Tuneful Tuesday: Long Day

Being self-analytical is both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, it is a very useful trait to possess. It keeps you very attuned to what is going on inside yourself, so when something is not quite right, you are the first to know it. With that recognition comes the opportunity to course correct and right the ship, so to speak. In some instances, it can even give you empathy for others, as you can spot behaviors in others that you have recognized in yourself countless times.

On the other hand, it can be somewhat akin to a prison cell. You desperately want to be a considerate person to the rest of the world, but 90 percent of your thoughts are consumed with yourself. You obsess over every little tic you may have, which often just serves to enslave you to them even more. You become so engulfed in your thought processes that you lose connection with the world around you.

I’ve been told more than once what a good idea it is to “step outside yourself.” The only problem with telling that to a self-analytical person is that they immediately begin to try to figure out how they can make that happen, so the whole exercise turns inward again. See, the problem with a self-analytical person is that they can’t turn themselves off. They know they can be selfish and self-centered, but they can’t away from themselves long enough to do anything about it.

Before they started turning out poppier fare, Matchbox Twenty produced one of my favorite albums on the 1990s with Yourself Or Someone Like You. It didn’t really dawn on me until recently how much frustration and aggression that project contained, and I’m not just referring to a song like “Push,” which obviously was written by someone with some, uh, issues. The album’s first single, “Long Day,” contains a couple of lines that any self-analytical person could identify with:

“And I’m so terrified of no one else but me. I’m here all the time. I won’t go away.”

That is what it can feel like for a self-analytical person. That sensation that you’re not getting things right. That nagging feeling that it’s your fault things are going so poorly. That knowledge that if you could only remove yourself from the equation, things would become clearer. And, finally, that realization that you don’t know how to do that.

Then again, I guess being self-analytical can make one a better blogger. Theoretically speaking, of course…

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.