Don’t stand out.
Don’t be too vulnerable.
Don’t make a mistake.
Those are the three rules of the Monger (inner critic). She has others—but universally, those are her three rules.
Last Sunday I broke the first two rules—I stood out, and I was vulnerable, and I wanted to share how my Monger let me know and how I dealt with it.
One of my goals in my writing and talking about mental health is to share its realness. To show how freaking hard acknowledging your feelings and practicing self-loyalty is in everyday life.
In last Sundays’ newsletter I described my initial reaction to the Meghan Markle interview. If you missed it, head over here to read it. As I pressed send on the newsletter, I was super excited and proud about the message showing the complexity of empathy and kindness. My Biggest Fan was celebrating with me, and the main message running through my brain was, “You are doing it! Sharing your vulnerable and realness, nicely done.”
But by mid-afternoon, I started to hear my Monger. “What were you thinking!?! I can’t believe you shared that you were judgy of Meghan Markle.” My Monger’s messages were vague and non-specific as they tend to be. But the overall theme was I sucked, and people were going to judge me.
On Sunday afternoons, I try my hardest to make it a work-free judgment-free time. But last Sunday, as I sat on the couch watching the Mad About You Reboot, my Monger was running her propaganda loop about how I am the only one struggling with these concepts, and if I were a better person (whatever that means), it wouldn’t be so hard.
I didn’t practice A.S.K.; I didn’t do anything I tell my clients to do. I tried to distract and ignore the messages. I double down with numbing by grabbing my phone and playing some games while watching T.V., and when that didn’t work, I polished off the ½ pint of ice cream I was saving in the freezer.
My distractions didn’t work. It just temporarily quieted her, so when I started going to bed and all the distractions were gone, she went for the jugular.
“You are such an idiot. You will lose clients, and no one will want to hire an unempathetic coach. Your desire to show how hard it is—is going to leave you broke!” She said.
I grabbed my phone and went downstairs. I handed my phone to my husband, so he could read the newsletter message, and said, “Here, read this. My Monger is telling me I am an unempathetic mean girl, and I am going to be out of a job.” He took the phone and started reading as I stood over him, hands on my hips, convinced my Monger was right.
As he scrolled through, He said, “Ok, still waiting for the part where you are unempathetic—all you are doing is talking about how empathy is hard, which it is.” He looked up at me and smiled, and said, “Tell your Monger to take a hike.” He hugged me, and I headed back upstairs to get ready for bed.
As I laid in bed, I FINALLY practiced A.S.K. I acknowledged that I was feeling insecure, uncomfortable, and fearful, but also, I was feeling excited and pleased that I had written the email. When I got to the K, kindly pull back to see the big picture. My Biggest Fan stepped in and said, “Oh Sweet Pea, you broke 2 of the Monger’s rules. You stood out, and you were vulnerable. That doesn’t mean it was a bad thing. Just means it is uncomfortable.” And then my Monger was quiet, and I remembered what it felt like earlier that day when I originally pressed send on the email.
Couple of things I was reminded of:
The bottom line, Mongers are tough. But she doesn’t have to win. Years ago, she would have convinced me to stay quiet and stop standing out. But I know through this work, through A.S.K., through being kind to myself, she may still jump in and ruin an afternoon, but she doesn’t run the show anymore. And I will take that as a win.