If you want to manage your stress and generate happy feelings, you cannot give away your power to professionals. Educators, doctors and therapists can reign in your spirit and inhibit your natural ability to come up with creative solutions. For example, the Journal of the American Medical Association
cites that doctors are bribed by pharmaceutical salesmen who do not know much science, but are well-versed in marketing strategies. Some of the bribes are hefty and luxurious, like vacations, tickets to shows and dinners, and others are small gestures, free samples and pens. Nevertheless, a doctor overtly or subtly feels obligated to prescribe a particular medicine and you become the guinea pig. Bowing your head to authorities began at school where you learned the text and received a grade to ensure you performed according to standardized testing – one size fits all. However when you reflect on it, the more educated you became, the less creative your thinking, the less likely you could improvise and invent. Why? Because your mind had been confined by limited associations, shaped to conform.
I remember in graduate school many of my classmates suffered from Bright’s Disease
, or in other words, Straight A Idiocy
. They would speak and write in as many syllables as possible to sound intelligent. However, often the communication was incomprehensible and could have simply been summed up in a sentence – if they really understood what they were saying. As for me, I learned what not to do! And perhaps, that is the key when you are stuck and have lost control: To approach a thing from its opposite perspective.
To manage your daily stress and feel reasonably happier you need to broaden your associations and liberate your mind from the blind respect you have given teachers, parents and professionals – people pleasing. Try to cross over to the opposite side and break with your original assumption to see it from another perspective. For example, a typical assumption might be that your doctor is doing the right thing to lower your cholesterol with a statin. Now look at this assumption from the other side. Your doctor is prescribing a statin to generate income because you will have to take blood tests and come in for frequent checkups. He is insuring a future cash flow. However, a healthy meal plan with lean protein, fruits and vegetables, plenty of fiber along with daily exercise does not generate any frequent doctor visits and more income, so statins are prescribed instead of a healthy lifestyle.
Be aware that there are so many miserable, divorced therapists telling you what to do to improve your relationship with your spouse; so many diet books out there to telling you what to eat and when to eat, yet Americans are fatter than ever. Everyone is trying to take charge of your mind and your money! How do you sort it all out?
- Start reading life! Learn by listening and observing. Life is filled with inconsistencies and absurdities. These inconsistencies will help you understand the whole picture or at least know that there are other options to pursue.
- Be aware of body language as well as what is said and not being said to you. Pay attention and keep asking questions about all the options. Don’t feel intimidated by a lab coat or a degree.
- Expose yourself to other places, people and cultures. Step out of your narrow context to learn new information and new ways of thinking. At some point you might intersect. For example, Americans are enamored with herbs and meditations from the Far East. The Far East is enamored with our radiation treatments and capitalism. An exchange of ideas can intersect and breed new possibilities like complementary medicine.
- Take responsibility for your mind and body. You know how you feel and what you need to heal. Don’t let doctors objectify you, decide for you and rush you out the door. Partner your own healing. Read about your symptoms. Let the doctor know what is going on in your life. Emotions can make you sick and tired. Get other medical opinions. Listen and make the decision that feels right to you in your gut. If it isn’t working, get another opinion and do more reading; try something else. Most doctors admit that medicine is an art. Become an artist.
- Keep in mind that people love to give other people advice because it gives them power and dominance, but these “sages” rarely take their own advice. This can only mean that the advice is suspect, or works in theory, but not in reality. Take back your power. You know what is right for you! Do you really need a nutritionist to tell you not to eat all those French Fries, a bucket of fried chicken and an ice-cream sundae in one meal, or do you know what to do? Do you need a marriage counselor to tell you not to always bring up the past every time you argue with your husband?
Get creative and use your imagination to find a personal, tailor-made solution to your specific problem. The answer might be counterintuitive or surprisingly simple.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com