I've always been a believer in the adage “Good fences make good neighbours.” But like most things this can be taken too far, becoming the inverse of its intention.
For instance, in the realm of positive thinking, if what one deems 'positive' or 'good' is focused upon exclusively, it's believed it will create those things, including making ones body or mind function better than it could ever have. However, what is 'good' can be coloured by emotional scars, and can become down-right paranoia at a simple standard enquiry like, “How are you today?” This is more “positive editing” not healthy “positive thinking”.
I recently asked this question of an acquaintance who responded with hostility. No softening in the obvious lines of strain already on their face, no gentle release to the idea that someone wanted to be with them in their difficulty to share the load, and so reduce it. In fact the response of this person was, “That's a stupid thing to say! Don't ask anybody a question like that, when they're dealing with circumstances of ...” and their voice trailed off as they walked briskly away, not knowing how to finish their sentence, in a manner that would frame it the way the wanted to see.
As a counselor and concerned citizen, I couldn't help but feel extremely sorry for the individual. They have forgotten that “a shared sorrow is half a sorrow” and begun to assault the healthy mental environment cultivated by “Love thy neighbour.”
In nuero-chemistry applied in psychological research, they have found, when a person is able to allow the involvement of caring individuals into their concerns, stress levels dramatically decrease. Stress interferes with many electrical and chemical processes occurring in our minds and bodies. This is commonly accepted in many spiritual disciplines as well. But, their is a dangerous trend happening in our SELF-oriented, others are a complication cultural swing.
How many times have we heard someone say. “I don't want to go to the Doctor, they may find something wrong.” This is the individual trying to maintain a fantasy about their condition. To be positive, is to be in attitude toward real life, with all it's bumps and bruises. We must learn to manage ourselves, in response to actual reality and not try to anesthetize ourselves from it, THIS IS GOOD MENTAL HEALTH.
This approach of “positive editing” has crept into our pharma-based medical system, treating people with mental placebos by withholding real findings from people, in hopes it will help them deal. It's an exercise in disconnection from reality, engendering distrust in the doctor, and training people NOT to be mentally resilient. This approach to managing symptoms instead of reality is why doctors are treated with the same skepticism many mechanics receive, it's too allusive.
The backlash to this is, “positive thinking” on steroids, people insulating themselves from the contribution of others. There is a term, 'Failure to thrive', it's used when an infant dies because of lack of loving contact with others, but it's not just infants who deal with this problem. Emotional isolation from others or self imposed dependency on ones self, to the extreme, is a malady that is increasing and we are seeing the effects of this societally.
As far as fences are concerned, maybe we should look over them once and a while, not to invade anyone's privacy, so let's do it considerately, but so we can identify if our neighbour needs a helping hand or a sympathetic ear. We've been conditioned, wrongly, to try to handle all struggles ourselves, and with the idea that we can get mental health 'cooties' from those who are distressed.
Although this should be the least of reasons, it also helps our emotional health, when we genuinely connect with anothers' life, to help it on it's way.
I would recommend that our readers read the Erin O'toole column in last weeks paper, or go online to The Standard to find it on our website, and read about Durham Regions' 'Let's Talk' program in today's paper, they know and this Editor hardily agrees, it's a step in the right direction for anyone who gets involved.
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