How to Deal with Mental Tsunamis
Do you have what my friend, Faith, calls “that crazy roommate in your head who goes on an inner monologue that is equivalent to a mental tsunami?” What a fantastic description of the inner critic! I can so relate; and I hear it from my clients all the time.
One of the things I keep having to learn, re-learn, and then re-learn again, is offering myself compassion. I offer it freely to others, but when it comes to myself, when I make a mistake, my relentless inner critic can have a field day.
One of my spiritual practices is a meditation that offers compassion to others. And it always begins with myself. Of course, when I’m in self-flagellation mode, I completely forget to do this meditation. When it comes to offering compassion to myself, it’s a different story.
The Mental Tsunami
The other night I missed a FaceTime meeting with a dear friend and colleague. I completely forgot about it (for the second time in a couple of months). In fact, I didn’t even remember it until the next day when I saw an email from her asking me where I was.
That’s when my mental tsunami hit. I felt terrible all day. And of course, I felt even worse, because it’s the second time.
Even though I know how and why I forgot, and have a plan to make sure that I won’t miss another Sunday evening meeting with her or anyone else if I schedule one, there is still that niggling voice inside that says I “shouldn’t” have done it in the first (and definitely not the second) place.
Feeling into the Inner Critic
Can you relate? That inner critic can be so vicious — and so often it’s really hard to deal with. So many of my clients say the same. It’s so difficult to accept that we’re human.
And that’s it, isn’t it? Faith was feeling terrible about an accident she had, and she saw the words that Sha’Carri Richardson tweeted after losing her place on the Olympic relay team due to testing positive for marijuana: “I am human.” Faith said it opened up a whole new conversation for her.
Mistakes are just that —mistakes. Accidents are just that — accidents.
But like so many others I know, my history has told me that if you make a mistake or have an accident, you are a failure, stupid, not worthy, or worse.
Because of this history that I and so many of my clients — and maybe you as well? — share, we’ve tried really hard not to make mistakes or have accidents or fail in any way. When you try that hard, it’s exhausting because you’re always trying to be several steps ahead so you can avoid it in the first place.
Those three words say so much, and open up a whole new avenue for me to offer myself compassion. If I’m not holding myself to some impossible standard of perfection, then there is room to make mistakes.
Those words open up something in me that allows me to hear the inner critic and not take her so seriously. As I do that, I am reminded of one of the essential statements of Sufism, which is a big part of my spiritual practice these days.
The statement is La ilaha illa’lah. Its literal translation is No! (that’s what the first word, La means). No! There is no god but God. There is nothing but the Divine. No! There is nothing but the Source of Love.
All is from the Source of Love
What a relief. When I can come back to that essential statement and truly take it in, I let go of my self-flagellation. And that allows me to rest. I don’t have to be perfect or even very good. I can rest in the sure knowledge that there is truly nothing but the Source of Love.
What happens when you remember that everything comes from the Source of Love?
How could that open you up?
What if the experience of mistakes, accidents, or even failure, were an act of love as well? What if something wonderful was made from the experience?
It might just refuel you. It might release you from the mental tsunami. It might set you free.
What might you do with freedom like that?1
Do you desire some support in moving through your own Inner Critic?
My next attunement and healing session is on the upcoming astrological blue moon on August 22.
One of the big themes is freedom.
I invite you to join me to shift out of self-flagellation to self-compassion; out of shame to freedom.
1The last part of this article was very much inspired by Diane Douiyissi, “Finding Freedom from Fear in your Marketing.” ©2021 Diane Douiyssi. I found her questions so helpful for what I was working with, and she graciously allowed me to repurpose them for this article. Used with permission. This article and many others, along with other free resources about authentic marketing, are available at www.innerwisdomwayfinding.com.
One of the resources that I’ve found hugely helpful in moving to greater self-compassion is David Whyte’s “The Poetry of Self-Compassion.” I have it on CD, and I find it helps when that inner critic gets a hold on me. Another is Mary Oliver’s poem, “Wild Geese.” If you are struggling with your own inner critic, I hope you find them as helpful as I have.