Dear Neil: You have recently written about our “inner critic” and how we handle our mistakes. I seem to be forever plagued by emotionally wrenching emotions. I am pregnant, and I am extremely torn about what to do. On the one hand, I would love to have a child. On the other hand, I’m not in a committed relationship, and I do not want to raise a child alone.
I’m also plagued by wincing at what I said in the past, or how I said it or how I handled a situation. In addition, I forever have a “to do” list that keeps churning inside of my head. Internally, I’m a wreck. I can’t sleep, and I’m having a hard time concentrating.
Tortured in Australia
Dear Tortured: You are describing “inner noise.” You have several unresolved internal struggles going on at the same time, which is why you’re feeling so plagued and tortured by competing thoughts, desires and feelings. Many people—not just you—are so noisy inside that they can barely pay attention to other people, events and emotions around them.
The way to lessen this internal noise is give it expression. Different emotions and thoughts inside of you are trying to express themselves. Here’s how you can allow them expression.
Invite the emotions within you that represent “have the baby” to express themselves. If you do this in writing you can look at it at a later date—otherwise you are likely to forget many of the things that side of you says. Then invite the emotion “this is the wrong time” to express itself. After that, invite the part of you that is critiquing and criticizing you for your past behaviors that make you feel embarrassed about something you said or did. Give these emotions full voice and an unedited license to express themselves.
Then allow your “higher self” expression. This is the part of you that sees beyond your errors or miscues, to your intentions. It sees the “you” that tries hard and is sincere and genuine. This is the side of you that loves and respects you, that wants the best for you, that try hard to do the right thing and that is friendly and compassionate toward you.
In the same fashion, you can invite your hurt to express itself, as well as your vulnerability, your hope, your anger, your anxiety, your sadness, your fear and so on. Any internal struggle can be dialogued out using this basic script. One book that explains this process is Embracing Our Selves by Hal and Sidra Stone. If you invite the various emotions, thoughts, fears and feelings within you clear full expression, it will be less noisy inside your head.