In the starting of this blog, I wish to complete an abridged version of what Benjamin Franklin, the legend himself, aspired to complete throughout his lifetime. Though I think myself unable to complete true moral perfection, as the morality of each individual is biased and everyone is prone to error in judgement, I still will avail myself to reach moral betterment. I want to be a better individual, not normal, but an improvement upon the groundwork previously laid. I think there is strength in being able to change and work towards our innate deficits, and even more so I think there is strength in admitting we have those deficits in the first place. With this blog, I wish to do both. I want to acknowledge the harmful behaviors and patterns that are interspersed within each day, and change them through behavioral modification, just as Benjamin did throughout the entirety of his life. Though I have not connected with him much prior, this blog will serve as my primary link to him, and in doing so I’ll further connect with myself.
Throughout the course of this blog, there are five core aspects of my current life in which I aspire to improve upon. Some aspects I have labeled in a similar fashion as to Benjamin Franklin, as his original ideas for his own improvement aligned with my own. Others are more specific to myself, as in self-rumination we realize our innate deviations from others, and some expectations simply do not need to be upheld. With this in mind, one of the core aspects I wish to improve upon is one ever more invasive in my life: Regulation.
Over the last couple of months, due to a variety of circumstances I may or may not divulge in, I have found it more difficult to uphold habits I formed while at the peak of my mental condition. Whether this be completing tasks in an orderly manner, or taking care of myself at controlled and scheduled intervals, things seem to be slipping by the wayside and I can’t seem to catch everything. I hope, through focusing on this, I can combine Ben Franklin’s ideas of order and moderation into one. However, a stand alone idea of his that I can implement is Sincerity.
Though I generally like to consider myself an honest person, that doesn’t mean I don’t fall into patterns harmful to myself, whether it be trying to fall into peer groups and their expectations of me or dissociating throughout the day to a point where I don’t know who I am. It’s a difficult process, not being fully myself, and it’s so incredibly tiring that I’m barely able to push myself to complete anything once the day is done. Bearing this in mind, I’d like to work towards being more present in the moment, and in doing so try to push myself away from conformity and forced socialization, as I gain less than what I lose from it.
One thing I don’t want to lose is Awareness, and it’s partially because it relates to my goals of Sincerity. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve always considered myself incredibly cognizant of any intrapersonal difficulties and changes. However, despite this, there are moments, recently increasing in frequency, where I feel as if I’m chronically missing something, that I’m simply going through the motions and in those motions it’s even harder to focus and retain information. Furthermore, I have begun to struggle with being aware of not only passive stimulation, but food intake as well, and as a result I’m stuck with bloody fingers and acid curling up my throat. I hope that by reminding myself to be present and ride any wave of emotion, I can combat some of the dissociative haze and harmful behaviors.
Out of all the issues I’ve recently faced in my life, one of the ones which constantly linger in my purview is a startling lack of Enjoyment. Throughout the day, I am stuck between middling boredom, annoyance, or just pure pain. Then, once the main portion of my day is over, things which once brought me joy instead bring me absolutely nothing unless I specifically work hours and hours upon some artificial goal to create temporary joy. It’s so tiring to live a life in which there’s no true joy derived from it, especially when the same exact cycle is likely bound to continue for at least another couple months. I hope, if nothing else, I’m able to ride it out, and not only that but ride it out with the individuals I know are willing to support me through each step.
However, for all of this to start, I need to have the Resolution to make it happen, just as Benjamin Franklin needed the resolve to reach moral perfection for 60 years straight. Though this has never been a specific weak point of mine, in times of struggling and dysregulation, it’s important that I step up my behavioral activation to the best of my ability. I don’t trust my own words, and often I rely on others to set deadlines and tasks for myself, as then I need to live up to expectations which have an impact on more than myself. It’s vital that I change that reductive cycle. I need to be firm yet gentle with myself, as to not only lend myself some kindness but to also lend myself the ability to move forward, towards a brighter future.
With these goals in mind, I have quite a few strategies I’m willing to implement to increase my chances of success, as well as some general ideas of how this will go. In regards to Regulation, I believe I will be able to fix most of my issues: sleep, cleanliness, and work schedule. For a year, I worked on my sleep through sleep therapy, and putting some of those strategies back into practice will likely enable me to fix the issues in my sleep schedule within the timeframe of this blog. Furthermore, if working in a scheduled framework for my sleep, I will also be in a scheduled framework for any general cleanliness concerns, thereby knocking all issues besides working out of the way. When it comes to work, I’ll take a less reward-based system, as I often just work while participating in my hobbies, and instead will take a time-based approach. Hopefully, with this, I’ll be able to separate work and “play”, and thereby increase the Regulation of the two.
However, one that will be much harder to both measure and regulate is Sincerity. As of now, I have a couple ideas here, mostly ones of either working towards Awareness and applying such skills here, or through behavioral and cognitive changes. More specifically, I’ll be working towards being more aware of when I am dissociating, and then use grounding techniques to bring myself back to the present. In other words, I’ll be using a chain-based approach in which I try to stop the behavior as soon as possible, rather than stopping it when it has already occurred. With this, hopefully, I’ll be able to catch anytime I’m acting disconnected to how I’m actually feeling or thinking, and thereby be more sincere and real to not only my peers but myself.
Brought up prior, one of the biggest focuses of this blog is Awareness, and in general it’ll follow a similar pattern to Sincerity, as mastering Awareness will then allow me to focus on Sincerity to the best of my ability. There are three main areas in which I’ll apply the chain method discussed prior, as the chain method is often used towards passive and unconscious actions. Firstly, I’ll use it whenever I find myself in a headspace to pick at my nails, and from there I’ll remove anything from my environment which would allow me to do so. This will not only likely make me find healthier coping mechanisms for boredom and anxiety, but it’ll allow me to keep the full usage of my hands, as picking at them comes to the detriment of myself for a week at a time. Secondly, I’ll use it to work on Sincerity, discussed prior. Thirdly, I’ll use the chain method to work towards being cognizant of food intake, though for this I think just being kind to myself is the most important step.
The hardest goal to work towards, out of all of these, is Enjoyment, as it’s hard to force yourself to feel an emotion which simply is not present. Instead, I’ll be working towards improving my cognitive outlook, focusing less on the negative and specifically stopping myself from self-deprecating, With this, I’ll likely feel more happy within my own headspace, and from there I can work to be content in the actions I commit, whether I be with friends or on my lonesome. As well, I’ll try to put more variety in my routine, as it has stagnated as of late due to an executive dysfunction keeping me in the same couple of patterns. Of course, I’m aware the first couple days are going to be difficult, as habits have an extinguishing response whenever you try to change them: they come back stronger. I don’t think that will stop me from making some progress though, as behavioral activation is a powerful tool when utilized effectively. However, I acknowledge that this feeling of malaise will not go away anytime soon, and I’m currently working on a consultation with a psychiatrist for a set of fresh eyes. I’m determined to regain some joy in my life, even if I don’t see the fruits of my labor during the course of this blog.
With this in mind, the foundation of it all needs to be met. As mentioned prior, behavioral activation is a powerful tool, and it’ll be my main tool when working with resolve. I’ll start with small goals of activities to complete in my day-to-day life, things which I have not done prior. From there, I’ll start reaching out to others, so they keep me culpable from slipping up on the occasion that I do. Once this has been accomplished, I’ll fix up my routine to allow flexibility, but to always give myself time to be productive and utilize the spare time I have. This will likely be the most experimental piece, and that is why I am leaving it for last. Resolve is something that wanes in its struggle, so in all honesty I’m the least sure about the amount of progress I’ll make on it, as it depends on my focus and motivation: two hard-to-control variables.
In all honesty, I’m glad to have been the time to create this blog at this point in my life, a point in which I predicted successfully that I was going to return to. I’m glad, as well, to have been given a framework as decreed by Benjamin Franklin to work within, as without it I might not have focused on much at all. I’m motivated to change my life for the better while managing a depressive episode, and with that I’m excited to work on this, and excited to be a culpable, virtuous individual.