Do you ever feel like you are playing the typical movie scene in your head…Good Cop Bad Cop?
Maybe in your movie it’s the condescending parent and the scared child?
Or victim and the bullier?
There are usually at least two distinct personalities participating in the never ending dialogue in our minds. Different schools of psychological thought give them different names, but we all resonate with those characters!
Well I’ve recently been introduced (by Jamie Catto, founding member of Faithless the band), to the mental health patient and the psychiatric nurse. A pretty “out there” way of thinking of these “mind characters”…but boy, has it given me clarity!
Jamie Catto calls for us to accept our own insanity, and flex our Nurse muscle, by focusing our efforts on becoming a properly qualified carer for the inner mental health patient instead of bullying her.
This is not to heal her and make her bother us less, but more to harness her power.
This way of “handling her” surprised me on a couple of levels!
Firstly, accepting my own insanity in all of its incarnations is a challenge and then some. I would hazard a guess that all of us, capable, intelligent women who “have got it together” do whatever it takes to cover up the insanity, and not let it disrupt the organised, “successful” life we have going on! Sound familiar?
Secondly, even if on some level we accept the existence of the mental health patient, we tend to concentrate our attention on subduing it rather than upholding it and caring for it!
I don’t know about you but part of me is secretly scared of the patient. I don’t want her to start dominating my world or to destroy my “sane” life. Afterall, I’ve carefully crafted it over more than a decade, since I started putting conscious effort into self development.
Part of me is furious with the patient. She constantly has me asking;
- Why the hell is she even there?
- How dare she pop her head out of the closet at the most inappropriate moments of life?
- Why is she constantly seeking attention for the same problems, as if we haven’t taken care of this plenty of times before.
A big part of me wants her gone forever, whatever it takes.
Then there is the nurse.
Reassuring, of course. Down to earth and pragmatic. Always full of good advice and ready made solutions. Sometimes brutal and controlling. Typically close-minded. Only interested in the answers (the shorter the better), not the questions.
In short: annoying as hell.
The Nurse can be useful but not an interesting character over all. It will never have radical opinions, stand for something unconventional or create a work of art. The nurse is mostly interested in the status quo and keeping things in order.
This is how the patient and the nurse might see each other.
But here’s the million dollar question : How do we stop the two from jumping to each other’s throats?
The best place to start is by realising the benefits of having both of the characters there, to embrace them for all their quirks and differences.
Afterall, the transformation and growth come out of their battles!
The Nurse is the one who always instinctively knows the right thing to do. I respect the nurse and enjoy giving her opportunities to grow and develop her art. I also admire her pragmatism, patience and commitment. Her competence and character traits are useful not just when it comes to treating the inner patient but in so many other situations in life.
Everyone’s insanity is slightly different though, so I invite you to welcome and get to know yours.
- Note times when you feel like you’re going a bit bonkers, and zoom out, what are the responses and which character is responsible for them?
- Get those two characters to communicate more often. Imagine them say nice things to each other. “Thanks for coming, I’m so glad you’re here when I need you”, might say the patient. “You are one smart patient and I enjoy taking care of you. You really aren’t as bad as you might feel sometimes, and it’s made me really happy to see you get better over the years”, might respond the nurse.
- Make a daily habit of getting to know each characters motivations and needs, life will become much easier.
- Celebrate the craziness with those around you…let them in on the secret battle…once they know the characters, it might be more fun for them to be part of the play!
Overall, isn’t it great to know we are all equally insane?
If we can celebrate, harness – and nurse – our own insanity, we will unleash our genius and join the troops of those truly outstanding. Those who live the change they want to see in the world and don’t leave the planet without making a dent.
But more on this next time.