That Mean Girl

Wow! I was not prepared for her to greet me when I woke up this morning. Mean Girl was ON FIRE.

What the hell is the matter with you? Everybody else is doing something to help ease the suffering in this world right now, and here you are sleeping in. And once you get up, no doubt you’ll just play around with your hobbies and keep working on those projects you’ve put off for ages.  You’re lazy and self-serving.  And did you see all those people doing video chats with bunches of friends? What have you been doing holed up in your house? Do you even have friends? Probably not, you loser.

criticalperson

Like I said, she was on fire. And I hadn’t even fully opened my eyes or had a cup of coffee yet. It took me a long minute to figure out who was even talking to me. Oh yeah. Her. Mean Girl.

I used to believe that witchy woman in my head. She squatted in my entry way so everything in my life had to go past her. And I don’t mean she was forever in a crouched position. I mean she pitched her tent and set up residence. She had an opinion about everything – and nothing satisfied her.  I don’t often hear from her anymore so this morning took me by surprise. Of all times to show up, in the middle of a global pandemic isn’t ideal. But, then again, we are talking about a mean girl. They’ll kick you when you’re down.

So, take a deep breath. No, I don’t believe a mean girl actually lives in my head nor do I hear voices. But I imagine a good number of you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s that part of your brain that just won’t cut anybody any slack – especially not yourself. Over the years I’ve found it’s important to step back and observe my life and my thoughts instead of accepting everything at face value. And I find it easier to be objective about these thoughts by giving them a name. So, Mean Girl it is.

No doubt I was born with some of these tendencies, and then I took some well-meaning teachings and ran with them so far as to believe it was God who was “correcting” me – minus the minor curse words. And, well, you certainly can’t be mad at God, because He’s God and the Bible says He is love. So I was forced to accept that apparently the slave driver in my head was doing it for my best and for my eternal salvation so I ought to be happy about it. Right? Mmmm… that’s messed up.

Now, I have a super hard time telling my head to simply stop thinking or doing something. It’s like that Bob Newhart routine where he plays a psychiatrist. “Just stop it!” Yeah, it doesn’t work. I have to have a good reason to stop or change and an alternative something to hang on to – otherwise it’s just brain gymnastics.

For me, it was a paradigm shift about God that allowed me to kick Mean Girl into the closet. It was a realization that God isn’t about performance and there is no need to compare myself to other people. God is the weightiest “person” in my life, so no need to worry about what other people think of me. He’s also very gracious, so I don’t have to perform or prove myself to Him. It’s been a very freeing shift. I have a much easier time accepting myself and others for the flailing humans we are, experiencing life together, learning as we go. Mean Girl still pops her head out now and again to stir the pot, but I’ve gotten a lot quicker at recognizing her and shoving her ass back into the closet.

But…. I’ve been checking out Non-Violent Communication the past many months. This past week I’ve been reading about judgment, criticism, and listening for understanding instead of listening to the words. Aaannnd…I got to thinking about Mean Girl. What if I used that process on my own wacky thoughts that blast into my life uninvited? Does Mean Girl have something to … contribute…??  Could she possibly be of value to me?? If so, what was Mean Girl saying? If every communication is either a please or a thank you, I’d have to say Mean Girl was pleading with me this morning. Agreed, she has the communication skills of a five-year old having a temper tantrum, but what did she need?

If I had to guess, which I do when dealing with 5-year old Mean Girl, I’d say she is feeling isolated and missing her friends. I’d say she’d like to feel connected. She’d like affection in the form of a few hugs. She feels helpless and wants to feel like she has something meaningful to contribute to the world right now.

I hear ya, Girl Friend. I hear ya.

I’m right there with ya’.