Chapter 18 ~ The Constants
When you are stressed in life it is hard to step back and evaluate all that is contributing to your current state of mind. Often times the most recent thing that adds to your stress load bears the brunt of your frustration. Your Mom might be in the hospital hours away after a fall and your business just fired one of your friends at work. While eating dinner somewhat quietly you are reminded on your 3rd bite that one of your molars has been bothering you for the past few weeks… During dinner your significant other asks why your distant, you try to avoid the conversation, they push, you blow up, and now you have relationship issues to deal with when in reality that was one of the few things that wasn’t causing you stress a few hours ago.
I developed the constants for myself in order to break down the facets of my life that were stressing me so that I could try to solve 1 thing at a time and get myself back on track. Along the way I refined the concept, developed a rating scale, and shared this with close friends in an attempt to help them when they seemed stressed and/or depressed. The seven Constants as I’ve defined them are:
- Significant Other
- Personal Health
- Friend Network
- Career & Finances
- Faith, so to speak…
The premise is that each is evaluated to determine if they are currently causing you stress or for the most part are providing you with joy and accomplishment. For lack of a better cliché: For each constant, is it adding to your energy tank that helps you get through the day, or is it one of the things that is draining it throughout the day? Each one of the constants receives a score of a 1 or 0.
It is important to understand how to compartmentalize to do this. Another chapter in this book focuses on that if you need help stepping back and taking emotion out of your evaluation process. Take your family for example. Your Father might have had a heart episode and is being checked out by doctors tomorrow and your sister is going through a custody battle with her Ex that has gotten ugly… They are likely a 0 right now in regards to whether or not they are filling your tank vs. draining it. That doesn’t mean they are bad people or that you don’t love them or that they don’t love you. It means that part of your energy is going to that constant because you can’t turn your back on it etc. and not only is energy being devoted to it but it is something that weighs on your mind even when you aren’t directly discussing it with others etc.
Understanding that labeling something a 0 isn’t an indictment of that person/people/yourself is key to this whole process. All the 0’s are merely places where you have to compartmentalize that Constant and come up with a game plan for taking steps to get it closer to a 1 than a 0.
Human nature will drive you to add your score up and seek a table where I’ve defined X score as medical depression and X score as Awesome! That doesn’t exist and won’t exist in this book. A handful of constants at any moment will be out of your control. All you can do is love and help your family, but not control the results of their actions. When your closest friend moves away or gets married to someone that you can’t stand you can’t stop them for your own reasons even though you’ll be affected.
So why have a scale at all? So that you have a baseline to compare things against… if you feel stressed out, evaluate yourself… determine the steps you can take in life to get it all going the right direction, and then a week or so do the evaluation process and compare it. Are you achieving the steps you laid out to assist yourself? If so, then even if the score is still a 0 then you place a green arrow next to it pointing up. Because even though it is a 0, it is just a matter of time until it is a 1. You might have better insight and need to add or change the steps, but regardless you can see the progress.
Getting the majority of the Constants to have either a 1 or a green arrow pointing up is how to help avoid depression. Keep in mind that I have no medical degrees, hate reading, and have used my own personal experiences in life to develop and apply all these ideas. But I have known many people that have had medically treated depression, anxiety, bipolarism etc. And after discussions with them, evaluating myself through the ups and downs, and reading people in life I have learned that depression at any level or form is typically driven not by something in your life going the wrong direction.
Something going wrong is the catalyst, and then the person not knowing how to step back, evaluate it quickly, and start taking the steps to turn the ship back around is what depresses them. Typically once the person has a plan for the things that they are battling in life and then understands how/what to focus on that is enjoyable they are in a better place and can fight off a self-deprecating attitude. When they have a lot of 1’s and green arrows they are armed and ready for success even if they have Five 0’s running around.