No, this blog hasn’t transmogrified into a travelogue! Instead, I was inspired by the responses to yesterday’s post on appeasing the inner critic to write about acceptance.
It was lovely to hear people’s responses to the all-to-common phenomena of the inner critic, that voice which can ride our backs, tearing us apart from the inside – if we let it. A theme which recurred was the concept of the “used to” voice, that particularly nasty one which reminds us that now we’re living with depression or anxiety or whichever “quirk or frailty” we’re now dealing with, we can’t do everything we used to be able to do.
This voice has been strident in my head this week! I started a university course about a month ago. I already have two masters degrees, so I felt fairly confident that I could tackle two subjects in this study trimester – two subjects is not a full time load, after all, and in the past I’ve managed both a full load of study and a full load of work, at times.
Census date* was looming, so I dropped one of the subjects. I have two small assignments due tomorrow, 500 and 750 words respectively (so nothing, really!) and while I’m moderately confident I can complete them, I am finding it really hard to get the reading done. Yes, you heard that right – the woman with not one but two masters degrees is finding it difficult to do the reading required for a couple of piddling little pieces.
As you can imagine, the inner critic has been having a field day with this! So I have been vigorously exercising my appeasement strategies. I was also helped considerably this morning by a conversation with a dear friend, who works in education, who helped me tease out where some of my resistance was coming from … and by my husband, who reminded me that I am still suffering from a viral infection! (Sometimes we miss the glaringly obvious; perhaps that malicious inner critic hides it from our consciousness!)
I’ve read a few posts on the “life is a game” metaphor lately, one by nikeyo and another by happilydepressed. Check them out – they’re excellent. They also helped me realize that I firmly believe that radical acceptance of your situation as it is now is not only the way to appease the “used to” voice, but also sets you up for happiness and, I guess, success in life – however you define success.
For me, radical acceptance today means realistically assessing my overall health status, and moving forward from there. My status at the moment is:
- I’ve tired myself out, talking to my friend for over an hour (delightful though that was)
- I’m running a mild fever
- I have to get these two pieces written before tomorrow’s end
- I possess the skills required to complete these pieces, but
- thanks to my depression, and viral infection, I am lacking in energy and motivation to do so; and
- thanks to my anxiety, I am unrealistically fearful that I may not be able to complete the tasks.
So, I am going to set myself very, very small goals; 5 minutes of reading here, 10 minutes of reading there, with lovely relaxing breaks in between. In this way, I know I’ll get the pieces written, and also take care of myself.
This is a very specific example. Thinking more broadly, how do you deal with the “used to” voice? I’d love to hear your strategies!
* For overseas readers: “census date” is the date at which you get charged for all subjects you’re enrolled in. If you want to withdraaw from a subject, you’re best off doing it before the census date to avoid having to pay for it, which you’d have to do even if you subsequently withdrew even before the “withdraw not fail” date.