It’s no secret that more and more people are struggling with mental health issues these days, and frankly, most people do not see results when they try to address this. So in today’s Best Day Blog article, I’m going to share three counterintuitive tips to train your mental health awareness.
What’s the first thing we’re all trying to achieve? A life with no pain. And how do we try to do that? By trying to cancel out anything and everything that could cause pain! And this is the problem! The problem with the mental health industry is that they are trying to get you to avoid pain when in fact, the solution is quite the opposite – we must become experts in seeking out pain – let’s get into that.
1- Seek Out Pain and Become an Expert
Don’t believe me? Let me share three reasons why this is the key to your positive mental health journey. Firstly, what does every CEO, athlete, politician, actor/actress – anyone who has ever achieved anything significant – tell you about how they achieved it? More often than not, it’s a huge, painful event in their life that led them to figure out a solution – their pain led them to success.
The problem is that once you’ve been through an experience like this, most people say that they would never want their kids to experience that sort of pain! This is incredibly ironic because they know that they only got to where they are today because of the experience and growth that came from their distress. Of course, it is not the intent to stop people from growing and being successful, but what people don’t realize is that by shielding yourself from pain, you are stunting your growth and development and may never reach your full potential.
As well as this, it is simply not realistic. The solution to life always has, and always will be, to conquer our pain. The world suffers because no one has taught us how to deal with it.
The story of Jesus is the perfect example of this and also an example of a misunderstanding of the message being shared. Jesus is revered as, in many religions and cultures, the ideal person being under the watchful eye of God Almighty. However, even under God’s guidance, Jesus suffered horrifically but was able to move through his pain and was still viewed as perfect, as someone who never made a mistake. This pain all leads him to be nailed to the cross, and at this moment, he shouts ‘”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’. At this moment, Jesus had admitted the truth, that even he did not believe in his Father, in God, and that he had to have a cataclysmic event to see the truth – the solution was to admit that even he did not trust his Father. The moment he did, he was able to surrender to the cross and rise again.
Whether you are agnostic or atheist, the same is true. The resurrection happens for all of us when we get to the other side of the pain, yet everyone avoids pain at any cost. However, you cannot become an expert until you learn Emotional Authenticity and how to journey through the pain (not around it). My book ‘Your Journey to Success‘ takes you through this journey and shows you how to face your pain.
The pills and medicine and advancements in medical care are not helping. On the contrary, the mental health crisis is getting worse – because we keep teaching people not to face their pain. The bottom line is this – for every person who has ever succeeded, the happiest moment of their life was when they conquered what they were struggling with. As such, the solution is not to deny pain. It is to embrace it.
It’s time to develop the knowledge, skills, and tools to help you navigate your pain. Find teachers and experts that provide you with these. Anyone who claims to be an expert but tells you to run from the pain is a person to be avoided! It would be best to have a teacher who will show you how to go through it and become an expert in overcoming it.
2- Weight is about pain.
Weight management would seem to be a physical thing – something you manage by eating in balance and moving your body, but so many people don’t understand that weight is about pain. Dr. Felitti started a study on people who would yoyo in their weight repeatedly and figured out that people eat because they are in pain. Much like medication, food is used to alleviate symptoms. However, neither heals the root cause of internal issues. A research patient said to Felitti,’ you know we eat because we’re in pain?’ and the Adverse Childhood Experience study was born from that moment on.
The study has been replicated multiple times worldwide with the same results, and those results show that nearly 70% of us have been through childhood trauma and, of that, almost 70%, 88% of them have been through 2 or more experiences of childhood trauma. The problem is that no one talks about this or the side effects of this trauma on us. As such, no one has the knowledge, skills, or tools to deal with it proactively and productively. So instead, many try to medicate it away will food and medications.
So, the counterintuitive step number two is that we need to become emotionally literate to work with the pain. Most people don’t even know what childhood trauma is – from simple, unintentional abandonment to catastrophic abuse. Almost everybody has experienced trauma of some sort that is, on the whole, unhealed. Studies have shown that up to 70% of adults don’t even feel. They are not in touch with what’s happening inside them, and to the childhood trauma they are carrying around – they are detached.
This unhealed trauma the majority of people carry causes people to binge eat, drink too much, and generally live unhealthy lives and make unhealthy choices. It’s childhood trauma. It’s not mental health awareness. It’s our feelings that we’re struggling with! We are sad, anxious, depressed, or low – these are all healthy feelings to feel. We can start healing when we can label them as feelings rather than the more obscure or often-stigmatized ‘mental health.’ In my opinion, the struggle is with emotional health – it’s not mental health.
The Scales of Injustice
We create what I call the Scales of Injustice because we won’t admit what things are – i.e., calling fear – stress, and emotional health – mental health. On one side, we are all in massive denial because we won’t deal with the truth. When we are not in the truth, we don’t know who we are, so the other side of the scale is low self-esteem. None of us want to admit our true feelings to ourselves, let alone others, and none of us have the self-love and self-esteem to face up to what is the truth.
As such, addiction, obesity, gambling, illness, and disease are all on the rise. If we could face our denial and tell the truth- ‘I’m scared,’ or ‘I’m feeling inadequate’ – look at what happens. Our self-esteem rises because we can admit that we have weaknesses and perfect imperfections. Truth creates justice.
Emotional Authenticity creates the truth we need by showing us how to admit that we have feelings and stop sugar-coating those feelings with ambiguity.
3- Become Negative to Be Truly Positive
False positivity is not the answer. Studies have shown that if you tell a depressed person to use affirmations, for example, their depression skyrockets – it has the opposite effect – because it is a lie. The Scales of Injustice are swayed towards denial and, therefore, low self-esteem.
Yes, depression is a chemical imbalance, but the chemical imbalance most often comes from childhood trauma that has never been healed. The repeated firing of the emotional trauma is what causes depression, as well as anxiety – this is what the ACE study by Dr. Felitti shows. However, we are not making progress because we’re not talking about the real issue – that childhood trauma is at the heart of all of this. Instead, with each year, we become more obese and more drugged.
With Emotional Authenticity, a person can get excited about feeling the pain! Because when you face it head-on, you grow the most. So you start to look forward to uncovering new parts of yourself and conquering things you could never have before. You then create a new definition and relationship with pain – this is a massive part of the mindfulness movement, an understanding that you can allow pain to flow through you and let it go, rather than resisting and denying it.
To continue avoiding pain is to aid in escalating addiction, health problems, illness, and diseases. So instead, learn Emotional Authenticity and learn to navigate pain, remembering that going through the pain will teach you much more than hiding from it. Once you’ve done this, you’ll no longer worry about pain, you’ll no longer avoid it, and your life will change for the better.
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