Thursday, October 19, 2017

Faking It

How do you handle your hardest moments? What do you turn to for comfort or guidance? Do you remember a time when you got past a hurdle in the past and try to duplicate the previous behaviors to see you through again? Maybe you call your closest friend and just vent until you start to see some brightness once again. But what do you do if the things that have always gotten you 'through' in the past just aren't working this time around?

Maybe you have never known that type of hollow feeling within that comes from not knowing what to do or think. If so, how wonderful! For me, however, that has not been the case. My mind is predisposed to critical thinking- which some could read 'cynical thinking'- and this leaves me questioning every piece of information I am given to some extent before deciding if I will accept this data at face value or if further review is needed. It is a sort of constant churning feeling within my brain that keeps me up many nights (such as this one, where I've struggled to sleep at all!).

This hasn't been all bad, of course. Honestly, most of the time I am thankful that God has given me the mind to be able to complete complex thought processes swiftly to assist in making the most logical choices I can that align with my personal values. Critical thinking is vital to ensure one is supporting a cause that is truly worth supporting and from mitigating risks in immeasurable ways.

So now that I have given my disclaimer regarding the merits of critical thinking, back to the difficult part. A trait that serves me well when working, this constant evaluation makes it difficult for me to take anything at "face value". If I am presented with an activity that my mind cannot identify a deeper meaning or purpose for, I am turned off instantly, aware of a dreadful feeling of wastefulness (i.e. why should I spend my time on something that has no meaning?). As a result, playing board games can't just be about the game- instead it is about the social interaction and bonding with loved ones or practicing social skills with a child I am working with. Listening to music is valuable to me because it represents the exchange of ideas or experiences from one human to another. Theater is treasured because it helps us understand feelings we have when we witnessed these 'mirrored' in captured moments on stage. A nap is valuable as it increases overall productivity and clarity of thoughts.

You get the idea.

This same process leaves me feeling jaded and isolated at times. When others around me seem content without a meaning being supplied, I am left searching internally. I have learned at those times it is usually best to attempt to assimilate as bringing up my unrest is often unsettling to others.

But I know I am not the only person who has this challenge. I meet many people that struggle with this hollow feeling after they have attempted to assimilate with others and fell short. They present during sessions with anxiety, depression, frustration, relationship issues, unrealized potential and poor self esteem, reaching out for help through therapy to help them figure out "what's wrong" with them. Most of the time, my response is to ask them why they are assuming no one else feels the same self doubt. I'm pretty sure none of us has it all figured out- a lot of us are just 'faking it 'til we make it' and hoping others approve. We see evidence of this through social phenomena such as group think, where strangers are prone to abandon their inner convictions to fit in with the crowd, encouraged by the positive feedback from those around them (i.e., if they are doing it, it must be right!)

It makes me wonder if most of us don't just try to ignore these 'dead end' thoughts because facing the unknown is just too difficult. For example, what do you do with existential questions? Does your faith satisfy all of these for you? Maybe it does. But what if it doesn't? I suppose this is the part where I am suppose to offer a suggested answer, but I think the point is that I don't have one either. I don't think we are meant to understand everything, but I admit the feeling of not knowing is 'icky' at best. It feels better to be in control, even though our logic tells us that isn't always possible. In fact, if we are honest with ourselves, we actually have very little control over anything.

I'm okay with that. It's okay when we don't have the answers and we don't know how to get ourselves out of the latest problem. It would be comforting to always have the answer, but I think in those moments, we just have to walk through that dark moment with an open heart, and allow ourselves to be lead by the only One who actually has all of the answers.