When you combine two words that are polar opposites of one another, you end up with an oxymoron. For example: Perfect Peace or Jumbo Shrimp.
Let’s talk about Perfect Peace. Perfection is a trap. It’s not possible; even nature has flaws. In fact, even scientific programs have flaws. I talked to an engineer recently who told me that engineers always account for the imperfections in their programming because even they know that 100% perfection is not possible.
I cringe whenever someone says, “I can’t help it; I’m a Perfectionist” for two reasons:
1. They are saying the word, “can’t” which becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy EVERY TIME and
2. They are claiming Perfectionism as a title or badge to wear around, knowing full well that what they have been shooting for is a completely unrealistic goal, and yet – they keep on doing it.
As a result, Perfectionists are victims to themselves and the world around them.
People who shoot for Excellence and Phenomenal - these are people I love to be around. Les Brown says, “Shoot for the moon because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!” Now, that’s more like it!
There are two other words that are polar opposites from one another: Anxiety and Depression.
· Anxiety is nervousness that can eventually turn into a 100 on a scale of 0-100 with 0 representing a feeling of peace and contentment and 100 representing panic.
And, Depression is hopelessness at a -100 on a scale of -100 to 100 with -100 representing the most depressed and hopeless a person can be and 100 representing the most hopeful a person can be.
People who are experiencing a lot of anxiety (intense energy that has no constructive route to travel) are typically also experiencing a lot of depression. This occurs because once the person panics with intense energy but doesn’t release it toward a constructive purpose, they crash. And, when they crash, they beat themselves up for having done so. When this happens long enough, the weight of it all settles on them like a 1,000 pound truck and they feel “pressed down” or more commonly called “Depressed” on a consistent basis.
Additionally, it’s hard to think clearly and rationally when one is in a state of panic. This occurs because one’s fight, flight, or freeze system (their Survival System/the Sympathetic Nervous System) has been alerted that, “We have a situation; all systems a-go; lock & load!” When this occurs, a lot of oxygen leaves the brain and travels to the main muscles groups in order to help prepare the body to either fight, run, or freeze (play opossum). I teach this concept in my Optimal Response Initiative workbook & resiliency training. In the heat of a crisis, your brain doesn’t need all that oxygen to dream big and make plans to improve the quality of your life. No way! Your muscles need the oxygen because they want to help you SURVIVE and fight to the death in order to save your life!
Additionally, people who are dealing with Anxiety and Depression complain that their memory is bad, “I can’t focus on nothing – or remember anything!” they say. This is because when someone is residing at a 100 level of anxiety, it takes a lot of forced cognitive energy to bring themselves down to the middle (50) and try to focus on what someone is saying, what they are reading, or what they are watching. And, during the time it took to bring themselves down, they missed whatever was being said. The brain can only do so much at once. It takes a lot of concentration and focus, which is why the person says, “I can’t concentrate; I can’t focus at all.” Truth is, they are concentrating and focusing on bringing themselves from a 100 down to a 50 to try to pay attention vs. whatever Charlie Brown’s mom just said to them, i.e., their significant other, their friend, their co-worker, their boss….
Also, if someone has experienced a life-threatening situation once or more than once, they get really good at focusing on any threatening stimuli (sights, sounds, smells, etc.). As a result, they pay attention to threats, and they don’t pay attention to conversations about the pretty flowers or baking cookies. This is because flowers and cookies aren’t threats, and they are now more prone to pay attention to threats and disregard everything else. So, when they say, “I can’t focus on anything,” the truth is that they can, but they are focusing on threats so that they will survive vs. focusing on everyday quality of thriving in life type things.
The same is true with Depression. When one is residing at a -100 on a scale, it takes a lot of energy to try to drag themselves to a “normal/average” level of engagement. And since they are spending so much focused energy trying to force themselves “up”, during the time it took to do so, they missed whatever was being said, again, by Charlie Brown’s mom.
Additionally, there are many things that can impact one’s memory like:
· The normative aging process
· Sleep or lack thereof
· The quality of one’s nutritional intake
· Exercise (or lack of exercise)
· Alcohol or medication (and/or street drugs, etc.)
· Acute pain and chronic pain
· Previous history of traumatic brain injury
· A wide array of other medical conditions….
· Social Support (or lack thereof)
Many people don’t realize ALL of the things that can impact one’s ability to focus.
I go into extensive detail teaching people about the rest of the havoc that is raised on the entire brain and body when one more consistently resides at a state of anxiety and/or depression, negatively impacting one’s overall health in ORI. I encourage you to look into this because I also teach you what you can do about it…
But back to my discussion on oxymorons. The vicious cycle of oscillating between Anxiety and Depression is further maintained and exacerbated by people saying, “I HAVE Anxiety” or “I HAVE Depression.” Having the normative life experience of the emotion of anxiety (which can be from 0-100: irritated to panic) or having the normative life experience of sadness (or any variation thereof) is a normal part of life. However, once someone CLAIMS an emotional experience as their IDENTITY, much work must be done to RE-DEFINE and RE-IDENTIFY with a more balanced, healthy focus, but it CAN be done! If one believes they can, they can, and they will. And by healthy focus, I am referring to four areas of health: cognitive, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
As you seek out health and truth for your life, as you seek to find balance and peace, know it is a process; it is a life-long process…. and the next time you say or you hear someone say, “I can’t have peace (or like myself or my life) until I achieve perfection!”
Tell them, “You got that right! After all, that’s an oxymoron….”
Be nice to you.
Be nice to others.