Obtaining a more objective and rational view of ourselves and our personal problems allows us to more clearly think of ways to work on changing these problems. Objective self-monitoring is difficult. Our emotional state can quite easily lead us to view situations in a non-objective manner, over-react, and make us unable to see how to work through whatever the situation is. These emotional reactions and irrational thinking can lead to negative behaviors, behaviors that get in the way of you reaching your goals or living the life you desire.
Consider this scenario… you did not sleep well, you found yourself too busy at work yesterday to get in a workout and ate fast food instead of packing your own. You caught yourself in the mirror this morning, irritable, and pointing out everything wrong with the way you look. You are rushing to get ready for work. You don’t pack your meals because you are in a hurry, and on the way out the door your partner says… “aren’t you going to pack your lunch?” You snap at him/her, are fuming with anger, drive into work, stop for a donut because you are so mad, and then blow the rest of your eating for the day… maybe to stick it to your partner, maybe out of your own self-hatred, maybe a combination of everything.
No matter what the situation or behavior, it is important to begin to self-monitor in these situations to work to prevent them from happening in the future. Even if you CHOOSE to have a day of bad eating, that is different than doing it because of some negative emotional spiral you have been caught up in. In the scenario above, the bad day of eating was not your objective, rational choice… it was the product of your negative emotional spiral and you being out-of-control.
- What am/was I feeling?
- Angry at myself for not being on track yesterday, angry at my partner for commenting about my food.
- What just happened to make me feel this way?
- I did not sleep well, I talked down to myself when I looked in the mirror, I was rushing to get to work, what my partner said bothered me.
- What am I saying/did I say to myself in this situation?
- I hate myself, I hate the way I look, I will never lose weight, I am mad at my partner.
- How am I reacting/did I react (or how do I or did I want to react) to this situation?
- I yelled at my partner, I ate bad foods, I was completely off track from the way I actually wanted to eat today.
You can see how easy it was to spiral out-of-control in the initial paragraph example. But, when we actually break down the situation and self-monitor, with honesty and objectivity, you can more rationally view the situation and then consider how you could react differently next time. In this example, several things would ensure this does not happen again… a good night sleep, ensuring time management to get in a workout, pre-planned meals, time management for healthy meal planning, healthy options when you need to go out to eat, positive self-talk, improving body image, self-compassion, objective communication with your partner, and learning alternative coping strategies so you do not use eating to cope with negative emotion. Being on track the day before would have helped, good sleep would have helped, objective self-monitoring the morning after a bad day would have helped, etc.
The more you self-monitor situations, after they occur – and then as you become more accustomed to it – while they occur, you will begin to see yourself reacting more rationally, calmly, and with more positivity and self-control. These skills can only be developed through practice. They may not come naturally or easily, but continued practice will get you there!
Practice, practice, practice!! And you must be honest with yourself and take personal responsibility for your actions!
Related post… When emotions run high.