It’s All About Doing .
It’s All About Doing “Do or not do. There is no try.” –Yoda
Taking action is a very different experience than thinking about taking action. Doing requires physical action. Thinking, at some level, is required for doing; doing in turn, sculpts and alters our neurophysiology. The physical and chemical structures of our brains are shaped according to what we do. Our sense of ourselves, our self-confidence, and our skills are formed by what we do and do not do. Even painful habits can sometimes become deeply ingrained.
My clients have difficulty with doing. They have severe imbalances in their occupational lives. Many of them have way too much time on their hands. They spend too much time sleeping, or in passive leisure such as watching TV. They are so chronically bored so much of the time that they think of boredom as a normal state, and become anxious whenever an opportunity to go someplace new or to mingle with people outside of their usual small sphere presents itself. They become reclusive and begin to feel and act in ways that others perceive as unusual. They self-soothe with over-use of video games, alcohol, or other habits. They feel unsure of themselves, and others doubt their capabilities, as well.
How can we help someone who is stuck in a cycle of limited activity and purpose? The answer is both simple and sophisticated: by helping them to do more things, and by doing so to slowly and progressively reignite their confidence, curiosity, and zest for activity.
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? It sometimes is, but often it’s not. Many times this process requires expertise in puzzling out which activities are the right fit and level of challenge for this individual, and what environments will best support success.
And then there is the issue of the relationship. Initiating new activity after a long period of solitude requires courage and trust. A therapeutic alliance with someone who is from outside the familiar small circle of family and friends may be what is needed to break away from entrenched habits of inactivity and sameness.
Here is the good news: over and over, I see people making great strides, given an individualized and well-paced series of opportunities and supports. As they begin to do small activities that are outside of their comfort zones, and as those who they care about react positively, they begin to blossom. I can honestly say that most of my clients grow beyond what they ever thought was possible when we first started our work together.
Am I wizard? No. I am an occupational therapist, and I absolutely know that personally meaningful activity is as essential to health and happiness as good food and water.