Friday, 16 January 2015

Have I outgrown the nightly review?

People often think they have outgrown the nightly review.

The problem almost always is a tendency to view the questions too narrowly. Of course, they really cover all attitudes, thinking, and behaviour of which one is capable, and there is no fault or corrective measure that does not find its way under one or other heading.

Here's a slightly expanded set of questions that can help those who have hit a brick wall and apparently can find nothing to investigate.

Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid?

Resentful and afraid cover all forms of emotional disturbance. Unless one responds placidly to everything, these questions, one way or another, will always command a response. Resentment can be read as emotional disturbance at what is or was; afraid as emotional disturbance at what might be.

Dishonest covers self-deception, inappropriate concealment, and inappropriate lying, manipulation, hiding a bad motive under a good one, self-justification, blame, exaggeration, embellishment, misrepresentation, and malingering.

Selfish, Were we kind and loving toward all? and What could we have done better? concern our actions.

I have often congratulated myself at a day without selfish action. It is as well to pull myself up short and examine this list, which covers a good deal of selfish actions:

arguing / attention-seeking / avoiding amends / avoiding intimacy / bad-temperedness / being different to gain an identity / bitching / boasting / brusqueness / bullying / choosing chaos / choosing short-term gain over long-term pain / coldness / complaining / complying just to gain approval / compulsive busyness / concealing the truth / controlling / criticising / defensiveness / deliberate charm / dismissing people / distortion / dominating conversations / duvet-diving / exhibitionism / fire-fighting (only dealing with the urgent) / fishing for compliments / fitting in to gain an identity / fixing / flattery / focusing on people who do not like you / giving people attention only when they ignore you / giving to get / gossiping / graciousness with an agenda / ignoring people / imbalance between different areas of life / impatience / impoliteness / inaction / inappropriate self-expression / inconsistency / indifference/apathy in dealings with others / indiscretion / inflexibility / ingratiation / interfering / isolating / lack of discipline / lying / making excessive demands / making others' crises your own / malice / managing situations that are not my business / manipulation / martyrdom / mothering / neglect / not asking for help / not listening / not playing enough / not resting / not setting boundaries / not spending enough / not working enough / over-dependence / overeating / overspending / overworking / patronisation / physical violence / procrastination / provocation / pulling rank / punishing / rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic / recklessness / repeating mistakes and expecting different results / retaliation / sarcasm / saying 'no' too often / saying 'yes' too often / scaring people / secretiveness / self-justification / self-neglect / shaming people / showing off / sloth / stealing / stewing / sticking your head in the sand / taking people for granted / verbal abuse / withdrawing / withholding yourself

It may be that some have successfully eliminated all of these. I have not.

Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life?

These questions are pretty straightforward; there may not be an apology, and there may not be anything that needs to be discussed with others at once. The question about thought, however, is always a good one. There is never a day that goes by when one is entirely in the present, mentally engaged only in planning or accomplishing good acts.

Here is a list of bad mental habits:

anxiety / arrogance / beating yourself up / believing feelings / bitterness / black-and-white thinking / blame / contempt / criticising / defensiveness / denial / despair / distorting / embellishment / envy / exaggeration / expectation / fantasy / generalisation / greed/gluttony / guilt / gullibility / hatred / hypersensitivity / hypocrisy / impatience / indecision / indifference / inflexibility / intolerance / irrationality / jealousy / judging / lack of perspective / lack of proportion / lack of self-evaluation / lying / mercilessness / mistrust / negativity / nostalgia / obsessing / over-ambition / over-analysing / perfectionism / pessimism / projection / resistance to change / rigidity / scorn / self-centredness / self-consciousness / self-doubt / self-importance / selfishness / self-justification / self-obsession / self-pity / self-righteousness / self-satisfaction / sense of fraudulence / shame / suspicion / thinking oneself special & different  / tunnel-vision / withholding the truth  / worry / zero–sum thinking

It may be that some have successfully eliminated all of these. I have not.

But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others.

Obviously this need not—and should not—take more than a few minutes. A balance must be struck between avoiding inventory altogether and becoming excessively absorbed in it.

After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.

If short of corrective measures, I read spiritual literature. My deficiencies and what I could believe, think, or do instead invariably become immediately apparent.

1 comment:

Kesavan Chakravarthy said...


Thank You For Sharing!!!