We have a mentality crisis on our hands.
Everyone is either born with or develops imperfections in life. An allergy to this or that food. Difficulty sleeping. Chronic stomach issues. Back pain. Etc.
We also apparently are born with or develop a series of learning disabilities. ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, and what have you. It’s actually astounding how vast the Wikipedia page just for learning disabilities. Go ahead and take a look for yourself. if you read through the entire page and aren’t convinced you’re disabled in some way, congratulations, you’re not human.
I suppose these imperfections have always existed throughout history. The difference now, though, seems to be how we react to those imperfections.
Somewhere along the line, we shifted from being honest about our imperfections (a virtue) to embracing and sometimes celebrating our imperfections (a vice). I sincerely hope it didn’t start with my generation, but I’m suspicious.
Hypochondriacs and proud of it
It seems everyone has something nowadays. A “disease” or a “disability” is the new way of standing out and being unique. Not overcoming diseases and disabilities, but embracing them.
We’re all guilty of it to some degree. After a couple years of having back pain in high school, I started telegraphing the entire Universe about my problem. It was almost like introducing myself by saying, “Hi I’m Dan, I can’t sleep at night because I have back pain.”
Okay, it wasn’t quite that ridiculous, but anytime someone brought up something about not sleeping or having chronic pain, my two cents had to be how I had back pain for life—which affected my sleeping. For life? Somewhere along the line, unbeknownst to me, the “for life” or “lifetime” part of that spiel slipped in the backdoor. I went from “back pain for the past couple years” to a lifetime self-diagnosis virtually overnight.
Maybe I did it subconsciously to “fit in”. Taking a look around at my peers, odd was the one who didn’t have some condition for which a prescription drug or at least an outpouring of empathy was necessary.
The first time I realized what a load of manure this whole mentality of embracing disability and disease really is, was when I realized after a decade of painful, “take me now” stomach issues that I didn’t actually have a weak stomach.
All of the sudden, to my shock, I had a few weeks of iron-stomach invincibility to all sorts of bowel-punishing foods. Did a physiological change suddenly take place in my small intestine after ten years of misery? I doubt it.
I began to look at my diet, my lifestyle, my exercise habits, anything that might’ve changed and given my stomach the relief I’d enjoyed. Nothing had changed in what I was doing or eating.
The only thing difference that I could see is that I stopped talking and thinking about it. Rather than doing the sign of the cross before devouring a large pizza and then waiting for impending doom, I just relaxed. What use was the use of stressing about it anyway?
Nearly another ten years have passed since that realization, and I strain to remember the last time I had a stomach issue. And it isn’t because I eat less stomach-turning food, either. In fact, I eat weirder, slimier, grimier food now than I ever did when I was having stomach issues.
Now, I can honestly introduce myself by saying, “Hi, I’m Dan, and I have an iron stomach. Don’t believe me? Watch me eat everything in sight.”
After I “cured” myself of stomach problems, I applied the same strategy to my supposed lifetime back pain. I stopped talking about it. There was no reason for people other than my doctor to know I had back pain, and it just depressed me and everyone else to stand around pissing and moaning about back pain and no sleep.
These days, I almost never have back pain. Haven’t for six years or more. Sleep? I’ve gone from being a light-sleeper who couldn’t sleep anywhere but it his own bed to a moderately deep sleeper who can sleep just about anywhere that’s flat—within reason.
Tell me lies
Spookier still? I applied this same strategy to mosquito bites prior to moving to Southeast Asia for the first time—mostly because I don’t fancy Malaria, but also because mosquito bites are just plain annoying. As a young kid, mosquitoes ate me alive during Boy Scout camps and trips to the beach. Now, I’ve gone from thinking that I had the sweetest, most aromatic, mosquito-attracting blood around to being one of those jerks who proudly says “Mosquitoes don’t like me”, as everyone else is swatting uncontrollably at their necks.
Living in Southeast Asia, I probably average about 2-3 mosquito bites a year—without using repellant.
Call it positive thinking, call it “law of attraction”, call it whatever you want, but the way we react to things mentally changes the physical reality in which we live.
So quit being proud of your imperfections. No one says you have to be ashamed of them, just don’t let it become your primary indentifying trait. Lie to yourself and others about your positive wellbeing if you have to. That’s one type of lie you aren’t losing any karma points for.