A holistic approach to health, fitness and wellness requires a progressive attitude to mental wellness and personal growth. What part of your personality do you dislike or judge to be bad or think that others do? What would happen if you owned who you are for the good and the bad and just went about making yourself a better person?
I had a nice catch-up coffee this weekend in Vancouver with a childhood friend I hadn't seen in years. As I listened to the story of his last twenty years, I imagined and appreciated the many moves he's made that are quite different than the one's I've made. Some of been for the best others for the worse.
When we were preteens, I was a mad scientist and built a device that would make lights flash in time with the music. We hooked it up to his stereo, something went wrong, and it blew up. I was too self-absorbed to take ownership over the destruction and he took the financial hit to get it fixed. Not my proudest moment in retrospect.
Our lives are the accumulation of the unique choices we make.
What hidden forces influence these choices?
As a result of the personal work I've done since then, I've consciously worked at developing empathy and respect for other people; I run my coaching business with a conscientious duty of care. While I don't consider myself a pathological narcissist, I suspect that I'm on that spectrum, among others.
Like many people, I have a tendency to be more self-focused than other-focused. Both orientations have their advantages and disadvantages. I think we all fall on various psychological spectrums like this one, just as we all fall on other spectrums like religious, political and sexual-orientation. I don't think any place on any spectrum is inherently better than others. We are who we are.
Each place on any spectrum offers
unique challenges and opportunities.
If you are a business leader, entrepreneur or artist you might fall on a spectrum you might never've thought you'd fall on. When I read the Walter Isaac biography, it was hard to get through that book without concluding that Steve Jobs had sociopathic tendencies–his reality distortion field, parking in handicapped stalls, ignoring customer and staff input. He was a very influential man very far toward the self-centered end of spectrum. Given the enduring success of Apple, we might need to concede that there's some value in innovators not getting too caught up in whatever people think.
I'm a naturally curious person so I took the Psychopathic Personality Inventory and it turns out that I am on the spectrum. Why is that? I'm not a psychopath the way most of us would think of it, but I scored higher on two of five dimensions: the neurotic and the influential. I am still a mad scientist and moody-as-fuck, so I already knew I was neurotic . But why would I be on the psychopathic spectrum if I'm influential? Because, the report explained, if I'm not careful I might manipulate someone against their best interest. Fair enough. Influence is both a curse and an opportunity to grow.
At the extreme end of any spectrum are legitimate psychopathologies, some of which are debilitating and harmful to the person suffering them or the people that run into them. For most of us, our various orientations and personality quirks are part of our charm. We just need to make them work for ourselves and others.
Mental wellness is a product of conscientious
personal growth and character development.
Men and women also naturally fall on different parts of various spectrums and have much to learn from each other. I worked with two women to produce my latest book on confrontation and inspiration. I learned a lot from them and you will too. Order yours here.