Monday, February 20, 2012

Useful link to "feel good techniques" post

I think the tips in this post (chronic fatigue and mindfulness) would work on multiple types of illnesses, and would be particularly useful when working your way back to work.  Returning to work brings some symptoms into focus that were somewhat extraneous while just being a sick person.  Many of them are easy to trace back to a possible cause when you've had practice, so mindfulness of "where it is" (in reference to the mindfulness question this author uses, which is "where is it now?") is useful.

I've used articles previously that get into greater depth regarding testing assumptions and changing patterns and beliefs, but this one is a nice little reminder.  I'm not as accepting of the idea that poor coping causing my illness or similar ones.  I concede contributory causality maybe, and that stress is absolutely something that impacts symptoms and recovery time. 

But from that point in the discussion on, one has to consider that coping skills are tremendously related to where we are in our illness and what symptoms we are dealing with.....sleep and food problems and major declines/crashes hugely impede any hope of just taking stressful events in stride, so when stresses start to converge, you have to do your best to cope before the spiral starts and remember that mindfulness and coping will help, but that your physical and even emotional responses become physically impacted by your illness.  Mind over matter thinking can be very dangerous in these kinds of illnesses.....techniques make a huge difference, but if you ignore what's happening physically, you'll like miss major obstacles to the techniques you're trying to employ.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Testing perceptions

Perceptions can help you navigate the world around you; they are necessary when you don't otherwise have access to, or time to gather, all the information necessary to draw conclusions based on fact. 

But how often do we remember to test the accuracy of our perceptions?  How often do we allow our trust in our perceptions to become so habitual that we:

- Share our perceptions with others as fact?
- Act on them before we've tested them?
- Use them in place of facts we should have gathered?
- Forget to replace them when better information becomes available?

When any of these things happen, we allow ourselves to behave in ways we would not have been proud of if we had seen the full picture.  This is, of course, easier to see and acknowledge when we are victims of other people's perceptions.  The more often we see it happen to us, and the larger the scale of the consequences, the easier it is to become paranoid about, or overly sensitive to, the perceptions of others.  Because this sensitivity is based on real experience, it often leads to fears that are unfortunately at least somewhat logical to harbor.  The fact that they are even remotely factually based (in a way our mind's eye can trace back and remind itself of) makes these fears very difficult to let go of.

In order to let go of these fears, even when we've identified them, we need to test conclusions we've drawn and cemented subconsciously.  Concusions based on fact and based on painful experiences we can replay to remind ourselves that we have a solid foundation for these fears.
But it we play devils' advocate and defend our minds eyes' fears, supporting the notion that these perceptions are every bit as dangerous to us as they seem, what can we do about the imminent threat they (hypothetically) pose to us?

I would argue that in the rare instance that something can be done, it is typically much, much less than we convince ourselves we could do when we are desperately searching and churning and using valuable mental and physical energy that we need for other things.

In the rare instance that something can be done, the opportunity will virtually never come fast enough to give us the relief we are churning and searching for.

This blog post (How to Overcome Perceptions) is a great reminder that the route to changing perceptions is not (or at least is very seldom) through offering further facts, since the perception is feeling, rather than fact based, and because the person has very likely already subconsciously opted not to consider different facts associated with a perception they've already adopted.

Attempting to change perceptions through actions takes a great deal of patience and does not offer short term protections.  So I would argue that one should be seeking change in themselves where perceptions they don't like carry some element of truth, plus changing the perception through action if it is a perceptions worth changing, while questioning your assumptions about the real risks other people's perceptions pose (and the actual potential of changing them) as often as we can remember to do so.

Optimally, we can figure out next how to assess the right amount of effort to expend and the right amount of value to ascribe to chaning the perceptions we think we can change.