2019, April 26

Mental Wellness Challenge

Last week I challenged you to do a little spring cleaning. It’s my hope that you were able to sort through some “stuff” and get to dispose of some baggage. I often end up finding the same “stuff” that I was certain I dealt with over and over again… For me, it’s a process.


I have another “way” of dealing with stuff on a more daily basis. On my way to the car, or as I walk to work, I find a small stone – just any old stone will do. I put the stone in my pocket. As I walk through my day and I encounter negative “stuff”, I rub the stone and I mentally “put” the negative “stuff” onto, or into the stone. At the end of my day – all that crud is on my little stone. I perform the “intentional act” of throwing the stone away. This little symbolic act helps me to shed some of that negativity I had experienced that day – whether that be guilt, shame, frustration, or anything else that I know I shouldn’t be packing. I get rid of it on that little stone. I throw it away and along with it, I get rid of all that negative stuff.


This leads right into what I want to share with you today. Intention, awareness, purpose.


I don’t know about anyone else’s journey, but I know that for most of my journey – I’ve been a passenger in my life. I haven’t been actively involved in my day to day experience. Oh, for sure – I have had goals, deadlines, responsibilities that I have had to or chosen to meet, but what I am talking about here is the journey – the scenes of my life that go by as I move through my days.


One of the things that I have learned I have to do to strengthen myself against depression is to be more aware of the things I am doing in my life. I have had to learn to be more intentional, to be aware of why I am often doing the things I am doing and to make sure that the reasons or the purpose behind my actions is in line with my values.


I have a poster in my brain cave that lists the following 10 Steps to Self Care.


  1. If it feels wrong, don’t do it.
  2. Say “exactly” what you mean
  3. Don’t be a people pleaser
  4. Trust your instincts
  5. Never speak bad about yourself
  6. Never give up on your dreams
  7. Don’t be afraid to say “No”
  8. Don’t be afraid to say “Yes”
  9. Be kind to yourself
  10. Let go of what you can’t control
  11. Stay away from drama and negativity as much as possible


When I’m not paying attention to my day to day life – I often get myself lost in drama that I really shouldn’t be a part of, saying yes – not because I really want to do something, but because I either want to please someone or I have a misplaced sense of responsibility to do it. Sound familiar?


I know that when I am purposefully more aware of intention, I am happier, safer and more authentic. This awareness and purpose gives me the tools I need to help make certain I am headed in the right direction. That I don’t “give” someone else the wheel and let me feel bad about one thing or another. This gives my responsibility for my own peace of mind back to my control. (NOTHING OUT THERE CHANGES) I mindfully keep control of the “Good Ship Kevin” and I can steer myself clear of collisions.


For sure – bad stuff happens in life. When I am mindful, intentioned, purposeful, I am more tooled up to realize that those bad things happen without any doing on my part at all. WHEN I HAVE THE CONTROLS – I can choose my response. I can follow my values and respond accordingly – perhaps honk my horn when someone cuts me off… If I’m not being purposeful, aware, intentioned – if I am on auto-pilot, I might curse or raise my voice or get angry or peeved and let the “bad thing” put me in the ditch. (Have you ever noticed that person screaming at another driver in a car… Sometimes that’s me… The other driver has no clue that I am screaming or cursing – they might not even be aware that they cut me off…. but there I am – blowing my top)


I’ll be 100% honest here – I can’t yet be the driver of my life all the time. I have had too long with just being the passenger, letting life happen around me, to me – to be able to just flip a switch and take control. I work at this and its hard work for me. However, I do know that I must be more mindful of where I am going if I want to stay healthy (healthier).


As I write this, I experience a twinge of guilt. That twinge of guilt is connected to an errant feeling of selfishness. I certainly can rationalize that I shouldn’t be feeling guilty about taking steps to better take care of myself. The awareness of this little twinge of guilt is exactly what I am trying to talk about here. It’s a product of my upbringing, it’s a product of erred thinking – I suppose I could say it’s a bad habit.


This boils out to being aware, moment to moment, of why I am doing the things in my life that I am. Being at the wheel, turning off the auto-pilot and taking control of my experiences. This is me, working towards being more responsible for my emotions, being more involved my where my day to day life goes, being cognisant of the MY RULES (my values) and not bending them or breaking them and really taking an active step in participating in the living of my day to day life.


The challenge:


Take some time as you move through each day of the next week and examine if you are driving your experience of if you have your life set on auto-pilot. If it helps, you might want to write down some of the ways you see yourself letting life happen to you, instead of you driving your life.


I challenge you to do one of these items each day for the next week – or – you could try to do all of them every day for the next week.


  1. Think about your values when you are doing the things in your life that you do from day to day. If those things aren’t congruent with your values, then don’t do them!


  1. Be honest with yourself and those around you. Be sincere. Start small with a sincere answer to the question we all get asked, “How are you?”. Say how you really feel….


  1. Do the things you do because they are important to you to do them.


  1. Listen to your tummy. If you get a “bad feeling” about something you are about to do, assess where that bad feeling is coming from.


  1. Negative self talk drains your sense of self worth – DON’T DO IT!


  1. Don’t let yourself get rolled up in gossip, negative talk about others. Not only is this bad for them, its really bad for you. If you think about it, this activity is likely contrary to your values.


  1. Set a little goal that you can accomplish every day (maybe this challenge) and then work through the day to try to accomplish that goal.


This challenge is about being mindful. It’s about being purposeful, aware and intentioned.


I challenge you!