But how do we know? And I’m not even talking about others…I’m keeping it close to the chest and wondering how we can be sure we are doing no harm to ourselves?
Let’s first assume we don’t want to harm ourselves… we’re not consciously trying to undermine our own health, happiness or success. We are not masochists, Chickens, plucking ourselves to feel the pinch. No, no…
Let’s assume we have the best intentions (oh what a slippery catfish word)...let’s assume our shared human quest is to climb Maslow’s colorful mountain…
I’m a lucky duck, Chickens…and pardon my imposition of digital intimacy for a minute…to illustrate:
I (and 2.3 million other people) live with MS, multiple sclerosis. My husband…who is, ya know…kind of an okay guy…often sends me MS news blurbs or headlines…If you’re not familiar with MS…just know that it’s kind of like the Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster of chronic conditions…hard to spot, hard to anticipate and looks a little different each time it appears.
Anyway…recently he sent…40 Foods That Reduce Your Multiple Sclerosis Risk…with the exceptions of caviar, salmon roe (what??), and anchovies…I eat the other 30-some foods pretty regularly.
Obviously, my risk hasn’t been reduced…that ship has sailed…so by limiting my diet…blending up kale, grilling cod, and noshing cruciferous veggies…am I climbing, losing footing, or just holding ground?
Oddly enough, another article sent by my colleague, KA, had me revisiting this dilemma (excerpted from Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado)…
Tirado claims: Because our lives seem so unstable, poor people are often seen as being basically incompetent at managing their lives. That is, it’s assumed that we’re not unstable because we’re poor, we’re poor because we’re unstable.
If I lose my job because my car gets towed and I can’t afford to pay the fees to recoup it…how do I know if I’m harming or helping myself…what (within my control) have I done to harm or help myself?
- I’m working 2 jobs to put food on the table, roof over our heads. (Help)
- I was towed because I repeatedly parked illegally…perhaps because I was running late…(Harm)
- I opted not to pursue post-secondary education so my employment history is sketchy and I’m living hand-to-mouth (Harm)
- I believe college isn’t for everyone and there is nothing wrong with making an honest living (Help)
- I write a book about my travails (Help)
But are you with me, Chickens? It’s so much gray!
I mean sometimes it’s clear…I studied for a test-I got a better grade (Help). But what about when I study and do not get a better grade? What about when I exercise and not only do I not lose weight…I am diagnosed with some Yeti disease?
The relationship between self-harm and self-help isn’t always easy or apparent or on time.
It’s plodding and risky…and not for those of little faith. But Chickens…collect your eggs…both of harm and help…when our baskets are full…we’ll get together some rainy afternoon over macchiato…and… research publishing houses.