“Everything has cracks, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen.
This article is dedicated to the many brave and intelligent people who have got tired of being told who and what they are, what tablets they need to take, what (of their many) imperfections and faults need to be put right and have decided to find out who they want to be and how to use their unique personalities to help cope with life and become themselves…cracks and all.
Don’t get me wrong. I want to say right from the start, I’m all for medication and tablets, if they work. Of course I am, of course we all are. But, long term medication is difficult to assess, especially for mental health problems. Who we are today is different from who we were when the good doctor announced his diagnosis and prescribed his tablets. Life changes, we change, and it maybe time to review who we are and what we want to be. Do we want to learn to live with our cracks, or do we want to take tablets?
For example, if, (it’s the big if again) after trying try all kinds of prescribed pills for a bad back, and nothing gets better, it might be a good idea to try acupuncture, or yoga or Alexander Technique or traditional Indian medicine, or even suggesting to the good tablet prescribing doctor that the back pain maybe originating from elsewhere and that further investigation maybe helpful.
Taking responsibility for our own health, both physical and mental, is a good way of thinking about it.
Sometimes though, the ailment, whether a bad back or anxiety or depression or whatever, starts to define who we are. We start to like it and cling to our label. We start to enjoy the tablets. We learn that wearing our label like a badge of honour can in fact be very useful.
We become our label.
Our label can allow us to side step responsibility and even avoid accountability. It is the perfect excuse, especially for perfectionists. We can use it like a magic trump card, “sorry, I had one of my episodes.” It’s impregnable to intervention, to counselling, to life coaching or even well meaning friends and relatives.
It cannot be beaten. It really can’t.
But is it really us? Is it really who we are? What does it do to our self esteem, our confidence, our ambitions and dreams, our relationships?
Sorry, too many questions.
The krux is that making the decision to put down our label, our magic protective layer, our real life kryptonite, is a big, big step. It feels dangerous and makes us vulnerable.
But along with vulnerability is the potential to be ourselves, even if that comes with a variety of cracks and imperfections and maybe even some discomfort. At least we are ourselves and we can relate to people on an equal footing, and most importantly they can relate to us.
People can accept us (or not) for who we are, warts and all, as they say.
So let your own light in through your many and various cracks, you don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to keep wearing a label saying “sick.”
If we can, let’s chuck away our labels and replace them with being ourselves and accepting our own personalities, cracks and all.
Thanks for reading.
Have a look at our Counselling Retreat if you would like to learn how to put down your label.