Emotions are a funny thing... well, less funny and more infuriating.
For the past few days, I've been in something of an ugly place. A self-centered place, full of depression and apathy. The two usually go together, I realized. And it's fairly frightening sometimes: what does it mean when you're so sad, you don't care enough to brush your teeth? I'm very grateful for the fact that I get that depressed very seldom... which is more than I can say for a whole lot of people.
Depression destroys concern for others, putting everything in the context of what I want. I want rather a lot, including a bunch of things that I may never be able to have, and certainly don't have right now. Depression thus perpetuates itself until I realize that my thinking is futile, driving me only lower. A whole lot of problems come from futile thinking, and also from lack of thinking. Futile thinking means running in circles, the quintessential vicious cycle, going nowhere and accomplishing nothing; merely working the brain into a fever of frustration.
I've come up with a simple mantra to get rid of futile thinking... live consciously.
I keep forgetting. Sometimes my mouth just starts moving when I'm not paying attention, and I end up saying something spectacularly stupid. Sometimes, as I have observed in a previous post, I will waste an afternoon doing nothing, when I could easily have gotten up from the couch and done any of a dozen worthwhile things, had I only been thinking of it.
Be aware of what's happening. It sounds so simple, but is so easily overlooked. How easy is it to just drift through a day, saying what first jumps to mind, following moody impulses and desires, letting the same thoughts spin around and around in your mind? To focus on even one area, like speaking, is an amazing process. After an intensely painful exchange with one of my friends a few months ago, I resolved to discipline what I say. I began to halt my tongue and consider my words before I spoke... it took no small effort, but it was beyond worth it. Now, when I slip, it's easier to recognize. Now, I can preempt and control my speech to an extent that I could not before.
So often, my mind feels like it's burning. Questions, obervations, imaginary conversations running and mashing together in my brain, never stopping to take a breath... but every so often, I can slow the madness by simply looking it square in the eye. Mental discipline saves me from headaches. My brain is always working; if I can think in lines and not in circles, it is worth the energy I spend thinking.
It also really pays to question your own emotions sometimes. As strange as that sounds, it's true. Honestly, a lot of times, what I feel is based on not much at all. I'm a very moody person, and it shows. It's extremely valuable to look at my own emotions and ask, "why?" If there's no good answer, I can, just maybe, take control. If I'm in a deep funk at the time, I can actually start climbing back out. It just takes being conscious of what's going on.
Discipline is really what it's all about. And it starts with awareness. "Awareness," Crwuidth said to me tonight, "is a powerful tool." I cannot help but agree.