Common Exhibit #1: Recognizing and Revising Self-Talk Patterns
Definition: The Inner Critic judges us, blames us, complains about us, and demeans us. Through constant self-criticism, the Inner Critic hopes to perfect our actions, thoughts, and feelings to meet the approval of others and thus avoid their displeasure and possible punishment.
Identify: My sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, means a lot to me. Coming here as a freshman knowing so many people and carrying my past with me, it enabled me to have a fresh start and meet girls from other states. Most of my friends from South Carolina join the same sorority but I was ready to branch out and meet people from across the country and Zeta allowed me to do this. However, grades are an important factor in sororities and it is required to have a 3.0 GPA. Obviously, I did not meet that requirement, nor was I anywhere close to it. So I had to meet with the academic chair 30 minutes ago to discuss my punishments. I walked into the room and sat down with the girl and she asked me which classes I took last semester, so I named them. After discussing why my GPA was so low, she told me that I was required to document 7 study hours every week, and she must monitor 3.5 of them. I smiled and agreed, however my inner critic said to myself, “Are you kidding me? There’s no possible way I can do that. I made a 1.1 GPA last semester and probably studied 2 hours at the most, how do they expect me to do this. Charlotte you’re literally so stupid there’s no way you’re going to be able to stay at Clemson. I bet at the most you’ll get a 2.0 this semester.”
Revise: Although I doubted my ability to stay in my sorority this semester, or much less Clemson, I should have taken this 7 study hour requirement as a blessing. Instead of dreading the study hours, I should have had my inner guide say, “Having 7 study hours will make your grades improve so much. With this much studying you will definitely make a 3.0. This is another great reason to be in your sorority, it will help you learn to study and help your grades improve.” In order to begin listening to my inner guide and eradicate the thoughts of my inner critic, I need to start looking at this semester as a whole new clean slate and think positive about how my grades can only get better from then. Having a growth mindset is important when having ambitions to improve your grades and studying habits. It allows you to have hope and strive for greatness.
Definition: The Inner Defender judges others, blames others, complains about them, and demeans them. Its positive intention seems to be fending off criticism and punishment from powerful others. As such, the Inner Defender becomes a master of the preemptive strike.
Identify: When registering for classes first semester, I got the last time ticket therefore most required classes that I wanted to take were already full. Therefore, I had to take unpopular and difficult classes such as Geography of the Physical Environment and Anthropology. Before the date we were allowed to withdraw from classes I never read the reviews on the website “rate my professor”. No matter how hard I tried in anthropology it seemed like I just kept failing, therefore I started to give up. A few days after I decided not to withdraw, I went online and read the ratings for my Anthropology professor. The highest grade he gave someone was a C, and everyone was saying things like “Drop him NOW”, “Worst professor I’ve ever had”, and “Impossible professor!”. A few minutes ago when my mom and I were discussing my grades and how I failed Anthropology, I immediately defended myself by saying “Well you know I probably would’ve passed if I didn’t have such an awful professor! Everyone else with a different professor did well, and everyone even said he’s an impossible grader”. I immediately blamed my failing grade on the professor.
Revise: Although the professor could have been a huge factor in my failing grade, that wasn’t the only reason. As I continued to do poorly on in-class essays and exams, I began to give up and not go to class because “there was no hope”. Instead of immediately defending myself and blaming the professor for failing me, I should have used my inner guide and said “Look mom, I’ll admit, I did get unlucky with my professor, but I did stop trying and gave up hope. I should’ve kept going forward and the professor should have encouraged me to try even harder”. In order to correct the defensive language that I use with myself and to my mom, I need to begin to be more positive and take responsibility for my actions. Although there are always factors that can help situations or make them worse, my actions are my own and I need to take responsibility in my mind for them.
Definition: The Inner Guide offers an objective and wise perspective about ourselves and others. Our Inner Guides tell us the absolute truth (as best we can know it at that moment), allowing us to be more fully conscious of the world, other people, and especially ourselves.
Identify: A few hours ago, I received my psychology test grade back and got a 73. However, luckily it got curved to a 79. I studied fairly hard for this test and got a tutor ahead of time to begin explaining the concepts so that I could understand and study. I even made a quizlet with flashcards, which is far more effort than I put into any test the first semester. Instead of getting defensive and angry about my grade when I received it, my inner guide kicked in and I said to myself, "Wow Charlotte I'm so proud of you. You actually worked really hard on this and this is the highest grade in a real class you have gotten at Clemson so far. Now that you know what her tests are like, you can study harder next time and make an even better grade next time!". This enabled me to be calm and instead of getting angry or upset, I was actually very satisfied and was put in a good mood for the rest of my day.
Don't Revise: Instead of being hard on myself and causing myself to be put in a bad mood for the rest of the day, my inner guide enabled me to have hope for the future. I remained calm and satisfied with my work, and I was able to have hope in getting an even better grade next time while knowing my past mistakes and how to fix them.
Part 2: Reflect: Honestly, after conducting this self-expirement I noticed that my true "default setting" is the Inner Critic. Pretty much other than the time I previously wrote about when my inner guide kicked in, every other experience was my inner critic. I am typically a very pessimistic person and not only is that just my personality, but also I am pessimistic so that I am not let down when I fail. It sounds pretty sad but if you expect the worst and get the worst, you are not sad. However, if you expect the worst and get better, you have a reason to be happy. Therefore I correct and critique myself so that in the future I can try to do better and will not be hurt by the outcome. Although this can help sometimes, I definitely want to change my "default setting" from Inner Critic, solely because being pessimistic and constantly critiquing yourself is not always healthy. After conducting the Inner Guide experiment, I have noticed that having an Inner Guide attitude puts you in a glorious, calm mood, and gives you hope for the future. In order to shift my Inner Critic to an Inner Guide, I will begin by stopping and analyzing my thought process after every situation. I will catch myself when I am thinking as an Inner Critic and reflect on how I could change my thinking to an Inner Guide in that situation. Hopefully, thinking as an Inner Guide will enable me to be successful this semester and even in the long run.