Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, January 16

Mental Wellness Challenge, 2020, JANUARY 16


Last week I challenged you to three things.  Let’s check-in on how we did with those…

  1. Take 15 minutes every other day to be quiet with your thoughts. To be mindful of where you are in your life and how the actions you are taking are feeding you.

I did OK with this part.  I suppose I do this quite a bit anyway… I do struggle with keeping my mind on this task though… my mind jets off this way and that that – not wanting to just settle…  My thoughts take me from – well – from soup to nuts… and I get that this is the idea – go where my mind takes me… but this exercise is was about being mindful on how my actions and steps in life are feeding me.


I’m a work in progress.  I, unfortunately, don’t stay on my model every breath of my life – so I do make missteps and I go places that I shouldn’t.



  1. Read something, anything and then discuss what it is you have read with a friend or family member. Put the technology down, turn it off.  In my opinion our Facebook, twitter, snapchat, etc are disconnecting us instead of creating the connections that we as human creatures need.


I have to say that I am getting better at leaving the technology alone.  I did some reading and I shared that with a number of people.  SURE – The stuff I shared was about mental health issues, treatment options (or the lack there of) in Canada, suicide prevention, and our Canadian approach to mental wellness.  I have to admit that for the most part, the folks I shared my reading with were already “in the choir”, but there were a few new folks that weren’t very aware.


I’m re-reading a book on schema therapy, written by Young and Klosko – called Reinventing Your Life “The breakthrough program to end negative behavior…” it’s a book that I read years ago that works on resolving “life traps” as they call them…  The book looks at dealing with “maladaptive schemas” which are really just self-defeating, emotional and cognitive patterns that I learned, created or adopted early in my life and have a difficult time breaking away from.


The book breaks out the 11 most common “life traps” and then provides pathways, ideas and suggestions on changing behavior to address them.  The book builds on, or maybe applies is a better word, Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy process with – sharper, deeper personal reflection to work out a plan to move away from maladaptive behaviors.  Some of the implementation of my wellness model grew from the ideas of schema therapy.


  1. Write something in a journal every day. Write about how your day was, write about what the weather was, write about how something made you feel that day.  I like to use Penzu – it’s an online journal that is secure and encrypted.


My journaling has been hit and miss lately.  I know I am better, healthier, more mindful when I journal… I know I feel better when I get the “stuff” that’s inside my head, outside my head and written down… and I’m not certain why I don’t rush to my journaling because of that feeling better… but I don’t always… some of that boils down to time, some initiative, some – well refer to challenge two…  I’m a work in progress…


This week I’d like to share a little about my propensity to worry.  This is a piece for me that sits so deeply in who I am.  I worry about all sorts of things.  All sorts of things that I have zero control over.

To set the stage for my sharing, I am sharing a few quotes from folks whom I believe have made statements on worry that I can agree with.  Now – there are hundreds of quotes on the web of things that speak to worry.


Life should not be a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely
in a pretty and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke,
thoroughly used up, totally worn out,
and loudly proclaiming, “Wow! What a Ride!”
– Hunter S. Thompson


When I look back on all these worries,
I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed
that he had had a lot of trouble in his life,
most of which had never happened.
– Winston Churchill


Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow,
it only saps today of its joy.
– Leo Buscaglia


Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
– Arthur Somers Roche


I can 100% rationalize that worry is a waste of energy, of life, of time… OK – it’s just a waste.  I can rationalize that there are things within my “circles of influence” to which I can affect change and all the rest – all the things that fall outside that influence is something I have zero control over.  My intelligence can tell me that… SO, I ask of myself, why is it that I can’t stop myself from thinking, pondering, ruminating, worrying about all of those things that are outside of my locus of control???  I accept that there are things that I can control the outcome of in my life and in those instances where I have control, its up to me to assert that control.  You’ve heard me talk about being at the helm of my life, not running through my life on auto-pilot.  This is my way of saying that I accept that I have a role to play in the way my life goes.  From this then, if I can influence some facet of my life for which I have concern, then I do.  And in this action – I can defeat that worry or concern.

Yes, we all have concerns for the health of our earth, for the state of political affairs globally and concerns for those who follow in our footsteps.  I get that.  For an idea of what I am trying to discuss consider that this worry piece, for me, is edgier – more immediate… frustratingly close and intense – but yet I have zero control… This worry is like a sliver under a fingernail that can’t be removed by me… maybe that sliver is under your fingernail.  This is weird – I know – I don’t necessarily feel your pain, but I have this incredibly intense concern over getting that sliver out from under your fingernail… and my thoughts won’t leave it alone… If that sliver doesn’t come out, it might get infected… that infection might spread… SNOW BALL…   and sincerely – all of this is totally out of my control…  yet I have been known to invest huge amounts of my energy ruminating about situations not unlike this…

And then, in the end, I find out that the person with the sliver had it excised and has quickly healed and moved on… in some instances – they have moved on and I am still worrying about the whole deal…


I have a short clip of a video from a piece by Gaur Gopal Das about worry on my desktop that I play now and then to remind myself about worry… this little clip pretty much sums up where I’d love end up…. I’ll share it with you here…


Even with this rationalization – I still end up worrying about “stuff”, “stuff” I can’t control.  Writing this I can feel the hypocrisy of it all…  In writing this I am actually feeling that worry, that sense of dread, and I am – as far as I can tell – not worrying about anything in particular at the moment…


This worry piece is a part of what leads me to be a control freak.  If I am in control of whatever it is that is going on, then I don’t stew about it as much… this in turn can – and does – cause friction in my relationships at home and at work.  At home I can work myself into a nutzo state worrying over and about things that never happen.  This leads me to expend TONS of energy that would have been far better expended doing something that I really enjoy with a family member or friend.  This worrying can – and does – causes actual illness – health issues, relationship issues.


I know my anxiety and my worry are related… either part of the same thing or at places on a spectrum.  I also know that pieces of my depression are tied to this worry business.  I then have to try to be aware of this whole worrying paradigm… “paying the interest on a debt that I don’t owe”… is one way I use to explain the worry piece. WAY EASIER SAID THAN DONE FOR ME.


I know that if I work at staying on my model, if I stay in control of my life – I am better at not investing in worry… I am not so emotionally wealthy that I can afford to pay emotional interest on an issue that may not even be an issue… or may be an issue but not my issue.  I am both an empathetic and sympathetic person… sometimes my sympathy gets me into worry trouble…


There’s so very much more I could share on this… but this post is getting too long already…


My challenge for the week;

  1. Answer the questions:

Am I worrying about “stuff” I have no control over?

If I am worrying about “stuff” I have no control over, how is this worry serving me?

Maybe even write some of this stuff down in a journal… if not – try to resolve what it is you are worrying about before you leave it… or it will just creep back into your thoughts…


  1. Research the differences between empathy and sympathy. Build your own understanding of how empathy and sympathy serve you.


  1. Share a quote about joy with a friend, a co-worker and a loved one. The quotes could be the same one or different ones for each person…  Maybe copy it out onto a sticky note and leave it on their desk, in a book they are reading, or maybe even in a conversation.  make certain to give props to the person you are quoting too. Don’t do this anonymously, put your name on the sticky.  Let that person know that you have had them in your thoughts.


So that’s it, I challenge you.

2 thoughts on “Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, January 16

  1. Hi Kevin,
    I am impressed with your diction, sensitivity, and courage.
    I read your posts and can really relate to them, especially the recent focus on worrying/anxiety.
    While in Bolivia I worked with mainly indigenous Aymara people. In their maternal language, learned before Spanish, there is no future tense grammatically. This stunned me and led me to ponder how much of my mental energy is consumed by thinking/worrying about the future, a future that does not yet exist, that is fiction, that I humbly have no absolute control over. I make lists, make plans, worry about eventualities. What must it be like to really live in the evolving present, fed by the past, and accepting of whatever the future will manifest itself in a new present?
    The phrase Hora Boliviana (Bolivian time) was always alluded to. Meetings started when they started and there were no clocks in the classrooms.
    But not to worry; things did get done!! And there was less anxiety….

  2. Always so much of what you share resonates with me. Thank you! One of my pervasive areas of worry is what do other people think of me, how are they judging me. This might be the craziest thing I worry about. I know that being human I am a mixed up bundle of biases and foibles, and like you, in progress. Unless I specifically ask for advice from someone whose wisdom I actually value and might actually help me, why should it matter so much to me what I *imagine* other humans (i.e. other mixed up bundles of biases and foibles) think of me? WTF!?

    A quote about joy:
    “I think Joy sleeps in strange places. We’re always looking for her in shiny, happy, fun times, assuming that Joy prefers her twin brother, Pleasure, when she often hangs out with her somewhat stoic big sister, Strength. Joy is not always easy to recognize, dirt-smudged and sweating, brambles in her hair. I want to believe she sometimes wears a ski mask.”
    ― Edmond Manning (I have not yet read anything by this author, but this is quote is really thought provoking to me)

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