“I sit in the library, an impossible workload before me. Is it impossible? That’s what I’m telling myself but as I look around I see people working tirelessly at their own mountains of material, whittling each one down. It must be me then, I’m not designed for this task. Someone, somewhere didn’t program me to be a robot sitting in the library grinding the hours away. I don’t have the patience. I don’t have the will power. I don’t need, wait, don’t deserve to be in this seat.” As I prepare for my test in perishable packaging these are my thoughts, I question my skill, my motivation, my intelligence, even sometimes my other challenges in life. How can I change this? With small steps in the right direction; each fact learned builds my confidence in my ability. Laying out a plan to follow and doing things I know will make me successful help as well. I’m not as bad off as I want to tell myself, I just have to sell the alternative.
“This is ridiculous, that exam exceeded my wildest dreams of difficulty. It was mostly free response; does she want us to fail? It makes no logical sense anyway, I mean don’t higher exam grades look better for a professor anyway? How could I have even answered the question, its not like I saw it in class for more than the blink of an eye?” Now, as I leave the Perishable midterm I come to the rescue of my own ego. I suddenly become pure in my own eyes and survey my surroundings for a scapegoat, the professor makes an easy target to rationalize my shortcomings. After all, without her, the exam would never have been borne to this world. As more time passes and wounds heal, I gain perspective. I see the extra time watching Netflix and the distraction of a relationship as points that have flown away. My procrastination becomes apparent and my method of study suddenly obviously flawed. It is with this clarity I formulate my next battle plan, fresh from defeat but using my wounds as fodder to prevent another shortcoming. The choice is mine how to proceed: with tail between legs, or on the bow of the ship battening down the hatches in advance for the swell growing on the horizon.
It’s six days before the exam, but I’m not on the couch. I’m in unfamiliar territory at this time of semester: the library. It feels different though, maybe because I’m not motivated by my survival instincts in this occasion. I’m doing this for myself, maybe not the self of this exact moment but the one of seven days from now. The me of seven days from now is not going to be stressing in the library forecasting that the end is near, he’ll be doing a simple final review and going to bed early. The other version of myself to benefit is also in the future: in ten days when the grades come back I’ll have a smile on my face when the topic of my exam inevitably comes up again. The exam is my second stat exam of the semester, and the hero of the situation is me. In letting myself listen to my own wise council, I’m changing the future and the present and letting the guide in myself drive toward greener pastures.
I’ve struggled throughout my life with what inner voice I’ve allowed myself to listen to and spend many years without having a clear picture of how they each might influence my perception of the world and thus my reality. I’ve come to the realization, both through personal experience and with new information I have gleaned both from my personal life and during instruction that of the Inner Critic, Inner Defender, and Inner Guide I tend to fall into the role of ‘Inner Critic’. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with self worth and had bouts of depression, I don’t really think that this was a cause for my critical thinking but more of a symptom. The issue with playing he inner critic is that the more you subscribe to that way of thinking, the more prone you are to make it a habit. As you criticize yourself on a daily basis you become entrenched in a way of thinking that permeates every aspect your life and thus becomes an underlying current in everything you do. I have spent a large part of the last year trying to change my default thought process from Critic to Guide and have been able to achieve a mostly Inner Guide mindset for months at a time, with some slip ups. I have found that what mindset you foster comes down to what you do on a daily basis, by doing simple small things on a daily basis to improve your situation and promote an Inner Guide mindset you can avoid falling back into patterns that promote and Inner Critic or Inner Defender mindset. Some things I like to do to allow my Inner Guide to flourish are waking up early, getting a good breakfast, planning my day and week, and taking time to do small things for myself. I find that when I act proactively and work towards being positive and productive, its much easier to maintain an inner voice that is constructive.