How flexible and adaptable are you are as a personality?
For mental health professionals, flexibility and adaptability are two of the clear indicators of good mental health. When we observe you, we are looking for how well you can adapt to changing environments and circumstances.
A lack of the ability to adapt and be flexible in life is a clear sign of poor mental health.
Here are a couple of scenarios that this can play out:
- If you have a diabetes-producing diet yet refuse to change that diet when it is pointed out to you by a clinician that the outcome will clearly be more poor health, you are not adapting. You may argue that diet has nothing to do with your condition and defend that position by saying that you knew someone who changed their diet and it made no difference. You may even quote doctors with poor education around diabetes as well as nutrition. You might dig your heels in and insist you are right, even when your health deteriorates.
- You may suffer from anxiety or depression and be advised to change the way you live your life, but you do not want to do that. You may say the way you live your life is your culture, even though it is making you sick. Instead of changing your life, you may end up taking endless cocktails of drugs that do not offer you any long-term solutions, even though you profess to want to change and be happy.
Lack of flexibility and adaptability is a form of denial.
Life constantly changes, frequently beyond your control, which means you need to change in order to be able to survive and prosper. If you fail to do that, you will not be equipped to do well in the new circumstances.
You may, however, constantly deceive yourself to hang on to what you know, even when what you are doing leads to disaster after disaster.
What you were doing before your previous circumstances may be wholly impropriate for the new situation and you may put yourself and others in danger by failing or refusing to adapt.
You may perceive that what you were doing is the safest and best option, even when evidence shows that nothing could be further from the truth.
People with good mental health accept that nothing is forever and it is important to change in many ways during your lifetime far beyond what you may previously perceived would be necessary.
Of course, sometimes that change may require you to accept that you might be wrong about something or it may be initially painful to make the changes until you get used to them.
In fact, many people continue to do something that is not working for them their whole life because they do not want to experience that initial discomfort of change.
The thing about that discomfort, however, is that it disappears as the new becomes normal and you begin to embrace the new way of thinking, acting and behaving differently.
What you need to do to be flexible and adaptable:
- Accept that nothing stays the same
- Embrace that the idea that sometimes you may need to learn new ways of living
- Be prepared to often step outside your perceived comfort zone
- Find people to teach you how to live differently and respect their expertise
- Be prepared to learn what you need to learn to make that change
- Give a good amount of time to change your way of thinking, acting and behaving