A Cautionary Tale: My Instagram Emotional Breakdown

I resisted getting on Instagram for years and years. I made up stories & excuses about how I was too old for it, how I was too wordy for it, how I didn’t take enough selfies for it, on and on.

And finally, in the Autumn, my team convinced me it was time. Instagram would be fun. It would help me impact more people who need the work.

I checked it out and decided it was actually a pretty interesting and valuable place to be.

Because I have such an engaged Facebook community, I figured it would be easy-peasy to get started on Instagram.

So I joined.
And worked with my team to prepare amazing content for it ahead of time.
And proceeded to then not really pay much attention to it.

I did this for a few months, keeping Instagram in the background. Until last month, I decided it was time to get serious about Instagram and really show up.

So I started logging in, wrote a post or two on the sly.

And one day I looked more closely, and noticed I didn’t have very many “followers” (ugh, can’t they call “followers” something else?).
About 300.
Hmmm. That didn’t feel so good.
What I heard in my head was something like, “That is a puny amount. How is it you only have 300 followers? You are doing something very very wrong.”

I promptly proceeded to check accounts of other entrepreneurs I know…and noticed I was starting to get that stomach-achy feeling when I found that many had thousands and tens of thousands followers.

And without even realizing it, that special, shaming, judgmental brand of Inner Talk that only my “Inner Humiliator” looking for prey can conjure, started a radio show in my head:

You suck.
No one cares about your work.
No one ever notices you because you don’t deserve to be noticed.
Your business is falling apart.

The nasty, harmful thoughts started here and there for a day or two and then kicked into high gear for a 24-7 “Shame-and-Fear-o-Fest”.

At one point I was catastrophizing so big that I was wondering if I should get a job at a supermarket.

The fear and anxiety culminated in an ugly crying (sobbing) breakdown after leaving Panera because there were no tables available for me to grab a quick lunch.

(Yes, you read right: I had a major sobbing breakdown triggered by not getting an Asian Sesame Salad at Panera!!!).

Now, let’s pause this story for a moment, because there are a couple important things to note:

1. When the Inner Humiliator takes over, fiction sounds like truth and truth sounds like fiction

My work doesn’t suck. It has impacted many people greatly. And my business is thriving and growing beautifully. I know that something as insignificant as how many followers I have on social media isn’t going to impact the health of my highly stable business. I point this out because absolutely nothing I was saying to myself was true. But my Inner Humiliator was blocking my ability to see my situation objectively & realistically.

2. We all need to stay on top of our inner work, no matter how much inner work we’ve already done

I 100% have done my work…and done my work…and done my work….for many years now around negative thoughts and Inner Take Downs and Shadow and all of that. In fact, my business is built on teaching practitioners how to help their own clients with all this. And yet…even I am still susceptible to it. Not because I haven’t done enough really stellar inner work around it….but because: we are all still susceptible to it. We all need to stay on top of our inner work; we don’t just “arrive” at perfection one day. End of story.

3. My Re-Wiring Negative Thought Patterns & Shadow and Archetype & Befriending Fears Skills Saved Me from true Self-Sabotage

It sucks that I beat myself up for a few days and that I had the unfortunate Panera incident, but the truth is that if I hadn’t been doing my Inner Work for the last 2 decades, the extent of the Instagram incident would have likely been much worse. Had I not been so practiced and masterful with my inner work, I may have beat myself up for weeks – or even months – instead of a few days; I may have decided to stop being visible on social media all together; I may have totally sabotaged a launch or client sessions.

Doing the Inner Work – and doing it well – is vital.

4. Self-Care truly does make us less susceptible to Self-Criticism and Self-Sabotage

It just so happens that when the Instagram incident happened, I was coming off of a month of two week-long emergency visits to NJ because each of my parents were in the hospital. I was tired. And I was still ragged from the drama and fear and energy exerted. My understandable exhaustion from the month made me even more susceptible than usual to fall prey to negative self-talk.

5. Social Media Fame does not determine your success, your worth, or anything else

I know this as a Truth, and I know you do too. But WOW, every now & again it’s easy to forget that. Just a friendly reminder ?

So, heed my cautionary tale: Even if you “know” better, and even if you are uber “evolved”, your inner Critic or inner Victim can sometimes get the best of you.

And when they do, whoa!, lookout – they can side swipe you & take you down if you’re not doing your inner work and also taking good care of yourself.

This happens way too often for soul-centered entrepreneurs: the Inner Critic unassumingly shows up, swoops in, starts whispering things like You’re not good enough…you’ll never succeed…they don’t like you…it’s never going to work…they’re better than you…who do you think you are…

…and slowly (or not so slowly) those “whispers” turn into full blown screams that take up head space & heart space, terrorize you, and maybe even eventually create self-sabotage in your actions.

Remember to be kind to yourself.
Remember to have self-compassion.
Do your Inner Work.
Confront your Shadows.
And take really good care of yourself.

….And of course, support your own clients with all of this too!

*The truth is that I really am sharing really awesome things on Instagram, and we have some provoking conversations going on there. If you’d like to connect with me there, I would be thrilled & honored!

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