Recovery Workshop: Lesson Fourteen
Health Monitoring I
Health monitoring as a practical tool performs several tasks in helping you to manage a healthy life. First, it provides you with a means of establishing focus and awareness. This role is most often associated with Daily Monitoring — which is what you will be developing over the next few weeks. Another important task of health monitoring is to stave off complacency — one of the biggest threats to making a permanent transition. Your Weekly Monitoring will be used to accomplish this.
The following audio file provides an excellent summary of the entire Health Monitoring process that you will be implementing over the coming months. It takes approximately twenty minutes to listen to.
First Stage: Daily Monitoring Mechanics
Today, your focus will be on developing a process of Daily Monitoring that will force focus upon these areas and will allow you to deepen your awareness of each. Daily monitoring is a three-step evolutionary process. You will be learning only the first step here. The second will be learned in Health Monitoring II and the final evolution in Health Monitoring III.
For the next four weeks, you will be setting aside five minutes each day (and ONLY five minutes) to assess yourself across the areas of your life that you are actively working on. Note the word 'actively' in that statement. It will do you little good to create a daily monitoring program that is so comprehensive that you are basically including any and everything associated with your life. You need to choose ten to fifteen areas of your life that you want to begin actively strengthening. The goal of this strengthening is to derive more overall value from your life than you would have otherwise. This can be accomplished by increasing the depth of one of your values (say, strengthening your communication with your spouse); or, by reducing the strain from behaviors that conflict with your higher values (say, demeaning your child out of anger).
You can not and should not try to fix all of your issues right from the start. To do so is to set yourself up for failure. Instead, you must look at your life...look at your values...and use the top ten to fifteen values as a guide to what areas you should initially monitor. For instance, if your top value is spirituality, yet you look at your day-to-day life and recognize that there is little active role that spirituality plays...you will likely want to add this to your Daily Monitoring. On the other hand, if you don't really value spirituality, yet force it upon yourself because you think you should — you are actually diminishing the overall value that you are capable of producing in your life. Another example: you recognize that the biggest drain in your life at the moment is the daily conflict you have with your wife regarding this current crisis. To not include this in your monitoring because you would rather avoid thinking about it is nonsense. Something that draining must be accounted for...and accounted for fearlessly. Especially when your progressive efforts to improve this area can have such a cumulative effect on your overall health. So your goal is not just to identify 'the good stuff', but rather, it is to identify what is currently the most important issues in your life at the moment. And further, what you can practically do about them.
When it is all said and done, you should have a list of issues that you examine on a daily basis. But, this should be a TEMPORARY list...one that allows you to focus on certain aspects of your life above others. As your investment in these areas begins to pay dividends, daily focus should no longer be necessary.A typical daily monitoring list may look like this:
- Did I carry myself as a person worthy of respect today?
- Did I engage in any compulsive behavior today?
- If yes, did I maintain an awareness of the elements involved?
- Did I create a break as soon as I became aware of that ritual?
- If no, did I role play a past or possible future compulsive ritual to ingrain confidence in my ability to manage these rituals?
- Did I initiate at least one meaningful conversation with my wife today?
- If not, how many days has it been since I have?
- Was it quality time for each of us?
- Did I remember to fully invest myself in the moment?
Note several things you will want to include in your own monitoring. One, that each item is specific and 'somewhat' measurable. This isn't an exact science, and so...you are looking for YOUR ability to measure progress, complacency and/or regression on a daily basis. Everything you do here will be about practical application and that requires your ability to objectively observe and quantify your actions. The difference between "I will deepen the role that spirituality plays in my life" is a world apart from "I will take five minutes each day to strengthen my spiritual connection." in terms of practical application. The latter is practical; the former is simply an ideal. Two, note that there is nothing unrealistic or unachievable here. To be successful, you must first set yourself up for success. That means developing a monitoring list that you are capable of achieving with regularity — should you choose to do so. Establishing a list that would require you to live the perfect life is not realistic and it will not be effective over the long run.
Evolving Your Daily Monitoring
By the end of the second week (fourteen consecutive days monitored), take a few minutes to refine this list. Are there things on it that are producing no real value in your life (and thus, they are more ideals than they are things you value)? If so, remove them. Are there things you have been monitoring that you now feel are ingrained to the point of ongoing awareness? Meaning, you are able to maintain this awareness throughout the day? If so, remove them (or, set them aside to be monitored in a more general way in the weekly monitoring to be learned in Health Monitoring II).
By the end of the second stage of daily monitoring, there will be no areas of extended daily focus. That will mean that you have begun to manage your life in a much more fluid, natural way. From that point forward, daily monitoring will still exist, but it will exist only during times of instability or concentrated personal growth. For all other times, it will function much like a computer's anti-virus program. It is there, in the background, constantly scanning for threats. That is what you must now develop, an internal scanning program that will identify threats (e.g. emotional instability)...flag them...and then allow you to isolate those threats and take action to overcome them. And it is all based on awareness.
I. Develop your Daily Monitoring list. Construct it in some sort of word processing document (Word, Notepad, Wordpad, etc.) so that you may update it as needed. Post this list into your Recovery Thread.
Note: If you are in personal coaching, your Coach will help you build this in Session II. It will then be converted to an online form so that they can assist you in accountability. Please have your initial monitoring plan ready for review by that second session.
II. For the next two weeks, select a particular time each day (typically, right before going to bed or, just after awakening) and complete this monitoring. It is not intended as a checklist to measure your success/failure. It exists instead to provide you with ongoing focus and awareness. And, to establish a mechanical monitoring process that will eventually become an internalized, natural monitoring process.
Remember: Spend no more than five minutes in reviewing your Daily Monitoring each day. While it may seem beneficial to spend fifteen minutes or more going over your behavior...this has historically proved to be destructive in the long run. You are establishing a pattern of monitoring that should be quick and natural. Not drawn-out and complex. Also, remember that this list will evolve as you evolve. If you require the same item on your list for more than thirty days in a row...and you have not either 1) ingrained that issue as an area to monitor internally; or, 2) resolved the issue...then you are doing something wrong. Post the issue in the community forum for assistance.