Thursday, January 24, 2008
You are what you eat....you are what you think
We have all heard the term, "you are what you eat..." More or less, it means that your body becomes what it absorbs through your diet. If you eat high fat diets the body has a tendency to hold on to more fat and you become obese. That's a no-brainer. Let's take that a bit further and look at "you are what you think." The law of attraction, according to The Secret and other similar beliefs is that you become what your focus is. If you focus on wealth and that you are obtaining it, you will have it. I have actually heard of a man with terminal cancer who treated with with humor and taking vitamin C. He surrounded himself with positive aspects of life and lived. It works the opposite way. If someone is surrounded by negative influences or allows them to be in their presence they are more likely to adapt and become negative themselves. Then, they actually will create a negative environment, change their thinking schema, and continue in their misery and negativity without outside help. I see this every day in my job. People who have become victims believe they are victims and helpless to it. Therefore, they become more and more helpless and cannot change. They give up their will to change to victim stance. This process is called learned helplessness.
To look at the other end of the spectrum, some people who focus on more positive things can also end out getting hurt. These aren't individuals who have been through traumatic experiences, necessarily; but, rather they have been afforded strong characteristics that end out hurting them. I have met people in both my personal and professional life who fall into this category. Individuals who are so confident in their ability to work with people that it ends out hurting them. They know their capacity to communicate with others and use their leadership skills that they end out focusing on it too much...and it hurts them. For example: some individuals (guys or girls) believe so strongly that they can attract someone of the opposite sex (and they can--even if they're not all that attractive), and get them to fall for them that they end out making moral mistakes that result in pain, heartache, and broken relationships. In talking with one such individual about this once, they realized that they had always known that they could "get anyone they wanted" to follow them, and it lead them down prideful paths and destroyed their relationship with their spouse and children. Another example even falls in the category of spirituality. I have met many people who present themselves as being spiritually powerful; with gifts from God to help others. However, that sense of authority lead them to make moral mistakes that resulted in negative consequences. These individuals could be called zealots. Another great example of zealots comes from the valley of Salt Lake City. Several years ago a group of young teenage boys who belonged to a local church decided they were going to try to promote strong resistance to drinking, smoking, using drugs, and abstinence. They started out with the hope to help others to not fall into bad habits. Their dedication became so strong, however, that it lead them to physically attack youth they found engaging in these activities that they opposed. All of it, to them, was in the pursuit of the common good. But, kids got hurt. These examples show, that too much of even a good thing can become destructive.
Now, returning to the initial topic...the negative effects of learned helplessness and focusing on the victim stance; some people take their mental health position and begin to focus so much on it that it exacerbates their circumstances and interferes with their progress. Some, as an attempt to understand their situation or condition better seek to study, read, and ponder on everything they can in the hopes that understanding will bring relief. Then, they share their information with others to help others understand their condition. It starts out as an educational experience, which is positive, but then they become a zealot of their own condition. Delving deeper and deeper into it and refusing to let go of it due to the sense of purpose it gives them. Their condition, which was usually forced upon them is accepted, embraced, and used to give them purpose in life...to continue being sick. Why is that? We are creatures of habit. Sometimes, even if a behavior is negative, we don't wish to let go of it due to its familiarity. We find comfort even in the things that cause us pain. Abused children wish to return to their parents, because it is familiar. They seek to find the desired love they feel is necessary in order to give further purpose to their condition. It has been my experience that the positive attention and love that they feel is necessary will not be attained through the abuser or through constant focus on their difficult circumstances. Deep down inside, the suffering person probably knows this, but refuses to acknowledge it and take the appropriate steps to continue progressing. If the individual continues to return to focusing on their condition and the causes of it, progress is halted and the pain will continue. Growth is stunted.
My focus on this article has been to educate readers (all 2 of them) that if your main focus is something that is negative, you will exude negativity and attract it as well. It will stunt growth and create unhappiness. If you find yourself stuck in behaviors that are familiar and comfortable, but have negative results...STOP! It will be hard at first, just as breaking any habit is. It will be similar to the chain smoker stopping cold turkey. The nicotine that served as an anti-anxiolytic will cause withdrawals, but will subside. The security blanket of negativity will dissipate and make room for growth. Remember, you are what you think...and you become what you focus on most.