Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
News, Views and Tips on Psychological Health and Well-Being
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By Nathan W Gates
Nathan W. Gates will be discussing topics related to health, wellness and psychological well-being. Nathan is a licensed clinical professional counselor at Spoon River Counseling & ...
Living Well

Nathan W. Gates will be discussing topics related to health, wellness and psychological well-being. Nathan is a licensed clinical professional counselor at Spoon River Counseling & Wellness in Canton.  He also teaches, speaks, writes and, when time allows, fly fishes for any species that will chase a fly.  The fishing is often neglected, as he also has two young children with his wife, Emily.


Learn more about his counseling practice here: Spoon River Counseling & Wellness


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To learn more about his experience and credentials, visit his LinkedIn profile


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By Nathan Gates
Oct. 14, 2013 5 p.m.

Colloquial wisdom defines insanity as:
Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.
This is certainly not a clinical definition, and many would argue that it is overly simple. But one of the great merits of this particular phrase is that it puts the emphasis squarely where it belongs; on a person's actions. Extend this phrase a bit and it is implied that, to get different results, one must do something different.
This is self-evidently true, yet it is amazing how tenaciously most of us resist actually doing something different. Most of us, myself very much included, would rather find a quick, relatively painless way to feel better than to go through the effort of making significant life changes. This is nothing to be ashamed of, and is completely understandable. If you are busy and stressed, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo gives you a few minutes of mindless respite, well, who can blame you.
A friend of mine the other day posted on his Facebook wall, "I wish my brain had an off switch". Me too. There are times in which the stresses, worries, anxieties, overwhelm and general cares of the world feel like too much. An off switch, or even a pause button, would be immensely useful.
But the truth is, I have an off switch. Lots of them. Perhaps I eat a bit too much, get lost in YouTube, go to the Y to shoot hoops, or spend inordinate amounts of time trolling the news websites. Any of these things will distract me from my present circumstances, and give me a bit of a break.
Great, right? Maybe- it depends. You could argue whether distraction and avoidance are good or bad things, but I am not really interested in the answer to that question. What is important is this- how well does the distraction and avoidance work, as measured against your own goals, values and interests?
Is there a cost associated with your off switch? If not, then there is no problem. If so, then it is important to determine the cost, and choose whether the cost is worth it. Otherwise, we are likely to continue to engage in the same patterns of behavior, day in and day out, without seeing the kinds of changes we'd like to see.
The thing to determine here is not whether a given course of action is understandable, correct or easy, but whether our actions are supporting the things that are important, meaningful and valuable to us. Then we can make an informed choice between a short-term fix that may help us feel better but ultimately leaves us unsatisfied and a longer term course of action that may be more difficult, but is likely to be more fulfilling. Option A is so tempting, it is easy to get caught up in doing it again, and again, and again.....

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