“Understanding is a three-edged sword; there is your side, there is the other side, and then there is the truth.”
As the Robbie Williams song goes, lately I’ve been doing a lot of “thinking about thinking”. I’ve been involved recently on Facebook with a private support network of men who all have some form of mental health issue. We’re a disparate bunch spread across Australia and New Zealand at least, if not further, and the primary purpose is to allow each other to sound off, and get advice from others when needed.
Like any forum situation, this effectively allows me to do a form of self analysis by proxy; in observing and talking to others I’m observing and learning more about myself. I’m also learning about commonalities between our situations.
One of those commonalities is a strong degree of introspection. Some might say it’s actually an unhealthy level of introspection. Note that the word may imply a choice, but choices are never as simple as they seem. When we delve into behavioural processes, one of the simplest factors is that behavioural traits become self-reinforcing. Effectively, our neurons start firing along a particular path, and repeated firings mean that it becomes a trait.
There’s a common notion that people fall into two main categories – “glass half full”, or “glass half empty”; however, when we approach depression and other forms of mental health issues, there’s most definitely another category – “glass half empty, cracked and you can see the rest of the water leaking out”. OK, that’s a bit of a mouthful, but it serves the purpose. When you’re feeling down, it’s not just a case that the glass is half empty, but the approach almost leads to the situation where glass half empty is actually an optimal situation, and it’s actually getting worse as the seconds tick by.
It’s like being stuck on a möbius strip, and with each pass over the one-sided devil, things get worse.
(Image taken from Wikipedia article, Möbius Strip.)
Effectively that möbius strip is a representation of an endless, frustrating loop – or what can be an endless, frustrating loop.
At that point, logic can become skewed, and the loop can feel like it’s tightening. But that’s because we’re mentally operating within the confines of the one-dimensional möbius strip. There’s other truths and world-views out there, just not quite visible, because they’re two dimensional, three dimensional, and four dimensional.
The real goal of any form of group support in mental health is to help lift people back out of that one-dimensional möbius strip view of the world they’ve fallen into, and come back up to a full world awareness.
Or to come back to that original quote, understanding is a three-edged sword. There’s your side, there’s someone else’s side, and then there’s the truth. This is why I work so damn hard at forcing myself to keep Hanlon’s Razor as a mantra in my head at all times:
Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.
When we’re in that one-dimensional möbius strip view, we struggle to recognise the truth of Hanlon’s Razor because, as I mentioned before, our logic becomes skewed.
If you find yourself walking that same path over and over again in your head, constantly ending up back where you started, please, please take that as the signal to ask someone nearby for an alternate perspective. That perspective may be surprising. One thing is for sure based on my observation and participation in this support group – making that step really does work.