Life is complicated.
As your Mental Wellness Team we want to remind you that almost all of us have a bunch of stuff that we have had a problem dealing with. Some of us had a very bad childhood, or have felt the sting of rejection, or struggle with self-esteem issues. Most of us deal with self-esteem issues. You may have done some things you are not proud of or made decisions which were, let’s be honest, less than perfect. Anyone who has been alive for a while has been beaten around by life and probably carries a backpack of hurt or pain or loss, grief or failure.
Why is it that we never learned how to deal with emotional issues growing up? I learned a buttload of Geometry and Geography and English but no one ever showed me how to deal with these feelings that are deep inside. Most of us grow up learning how to cope with life from people who don’t really know how to cope with life.
Let’s be honest, dealing with that stuff from your past isn’t easy. Like you, I have heard hundreds of experts groan on about how their system or mindset or new book on sale at Amazon will “transform your life in 8 weeks”. Real mental health clinicians usually take those claims with a grain of salt. Anyone in my field can give you a formula for success and it won’t take 8 weeks.
Knowing the right answers has very little to do with actual change. If you have a major issue with anxiety or depression or abuse or any number of mental challenges, it is going to take work and time. Oh ya,* real change takes time*, and usually lots of it. But with the right tools and a dedication to do whatever it takes, you can begin to experience significant change in just a few months.
One of the reasons change takes time is because of this principle in psychology: Real change begins with changing your mind, not your activities or emotions. Most people want to change their situation or their location or their income or any number of outside things. As I often tell clients, change your mind and your butt will follow. It’s rarely the other way around. There may be little you can do to change those people and problems in your life which constantly try to push you down, and *knowing that is very important*. We have all tried to fix others and eventually we come to realize that at the end of the day, we can only work on ourselves.
As a part of your Mental Health Team I would like to challenge you to *deal with your thoughts*, show you how to practice *taking back control of your impulses, and help you *learn to address your dysfunctional coping skills and thoughts. More on that later.
Hurting people can move forward. You may need to drag your emotions and garbage and racing thoughts, kicking and screaming, back into your control. You will have to fight your own dysfunctional thinking and learn to get control of your mind, battle your obsessions, say no to your desires, and question your own beliefs. This is a great deal of work and pain *but the reward is sanity*, hope, and a shot at a happy life. As the saying goes, *we’re not telling you it’s going to be easy, we’re telling you it will be worth it*.
Don’t be discouraged. These things take time but, before very long, you will begin to see positive results. You only have one precious life and wouldn’t it be amazing if you could learn contentment and wisdom?
There are no shortcuts, contrary to what many people are selling. You can begin today to make your life different. Some people are finished products and have decided to settle for a broken life. Don’t be like those people. To do so is to succumb to bitterness and misery, if not now then soon. So begin right now. Begin small.
Many people work on their mental health like they diet. Every now and then they shake themselves awake and decide to read a book or see someone. These are both very good things but, like most diets, this is a lifestyle change, not a passing fad. As we said months ago, the goal is to become a lifelong learner https://www.facebook.com/notes/excel-martial-arts/becoming-a-lifelong-learner-week-1/1757969434417364. It’s not about one book or one documentary or one more crazy article on the internet about bacon or the ozone or why you should drink 8 glasses of water a day. The journey to mental wellness requires humility and the understanding that there are things I still need to learn https://www.facebook.com/notes/excel-martial-arts/becoming-a-lifelong-learner-week-4-knowing-what-i-do-not-know/1761940290686945, this is not just about great intentions.
Talk to someone. Listen to an audiobook or sit in the sun and pretend to read something good for you. Go back to school. Take on online course. Watch a documentary. Learn enough about your own issues that you gradually change, one experience at a time.
One of the coolest parts about being a counselor is the opportunity to walk alongside people from that first frustrated, hopeless, impossible day; and watch them gradually begin to morph. It may be virtually impossible to see your own change, you live with that mess every day. I get to sit on the outside and watch the genesis take place.
Then one day you walk into my office or table at a coffee shop and it becomes apparent something is different. Neither of us can point to a time or a day when things got this way, it seems to have happened by accident. Most real change, in my experience, doesn’t come from an epiphany or conversion experience. For the rest of us, there is only slogging forward and hoping for the best. And on that day, you suddenly realize something a few of us have noticed for months – you are changed, somehow.