There is a lot of talk about mental health, anxiety, and stress going on after the last couple of years, and rightly so. People struggle with change and circumstances seemingly out of their control – not to mention the constant bombardment of bad news we’ve faced.
There’s talk of mental health and wellbeing being a curriculum in schools. Employers are seeing how beneficial it is to focus on employee wellbeing. It’s not just a priority, it’s a necessity. And this is a good thing. But we need to make sure we go about it in the best, and that means most empowering, way. That might not be where we’re heading though…
For starters, there’s more to a healthy and successful mindset than positive thinking. A successful mindset is one that is resilient, resourceful, and transformative. And that doesn’t come from simply being sunny all the time.
When you focus too much on being positive and peaceful, you live outside of (and in conflict with) universal laws. There’s the law of attraction, which is also called the law of cause and effect. The law of gravity. You know what happens if you try to live outside of these laws. In the case of the latter especially, it can hurt. A lot.
When it comes down to it, ignoring universal law separates you from a balanced reality. Just as what goes up must come down, every positive is balanced by a negative. You want to attract positive, uplifting experiences but wonder why you also attract challenges. You cannot avoid this. Like the princess and the pea, you will always feel your ‘niggle’ and challenge, no matter how much positive thinking you pile on top of it.
Attempts to avoid the negative result in a fantasy that is impossible to live up to. Everything is a balance of both positive and negative energy. The ups create the downs. And nothing is random; there is a hidden order to it all. If not, the planets would just be floating around and chaotically banging into each other. The same is true in our minds; there’s chaos without balance.
Your intuition serves you here. However, one of the problems when you are trying too hard to be positive and avoiding negatives at all costs, is that you shut down your ability to listen to yourself.
Luckily, you can take a more practical and proactive approach and empower yourself to manage your outcomes. You can stop being defined by what happens. You can stop trying to separate the inseparables (i.e., trying to be positive only) or exert control where you simply can’t.
Mental health and wellbeing don’t come from being more positive, peaceful, and mindful. And mindfulness is not the same as a positive frame of mind. If that’s what you’re working towards, the best you can hope for is to feel better in the moment, but it won’t work in the long-term. This approach sets people up to fail.
As I said, a healthy and successful mindset is resilient, resourceful, and transformative. Stress results from an inability to adapt to external or internal changes, so resilience allays that by providing the ability to cope with constant and inevitable change. Resourcefulness implies you have quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties (like the strategies here) and transformative means that your mind is able to affect important and lasting changes.
This is how we should be considering mental health and wellbeing. It’s a mindset that’s not fixed on just being positive and happy but is instead flexible, with an ability to see both sides of any situation.
In seeing both sides of a situation, a healthy and successful mind is one that’s able to reframe the negatives. Of course you’d like to bask in wonderful things and wonderful thoughts continuously, but one of the best ways to handle stress and overwhelm is to stop fighting them – and instead understand and accept why they are here.
We are designed to encounter both positive and negative – they are vital for our growth and development. Our challenges act as messengers and they’re trying to help us. Our difficulties clue us in to things that we might need to focus on or change. And like that pea under a pile of 21 mattresses, your difficulties will keep sending you the message until you hear it. Starting with that intuitive shoulder tap, moving to what feels like a prod or a shove and, if you still haven’t gotten the message, amplifying to a seemingly major event that can feel like a big Mach truck! So, stop trying to get rid of the negatives. Don’t push them away; take some time to understand what they’re doing there.
One of the ways that you can begin to balance the difficulties in your life is to ask a better question. Instead of ‘why does this always happen to me?’ or ‘why is the world so awful to me?’ (which are bound to bring up some pretty dire and usually mean answers), flip the script.
Try asking ‘how is this of benefit to me?’ ‘In what way does this serve me?’ ‘What is this experience telling or teaching me?’ Or ‘where in my life am I experiencing the opposite in this moment – ease, and acceptance? Where is the world on my side? Where do things go my way?’ Once you see how the energy is working, you can consider how you want to handle or resolve it. What’s your strategy? Ask a different question so you get a different answer.
Just as we are governed by the laws that keep everything in balance, our minds need to be in balance – and fully integrated – to be healthy, vital, and purposeful. A successful mindset sees us able to operate from the executive centre of our brains, as opposed to being driven primarily from our primitive and protective brain.
When you’re in a rut, you are conscious of all the downsides and largely unconscious of any ups. Conversely, when you’re feeling good, you’re conscious of all the positives, but blind to any downsides in that moment. Reality is much more complex and nuanced, but people often latch onto one part of their day – usually a part that’s not going well – and run it across everything. Used repetitively, this can then become their identity.
Balance here doesn’t mean you need to start intellectualising everything, but it does mean bringing perspective to the feelings you encounter – the positive ones and the negative ones.
Right now, people are feeling all sorts of emotions – mindful and peaceful are on the wish list, but many are experiencing overwhelm, resentment, stress, and the feeling of being over-stretched. They want to run away and hide, change jobs, go on holiday, and escape their reality. How empowering would it be if you could take the most significant challenge in your life and balance it out to find the wisdom and the calm in each of these moments? This is true mindfulness.
This is what we need to teach people – our teams, our children, our friends. We want to believe in positive thinking, but there’s a more empowering way to balance our perceptions and genuinely upskill ourselves to turn negativity, conflict, and resentment into strength.
Wanting only peace and happiness is like going through life lopsided. If you know how to look, there is much more on offer. You begin to see things as on the way, not in the way. Trying to be purely positive separates you from the magnificence and magic of our world. Open your eyes to see and appreciate the full picture.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ME
I work with you and alongside you as your personal life coach. For years I have been studying human behaviour as it’s vital to know what we do and also what we don’t do that stands in the way of our potential.
Being a life coach and facilitator affords me a very unique outlook in the way people live their lives. I’m extremely fortunate to have a set of skills that allows me to dissolve challenges and also the baggage or ‘bags of age’ that we carry around. These literally take up time and space in your life and when these are negative they can weigh us down and create reactions as well as signs and symptoms. Your mindset is that important.
certified facilitator of human behaviour and human potential
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