Mood Tracking: How you can check in with yourself to avoid trouble

Mood tracking, have you done it?

Are you aware of it?

Full disclosure this is what I call it.

There is someone out there more intelligent than I who has better been able to define what I’m talking about.

If you know what that is please send me a link or something.

I’ll get into definitions later but for the moment, how are you?

What mood are you in?

How much power over your moods do you have?

Are you a consistent person?

As in when your mood changes are you still fundamentally you?

For legal reasons, yes you are. Do you ever find aspects of yourself creeping out that you would rather stay behind the curtain?

Have you ever stopped to wonder where do these moods come from?

Do they come from somewhere deep inside you or are there external influences at play?

My word that’s a lot of rhetorical questions I had you read there isn’t it, no wait, no more rhetorical questions for now.

That was a lot of rhetorical questions.

As your thumb scrolls down, reading this text you wonder what the hell my point is with all the questions, I’ll tell you.

Be aware of your mood.

You think that your moods are these random encounters. You’re travelling the wilderness in a Final Fantasy game. Suddenly the screen warps and out of nowhere your in a battle with your mood.

On the surface it’s random. Whether that’s the battle system or your mood. It feels like as with Final Fantasy some stats and numbers are going on behind the scenes.

If you knew what those numbers were then would you be more able to control the frequency of these moods?

I know, another rhetorical.

Mood Lighting

Let me be honest by admitting to extreme pompousness. I thought that I was above the pack.

I thought myself as stronger and in possession of more integrity.

When I was younger and more foolish, well, I’m still the same amount of stupid, it wasn’t enough to avoid temptation. In fact, avoiding temptation was a weak man’s get out clause.

I thought I was better because I would walk towards the fire and hold my hand to the flames. I would resist the temptation. That made me better than those who avoided the lure altogether.

Here’s the thing.

You’re smart, attractive and prone to generic flattery, so you already know what’s going to happen next.

Every time I wanted to prove how I could resist, I failed. I succumbed every time.

Then my brain did that beautiful thing that your mind does every time you muck up. It backwards rationalised how I did a good thing, and really my character has not been diminished.

I was delusional.

Mood Awareness

It feels like there’s new management in my brain. It feels like there is someone in there going through years of data and is perplexed, to say the least.

I’m going to dramatise an exchange, this might not work:

Setting: A big office inside Kieran’s brain

A sharply dressed CEO leafs through a mountain of files. The door opens, Kieran stands at the entrance.

“Kieran could you come in here, take a seat. I’ve been looking over the results and keep seeing that you aren’t getting the results you want. I also see that you have been sticking to the same methodology. How come you haven’t changed it up over the years.”

“You see there are many external factors.”

“That may be, but you’ve changed nothing. You keep applying the same routine, and you keep getting bad results. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

“It’s not my fault.”

“Again, that might be fair, but it’s not about blame it’s about progress, you should be further along than this. Look, we’re going to be more observational going forward and see if we can course correct along the way.”

End scene.

Mood tracking

There was one particular aspect of my life that I wanted to cut out.

Before you read on consider yourself warned.

This is crossing into TMI territory and either accept my humble apology or stop reading.

I want to cut out looking at porn entirely from my life.

I used to think that it was harmless images on a screen. It’s not, it warps the brain. Would I go so far as to say that it ruins relationships?

Yes.

The plan

I planned that I was going to observe my behaviour. I would see when I looked at porn and if there was any kind of conclusion that I could draw.

It took a bit of conscious effort at first. I would check in with myself. Be aware of what I was doing what I had eaten, time of day and what kind of day I’d be having in general.

There were a few things that I noticed that I found interesting.

The main thing that I noticed is that if I do watch porn, it’s most likely to be at 3 am.

Once I saw that recurrence then the solution was clear. I need to either be unconscious at that point or need to be far away from the means of access.

With that knowledge, I would prepare myself to go to bed earlier.

Another system that I brought into play was that I made sure that my phone was not easily accessible.

At night it lives at the other side of the room on a shelf with math protected apps.

As I continued tracking my moods, I noticed one thing. It wasn’t horniness that was driving me to look at porn. The safeguards that protect me from impulse were weaker at night.

Over the day my will power gets sapped so right before sleep is when I’m likely to be more impulsive.

The impulsiveness would show up in other ways. Here’s a great example. If I were to find myself in a Tesco anytime after midnight, I knew that crap was going to get purchased. I’d waste money on buying awful stuff. Eating at a late hour would give me energy, keep me up and then that’s when I would get tempted.

I made sure to avoid Tesco after 11 pm. Without knowing you too well, maybe you should too.

You can turn your weakness into a strength. I know that I am weak in certain areas. Impulse control is one of them.

Other notices

Going to bed earlier meant getting up earlier. Getting up earlier reminds me why I am a night owl.

When I was still in my twenties I used to get up early, I think, probably not. When I did, there was this weird thing that happened. There would be a thought that would whisper to me as soon as I woke up, “You’re never going to achieve anything with your life” it would say and with that, it was gone. Found it mildly unsettling but I ignored it.

Have you ever had this thought? I don’t mean self-doubt, you’re not fully conscious of this thought.

The thought feels more like someone muttering under their breath as they pass you in a hallway.

Might just be me.

Getting older

As I got older, I found myself becoming more and more of a night owl. Looking back, do you think I stayed up later to avoid those early morning thoughts?

This thought has become more intense with time.

Now what follows isn’t a cry for help. This is me trying to be as upfront and as honest with you as I possibly can be.

The thought was now more of an observation than a passive-aggressive barb.

The thought would be “You could kill yourself”.

Now, my thoughts are not wrong. I could kill myself, I could also go to Barbados, but I’m not going to do either.

I’m not going to kill myself.

It feels like there are many more people to annoy before losing my footing on this whirling cinder.

You’re thinking that I’m rambling on. You’re correct.

The point is through mood tracking I noticed that I am prone to impulsive behaviour at night. I’m also inclined to have self-destructive/negative thoughts in the morning.

If you’re a regular here and there are a few of you, you’ll know that I am going sober this year.

Mood tracking is part of the reason behind that.

I can estimate, forgive the darkness, that if I were ever likely to end my own life, it would be sometime around 4 am – 6 am.

Throw in booze, and it feels like a statistical certainty.

Let me be clear I’m not suicidal and am not a depressed person. I’m just aware that I’m not in control of myself as I’d like to be.

Choice

What are you going to choose? Your moods are these things that come along that you have no control over? Could you see yourself being manipulated by your own mind?

Be aware of yourself. Be mindful of what’s going on around you. When you’re more aware life has less of a tendency to take you by surprise.

What’s the point in all this?

You’re wondering when this is going to end. The answer is soon.

I wanted to break down for you reading how I went about correcting behaviour.

If you are struggling maybe this might help.

Full transparency I have been in therapy before, not much but a few times. Again not many times.

It left me cold, here’s how it would go:

“How do you feel Kieran?”

“Not great.”

“Don’t you feel better for having said that?”

“Not really.”

“We’ll see.”

Speaking generally, I don’t think therapy works for men. It might be helpful, but I don’t think it does much. Talking about your feelings and not doing anything feels more feminine in nature. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We all know many women who do a lot of moaning without any desire to seek a solution and they’re in excellent mental health.

What I’m saying is what is sauce for the gander is not necessarily sauce for the goose.

If you’re a man reading this, then I have news for you. It might not be so much as news as a reminder:

No one is coming to save you, and no one cares what happens to you.

Don’t believe me? We’re amid a suicide epidemic, and it’s not going to subside if we rely on talking about how we feel.

Your best bet is to take some responsibility for yourself and look into what makes you who you are.

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