Part 1: Inner Critic
While I'm taking a test, I often find my inner critic appearing. Whenever I am not sure about a question or I begin to doubt information that I was sure I knew moments earlier, I start to get frustrated and angry with myself. I tell myself:
"You idiot, you knew the answer to this earlier so why can't you remember it now? It's not that hard of a question. If you think this is hard then the rest of the test is only going to be worse."
Once I begin to think like that, I become even more frustrated with myself and continue to rethink a question repeatedly over until I come to some conclusion of an answer.
However, since I am still not sure about my answers for my test, I begin to blame others and my inner defender starts to show.
Part 2: Inner Defender
Once I've become the most frustrated I can be on a test, I will start to blame others for me not being able to do well.
I first blame my roommates for either being too loud or distracting me with a problem the night before. Then I move my anger towards the teacher of the class. I will say something along the lines of:
"It's not my fault I don't know what's on the test, he/she didn't tell me what to study for! How should I have known to study for this section or this information if they don't tell me what to know!"
Once I've gotten past a rant or two out of me, I begin to calm down and take a breathe, which allows the inner guide to help me.
Part 3: Inner Guide
Once I have had a moment to relax and not stress myself out, I take a moment to reflect on my actions. I think about what I have done to study for the test and if that was enough. I usually start to reflect by saying:
"You could have studied more for this test but you decided to take a break for a nap because you didn't sleep well last night. Next time study more in advance so that you can have time to sleep. Also, look around, drink some water, and try to remember that formula you knew like the back of your hand earlier and finish this test the best way you can."
Once I've calmed myself down, I usually feel better about the test and know that I am probably not going to do badly on the test and that I was just stressing myself out unnecessarily.
Part 4: Reflection
I believe that I have a bad habit of immediately going to the inner critic phase whenever I face a challenge. I start to insult and belittle myself and ask why can’t I do a task or answer a question while it seems that everyone else can do it just fine.
While I know that everyone struggles with something, I find myself thinking everyone is better than me and that I am the only one who is having any problems. I know that this is not the case when I am not stress or calmed, but it is hard for me to remember that when I am focused on a task or a test.
I have been trying to change this way of thinking for a while now and I find myself to only do this when I am stressed or in a new situation. Whenever I am in those situations, I have been trying to calm myself down and just breathe so I can take a moment to relax.
Hopefully those few seconds of breathing will help calm down my nerves enough to the point where I don’t feel so bad anymore. I am trying to allow my inner guide to have a better chance of influencing me than my inner critic during an exam or test. I believe this experience will help me a lot in both the long run and short run.