My intention with this blog is to write about the things I think about, with the goal of eventually synthesizing into meaningful frameworks to simplify things and actionable insights to that are usable. Ultimately I want output that I can do something with – rather than just collecting all this info as I read, listen to podcasts, contemplate and mull over. I’ve been doing that for years. It’s got to come together for something meaningful.
I’m coming off 5 days of being sick. It turns out I really was sick – there was a health reason for derailing, although I still could have managed it better than getting so down on myself.
Bottom line, I was feeling really, really bad and I was so disappointed and frustrated. It feels like I do so much to manage my depression, my moods, my sporadic moments of darkness and apathy, and yet it returns again and again, and I feel like a failure.
Fail, fail again, fail smarter. Accept failure as part of experimentation. Experimentation is about learning.
I stepped back and first thought about what goes into that bad feeling – what are the causes. Only then can I think about experimenting with new strategies to manage.
What triggers these bouts of intense negative states, where I fall into the habits of talking such crap about myself?
- Monthly hormone cycles
- Personality factors (perfectionist, self-critical, over-achiever)
- External pressures (work, family, extended family, car, dogs, life)
- Physical health
- Diet (gluten, high glycemic foods)
- External noise (barrage of information and technology)
- Time (time of day, seasonality)
- Self-talk and ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)
One or two at a time might not make an impact, but pile a bunch together and suddenly I’m down a rat hole, feeling like there is no way out. I become immobilized – a common reaction for ENFP types.
Because I crash hard and fast I decided to focus on a few key principles to (1) help me get more resilient in the first place and (2) help me pull myself out faster. Something I can memorize, recite like a mantra, and act on without hesitation.
My initial rev on this is the following:
- First, FEEL GOOD
- Second, NURTURE RELATIONSHIP
- Third, LIVE CREATIVELY
The first one requires some unpacking. Yes, it’s oversimplified. If things were really so easy, that I could just tell myself to feel good, I probably wouldn’t be getting so damn depressed in the first place. On the other hand, sometimes it is that easy – sometimes it is as simple as smacking yourself in the head and reminder you that you have more control than you think.
Usually, though, it’s more complicated. But, it can be broken down into manageable steps and it’s a muscle that can be flexed so that it can become easy.
Let’s focus on the first step – FEEL GOOD. This can be broken into 3 steps:
- CHANGE COURSE (if needed)
The first of these is most important – OFFLOAD. Evaluate the negative energy, that negative emotion and negative self talk and ask yourself a few questions.
- Is this noise or a meaningful signal?
- What’s the source?
- Is this worth my attention?
- Is this what I choose to spend my energy on?
Use the answers to these questions to make important decisions. If it’s noise, call it noise and ignore it, especially if it’s from an internal source. Too much energy is wasted with negative self-talk and negative chatter about other people or things around you. Ask yourself if it adds any value at all and if not, shut it off. Channeling energy towards negativity costs more than just the loss of that energy – the negativity impacts your health, motivation and creativity, and that’s just the impact on you personally. This effect expands beyond you, to your loved ones and co-workers.
But some negative energy is a signal, and it’s important to recognize and process it, or it will keep coming back and bite you in the ass. Often it’s a sign that your body and/or mind is overloaded and you need to reset, refuel or change course. Notice this and address it early. Ignore it and that negative energy will become a monster and you’ll react poorly, turning to typical bad habits like food or alcohol. Catch it early, read the signal, and redirect the energy or flip it. More on that later.
Evaluate the meaningful signals and prioritize based on urgency and lotus of control. If it’s urgent and you have immediate control, then act. Act soon to get it over with – too much negative energy builds up worrying about something you are procrastinating on. There are better ways to spend that energy.
No matter urgency, there are some things you cannot fix right away, but should start addressing so the fix starts happening – such as health, sleep and diet. Managing personality quirks and karma fall under this too, but take longer to adjust. Still, these need ongoing attention to drive change for the better – otherwise you continue to set yourself up for failure.
Recognize the differences in the various ingredients that create negative energy and that sense of burden and feeling overwhelmed. Deconstruct that negative space enough to parse this out. Bucket and prioritize – offload what’s possible and make decisions with what is left, being very thoughtful of what you want to keep and pay attention to. Make deliberate choices as the decision impacts not only the moment, but your future state.