Friend & Foe: Dealing With The Inner Critic
We all have an inner critic. It’s that voice in our heads that never shuts up, to put it mildly. No matter what we do, that voice is never really satisfied and continues to, well, criticize us and everything we do.
For individuals like myself who deal with chronic dry eye and other chronic health conditions, I feel like this voice can be even more intrusive and insidious.
I never feel productive enough
As someone who struggles with chronic illness, productivity is a huge issue for me at all times. Most of the time, I’m dealing with some kind of flare up. This could be my eyes, skin, mental-health-related – or all of the above.
This means I spend A LOT of time just trying to manage symptoms throughout my day.
Chronic dry eye is time-consuming
Chronic dry eye means that I have to put my Bruder microwavable compress mask in at least twice a day, for starters. This has its positives as well, though. It has helped me work out a healthier morning and evening routine. It forces me to take some time to myself and just relax and meditate – even if it is just 10 minutes.
In addition to that, I also have to constantly put in eye drops throughout the day (which on the worse days, is quite a few times). As someone who also wears a scleral lens, I also end up having to take out my scleral lens to clean it and reapply solution, and put it back in. Sometimes, this happens multiple times a day, depending on how dry my eyes are feeling that day.
Thankfully by now, I’ve become a pro, and this doesn’t take too much time. However, it can still really be quite an inconvenience – especially when I’m not in the comfort of my own home. All of these “extra” things I have to do means I have much less time to do the things I need to do, or even just want to for fun. This isn’t even counting the rest of the conditions and symptoms I deal with every day.
The inner critic: even louder on the bad days
On the days that I can’t manage to do much at all and check things off my to-do list, my inner critic tends to get even louder. It goes something like this:
“You’ll never amount to anything”,
"You're broken", etc.
We all have this voice, so we are all too familiar with it. While it serves its purpose in some situations and exists for a reason, it can be extremely difficult to deal with when it gets out of control.
Regardless, throughout my journey, I've been learning valuable lessons from this. I now know that although I may not have a choice in the symptoms I have to manage and the things I have to do daily, what I DO have a choice in is how I react to it all.
Learning to quiet my inner critic
Meditation, yoga, CBT talk therapy and hypnotherapy have been an immense help with this. These practices have taught me to learn how to observe any thoughts that come up. And that the key is learning to observe without reacting, without judgement, and without identifying with them.
Still, this is a daily practice for me, and continues to be. I know getting rid of that voice is not realistic and will never happen. However, what I can do is create more space around it. This allows me to decide how to react to it. Then, I can ask myself an important question: do I want to continue to beat myself up about this, or can I find ways to practice compassion and love towards myself?
Needless to say, I highly suggest choosing the latter when you are faced with this choice. With a little acceptance and love, anything can shift – even our inner critic.
Have you tested your dry eye knowledge?