Stop Reading Stories That Tell You How You Feel

Be careful you aren’t taking on a diagnosis that’s not for you

FRED DUST

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I read an article in the New Yorker where they interviewed a noted communication expert on “why we’re feeling so much social anxiety as we reopen.”

You know the ones I’m talking about, right? The plethora of pieces showing up that say you’re languishing, afraid, or experiencing PTSD.

Maybe you are experiencing one of these feelings. Or maybe you’re even going through all three. But be careful you aren’t letting a magazine or “expert” set the script in your head.

Let me make it clear how utterly serious I am about this. About 6 weeks ago, when yet another languishing piece showed up in the New York Times, we had a friend over who was spiralling bad. She was absolutely sure that what she was experiencing was indeed languishing and she had zero idea of how to stop it so she could move forward with her life.

The spiral stopped, however, when we reminded her that she is moving forward with her life and she’s been doing so this whole time. She’s finished her first documentary which is winning awards. She’s got a couple major clients. She’s started dating again. And she’s moved into a better building. In short, her life is in full bloom.

“What about that seems like languishing?” We asked.

And she snapped out of it.

The NYT continued on with the term and used it to describe an Amy Adam’s film and published multiple pieces on how not to languish. But remember, it’s called a hook for a reason — and hopefully you see the apparent grift in the concept.

So yesterday, when my husband and I woke up hungover from the week of seeing friends and our puppy had lapsed into snuggle mode and I picked up the article about the anxiety of reopening, I was primed for annoyance.

Not only that, but all evidence seemed to be contrary. And this isn’t only my own personal experience. But numerous conversations with mental health professionals indicated that they were seeing more love and more joy in their encounters with their patients.

In short, people seemed ready to be back.

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FRED DUST

Founder of Dust&Co, senior design advisor for Rockefeller Foundation & former global managing partner of IDEO — fan of words and good conversation.