Quieting the Inner Critic
For the last decade or so, the end of February is always a time of tremendous reflection for me. It’s around the time of my birthday, which is cause to go within and do some soul searching, a personal inventory – where I am, where I’ve come, and where I want to be.
February – specifically February 25th – has also been an anniversary of sorts. You see, I’ve always had a mind for “dates” – remembering anniversaries, birthdays, significant events, and even seemingly small events – my entire life. Perhaps it’s a bit OCD of me, but it’s just how my brain works.
Anyway . . . February 25th marks the anniversary of when I decided, in 2002, to leave music school in the midst of pursuing my degree. I took a medical leave and returned home to Western Massachusetts, ashamed, embarrassed, and feeling like a failure. Of course, looking back, I see how it was the beginning of the journey that led me to readings, mediumship, and living a more spiritually based life. But at the time, I felt as though I had the scarlet stamp of “FAILURE” written across my forehead.
I have been doing a lot of work – both in therapy with a counselor, and in my spiritual practice – to observe my thoughts without getting swept away in them. For someone as empathic and highly emotional as myself, this is a tremendous challenge, and I don’t always do it well (if at all)! My therapist reminds me that practice and awareness will get me there. 🙂
Knowing my memory for dates, my tendency to be a perfectionist and hard on myself, and this new practice of observing the waves of emotions, it didn’t come as that much of a surprise when I found myself sobbing this morning in the shower. I began to compare my journey to that of everyone I knew, and of everything I thought I could, would, or should be. This friend just got engaged, that one just got married. This one is pregnant, that one just had another child. This friend just moved, that one got a raise at their job. This one just lost a bunch of weight, that one got accepted to grad school.
My inner child, the ever-impatient perfectionist, was screaming at me. What is WRONG with you? You aren’t any of those things. You’re never going to amount to anything.
I challenged that old belief: I don’t WANT any of those things. I’m fine just the way I am.
Little Jess screamed back: Look at you – almost 35, 13 years after leaving school and what do you have to show for yourself? NOTHING! You’re a failure – still – and always will be!
The inner voice won out and I found myself feeling awful . . . until I met with my therapist. Suddenly, with his guidance, I found myself challenging that inner belief.
Wait, who says I’m a failure? I have wonderful friends. I have a business of my own. I do work that I love with amazing and inspiring clients. I live in a town and neighborhood I love and have always wanted to live in. I’m ‘mom’ to a beautiful fur child.
He then reminded me to stop comparing my inner journey to others’ outer journeys. He asked me, “If you were a client of yours, what would you say to yourself?”
The first thing I responded with was, “Just STOP. Be gentle with yourself.”
To which he said, “Exactly.” And suddenly . . . I felt a surge of relief.
This is not to say I haven’t had moments of being down or beating myself up since I met with him this morning. I certainly have. But I’m able to be nicer to myself and not get swept away in the undertow of my emotions.
I hope that by sharing my journey with you, it can assist you the next time you feel swept up in emotions or chastising yourself. For me, in the moment I am at peace, and celebrating the anniversary of the beginning of my path (back) to connecting with Spirit!