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include Lord knows what: dizziness, vomiting, back pain, itchiness, and sudden bowel movement. I can handle itchy—but a sudden bowel movement?  I don’t think so.

Another thing! The diseases are described so generally we start to think we might have them. Then what?  Then it’s the medicine. What if the nasty bowel slippage hits us in the checkout line?

What’s the point? The point is when you get sucked into the TV diagnosis and buy the new medicine to control what you think are your “symptoms”, you could end up filling your pants, metaphorically speaking. So, living well between your ears, is about trying to prevent that, not so much at the physical level but at the psychological level.

Imagine if you moved to another country and you didn’t know the language and couldn’t read the writing. You’d get lost. You’d be confused. You’d feel more stress. Your life would be less than 100% satisfying. Likewise, having greater familiarity with the language and concepts of psychology is helpful when life is not going so well, and we are striving to live well between our ears.  

To live well between your ears means your mind is at peace not racing from thought to thought and doubt to doubt. You feel prepared, confident, and comfortable in your surroundings. You are at your best and not worried or afraid.  Your emotions are in check and your thoughts are positive. It’s when you are clear about where you are going and you have a plan to get there. The plan will change, they always do, but it doesn’t matter because you trust yourself to always adapt and move forward.  In short, it’s about maintaining a good feeling in your head, between your ears. 

I don’t have answers, just have thoughts. Some may be helpful, some may not. The thought for this week: Living well between your ears is easier when we learn some language or concepts to understand the way we feel.  

Here’s an appropriate concept for this time of year.  It stems from research on two types of cognitive styles: field dependency and field independency first measured by two psychologists, Witkin and Asch in 1948. Field dependent people rely more on outside cues from the environment. Field independent people rely more on bodily sensations or internal cues. 

For example, people who are field dependent have more trouble maintaining their balance when skiing in white out conditions because they can’t see the external cues such as the angle of descent, the trees, and the bumps. Similarly, in a blinding blizzard don’t let the field dependent guy drive. He’ll be looking for cues that are impossible to see. On the other hand, the field independent guy will rely more on internal cues such as wind gusts sensed through the steering wheel and bodily sensations of moving left or right. He has a better chance of staying out of the ditch.  

These two cognitive styles are present in all of us to varying degrees.   Some people may be more one than the other. Neither is better than the other and they aren’t a disease or something to worry about.

But what if you didn’t know about this difference in cognitive style?  After discovering your buddy never fell when skiing in a snowstorm while you couldn’t ski ten feet without falling you might have concluded there was something wrong with you—maybe a neurological disorder!  Isn’t it better to know it is normal and not a disorder? You certainly don’t need medicine and its trouser-filling side effects. erA

The moral of this story:  There may be a good explanation for the symptoms you think you have. Inform yourself before you swallow the latest medicine and live well between your ears. 

Copyright © 2011 by Doug Spencer