Jenn’s reMIND Blog #1: The Voice Inside My Head is Kind of a Jerk

A little present that negative self-talk left behind.

A little background…

I’ll be honest, psychology has not been my favorite. Both my parents were psychiatrists and I spent most of my childhood feeling like an experiment (Rorschach inkblot and I were buds). Intelligence tests, personality tests, aptitude tests, neuropsychological tests…basically, if it’s a psychological test, I’m pretty sure I’ve taken it at some point as a child, probably a few times. When I wasn’t being tested, I’m pretty sure I was being analyzed, so by the time I hit adulthood, I was a bit exhausted with psychology. Give me cold hard logic, math, and computer science, please. Additionally, psychology has always seemed so…squishy, for lack of a better term. Two plus two always equals four, but human behavior and how the mind works is constantly up for interpretation, and that makes me uncomfortable. See also: People are hard to understand and I am like a robot that wasn’t programmed for that skill.

Fast forward to last November: I am told that the next project I would be working on was a brand new course that is founded on many principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Positive Psychology, Narrative Therapy and Strengths-Based Coaching. So, you know, my first thought was “oh yay” (said in the monotone voice of despair one might use when told they need to get 20 shots).

Then a funny thing happened…

Starting out on the project, my internal attitude and interest were about a 3/10. Then I met the author, Kristin Taylor. If there is a nicer, more patient person in this world, I haven’t met them. That moved my internal attitude and interest up to a 5/10. Then I started paying attention to the material and I got totally sucked in 10/10. I literally went from “Do I have to?” to “How have I lived without this knowledge!?!?!?” in a few weeks. There are many topics that I’ve been learning about thanks to Kristin and reMIND. It was actually hard to decide which one to talk about first. There is just SO MUCH GOODNESS. Ok, now I’m just gushing, which is so not me, so I’m going to jump right into the fascinating world of Self-Talk.

Turns out I’m meaner to myself then I realized….

Self-Talk: An internal monologue, or inner voice ,which provides a running verbal monologue of thoughts while they are conscious. It is usually tied to a person’s sense of self. (thank you, wikipedia)

I didn’t realize how many times a day I tell myself that I’m an idiot or stupid for the smallest of things. Can’t remember a password? “Ugh, I’m such an idiot”. Cut myself while chopping vegetables? “Ouch, why am I so stupid”. Running late (um, always)? “I’m so stupid for not planning that better.” It can actually get pretty relentless and I didn’t even realize I was doing it, it’s so automatic. It was only after I was learning about self-talk, how it can affect how we view ourselves, and create sneaky self-doubt that I started paying attention. The logical side of my brain knows I’m not stupid. Yet, for some reason, every time something happens that isn’t perfect throughout the day, without even meaning to, I tell myself that I’m stupid. And if like me, you live in the world, nothing goes perfectly. Like ever. Heck, my computer crashed while I was writing this blog for what appears to be NO REASON AT ALL. So each day provides a ton of opportunities for me to be a total jerk to myself. I wouldn’t tell someone else they were stupid 100 times a day. I mean, not out loud at least. But I apparently have no problem telling myself that I’m an idiot every chance I get.

Why does this matter, Jenn…

It matters because I realized that by telling myself I was stupid 100 times a day, I’ve been planting little self-doubt bombs deep into my brain. And they are sneaky little bombs, too, because the self-doubt doesn’t manifest itself in an obvious way. For example, you would think that because I’m telling myself I’m stupid all the time, the self-doubt would be me thinking I’m too stupid to learn something new, like how to grow vegetables from seeds (which I totally learned this spring *high five*). Or at least that’s the way I would have thought it would work because I tend to be kind of literal. But that’s not necessarily how it works. For me, the self-doubt manifests when I’m interacting with other humans. Social interactions are high stress for me. Did I say something stupid? Was I too blunt? (ok, I was probably too blunt) Am I making sense? Am I talking too much? Am I recognizing and comprehending the other person’s feelings and emotions correctly (that’s a hard one for me)? I also have resting sarcasm tone voice so I wonder if I sound insulting just by speaking. It’s exhausting. But with what I’m learning by working on this course, now I’m wondering if it has to be so hard; that maybe if I wasn’t telling myself how stupid I am all the time, then I wouldn’t have the self-doubt creeper lurking in my mind. I’d maybe be able to relax more in social situations, and not be forced to spend the rest of my life as a crazy hermit lady…

So what am I going to do about it…

I don’t like having tiny ticking timebombs in my brain. Honestly, it just makes things harder then they need to be. So I’m paying attention. I’m trying to reprogram my self-talk. I’m not, like, staring into a mirror and telling myself how smart I am or anything (nor is that suggested in reMIND). That would be weird. I don’t need to be weirder. I’m trying to catch myself when I start to tell myself I’m stupid. Instead of saying, “ugh, I’m such an idiot!”, I’m trying to say, “that was unfortunate”. Or “that knife is stupid for cutting me” because that’s just true. Stupid knife. I’m hoping that by changing how I talk to myself, I can also get rid of some of those lurking self-doubt bombs. Which sort of sounds like I’m experimenting on myself, but I’ve given myself permission to do so — which makes it ok. Turns out, experimenting on yourself is called personal growth. And personal growth is a good thing.

Authors Note: Several months ago, I started working with Kristin Taylor on a new course for college freshmen, reMIND, that focuses on empowering personal narratives, growth mindset, and strengthening a specific set of non-cognitive abilities. The goal of the course is to help prepare students to navigate the college environment, especially when faced with difficult obstacles on their path to graduation. The course is so much more than that short description provides, and as I’ve been working on it, I’ve learned more than I ever expected. And so I thought I would start blogging about my experience working on this course and the things I’m learning.

Perceivant

Perceivant is an Indianapolis, Indiana based company that helps people live better lives with innovative educational technology.

Jenn Rowe

Written by

Jenn Rowe

Perceivant

Perceivant is an Indianapolis, Indiana based company that helps people live better lives with innovative educational technology.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade