Mapping out life

Are you missing the big picture?

That could be dangerous. But the big picture consists of small ones. If you are to dig around, look at and map it all out it could be helpful to have some bullet points to look at. Plenty of questions and mapping out life is one part of where I start where my clients and it’s an important part of acceptance. Once you’ve answered more or less everything you’ve got it on paper so it’s actually real. It was real before as well, but if it’s written down you’ve really acknowledged it to underline that this is the case. If you are to solve problems – you’ll need to define the problem well first.

Let’s start out with some biological parts. Biological parts are your physical being more or less. It might cover everything from physiology and blood work to anatomical variations and hair color. We’ll keep to what’s easily observed, possible to answer without a lab and most relevant for those who I tend to. You could have other relevant aspects however. So keep in mind that this doesn’t cover your entire life, it’s a way to get going and nudge you in the right direction.

  • Length and weight. 
  • Any actual illness that bother you?
    • Do you use any medications to treat it?
  • Do you have any physical pains and aches? If so, list those. 
    • Where does it hurt?
    • When does it hurt?
    • How and how much does it hurt?
    • How does it affect your everyday life?
    • How does it vary day to day and over time?
    • Does it change with stress-levels?
    • Does it improve over time and actually get better?
  • In short, reflect about how you eat.
    • What do you eat?
    • When do you eat?
    • Does that please you, work with and for you and take you towards where you’re going?
  • How do you exercise?
    • Does it feel as if it’s enough?
    • Is it what you’d LIKE it to be?
    • Do you more or less reach your goals?
  • Regarding the first question, length is likely as it used to be, but is the other one as it should?
  • Are those pains and aches reasonable, there for a “good” reason or practically “unexplainable”?
  • Does the food really feel decent enough?
  • Is that enough exercise or do you want to do more? 

For psychological parts I like to start by asking a sincere “how are you?”. Not just as a courteous question, but as a sincere one. If you were to answer “fine”, as you might in everyday life I’d be disappointed (though that would be fantastic, since you’d practically be done). So please – feel free to rant and ease your heart. Spill the beans on that paper of yours and just blurb it out there. What’s the problem and how do you feel about it?
Why did we get where we are today? We’d like an answer that is as thorough as possible. Preferably with several steps of causes. For example: “I’m exhausted and burned out because of too much work, too little sleep and not caring about myself. I usually don’t put myself in first place because I… That leads to a….”. Just “I’m burned out because I worked too much” doesn’t really tell enough of the story. We’d like something deeper so it actually tells us something and points out actual problems rather than what those led to.

  • Do you ruminate or are you brooding about anything? Do you have any recurring thoughts that don’t really lead to any conclusion?
    • What thoughts bother you the most and take up unreasonable amounts of time and energy?
  • What is your perceived stress level? Rant freely or use a 1-10 scale.
    • Does the stress level vary during the day?
    • Does it vary over weeks/months or is it usually the same?
    • Do you perceive it as a problem?
  • How is the energy level, or for some, rather the general tiredness level at the moment? Compare to “earlier” whenever life felt like you think it should?
    • How does it vary during the day? For example “Almost decent before lunch and then collapse level by dinner.”
    • What are your best moments energy-wise?
    • What are your worst moments energy-wise?
    • Do you ever push a little extra in life – and CRASH as a result? (For example making you extra tired/symptomatic for the rest of the day, the next day or the weekend.) How often and how bad?
  • How much do you sleep?
    • Do you feel as if you sleep well?
  • Do you have any depressive symptoms? It can either be a yes or no-question or it can be broken down into several. Some of these are already asked above, but bunched together to give some perspective on what counts as “depressive symptoms”.
  • Do you feel…
    • … unreasonably bad disproportionately often? That’ll include sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, anger, irritability and frustration, worthlessness, guilt
    • … a loss of interest in most of what used to amuse you such as sex, hobbies, work?
    • … as if past mistakes bother you more now than they have done earlier?
    • … (more) anxious (than usual)?
    • … unmotivated and having a hard time to take initiative?
    • … tired and as if you lack energy so even small things get troublesome?
    • … as if you’re having trouble sleeping?
    • … more or less interested in food so your weight have changed?
    • … generally slower in thought and perhaps even physically?
    • … as if your brain won’t really cooperate and thinking, memorizing and concentrating is harder?
    • … more morbid than before, drawn to death and thoughts about it? Perhaps even suicide?
    • … as if you’re more sensitive to pain and/or painful things have suddenly appeared?

Social parts. We’re social animals, regardless of how introvert you are.

  • Are you pleased at work? If you’re not pleased, rant freely. This is your moment to get it out there!
  • What’s your ratio work/free time/sleep generally? Is it more or less 8/8/8 or something entirely different?
  • Are you decently satisfied with your income level?
  • What do you do for FUN and do you do it enough?
  • Do you hang around people you like or even love, enough?
  • Does any of your closest relationships bother you? If so, can it be fixed?
  • Are you pleased with your sex life (and sex drive!)? If not, can you fix it?

It’s quite likely that you’ll have a better chance of fending for your life, health and everything you’d like to be as you’d like it to be with a pragmatic approach, rather than a stick-your-head-in-the-sand solution.

Does it truly feel more scary to tend to reality and do what you can? 

Perhaps.

Short term.

But doing hard things might be what’s necessary to truly get a life worth living.