We are creatures of balance. Nothing can exist unless it finds a path between two opposites. You cannot survive up at too high an altitude, or at too low a depth below the sea. You cannot live with too little, or too much, food. A relationship cannot continue with too little, or with too much, intensity. If you observe your life, you will see that you survive between an infinite number of extremes.
What does this mean for mental health? It means that suffering can often be diagnosed in terms of falling into an extreme. We reach too hard for a fantasy or an ideal, and hurt ourselves, like Icarus flying too close to the sun. As this article by Aurelian Craiutu outlines, moderation is an art perhaps underestimated in modern times, politically as well as personally.
- How do I feel? Am I happy, anxious, content, uneasy, energised, depressed, bored?
- Why am I feeling this way? How would I explain this mood? What has happened to make me like this?
- How would I like to feel? If I am unhappy, perhaps I would like to feel happy. If I am content, perhaps I would like to continue feeling content.
- What can I do to achieve this wished-for feeling? If I am unhappy because I have been doing too much, and want to feel happy, then perhaps I can give myself a rest, moderating my action. If I am unhappy because I am anxious, and want to feel happy, then perhaps I can meditate for a while, moderating my thoughts.
This cycle of introversion, explanation, reset intention, and new action, can help us to become self-balancing beings, adapting our approach to moderate our mood. It’s worth a try. It’s certainly better than helplessly floundering in our suffering.