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Honest Self-Scrutiny Is the Only Path to Healthy Progress

Personal development is a never-ending activity in every aspect of my life.

The first step to addressing your mental health is honest self-scrutiny, often one of the last behaviors we learn to masterfully utilize.

The first step to addressing your mental health is honest self-scrutiny, often one of the last behaviors we learn to masterfully utilize.

We live in a world full of conflicting opinions and concerning mental health issues, where everyone is told that every opinion they have is valid. To this scenario we must take the high road, and we need to be asking, "Is every opinion I hold valid, well thought out, and honest?"

The most common root of every opinion we hold lies deep within the feelings we hold about ourselves. When we are angry, that is said to be inward sadness being cast outwards; when we are sad, that is said to be outward anger cast inwards. I'm here today to tell you that you can overcome the consequences of your emotions in a healthy way.

Honest self-scrutiny is the best method for addressing and treating the roots of your mental health problems, and it is a process that is regularly corrupted to the detriment of our mental health. How do we avoid corrupting our process of honest self-scrutiny, though?

First and foremost, in order to address our mental health with honest self-scrutiny we must know exactly how to approach our problems in a truthful way.

What Does Honest Self-Scrutiny Look Like?

When going on an introspective journey into the self, it can be extremely easy to find yourself lost, but not even understand that you have become so. This is because of our system of subconscious biases that form without any active input from us, but that does not mean we cannot identify, pinpoint, and eliminate said biases so that we may continue on the path of honest self-scrutiny. There is a process of thought that you can utilize in order to assist in eliminating the mental pitfalls that will hinder your ability to be truthful with your self-scrutiny.

While on your journey toward healthy progress you should be taking the time to think in a step-by-step process. This step-by-step process looks a bit like this:

  1. Actively identify exactly what negative emotions you are feeling.
  2. Take time to separate yourself from the perceived cause of those emotions.
  3. Ask yourself, "Why do I feel the way I do?"
  4. Determine the root causes of the emotions.
  5. Create a realistic plan to address the root causes.
  6. Discuss the problems and plans with a part of your trusted support system.
  7. Readdress your emotions and plans if need be.
  8. Act upon your plan of resolution.

If I were to just leave it at that it would be unfair, because nothing in life is quite so simple as ticking boxes off of a checklist. No, there is much more nuance to any and every problem we face on the road to healthy progress through our problems. That being said, I want to tell you about a situation I faced recently, and how I've come to fully resolve my negative emotions utilizing this process for healthy and honest self-scrutiny.

Anger is one of the most common and misunderstood emotions any human can feel.

Anger is one of the most common and misunderstood emotions any human can feel.

Self-Scrutinizing Your Emotions

Anger is one of the most common symptoms of a failure to honestly self-scrutinize, and we can all relate to feeling upset to the point of expressing anger and letting it shape our opinions. When we let anger shape our opinions, we become blind to the fact that we just threw self-scrutiny out of the window in favor of temporary comfort. It can be cathartic to show anger outwardly, but we must always return to a state of self-scrutiny lest that anger become an ugly monster that we lose control of.

Within the last year I have taken to trying to find friends for my 3-year-old son, and that is a much more difficult task than I originally thought it would be. I go outside, I meet new people, we exchange information, and most of the time that is the last I see or hear from them. My immediate reaction to this situation was feeling upset—angry—and that stemmed from my feelings of being a failure.

At first I let my anger run rampant; I blamed the people who blew me off, myself for failing to find more friends for my son, and even the world as a whole for its ever-evolving social climate. My kneejerk reactions only led to more negative emotions, until finally I found myself so angry that the idea that I was depressed came to the forefront of my mind. It was time to ask myself, "Why the heck are you feeling this way?"

Upon asking that question I was able to explore exactly what it was I was feeling, and the answers surprised me more and more the longer I spent answering it honestly. Self-loathing was my brain's go-to coping mechanism, a self-deprecating mechanism to give myself a sense of security where otherwise there wasn't an immediate healthy emotional response. I was blaming myself, and beating myself up—not to mention falsely accusing others of being less-than for seemingly not wanting to be a part of my son's life.

Don’t Ignore the Root Cause in Favor of Treating the Symptoms

In our attempts to immediately heal the emotional trauma and subsequent consequences we face, we often forget that there is a root cause for the symptoms of said trauma. We see a problem, we have an emotional response to it, and often the consequences of that immediate response cause further trauma that is otherwise avoidable. A failure to self-scrutinize is the root cause for the majority of negative consequences we come across in emotional interactions.

In my failure to find friends for my son, the immediate emotional consequences were that of anger and hatred for everything and everyone that was immediately observable. For over a year I was blaming the symptoms of my problems for the problems themselves, and it led to quite a lot of trauma that was otherwise avoidable. Had I taken the time to honestly self-scrutinize earlier, I would've found that I was actually the cause of most of my perceived problems.

The root of the problem I found—after asking myself over and over again, "Why do you feel this way?"—was actually my failure to properly self-scrutinize rather than any of the influencing factors that were out of my control. I was attempting to treat the symptoms of my problems, when in actuality I had unrealistic expectations of success and the timeframe it would take to achieve it. A failure on my part to recognize my unrealistic expectations led to so much avoidable anger that it began to affect my life negatively as a whole.

The only thing in this life that you can fully control is yourself, your inner world, and everything that comes along with honest self-scrutiny. In mastering self-scrutiny, conquering the turmoil in your inner world, you will find yourself quickly on your way to healthy progress.

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Healthy progress doesn't always look and feel healthy, but even a tearful evening of introspection can be a sign that you are well on your way.

Healthy progress doesn't always look and feel healthy, but even a tearful evening of introspection can be a sign that you are well on your way.

What Does Healthy Progress Look Like?

Recognizing when healthy progress is being made can be one of the hardest parts of self-scrutiny, but it is one of the most rewarding when you finally do recognize it. Valuing progress every step of the way seems impossible, but honest self-scrutiny will allow you to see growth in even the smallest of steps forward. You cannot always take small steps of progress for granted, because even those small steps can be the most difficult in the process toward healthy progress.

Though at the time I did not realize it was a sign of positive progress, after a year of searching for friends for my son and seeming to fail, I broke down in tears on the floor of my shower. I sat there crying for a good fifteen minutes as the water ran down my face, and I asked, "Why do I feel the way I do?" over and over again. As the tears poured out, so did my sorrow spill out of me, and the answers began to fall into my lap.

Healthy progress for me was enacting a behavior I don't often exhibit, a behavior I felt was a sign of weakness, and it brought me to profound self-understanding. The understanding I reached was one with myself, and thus the world around me: You have failed to self-scrutinize honestly, and thus have created problems where they did not originally exist. I had been unfair with my feelings of failure, my resentment of those who blew me off, and the ignorance of those successes I have had.

In my original failure to self-scrutinize, I had wrongfully created a world of negative emotion that I was then building and wallowing in for an entire year. I took the friends I have found for granted, and tore myself up with unrealistic expectations for constant stimulation from others for my son. In reality I've not only found my son a great group of friends—as small as it may be—but have created the opportunity for a world of positive experience he wouldn't have otherwise had.

Healthy progress isn't always finding success in your goals, but more often it is finding where you have failed by your own hands, discovering you can correct it, and letting honest self-scrutiny pave the way to a brighter future.

Make some personal time in your life to self-scrutinize in an honest and fair way.

Make some personal time in your life to self-scrutinize in an honest and fair way.

Take Time Out of Your Day for Honest Self-Scrutiny

Everyone in the world benefits from not only the honest self-scrutiny of others, but also taking time out of their busy lives to self-scrutinize. It doesn't matter whether it is as minor as a political opinion, or as crucial as your mental health, to take the time to honestly self-scrutinize is a benefit to the world as a whole. I want you to remember that, as well, that you are an important contributor to this world as a whole.

On your journey to healthy progress you are going to have a lasting effect on every person you come into contact with, and that's a power you cannot take lightly. In your self-scrutiny I want you to be honest about that power you have, and ask yourself, "Am I being fair to myself and those around me?"

Simply by taking the time to observe yourself in this way you have set yourself apart from the crowd, and you've made healthy progress. You are well on your way to establishing a healthy inner environment for yourself, and your outward environment will continue to shape itself in a positive way right along with you.

I wish you all the best on your journey through honest self-scrutiny, and know that you aren't alone on this path!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Kyler J Falk


Kyler J Falk (author) from California on September 02, 2021:

@Kathryn: Long time, no see! It's good to see that you are still around, and you're even making a lot of positive progress of your own! CBT and DBT have long been the basis for much of my healing process, and when utilized properly they really do a world of wonder. It's good to hear that things seem to be coming together for you!

Thanks for reading!

Kyler J Falk (author) from California on September 02, 2021:

@Fran: Thank you for stopping by and reading, it really is the only true control we have in this world!

Kathryn Collins from UK on September 02, 2021:

Great advice and good to read from you again. I want to get back here and will eventually. Been going thru my own trauma and introspection. Did a 12 week Kintsugi group, studied a course on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and read a book on Passive Aggressive Covert Narcissism among other things. Learning lots and now learning to overcome my triggers and deal with flying monkeys (how did life get so fun??) Got married a few weeks ago and soon working on a visa (when I have the money and paperwork) that actually allows me to stay in the same country as my new husband. (actually an old friend who is featured in a few of my poems here)

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on September 02, 2021:

Kyler, what sage advice you have given. I especially agree with your statement, one can only fully control themselves. I thank you for sharing your thoughts. And, luck to you!

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