If my mental health issues have given me anything, it’s time to think. Sometimes, that’s a bad thing as I ruminate on periods of my life, so far gone and with the passage of time, they have become inconsequential. Doesn’t stop me raking up a memory, a feeling from 20 odd years ago which should have no power over me whatsoever.
I try to do positive things with my time and thinking about how to make me a more informed person, about how life actually works, becoming more than the constrictions of my life to date.
Sounds a bit like tree hugging, right? Wrong.
For me, it’s trying every day to learn more, find different ways to rationalise events, looking at firmly held beliefs in a cold light and without applying prejudice that may have existed before. I try to remove preconceptions and challenge my opinions, as that allows me to develop without the arrogance of self righteousness that can go along with some, which I may well have been guilty of in the past.
In short, it’s good to have the time to think and challenge my own views, shape my thoughts in a better way, research subjects, learn. Become more.
Too often, we get caught in life. Caught in routine of every day and going through life holding on to values and opinions from many years previous, never allowing those views to be challenged, viewing everything through a lens of perception, or filters which colour that view.
I believe that the filters are constructed from an early age, which are affected by environment, parents, siblings, peer group, schooling and depending on work environment. As humans, we are social animals, therefore we try to fit in and comply with our surroundings to help our survival. To watch group pressure, go to any school in the country and watch kids playing together. Groups include and ostracise others for actions, looks or behaviours where approval is sought from the group in order that we belong. We have manipulators learning that skill and then there is the authoritarian structure of the school itself, which again is conform or trouble.
This all leads to building filters, for inclusion, approval, survival which we take with us through the rest of our lives. On leaving school, the workplace is another environment which shapes our thoughts, prejudices and filters, adding to existing constructs, sometimes changing the ones we had in place. Again, there are a set of rules, written and unwritten, which help form the behaviour to help us survive in that environment.
It leads us to today, to the person we are and all life events affect us in some way. In a large number of cases, people don’t learn from their mistakes, repeat them and continue to receive the same results while blaming their bad luck. If they could think about it, adapt their approach and behaviour, they would see different results. Yet, for a large part of society, and I think it is a majority, they are unable or unwilling to challenge their behaviour.
I do try and don’t always succeed, but I always try to learn, develop and become more. I don’t know if it could be called better, I like to think of it as evolving. If not, those values and thoughts from 20 / 30 / 40 years ago will continue to control me with my unwitting consent. Now that the genie is out of the bottle, it is not going back.
Be kind to yourself.