Several years ago, I was having a discussion with a friend about why juvenile offenders tend to spend lots of time in prison throughout their lives. I was of the opinion that many juvenile offenders fall victim to the factors that lead to poor life choices: poverty, lack of positive role models, instability in the home, etc. At that point, my friend simply said, "Nope. It's because of their life story." Confused, I asked him what he meant. He explained that young people who go to prison begin to define themselves as "prisoners," or "criminals." This self-vision becomes so strong that it permanently ingrains itself within their psyche. Once they leave prison, the prisoner mindset stays with them. Students who study non-stop and get good grades will continue to do so because they have defined themselves as "studious", and the same concept applies here. Positive or negative, your definition of yourself will create what you are, and continue to become.
This conversation came back to me this week when I made the acquaintance of a woman whose sole definition of herself is "sick". No, she is not a patient of mine. In fact, I have my doubts that I could help her, even if she were. She has the image of herself as a "sick" person so deeply ingrained within her mind, that her thoughts have transformed into physical ailments. These ailments are transient, depending on her focus. Though years of envisioning herself as a weak, sick person, she has created this reality. Many would call her a hypochondriac, or a faker-but I am quite sure there is far more to her story. Perhaps she is clinging to being sick, because she feels that it is all she has. I don't know her story, and I'm not sure I want to-each time I speak with her, I feel myself cycling down into a funk. Her negativity sucks you in and blackens the air around you, the moment she begins to speak. I can only hope, for her sake, that one day she comes into the light and realizes that all of this darkness and illness and negativity is self-created and self-perpetuated. Perhaps, at that point, she can begin to find her way back to health.