I have this lens.
It is me, but it is detached from me.
She is the watcher that is constantly analysing, evaluating and commenting on how I do in any given situation.
‘Inner critic’ implies a voice. And yes, she has a voice.
But she is more than a voice. She is an observer – policing my every move.
She can be coercive, dismissive, rigid.
She does not like me feeling emotionally unsafe.
She might be called the ego in some traditions.
Her language is fear. Fear which she allows to coarse through my body when she perceives I am about to expose myself too greatly.
She remembers the wounds. And she can invite a flood of thoughts, sensations and feelings into the body when she expects those wounds might be opened.
She keeps me on a tightrope, constantly. Hyper-vigilant for any threats that might come my way. Stress hormones are her weapon and her fuel.
She remembers how it felt to be called ‘too much’. She remembers how it hurt to feel like an outsider in a private girls school that felt so foreign from the home-schooling environment I had grown up in. She remembers how awkward it felt to interact with boys.
She was particularly harsh, then. Moulding me and shaping me and instructing me to become more introverted, more likeable, more alike. She promises safety and belonging and a sense of being loved.
Only sometimes it feels like she is splitting me into parts, when all I want is wholeness.
It was her inaccurate perceptions that allowed me to squash my own needs in favour of others. That allowed me to be taken advantage of. That taught me that being small was more likeable.
It was her that probably got me started on the wellness journey.
Her careful, ever-watching observations and often wild correlations resulting in my attempts to become less fleshy, more tanned (an impossible feat when one is as pale as I) and more appealing as a sexual object.
And every failed attempt at diets or exercise – so often brought about by a tidal wave of anxiety or sadness or distress – made her yell louder and louder.
She loves images on instagram, you see. The glossier, the more appealing. Tanned and demure and perfect bodies posing in tastefully decorated houses. This is her porn. This is what she expects from me.
Even after I started to embody a softer, gentler approach, she still told me that I needed ‘wellness’ in order to fix the flaws she still found so offputting.
Even as I started to meditate, she watched. And advised when I was doing it wrong.
Sometimes in meditation, she would get angry. As I would get stiller and stiller I would approach a point where I could no longer hear her, or see the world through her eyes. I would find moments of not seeing me and my efforts from the outside, but witnessing my essence from the inside out.
Presence, or mindfulness, they call it. And it’s exquisite. There is no her and me there is just ‘I’. And I look outward from the widows that are my eyes and I can see things in crystal clarity.
I am here. Right here. Right now. Being.
But sometimes, before I get there, she gets mad. She elicits a powerful, electrical jolt of frustration or anger that rises up from kidneys (or thereabouts). It constricts my throat. She is trying to stop me from feeling wholeness. Oneness.
Oneness – alluded to by all the great yogis and spiritual teachers – not just with myself, but with everything. The feeling of when the magnetic macbook cord magically nestles into it’s socket.
The wellness industry uses this lens to make money. And so she has been embodied not only in our minds but in our collective consciousness.
But just like the failed promises from the gurus or the diets or any other program that takes us away, and not closer, to ourselves, far from making the anxiety go away (or whatever it is that we might crave from our wellness journey), she/it only seeks to highlight more and more imperfections.
And so she grows ever more powerful and we start to shrink and dissolve into her.
Imagine a life where I only ever saw the world through her eyes?
Although I was safe, I was detached. Disconnected from my essence, my intuition. Confused. Untrusting. Constantly needing to soothe my aching soul.
And the true irony was this. The more I trusted her to fix me, the more I needed to invest in in order to just survive my life. The more escapes I needed to find, the more distractions I needed to buy or do.
Stockholm syndrome, or the like. Her regime is so oppressive, so impossible to survive, we find ways of coping. And inadvertently, we feed her.
She’s hungry, you see, and she feeds on our ever upward trajectory. She’s happy when we are focusing outside of ourselves. She’s the happiest when we are removed from our feminine gifts of intuition, receptivity and magnetism.
It makes sense, since she is the product of patriarchy.
And yet, we are kind of in this together. Now, we have a little more balance. I run the show, and she tags along. There are times when I invite her in – when I need some rational, evaluative or analytical support (particularly in the luteal phase of my cycle).
She has – outwardly- probably heralded most of the ‘successes’ I’ve had in my life. And yet the emptiness that comes from outward success speaks to the satisfaction that comes from living in alignment with her wishes, rather than in alignment with those inner whispers which truly come from ‘I’.
Mostly, I try and bring her and I closer. To that place of wholeness where there is just ‘I’.
Like trying to hold an over-excited, slightly angry and super stressed puppy I try and wrap my arms around her even though all I want to do is tell her to fuck off.
And it is when these moments arise that I am truly ‘well’. The end of all striving and grasping and craving. It is in those moments when I am witnessing the glorious gift that is life as it’s happening – in all its complex, traumatic, ethereal beauty – that I feel whole.
I am seeing through my eyes and settled in my body and I do not want to escape.
I just want to be. And witness. And rest there a while.
Because soon, she’ll be back. Ready to pick me up off my bum again and march me onwards. Ready to march me right into a storm.
Onwards toward a perfection that doesn’t exist.
Thinking about career and purpose? Would you like to co-create something with me?
The basis of all of my teaching and coaching work is mindfulness. It is the gift that allows us to truly see what is happening and to work out not only the patterns that keep us stuck, but the opportunities to move forward too. I currently have a limited number (8 remaining) of personalised Career and Purpose coaching sessions available – for women who are looking to evolve whilst still feeling safe. Pivot is a session where we talk about how to build on all that you’ve experienced in order to move forward – with one foot firmly planted and one eye on the road ahead. It’s a radical concept in a personal change industry obsessed with huge epiphanies, starting from scratch and wild decisions. When you invest in Pivot, you’ll receive:
- a pre-call questionnaire to help me intuitively feel into how best to help you, and to help you get clear on what you want out of our time together;
- a 90 minute session on the phone or skype with me;
- a workbook to work through during our call and afterward
- e-mail support following our call including recommended practices and rituals to work with.
We will tune into your powerful feminine gifts in order to find clarity on where you are being drawn, and together we will work through the blocks that are standing in your way. It’s a beautiful, compassionate session that will set you up for a soul-aligned 2018 and I’d love to invite you to share this sacred time together. You can book using the Paypal link here.