|My vision is bad, but my perception is worse.|
There was a student who I was struggling to communicate with. She at one point even directly asked, "Do you understand what I'm saying?"
I didn't really. I tried to help the best I could, and by the end I thought we were on better footing, but I still left feeling very inadequate and like this woman thought I was a moron.
I told both my husband and mom about how I was feeling. On Monday, I decided to tell my supervisor about the interaction. She knew exactly the person I was talking about and told me she had showed up later that week: "She said you were wonderful."
I was worried she might lodge a complaint. How had my anxiety caused me to read the situation so inaccurately?
When I messaged my husband about it, he sarcastically feigned shock, replying, "What!?!?! You inaccurately assigned negative aspects to an interaction?!?!?!"
Seriously, though. I've always struggled with this negative voice in my head tearing me down and it has gotten worse lately. Worse enough that my therapist brought it up as a point of concern.
But like... where did this bitch inside my head come from?
I hear her multiple times a day...
You're worthless. You're dumb. You're ugly.
You're old. You're annoying. You're a hypocrite.
You're lazy. You're incompetent. You can't do this.
As I've mentioned before, I had a very blessed childhood. My parents were very supportive and positive. They always told me that I was pretty and smart and funny and good. It's not like my inner voice is replaying ridicule I experienced as a child... so why is my inner voice such a Negative Nancy?
Unfortunately, I'm not sure I'll ever know the answer. From a pragmatic standpoint, it is probably better to focus instead on how to shut her up.
Challenging that voice sometimes feels like trying to see without glasses: Even though from a logical standpoint I know that I'm not seeing clearly, it's hard to ignore the distorted visions in front of me.
But what do you do when you can't see? You use tools to help you.
For actual vision, you get glasses or contact, but for correcting overly negative perceptions, you go to therapy for tools in your mind. The tools may not be as concrete, but learning new ways of thinking can help clear things up.
One of the tools I still need to practice is actually just questioning and considering alternative readings of different situations. Rather than go down the rabbit hole of negativity, I have to question the legitimacy of my negative thoughts, consider different interpretations, and acknowledge the unlikelihood that everything will default to a worst case scenario.
I can't just accept my initial assumptions, because I know my tendency is to go off the deep end into the pool of negativity. But like any change, reprogramming isn't easy.
As usual, it looks like this will be a one-step-at-a-time, definitely-not-overnight path to healing. So, time to put one foot in front of the other and get moving - especially as the voice says I can't.