When I was a kid, I went to the doctor. I think it was for a check up, but I wanted to know what the burning feeling was when I tried to touch my toes. I told the doctor, “It hurts when I do this,” and proceeded to try touching my toes. I had not heard the joke before but the doctor delivered the punchline: “So don’t do that.” Ha, ha, ha, right? Very funny indeed, if not totally uninformative.
I have been thinking lately about the whole mind/body dichotomy and those who theorize that there is no dichotomy at all; that the mind and body are a single unit. What would happen if my psychiatrist was of the same bent as my pediatrician? I would say, “Doc, when I think of this [insert bad dream, phobia, etc. here], I get depressed.” Would it be appropriate for her to say, “Well, don’t think of that.”?
Would my mental agility be stunted to the same extent as my physical ability to touch no lower than my knees?
The questions I pose are these:
- When does self-inflicted (mental/physical) pain help in one’s development?
- When does it lead to harm?
- How does one tell the difference?
I have been hearing a lot about being positive, having a cheery outlook, smiling at everyone, and so on. Although I believe that one could reap positive benefits from this habit, it would be hard for me, as a skeptic and as one who has been compared to Eyore (the sour character from Winnie the Pooh), to go cold turkey into this mode. I would like to try, though. However, one of my main reservations would be giving up thinking about difficult issues that may be a bit depressive.
Do you think this is possible?