Often when we are struggling with difficulties related to our health, work or relationships, we have the tendency to blame our situation, other people and even our ‘faulty genes’ for our misery. Sadly, this doesn’t help except make us feel like a victim and push us down a negative spiral! Mental wellbeing depends largely on the attitudes we can cultivate and the responsibility we can take for our own happiness and fulfilment.

I’m sure you’ve read enough articles with prescriptive lists of ‘things to do’ for your mental health. We know what kind of food, sleep and exercise we need yet knowledge doesn’t translate into action because something inside us sabotages our plans all too soon! Google Announces 'Collective Wellbeing' Off on Friday For All Employees Making it Three-Day Weekend, Netizens Want it Too!

As a counsellor and wellness coach, I’m urging you to examine some of your attitudes and firmly decide to stay committed to the cause of mental wellbeing, without which you cannot savour even your best successes.

1. Acknowledge Your Emotions Instead of Suppressing, Denying or Shutting Them Out

There are families where the idea of openly expressing and communicating one’s feelings is not encouraged. Social pressures, fear of judgement and biases about vulnerability being a sign of weakness make it even tougher for many people to address their inner turmoil. Over a period of time, this lack of emotional regulation becomes the cause of chronic mental illness.

You can be the one to break these mindset and communication barriers among your friends and family! Be spontaneous, genuine and honest about your feelings, and encourage others to do the same. Too bad if some people don’t understand or appreciate your new approach. Eventually, they will come to respect you for being authentic and true to yourself. You can also journal your feelings or express them cathartically in the way most natural to you.

2. Invest in Expanding Your Mental Health ‘Vocabulary’

Every field has its own terminology, be it a sport, music or the stock market, and you cannot truly enjoy or appreciate something till you understand it correctly! During the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has realized the importance of mental health awareness, but it needs to be much more than a catchphrase!

The workings of the human mind and concepts around mental health should ideally be taught in schools and colleges because they are more integral to our development than so many other things in our curriculum! This awareness is relatively new in India compared to western countries and hence we must all make an extra effort to build our understanding by watching and reading credible sources online. Even while sharing content on chat groups, pause and check if the post or video you are sharing is from a trusted source and constructive for its recipients.

You can also initiate conversations with the sincere purpose of dispelling myths around this subject.

3. Strive to Create a Realistic ‘Self-Concept’

Our self-concept is our definition of who we are in relation to our world, and even though its core is formed in our childhood, we have to keep updating it continuously through ‘self-awareness’. While counseling people, I have clearly seen how those with higher self-awareness levels achieve their goals more easily than others. Some people ‘pull themselves down’ and find it hard to appreciate their strengths, while others are in complete denial about their limitations. Their fears of inadequacy or low self-worth keep them from creating a realistic self-concept, thereby hindering their personality development.

One of the best practices you can cultivate is that of ‘keen and honest self-observation’. It’s easy to point out others’ idiosyncrasies but much tougher to know yourself! How aware are you about your own communication style? What triggers anxiety, anger, guilt or shame in you? A negative emotion can teach you many things about who you are, and what changes you can make to your beliefs and habits.

4. Identify the Hidden ‘Irrational Beliefs’ and ‘Faulty Assumptions’ That Are Coming in Your Way

If the cause of our suffering were an event or a circumstance, we would all be equally affected by it. Then why is it that the same breakup is devastating to person A and seen as a disappointing but learning experience for Person B? The difference lies in their inherent belief systems. People who display inflexibility, perfectionist standards, a dire need for others’ approval, an inability to tolerate discomfort, who cannot handle uncertainty or need instant gratification are the ones to suffer greatly when things don’t go their way. They carry dysfunctional beliefs about how life and others ‘should be’. This is in sharp contrast to the reality of life and this ever-changing world.

In the last 7 months of the pandemic, we have all gone through challenges to varying degrees. But if you feel there was something you just couldn’t handle or lost sleep over, there could be an irrational belief exacerbating your suffering. Identify it and make a conscious effort to change it to a more rational, adaptive way of thinking. I must forewarn you that this isn’t easy, but it’s surely the most rewarding change you can bring about.

5. It Is Up to You to Realize Your Unique and Full Potential

While it’s great to have positive influences to motivate us, the moment we start benchmarking our skills and achievements against what our peers or role models have achieved, we’re doing ourselves a disservice and moving away from the journey of realizing our unique potential. From a spiritual perspective, I believe that each of us is created for a distinct journey and a unique purpose. When you’re engaged in the pursuit of fulfilling your own potential, you’ll feel peace and joy within. On the contrary, always trying to match up and feel accomplished in the eyes of others will give you heartburn and restlessness.

This self-discovery is something you have to do for yourself. Your parents, friends and teachers can play only a supporting role at best. I would have loved to speak about the role of perseverance and discipline though, but will save it for another time.

Kanchan Wadi (File Image)

About The Author

Kanchan Wadi is a Mumbai-based wellness coach, relationship counsellor and motivational speaker. If you have any comments or questions about this article please write to her at wellnesscapsule20@gmail.com.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Oct 17, 2020 12:23 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).