One of the first things I realized when I started working with people on their mental health issues was they identified with their stress and were unable to see beyond it. They forgot about the healthy part of them, whether they decided it was covered up or completely gone. They were so familiar with struggling, they could not perceive life without it.
Whatever a person identifies with, they become. For example, if a person sees him or herself as a nervous person, they will reinforce the habitual tendency to become attached to nervousness. This cultivates and solidifies it. The same is true for low self esteem, a lack of confidence, neurotic tendencies and addiction, to name just a few examples. The person becomes so familiar with these identifications they eventually cannot see anything else. It becomes who they think they are.
Imagine what would happen if a person identifies with their healthy aspects? The more one perceives themselves as relaxed, content, happy, accomplished, confident and loved, the more they will experience this state of mind.
So why doesn’t everyone just do this? Because it’s too unfamiliar.
Now is the time to get more familiar with how you want to feel on a regular basis. What does perfect mental health feel like? Have you ever pondered that question?
Society will most likely not support this contemplation. The media and many people we interact with on a daily basis will focus on what’s wrong, not what’s right. You will engage in conversations each day based on describing what is stressing you. In 1982, Don Henley wrote a song entitled “Dirty Laundry” about society’s fascination with negative news: “We all know that crap is king give us dirty laundry.” And it’s more true in 2017 than ever.
So, what does perfect mental health feel like? If you want to get there you have to know what you’re shooting for. It’s our essential target practice. However, this is a difficult question for many people to answer because it’s so unfamiliar. The qualities you identify with will set the stage for your future, so it is an essential question to answer. Healthy change requires a change in perception.
Perfect mental health is possible. I’ve had the wonderful good fortune to watch people improve and gravitate towards perfect mental health. I’ve studied mental health and experienced my own journey towards the goal of having a stress free mind.
Here is my personal description of what perfect mental health feels like:
- You feel contentment, cheerfulness and love at your baseline.
- Emotions and feelings arise and you allow them to be in your awareness without reacting. You respond as needed or just accept the feeling until it passes.
- All emotions and feelings pass – they come and go – and you are fully aware of this. You enjoy the ones that feel good and you learn from the ones that challenge you.
- You are aware you are not these feelings that occur – you are the awareness of these feelings that occur.
- Your thoughts are clear, effective, linear and inspired.
- You are spontaneous, quick witted and have a good sense of humor.
- You can problem solve with ease. You know the correct response at any given time, which may include no response.
- You use your thoughts to assist you with tasks, in conjunction with action, but you don’t waste time on useless, unnecessary thoughts.
- When you indulge thoughts about memories from the past or plans for the future you do not get carried away and can stop at any time.
- You can let things go.
- You are aware you are not your thoughts – you are the awareness of the thoughts that occur.
- You live fully present, in the moment, alert and curious.
- You are in control of attention on your mind, your mind does not control you.
- You experience space between your thoughts, inner silence and peace on a daily basis.
This is my description of perfect mental health. You may have your own spin on how to describe perfect mental health, but calmness and clarity are paramount. I included a sense of humor in my list because it seems to be an essential quality and sign of health, from my experience. Beware of those who are too serious all the time – they are identifying with the qualities that disempower them. We need to take things lightly, laugh at our neurosis and enjoy life as it unfolds.
A quote from Novelist Sir Terry Pratchett states: “If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.”
Take some time to envision what your perfect mental health experience would be like. Be as specific as possible. What would make you thrive, feel empowered and enjoy your own company? How would you experience your feelings and your thoughts? Begin to set the stage for your renewed state of mind. Write it down. When you see it in front of you it will solidify and begin to take root in your life. Read your description each day to become familiar with it. You cannot reach the goal if you cannot envision it.