By Jennifer Newman, PhD
As a therapist I am in the unique position of getting to listen to many people reflect and talk about their lives. Often I am confronted with examples or ideas that seem to defy my own held beliefs. When this happens, I find myself reflecting on what I believe and why. This is a part of my job that I love because I am always learning -- learning something new about the patient in front of me, the world, or a new perspective on humanity, psychology, or myself.
A recent example of this came up in my work. Have you ever heard someone say, “You can move or go somewhere else, but your problems go with you?” I have. I think I have held this thought as a truth myself. And, logically, it does make sense. If you are depressed and you live in New York, and you decide to go to Canada, wouldn’t you still be depressed? I mean, maybe for a day or two you would be distracted, but wouldn’t it ultimately come back? You are still the same person in any environment, right?
So here I am, thinking about this as another one of my patients has made the decision – in the face of unrelenting depression – to get on a plane and go. I realize I have seen many people in my practice defy the common logic that one’s problems will follow them wherever they go. By tuning into their personal intuition, they decide to move. To get up and leave. To change their lifestyle dramatically. To change where and with whom they live. Patients who have wrestled with anxiety and depression, who have felt stuck, hopeless and unsure. I have witnessed their struggles and seen something incredible emerge in these geographical relocators. I have seen years’ worth of anxiety slowly resolve. I have seen fears go away. I have seen depression lift. I have seen new friendships emerge. New careers unfold. New hairstyles. New relationships. New fitness. New wardrobes.
I sit and think. I listen and watch. What happened?
Now let me be clear: I am not suggesting that the answer to mental health is to put your finger on a globe and pack. I also do not think this works for everyone. Some people make that move and still feel as depressed as ever. However, all I am saying is listen to your gut. Is it telling you something that resonates with this writing? Is there somewhere you would rather live? A person with whom you would rather be living? A new situation you have not afforded yourself to envision?
I encourage you to defy logic. Maybe, just maybe, you give it a try. And, as with one of my geographical relocators, in your travels you may find yourself .
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