Mental Health


Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

Is your life in distortion or in proportion?

Is your life in distortion or in proportion? Perhaps my view is a bit skewed because many of the clients I see are seeking help for problems. That’s the nature of being a therapist. having said that, many if the lives in distortion that I have come across are also many of my colleagues, friends and family – unrelated to my work.

Covid-19 has definitely precipitated angst and strife among many and lately, I have witnessed so many lives filled with anger, people feeling an injustice has occurred and heartbreak in some form or another. The world seems restless and even though many report feeling “in limbo”, a pervasive anxiety hangs low over many.

I have wondered what this might be about.

A life in proportion

Everyone ideally wants this set up – a balanced life with many happy days. When we live a life in proportion, we know what makes us happy and we make time for the important stuff – friends, family and experiences. We also cope better with stress becasue our lives are built on a strong and healthy foundation.

We are all a work in progress and no one manages perfection but as long as you are working towards balance you are on the right track.

Values are important

It’s easy to forget what’s truly important to us when life gets busy and chores/pressures take over. Remind yourself what you love doing, what makes you happy and the things you do that put you ‘in the zone’ where time seems to fly by. Common values are: being healthy, fitness, family, friends, honesty, adventure, order, safety, achieving, purpose, education, self-improvement etc

There are many different values and all you need to do is think about your ideal life and what would be in it/what you would be doing to give you an idea of your values. Values are a way of life, not goals. You never arrive at a value, you integrate it into your life.

Effective priorities

What are your top 5 priorities? Clear the decks and focus on what your top five most important goals are. Mine include:

  1. Earning enough money to have some freedom of choice in my life.
  2. Connecting with my friends/family and creating new friendships in life.
  3. Spending time around animals and in nature. It helps to reset me and regain my balance.
  4. Adventure – I like to explore and try new experiences.
  5. Keep learning and keep improving – physically, mentally and emotionally.

The more specific the goals, the more likely you will be to achieve them. Break down each goal into smaller steps and take action.

A life in distortion

This is what no one wants but appears to be more of a reality than life in proportion. Relationships have become more complicated due to the common way people meet nowadays. Online dating opens up avenues for meeting others but there is a dark side that doesn’t get mentioned.

Complicated relationships and online dating

You have to have a thick skin and expect that many people will never reply to you. If they do, there is a likelihood that they will ghost you and just stop responding mid-conversation. Some people lie online and present themselves as very different from the reality. It’s easy to fake it online. Online dating has also ‘commoditised’ people and empathy seems to have disappeared. You become a photo and a profile rather than a real thinking-feeling person.

I know this all sounds negative but I have seen many clients who are so disillusioned with online dating and have pretty much given up. It seems to me that someone has to update and overhaul the current setup and allow a more personable approach somehow.

Meeting someone is complicated enough without having to navigate all the complicated side-effects of online dating. There are many success stories however and having healthy boundaries will absolutely improve your chances of success.

Working too many hours

Even if you’re single, anything in excess is never a good thing. Many people use work as a distraction from their problems. They suppress their emotions, delay working on pressing mental health issues and pour themselves into work. Sure, it’s far better to be working than to be gambling or take drugs or drinking too much alcohol but distraction to avoid feeling will eventually catch up with you.

Less emotional support is available

So many people are suffering alone and not reaching out to others. There are various reasons for this. Often we don’t want to hassle others or be a burden. Everyone has their own issues and many feel that they don’t want to add to other people’s emotional stress overload.

More people are working from home since Covid-19 emerged and being at home has increasingly isolated people from one another. On top of that, there is a culture, in general, of putting on a brave face, and showing others on social media how absolutely fabulous our lives are. The truth is that people’s lives are never as perfect as they try to portray on social media. Don’t believe it!!!

So, not only do we have more time alone with our negative thoughts and self-doubts, We are also presented with seeming perfection on the internet.

Chasing after the wrong things

Are you busy trying to achieve and prove yourself to others? if so, you are not alone. Stop every now and then and ask yourself where you are going in your life. Assess your progress and think about whether you are working towards values and goals that are truly important to you. At the end of life, we rarely have our degree certificates up on our walls or photos of our houses, cars etc

All of these aspects are part of life but stay grounded. Research revealed that the wise words of the dying were that they wished they had worked less, been more bold and daring, been true to themselves (this is a biggie!!) and had spent more time with friends and family and less time worrying.

Forget about what society tells you is important. If you fancy living off the land, or in a van (seems to be all the rage these days), then just do it. Throw of the limits you place on yourself and live your life as you see fit. It’s your life, after all, not someone else’s.

Life in distortion happens when you lack self-awareness and you let external influences push you around. Stay centered, integrate your values and avoid anything in extremes – and best of all, you can choose to start right now!

Photo by Gustavo Torres on Unsplash