What is mental health to you?
For me, it is an emphasis on the word, ‘health’. Mental Health. Mental Wellbeing. And where our mental health is not healthy, it is about changing something within us, evolving something within us, taking action to move towards mental health – away from mental illness.
Mental Health is the productive thoughts that serve us well. The way we feel, feeling ok, good. Our emotions being how we want them to be - productive. Us therefore behaving and communicating in ways that serve us and others well. Being our best ‘us’.
People like me who are skilled in similar ways know that there is no such thing as a negative mindset, belief, or emotion. We don’t call them positive and negative. They all come from our mind.
Every emotion has a purpose. It is telling us something. About ‘us’ - what is going on deep down in our unconscious – what we deeply think.
And here is the good news. People like me also know that we have all the resources to achieve what we want, or we can acquire them. So, if we want to think and feel better, it is possible, we just need to utilise those resources, or develop new ones perhaps learning how to think and feel better.
Many people believe that mental health cannot be changed. They have a fixed mindset around it. And the truth is that our mindset is simply a collection of beliefs. A belief is simply a repeated thought, and a thought can be changed.
So, if someone’s mental health is not how they want it, change is possible. It is a matter of how.
How do we evolve and change our mental health towards ‘health’? towards ‘wellness’? Perhaps towards being the version of ourselves that we like and want to be?
Here are four concepts I want to share. Concept that underpin a lot of my change work.
People who work with the mind, like me, know that these are underpinning concepts that, when paid attention to, can massively transform the mind towards health.
Have a read. Take what serves.
1 - Tune in to your ‘soundtrack’:
We all have a soundtrack – a mental soundtrack. The things we say to ourselves. What we tell ourselves and how we talk to ourselves… (and if you just told yourself that you don’t talk to yourself .... sorry...you do 😉).
We find that those who do not have the best mental health often have a soundtrack that does anything but serve them. How they talk to themselves doesn’t serve them well.
They put themselves down,
They call themselves names
They tell themselves they can’t do it
They believe they are not worth it,
They believe they are not entitled to.
They put pressure on themselves. ‘you must’ ‘should’ ‘need to’
They give themselves a hard time if they don’t live up to their own standards
Their beliefs are their truth, and once ingrained they unconsciously look for evidence to back up their belief…in essence, to prove themselves right. Because we all want to be proven right. And that is a tricky cycle to get into.
But the truth is that, the belief we have is OUR truth… not THE truth. We literally hypnotise ourselves with these thoughts that we believe to be true.
And that’s right, a belief is a thought… and a thought can be changed.
So the first step is tuning in. Our mind and body hears and feels everything we tell it. So how does your soundtrack make you feel?
Listening may uncomfortable (I never said change was comfortable). But if we realise that the emotional response is simply information for us to do something with, we can use it for change – to help us evolve towards better mental health – a mental health that serves us, makes us happy.
So, the first tip is to raise our self-awareness. Pay attention to what we say to ourselves. Establish how those words make us feel. If they do not serve us, it’s time to move towards change.
And I do talk from personal experience here too. I am massively positive, always have been. But back in the day, before I learnt about the mind and the way it works, I discovered my self-talk was sneaky, quiet and it didn’t make me feel good in certain contexts. I had some beliefs in those contexts that didn’t serve me well.
No more. I changed what I believe and how I think. For good.
2 - Understand that we think the way we do for a reason
Our life experiences, environment and culture historically create our thoughts, beliefs, and responses. Our thinking habits come from our past – once upon a time we learnt to think that way because we had to. And that turned into a habit.
But we aren’t in the past anymore. We are here, now, and the brain and therefore our mind is a completely changeable muscle (check out neuroplasticity if you want to find out more about how that’s true).
So, if we have feelings that come from thoughts that don’t serve us well, we can change them.
Think about this for a moment… If you were experiencing a better experience of life today
If you were feeling better, how would you be feeling?
How would you talk to yourself if you felt better?
What might you do if you felt a bit better?
Can you imagine that now? Can you feel it, here now?
Can you hold on to that feeling for a moment?
If you managed to feel a productive feeling, you just changed your feelings through how you think.
If you can think it, you can do it… it is just a case of getting good at that.
You have all the resources you need…or you can acquire them.
3 - Recognise that our mind can become a time machine…
When our mental health is not healthy, our thoughts either go into our past or the future (well it does that anyway – but we consistently experience certain emotions when in the past, and certain emotions when in the future)
In the past it thinks about things that have happened – making us feel sad, flat, deflated, depressed.
When it jumps into the future it worries about all the things that haven’t happened yet – might happen, could happen, should happen. We feel worry, anxiousness, frustration, nervous. We make that future a reality in our minds. But is isn’t a reality.
When in a time zone, we waste mental energy thinking about something that has already happened and is in the past, or something that has not even happened yet.
But the real truth is that we are in the present. Our brain is in the same time zone as our body. Here we can affect change, have choice and influence what we want for the better.
So, we must become present, become conscious in the here and now.
Firstly, become self-aware of your time zone. Are you in the past or future? (its ok if you are, just notice which you are in)
Secondly, recognising you cannot do anything about the past, or that you are creating a version of the future that isn’t true. So, recognising you are in the present, ask yourself what a decent response might be from the here and now. What do you want? What can you do? What might a decent response be from the here and now?
There is so much more I could say on the power of being in the present present…watch this space on that
4 - Be kind...
“You are the most important person in your life” Nicola Ellwood.
(some people respond to that phrase by saying – “oh no, my kids are more important”. But the reality is, they aren’t, because without you, who do they have?)
You are the most important person in your life. So do you treat yourself that way? Are you kind to yourself? We are all good at being kind to others and many find that kindness doesn’t always extend to ourselves.
That self-talk we mentioned earlier – is it kind to you? It must be!
If we previously didn’t come from a place of kindness (perhaps instead from a place of fear) and we choose to navigate our world and make choices from a place of kindness, it changes how we respond and react. We learn to serve the situation better. We begin to discover a new version of ourselves. We start to put our wellbeing first, building our sense of worth and inner resourcefulness. From this place of kindness, we can begin the change of treating ourselves well so that we can treat others too.
So, what would living a life where you were kinder to yourself be like for you. Imagine you were responding to your world from a place of kindness?
What would you do more (and less)?
How might you talk to yourself if you were talking from a place of kindness?
What choices might you make differently each day?
How would you feel?
If you lived every day yourself better what could your possibilities be?
Our thoughts create our beliefs. Our beliefs create our mindset. Our mindset creates our emotions. Our emotions create our experience of the world and the way we live it.
And all this can be evolved and improved. A belief is just a thought and a thought can be changed.
So, there you go. A starter for 10 – some underpinning thing I know from my work to be true.
In writing this piece I didn’t know what I wanted to say other than sharing the truth that we can change the way we think. There is so much more I can and will say.
If there is one thing in here that resonates, then I’m thrilled. This was worth writing 😊
If there is one thing in here that you want to try (or recommend someone else to try) then that’s fantastic.
If you don’t yet know how to adopt them then drop me a line. I can help you acquire that skill.
You have all the resources to think, feel and experience the life that you want. I have seen clients transform themselves and their life through this work, simply by applying these principles.
Even if you have positive mental health these principles extend you and make you your very best.
Imagine you at your best. Imagine your possibilities.
Whatever you think you are, you are so much more.