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Friendship is the single most important factor influencing our health, well-being, and happiness.

- Robin Dunbar

Living our lives is a bit like sailing a boat across the sea. It's totally predictable that there will be times when it's relatively calm and the sun shines. It's also totally predictable that there will be times when the sea's rough and the weather stormy. Our lives too are like that. It's normal to meet problems and difficulties. In order to sail through OK, rather than be blown all over the place by the storm, it's crucially important that we realize we can tackle the problems. We are NOT helpless victims. Of course we are not omnipotent, but how we react and respond to difficulties we encounter will make a big difference to the eventual outcome.

There's lots of research showing that "catastrophising" (the tendency to get sucked into catastrophic fears) and avoidance (acting like an ostrich) are both routinely associated with poorer outcomes. Unpleasant symptoms are like a smoke alarm, they tell us that there are problems that need identifying and tackling. Symptoms and smoke alarms can be helpful if they nudge us into action and let us know if we're going in the right direction. Taking time to clarify what the problems are and how we can respond to them is time very well spent.  Note though that this encouragement is for active problem solving.  In contrast rumination - just going over and over things in one's mind - tends to be very counterproductive.  

Our responses may involve actively doing something about the problems, or may involve learning not to have them upset us so much. Again medical research is very clear that an active problem solving attitude is routinely associated with better health outcomes. It's likely to be worth looking at the handouts & questionnaires in the Problem solving & behavioural activation section of this website.

 

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