While there may be no silly questions, no wrong times to ask them, there is it seems, an inappropriate time with which to make detailed reflective assessments about ourselves. When assessing such aspects of our own experience like mood, general wellbeing, happiness, progress, future prospects, relations, fulfilment, and worth, a certain base state is required. Unless we are well, content, of clear mind and ego free at the time, we are infact biased against accuracy from the word go. It is imperative, given our nature as humans and the way we navigate the human condition, that we make our assessments during the right ‘assessing times’ and when we are experiencing anything other or less than, we can instead, postpone anything seriously reflective until another time.
The problem is not only that we may be in a bad mood – it is also that we have gotten into the unfortunate habit of constantly checking in with ourselves to see what mood we’re in. Am I down? Am I very down? Am I down again? Am I down because I’m down? Hamlet pestered himself with the question, ‘to be or not to be?’ and rendered himself limp and indecisive. We pester ourselves with the question, Am I depressed or am I not depressed? And fail to realise that this very checking in on our mood is a choice – and an unnecessary and unfortunate one
So we can check in all we like. In fact we have to if we want to master self-work in the course of this life-time however, checking in and making assessments about anything self-reflective, must be done at a time when we are ready to do so. If we ignore these considerations we will, as Maisel suggests, through our insistent and perhaps obsessive self-evaluations, reinforce our own negative viewpoints having coloured the assessments before we made them. The impact of this practice although I use the word “practice” lightly, could be catastrophic and certainly, restrictive at best. How can we grow from our own courageous efforts, wonderful achievements, and self-work when all we do is concrete our dark beliefs about everything by questioning ourselves when we already feel sub par?
Assuming you are, as you read these lines, in relatively good positive space ask yourself how incredible you really are following some of these outlines about you and your life:
- What makes me happy over the long term (remember happiness is a journey)
- What makes people feel good about me?
- What makes me feel good about myself?
- What makes me creative, funny, and a good person to be around?
- What are those dreams I’ve always had?
- What is my favourite colour and why?
- Which foods make me feel best inside
- What time of day do I feel the most focussed and clear?
- What is my greatest strength?
- What do I like about myself?
- Which piece of clothing is my favourite and why?
- Which shop is my favourite?
- Where did I love to go once?
- Where would I like to go next time?
- Who would be the first person I will hug today?
Simple questions aren’t they? Can you answer them all? They are so important in the scheme of things. In the scheme of you and how important you are in your own domain/cirlces and to the people that share them. But ask these questions when you are ‘down’ or tired, or with a hangover or after an argument or dismissal or in poor health and what do you think the answers will be? More importantly, how different would they be from those established in a moment of silence and quiet reflection?
Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs. And now in the serenity and quiet of this lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem of Heaven. You will go away with old, good friends. And don’t forget when you leave why you came
Adlai E. Stevenson
So the next time, and there will be one, you feel down, sad, upset, tired, confused, acknowledge that is how you feel and be done with it. It won’t make it fun to experience, it won’t make the experience any shorter, but it allows you to name it and let the feelings take their course. Don’t forget the questions could be conciously asked but more often than not, we are asking them subconciously and at a fair clip – checking in constantly without being aware of it. Because of this, what we don’t want to do is ask these important refelective questions checking in on our progress or worth at any time less than feeling in good space, content, loved. These questions subconsciously or otherwise are far too crucial in the lives we live to allow them an inappropriate space for consideration. This is and always will be, something far better done
ON ANY OTHER DAY
Gotta be worth thinking about because you, and I, and all of us, are truly worth the effort
Maisel, 2012, Rethinking Depression: How to Shed Mental Health Labels and Create Personal Meaning, New World Library, California