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Different Strokes for Different Folks

08 Mar, 2021
Different Strokes for Different Folks

Whilst we are all unique in our own right there are some similar character types, we all know exist. We are probably one of those types if we are really honest with ourselves. There’s scientific research on certain personality types as well as psychological types, but for the purposes of this article I want to share some classic character types when it comes to the wonderful all encapsulating term of ‘Wellbeing’. Wellbeing is one of those catch all terms a bit like ‘Mental Health’ or the ‘Youth of Today’. The details of these terms are varied, and this contributes to people’s typical responses when they hear them.

In our experience in the wellbeing space working with a growing number of people in all industries, sectors, and different settings, there are a number of character types we have experienced. Here are a few.

  • The Labeller
  • The Non-believer
  • The Rollercoaster
  • The Busy Fool
  • The ‘Yeah But…’
  • The Guru

Due to the nature of each of these characters being so unique this article will focus on the first one with the others spotlighted in following articles.

‘The Labeller’

Labels seem to exist in almost every aspect of life. Whether this is an age demographic, or geographical culture. Then you have groups and tribes of people who share similar interests or labels given to communities that have other similarities. The sad reality is that labels are all too often born out of judgements most of which are adverse. I encourage you to think of a number of labels you use to describe people and consider how these labels came about.

Now consider the label of ‘Mental Health’ ! What does this label mean to you ? How would you describe this descriptive term ?

All too often the term mental health conjures up the idea of someone being taken away in the back of a van wearing a straight jacket and being heavily medicated. Or it is considered only for those ‘weak minded’ people who are not strong enough to deal with life ? Think of the stigma associated with a colleague who returns to the workplace having had some extended time away to help them deal with a ‘Mental Health’ issue. How are they viewed by others ?

Thankfully we are becoming more aware of the fact that everyone has mental health as we all have physical health, but there is still a great deal of adversity associated with this label. Interestingly there seems to be less adversity associated with the terms ‘Mental Fitness’ ‘Mental Agility’ and ‘Mental Arithmetic’ so why so with ‘Mental Health’ ? Maybe time will adjust this perception, but what about now ? There are billions of people all over the world who are experiencing similar patterns of behaviour based on how they perceive episodes in life. Whether this is to do with changes in life circumstances, concern over their health and security, dealing with bereavement, coping with adversity, self-doubt or just growing up, we all experience situations that challenge our way of being. We cannot wait until the term ‘Mental Health’ is globally accepted as a real thing that everyone has because far too many people will suffer. The term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ has become a widely acceptable element of our personality so maybe ‘Emotional Health’ is a positive way forward to enable more people to accept assistance and to focus on flourishing instead of suffering ?

So, let’s look at ‘The Labeller’. This individual would hate to be labelled with a ‘Mental Health issue’ as they would associate this with being ‘Mental’. Anything ‘Wellbeing’ is all new age mumbo jumbo like yoga and spirituality.

  • “I’m not Mental” !
  • “I’m not one of those people”
  • “I don’t need Therapy”

They have a very one-dimensional view of things and in effect they experience a number of thinking traps namely ‘Labelling’, ‘All or Nothing’ and ‘Mind Reading’. These thinking traps contribute to a set of behaviours that are often detrimental to themselves and others. They fear what others may think if they were to attend a wellbeing workshop or seek coaching. They typically seem to care so much about what other’s may think that they become a slave to living a lie as opposed to living their life. When working with ‘The Labeller’ we encourage them to forget ‘Mental Health’ and ‘Wellbeing’ in fact all labels, just focus on the individual. Understand more about the individual, what they have experienced recently and how they feel now. I often find that they label themselves as much, if not more than they label others. Understanding the source of the labelling is a great way forward. It helps to lose the stigma and approach this with the realisation that everyone has good and less good episodes in life and whilst there are degrees of coping and recovering, we all need a sense of resilience to maximise on the opportunities before us. How does your culture work to understand individuals and provide proactive means for them to help themselves ? What do you have in place when a colleague asks "What About Me" ? 

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