💭 Ikigai / Perspective / The Magus
👋 Hi friends,
I used to have a naively dismissive attitude towards therapy, considering it useful primarily a hobby for sensitive Californians.
I was persuaded to try it once, several years ago, but was immediately put off by being told I “had anxiety”. I had a strongly negative reaction to this due to some pop psychology I had picked up.
Basically, what I believed is that once you get an idea in your head that you “have anxiety”, if you repeat it long enough you begin, subconsciously or consciously to identity yourself as a person with anxiety. However much you want to change and rid yourself of your anxiety, you will continue to be stuck because your identity is now in relation to your anxiety.
In a sense then you are trying to get rid of a part of yourself, and your subconscious will sabotage your efforts. You never get rid of the anxiety, and are increasingly defined by your ‘battle’ with it. Substitute anxiety for your own personal difficulty and the same idea applies.
I wanted instead to say something like “I am experiencing anxiety” or “I am going through a more anxious period”.
As Paul Graham said “keep your identity small”.
Important caveat that I don’t know if this is in any way backed by studies/science, and you should listen to experts on this rather than me, but it makes intuitive sense to me.
Anyway, that was the long way to say that I didn’t exactly warm to my first experience with therapy.
However, recently I have been going through what I might call various “life challenges”, and it came to a point where I was recommended once again that I should try therapy.
Begrudgingly I agreed to give it a go again, and this time I had a completely different experience, with a lovely therapist I found online called Ashley.
What I quickly realised is that my previous attitude towards therapy was quite stupid, and that in fact, therapy can be a useful tool, particularly at times of acute stress.
I also noticed that it wasn’t anything in particular that Ashley said that was particularly enlightening, but rather it was almost like she would reflect back what I said myself and know just the right sort of questions to get to the heart of the matter.
At some point we all will experience difficulties in life, and whatever you are going through it can be helpful to have someone to turn to that is not family or friends or your spouse.
So if you think therapy is not for you, next time you hit a rough patch in life I would encourage you to consider giving it a go. You don’t have to do it forever, but it could help provide a source of insight to guide you through a difficult period.
You may discover, as I did, that there may be something there after all.
Have a great week.
🎙 Podcast episode I recorded - Ikigai and the Japanese secrets to a long and happy life with Francesc Miralles
I recently spoke with author Francesc Miralles about his lovely little book Ikigai. In this conversation we talk about; the people of Okinawa and their secrets of living a long and happy life, Blue Zones, the meaning of Ikigai, how to find your Ikigai, Victor Frankl and Logotherapy, flow and multitasking, the concept of Wabi-sabi plus many other topics besides.
Listen now on Apple Podcasts or Spotify
🎧 What I am watching - Rory Sutherland: Perspective is everything
TED talks can be hit or miss, but Rory Sutherland is such a great speaker, and the examples he provides of perspective shift are both funny and illustrative.
📚 What I am reading - The Magus by John Fowles
Goodreads describes this as a “daring literary thriller, rich with eroticism and suspense”. I found it beautiful and mind bending. You are never quite sure what is real and what isn’t, and it isn’t really like any other book I have ever read.
💬 Quote I am thinking about
“My goal is not to get more done, but rather have less to do” - Francine Jay
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