Photo by Averie Woodard

My mind is a bad neighborhood, and I try not to go there alone after dark. ~Anne Lamott 

I’ve been having fun! Those of us who are interested in healing our wounds tend to engage in strange practices. I call it practice because you get to do it more than once! Today I felt it was time to get all of the really mean, self-inflicted comments out of my head and on to paper. Fun, right? Now and then I feel the urge to do this so the crazy can’t keep sneaking up on me – it has to do its name-calling to my face, so to speak.

I used an exercise from a delightful little book, Queen of Your Own Life by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff. They call the voices the Mongol Hordes – which is brilliant!! The exercise is this: set a timer for 10 minutes and let the Mongols have at you. They get to say their piece and then they need to be supportive, or silent. Turns out my Horde is full of people I know pretty well…my family, friends, old flames, various disgruntled aspects of myself. And they have horrible things to say about me, really hurtful things. But I just listen and say “Uh huh, any more?” And they go on, and on, until they run down.

OK, I lied about the fun. It can be pretty painful.

What the heck is the point of this, you ask? Me too sometimes! But if you have never tried really hearing the mean comments your mind can spew, you may find it’s quite eye-opening. The Horde’s yelling is the background commentary I live with every day. Ignoring it isn’t a long term option. I start to believe it. I make decisions and choices based on it. I really need to know if that is a good idea.

So, I listen. I write it all out in a journal because writing tends to help me access these things (plus later I can go back and address any of the comments that are really sticky and don’t want to go away). Today I learned I’m ugly, stupid, will soon be on the street, a fool, incapable, hated by all, and more…the usual attacking Horde stuff. I find mixed in with the horror of what I say to myself are a few actual gems of usefulness. Yes indeed, I could use a better system to track my finances. I’ll get on that! A lot of it is simply ridiculous (not everyone hates me…), so I can just laugh and let it go. And that feels good!

I also find I have compassion for the Horde. These are voices and beliefs I have internalized from people who (mostly) wish me well. They want to help. The voices want me to be safe. Often, I just don’t want their version of safe. So, I like to thank the voices, and then I love Kathy’s and Cindy’s idea of asking them to be supportive instead of negative. Delicious!

After this practice I feel so much better! The Mongols are off my case, and I can move on with my life with a lot more clarity and excitement. And when they start to mass on my borders again I know just what to do.

How about you? Talked with your Horde lately?