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  • My Personality Is My Worst Symptom

    Posted by bailey-anne-vincent on January 18, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    Medicine is exhausting and confusing for all of us, but sometimes I wonder if my personality makes it a little harder on myself.

    Let me pain a picture. Last week I saw my orthopedist who said we need to repeat the CT mylogram again (similar to a spinal tap), to make sure my recent rise in upper back pain is not structural – which he does not believe it is- and then turn to more nerve studies, which is more likely the cause.

    So I think: “We won’t find anything and I’ll feel stupid. And then we just have to move to the next test, and repeat the next thing, and on and on.”

    Next I think: “Am I wrong? Am I being too dramatic?”

    I hate that feeling. I hate hunting for a smoking gun and assuming we won’t find one. I hate knowing something is truly messing with my quality of life but wondering if I just need to try harder.

    In truth, I have a very black-or-white personality. I have struggled a lot with recent global crisis and political times and social movements because I think in terms of “well, there is a right side of history”, no room for grey.

    My sister is constantly reminding me: “The world is not always one or the other”…. and of course she’s right. But even for someone who literally writes about life in the grey (since my genetics have never been anything remotely close to cut and dry), I struggle with medicine that feels like a guessing game.

    Question For You: What part of your personality makes health and healing (or caregiving) the hardest for you?

    Are you a perfectionist? Do you like to throw caution to the wind and not think too far down the line? We all have “our things”… What do you think is yours?

    judy-moreland replied 3 years, 4 months ago 5 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
  • jenny-livingston

    January 18, 2021 at 5:28 pm

    My best and worst trait are the same – I am extremely agreeable. (On the big 5 OCEAN personality test, I score extremely high agreeableness.) I hate the feeling of causing someone to go out of their way for me or create extra stress. I never want to hurt someone’s feelings. I’ll go with the flow until I start to drown, then apologize for the inconvenience I’ve caused. I apologize to everyone for thing I don’t need to apologize for. I say “thank you” to the people who draw my blood, shove tubes and scopes into my body, and cause me all kinds of pain.

    In medical situations, my agreeableness has sometimes made it extremely difficult to advocate for myself. As we all know, sometimes speaking up and being firm is necessary, but both of those things are so very hard for me! During one hospital admission, my social worker gave me an assignment to ask the hospital staff for three things each day. If my medication schedule had nurses in my room at all hours of the night, she wanted me to ask for a change. If I wanted some leftover food heated up, she wanted me to ask the nurse’s aid to help with that. Even if there weren’t things I needed, she wanted me to come up with something (a change of bedding, some fresh ice water, etc.) just to get in the practice of speaking up.

    While my agreeableness is something I generally love about myself, it’s also something that makes self-advocacy and taking charge of health situations difficult sometimes.

  • paul-met-debbie

    January 19, 2021 at 8:50 am

    Ah yes, Bailey, thinking is by far the worst symptom of personality. And personality is the worst symptom of identification. And identification is the worst symptom of the mind.

    And medicine IS a often a guessing game, to a far larger extend than doctors will want to admit. And guessing is the favorite activity of the mind (the mind however cleverly calls this thinking), so there you are: thinking about medical things is a never-ending (and mostly unhappy) story in the mind. Stop it! (STOP = Stop – Take a deep breath – Observe – Proceed).

    By the way, Jenny’s infliction (wanting to be agreeable) is very common and exhausting too. It also depends on thinking. But there is a severe fault in the assessment: “I am (extremely) agreeable”, because agreeability as we know it is only defined as a function expressed to others. While in reality and true life, this character trade expresses in the interaction between you ànd others. This is an important and overlooked difference. So if you are only agreeable in the common sense of the word, you totally deny yourself as part of the process. This sort of agreeableness is not something to be loved at all about yourself. So if you love this about yourself, you should really ask the question: “Why do I think this is a good thing, who taught me this?” because in fact, you are hurting yourself with it constantly. Of course this is all conditioned behavior we learned as we grew up, but there is a time in life to honestly reflect on all that you have learned as a child and question these things to the core. It mostly revolves about the question “Who am I?” but we are not willing to look into that deeply. We are too busy thinking and worrying.

    Being truly agreeable would include yourself in the process. Then there will be a balance between your own interests and those of the others, which would result in a much more healthy and mature interaction. You can only be there for others, if you are there in the first place. For that, you foremost have to take care of your own wellbeing and best interests. From that position you can truly be an asset in all of your interactions, not as a goal but as something that will happen of itself.

    So, to come back to answer Bailey’s question: the whole of the personality makes life difficult. Personality is a hindrance in living a happy and fulfilling life. Thinking (by this I mean thoughts that are about I, me and my, and about past and future) makes up a large part of this personality. Try and count the percentage of thoughts that are about I, me or my and about past/future. If you leave these out and only have neutral, non-sticking and simple true thoughts about what presents right now (in stead of guesses and presumptions of what might happen or has happened), life becomes much easier and more happy. You will save an enormous amount of time and energy that can be devoted to just living life, in stead of thinking it. Then life runs itself mostly, and much better without the interference of the mind. Just surrender to it. It has all been taken care of. Have a little trust. Or better: have a lot of it.

    This is not at all equal to “throwing caution to the wind” (see how the mind loves to create false opposites?) If you don’t think about yourself, the past or the future constantly, you are not being reckless – on the contrary, if you approach life from being and intuition in stead of only thinking, you get a much more complete and correct view of reality as it is. And with much less problems.

    By the way: I’d never heard of this OCEAN personality test so I took a look on a website and completed 4 pages of questions. I had to laugh about the questions that mostly did not make sense to me, meaning they were not at all even applicable to how I experience reality. Most of the questions started with “I” and presumed some abstract intern separate çreature was present inside me who called the shots and “did” things, which I don’t feel is the case really. Most of life simply happens. I had to answer a lot of question with “neutral” for that reason. I guess that’s why the results all came out slightly over or beneath the 50% score, but there was an N-score which was really low. The “meaning of these scores for my individual experiences” read as a sort of general horoscope you can find in a TV-guide – and a lot of laughter came out of me again. It was a funny thing to do and read.

  • rusty

    January 19, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    Hi All,
    More psychology. I will start with this quote that comes from an author named David on the website Raptitude:
    “The real pain of many tasks is psychological, arising from the way the mind processes them, not so much from the actions that constitute the tasks themselves. The general rule seems to be this: the more abstract we make an event – that is, the more we see it in terms of its meaning to the mind, rather than how it feels to the senses – the greater the psychological pain that is created. The more we can zoom into the direct experience, and refrain from engaging with the story around it, the less of a pain in the ass it is.”
    Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean to minimize anyone’s hardships. I am in no position to do so. It’s just that I have found this quote to be true. I look back and see how I talked myself into believing something will be miserable or awful or just plain hard, etc. but discovering after the fact that it was nowhere near as bad as I had imagined.
    How does this apply? Well, Jenny, maybe you saw that asking someone for help did not come with negative consequences. Bailey, maybe they won’t find anything but that won’t make you stupid. You are clearly experiencing issues and they should be looked into to try to get a resolution. Remember, these are only thoughts that are causing anxiety or anguish or whatever. That being the case, thinking different thoughts can be the way to alleviate all that. At least…I think.

  • judy-moreland

    January 19, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    The part of my personality that makes health and healing the hardest for me is twofold: I am a great procrastinator and a great perfectionist. Of the 2, procrastination is the worse personality trait, especially now that I no longer work. When I worked full time (until age 51) and then part time (until age 58), I was much better at doing airway clearance and exercise every day. Now that I am not working, I put off doing a/c and exercise and don’t do airway clearance every day and hardly ever exercise. The issue is compounded because I helped my mother significantly with her Alzheimer’s from when I was first diagnosed with CF at age 42 and on for 14 years. I had a couple of years “off,” and then did the same for my brother with Alzheimer’s for 10 years. He died last year, and after that, it seemed to me that I deserved a break and have been very lax about what I need to do to keep from getting sicker. I don’t say “to stay healthy” because unlike some people at my clinic who ask me if I’m healthy, I don’t think I’ve been healthy since before I was diagnosed. If it sounds like I feel sorry for myself, I do. I should say that’s the 3rd personality trait that makes health and healing hard.

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