I love reading about psychological studies and research. The mind is so…odd. Everything about it and human behavior fascinates me. My fallacy, of course, is that I tend to affirm the consequent, appropriating (and misappropriating) any resemblance between myself and the literature.
Take, for example, this article I read yesterday on “ego depletion.” It explains research that suggest that human will power may not be an infinite source. Our minds get tired of choosing to do all the time. No one can be on 100% of the time. When it comes to decisions of the mind, sooner or later something is going to give.
That is so me! I thought, reading the article, clicked the “tweet” button repeatedly to share this missing piece of my personality with everyone (these people who don’t quite get me, but like me enough to follow me on Twitter.) I get this way all the time! All I really want is a connection with the world around me, so I put in effort to try to meet people, network, go to class… But when I can’t see a reward for my effort, when I look up and realize I’m still alone, I give up. See, it’s not my fault. My ego is just too depleted.
Then today I began reading a book on “codependency” at the advice of a doctor. From the first page I felt like she was putting into words everything I’ve felt the last five years of my life, capturing emotions I’d always assumed were indescribable, and certainly un-relatable to anyone not…me. But there they were. It didn’t mean anything to me that her discussion of codependence involved people living and with friends and family members suffering from chemical dependencies (while I’ve never know anyone I would consider an addict of any kind). Everything else fit. She was definitely talking to me.
I haven’t gotten past the first chapter of the book yet (mainly because it’s on my iPhone which I brilliantly left at home today), and perhaps she will go on to make points much more relevant to my personal situation, but you see my problem? I feel like I’m seeing these therapy sites and self-help books and scientific articles as some kind of cure-all. I’m acting like there is some perfect explanation for why I have so much anxiety and loneliness. I choose to turn to science the way another in my exact position might turn to astrology or fortune telling (here’s a clue: the editors probably pick horoscopes out of a hat and assign them randomly to each sign).
I don’t know, I guess at the end of the day it’s all in the mind, anyway. The search for an explanation for my malfunctioning psyche makes me feel better in little ways. Makes me feel like I’m getting better. My dad has one of those hologram bracelets that he swears ease his stress and make him feel more balanced. It’s the lucky charm effect at it’s best, but if you believe it works, then it’s already done it’s job.
We are funny like that, I guess. There must be some metaphoric hole in each of us that we desperately seek to fill, to understand why? Why me? Why here? Why now? Whether seek the answers through Malcolm Gladwell books, meditation, or even religion, if your search brings you some peace, you’re right. Congratulations.