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#WeStayLearning Issue #016: Symptoms Versus Root Cause

#WeStayLearning Issue #016: Symptoms Versus Root Cause
Here’s a story for you:
Last week, I fell very ill. At first, I thought it was the flu, so I started treating myself for flu symptoms. I took vitamins, ate fruits and vegetables, and drank smoothies. In addition, I got a nasal inhaler and Strepsils for the catarrh and sore throat. In summary, my body went the whole ride, but I kept doing everything right to treat this flu, yet after two and half days, I still was not getting better.
By the third day, I felt considerably worse. Everything I was doing to boost my immune system seemed not to work. And then, to take it a step further, I started having a terrible headache. I had never had a headache that severe in my life before. It was so bad that I couldn’t lift my head or open my eyes, but I somehow managed to take Ibuprofen. In the moments before the painkiller kicked in, I started to think, “Oh my God, is this how people get headaches and just die?”. Lol, dramatic much? I know, but that’s how bad the headache was. Eventually, I fell asleep; but then I woke up drenched in sweat. I was like, did I have a fever in my sleep, or is this even Covid? Either way, I remembered reading that flu (or Covid) symptoms usually last a week, so I figured I’d feel better if I kept at my immune-boosting activities.
The next day, at about 5 pm, I told a friend about the headache the day before, and she asked, “Are you sure you don’t have malaria?”. It felt silly at first. “Where would malaria come from?” I replied because we live in the UK. “But you just came back from Lagos”, she pointed out, and I was like, “gosh, that’s true”. I had not considered malaria at all. And you know what?
She was correct; it was malaria!
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I got Malaria drugs – Amatem – but decided to wait until midnight before taking the first dose (as the second has to be within 8 hours), so I wouldn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night for the next dose. However, by 10 pm, it felt like I was getting worse. By this time, I was visibly shivering, and my head was aching, so I took it. After that, I didn’t mind having to wake up at 6 am to get the next dose.
Not too long after taking the Amatem and paracetamol, I stopped shivering. I slept and woke up the next morning feeling much better – no cough, no fever – than I had in days. I took the next dose, and by afternoon, I knew something had changed. I was going to be okay.
If reading this experience seems dramatic, it’s because it was very dramatic for me. I hadn’t been that sick in at least two years. But more, this experience reminded me of how we sometimes navigate life.
We deal with symptoms instead of root causes. We handle many things that come our way at face value. But until we get to the root of the problem and deal with it, we never get better. It’d be tough to change until you understand why you do the things you do or think the way you think. Why are you very frugal with money? Why do you work so hard? Why do you get high every day? Why do you have more than one job? These are not even bad things, because who am I to moralize anybody’s choices, but why do you do them?
Having control of your life and your actions and living freely only comes with clarity and understanding of who you are and why you do what you do.
And knowing your why’s (knowing the root cause) doesn’t mean you have to change, but it means you have better control of your actions. For example, I understood my relationship with money better when I understood why I treat money the way I do. It came from watching my mum while growing up. After identifying that, I was able to figure out what I wanted to change and what I wanted to keep with my money relationship.
So think about it: why are you currently unhappy with work? Is it the pay, the people, the company, or the career path isn’t for you? Do you push people away because you’re scared of abandonment? Are you jealous because you feel inferior to others? Why do you act the way you do?
If something is happening in your life, and you’re trying to deal with it at the surface, you might spend more time than necessary on the problem.
Recently, I told a friend that I did a few things I didn’t like, and I know that the way to fix it was by first stepping forward and taking responsibility for my actions while deciding not to repeat them. But more importantly, I knew I had to go back and work on myself to treat the triggers that caused me to react the way I did. The actions were merely a symptom. The trigger was the root cause. Thinking in this way requires a great deal of introspection and honesty. It involves asking yourself tough questions.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while taking the right pill (treating the root cause) will eventually make you feel better (the best), in some cases, you may feel worse first. When I have menstrual cramps, for example, I take Felvin; but I have come to accept that if I am on level 8 on pain right now, once I take the Felvin, the pain elevates to level 15 for one or two hours before the pain goes away and I’m able to go about my day – as if nothing happened. So treating the root cause doesn’t always mean it will make you feel good immediately, like the malaria drug I took, but you’d get better eventually.
Doing the hard thing of finding the root cause, finding the why’s behind your choices and actions, and dealing with your trauma can feel very terrible and challenging – at first. But in the long run, it is worth it, and that’s something to think about. That’s something to thrive for; long-term 360 growth.
Have a great weekend.

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