“Exercise anybody can do”, “One size fits all”, “Everybody can…”, “Anyone can…”… … …
I have been fooled by many statements like these. Every now and then, even after 20 years of dealing with chronic illness and its various side effects (like obesity, in my case), I still get roped into thinking “all” must include me. “Everybody” means EVERY body, right? “Anybody” MUST mean me, too! Only to have my gullible optimism dashed against the “Cliffs of Insanity” (see “The Princess Bride” if you haven’t, because this reference rocks!).
When Everybody is Nobody
When it comes to the generalizations of “everybody”, “anyone”, and “fits all”…I am nobody, no one, and nothing. This is not my fault, actually. It is the fault of lazy advertisers and overly ambitious sales messages, and it is a result of people who view the world through their own narrow filters without realizing it.
Those dance videos that claim anyone can do this exercise? They are full of relatively healthy people. Even people who are overweight can be “relatively” healthy – especially in comparison to many people who live with any one of many debilitating chronic illnesses.
If you can’t get out of bed, you can’t DANCE! Maybe you can shimmy while laying down…if you’re lucky. Maybe you can fling your arms around, or jiggle your feet…again, if you’re lucky. But step-kick-step-kick-lunge??? For me? Nope…not even sorta.
So I am nobody, and I think that might be a good thing. I don’t fit, and this helps me realize that everybody is nobody, and no one is “anyone”. In my quest to understand my own mind and motivations, and maybe help other people along the way, I fully engage with the concept that variety is the spice of life.
Good Mental Health is Spicy
Regarding mental health, variety is essential. Being flexible in our approach to our own mental health means we don’t fail if something doesn’t work for us, even though our cousin swore it was THE CURE that works for everybody. Author Robert G. Allen is often quoted as saying “There is no failure, only feedback.” Feedback – useful information that can help us change our behavior to get a different result: THAT thing worked a little, this thing worked really well, that other thing, no benefit at all.
Those of us that live our lives coping with depression or anxiety or other mental health issues would do well to remember this concept. That way, we can build a spice rack of sorts – options for ourselves, strategies for dealing when a “works for everybody” solution doesn’t work for us. There is NO “one size fits all” approach to mental health – not even for the same individual. Sometimes what worked last week for this issue may not work this week – so it’s good to have options.
Let’s relish our wildly divergent and spicy selves, and celebrate the awareness that “not fitting” can help us develop flexibility and creativity. Just like everyone else, I see the world through my own filters. However, I find it useful to remind myself that my filters are not THE filters, my truth not THE truth: therefore, their truth may not be mine, and what worked for them may not work for me…which is not the end of the journey, merely information – or feedback.
Adding Variety to Depression and Anxiety
It helps me to remember that there are many options for how to get through this day or this week. Pain or depression or anxiety can make things feel like what is happening RIGHT NOW is all that there is…but how things are right now is NOT how things will always be. Heck, this day’s experience of depression or anxiety won’t even be exactly what it’s been before. From this, we can know that we can feel differently and we can try different things, in part because we don’t always “fit” and have had to learn to be fluid in our resilience.
While we all may have many things in common, we are also all unique. You may or may not be part of the “everybody” in a specific context…and if you find that you DON’T fit the “one size fits all”, or you can’t do that activity that “anybody” can do…find comfort knowing that although you may be unique, you are not alone.
You are somebody who belongs to the tribe, even if you are not common. Whether in your choices about healthy food, or your clothing, or your job, or your mental health strategies…just keep trying until you find what works for you. Remember:
There is no failure, only feedback.