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What Hat Are You Wearing?

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It was morning tea break during a mindfulness workshop I was facilitating recently when as I stood there drinking tea I overheard an exuberant and animated conversation between participants about various food intolerances. One person was overheard saying: “I’ve been diagnosed as lactose intolerant by my naturopath.” The other replied: “Wow! I’m gluten intolerant.” At this point another participant approached me and the conversation began with “You know, my daughter is depressed.” Not that there is anything wrong with sharing our struggles and symptoms it was more the way these people described themselves and others with such enthusiasm. The danger is that we begin to wear only one hat. We become the symptom.

I have worked for over twenty years in mental health in various settings and sadly met many who described themselves in terms of their symptoms – “Oh! I am depressive psychotic” or “I’m obsessive compulsive”. Visiting a patient in a large hospital I was astounded when the patient greeted me with “I’m depressive psychotic with comorbidity”. The really astounding thing was that this Chinese lady could hardly speak a few words of English! She lived out her the label and it took a long time to help her understand she was so much more than the label which she had perhaps so often heard from staff.

Being the symptom does not help recovery. That does not mean to you should deny the symptom but rather look beyond to the wonderful and positive attributes that you have.

Many people feel that their life is not really interesting. I think this is very often fuelled by social media that creates the impression that we need to be living exciting and interesting lives all the time. As a result an “interest” is made out of a symptom. There is ample research to indicate that this only goes to make the symptoms worse rather than move you towards health and well-being.

Instead of living from your symptoms, live from you deep inner values. Know what is important to you and aim towards that. If it is health and well-being then direct your attention to creating achievable goals towards becoming healthy and happy. Talk about health and well-being, not about your symptoms. Don’t live from the old story, create a new one, one which is positive and based on your core values.

Five Things you can do to overcome being stuck in your symptoms:

  • Know what your inner values are, what is important to you.

  • Create achievable goals towards your values.

  • Discover your positive qualities and attributes.

  • Make a health and well-being plan – Vision Board.

  • Speak to your health practitioner to get help in achieving your goals.

So wear a new hat. What hat are you going to wear today?

“People do not attract that which they want, but that which they are”. James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

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