I have a small office, and that’s very good because it prevents me from being too disorganized – an area in which I excel, and that earns me the daily wrath of my partner, who is a model of organization. This allows me to delegate many tasks to him in the name of his exceptional abilities, though I deal with the even greater wrath of a mental load.
However, I continue to do my best with excellent results; or so it seems to me!
My little office is nicely decorated. I’ve been in many doctors’ surgeries that can elicit depression just by looking around. I have a very colorful abstract canvas with strange patterns that my patients interpret in even more strange ways: some see it as a well (bottomless?), others as a tunnel (dead end?), and still others as a circle (endless?). Some people only notice it after three years (new angle of view or fresh glasses?). The diagnosis could begin with the patient’s interpretation if I were a psychotherapist. But I’m a generalist; let’s stick to generalities!
Appreciating a situation according to different perspectives (which reminds me of a film that I loved a few years ago) is both a mark of open-mindedness and a strong characteristic of empathy. And those are the cornerstones of my profession…
– Hello Sarah, how are you?
– If I’m here, it’s not going so well, Doc.
– So, what’s wrong?
– I separated six months ago, and now I have a new boyfriend with whom things are going well. Work is fine, even if every day has its challenges. But I don’t know; I don’t feel well, and I regained 14 Kg out of the 21 I had lost! I eat without thinking…
– Without thinking?
– Yes: I catch myself snacking without knowing why and without being able to stop when I know it’s stupid…
– Okay, Sarah, and what’s your new boyfriend’s name?
– And is Dylan okay? Everything is going well with him, you told me, huh?
– Yes. He has diabetes and doesn’t take too much care of himself, but that’s been happening since he was a child. He manages in his own way, though I told him to go see my “super Doc.”
– He’ll come when he’s ready, but I’ll tell him to be super nice to you if he doesn’t want me to kick his ass…
– Lol, Doc, the problem is not him; it’s me.|
– What’s worrying you?
– I am an “enormous worry” who fears making her boyfriend more envious. I’m afraid I will ultimately end up accepting myself as I am…
Weight is a number, a relative value that tortures most of you with a well-designed torture tool: the BMI. We use this value in our offices, sometimes with an almost paternalistic attitude: “If your BMI is above 25, it is bad for your health; try to shed some pounds.” We are no better than the givers of lessons and the theoreticians of “what would be better.” This increases the existing pressure to conform to “what should be” according to obscure standards, rather than being as “you want and according to what makes you happy!”
You can live with your weight and accept your body as it is. This is a mark of your strength of character and self-affirmation. However, this acceptance must come from inside you. You shouldn’t use it as a fallback solution when you can’t lose weight.
Your subconscious is capable of such a reflection without your knowing it: “I can’t lose weight, I feel bad, I find a solution to fight this malaise, fuck them all, I accept myself as I am, and I am happy about it.”
In fact, we must distinguish:
- Primary acceptance: I am as I am, which is fine by default.
- Secondary acceptance: I can’t change, so I must accept myself like this.
By extension, one could almost generalize this concept to any attempt at change.
The doctor’s status should push us to understand and support you whatever the situation. My daily interactions allow me to get closer to everyone and see the problem from their point of view. Active listening helps recognize obstacles that need changing. Conversely, default acceptance often turns out to be harmful in the long run…
Honing a mentality that allows you to control your decisions requires time and will. You need effort to learn how to evaluate all available data before choosing.
Our brains function as a central processing unit, processing tons of information per second. You probably don’t realize it, but a simple decision like eating an apple rather than a candy bar results from a cascade of small thoughts. Experience plays a central role, but you can save precious time by developing and honing certain character traits! Thoughts like “it’s too late to change” are just the output of your thinking machine. Unfortunately, this machine is used to accepting justifications like “it’s impossible to succeed” or, worse, “don’t try to succeed”!
There is no place here for these ideas that serve no purpose except to anchor you in a spiral of negativity and failures!
Luckily, you can reinforce many points that will help you, instead of focusing on these negatives. I will describe five here (though there are dozens).
This is the most important point! Learn to love yourself as you are and be honest with yourself when you don’t. Self-love allows you not to hide from yourself – which is a determining factor of aggression towards your unconscious. Remember that the unconscious knows what you feel. Hiding creates an internal conflict between your “different consciousnesses.” This conflict leads to a higher level of dissatisfaction! Feelings of self-loathing or self-abasement are linked to this dissatisfaction. Love yourself as if your life depended on it (it does)! Consider your chance of existing as an individual: statistically, your life is a small miracle; being here as a thinking entity is an even greater miracle! Accepting who you are with sincerity will allow you to flourish according to your own rules and desires rather than following “obscure standards.”
How do you interpret not taking full advantage of the chance given to you?
What values characterize you as a person? What makes you different from another average individual? Values are the deep foundations of personality. They are changing, and, most often, they can forge your character and destiny.
Your unconscious knows your deep values, while you are often foreign to them. This unconsciousness also feeds an internal conflict that may stream various existential questions. Some of these questions are conducive to immobility and deconstruct happiness! Knowledge of your “core values” is necessary to move forward by conforming to them: it will be your path to your happiness; however you define it, it will be yours!
Once you have defined your core values, you must set life goals.
These objectives must be hierarchical, tenable over time, and realistic. Set the goals without forgetting your dreams, which must be a driving force against the wait-and-see attitude. Your dreams will push you forward during hardships like the wind blowing your sails. Dream big to go far and avoid contentment unless it is the most helpful attitude – and knowing the difference requires a significant dose of rationality! A poker player can lay down a good hand.
Finally, your goals must be correlated to your core values. This relationship fosters consistency in the construction of your future. It is also a way to fight against your internal conflict by reconciling your consciences.
The next logical point is framing. You decided to love yourself; you defined values and related goals; now you have to stay the course. You need a compass.
Having an aim and questioning yourself constructively keep you within the framework. At certain crossroads (where some roads can appear blocked), the right path is the one that leads to your goals without betraying your values and self-love. The compass is a set of personal questions. Here are some examples:
- How does this action bring me closer to my goal?
- If I perform such an action, what other do I renounce?
- How can I perform such an action while respecting my core value?
- How does this affect my goal planning?
There are millions of questions, but the only valid ones are the ones you create.
A deep awareness of things allows you to see when you are moving away from your frame. Just as a navigator constantly corrects the course, you must always be receptive to minor changes that could stray you from the path you have created.
Self-awareness is an extraordinarily practical and essential skill in spotting telltale signals. Let’s say you’ve lost a few pounds by going to the gym every day after work. For the past few weeks, you’ve been going there just five days a week, saying to yourself, “it’s okay, five days isn’t bad, and I can’t lose more weight, anyway.” This argument seems logical, but you must understand this false justification.
- Are you the kind of person who doesn’t keep commitments?
- Doesn’t that take you away from your goals?
- How can you project yourself into a bright future if you accept to weaken your strength?
Consciousness and self-awareness allow you to stay connected to the previous points and move towards your ideal.
You also have to be intentional in your actions. Catching yourself acting in a way that isn’t in line with what defines you should make you decide to stop (even if your intentions are excellent)! Self-awareness must be omnipresent.
Defining values, creating goals, following a framework, loving yourself, and being mindful are crucial points in your personal development. I will help you discover others, but you might define them according to who you are and what you want to accomplish.
The different angles of view (or paradigms) help you decide between several arguments, opening your focal length like a photographer. That’s how you achieve a complete vision. Only then will you choose consciously and avoid hiding from yourself (which is always easy and comforting but does not allow you to move towards what you want!)
You can stop here or move to part 2: The choice is yours!