With less than 100 days to the U.S. presidential election, the 24/7 news cycle feeds us an endless set of considerations, fair and balanced -- or not -- on the strengths and weaknesses of the two candidates in the race for the White House. Many voters - decided or not - feel tossed around by every new poll, statistic and fact, interview, press conference and community activity about the candidates' platforms, positions and opinions. How can we get off the minute-to-minute emotional roller coaster and find some inner clarity and wisdom that supports our best choice?
In my new co-authored book arriving in September, Organize Your Emotions, Optimize Your Life, we propose a new model of the human psyche that is an adult version of the Academy Award®-winning Pixar movie, Inside Out, positing that the human psyche has nine internal life forces--which we hear as inner "voices," each with its distinct agendas and emotions. I arrived at this model while doing my own deep personal work, then validated it with hundreds of clients who have learned to tune into their nine internal voices, which we call the inner family. Every morning, I personally do a roll call that starts the day fresh with new insights and more calm and equanimity.
Let me show you how you, too, can access the nine members of your inner family to help you make decisions - like who to vote for in the 2016 election.
1. First let's meet Autonomy's voice. This life force is the captain of the proverbial human ship. It is concerned most about marching to our own drummers, and being authentic and free to make the choices which best serve our interests. As Sammy Davis Jr. sang beautifully, "I gotta be me." Autonomy is prone to rebelling when others, particularly when those who do not "get us" or share our values, tell us what to do. In this election season, Autonomy has been getting a lot of attention as evidenced by the rebellion against establishment candidates. Autonomy asks:
Which candidate is most aligned with my values and interests? Which candidate will have the courage to stay true to the values aligned with mine?
2. Now onto the voice of Confidence, dedicated to being strong, competent and confident. Given that the role of president is perhaps the most complex and challenging job of our times, the Confidence voice is often the deciding voice on whom to vote for. Hope and optimism spring from confidence in oneself and others relative to the challenges ahead. The Confidence voice asks:
Which candidate has the most strength and conviction to navigate and negotiate huge complexity, conflict, and often chaos? Which candidate has the most competence, e.g. knowledge, skill, and track record, relevant to leading the U.S. and the multifaceted operations of the executive branch in turbulent times?
3. The next voice is the Standard Setter, responsible for performance and achievement, setting ambitious goals and meeting them. It also tracks external standards to make sure we get respect and validation. It can be a hard taskmaster and tough critic of self and others, and is skilled at persuasion. It makes us persist through ups and downs to accomplish big things. It cares about what others think and wears whatever mask is needed to get social validation and approval, and in this case votes. The Standard Setter asks:
Which candidate is the most ambitious? Which is the most inspiring? Which candidate will perform at the highest level? Which candidate will navigate and persevere to reach the best outcome possible?
4. Let's tune into the Relational voice who exists to serve others and puts others first, showing genuine empathy and concern. The Relational helps others thrive and perform at their best. Having high social and emotional intelligence, the Relational is a team-player and knows how to build win-win relationships, collaborations, and partnerships. Being loyal and trustworthy are high priorities. The Relational asks:
Which candidate is the best leader of people and teams? Which candidate has the best ability to connect and empathize with diverse interests and challenges? Which candidate inspires the most trust?
5. Enter the voice of the Adventurer, the fearless explorer, tuning into opportunities, realities, and surprises in the external world with an open and curious mind. Enjoying novelty, the Adventurer is inquisitive, welcoming and embracing change and risk. It's ever-ready supply of curious energy is a vital source of resilience and learning when things don't go well, helping us recover and adapt quickly. The Adventurer asks:
Which candidate has the most open, curious, learning and flexible mind? Which candidate is willing to take the right risks at the right times? Which candidate is the most resilient and adaptable?
6. Let's check in with the Creative voice which loves to generate, to create and invent. It functions well in chaos and enjoys spontaneity, finding brilliant ideas just in time. Given that what got us here won't lift us above intractable problems, the Creative voice is needed for its out-of-the-box approaches and innovations, with a good dose of creative humor. The Creative asks:
Which candidate is the most creative, or the most adept at unleashing the nation's creative forces, to invent new solutions and turn them into innovations that change the world?
7. The Executive Manager is the voice of your inner organizer, planner, analyst and strategist. Juggling many balls in parallel, the Executive Manager can stay clear and calm in the face of an overwhelming volume of demands. It can synthesize massive amounts of data into an integrated solution. Getting to the bottom line, it can distil a situation into its bullet points, bringing order to chaos over and over and over. The Executive Manager asks:
Which candidate has the mental powers to handle overwhelming demands? Which candidate is most able to navigate complex situations to arrive at clear strategies and practical steps?
8. Second to last is the voice of the Body Regulator, focused on safety, stability, and balance, including physical and mental health. The Body Regulator is down-to-earth and grounded. It values sustainability, for self, others, and our planet. A vital balance to the Adventurer, the Body Regulator seeks equilibrium in contrast to the Adventurer's love of disequilibrium, change and risk.
In fact, there are many inbuilt yin/yang balances among the inner family. For example the self-first interest of Autonomy vs. other-first interest of the Relational, the spontaneity of the Creative vs. the discipline of the Executive Manager. Humans are ever balancing polarized and conflicting perspectives, inside and outside.
The Body Regulator asks:
Which candidate is the most steady and grounded? Which candidate is able to bring stability and balance to domestic and foreign affairs? Which candidate values health and sustainability, both needing a big upgrade?
9. Last is the voice of the Meaning Maker, which tunes into meaning and purpose, zooming in to consider the import of a small moment or zooming out to find patterns and make sense of large moments. It channels the greater good, the transcendent dimension, asking "what is the larger lesson of this situation." The Meaning Maker is the wise mentor, mature sage, and inner coach, nudging us to consider all perspectives and then find the wisdom needed for this moment. The Meaning Maker asks:
Which candidate is most able to find and communicate the transcendent purpose and wisdom needed for any situation?
Now that we have considered nine dimensions of being human, which voice(s) is most guiding your vote?
Ask yourself: Is that the best or only voice for me to listen to, to make my best decision?
On Election Day, we as voters take a leap of faith. This inner family exercise may bring clarity and wisdom on the choice you decide to make.