I have this corner on the old school blackboard in my classroom that has refrigerator magnets with words. The corner is simple. It says, “create.” When the kids are bored they tend to go to the board and just randomly make poems or art with the words. The internet went down yesterday, so one student used the opportunity to create this:
Honestly, it was something that got me thinking, because a) it aligns with what we are grappling with in my therapy and b) it is something that I truly struggle with. It is such a “simple” thing, listen to truth, but also so complex. When one is battling with depression and anxiety that inner critic gets so loud it becomes almost impossible to know what is and is not the truth.
My inner critic has been telling me lately that I am worthless, that I don’t deserve love, that the world would be better off without me, that I am destined to ruin every relationship with every person, that the end of my last therapy was my fault, that I am the common denominator in all of my failed relationships/friendships, that I am a terrible teacher, that I will be a lousy counselor, that I made a mistake when changing majors and deciding to uproot my life (because I will screw that up, too).
My therapist wants me to practice looking at facts and if there are no facts that support the inner critic then I must conclude that the inner critic is not telling the truth. So, in line with what my student says, I haven’t been listening to the truth when I listen to my inner critic. It is just so hard to decipher the facts. I am so good at finding evidence to support the lies that my inner critic fills my head with. I know this is something I am not alone in; I know that there are others on here and out there who are going through the same struggles. Who have succumb to the deafening cacophony of their inner critic: the judge.
Sadly, this isn’t always just an internalized problem. It is something that radiates outward as well. I become judgmental of other people, too. And that is something that gives me a lot of shame because it doesn’t align with the person I want to be, it doesn’t align with my values. And yet, the voice just won’t quiet down. Not only does the voice tell me that everyone will abandon me but it gives me reasons to abandon other people. It finds faults where there aren’t really any. Or, it turns certain traits into faults in order to justify leaving. It’s something I really struggle with and wish that I could just “poof” wish away. It isn’t fair to the people I’m in relationship with. But, again, when I am in it I can’t tell what is truth and what isn’t truth. I am so convinced about those faults. I just act.
The acting without really figuring out facts is probably something we are working toward working on in therapy. I can see that trajectory making sense. I don’t know how much hope I have in that working though. I mean, how do you undo 29 years of cognitive dissonance? How do you untell 29 years of lies that have filled one’s head?