I know..! It has been a while. The month of January was exhilarating and challenging at the same time. I had to make a conscious decision to slow down and give myself a good break.
I was working full time, reading books, listening to podcasts, trying to eat healthily, exercise, trying to maintain a soulful relationship with my partner, taking Piano classes, attending jamming sessions, attending workshops, selflessly giving and giving and giving. Too much for one person, I think?
This was a good stopping point for me to quietly sit down, reflect, meditate, and slowly bounce back. The reflection made me ponder about the things that I wanted to share about Mental health. I picked some of my favorite ones for today. I hope you find this useful.
1.Stop living life on Auto-Pilot:
From the moment we get up from our beds till the time we return to sleep, we make an infinite number of decisions.
The moment we feel stressed, we grab that unhealthy meal. The moment someone speaks unkind words, we want to pounce on them immediately. The moment we feel sleepy, we want to chug in some caffeine and continue working. The moment we have a headache or feel fatigued, we want to pop in some pills and keep doing our tasks.
We don’t take a moment to think about our next steps. The more we are getting accustomed to our “busy lives,” the more we are turning into robots that are powered by social norms/acceptance, childhood rules, and the environment/people around us. We are losing the essence of being human.
In short, we are constantly on Auto-pilot.
Through several podcasts and books, I learned about the two decision types that directly impacted our choice: Conscious decision type and Sub-conscious decision type.
Conscious decision making is one where we pause for a moment, think about the issue, and make informed decisions based on the best interest of self and others.
Sub-conscious decision making is one where we make our decisions based on our past experiences, childhood traumas, and the fight or flight response that our brain receives. I would suggest reading more about these decision types.
I realized that most of the decisions that I was making, were based on the Sub-conscious decision type. It was imperative for me to break this cycle.
This rooted into every area of my life. In my relationship, my partner and I consciously made a decision to find the roots of our conflicts (this meant hours and hours of investing our time to communicate and bring clarity, work on our vulnerabilities, shame, state our needs and take decisions to seek external guidance). At work, I consciously decided to stop checking emails after 5PM on weekdays (with some flexibility for extreme conditions) and decided to spend time on my hobbies and creative work during weekends. I failed multiple times. But I knew that I had to feel okay about taking decisions that supported my future and relationships. I could no longer live a life that others demanded.
Life is a series of choices. Would you rather spend 1-hour fighting with a friend to prove why you are right, or would you invest that time to create a future for you and your family?
Don’t let the negative part of your subconscious mind make those decisions for you.
2.Schedule time to talk to your family and friends:
I under-estimated the importance of taking time to talk to my amazing family and friends.
We as humans want to feel belonged. We want to be part of something.. a bigger herd. The moment we isolate ourselves from other human beings, we devoid ourselves of the opportunity to share our love and life.
With this in mind, I started scheduling calls with my family and friends. During the start of every month, I would sit down for 1 hour and send out video call invites to all of my closest friends. I invested in a good video call app so that I didn’t face any disturbances and had the ability to share screens, polls etc.
I started picking out exciting topics that pushed us to chat about future career opportunities, books that we read, relationships, mental health, friendships, etc. Every weekend, I spent at least 2–3 hours getting on calls with my family to talk about their life and adventures.
It has been incredibly fulfilling. I feel like I am in a comfy cloud surrounded by love, care, and affection.
3.Be flexible. Receive Life with full heart:
I always thought that I knew what I wanted in my future. I would control the result of every incidence and opportunity, and when things didn’t go my way, I would completely shut off. I would get extremely disappointed.
A few weeks back, through meditation, I realized the importance of letting life unfold in its own pace and style. There were extremely challenging times, but I tried just to let it be.
I was confident that even the most uncertain times was pushing me towards a path of self-discovery. As soon as I let go off the control, the energy started to shift. I felt like I had put down a piece of considerable baggage.
I just quietly noticed how life was playing out, and it was beautiful! It sometimes pushed me towards the edge, sometimes gave me infinite happiness, sometimes calmly told me to take care of myself.. it was beautiful.
I noticed positive energy flow. One door closed while 3 opened, another closed, while 5 more opened.
Life has a very tricky way of making the right space for you. It wants the best for you, although sometimes it’s challenging to believe it.
I don’t resist life anymore. I just, “Let it be.”
4.Ask for help and Seek help. Be open to Receiving:
I can name hundreds of instances where I had genuinely helped people around me. But if you ask me 20 cases in which I sought or asked for help, I would fumble.
We don’t realize this, but receiving is AS IMPORTANT as giving. This lack of receiving always made me feel incomplete in most of my relationships.
We cannot create love if we don’t open both channels of giving and receiving. I used to feel “very proud” of the fact that I just gave and gave and never received or asked for anything. I also judged people who asked for what they wanted.
I can now proudly say that I am very ashamed of my past behavior. I no longer try to stop the flow of receiving energy.
5.Appoint a Life Coach/Find a mentor:
A few months back, I read about my personality and realized that I was a Highly sensitive person. I realized that I had a lot of positive attributes, but if I wanted to be my best version, it was imperative for me to focus on self-improvements. This was when I decided to seek opportunities to invest in myself.
After a few weeks of searching, I got in touch with a fantastic person, Bevin Niemann (a highly sensitive person herself), who changed the spectrum of my thinking and behaviors with beautiful techniques.
This opened a door of opportunities. My life coach helped me connect with people who spoke and thought like me; she gave me hours and hours of free materials, which helped me improve my personality and allowed me to attend workshops that made me and my partner feel “at home.”
This decision has not only been a catalyst in pushing me towards my dream job, but it has also given me perspectives about the different career choices that I can make.
6.Reduce your focus on Negativity and look for Positives around you:
Whenever I go through the news, all I see is war, pain, manipulation, rich getting richer, poor getting poorer, and a whole lot of negativity. While this is very real and true, we need to balance the de-motivating negativities with positive aspects of life.
When I dug deeper into the fantastic volunteer work that people did around the world, there was a spark of hope inside me.
I could see people living in minimum wages trying to save the planet, trying to protect forests, trying to save animals, trying to travel across the world to help people, and what not!
Why don’t we see more of that in our news channels? Why is every aspect of our social lives covered with feelings of separation and hatred? We have created a bubble around us with huge words written on our wall.. “everything is bad!”. Our body is continuously in a state of “DANGER, DANGER”! Maybe, that’s why we react so fast?
We also experience pain and suffering among our family and friends.
This statement might seem rude, but I am going to say it anyway. “Just because your friends and family are unhappy does not mean that you have to be constantly unhappy as well, but, you do need to be empathic of the situation.”
We have an opportunity to either take negativity and pain as a forever “norm” or be empathic and compassionate. I know.. This isn’t easy.
Two weeks back, one of my relatives passed away in a road accident. I didn’t talk to him much, but it hit hard. I could feel the pain of his close family members. I took my own time to grieve and let myself feel the things that I was going through. I spoke to family members about the trauma. After a few days, I felt slightly better and decided to contribute to a charity in his name. It made me feel somewhat better that he was changing lives through his soul.
So, I realize, sometimes things are shitty af! But I hope that even in such traumatic times, you find yourself in good company and take good care of yourself and the people around you.
7.Self-love, Self-love and more Self-love:
At the end of the day, for me, the answer to every problem was and will always be.. self-love. Most of my behaviors were a reflection of my inner state of mind.
If I was stressed at work, it was because I lacked self-love to say “No” more often. If I was unhappy in my relationship, it was because I wanted others to meet my needs. I was trying to control what my partner had to do and say to “make me feel better,” and at certain times, I lacked self-love to share what “I wanted to do” rather than what “He wanted to do.” If I was unhappy with a friendship, it was because I lacked self-love to prioritize my own needs. I had to slowly let go of such friendships.
Nowadays, whenever I feel de-motivated or stressed, I shower myself with self-love. Meditation, hydration, good food, listening to music, reading, flowing in my thoughts, taking a long bath, taking genuine care of my body and mind … you name it, and things slowly start to shift. The energy around me starts becoming more positive.
I personally know that none of the above comes easy. Some days are so freaking frustrating that I feel like throwing away any inspirational or self-help books.
But, we have a beautiful option with us. We try. That’s the biggest service that we can do for ourselves. We keep trying till things get a little bit better and then some more.
I hope this article was useful for anyone who made it till the end. I can’t wait to share Part-3 of this series.