We all have our inner voices. The demon and angel on our shoulder, telling us right from wrong. Tempting us in different directions.
Who Are You Listening Too?
We have three inner voices – the inner critic, the inner defender, and the inner guide.
The inner critic is the one that blames us and demeans us. It puts mental limitations on us, telling us that because we aren't good at it, we can't do it. So why do it at all?
I've had quite a few occurrences where my inner critic comes out and tells me that I can't do something.
One of those times was when I was studying for a Lab Quiz. We were learning how to recognize different types of tissue in mammals and amphibians. I was having a hard time remembering the complex names of the different tissues when my inner critic popped up. “I don’t think I will be able to remember these in time. I’m just not good at straight memorization. And spelling counts too, so I know that will cause my points to drop. I’m just not good at this kind of thing.”
I was talking myself out of being able to memorize the material and because of that I was scatterbrained throughout the process of my studying. “I don’t get this” and “I don’t like this” kept interrupting my train of thought whenever I tried to review the material.
So from now on I will try to talk myself in to learning the material. Telling myself “I can do this” and “I can understand this.”
Conversely the inner defender is one that tells us we didn't do anything wrong. That our environment is the one that made us fail and not our own 'inability' or stubbornness.
In one particular instance I opened the page to my math homework, set it up and got ready to work. As soon as I opened it a switch went off in my brain. “I don’t really have to do this work right now. It’s not due for a few more hours and I have time. Also I just can’t seem to concentrate right now. My brain is tired after just getting out of class, so why don’t I take a break first so that my brain will be more ready to do work then.” Then I leave my homework after glancing over the problems and take a break. My inner defender convinced me that because I had already worked so hard that my work could wait and that it was not my fault if I couldn't get it done at that second, when I should have pushed through and gotten my work done.
The idea of relaxing my mind for a minute and taking a break after class seems like a good idea. Letting my brain recharge for a minute or two. But knowing myself, I know that 5 minutes turns into 15, and 15 minutes turns into 30, and 30 minutes turns into an hour. So now I’ve been telling myself and bribing my inner defender with – after I finish this work and I can go and take my break then. I also won’t have the threat of my homework hanging over my head disallowing me to truly relax.
Now that I can recognize my inner defender better, I can work more towards bettering myself, “biting the bullet,” and get my work done.
The inner guide is the voice that addresses the problem and tells you, you need to fix it.
It was the weekend and I had an essay due that Thursday and I had a very busy week surrounding that due date, and I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed and I just wanted to take the day off and not work on my essay. However, my inner guide came out, “If I do this now, you won’t have to worry about it later – I can study for my exams better and I can relax more when my week starts. I will have one less thing to do at the start of the week.” So, knowing that it would be better for me in the long run, I got my work done and finished my essay. It left me with more time to study and work on other projects. Even though the due date for the essay ended up being pushed back it was a weight off my shoulders because I didn’t have to work on it any further.
This type of self-talk convinced me that getting my work done early was better for myself and would help me later on in the week. Which ended up being the truth and I was able to put my mind at ease with that and not have it hanging over my head as I studied for exams.
Throughout my life I’ve had these inner voices, but it is only in more recent years that I have been able to identify and combat some of the more harmful voices. It’s become such an accepted part that we often don’t realize that we are limiting ourselves and it seems like a real life limitation. Are there real life limitations? Absolutely, there are times where we do need to plant both feet firmly on the ground and tell ourselves that it’s not worth the effort that we are dishing out. Because sometimes it’s really not. But at the same time, people – myself included – have come to believe that giving up on something is the same as accepting oneself for who they are. And while self-acceptance is important, so is self-betterment. The will to do better and climb higher has dwindled in this generation. We are accepting out inner defender and inner critic as undeniable parts of us. When we become so much stronger when we deny the seemingly undeniable.
I think I’ve let my inner defender roam a bit too freely in my head. Giving me excuses to not want to do something when there really is no excuse at all. I think the reason is because it’s easier to say that it’s someone else’s fault that I’m not doing well in class or that I’m not feeling confident about what I’m doing. I’m learning to take responsibility for my actions. I’m doing this by instead of saying, “It was because of my chemistry teacher that I did bad,” and instead, “I could have studied more and put more effort in, so let’s do that this semester with my other classes.” I actually recently did that with my biology exam. I didn’t get a grade that I really wanted. But it’s a grade that I realized that I deserved for the amount of work that I had put in. I did blame my business on it a bit, but I am also dedicating myself to do better on this next upcoming exam and to study more. I’m learning to better myself.