This weekend I had a meltdown.
I was at a group business meeting with 11 other women. Wonderful, creative, supportive, smart women. Fabulous women.
We each got to talk about our business dreams and goals and what we wanted to create. Ideas flew around the room, genius was present, vulnerabilities were revealed.
And the demeaning, critical voice in my head began to make herself known. She began to compare me to all the other women, and to question my value in the world.
She said ‘Who are you to think you can do what you want?’ ‘These other women are so much more creative, smart, inspiring, cool, beautiful … (insert adjective – my mean voice used it) than you.’ ‘You should just give up and go home now. You’re never going to make your dream happen anyway.’
Damn! She’s mean. And, I could see her working her black magic. My stomach started to hurt. I felt nauseous. I couldn’t focus on what was happening in the moment. She took over.
Elizabeth PW recently wrote a great post about this voice – she called it the Bitch in the Corner. Nail on the head – she is a bitch – and I don’t like her.
We all have that lurking bitchy voice inside us. Sometimes she’s critical, sometimes she demands nothing less than perfection, and sometimes she just pipes up because we feel pretty good and she thinks we need to be taken down a notch or two.
The really stupid part about this voice is that we have a tendency to believe the mean, critical, negative, bitchy things she says, but we often question when someone or our own Wise Voice pipes up to give us positive helpful information. What’s with that?!
Fortunately, I am old enough and have done enough personal work that I could watch my mean bitchy voice this weekend and marvel at her power without really buying into her. But, I didn’t want her to hang around long – she makes life ugly.
Here’s what I did.
I used my Observer Self. This is a handy part of us that can watch what’s going on in our inner and outer world without really getting involved in the emotional turmoil. Think of your Observer Self as Dectective Joe Friday from Dragnet sitting on your shoulder saying ‘just the facts ma’am’.
Using my Observer Self helped to watch what my bitchy voice was saying, but also question – ‘What’s that about?’ ’Where did that come from?’ ’Is that really true?’
It helped me to not dive headlong into the deep end of the emotional hell that was being stirred up. She helped me to know that old stuff was surfacing, that the bitchy voice was about 14 years old, and that she was a big fat liar.
If you’re not familiar with your Observer Self, I’d recommend shaking hands and having coffee together so you can call on her when you need her. She’s as indispensable as good tech support.
I also listened to my Wise Voice. My Wise Voice told me what I needed in the moment. She guided me to soup at dinner, and quietness rather than full engagement. She recommended that I ask for help regarding the physical discomfort. She told me to skip lunch and go to my room, where I promptly fell into a comatose nap.
She prodded me to share my mean voice and make her public with my supportive group of women. She also was clear in knowing that these women were telling me truth, and to believe them. She knew what to do to help me get back to center.
All these voices – it’s crowded in there, right!?
And, we can’t forget that the mean, bitchy one is not the whole of who we are. She somehow served us at some point, but she’s not helpful any more. When she shows up it’s a signal that it’s time to move through old sludgy crap. That’s hard. But, not impossible.
I’m back on track today. Mean, bitchy voice only hung around for about 36 hours before I vanquished her. Not bad, considering in my younger years she used to be on the mental loop 24/7.
If that isn’t a testimony for personal evolution and aging I don’t know what is.