Awareness Empowers: Taking Ownership of Mental Health

“I should be stronger,” “I can get through this on my own,” “I can self-help this,” “I can avoid this,” are a few examples of the things we tell ourselves to justify not seeking support.

What is the this? The this is the obstacle that gets in front of or in the way of your goal and/or happiness and the obstacle is different for every one of us. What is the same for all of us is that we are all in need of and empowered by awareness.

Slow down. It is time to be aware. Aware that we need to take care of all parts of ourselves. We will schedule our yearly physical, flu shot, and bi-annual dental appointment, but what is currently in place for our mental health? So many of us walk around in silence, trying to get over the obstacles in our lives while feeling exhausted, anxious, and/or lonely.

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, yet by the time we realize it needs attention we have lost friends, gained weight, maxed out our credit, become disenchanted with our jobs, spouses, and ourselves!

It is time to check in on your mental health. It is time to evaluate what your life looks like. It is time to implement more of what makes you feel most yourself, what makes you feel most alive. If you need more time, create more time. If you need more support, create more opportunities for support. If you do not know where to start or do not have the energy to begin, reach out to a therapist who can collaborate with you and get you closer to living the life you deserve to be living.

I talk a lot about perception with my clients, how you see things and how you experience life are based on what you are extracting from your experiences. If you find yourself having a difficult time extracting the lessons and positives from any obstacle/struggle, you may be experiencing negative sentiment override or a depressive episode. If you find that you are not feeling yourself, it is time to do something different.

What we know for sure: You will be challenged. You will have heartache. You will feel lost. You will feel abandoned. All of these things will happen at various points during your life. It is important to have an awareness and acceptance that OBSTACLES WILL COME. This is a truth that is hard for us to embrace. What we do have is choice. We are empowered by understanding that our mindset is a choice and that there are steps we can take to not only get through a rough period in our lives but to also elevate while doing so.

What else we know for sure: We are all in this together. Mental Health challenges are Universal and touch all of us. The Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix was just released a couple of weeks before Mental Health Awareness day and it helps to shed light on many issues that are relevant today. The movie, although extreme and controversial gives us the perspective of the one and the many. Arthur Fleck, who later becomes The Joker, experienced trauma as a child and has a mental illness. Through the love and nurturing of his mother and finding a job as a clown which he did well, he was able to lead a quiet and simple life. Society crept in and made fun of, taunted, laughed at, and abandoned him partly due to a lack of empathy and understanding. There were times throughout the movie that people/society had an opportunity to do something or say something different that may have changed his path. While there is never an excuse for resorting to violence, the movie does a good job of pointing out the impact of our actions on ourselves and others. The harsh reality is that sometimes we are unintentionally cruel and insensitive and we are unaware of how our actions impact others, as well as ourselves. We all get to take a look at how we are showing up in the world for ourselves, the people we love, and for the collective.

When you get knocked down, what do you do? When there is a hurdle or barrier in the way of getting what you want, how do you get over it?

When we get knocked down, we get to lick our wounds, take care of ourselves, extract the lesson, seek support, and get back up. If you are experiencing a hardship, if you are feeling sad, alone, and overwhelmed, if you feel as if things just continue to keep getting in your way, IT IS TIME. It is an opportunity. Those feelings and obstacles are pointing you in the direction of paying attention to your mental health. It is time to be aware of it, get in front of it, and understand it. You do not have to go it alone, you can seek support from others. Today is the day.

What can you do in honor of Mental Health Awareness day:

  • Do something for yourself. Fill your tank back up. Nourish your soul and quiet your mind. Go for a walk, go to the spa, connect with friends, paint, write, cook, laugh, swim, watch your favorite movie, go for a drive, engage in your hobby, whatever your thing is, go do it! If you are struggling to find a way to nurture yourself and have been contemplating finding a therapist, find one. Look on psychologytoday.com or another website, or ask friends and family if they have a therapist they can recommend. Make today the day you give yourself permission to seek additional support.
  • Be kind to others, sometimes your interaction with others makes all the difference. Some people are just one bad day away from their breaking point. Make a positive difference in the world. It will support your mental health as well.

Today is Mental Health Awareness day 2019 but regardless of the day that you read this post, it is a day that you get to evaluate how well you are attending to your mental health needs. Choose to walk in awareness around what is holding you back, around what needs attention, and around how you are showing up in the world. If you are struggling to get past the obstacle on your own, please seek professional help. Tending to mental health is not an other person issue, it is a Universal issue. Be kind, be empowered, be AWARE!

One Simple Question can Create One Amazing Life…Stop Self-Limiting Beliefs Now!

Keep Climbing. Limits are an Illusion.

I can’t because...(insert excuse here)

I would but I….(insert self limiting belief here)

I am not able to because….(insert your rationalization)

It will not work because….(please list all the reasons that voice inside your head has given to convince you that your idea will not work)

Stop it, please stop it, and please do us all a favor and shut up!!!!! Not you the person, just that voice inside your head that keeps stopping you from living your best life and keeps you so busy with negative chatter you stay stuck! Why does that voice always do that? You can quiet that voice with a question.

Questions? Questions. Questions….they really are so powerful, what are just as powerful are our answers. Questions prompt us to respond, but how much of that is scripted? in other words shared exactly the same way all the time, as if on autopilot with no thought whatsoever. It is part of our programming, years of doing the same things, speaking to ourselves the same way, and others reinforcing those beliefs.

In graduate school we are taught questions to ask clients during the therapeutic process. The right questions prompt us to think deeply, force us to reflect, and once answered, especially once voiced out loud, our words, which are fueled by our thoughts and emotions have immense power. Power to cripple and power to create. So, we get to answer the questions with the understanding that there is a direct correlation between the words we choose and what we bring to fruition/manifest in our lives.

There is one question, that impacts me more than any other. I was asked the question some time ago during a time in my life when unbeknownst to me, I was living a life filled with self-limiting beliefs. I walked through life with thoughts that there were things I could not, should not, and would not be able to do because of a bunch of (fear based) reasons. My perceived inability to do something was linked to the belief that it was beyond my ability/control, and that other people would determine whether or not I would be successful.

I did not know then that we create our limits, others (parents, teachers, society) may have imposed limits on us but how long can we allow ourselves to have a cap, a ceiling, a limit, on our dreams? I see it now, I see it clearly and it supports me with supporting all of my amazing clients, friends and family with their self-talk and their self limiting beliefs.

I was presented with an opportunity at a time in my life when I had a lot on my plate. Family commitments, a career transition, a fitness journey, etc. At the time I truly believed I could not do it, it was unrealistic, and it would not be as important as everything else because it was more of an indulgent passion than a priority or what I felt I “should be doing,” so, I answered:

Reason/Excuse #1: “I can’t because I do not have enough time to prepare

Reason/Excuse #2: I am really not that good, it is just a hobby

Reason/Excuse #3: I am just not able to do it right now

The person presented me with the “one simple question” I will share in a moment and I felt invalidated, misunderstood and frustrated around why I was continuing to be asked to do something I clearly “could not” (not true) do.

And then I had to get very real with myself and ask the tough questions, “why do I keep pushing back?” “why am I defensive?” why am I struggling to answer this question?” “why am I not entertaining this concept, this idea that I can?” why won’t I allow myself to envision something different? (asking yourself those types of questions is crucial to self-awareness and self-actualization).

One question can create a whirlwind of thoughts and creativity, digging deeper and pushing limits. It inspires

THAT ONE SIMPLE QUESTION THAT CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING IS:

BUT, WHAT IF YOU COULD? 

It’s always interesting to me because the word “but” negates and so we know not to use the word “but” because it negates everything that came before it and with this question in particular, I am in love with the word BUT…why? because but is absolutely necessary for effect around saying, “let’s forget all of the reasons why you are claiming that you can not do this thing and talk about what it would look like if you could!” How freakin’ empowering!

Why? because when asked the question, it forces us out of the story we have been telling ourselves about our problem/situation and about who we are. It forces us to rewrite the script and create a version of our story where we get to have an empowering outcome, a more peaceful existence, a story of hope rather than a reiteration of all that is wrong in our lives.

Every time you tell yourself you can’t, every time you are bought into the fact that something is impossible either because other people have told you it is impossible or your negative self-talk has convinced you that it is impossible, stop, be intentional and ask yourself but, what if I could? what if it was possible? Give yourself permission to answer that question, to see yourself differently, to create an opportunity. Rewrite your story.

Get empowered by the answer and then go out and do it! Do the thing! Recognize the fear. Validate your feelings, ask yourself the question, and then decide to either make a decision based in fear or one based around belief in self and self-love. Remember this is not about being unrealistic or invalidating your circumstances. It is about challenging the beliefs you have about yourself, other people, and the world.

Fear will convince you that you can not

Fear will make you think you don’t care

Fear will tell you that it will not work

Fear will stifle your creativity

Fear will cheat you out of opportunities

Fear will steal your time

Fear will tell you that you are not good enough

Fear was created to protect you, thank it for bringing things to your attention and then put it on the shelf while you ask yourself…..

But, what if I could start that business I’ve been dreaming of ?

what if I could audition for my dream role?

what if I could commit to my partner?

what if I could start dating again after heartbreak?

what if I could pursue or figure out my passion?

what if I could go back to school?

what if I could tell her I love her?

what if I could come out to my family?

what if I could heal from the trauma I have experienced?

what if I could be happy?

what if I could forgive myself?

Ask yourself, what if I could?….

You can! You can! You can! It will take action and once you ask yourself what if I could? the next step is to Create a PLAN and then PUT IT IN ACTION. You may need the support of others, perhaps networking more often (try meetup.com), it may take gaining a new skill, or finding a therapist, it may take time, it may not happen overnight, and one thing that it will absolutely take to do this is courage!

Be courageous! If there is a goal that you have, if there is a dream that you aspire to, if there is a talent you would like to explore, if you would like to take your relationship to the next level, if there is a degree you would like to obtain, if there is a career change you have been considering making, if you would like to shoot your shot and just go for something…..before talking yourself out of it, before shutting the door that you never allowed to fully open, the next time you tell yourself you can’t, remember me asking you this one simple question….

BUT, WHAT IF YOU COULD?

Everything you need is everything you are. Wishing you love, light, clarity, and perseverance on your very amazing and necessary individual journey. Remember, you can!