**The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and communicated without reference to supporting documentation. Any uses of “she” or “he” in the communication of ideas are not intended to covey sexual bias. Breakaway MHE Disclaimer
As a practicing mental health therapist in Canada, I meet with people for counseling appointments almost every day of my life. I collect extensive information about the common types of life experiences people have, as well as the various mental health issues people face as life unfolds. I notice patterns in the ways people live life, as well as how they experience their mental health difficulties. As a result, I am often inspired to reflect further upon how and why it all happens. Eventually I feel compelled say something about it, and this is another one of those times.
At this stage of my career (approximately 5 years into being a registered therapist) I have met with numerous clients who describe being “stressed” by a range of thoughts that are typically described as “scattered or racing”. Said another way, it seems common for people to experience and re-experience cycles of thought that remain unfinished, unresolved, and unprocessed. In my observation, it likewise seems common for those who experience these cycles of unprocessed thought to simultaneously struggle with anxiety and depression symptoms of varying degrees.
The cycles of thought people experience might be related to regrets about the past, concerns about the future, concerns about current events, judgments about self and others, frustrations and concerns in relationships, and many other issues unique to each individual’s life. There are feeling components that coincide with the thoughts patterns people experience, although it seems extremely common for people to have difficulty making thought-feeling connections (to notice, to verbalize, and to process their mind/body content).
Indeed, many people seem to have “lots of stuff” happening inside themselves, although do not seem prepared to manage this stuff. In many cases, people are short on the time, skills, and internal resources to take care of themselves. Without the time, skills, and internal resources to manage what goes on inside a human body, we may experience consequences in the form of unwanted symptoms and disorder (very often of the anxious and depressive types, but also stress-related physical disorder).
I believe this apparent “low-ability” to effectively process mind/body content has strong association with being “enrolled in” and surrounded by an ever-evolving information/communication technology culture that moves much faster than average human capacity permits. Of course I am referring to the swelling use and over-use of smartphones, social media, texting, and the like… We are constantly exposed to new and updated information technologies. Likewise, we are constantly exposed to streaks of new information that may require our deeper consideration and working through of feeling, although these streaks of information come to us so fast (through our devices) that opportunities for processing the content are given up or lost.
Living in conditions like this, I believe, results in becoming more and more cut off from a direct relationship with nature itself, and likewise from a healthy relationship with ourselves. It is all happening too fast! It is as though we have forgotten the extent of our processing capacity as humans, and likewise the importance of taking proper care to deal with information in ways that work for us, AS HUMANS. We are not machines. We are not robots, but it is as though we believe we can exist in that format if we just completely surrender ourselves to our technologies.
It’s like “Randy” said in the TV show “My Name is Earl” (Season 1, Episode 4, 2005)… He’s talking about differences between men and women, but I’ll substitute the words “men” for “HUMANS” and “women” for “ROBOTS” (no sexual bias intended!).
Randy: “You see, HUMANS think different than ROBOTS. You and I think different than ROBOTS ’cause we are HUMANS and they are ROBOTS. I’m right, right? I’m not wrong… Am I wrong?”
If indeed we are not like machines (and can never be like machines) it remains highly unrealistic to assume we can live like machines and still remain healthy (as humans) in both mind and body, and in relationships. Humans require a different – much slower – approach for information processing than machines, so as to maintain their mind/body health and high quality connections in relationships. However, this idea of human capacity (this reality?) seems to be largely ignored by masses of people trying to live more like machines, with the result being that common mental health and relational issues remain a continual problem.
I often write about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as this topic is near and dear to my heart. My thinking in this regard on this topic is that people who are born more emotionally sensitive, or who experience traumatic life events that contribute to certain emotional sensitivities, are even more in need of a slower/deeper approach to processing mind/body content – again, an approach much different than is being made commonplace by modern technology. So in other words, people with sensitivities who end up suffering with conditions like BPD need to be extra careful with their use of technology!
That being said, I believe a person who struggles with BPD can also learn to make special adaptations to living in an unrealistically high-speed information culture. These adaptations involve purposeful learning of skills to develop deeper information processing capacity, and likewise carving out time to practice these skills in everyday life, but it is possible.
photo credit: DG Jones Still Flyin’ + Poppy Perezz + Cosines + Other Woman DJs @ The Lexington, London 21/05/2012 via photopin (license)