When we get a headache, how often do we reach for paracetamol? When we are running late, how often do we cut corners? When we cut ourselves, how often do we strap a plaster on it and move on?
All of these are examples of symptomatic relief. They don’t actually cure the problem at it’s source. These quick fixes are not necessarily all bad and in the case of the plaster even necessary. The problem comes when we do these things mindlessly and begin to rely on them when it might be wise to probe a little deeper.
“A building is only as strong as its foundations.”
You have a headache because maybe you hadn’t drunk enough water that day, you’ve been staring at the computer too long or it’s time to visit the opticians. You’re running late because maybe you didn’t get to bed on time or you’re overloading yourself with tasks. You cut yourself because maybe you were distracted by your phone, the knife was blunt or you were in a rush.
There can be multiple reasons why things happen and a little reflection can go a long way. Maybe jot down a few instances now. You don’t need to act on them straight away but by becoming mindful of them you become more aware of the choice you make when they occur.
A recent conversation between friends caused me to look at my alarm clock as a form of symptomatic relief. Without a doubt, I rely on my alarm clock to wake me up and coincidentally a cup of coffee. Instead I’m going to try and cultivate a bedtime ritual so I can wind down in the evenings and eventually wake up feeling rested.