January 20, 2011

It's Not Me....It's You! How our perceptions relate to our health?

Did you know that if you were to wear glasses that altered the way you viewed the world from right-side-up to up-side-down your brain would take about a week to adjust and you would be wondering around like you are now...but in your upside-down world? Remove the glasses and it would take the same amount of time to "right" yourself again.

Perceptions are kinda like those crazy upside-down glasses; they tend to influence how we see the world and can be totally different than next guy.  Change your perceptions (like you would those glasses) and you change the way you react and live in the world. How we view the world (and the events in our lives) is a product of our upbringing, life experiences, spiritual beliefs, and other attitudes we pick up along the way (every been dumped by an jerkstore and you will know what I mean). If you are wondering the earth believing that everything happens for a reason, you may experience life's bumps with a little more positivity (is that a word) than someone who feels that life isn't fair and there is no reason for the bad things in life.

Take the perception of control, for example. It is noted in the health research that if one has the perception of control over one's life, they enjoy a higher level of health (i.e. stronger immune system, higher rate of resiliency, etc.). Conversely, if someone feels that they have little to no control over what is happening to them, they will experience higher levels of stress and the negative health that relate.

Those who have studied psychology may remember the term "locus of control". Those with a higher locus of control are those who assume the responsibility for their lives (and health); those with a lower locus of control will report that everyone else is at fault for their shortcomings and/or challenges. Therefore, if I'm in the office with someone who is reporting that their husband and kids are to blame for their weight gain, I know their readiness for change may be still hovering around the "contemplation" stage. In other words, they are obviously thinking about change (or they wouldn't be in my office) but to take action would mean a shift in responsibility to themselves...something they are clearly not ready for.

I find this subject fascinating and very true as I continually hear comments of blame from people who are wanting to create a better life for themselves. Comments like, "I've come to the conclusion that everyone else has the problem...it's not me!" or "My boss is making my life totally miserable!".  While it's true that people will create challenges for us, our perceptions of those challenges definitely have an impact on our health. If you welcome every challenge (and every challenging person) into your life to serve as learning experience, you will rock this life. I highly recommend it.

I also highly recommend a book by Mark I. Rosen, Ph.d. "Thank You for Being Such a Pain". I read it at a time when I was struggling to come to grips with a few interesting characters in my life and it really helped me change my perceptions of my experiences. To this day, I continue to see the learning experiences and not the asshole (however, I'm not responsible for what happens when I'm hormonal...my inner firemonster is).

That's all I got today. Now I want to find the website that sells those crazy glasses and try this experiment myself.......


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