I finally sat down to tally my monthly expenses. I found that I will have less disposable income than I thought—which is not to say that I’m worried about “fun money” but rather that I will be paying my debts off 50% slower than I was hoping to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful to again 1) pay my bills in full every month and 2) have enough money left over to make payments toward my debt. Unfortunately, I am worried still worried because slow debt payment can be debilitating. It takes so long that you stop thinking it’s important and you start allocated less and less toward it. It also means that I will have less flexibility. If an unexpected bill comes up, like the crown that I need right, I’ll have no money to put toward debt reduction for a month or two. This is how you get stuck in a situation where you are frozen in your debt. But I’m doing my best to focus on gratitude for having survived the financial tsunami that hit me in 2020.
I definitely need to focus on gratitude. I’m not sure why, but some of my anxiety has been bubbling up lately. If I don’t head that off at the pass, it may overtake me again (which scares the hell out of me.) There is an excellent episode of The Blindboy Podcast called Fanta Hammer, where Blindboy talks about preventing his anxiety and depression.
Before listening to this, I never considered this possibility. For most of my life, I, like many people, operated on the assumption that anxiety and depression were like storms. They just happened sometimes, they were beyond our control, and the best we could do was to find healthy ways to weather them. But Blindboy makes a very strong argument for root causes. He argues that flare-ups are precipitated by smalls actions or lacks in action from the preceding months. He beautifully breaks down what a gestalt is (which is quite difficult to do.) I will forgo trying to re-say what has already been said well, instead I’ll explain in the context of a real-life situation.
I have yet to do my 2020 taxes. It’s on my to-do list. I see it every day and I avoid it. I avoid it because until today I didn’t have the money to pay for my CPA to do the taxes. I’m still avoiding it because I also need to have a crown put on my fractured tooth. I don’t have money for both. So rather than making a choice, I’m sitting on them; I’m avoiding them. (This is classic depressive behavior—hope things will go away.) This creates an incomplete gestalt and that lack of completion; that lingering choice will fester over time. The more I wait, the more the stakes raise. And over time this will lead to me avoid other things that stress me out. I will avoid them because of a form of fatigue—the fatigue that comes from an incomplete gestalt. For as long as I avoid my taxes and the crown they will weigh on me, and with each additional thing I avoid (like going through my mail or fixing my chair) the weight will only grow heavier. One small avoidance eventually snowballs into full-blown anxiety and depression.
This explains why the daily self-inventory I used to do would help me when I felt about to spin out of control. Rather than feeling constantly behind on things, the self-inventory forced me to be on point. In turn, being on point lead to healthier thought patterns—because let’s be honest the things we say to ourselves when avoid things aren’t kind (“Loser!” “Worthless.” “Bag of shit.” ) The sooner we stop feeding those voice the sooner we are freed from them.
The Daily Self Inventory
- What are three memorable moments from your day?
- What was your focus/preoccupation today?
- What things worked in your favor?
- What things did not work in your favor?
- What wasted your time and gave you little value?
- What goal did you work toward and how?
- Kaizen; what little things can you do to improve upon today?
- Did you have any big ideas?
- What did you eat?
- Did you drink enough water?
- Did you exercise?
- Did you meditate?
- Did you read a book?
- What did you do for others? If nothing, what prevented you?
- What are three things you’re grateful for today?
- What could make tomorrow great (dream big and crazy)?
- Check your inboxes and communications for tasks or promises you made
- Plan your day for tomorrow
What’s useful to me about this list is that it doesn’t cover just one area. I made it intending to cover mood, mindset, productivity, health, and mindfulness because they’re all connected. Is your mindset really healthy if you mediate but forget to pay your rent? Are you healthy if you jog but you allow the same obstacles to impede you over and over without crafting a solution? Are you really present if you can think of three things you to be grateful for but you’ve managed to go through the whole day without doing something for someone other than yourself?
Yeah, the more I write about this, the more I realize that I’m talking to myself. I’m convincing myself that I need this right now. I need to go back to doing this every day. I think I’ve been hiding from it because I’m scared to see how far off-track I am, but I felt the same way about tallying my expenses. It’s like ripping off a band-aid. It’s terrifying but it feels better once you can see it for what it is. Ha! Wow! I didn’t realize that this connected to yesterday’s entry. I guess the idea of externalizing things and seeing their shape is more universal than I thought.