“Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by Regina George.”
Yeah, you. Your name is Regina.
And my name is Regina, too.
In fact, I think most if not all of us have been a “Regina George” at some point in our lives.
If you’ve never seen the movie, Mean Girls, and you don’t understand why I’m calling you “Regina”, here is a brief explanation:
In Mean Girls, Regina George is the ultra-popular “queen bee” of North Shore High School where she maintains basically a tyrannical regime over her classmates. She does this by manipulating and sabotaging her peers into believing a painfully false yet convincing narrative: that Regina is everything, and everyone else is nothing.
This probably doesn’t sound like you, right? You’re not this unethical bully who stops at nothing to make life a living hell for her enemies (right?!?!). So, why am I making this baseless claim that you are or have ever been a “Regina”?
Have you ever told yourself that you couldn’t do something because you weren’t good enough?
Have you ever cheated yourself out of success and happiness because you didn’t believe you deserved it?
Have you ever looked at the people around you and asked yourself, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you have it together like they do?”
Have you ever crashed and burned in a performance and thought to yourself, “Wow, you SUCK. That was absolute flaming horse doodoo. Why are you the actual worst?!”
If you’ve ever done any or some variant of the things above...yikes, Regina. That’s a pretty yucky way to treat somebody, Regina.
And if you have never really said things so vicious to yourself, that’s pretty amazing! You go, Glenn Coco. The rest of us have some work to do.
The Rise of Regina’s Regime
Most of us have been saying some pretty nasty things about ourselves to ourselves ever since we learned how to feel shame. From a young age, we learned that in order to be significant in society, we have to achieve higher than the highest standards (and also look hot while we do it). The classical music world in particular thrives on perfectionism and virtuosity. It’s a dog-eat-dog world where it doesn’t matter who you have to stomp on or the amount of blood, sweat, and tears you have to shed to get to the top (the more the better, obviously—don’t you care about your career?!). We innocently set out on our journeys toward becoming the most perfect creatures anyone has ever witnessed, but being the imperfect creatures that we naturally are…splat. We inevitably fall off the path.
Off the path is where Regina reigns supreme. Regina was born when we learned to want to be these overachieving machines despite the fact that it’s just not possible for humans to be perfect. She was born because we just don’t know how to deal with ourselves if we can’t be the humans that society expects us to be, or if we can’t be the musicians that academia expects us to be. Regina is fear: fear of rejection, fear of vulnerability, fear of the unknown.
Common sense tells us that Regina is no good for us. We’ve all heard this before: get that negative self-talk out of your system because it’s just getting in your way! You’re undermining yourself.
But like many other powerful tyrants (and like in the movie), Regina is cunning and manipulative. She makes us believe that we need her and her awful, stinky ways. We need to be kicked and shamed because that’s what we deserve for being so flawed. If we listen to her, maybe the pain will somehow propel us forward and get us closer to everything she dangles in front of our noses: that flawless technique, the dream performance career, well-balanced life, successful relationships...she’s seductive like that.
Burn that MF to the Ground
So how can we take her down, once and for all? Well, in Mean Girls they cut off her resources—her “hot” bod, boy toy, and minion friend group—to make her less powerful. While I can’t condone the ways they went about this scheme in the movie, they were definitely on to something. If you take away the things that give someone power, she suddenly becomes much less threatening.
Here are a couple of things that might help take away the power from our own personal Reginas:
One of the most powerful ways Regina gets you to let her stay is by making you believe that you don’t deserve your success and happiness, that you are fundamentally flawed and therefore not worthy of the things you reach for. You probably even have evidence to back this cuckoo claim up. First things first, we usually have a strong bias towards information that supports the things that we want to believe and tend to completely ignore the information that doesn’t. So make sure you aren’t filtering your beliefs to form your own false narratives. Second, I bet you real money (and this means a lot because I don’t have any) that most of this evidence that you have doesn’t even come close to making you any less deserving of true happiness and success.
Also, what makes you sooooo special? All the billions and billions of people out here and you’re sitting over there (looking like a SNACK, by the way) thinking that somehow YOU deserve any less than the person next to you? Girl, please. I wish you were that special. No, you deserve all the best, as much as the people in your life that you’re cheering on.
It’s often really hard to believe in the logic, so sometimes you just have to fake it ‘til you make it and force her to be on her way. What do I mean? Whenever you start hearing Regina nag you with that negative self-talk, fight back with positive self-talk. Even if you don’t believe it completely, you have to say these things, because you’re the best person to protect you from yourself. You can start small, like, “I’m trying my best,” or, “It’s okay for me to make mistakes.” What would you tell your friends if they were beating themselves up? Remember, you deserve the same amount of grace as anyone else. No matter what it is, the positivity has to come from YOU. The more you say it, the easier it will be to believe it, and the less power Regina has. And when bad things happen, hopefully, your knee-jerk reaction becomes less destructive thoughts and more constructive, supportive ones. Consistency is key. If you haven’t already, make it a point to make daily affirmations part of your routine. Reminding yourself of how awesome you are every day can really help rewire your thought patterns into something less scary.
Kicking Regina out doesn’t and can’t happen overnight (she has too much stuff). But if you can trust in the process AND YOURSELF, she could be on her way out in due time. I’m not saying that any of this will work 100%, and I’m not saying that these are the only ways to get better (please see a licensed counselor or therapist!!!). But it could be kinda fun and helpful to picture your negative self-talk as Rachel McAdams.
Anyway, I hope that if anything, reading this might inspire you to be a little nicer to yourself BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT!!!!