We’re thrilled to welcome our latest guest Amelia Nagoski, esteemed author and stress relief superhero, to “SWIM Masters” as she, Natalie and Stephanie tap in to the topic of women’s inner dialogue and mental health. In our latest episode, she serves up valuable key strategies to kiss the “madwoman in the attic”—the negative voice inside your head—goodbye for good. Check out the exercise below, and the full episode here.
The Madwoman in the Attic
- A literary trove. It comes from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre is a governess for the house of Mr. Rochester and spoiler alert Mr. Rochester has a madwoman in his attic. It’s a symbol of the part of your brain that’s trying to handle the gap between who you are and who the world expects you to be. The madwoman’s job is to either blame the world for having dumb expectations that are unrealistic or blame you for not being good enough, etc. It develops early and for a lot of people it manifests as a self-critical voice.
- The madwoman is trying to get you to fit in. How do you keep her calm? You talk to her, protect her, tell her that you are receiving the messages she’s presenting to you and that you’ll address it.
I get a physical sensation of vertigo and a flash to a dream I’ve had my whole life of two little dust balls, a little one and big one pushing against each other. All I do, is I notice that I’m having this sensation.
I feel as if I’ve lost control. My madwoman almost takes control over my emotions and I literally feel as if I don’t have control over my life at the current moment. She overreacts and over exaggerates everything in the moment.
I used to think she was the little middle school Stephanie, who felt gross in her body and didn’t want to be seen as stupid. What hit me this morning, was that isn’t my madwoman, that’s the cultural message rather than me responding to the message. So, my madwoman is this banshee roaming around the hills of Ireland screaming. Once I address her issues, she’ll turn into this witch goddess and just in tune with the body.
WHO IS YOUR MADWOMAN IN THE ATTIC?
Amelia Nagoski, D.M.A. (it stands for Doctorate of Musical Arts) is the co-author, with her sister Emily, of the New York Times bestselling Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. Her job is to run around waving her arms and making funny noises and generally doing whatever it takes to help singers get in touch with their internal experience. She lives in New England with her husband, one cat, and two rescue dogs.