What if competition benefited everyone equally i.e. everybody could have skills and maximize the gain from those skills, and nobody’s gain would outpace or outrank the other’s? Similarly, what if nobody made fun of others i.e. strengths were celebrated and weaknesses, accomodated? There are a million ways to construct the perfect world, but the sad reality is that we are never going to get there. Too many mental health practitioners focus on building up people’s expectations in an unfair and unkind world. Not enough of them focus on building people’s ability to navigate and work within constraints, without compromising on their mental health.

Nature of a constraint

Constraints are usually felt when there is some degree of emotional yearning. You may emotionally yearn to escape poverty, for example, and the constraints are on your opportunities to upgrade your skills and thus access a higher standard of living. Or, you may yearn for a friend/partner who is perfect for you, in spite of your flaws, and the constraints may demand that you work on your flaws instead of expecting someone to accept them. So, yeah. There is usually an emotional yearning. An expectation that you can’t easily let go of, an expectation that causes depression, regret and resentment when you imagine life without it.

Becoming reasonable – the first step to mental health despite constraints

Why is it so hard for us to be reasonable? Well, it’s because the minute we try to be reasonable, other people take advantage of us. So, is it even possible to be reasonable? Yes, it is. Being reasonable doesn’t mean you lower your defences in public. It simply means that, inside your head, you don’t jump to the most hateful and cynical conclusions. You consider that there may be a very good reason for why the constraints exist. You spend some time understanding the reasons behind the constraints in the safety of your room, away from other people. That’s it. That’s all it takes to be reasonable. Take help if you need to. You will find that the more reasonable you become, the easier it will be to accept and work through constraints, and even lower your defences about it in public. 

It’s not enough to yearn even in the form of a million tears and prayers. You must also do and wait.

It’s not fair. So many tears we shed over constraints that affect us. It seems cruel that nobody is listening, or that nothing will make it easier. Be that as it may, it’s not enough to want to make it easier, even if that “it” is so incredibly and harshly difficult. In the end, you must do something about it. Often times, you must do and wait at the same time i.e. do without losing energy and efficacy, while you wait for the first significant milestone. This takes practice and no small amount of support from a friend, family member or therapist. It’s your job to arrange for support and work and wait through a constraint. The alternative is keep hold on expectations that will likely never be fulfilled, and go to a therapist who keeps promising that one day they will, not to help, but just to make you feel better. 

That’s it for now. Thank you for reading.