Mental Wellness Challenge
2023, April 27
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
Some folks will just go through life pushing doors marked pull.
…I’ve been rubbing up against those two ideas the past while. I have had interactions with folks that ask for help – but then, when the help is offered – the folks asking ignore the help…
I recognize that these interactions are causing me some frustration… and quite plainly, I’m allowing myself to be frustrated. I think I feel frustrated because I’m not seeing any appreciation for my “investment” in those folks.
I also recognize myself doing the exact same things… and maybe that’s why I get a ‘negative’ energy from it. I know the answer to some of my questions… the answers take a bit of work… if I don’t do the work… I feel a sense of guilt. Round and round and round… maybe you’ve experienced the same thing.
This brings up another idea – that I’ll take a moment to explore… When I was really struggling with my mental health – I joined a group called “The Mankind Project”. One of the ideas that they promoted was “If you spot it, you’ve got it.”. This says that if you get annoyed by some other persons behavior or actions – there’s a piece of yourself that identifies with that behavior or action as a negative thing – something that you hide in yourself. This is where the negative energy comes from. This is referred to as shadow. I’ve done work on shadow – but I’ve never felt confident in my own approach to dealing with my own shadows… This is work that I should turn back to. There’s tons of resources available now – that weren’t available 20 years ago… As far as The Mankind Project goes – the organization is still around (I think) and while it was plagued by scandal for a while – the work I did there made me a better person. I didn’t stay in the group because I experienced some very negative stuff with one person in the group… and it turned me sour towards the entire movement for a while… Maybe one day I will have the courage to talk about all that, but for right now – I’ll keep that to just me.
So back to seeing a solution, being offered help and turning away from it (leading the horse to water)– and either not paying attention to the signs, not reading them, or not paying attention to where you are going (pushing doors marked pull)… and maybe its all the same…
I teach for a living. Lately I’ve experienced more and more students that seem to be set on their journeys and are unwilling to DO “things” for themselves. When guided to resources, like study supports, peer help, some of the students just don’t want to do the work. They are lead to the help they need, but there is something that stops them from actually taking the help and then moving forward with the effort they need to expend to accomplish the task. I have other students who readily jump on the help, dig in, do the work and are doing very well. I’ve come to a place where I have exhausted myself trying to help.
I see places in my experience where I do the EXACT SAME THING! Exercise is a really good example for me. I am literally embarrassed by my obesity… I KNOW that my body feels so much better when I am lighter. I feel lighter emotionally when I am in better shape. Yet, I don’t get off my butt and walk or take exercise in a regular manner. SO – I while I don’t like the idea of being able to recognize my follies as congruent to the students that don’t take advice or help – or perhaps don’t do the work that they need to do to accomplish a task or reach their goal… I do. I do recognize the similarity in my personal experience to that of my students. This is a commitment piece. Commitment is one facet of my wellness model – and apparently – I need to do more work or be more committed to my wellness.
I 100% believe, accept, understand, that my physical health supports my mental health. So – as I am just kind of realizing – some of my current conflict and festering of negative self image is and has to be related to my being “off model”, lazy… etc regarding physical exercise.
I know that I feel better emotionally when I take exercise more regularly. I’ve been using an excuse that I’ve been really busy and I’m just tired (I have been busy and I am tired) to not exercise – when the reality of the situation is… I’ll likely feel more energy, have better mood and maybe lose a couple of pounds in the process.. if I exercise.
The very same pattern plays out when I think about eating habits, reading habits… and the like. I’ve received the help, the advice from counsellors in the past. I know what they would say, what they would offer as support… so I can do that myself.. I just need to do it…
SO WHERE’S MY CATCH? Why don’t I do these things that I know will make my experience a more rewarding one? As I sit here – my thinking is that I’m lazy… I honestly get some real guilt out of that.
I know that I am the only one who can change ME. Obviously I am not being sincere with myself. I find it really “informing” that I feel a playing of justifications going on in my head… If I just talk about exercise – I get – but my knees hurt, but this hurts, but I’m tired? That’s honestly the internal monologue that is going on.. so weird that it’s that loud… Maybe its my inner child? Just wants to sit around and watch videos… be that kid.. the other side of this is the adult me – the me that takes more effort to pay attention to – that knows better… that getting out in the sun and playing is far better for my inner child than playing games or watching videos… I’m just astounded regarding the clarity I have about this little inner voice/child thing I’ve got going on right now… can hear it, almost feel it so clearly. Definitely going to work on this piece more closely.
This “little kid” inner voice is so easy to miss – and truthfully – packs a whole bunch of influence on the overall ‘ME’. I wouldn’t equate this to self sabotage – more like that dynamic that happens in a young families home when there’s a toddler running around… how easy is it to just give in to the toddlers wants??? I’ve seen this in my own home and I’ve seen it in others… funny thing is – my spouse and I didn’t ever really let our little ones “Rule the roost”… so to speak… I’m seeing that this kid that I have inside me has a strong influence on the adult that supposed to be in charge… Hmmm this maps to the AWARENESS facet of my wellness model. Sincerely – I don’t think I’ve been as aware of this inner kid piece of who I am more than I am now.
The adult in me knows that I have to be more INTENTIONAL regarding my physical and emotional/mental health. — Here it is again — I literally just experienced a piece of my thoughts/brain go – “Ya – this ain’t gonna be easy… that kid screams like crazy….” I literally felt a stubbornness against doing the thing that will be better for me.
I know that most things in the world seek the path of least resistance… the path of least opposition… I’m reminded of a saying a dear friend of mine has – “What is popular is not always right and what is right isn’t always popular.” And in todays world… that little saying packs a real punch. Emerson says something like “The purpose in life is not to be happy, it is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” I so very often look to do acts of service for others… and I forget that I need to do ACTS OF SERVICE for myself. In the context of this exercise piece and my inner kid – well, my kid might not bet super happy, but its time we went outside to play. Its time to stop with the child like thinking or perhaps a better way of putting it would be to say – to start being more aware of the child and start being a more self responsible adult.
Hmmm… I think I just figured out a bunch of stuff… a whole bunch of stuff.. from feeling like I’m irrelevant, to not fitting in, to seeking approval from external sources… all things that I have felt and understood some before -but that I have a much greater clarity on now… so thank you!
Last time I posted my challenge was to being quiet – to listen more and speak less. To let others have space to share.
How did you do?
I am really, really working hard at doing this. I am trying to be more aware that I often try to answer questions before the question is even asked. I am trying to be more reserved, more quiet, less… imposing. In my practice with this – I have had some successes and some failures – or maybe better to say moments of realization than failure. Listening, really listening takes work – at least it does for me. So – I’d say – like so many other things in my experience – that this will have to be a work in progress.
This week I challenge you to try to check in with your inner kid… maybe you’re all grown up and you have a good relationship with that piece of you. That’s a blessing. My inner kid hides a bunch of the time – and the reasons for that are – well – fodder for another blog post. I was really able to connect with a piece of my experience with this post – with this thinking – with this writing… and I am going to try to keep at it for the next while. Maybe I need to setup some sort of checklist or something to remind myself to check in with ‘little kev’ every day??? Make sure he’s pulling doors marked pull and getting lots of water…
So – that’s it – I challenge you…
Go out and get some of this wonderful sunshine that we finally have!