look around at, ah, what happens in the middle of a business letter. And I’m in the same sense of kind of an electric exploration of things that are fascinating in the world, and they may not be the things that show up on paper.

Julie Jancius: Amazing.

Julie Jancius: So I love everything that you say, and I’m excited to dive deep into this today, but can you kind of set everybody up? what you see the inner critic, as I call it, the egoic mind, what is it and how can people recognize it within themselves?

Neal Allen: Yeah, it’s a fascinating piece, of subject matter that’s been known and had a good, clear, definition for 100 years now. So Freud discovered it or explored it first as a specific thing. And to Freud, it’s called the superego. If you know the term superego, that is exactly the same thing as the inner critic. And it’s part of a three part model that Freud came up with that includes the id, which is two instincts that you’re born with, survival and libido. And they have fight and flight and freeze, and they have urgency and immediacy. And then later in life, at about six, the superego emerges. Until six, you’re pretty much in kid world. There are adults looking over you. You can’t make fateful decisions. And so you’re allowed to just kind of live in this kid world of an eternal present, which is, by the way, identical to the eternal present that all us adults are trying to do through mindfulness and meditation and stuff. You had that more or less until you were five or six years old. And at six years old, whether you’re born in Senegal or India or the United States, the adults suddenly expect you to learn the rules of adulthood and develop pattern recognition, cause and effect, senses, post mortem regrets, develop abilities to predict the future and be able to do all of that within a socially appropriate context. So you basically have to learn the adult rules of the road starting at about first grade. So it happens at five, six, seven years old. And one of the first things that you have to learn is how to deal with fateful circumstances. And so you’re six years old or seven years old, and for the first time, a leash is taken away. You’re dropped off the leash. You go 15 minutes, a half an hour without an adult supervising you in any way, and you could make a fateful decision and not look both ways and get creamed by a car.

Neal Allen: But the odd thing about it is that even though the adults don’t know this, you actually don’t have the skill to do that on your own. Yet the adults think that you’ve been learning like adults do, through pattern recognition and through words that you’ve been taught. And basically you’ve been learning like a dog. You’ve been associating approval with good feelings and disapproval with bad feelings. But you haven’t been storing memories much. Most people have very few memories before they’re four or five years old. And you haven’t needed to store memories because you haven’t needed pattern recognition. Pattern recognition is there to protect you. And if you have adults around you protecting you, you don’t need it. And so, in fact, the first times that you are crossing the street, you don’t have stored in you the lesson look both ways. And remarkably and wonderfully, a little facsimile of an absent parent appears in your orbit, usually toward the back of your head. Sometimes the voice sounds like it’s coming from the stomach or the neck, but most people it’s toward the back of the head or even the front of the head, but somewhere back of the ears. And it kind of subvocally says, watch a kid look both ways. And if you take a step and it sees you taking a step without looking both ways, it berates you.

Neal Allen: Right?

Neal Allen: It bullies you. So you know that you’re in the presence of the inner critic when you hear a voice that’s got a scornful or an angry tone because you’ve got actually two voices, you’ve got this externalized inner critic voice that is, the facsimile of an absent parent that’s a bully and treats you like a six year old. And as an adult, you also have an authentic voice that knows all the rules, that’s perfectly moral, but it’s crowded out. So the inner critic does a great job in protecting your life when you’re six years old, seven years old, eight through twelve years old. At the same time, it also uses its same bullying voice to get you to be socially appropriate and to become a, productive adult, which as a kid you’re a little bit resistant to. Usually you don’t want to be restrained and it’s there to basically restrain you. Unfortunately, it’s only got a very narrow emotional range from scorn to anger.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: And it really doesn’t have any sophistication. And so when you go to a party as a girl wearing the wrong dress in third grade, and the other girls make fun of you. It reminds you of that over and over and over again to try to compress you into the most conservative person possible. So the species is really helped by belittled worker bees who believe that their only job is to protect the species in some way and that they have no individual worth for themselves. And so the superego, the inner critic, toes that line. It’s only there for your social side. It’s only there for the justice system, the theologic of the religious systems that are ethical systems. It’s only there to remind you over and over and over again that you might do the wrong thing. And so you better be safe is better, selfless is better. These kind of simple rules that are good for six year olds.

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Julie Jancius: Thank you. Now let’s dive back into the show.

Neal Allen: At 17, you should get a certificate that says you have incorporated all those rules quite nicely. And your inner authentic self knows good from bad quite nicely. And yes, you’re not going to always do what other people would say was the moral thing, but you are a moral person. You know, morality. You don’t need a voice repeating these old rules over and over again. Unfortunately, the inner critic loves its job and loves running the show. And even though it’s not a real human being, it’s a facsimile of an absent parent with only a tiny range of emotion. And it can only talk to a six year old because it really doesn’t know more than a six year old can know. And it keeps repeating the same things over and over again and having the pretense of authority, because it sounds like authority. And you should get a diploma that says you don’t need that voice and do the work at 17. That’ll push it out of the way and allow you to stand on your own 2ft and feel like you’re in a relatively safe world, that you can navigate perfectly well, doesn’t m do that. And so most people go to the grave thinking that that voice is them. And it’s a necessary motivator for, being a moral person. And you have to test that to find out that for everybody. That’s not true. You don’t actually need an additional voice berating you in order to be a good person, get things done, be appropriate, get people to like you, have friends. Make it through conflict. In fact, the one way you know that the inner critic is influencing you and contaminating your scene. It’s a parasite, right? And it comes in and influences you. The one way you know, the simplest way you know that is if you are in conflict and are defending yourself, the inner critic is there. It establishes, maintains and exaggerates all of your defensive systems. It’s kind of a weirdly non beneficial. After you’re 17, it’s completely beneficial when you’re a child.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: It really does teach you the ropes. It really does save your life. It really does get you out of trouble. But after 17 and, I do a technique where you can see for yourself it is actually less interested in being beneficial for you than in maintaining its authority and maintaining its job.

Julie Jancius: Oh, go into that more. How so? Say that again. Just repeat what you said because that was big.

Neal Allen: Let me first show it, if you don’t mind. Are you willing to be a guinea pig for me, Julie? And I’ll show you what going to.

Julie Jancius: I don’t know if this will be emotional. It’s been a really bad day and I don’t have many bad days, but, yes, I will be your guinea pig.

Neal Allen: Okay.

Neal Allen: So tell m me, when you hear your inner critic talking to you, what sort of things does it say to you in its words?

Julie Jancius: I have the worst recollection with conversations. You ask me to say what somebody says in particular. I can tell you that that rumination piece is constant. Right. It doesn’t tell me that I’m not worthy because I don’t believe that I know that I’m worthy. It will make me second guess myself. Like, in order for me to make a decision, I feel like I have to look at all of the options. I have to check everything out. It takes so much more time than I want it to and it’s exhausting.

Neal Allen: Yeah.

Neal Allen: And so it’s basically going to be saying things like, I can’t believe you did that again. Oh, that was a bad decision, those sorts of things.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: And when you hear it, does it have the inflections of either of your parents or somebody else from your child?

Julie Jancius: This is one of the parts that I loved of your book the most. Yes, it is the voice of my mother. And you have to explain this to people, because when you’re teaching people about intuition and how to connect with their intuition, and what’s the difference between your intuition and your egoic mind? I was like, oh, my God, Neal hit the nail on the head. This is amazing. The egoic mind, your inner critic. It sounds, most often, you found, like a parent.

Neal Allen: Yeah.

Neal Allen: And it sounds about 80% of people. It sounds like mom. And the reason it sounds like mom is that traditionally and still actively in our culture, whether we like it or not, the mom is more likely to spend more time teaching the kid restraint than the dad is. The dad may come in as a disciplinarian at the end of the day, but traditionally, the mom during the day is swatting the kid. Not literally, but is moving the kid around and saying, no more than that. And nagging.

Julie Jancius: Yeah, hurry up. We got to go.

Neal Allen: Come on.

Julie Jancius: Let’s get ready.

Julie Jancius: Brush your teeth.

Neal Allen: And nagging. And so, unfortunately for most people, the inflection of the inner critic is naturally the inflections of the mom. That’s about 80% of my clients. The other 20%, it’s mostly dad. And some people, it’s another, caretaker or person of authority or an older sibling or even a teacher or a grandmother. a small amount of people for a long time can only hear their own voice, which is unfortunate, because the more you think it’s you, the harder it is to separate from it.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: But you can still separate from it even if you think it’s you. Now, where in your physical geography do you hear the voice coming from?

Julie Jancius: You were right in the back of the head.

Neal Allen: Back of the head. And that’s most people. And like I said, you can hear it anywhere. The interesting thing to note is I haven’t met anybody who found that it resides in the same place as their deepest sense of self.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: So it’s more on the surface, because it’s navigating your personality, which is at the surface between your body and the outside world.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: And so it sits there. It sits either just inside you or just outside you. Which makes me kind of wonder, is it actually subconscious, which is what Freud and his successors have said, or is it merely subvocal?

Neal Allen: Right.

Julie Jancius: What does subvocal mean?

Neal Allen: Subvocal means it kind of whispers to you, right?

Julie Jancius: Yeah.

Neal Allen: You don’t actually notice the exact words when I asked you, what exact words does it say to you? That was hard to come up with.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: Everybody. That’s true.

Neal Allen: Up.

Neal Allen: You have to think pretty hard to hear. What’s it. Now, the fact is, it speaks in words, because human law, the restraints, our ethical codes, our driving rules, all of those, anything that represents a restraint on a human being is words.

Julie Jancius: That’s what I just got. You shouldn’t have done that. You shouldn’t have done.

Neal Allen: That’s a good.

Neal Allen: Yeah, there are words there, and, those words, are hidden from you. Most of the time, it’s a vampire. So that if you actually heard what it was saying to you and heard how often it was repeating itself, you would realize it’s just a moron. And I can use a terrible word like imbecile or moron or idiot, these words that I wouldn’t dare use with a human being anymore, because it is not a human being. It is the facsimile of a human being. It’s paper thin. It knows very little. It’s very stupid. You’re taking instruction from the dumbest bully in the back of the class.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: Is one way to think of it.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: Just stereotypically. That’s what you’re listening to.

Julie Jancius: Wow.

Neal Allen: Like a vampire, if it kind of stays a little bit under consciousness, if it’s a little unvisible, if it isn’t quite in the light of day, right, the actual, literal light of day, then it can live. But if you listen to it and pay attention to exactly what it’s saying, and you open the curtains to hear it completely and you raise it to consciousness, it tends to move to the side or disintegrate, like a vampire disintegrates in the. Like in the old stories, right? They’re just metaphorical stories. So I want you to pull your voice, your inner critic, out of the back of your head and extend your arm out at, arm’s length in front of you and face your palm to yourself and tell me if you start to see a face in the palm. By the way, people who are listening can follow along wherever you noticed you had your inner critic, you just pull it out and just pretend you’re pulling it out of yourself and holding it in your palm.

Julie Jancius: They got it.

Neal Allen: And is there a face?

Julie Jancius: Yeah.

Neal Allen: And what’s the expression on the face?

Julie Jancius: Anger.

Neal Allen: Yeah.

Neal Allen: So, like I said, scorn to anger. It’ll often look kind of, skeptical.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: And scornful it loves to be passive aggressive. Right? Remember, it has no punishing power except to look like that, to look like a frown. That’s its entire range of ability. To get you to do things is to frown at you. So if you’re feeling anxious, you’re not anxious about things going wrong. We all have things go wrong.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: And we don’t feel anxious about everything that goes wrong. You’re anxious about the possibility you’ll be frowned at by this creature, this pretend parent. So keep your arm out. I’m going to feed you some questions. You ask the question of your palm, of the face in your palm, aloud. And if you don’t see a palm, that’s fine. You can still do this exercise. It’ll still answer you. It will answer you. The face in your palm or the non face in your palm? Your palm will answer you. And I want you to ask the question aloud. And, Julie, repeat back to me aloud exactly what, the face says. So the first question is, when did you take charge?

Julie Jancius: When did I take charge?

Neal Allen: No, you’re asking it aloud. Repeat the question. When did you take charge?

Julie Jancius: When did you take charge? Six.

Neal Allen: Okay.

Neal Allen: who put you in charge?

Julie Jancius: Who put you in charge? I did.

Neal Allen: Who did. It did or you did?

Julie Jancius: I did. Me. Julie.

Neal Allen: Okay, say you did. Keep it in its person.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: You don’t want to mix up who’s I and who’s you. Okay, so you did. Why are you still in charge?

Julie Jancius: Why are you still in charge? Because you’re allowing me to.

Neal Allen: Okay.

Neal Allen: I’d like to take charge for a while. Is that okay?

Julie Jancius: Yes.

Neal Allen: Okay.

Neal Allen: Are, you worried something bad will happen to me if I take charge? Repeat the question.

Julie Jancius: Are you worried something bad will happen to me if I take charge? Yes.

Neal Allen: What are you worried bad will happen to me?

Julie Jancius: That I’ll die.

Neal Allen: That you’ll die.

Julie Jancius: Yeah. That you’ll die.

Neal Allen: Okay.

Neal Allen: What makes you think that I’ll die if I’m taking charge instead of you? So ask it aloud.

Julie Jancius: What do you think will happen to me?

Neal Allen: what makes you think I’ll die?

Julie Jancius: What makes you think I’ll die if you take charge? If I take charge, you, won’t make the right decisions.

Neal Allen: Okay.

Neal Allen: What makes you think I won’t make the right decisions?

Julie Jancius: What makes you think I won’t make the right decisions? You haven’t always made the right decisions in the past.

Neal Allen: But you’ve been in charge, haven’t you?

Julie Jancius: But you’ve been in charge, haven’t you? Yes.

Neal Allen: Okay, so that doesn’t work. So I will take the risk of making bad decisions. Will you step out of the way and let me take charge for a while?

Julie Jancius: I will take the risk of making bad decisions. Will you step out of my way for a while? Yes.

Neal Allen: Okay.

Neal Allen: Are you worried something bad will happen to you if I take charge?

Julie Jancius: Are you worried something bad will happen to you if I take charge? No.

Neal Allen: Okay.

Neal Allen: You’re not worried that you won’t have a job anymore?

Julie Jancius: You’re not worried that you won’t have a job anymore? No.

Neal Allen: Okay.

Neal Allen: That’s good. I promise I won’t annihilate you. Isn’t it tiring to run the show all the time?

Julie Jancius: Isn’t it tiring to run the show all the time? Yes. It’s exhausting.

Neal Allen: Okay.

Neal Allen: How would you like to go into semi retirement as my occasional ethical advisor?

Julie Jancius: So I’m asking my inner critic, how would you like to go into semi retirement as my inner critic?

Neal Allen: As my occasional ethical advisor?

Julie Jancius: As my occasional ethical advisor. Good. I see a picture of them on the beach.

Neal Allen: Yes. I know this isn’t going to be easy for you because you’ve been running this show all the time, I know.

Julie Jancius: This isn’t going to be easy for you because you’ve been running the show.

Neal Allen: All the time, but this is very important to me and I appreciate the fact that you’re going to help me.

Julie Jancius: With it, but this is very important to me and I appreciate the fact that you’re going to help me with it.

Neal Allen: And what’s its expression now? What’s the face look like?

Julie Jancius: We’re just relaxed, okay? Not angry, at peace.

Neal Allen: And I want to thank you for saving my life when I was a kid.

Julie Jancius: I want to thank you for saving my life as a kid and then.

Neal Allen: Put it back into your head.

Julie Jancius: That’s good.

Neal Allen: The weirdest thing is that, they answer the questions the same way. Everybody’s got the same inner critic. They have the same expressions, they have the same magnitude. They have the same statements. They’re all, kind of identical. They’re a little more worried in most cases yours wasn’t, which is unusual. But they’re usually more worried about their own survival than about your betterment. They were worried about your betterment when you were a child, inappropriately so. But it’s a little hard for them to kind of hang on to the idea that they are necessary in bettering you when you point out to them that, you may know as much as they do at this point.

Julie Jancius: Amazing. That is so incredible. Well, I want to go back to a point that you said, because, and I was using your words, and I wrote this down when I got to this point in the book. But it’s a huge aha, moment for people when you phrase things the way that you do, Neal and you say that you’re really, until you’re six years old, constantly in this sense of presence. And we’re all really trying to get back to that place of, an energy within ourselves where we are truly carefree. Everything is going to work out. It’s all going to be okay. Life is just going to come. We’re going to flow through it one moment at a time. And then this inner critic comes up. And I love how you phrase it. As the dumbest kid in the room, I don’t like to use the word dumb, but when it comes to the inner critic, okay, I can go there. And also that, that inner critic is a bully. I mean, a lot of times, especially in our society today, my God, would that serve humanity to look at that inner voice as the bully that it is?

Neal Allen: A lot of times it’s a bully that intimidates me by acting as if I’m six. And so I think I’m six if I’m listening to it. And it has authority over me. Interestingly, like most people, when I asked, who put you in charge, when you asked who put you in charge, it said you did. So you have the authority to put it in charge. You damn well have the authority to kick it out.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: and get rid of it. But it has to present a world of danger because that was its original job, and it sticks to its original job, in which your decisions are fateful.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: Crossing the street is fateful. And somehow wearing the right dress seems fateful.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: And so you made a good decision to look both ways. It would have been a bad decision not to look both ways because you would have been creamed. You made a good decision to wear the right dress the next time, you must have made a bad decision to have worn the wrong dress. Well, that’s actually okay for a six year old to learn, right, wrong, good, bad, that way. But by the time you’re 17 and in civilization, for almost all of us on any one day, survival issues of food, shelter, clothing, safety, are taken care of most of the time.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: So your only decisions are about social preferences.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: And they’re not fateful. And in fact, you’re making almost all of your decisions, certainly all the decisions I can think of during the day within a perfectly standard moral compass that you’re carrying with you. And so are you making good versus bad decisions like your inner critic says, or are you making good versus good decisions? One possibility in the choice has a little more risk than the other, typically.

Neal Allen: Right?

Neal Allen: But they’re both good decisions. And at the time you make them, you know that. You know they’re both good decisions at the time you make them. And what you don’t notice is that you can only call it a bad decision in retrospect. If you’re listening to your inner critic, if you’re not listening to your inner critic, you notice, oh, things went sideways. I took a risk. Of course things went sideways. I’m only 80% accurate at predicting the future. Things are going to go sideways. And by the way I adapt to it. It doesn’t have a catastrophic effect. No single decision that I make on any day of my life is fateful unless a rattlesnake is in the path, literally in the path in front of me. And yet my inner critic tells me over and over again, you might make a bad decision, and that will lead down a series of catastrophic events, and you’ll end up homeless or in chaos in some way. Well, yeah, it doesn’t actually happen that way.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: And if I notice that I’m making good versus good decisions, I also notice that my superpower isn’t in my decision making. My superpower is in the fact that I adapt to whatever shows up and the world represents itself, even when it goes sideways in a completely organized fashion. And I usually find myself exactly back to center.

Julie Jancius: That’s, incredible.

Neal Allen: Very od. It’s very od that we think we make bad decisions as adults. It’s very od. It’s not like that.

Julie Jancius: That’s amazing. I mean, that really changes so much for people. If people can just say to themselves, I make good versus good decisions immediately. I can feel just the energy of this quote, unquote bad day that I’ve had lift up and off. Because when I see it from that perspective, I made good versus good decisions, and it is all going to work out. It’s all going to be okay. It’s not the end of the world. All, will be fine.

Neal Allen: I’m allowed my preferences, right? And I’m allowed to prefer life to go in a particular direction or whatever. But if I pretend that I have great control over that and that my decisions are fateful for my getting what I want and that I know that getting what I want will result in happiness for me, I’m just making it all up. That’s just not how the world works, all right?

Julie Jancius: I have always lived around people, whether it was my mom, my dad, my father in law, who always say the squeaky wheel gets the most oil. And one of the subjects that’s keeping coming back again and again is my mom would always say, when I was younger, Julie, you’re so strong willed. Julie, you’re so strong willed. You’re just a strong willed child. And that word of will, w I l l has been coming up over and over again. And I was really feeling it a lot while I was reading your book, too, of, at least for me, in my life. I do feel, not that there is any control whatsoever, but the more that I will something to happen, it does come into fruition. I think for myself, you’ll get this. As a writer, I grew up age 1314. I was in journalism classes. I was one of the youngest people to start working for the daily Herald here in Chicagoland. And I loved writing. But there was a part of my inner critic when I was in high school and I was in college, that would say, other people are better writers. Other people write books. You don’t write books. So I really had to work past that to actually be able to write my first book and my second. And I, think I willed it forward. Like, I had to use something within me, this energy of my will, to supersede that egoic voice. But I think that a lot of times the idea of will gets confused with the idea of control, because the two are not the same thing.

Neal Allen: Yeah. Will is, an inner support that we all have that basically says, we’ll complete what we start and we’re capable of it.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: Strength is we’re capable of doing something. Will is. We’re capable of completing something. And everybody thinks they procrastinate, and everybody thinks that they fail to complete things in a timely fashion and all sorts of. Everybody has all these notions about, how things are supposed to be completed in time. And almost everybody that I know leads an incredibly busy life with a huge number of tasks, many, of them burdensome, and gets almost everything done. The things that don’t get done tend to be of two sorts. One is the project that you have an idealized view of, how it will end up appearing in the world. And so that’s the perfectionist trap, right? That if you think you’re supposed to be the greatest writer on earth or near the greatest writer on earth, you’re going to fail every time, because as soon as you approach the fact that you’re only as good a writer as you are already, and that it’s a summation of learned techniques, as well as a certain ability to expose, yourself to your own imagination. If you notice that you’ve only got the quality, that you’ve got the ability to persuade people with the ways that you know how to persuade people. If you think you should go beyond that, you’re going to self sabotage at some point, usually about three quarters or halfway or three quarters through the project, because you can see that you can’t meet your goal, and you’re going to feel deficient without your goal. It turns out that every writer writes to their own level and writes to their own quality, and that your quality is already baked in, and your job, in terms of steadfastness, is simply to complete it. And that completion is the whole point of a, project you’ve selected for yourself. We think the point of writing a book is to get to the bestseller list or to sell, enough copies that we can feel good about ourselves. Well, no, that’s not the point of writing a book. The point of writing a book is to write a book. And so you complete it, and you get a little bit of space, and then you get to decide what to do next. Completion and meaning are the same thing. We create puzzles for ourselves. We solve them. They’re only as difficult puzzles as we can complete for ourselves. So we are always kind of protective of ourselves that way. We’re not going to ask ourselves to do a more difficult puzzle than we can once we complete it. We say to ourselves, it’s done. And we call that a meaning. But all we’ve actually done in terms of meaning is completed the puzzle that we had already set for ourselves. And so we do that when we say a sentence. We do that when we do a project. We’re just puzzle makers and meaning makers. I love the people who say, I need a meaningful life. And I’m like, every time you finish filling the dishwasher, there’s a narrative voice in you that says to you, I’ve, finished doing the dishes. And that’s meaning, right? You’ve given your doing the dishes a meaning by stating back to yourself, I did the dishes. You’re also giving yourself a meaning when you say to somebody, I love you. You’re also giving yourself a meaning when you say to yourself, I need to mow the lawn. Oh, mowing the lawn now fits within a bunch of other things, and it’s kind of an interesting thing that it’s part of my day and all of that. That’s a meaning. You have 1000 meanings a day. Isn’t that enough? Do you need more meaning? I don’t know if I answered your question, I kind of went off a little bit.

Julie Jancius: Well, I think you could apply that to all creation.

Julie Jancius: No, I could talk with you for hours. Neal the point of creation is just to complete your creation. And going back to your metaphor of being six years old, if you just go to do finger paints, you’re completing the task of just creating your finger paint masterpiece. It doesn’t have to be anything. It doesn’t have to hang on a wall. It doesn’t have to be on a bestseller list. It just has to be. It has to come into form.

Neal Allen: Yeah.

Neal Allen: M and I happen to fall into writing as a groove, right? And so I developed a mastery in it, made money off of it for years as a hack writer in various ways. And so it’s just what I do. Right. and as long as I’m okay with that, I’m fine. As soon as I think I’m supposed to be a better writer, I’m screwed, right? I stall out. For years, I was trying to be a published fiction writer, and I never got more than halfway through a novel because it would not look like Faulkner or Fitzgerald or Virginia Woolf to me. And I would go, why do I bother? And then eventually, I just lucked into learning that, oh, no, I’m just the quality that I am. And it’s just my groove. It’s just something that I do. And I don’t have to be anybody other than myself when I do it. And I can still set goals for myself. I can still set a standard for myself. But I set a standard that’s believable now.

Julie Jancius: Right.

Neal Allen: And now it’s easy for me to write a mean M. Annie hates it when I say this, but for not, it’s just not a hard thing. It takes time, but it’s kind of.

Julie Jancius: Oh, I love it. And it’s something that I was thinking about the other day. I don’t like the part of running my business. I love being in the creation, of creating different content or creating this because you’re just channeling the divine. When you’re sitting down and writing a book, there’s a spirit of just what wants to come through you through this creative process. You have a chapter in the book called Enjoy being ordinary. And I wonder if you can help people get to that enjoyment of being ordinary.

Neal Allen: We have an unfortunate word in our vocabulary, the word special, right? And the word special, imbues some kind of, magical extra, quality to us if we stand out, hierarchically, like we’re better or higher or in some way special compared to other people. And so it’s a comparative word, and it traps everybody and traps everybody into a lifetime of thinking they’re supposed to be better. They’re supposed to maintain what is special? What’s curious is we have a perfectly good word, unique, which doesn’t have any of that paraphernalia attached to it, right? You can be unique, and you can be your own idiosyncratic person, and you can feel like there’s something different about you than everybody else without feeling better, right? And so if I can feel like I can be unique but I don’t have to be better, then I can be unique in a way where I don’t have to spend a whole lot of time maintaining my uniqueness, right? If you’re special, you end up spending your whole life maintaining your special. If you’re a leader, you got to stay a leader. You got to advance. You got to be more of a leader. You got to do better and better and better and better. And it’s endless. It’s an endless trap, right? Leadership, leaders, CEOs, people like that, they have miserable lives, and they get paid more because of it, right? It’s a weird system, right? But it makes a certain amount of sense. If you actually were able to see what your life would be like as a CEO, with all your toys and your complete inability to be genuine, sincere, or accepting of anybody who walks into your office because of your fiduciary duty to decide whether you need to fire this person.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: you have to keep yourself separated from people. As a CEO. it’s a terrible life. I’ve been around a lot of CEOs, and it’s miserable. They don’t know this necessarily because they’re getting paid a lot.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: but as a class of people, they feel more unloved and unloving than any other class of people that I know.

Julie Jancius: I feel the same way. I often hear, CEOs or even entrepreneurs say, my God, I left my nine to five thinking that this life was going to be different, special, better.

Neal Allen: And it’s 24/7 yeah, I’ve forgotten the question now.

Julie Jancius: Enjoy being ordinary.

Neal Allen: So which would you rather be? Putting on the dog at a party to make sure people like you or standing in the grocery line talking about the weather with the clerk, with the cashier?

Neal Allen: Right.

Julie Jancius: Yes, standing in line.

Neal Allen: So much easier to stand in the line and be ordinary with the cashier.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: It’s so much harder to maintain my shiny surface and get the approval of people and get people to see that I’m special.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be a pop star, right? And I watched Madonna in our time. We watched Madonna struggle with being a pop star by changing her identity over and over and over again. Even watched the Beatles change their identity. They were more playful about it. They had a little more kind of sensibility, and so they were a little less self conscious in a lot of,

Neal Allen: But.

Neal Allen: But Madonna and then you.

Julie Jancius: Easier being a man than a female.

Neal Allen: What’s that?

Julie Jancius: Yeah, I see that. Easier being a male than a female. I know they went and did that Buddhist, study over in India, and they incorporated some of the Indian, instruments into it. yeah, but I totally see where both are really soul searching.

Neal Allen: Yeah, but if you’re valued for your appearance and you’re valued for a particular thing, then you lose value for all the other parts of you, right? And that’s going to come home one day. It’s going to all collapse at some point when you realize, I’ve spent my whole life maintaining my specialness so that other people will like me, and that’s not necessarily who I really am. M mostly, by default, we’re just goofy little kids, and that’s not childish, that’s childlike. But when you’re present, you’re simply fascinated with what is, and that’s what little kids do. And goofiness is so taboo in our public Persona.

Neal Allen: Right?

Neal Allen: If you weren’t peewee Herman, you weren’t allowed to be know, nobody else was allowed to be goofy, who was a grown up, right? Yeah, but that’s who we all want to be. That’s who we all. When we’re relaxed, when we’re ordinary, we are. And it doesn’t mean we’re exhibiting. Goofy little kids don’t exhibit goofiness all the time. It’s just that as long as that’s a possibility, then I have a great antidote to being special. This is why there’s this trope of the absent minded professor, right? This professor needs to be a serious person, delivering serious information to people that is critical for them to become doctors and lawyers and writers and this and that. And it’s all a very serious world. And so when the professor comes in and is shuffling through papers and taking their glasses off and seems slightly disoriented, the whole class is laughing.

Neal Allen: Right.

Neal Allen: And everybody is seeing, oh, that person is actually ordinary and goofy and vulnerable and imperfect. It breaks the ICE. It attracts us. We love seeing. Vulnerability in one person is just contagious with everybody else around them.

Neal Allen: Hm.

Julie Jancius: Absolutely.

Julie Jancius: I love that. So the more that we use that silliness, that playfulness, we come back to our own uniqueness.

Neal Allen: Yeah.

Neal Allen: And our own uniqueness will be there. I have my own set of eyes right into the world. I am always in first person. I’m never in you. I can’t see through anybody else’s, eyes. I can act like I’m doing it, but I can’t do it. I am always in my own first person. And my own first person has a unique time and space position in the world. And nobody can ever take that away from me.

Neal Allen: Right?

Neal Allen: I don’t have to adorn it. I don’t have to do anything to it to always be in the first person.

Julie Jancius: I love it. Neal tell everybody where they can find your new book, better days, tame your inner critic, and where they can find you.

Neal Allen: Yeah.

Neal Allen: So my book is in. I think it’s still in bookstores. It’s also, anywhere you go online, Amazon and your local bookstore. If they don’t have it in their stacks, they can order it for you. I particularly love independent bookstores. They are the lifeblood for, professional writers, and we love them. So if you can find one there, and often your local bookstore will have an online capability, too. And then you can find my events, my workshops. I have a private practice, but it’s pretty long waiting list right now, but you can find me at shapesoftruth.com.

Julie Jancius: Perfect.

Julie Jancius: Neal, thank you so much for being here.

Neal Allen: Thank you, Julie. This is terrific.

Julie Jancius: Beautiful soul. Thank you so much for joining me today. My name’s Julie. You know, I’m all about connecting you with messages from your angels and loved ones on the other side. If you’ve been listening today and you’re super excited and just have to know which angels are around you right now, who’s connecting with you and what messages they have for you, go to theangelmedium.com, register for a session. You can do a reading with me or a member of my team. We’re all incredible. We all talk to angels daily, and we can help you in making sure that your angels are doing the very best they can to support you and guide you to your best life. If this sounds like you, virtual sessions, they’re only offered on my website. Sign up today. And if you’re the person who’s really excited. You’re ready to go all in developing all of your unique spiritual gifts, growing your intuition, starting your own healing business. You can sign up for my angel Reiki school to become a certified angel messenger. That’s for the healers among us who feel called to grow their intuition to the max and serve humanity with their gifts. You’ll learn Reiki mediumship, how to deliver angel messages and how to get clients. That’s the angel reiki school at theangelmedium.com. Or DM me on Instagram @angelpodcast with any questions before you go. Connect with your angels by placing your hands on your heart. Take a deep breath. Imagine a doorway filled with God’s unconditional love is right in front of you. Step into that love and feel it as it fills your body, chakras and auric field. Now ask your angels, what would you have me know today? And open yourself to the positive, loving messages they have just for you.

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