I finally turned my life story speech into a “Draw My Life” video. Out of all the videos I’ve posted, I put most of my heart into this one. I composed all the music in it too.
“If you’ve got a lot of anxiety in this area, stop googling diseases. That’s like a person with a fear of flying being on a plane and choosing to watch an in-flight documentary about airplane crashes. It’s going to make you feel worse.”
All of us live in an imperfect body in a constantly changing environment. Some of us have it worse than others. But it is perfectly normal for our bodies to not work at its most optimal level at all times. Sometimes your stomach won’t feel too good. Sometimes you will feel a soreness that you didn’t notice before. Sometimes you’ll develop a rash. It’s all quite normal.
But when these unpleasant events occur, there’s different places that our thoughts can go to. There’s the “Oh, it’s nothing” thought, there’s the “Hmmm… I’m sure I’ll be ok. But just in case, I’ll go see the doctor in time” thought, and there’s also the thought “Oh my gosh. This is probably a terminal disease and I’m going to die. I need to see a doctor right now!” Like I explained in my 11th VLOG about the addiction to negativity, whichever thought your mind goes to, you will create a neural pathway between the event and your response. And if you keep on responding in the same way again and again, you can eventually become addicted to thinking in that way.
If you get to this point, this is very scary. And the scariest part of it all is the uncertainty. So, many people experiencing this kind of fear will then attempt to remove the uncertainty by seeing a health professional, a doctor. They get their relief upon hearing from the doctor that they are going to be fine.
But you know what has just happened inside your brain? It has just recorded this response and reward. And if you do this again and again, you can become dependant on this reward. In other words, seeing the doctor can become the coping mechanism that you are addicted to. And if this is the case, the number of people who can actually comfort you in this area drops down to a very small number.
If you’ve been so used to this pattern for a long time, another scary thing can start to happen automatically. Instead of first sensing a physical problem which then leads you to think catastrophically about your health, the whole pattern can become so interconnected overtime that these things start to happen in reverse. So your thoughts and your anxieties can begin to cause you to feel the symptoms of diseases, when actually, everything is fine.
This can cause a new problem. After the doctor says “You’re going to be fine,” there, again, are different places that your thoughts can go to. One thought might be “Yes, you’re probably right.” But another might be “Oh my gosh, you don’t know anything, do you? I know what I’m feeling and I know something is definitely wrong.” People with a lot of anxiety and a tendency to think negatively are also often very skeptical people. Skepticism protects them from overly trusting information that could be wrong. And after repeatedly doubting doctors, you can get yourself trapped into a place where there is no longer anyone who can comfort you. But the idea that there must be some perfect doctor out there will keep you on an endless hunt for that perfect doctor. And along the way, there’s so much anxiety, disappointment, and stress, and depending on where you live in the world, that could be quite costly too.
This is a mental health issue that requires a reprogramming of the mind. It is an addiction to thinking negatively about your own health. What you need to do is build a new pattern of thinking positively in this area. Yes, you can still see the doctor, but even before you do that, you have to learn how to comfort yourself and not always depend on the doctor to feel at peace.
For a more thorough explanation on how to recover from this pattern of negativity, check out my short series on the addiction to negativity:
(3) RECOVERY FROM NEGATIVITY ADDICTION
Here’s my video response to Stephen Fry’s recent viral interview about God, suffering, and athiesm.
OCPD perfectionism originates from a good place, excellence.
When you have excellence in a particular area in your life, you will naturally have higher standards in that area. Maybe you’ve got excellence in cleanliness. Maybe you’ve got excellence in morals. I have excellence in story telling.
What this means is that you have a clearer picture in your head of how amazing things could be. You see all the small details that make up that beautiful end result. Your mind downloads all these strategies on how to produce that end result. It’s not easy bringing things up to your high standards. So naturally, you’re a very hard worker in this area. And when your vision of excellence comes to life, it fills your heart with excitement and other people also go “Wow!” Excellence is an amazing quality to have and it can really bring a lot of positive changes to the world.
It does come with some challenges though. If in your head it is so clear that things could be much better, there is a gap between how things are and how things could be. The existence of this gap can be quite emotionally disturbing. When children first experience this, their natural instinct is to remove this disturbing feeling right away. “I don’t like how this feels. I need to find a way to make it go away.” So what many children will attempt to do is close this gap, not by bringing their bar down – because you cannot unsee the excellence that has already been implanted into your head – but instead, by bringing how things currently are up.
Now on the outside, this is going to look quite promising. You’ll see that your child is working very hard. You might be like, “Wow, my child already has such great work ethic!” But it is very possible that, underneath it all, anger and frustration may be beginning to well up inside of him because, no matter how hard he tries, it seems like that gap just won’t go away. This anger may grow until it causes the child to finally explode. By this point, the child decides that it’s just not worth it to keep going. He gives himself immediate gratification in the removal of this discomfort.
Immediate gratification is not good in the long run. By doing this, this child foregoes his opportunity to build up his tolerance for this discomfort. So if he continues to do this throughout his life and no parent or teacher stops him, he may grow up to be an adult who is equally incapable of handling this difficult emotion as his child-self. It will overwhelm him and cause him to have an all-or-nothing approach to his work. This is called perfectionism.
Perfectionism is the dark side of excellence. Rather than being pulled by your love for excellence, you’re pushed by your anxiety and displeasure of that “gap.” There is no grace. No room for error. Along the way, there’s so much stress and frustration. Perfectionism is so outcome focused that you are likely to antagonize yourself and everything else that seems to get in your way of removing that gap. So perfectionists often get angry at others. And even when perfectionists get their way, their satisfaction is very short-lived. It lasts just until another “gap” reappears.
Highly sensitive people and gifted children and adults are most likely to be affected by this.
If you want to set your children up for success, help your children experience delayed gratification. When their anger begins to boil inside of them, help them calm down. Show understanding of this frustration that they feel. Encourage them to invest their time into activities that will help them achieve their vision of excellence, such as practice. And encourage them to return back to their work, try and try again, and think positively all the way through.
If you’re an adult who struggles with perfectionism, push yourself to do the same thing too. It’s never too late.
“You need to start thinking about every thought that is entering your head. When the negative thoughts come, immediately counter them with more positive thoughts. And believe.”