One of the real truths that my wife’s grandmother used to profess is that, “Cada cabeza es u mundo.” Translated, this means that every mind is its own world. She would usually say this when hearing a story about someone who did something so wacky that other people don’t understand. I always agreed with her; her long and fully engaged life brought her insight that I’ve always found quite useful. And really, every single person on this planet is both blessed and cursed with a deep and rich “internal life.” This internal life can either be used as a way to extend our lives for the better or as a way to reinforce unhealthy ways of relating with out external worlds.
There’s a concept in concept in psychodynamic theory called, “reality testing.” Basically, reality testing is a process of determining if our thoughts and feelings align with our external worlds. For example, several of my clients will label themselves as a “loser” or an “idiot” when facing a negative situation. Especially when they’ve relapsed: Clients will begin a cycle of shame with their self-defeating labels. I have spent a lot of energy working with clients on aligning their internal realities with their external circumstances. Together, we go through the circumstance and figure out the actual facts of the situation and attempt to find other potential meanings. In the cases of those clients who relapse and then think of themselves as “losers,” I walk them through the process of their relapse and remind them that relapsing is consistent behavior within Addiction. They aren’t “losers,” they’re just people struggling with as addiction that will take time to figure out and manage.
In our own day-to-day lives, we all tend to exaggerate things a bit sometimes and I really think that’s ok. If we stop and think about all the things that happen inside of our heads throughout the day, it’s no wonder that we can become exhausted. Still, I do think it’s important, especially when we’re beating the crap out of ourselves, to stop and look at all the facts of our circumstances and separate the facts from our feelings and thoughts about the facts such that we can better understand rather than become bogged down in bad juju.
My wife’s grandmother, Pita Quintana, left us close to a year and a half ago. Though she wasn’t formally educated, her insights rival anything I’ve ever read or learned about human behavior. She may not have known terms within the psychological realm, but she knew people and their tendencies. Though she left this physical world, she continues to inform my work and I am thankful to have known her. She was right: Every mind is its own world. I believe we should work on making sure we take care of those worlds.