There are times when a message so simple, delivered at the right time, can have a profound impact on our lives. I happened upon one of those messages yesterday. During the pandemic, I have tried to spend time working toward healing and bettering my responses to events and circumstances. I have watched every YouTube video by Brene Brown (if you haven’t done this, I highly recommend it). I also bought several workbooks on healing trauma and emotional regulation. Added to that list are two books by Brene Brown (because there can never be too much good advice and great stories).
Anyway, yesterday, while doing a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) exercise, I ran into an explanation about fixed thinking and labels. Fixed thinking ( like saying, I have a terrible memory, or I am awful at math) doesn’t allow for growth. It leaves the person saying those things stuck. If, on the other hand, a person has an attitude of development, they will try math and try to get better at it, or practice techniques to improve their memory, etc. This type of thinking provides for a change instead of the more rigid fixed thinking.
One part of what I read yesterday was about labels and how labeling ourselves is falling into the trap of fixed thinking. Here is the most important statement that rocked my understanding of my illness and myself. The writer said being diagnosed gives you a label.
These past six years of writing publicly about schizophrenia, I have often tried to get other people to see beyond my diagnosis. I have written how I am a partner, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a daughter, etc. The whole time I was writing those words, I was labeling myself as someone with schizophrenia.
Labeling myself as someone with schizophrenia is fixed thinking. It can cause me to believe that it is something about myself that won’t get better and will never change. How I am today is unlikely to be how I will be tomorrow. I can learn to manage my schizophrenia better. I can learn more coping techniques, and equally important, I can add more interests and hobbies to my life. By adding hobbies or passions to my life, I may find things that I identify with more strongly than having schizophrenia. Having a big and complex life gives schizophrenia that much less meaning. It takes it out of the driver’s seat and puts it in the trunk among all the other odds and ends that get tossed in there.
As an example, I am spending much more time writing during the pandemic, and I am spending much more time teaching three different writing courses. Teaching and writing define much more of who I am than the fixed label of schizophrenia.
To continue along those lines, I want to create a community of writers who meet on Zoom once or twice a week. I would have to charge a small fee to cover costs, but I would make it low enough to be accessible to almost everyone who wants to participate. I have found writing in community has helped me generate many words on the page these last six months. If you are interested in being a part of a writing community please contact me with the days and times that work best. I will post again about this soon. Please get in touch if you want to take part in a powerful writing practice that helps you make writing a central practice in your life. The writing you do can be healing, centering, therapeutic, and spark more and more creativity. Reach out because I would love to have you.