A lot of software, like the operating system on your computer, has a concept of self-checks. You can ask it to run a predefined set of verifications and report on them. And if there’s any flaws, it can often even fix itself. In other words, the software is perfectly capable of fixing itself – it just never bothered to do these basic evaluations among everything else it had to do.
Humans can do this too. I often find that if my mind goes to a dark place, there are, fundamentally, just a few possibilities in terms of what happened. Oftentimes it’s because I’m not able to live up to being the person I want to be and need to adjust my expectations of myself accordingly. Sometimes it’s because I’m very close to being the person I want to be and need a new goal. Sometimes I’m just having an upset stomach and this sours my mood – lacking sleep and/or being unable to think clearly can cause a similar effect.
I also often find that writing and breaking down and analyzing my thoughts is massively helpful in making me feel better. And that sometimes I just need a change of pace and do something different.
But I don’t always think to do these things. So I came up with what’s essentially a self-check algorithm for myself:
- Is your real self too far from your ideal self?
- Is your real self too close to your ideal self?
- Do you not have a plan for how you will improve?
- Have you been living in a way that you are confident you can do what it takes to improve?
- Have you written about whatever it is that’s upsetting you?
- Have you spent too much time alone?
- Have you been cooped up indoors for too long?
- Are you having stomach issues?
- Are you sleep deprived / is there a mind fog?
- Are you measuring yourself by one of society’s metrics instead of your own?
- Have you tried thinking positively and arguing against whatever negative position you are holding in your mind currently?
- Are you throwing yourself a self-pity party?
The idea is that any time I’m upset, I can just refer to this and do a self-analysis to figure out what’s going on with me and then deal with it. I expect this list will develop and grow over time, as I figure out / remember other reasons for why I could be in a bad mood. But so far, this seems to a quick way to get myself in a good place again.