How many times have we heard 'It's all in your head?' and we are expected to just 'suck it up' and live our lives as if nothing has ever happened? How often can we really talk about our mental and emotional well-being? How open can we even be when it comes to these topics? For some people, seeing a therapist means they're crazy.
TAKING CARE OF OUR MIND & EMOTIONS
Some people think seeking help means admitting they're losers, and believe me, I've heard this with my own ears. For others, this category of wellness does not even exist in their vocabulary. There are also those in between, those who know this issue exists and understand how important it is to take care of our mental health but still somehow would not do anything to improve their situation. Those who understand this issue and actually try to take care of themselves in ways they can are few and far between, even in this day and age when we are supposed to be more aware of it. So I cannot emphasize enough on how important it is to take care of our mind and emotions. Besides, why do some people think just because the problem is in the head it can't be real?
WHAT IS "REAL"?
I'm not going to start the philosophical question of what is 'real'? So let's agree that here, when I use the word 'real', I mean it exists in some way, shape or form. You see, for some people, if they can't see or touch something, then it doesn't exist. An interesting logic, I find. Try touching or 'seeing' wi-fi signals or radio wave! We, humans, feel things and think all the time, and thoughts and emotions are also forms of energy! They can affect us. The way we feel about things can affect how we think and sometimes what we think about can trigger certain feelings in us, too. Try thinking of your favourite food and see how you react to that thought, and then try imagining a slice of lemon in your mouth, see how you react to it. Now let's just think about the mechanism of stress. I'm sure by now everybody knows how it works and what happens when stress mechanism or our fight-or-flight response is triggered. And what triggers that response? Our thoughts! When we perceive something as a threat, the stress mechanism kicks in to ensure our survival, except we're not running away from, or fighting a wild animal in our modern society, but the mechanism still works the same way. The same response is triggered, the same chemicals are released, our bodies react the same way as our ancestors who had to fight wild animals reacted. There is so much information on this topic out there. There are many articles on what can happen to our bodies or how we eventually become physically ill if we are constantly in this triggered state.
You can even find lists of illnesses which can be caused by stress alone, so I'm not going in depth with it here. However, the same stress mechanism can also be triggered when we feel excitement and suddenly, that is not harmful anymore. But what is, then, the difference? The difference is our perception! The same chemicals are released but if we perceive it as an excitement instead of stress, we take a whole different path and positive 'stress' or challenges can be beneficial to us. Again, there is plenty of information on this topic out there already and I'm sure a lot of us are aware of this. In fact, stress is not my main focus in this blog post. What I intend to share with you is what else I see that a lot of people overlook when they think of mental (and emotional) health. Did you know that your mental health can affect your decision making? I've read some articles recently on how people with mental health issues make decisions. Anxiety disrupts the decision-making. Children are less motivated to study at school. Actually, I came across an article on children without mental health issues but with parents who have those issues, they seem to make their decisions similar to people with mental health issues and they tend be a lot less motivated than other children. And it's not just children. How motivated are we to do things or even go out when we hit rock bottom? Even when we know that going out and being active can do us good but in that state of mind, those seem to be the last things we want to do. Worse, if someone has been depressed for an extended period of time, they might already identify themselves with their issues and might not want to improve the state of their mind for fear of losing their identity. Which means, some people can stay stuck there for a very long time.
Let's look at this whole issue from a different perspective. When there is one stressed out or unhappy person, how many people around them become worried or unhappy, too? When there's one severely ill person in a family, how many around them also feel the pain? Maybe not physically but emotionally and mentally or even energetically? By the way, how many angry people do you see out there both on and offline? How many children get unhealthy and unhappy energy imprints from their parents? How many children are born already stressed because they inherited the genes from their stressed parents? By the way, this can be passed on to at least 3 generations, according to some studies. You can read more about genetic mutation caused by stress if you're interested, it's quite interesting and worrisome at the same time, seeing how more and more people become stressed in our modern society but a lot of them do not seek help. So how much suffering is really out there? A lot more that we might want to admit. So people become stressed, unhappy, angry and eventually they react. You can have those people who shunt out the whole world and their loved ones can only watch with pain and frustration. And you also have those who cause troubles to others by becoming aggressive or violent. If the violence reaches a dangerous level, then something might be done. These people might get treatments (or punishment if they commit a crime). But what about before that? What about when the aggression hasn't turned into violence yet? Would anyone do anything about it? Where is the line? And why do we pretend that nothing exists until it reaches the critical level? Why can't we tackle the issue before it turns into something serious or irreversible? And is this still not real?
WORKING WITH OWN FEELING & EMOTIONS
Let's discuss one more thing, emotions! I'm sure we have all experienced when our moods effects our thought patterns. We get upset and we think negative thoughts. This can be a temporary situation. Something happens, we get upset, then we wonder about it or negative thoughts cross our minds but the we get over it after a while. But what if this constantly reoccurs? What if the person doesn't know how to work with his or her own feelings? What happens when it gets more complicated? Take jealousy for example. You can feel jealous of someone about something but you can work with your feeling and process it out of your system after a while, or you can be jealous because deep down inside, you feel an empty hole, you feel you are not enough, you think you are not enough and let's say you get into a relationship and if you don't work with that jealousy properly that feeling can lead you into thinking that your partner will find someone better and eventually leave you because you not good enough and you are afraid of it happening. I think we all know this story very well. The jealous person reacts upon his or her own issue, becomes controlling, nagging, jealous for no good reason and then the relationship suffers from it (or worse). I'm not saying this is the only way or occasion jealousy expresses itself, this example only shows one way jealousy, among others, directly affects your mind and what it can cause if left undealt with. There are so many other emotions and factors that affect our mind, our thought patterns, and lead us to react one way or another. What I'm trying to say is, look at the suffering of people. Look at the cause of many problems in the world, how many of them actually stem from what we think and how we feel? In short, how often is the suffering of humanity caused by our own minds? Is this still not real?
SEE IT FIRST! You cannot solve a problem that you do not see, just like you can't, and most likely won't, clean your home if you don't see the dust and dirt. If you think it's not real and it doesn't exist, then you won't even bother to think about it. You need to see it first and when you see it for what it is, the path of healing can begin. Just because it's all in your head doesn't mean that it's not real. It is very real and we see what our mental state can cause in and around us all the time. I personally believe we really should work on our mental well-being. If we can become happier and we suffer less, that is one less person to spread suffering and one more to spread joy and inspire others. And just like with everything else, it starts with you, with us.