The We Do It Intentionally Paradox: 10 reasons why we may not want to get better

Well, I may not “win friends” with this two-part series, but I’ll sure as heck “influence people” (thank you, Dale Carnegie). I’m going to stick my neck out and propose that we, in part or in whole, intentionally perpetuate our distress. And now I’ll duck.

Actually, I call it The We Do It Intentionally Paradox.

Paradox: a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true. (Merriam-Webster Online)

Okay, so I have to preface what I’m about to say with a bit of a disclaimer. No one supports the disease – as in bona fide medical – concept of depression, anxiety, and bipolarity more than ‘Ole Bill. And being one who takes a psychotropic himself, I’m certainly not anti-med.

But in spite of what we’ve been “blessed” with genetically and environmentally, I’m stickin’ to my guns when I say we, in part or in whole, intentionally (consciously or unconsciously) perpetuate our distress.

So at least in principle – come on, think about it. Could my suggestion at least be possible? I mean, as unpleasant as mood and anxiety distress is, if living with it has been the only way of life we’ve ever known, is it so hard to believe we may well do all within our power to perpetuate it?

Indeed, painful and icky though our pathology is, it’s familiar – comfortable – in a peculiar sort of way. Look, tens of millions of people elect to live in terribly undesirable environments and life situations; and each for very personal, perhaps even consciously unknown, reasons.

As much as we might not understand why these folks don’t opt for change – uh, well – they simply don’t. Their decision, and that’s that.

News flash – again, I say so many of us do the very same thing. And our self-perpetuation stems from reasons well beyond familiarity and comfort. How ‘bout some examples for starters?

If we consume most of our time pondering all things mood and anxiety we can very effectively keep our minds from ruminating over extraordinarily troubling and painful issues we really don’t want to acknowledge.

That said, we can actually use our pathology – painful, but at least familiar phenomena – to prevent us from confronting these potentially devastating feelings and thoughts, and doing something about them. I suppose you could say what we force ourselves to endure is the lesser of the two evils.

Another thought. Willful participation (again, conscious or unconscious) in our mood and anxiety distress may be the only way we know to hold on to items very emotionally tender and valuable from our past. Who knows – maybe a parent suffered from severe depression or panic, and being consumed by it is a misguided attempt at re-connecting with him/her in an effort to somehow heal some wounds.

Perhaps it’s all about trying to make peace with unknown emotional trauma from the past that physically presented in the form of depression, mania, or obsessions – and we’ve somehow determined that being, say, depressed, is the only vehicle that can transport us back in time, giving us our best shot at making things right.

Well, how ’bout we work together and throw some ideas on the wall…

Reasons Why We May Not Want To Get Better

  1. Feeling like crap is better than not feeling at all.
  2. As nasty as it is, being sick is at least familiar and comfortable.
  3. Staying sick keeps us from having to venture out in the world.
  4. Relying upon ourselves puts an end to relying upon others.
  5. Staying sick makes for a tremendous ongoing butt-kicking mechanism.
  6. Getting well takes too much time and effort.
  7. Being sick is simply our lot in life, so why tempt fate?
  8. If we get better we won’t have that pathological connection with that special person from our past.
  9. If we don’t have our pathology to focus upon, we’ll be relegated to thinking and feeling about shtuff we’d just as soon forget.
  10. Your ideas…

So that’ll do it for part one. Come on back for part two as we discuss what we can do about this paradox biz. How ’bout some comments so we can build our list???

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