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Who Should Decide What’s Best For You?

I’ve been doing a lot of work in recent years helping people create their own personal vision of emotional health.

The media and mental health professionals paint one sort of picture, one dominated by the medical model, but there is a more true-to-life picture, one that I’ll be painting for you in this column. I hope that picture interests you—and helps you!

Millions of people have fallen prey to the “medical model” way of thinking, self-diagnosing themselves (or being diagnosed) with an “attention deficit disorder” if they are bored at work and can’t concentrate, with “depression” if their relationship is making them sad, with an “anxiety disorder” if they are feeling naturally anxious because they’re unemployed or suddenly have to care for an aging parent.

In this column we’re going to think about emotional health differently. Rather than focusing on “symptom reduction,” which is the stated goal of mental health providers, we are going to focus on actual “distress reduction”—on how you can make the necessary and reasonable changes that will fundamentally reduce your experience of distress.

Second, we’re going to look at how you can deal most effectively with stressors that simply can’t be made to go away and with distress that is your portion of living. Our species was not made to live stress-free and distress-free. Who sold us the bill of goods that such things were possible? Your goal will be to reduce as much distress as possible and then live well despite whatever distress remains. Doesn’t that make more sense than supposing that a pill can turn your life into a fantasy of ease?

I’ll present you with lots of practical things to try. Just as importantly, I’ll present you with an updated picture of emotional health, one that puts you back in the driver’s seat of your own life. I hope that you’ll want to subscribe to this column and join me for this exploration. You can be much more in charge of your emotional health than you might think. Let me show you how that’s possible!