On the bus home from work last night I took out my notebook and got to thinking. Actually if I’m honest it was more an 80:20 split of daydreaming and thinking as I stared at the blank page on my lap. Regardless it was as always a useful 30 minutes for my brain to decompress. What I began to write about was my tendency to write in the negative on this blog. I use it as my dumping ground for things that have reached a boiling point, whilst also noting down my work on habits and the developing understanding of psychology. Today I thought I would change that and instead type up a blog post that has not been written by my frenetic hand, but rather by a more rational part of my brain.
Lately I have come to understand myself better after reading a book called the Four Tendencies by Gretchin Rubin. It’s easiest if you check out the free quiz and discover a little more about yourself here. To cut a long story short my tendency is Rebel, which when you read the characteristics is apt for me. I have difficulty in meeting outer and inner expectations and will often do the opposite of what I am asked to do. Although having said that I am partly an Obliger when it comes to working for a company as I will get on with what I am asked to do, rather than rebel against it. Anyhow it is fascinating and well worth a read. Check out what you are, it takes 5-10 minutes and the book follows up nicely with more information on each tendency and how to interact with them.
The reason I wanted to tell you about this is because it is helping me to look at what I do and be a little kinder to myself. I have great plans and ideas, but I flit from one thing to the next without a care that I am leaving something that I have invested time and money into, or that someone else has for that matter. Unfortunately because I don’t particularly care what other people think I don’t hold myself accountable when I act. Yes I do feel guilt, but it’s clearly not as strong as others. From the outside this looks selfish and in many ways it is. But it’s also deeper than a selfish desire to do what I want. It’s that I will only do things that appeal to my values, deep beliefs and passions. If I am not working towards those then I am not interested at all.
Over recent years things that appear “exciting” to most people have lost their shine for me and I end up feeling bad for not really feeling what they feel. I have up until this point put that down to the effect that depression has had on my brain chemically. I just felt that I had used up my excitement and deep joy, (I’ll leave the scientific names of the chemicals up to the experts). I didn’t take anti-depressants for my depression because I always believed that I had the power to change and was prepared to put in the work to do that. Others don’t have the luxury of that choice and I respect them for using science to get them to a safer norm of life. But what I have since realised is that although this may in part be true it is actually that I have changed as a person and really only get excited about select things. These things are linked to my values, beliefs and passions. They would be the time I spend in nature, riding my bike (especially mountain biking), talking o
r writing about mental health and one on one time with my wife. Sounds simple to do all these things right? But it is easy to get distracted, to be led down a thousand different garden paths. Just think about Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix etc and you soon realise how much pointless bullshit their is in our daily lives distracting us from leading a more fulfilled, purposeful life. Ok I’ll get off my high horse now…
Now where was I? Ah yes I was attempting a positive piece of writing. So the positive side of all this is that knowing a little more of who you are and what you are likely to do is liberating. For me personally I know that I shouldn’t bother trying to create a new habit unless it is linked with my deeper driving values. I shouldn’t bother to follow something because it’s what others are doing, nor because somebody tells me to. I am a rebel and doing things that I want to do is hard enough! I have been simplifying my life in various ways to ensure that I can actually get shit done and help my mental health, whilst also helping others with theirs. Like I said I have many great ideas, the action is harder though, especially the consistent stuff required to produce noticeable, lasting results. That is where I have been focusing my energy on daily writing, reading and meditating in order to produce a longer term shift in mental health. I’ve deleted Facebook and keep an account with no friends on purely so that I can operate the Page that I post this insanity to. I've got rid of Instagram too as I found myself mindlessly scrolling and I’m even thinking about whether we can remove our TV! Following in these positive steps forward I’m looking forward to starting my studies on Land and Environmental Conservation in July, which will fulfil my love for nature as well as my desire to learn and develop.
Ok I am going to wrap this up because I need to get back to editing the second edition of my mental health handbook. But before I go I’ll say this. The greatest lessons we can learn about ourselves come in our failures and darkest moments. The way in which we scrape ourselves up, stand tall once more and take a step forward is the memory we need to savour. Most realities are not as bad as our minds create and we need to remind each other of that by offering our support to those around us.