Surviving a Psychic Attack
Have you ever been in a conversation, or in a meeting, and suddenly someone says something to you that cuts you to the core?
You start asking yourself questions like:
“Wait, did she/he just say something shitty, or am I imagining this?”
“Am I ok here?”
“Did I just do something bad? Say the wrong thing?”
I’ve found that most psychic attacks aren’t shouty or obvious to the outside observer, but to the recipient, they hurt like hell. And they usually come out of nowhere, catching us completely off guard.
It can feel like a trap door opens beneath you, and down you go, your dignity and confidence trailing behind you. Or maybe your stomach turns to liquid, your throat suddenly feels tight, or your mouth gets dry.
A psychic attack strips you of your access to the present moment, and sends you scrambling inside of yourself to mentally watch and rewatch the scene, looking for clues… What the hell just happened here?
I use the phrase psychic attack to describe these moments, not because I mean “psychic” in the woo-woo, crystal ball sense, but because these are attacks on our psyches. They turn our inner world upside down temporarily, causing us to flail around until we find a way to make sense of the situation. They set us on the edge of full blown panic, or—worse yet—on the verge of tears.
How do we survive these moments?
Actually, I think the better question to ask is:
How might we become stronger as the result of a psychic attack?
This shift in thinking can make a world of difference. This question pulls us out of a victim mind set, and puts us into a witness mindset. And the witness mindset is always rooted in the present moment because it taps our curiosity, instead of nursing our pain.
With curiosity guiding my witness moments, I’ve noticed a few things.
Their Voice or Yours?
The most painful psychic attacks I’ve ever experienced hurt because they rang true for me on some level.
For example, as a new mom, when someone would question my decision to go back to work instead of staying home with my daughter, I would fall apart. Why? Because I questioned my decision too. I wasn’t sure that it was possible to invest enough of myself into my kids while also investing in my own career.
Fast forward 11 years, and now when someone questions me about that decision, it barely registers as a psychic attack. Because now I know that it is possible to be fully engaged in parenting and in furthering my career. But it took some self-reflection and time to finally establish my own belief about what is and isn't possible as a working mother. Without the sting of those attacks, I wouldn't have been forced to deal with my own inner reckoning.
Now I know that when an attack shows up, it's a golden opportunity to get right with myself and my choices. I believe that there are few things more powerful in this world than a woman who is in a state of clarity and integrity about her own life choices. She becomes a force of nature. I don't know about you, but I am DOWN with being a force of nature in this crazy world of ours.
Notice the Timing.
I’ve also learned that attacks are usually well-timed.
They seem to happen when I step outside of my comfort zone… when I feel the most vulnerable and exposed. I now know that a psychic attack can mean magic is afoot, and I'm about to tackle some next level shit, as will.i.am. would say.
I remember the first time I gave a talk to an audience of over 500 people. My heart was racing, and I was using every breathing technique I’ve ever learned to stay calm. Just before I took the stage, a woman standing next to me gave me what I can only describe as a mean smirk and said, “Nice dress.” It was the first Prada dress I had ever owned, and I was both proud and self conscious about it.
Luckily, in that moment, I was able to see the remark and its perfect timing. As if God herself was asking, “So you want to be a speaker, huh? Are you strong enough?”
I looked the woman in the eye and said, “Thanks darlin’! I feel amazing in it!”
And with that, I marched on stage and proceeded to *slay*.
When I told my dad about the attack later that night, he said, “Well you learned something today… Now you know you can hit a curve ball.”
Our Reaction is Our Fate.
The more we show up and shine, the more the haters gonna hate… but the richer our lives become.
I would never bother reading a novel with a main character for whom everything goes smoothly. I prefer a deeply flawed heroine who claws her way through circumstances that seem conspired to make her fail, but that in retrospect were the key to her ultimate triumph. Dark forests, false friends and roving, hungry beasts along the way are what make a story worth hearing about, and then retelling.
Clarissa Pinkola-Estes once wrote:
“For many women, the transformation from feeling oneself swept away or enslaved by every idea or person who raps at her door to being a woman shining with La Destina, possessed of a deep sense of her own destiny, is a miraculous one.”
When I look back on the times that I reacted to a psychic attack by hiding, or cowering, or by simply enduring, I see them as lost opportunities. Demonizing the attacker (I mean can you believe she said that to me??) felt good for a bit, but did me no good in the end.
But when I look back on the times when I was able to perceive an attack for what it was — a teacher—I see courage and curiosity and humor and growth. I see La Destina.
The next time you find yourself under attack, instead of wondering, Am I ok? What just happened?, say:
Bring it. I’m ready for whatever you have to teach me about my own strength.
Shine on, my friends.