The Dangers Of Self-Analysis

For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. – Ecclesiastes 1:18 (ESV)

I gotta get outta here.

More than one counselor has told me how self-aware I am. One even told me I was more well-read on some of the topics we were covering than he was. My analysis of what is going in my brain is nearly non-stop. I examine every intention, weigh every decision, process every movement. No one knows me better than me.

Unfortunately, this is not always a good thing.

quote-Anita-Brookner-what-is-interesting-about-self-analysis-is-that-63428For one thing, being so aware of myself does not always leave a lot of capacity to think about others. In my nearly constant striving to figure out what’s going on in my own head, I sometimes forget to consider what other people might be thinking. Or I filter everything about them through the lens of me. Worst of all, I can transform into a completely selfish jerk who can only think of himself.

There is also a certain paralyzing effect to thinking this way. Every decision comes under such scrutiny that it takes much longer to make them than it should. Every interaction is so carefully broken down that they lose any sense of spontaneity or casualness. The fear of getting things wrong comes into play. Sometimes no decision at all gets made and no interaction takes place. The internal machinations become too much to overcome.

Then there is the nearly constant comparison which goes on. That person seems normal and happy. Why can’t I be like that? I should be able to do what they do. They’re getting ahead of me. I need to be happy for them, but I’m not. I don’t measure up. I know because, well, I just know.

One of the keys, obviously, to overcoming these obstacles to a normal life is to get outside of myself. Even that is not as easy as it sounds, though, because when someone like me realizes that, it becomes another goal to attain. It becomes less about others and more about doing it for me. The benefits of being able to so adequately assess myself and what makes me tick essentially becomes a prison cell. I am the only one with the key, but I swallowed it.

Recovering from depression can be a tricky line to walk. On the one hand, you’re striving to establish or re-establish your assertiveness, but on the other hand you’re attempting to refocus your thoughts on others and what’s going on outside of yourself. Which is more important – taking care of yourself or forgetting about yourself? Some people walk the line well, while others like me stumble along.

To even admit all this seems extremely selfish and shallow. All of the times I’ve acted only for my own interests are racing through my mind. Of course, those may not be many (if any) more times than the average human being, but I process it differently. I want out of this cell, but I can’t figure out how to break free. I have all the knowledge in the world, but I can’t figure out how to use it to fix myself.

I gotta get outta here.


Early Snow

snowLet’s just get something out of the way up front, shall we? I don’t like snow. I’m sure at some point in my life when I was younger I might have enjoyed the white stuff and its ability to get me out of school for a few days a year, but those days are long since gone. Snow means cold. Snow means slick roads. Snow means uncertainty.

I could probably point to some key moments in life which helped shape this attitude. The time my dad drove us straight into a ditch about three-quarters of a mile from our house, which forced us to walk back home on a snow-covered road. The time I slid a car down a snowy embankment because another driver (who did not even stop to see if I was okay) cut me off. All those mornings I had to work while others “just couldn’t make it in.”

Stupid snow.

I could cite all these factors, but they wouldn’t cut to the heart of the issue for me. The bottom line for me is this: Snow scares me. It scares me because I know I’ll have to drive on it. It scares me because I know it can cause power outages. It can cause a run on gasoline and groceries. What annoys me more than anything about it, though, is the fact it causes fear in me at all.

I mean, snow is just basically water. Guys with big trucks plow through it like, well, water. Families with generators or gas logs don’t fear power failures. The better-prepared are stocked up on the essentials. I should be more like those people. Of course, in my mid, every other person on earth besides me is those people.

Now, I’m sure if I really sat down and thought about it, I could think of at least one person I know who has had an automobile accident because of snowy road conditions. I could probably name at least one other family without a generator. I could probably throw a rock and hit at least one house where the pantry isn’t fully stocked before the snowstorm hits.

But I don’t sit down and think about it. I assume I’m the only one who is nervous or scared or unprepared for what’s on the way.

Snow obviously brings out some of my worst comparison traits, but there are other triggers as well. In fact, it would probably be easier to list scenarios that don’t cause me to compare myself to others than to count up all the ones that do. Low self-esteem and comparisons add up to an endless trap. You’ll never be brave enough, prepared enough, or good enough. You’ll always be the only one not ready for winter.

You know what happened today, though? We received an early snowfall of about an inch or so. TheIMG_0099 roads were in good shape, and I drove in to work without a second thought. Then I remembered driving on the ice we had earlier in the year. Then I realized I didn’t wreck then. Then I thought, “Hey, we survived all that.” If you’ll pardon the expression, my thoughts snowballed into something pretty positive.

While snow isn’t always a killer, comparisons definitely are. The struggle to stay inside your own head and experiences and not idealize everyone else is more dangerous than any snowstorm. Snow may scare me, but it’s not nearly as scary as my own thoughts can be.