How emotional self-analysis improves life

My name is Maxim and I'm leading a small software development agency in Belarus. For almost two years I worked for 10-14 hours daily on multiple projects simultaneously. This led to burnouts and periods of deep depression. There were even times when I was so emotionally drained and felt aggression to everything and everyone.

So, after a long streak of burnouts, I decided to 'tame' myself. I read a lot about self-reflection, self-analysis, and mindfulness. I even wrote questions on Reddit about self-reflection best practices here. But there is so much information about self-reflection methods that after 3-4 posts my head was blown up. From this 'information bomb,' i created simple rules that I'm following on daily basis. Of course, burnout is not fully evadable, but I feel like my life quality improved drastically.

I wanted to share these rules to help you become better yourself.

1. Catch yourself and log

When you feel the way you don't want to feel try to log this moment and anything connected with this state. The general idea is to log the people, places, and things that cause a particular state.

Then you can:
  • Spot the emotional patterns to make better decisions in the future.
  • Avoid repeated behavior and reactions.
  • Increase your chances of reaching positive states.
This is an important habit that will give you the ability to be aware of what is going on with your body and mind.

2. Understand causes

After you log critical states it's time to make your brain work. Try to connect every emotion with a particular cause. It might be everything from bad weather to noisy neighbors. Later, when you log more and more states you will start to see the pattern and understand what causes a particular state. Most importantly you can avoid not desirable states by predicting them.

As I started connecting states with causes I established that my burnouts were tightly related to weather and my sleep quality. I also established that when I'm working 3 days in a row without a good rest I feel burned out on 4th.

3. Establish control methods and test them

The next step is to define control methods for a particular state. You can try meditation or breathing techniques when you are feeling stressed. Or maybe you have personal stimulation methods for inspiration. It's up to you to find those methods.

The most important idea is to constantly test these methods and correct them when they are not working.

4. Find patterns

As was said previously, all those rules are made to help you find patterns of your mental state. Patterns are a crucial thing in achieving self-awareness.

Following previous rules you can establish next patterns:
  1. Emotional patterns - how states are connected.
  2. Cause patterns - what causes you to feel this way.
  3. Control method patterns - what method is working and what is not.
  4. Timing patterns - when you feel a particular emotion.
5. Build a habit

The main problem is habit building. When most people struggle to build new habits, they say something like, “I just need more motivation.” I recommend you start by logging only supercritical states. This will build a basic habit of logging and reflection. And then, when you comfortable with logging, you can work on any state that you want to stimulate or prevent.
Following those rules, you can improve your life quality and feel confident when you face bad emotions.
And remember... We don't have to control everything. After all we just humans and sometimes: "it's better to stop and just enjoy the sunset."

Based on these methods our teams built a mobile application that will help you with reflection habit building. The application will help you to find the most critical states and understand patterns to help on your way of self-improvement.