"The Good Place" Therapy
I've been really depressed lately.
I keep thinking that there is some answer out there or that if I work harder or do something better I'll get over it and then I'll be normal and move on with my life.
When it starts to feel like nothing is working I get discouraged. Then I get super, mega, drastically discouraged and completely lose my shit. Really. Over stupid things. It happens a lot.
Today I decided to stop trying to feel better. There was no point. In the state of mind I've been in I was only likely to uproot any progress I've made. First I thought about the things I always think about when I'm feeling like this, but I know better. Those aren't the answers. There had to be something else. I just didn't know what it was, but instead of continuing to drive myself to destruction looking for it I stopped.
I'm going to give up and just watch tv. I decided. I'm not going to think about anything else today. I'm not going to try to make anything better or fix anything. I'm not going to care about health or happiness or worth or love or healing or anything. Today I'm just going to burrow under my blankets and watch tv.
So I turned on Netflix and binge-watched season 2 of "The Good Place." When the last episode ended I felt less all over the place. More centered.
If you don't know what it's about, The Good Place is about four humans who died and think they went to "the good place" but its actually an experiment conducted by agents of "the bad place" to try to get them to torture each other without realizing it. In the process of being stuck with each other they learn how to be better people, etc. I like the show. It's funny and the concepts are interesting, but mostly I like the themes. One of which is the motivation for doing good or being good.
Anyway, it made me think about things and brought me back to where I was last year. Last year I decided I wanted to try to do something different. I wanted to try to be a better person, and I have been trying, but then I got stuck and I realized I've lost my focus lately. Instead of focusing on the one goal that I actually do have control over (trying to be a better person and live in line with my own sense of integrity as best I can) I started to get distracted by the things I wanted in my life that I have less control over. I started focusing on how I wanted a sense of security, a job, a relationship, to be able to do certain things, etc. etc...
And even though those things aren't bad, I don't do well with any of them being my focal point.
Lessons are cyclical. I keep falling into the same patterns and making the same mistakes and I keep ending up in the same place of wanting to tear my own life apart because I can't do or have the things I want. But that's because I keep focusing on the wrong things.
The goal is not to be perfect. The goal is not to try to make a life that looks like it is somehow more together than it is. The goal is to try to be good, or as close to good as I can be in any given moment. It's a vague goal and the exact form it takes changes from moment to moment and sometimes I get stuck on the wrong principles and applications. I guess that's why in the show they have a professor of ethics to discuss all the moral dilemmas that arise from every situation. But it's okay, the point is not to achieve some state of eternal enlightenment. The point is to try and then try again. Every time you fail, every time you succeed get up and try one more time. This is what I have to keep reminding myself. I keep forgetting that the goal is not perfection-- it is to try and fall and try again and believe that trying is enough to do some good some of the time.
I don't know exactly what that is going to look like in real life. I don't know what the first steps to take are. I don't think there are any (or at least not many) hard, fast rules that apply to each situation. It's always changing and I always find that I could do better, but that doesn't matter. The point for me is to try and then again and then again. No matter how many mistakes I make or how often I get off track or how frequently I end up back in this place of wanting to give up. I have to try.
There's no guarantee that it will matter at all. There is no way of saying if it will pay off or if I'll ever know if it means anything to anyone else. But I believe that it is better to try to do good. Even if I never see the outcome having faith that somehow it does matter to someone or something keeps me going. So I guess I'll keep trying my best to believe in that and keep trying to figure out what it is to live with as much integrity as I can.
I can only try.