It’s Only Bad Because You Perceive it as Bad
My goal in life is to help change the way we talk and think about mental health, and something I can’t stress enough is that more people need to start adapting philosophy to their mental health recovery. Every time I read philosophical ideas, it changes my perceptions, and our perceptions are our reality. When we question our thinking and our judgments, our mental health begins to improve.
I do want to state that I think there are two types of people, from my experience, when it comes to those who enjoy philosophy. Some people, like myself, enjoy philosophy to gain new perspective and do some critical thinking. Others enjoy philosophy because they like to argue and debate, but I’d argue that without fully understanding how our perceptions and judgments skew our reality, you’ll never truly win a debate based on your own preconceived notions and confirmation bias.
By the end of this blog post, I hope you can look at your mental health issues in a new way by simply questioning your thinking. This is something used in therapy and psychology all the time. A quality therapist will constantly have you challenging your thoughts and beliefs. We need to do this because how can we trust the same mind that’s causing all of our problems?
I Hate Seafood
I grew up in Santa Barbara, California, after moving from Fresno, California. For those of you who don’t know where Santa Barbara is, it’s right on the beach, and it’s an absolutely beautiful city. It’s about an hour and a half away from Los Angeles, and many celebrities by vacation homes in the area. It’s an awesome, artistic and laid back city, but it’s far too expensive for me to ever live there again.
The only thing I didn’t like about Santa Barbara was the abundance of seafood. I’m not a fan of seafood, and I was definitely the minority in that city. My dad and many others would urge me to give seafood a try, but I just couldn’t handle it.
My main problem is that when I think about seafood, I think about the vast ocean and how much is unknown about the ocean. Fish can travel all over the place, and our oceans are extremely polluted. That thought alone makes me get nauseous just considering what a fish might be infected with. This thought is so powerful that every time I’ve tried seafood, I gag.
One day we were at the beach, and my dad got me some chicken on a skewer since I wouldn’t eat any of the seafood there. It was grilled, and seasoned pretty well, and it was delicious. I ate the entire thing, but when I was finished, my dad said, “Chris, that was actually fish”, and I proceeded to throw up.
Why did I just tell you about me puking as a child? Because this is a prime example about how powerful our mind is. When I perceived the meat I was eating as chicken, it was delicious, but when my reality changed, I became ill. Looking at this in a logical way, I can say that the fish was not inherently bad, but my perception of the fish was bad.
Every Day Situations
Now, I want you to take a look at your own perceptions and what you perceive to be bad. I know a lot of people like myself struggle with anxiety, or maybe you’re an introvert. If you’re someone who hates office parties or going to crowded places, you may perceive them as bad. If you look around, you’ll see plenty of people having a great time. If you can look at people in the same situation as yourself who are having a good time, can you logically say that the situation is bad?
Working in the treatment center, I’d have them do something similar with their experience. It’s always fascinating to see how two people can perceive the exact same situation in two very different ways. I’d be doing a group of about 50-60 people and explain that there were people in that room who believe the treatment center saved their life. Then, I’d explain how there were people in that exact same room who believed the treatment center was the worst place on earth.
Who was right in this situation?
Traffic is another great example. Most people don’t like traffic, but I personally don’t mind it at all. Someone who is running late to work is going to perceive traffic as an absolutely horrible situation. When I started leaving early to go places, I fell in love with traffic. While stuck in traffic with the knowledge that I won’t be late, I have time to jam out to music or listen to a thought provoking podcast or an audiobook that provides me with new information and insights.
“Amor Fati” is a Latin phrase that means “love of fate”, and it’s something that I try to adapt to my every day life, and it helps me stay sane and not let my mind control my day. Having a love of fate means that I can question my reality, and I’m back in control. Today, I have the choice to look at every situation and know that I have a choice. I get to choose whether I perceive a situation as good or bad. I can also look back at my past and realize that some of the most terrible things that have happened to me have resulted in some of the best things to ever happen to me.
I made a video a while back about how I lost a job, almost relapsed, but losing that job ended up becoming the best thing that ever happened to me. Remembering situations like that allow me to change my perceptions of situations that I deal with each day. Don’t get me wrong, this is easier said than done with certain situations and when you’re stuck in the thick of it, but if you can take a deep breath and realize this awful thing may lead to something great, things will begin to change.
I want you to take this blog post and apply it to your life today and truly think about the situations that you endure. Question your thinking throughout the day and think about how you’re perceiving various situations. Ask yourself why you perceive situations as good or bad. Ask yourself if there’s a way to reframe a bad situation that you’re currently dealing with. Questioning your thinking on a daily basis is a sure fire way to begin changing your outlook and perspectives, which can lead to improved mental health and emotional well-being.