“I feel CRAZY” is a statement I’m hearing more often than usual….not just from clients, but from friends and colleagues as well. I want to consider a little more positive — or at least an alternative — twist to what might be going on, so consider the following:
Sometimes the reason you feel crazy is because you are in a crazy situation. Not feeling crazy may be the thing that means you really are, and that makes feeling crazy the only possible SANE response.
Please read that statement again, and reflect. The meaning? Sometimes it truly is NOT YOU! Sometimes it’s the situation(s) you find yourself in — more specifically, it’s THE SYSTEM.
Think broadly about systems– the family, the organization where you work, your city government, the schools, the churches, the state and the US government — these are all SYSTEMS….collectives of individuals intended to live and work together to construct healthy functional lives — personally, educationally, professionally… And when things aren’t going well, many of us have a tendency to ask “what’s wrong with me?” Or with what I”m doing, or with the failure to understand and make a difference. My point is: we often fail to look at what’s going wrong with the SYSTEM.
This is not to let us off the hook for individual responsibility and specifically not to place blame. It’s rather a suggestion to strike a healthy balanced analysis. What’s happening in any or all of the systems you interact in/with? Are they healthy? Functional? Getting the job done? Purposeful? Resolving conflicts intelligently? I think, unfortunately, many of us have to give a negative score on many of those questions about systems — from families to organizations…
If you read my blogs on any regular basis, you know I think systems are “broken.” And when we live and work in systems that aren’t functioning well — especially not fairly — we pay a high price in our well-being. So when things feel “off” I’m suggesting you do a more balanced individual and system analysis. Do you really understand the systems you live and work in? That means: who is in charge? Who makes the decisions? How am I impacted by the hierarchy? How effective are the people in charge? And the most important question to me is ARE women seen as equal partners with men?
The question about female – male equality is base line…essential for healthy systems. The reality is that most systems actually define and regard women as powerless — less than. You don’t have to agree with that and since you likely ARE or know a powerful woman, you understand exceptions. Those are INDIVIDUALS. As a group, women are not seen as powerful. And if you want to read about 46 amazing women who have “broken through” see the most recent TiME MAGAZINE. Only 46? No, but the highlighting of exceptions can be seen as how imbalance throws all systems off base — from the family to congress. And the imbalance in power impacts men negatively as well….that might be a harder conversation, but give it some thought.
So back to the point. Would the healthiest and smartest person you know, if “dropped into” the life you find feeling crazy, start to feel just as crazy after a few months? Take a step back and consider the problems you encounter as possibly “system related” — that’s if you really want to stop callling yourself crazy. Then ask: What is your role in the system you find stressful? Is there something you can do to impact healthy change? Is there a way for you to achieve a “balanced” system and self analysis and then determine what you could possibly do to both help with change and take care of yourself? For many people right now, life is feeling far too challenging …thus the label “crazy” — the question: could every individual find a way to step up? Perhaps that’s too idealistic. Perhaps not.
If you want to read more about systems, see my book: RELEASE FROM POWERLESSNESS: TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE! And always feel free to ask me questions.