Learning Objective #1: Mindset Recognizing and Revising Self-Talk Patterns

In a world of millions, the one voice that truly matters is the voice inside your own head. In this first Learning Objective, the focus will be on "Recognizing and Revising Self-Talk Patterns", or, in other words, revising the way that we talk to ourselves. As the saying goes, "Would you talk to someone you love the way that you talk to yourself?" This Learning Objective will serve to identify and evaluate the three inner voices that are within our minds that influence our attitudes and behaviors. The ultimate goal is trying to alter the negative aspects of these voices to provide a more positive voice or outlook.

Objective: Be able to recognize “fixed” and “growth” mindset perspectives and use this awareness to foster a growth mindset

Part 1: Identifying Three Major Voices

Inner Critic

Inner Critic

“I can’t be confident today, I don’t look pretty enough.”

Definition - The Inner Critic sees the worst version of you and spits it right back in your face. It judges you, blames you, complains about us to ourselves. It seems like this voice would be helpful so that we can see our faults and address them, however, the Inner Critic only criticizes and tears us down without building us back up.

Identify - “This morning I only had a Spanish lab and then nothing until two o’clock later that day, so I decided to wear minimal makeup because I planned on taking a shower in my dorm after my class. I walked out of my building and looked upon the dolled up faces of some of my fellow students and said to myself: “Wow, I look like crap and now I feel like crap because these girls are so much prettier than me.” This voice of worthlessness that was telling me that I wasn’t good enough is my Inner Critic and, regretfully, I listened to this voice so it immediately influenced my decisions, behaviors and actions. Usually, I would normally smile and wave at people, but this Inner Voice made me change into someone who looked at the ground when they walked and just focused on getting to class instead of stopping and talking to people. My Inner Critic limits me and makes me see what I'm doing wrong without a way to fix it. However, it is ultimately my voice that is speaking and I am the source that can change it.

Revise - In order to change the language I use toward myself, I plan on being positive or looking at the situation in a positive light instead of immediately beating myself up. For example, the other day I got a ticket for parking in the wrong area and instead of immediately beating myself up about it, I assessed the situation and realized that I’d have to be more careful where I parked and to be aware of parking deadlines and such.

Inner Defender

Inner Defender

“I wouldn’t have a ticket if that dumb cop hadn’t stopped me!”

Definition - blames others for your failures or shortcomings before focusing inward and seeing what you can do better. Also provides complaining and a demeaning attitude toward others in order to prevent criticism from others.

Identify - Last week, I was stopped by a cop after I had made a turn across a major highway in an area where only certain vehicles were allowed to turn. I had missed the exit for Walmart and, having done that before, I knew the closest way to turn around was a little gravel connector between the two parts of the highway which I had taken before. As soon as I made the turn, I saw a guy look at me, pull over and turn on his police lights; turns out he was an undercover cop. I was mentally cursing myself, the cop and the universe all in the timespan it took for him to walk up to my window. He asked me if I was okay and explained that people only used that turn for emergency or for marked vehicles that were allowed to. Immediately my inner defender came out and I explained that I missed my exit, blaming it all on the fact that I was lost and blaming the sunlight in my eyes to explain why I couldn’t see the clearly marked sign that stated only certain vehicles could turn there. I mentally started blaming the universe, saying to myself “Of course, a cop would be there the exact moment I turned. Of course”, blaming the cop and circumstances and good timing instead of taking responsibility for my actions.

Revise - Instead of blaming everyone else, or even the universe, I need to take a step back and survey the situation to see if I’m in the wrong. And if I am in the wrong, I need to take responsibility for it and not mentally complain about it or defend my actions if they are in the wrong.

Inner Guide

Inner Guide

“I didn’t do so hot on a quiz, so what areas do I need to improve on and how can I do that?”

Definition - I think of the Inner Guide more as the Jiminy Cricket of the brain, offering wisdom and the best solution for the problem at hand. It offers a better perspective of ourselves and others, not attacking or demeaning anyone in the process of thought. It tells us the hard truth and makes us more conscious of our shortcomings or hard circumstances that need to be addressed so that we can do whatever we can to fix it.

Identify - I noticed when I didn’t do very well on a Spanish quiz that I immediately started assessing what I could do to improve my knowledge on the material so that I could do better on the final test. I assessed what I did wrong which was to not study every single vocabulary word that was assigned to us. By targeting my mistakes, I could avoid those mistakes in the future. While I didn’t get an awful grade, not getting the grade I wanted made me think of new study strategies that I could make use of in order to study the material better; for example, studying a little bit of the material every day, making and going over flash cards on the material, and making use of the online text and all of the perks that come with it such as practice tests and quizzes. Instead of blaming me or calling out my failures, my inner guide helped me to pinpoint the problem and come up with new solutions to improve.

Revise - This type of talk--being honest with oneself but not providing blame--is quite refreshing and helps to look at the situation in a positive light. Instead of getting angry with myself, my Inner Guide looks at the situation in a “How can I improve?” way that helps to bring about a change instead of blocking any chance at improvement with negative self talk or self blame. The overall result of having an Inner Guide is positive, addressing what is wrong in the situation and providing a range of solutions to chose from.

Part 2: Reflect

In my experience, I’ve found that my “default setting” is usually a mix of the Inner Defender and the Inner Critic. They both take turns either internally attacking me or defending any attacks from others so that I will not appear in the wrong. I honestly didn’t realize that these two were my default settings until after completing this Learning Objective and taking a serious look at how I internally talk to myself. Of course, I have those moments where my Inner Guide takes hold of my brain and leads my thoughts into a positive but realistic light, but it makes sense that if I am talking to myself in a negative way that I would generally be a negative person. I think that the Inner Defender and the Inner Critic are my default settings because I’m always looking at myself from other’s perspectives and I just want to make sure that I am aware of my faults, however, that doesn’t stop me from defending these faults from others, as seen by my Inner Defender voice. “Just because I make fun of myself doesn’t mean that I can let others do it” was how I justified to myself having an Inner Defender voice; however, this argument is completely flawed and this idea doesn’t help me or others in any way, shape or form. I would love to change my inner voice to my Inner Guide all the time, but I’m just afraid. “Afraid of what?” I ask myself. “I don’t know.” I’ve just realized that this argument is also invalid and I've also just had an epiphany: there is nothing wrong with being realistically positive. In order to change my inner voice, I need to revise how I talk to myself: offering less harsh judgement and more understanding. I also need to not be so hard on myself but I do need to be honest and address issues that need to be handled instead of ignoring them like I have done in the past. In the future, I see myself using this positive change to help stop my excessive procrastination by honestly surveying what needs to be done and when instead of putting things off or ignoring them in favor of doing something else that makes me feel better in the short run. I also see this Inner Guide as making me more approachable due to the fact that I will not be constantly criticizing myself or expecting others to criticize me, creating a happier sense of self and an increased proclivity to interact with others.


Created with images by PublicDomainPictures - "bubble caucasian thought" • FromSandToGlass - "Positive Atmosphere" • alexisnyal - "9-23-10" • hang_in_there - "couple yelling at each other" • Kashirin Nickolai - "Road meditation"

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