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I do something that I'm sure you do, too.
I minimize my feelings.
I tell myself that I don't have a right to feel a certain way.
It's not healthy. It's not good for me.
But still I do it.
If you're guilty of this, you'll want to keep reading.
Because we're going to discuss why you and I do this. And then we're going to discuss a better way to be going forward.
When You Think You Shouldn't Feel This Way
Anxiety and depression are culprits.
They're culprits because they try to trick the brain into thinking that there's not a reason that they're hanging around. Because anxiety and depression do often hang around together.
And if there's not a clear reason that they're there, then that's good for anxiety and depression. That means anxiety and depression can run rampant through the mind and body. But there's something important you should know.
There doesn't need to be a reason that anxiety or depression are wreaking havoc on your body or mind.
Sure, you can try to pinpoint the one thing that started it all. But that's just one thing. A terrible incident that you made it through is not your entire life. Because we all have brain chemistry to contend with as well. We have our family upbringing--or lack thereof. We have our beliefs about the world. There are countless factors that make us who we are.
So which one exactly is responsible for a feeling like anxiety? Which factor is the factor that triggered depression and has given weight to your heavy feelings of doubt and despair?
You can't find it.
And the more you try to find it and pinpoint that one, exact reason, the more you will be stymied by the amorphous space created in your head by what we commonly know as mental health issues.
I know what you might be thinking.
But isn't there medicine for mental health problems? Can't we tackle the cause of these concerns with strategies like therapy or more exercise?
You could. And any strategy can be effective.
But you might be lopping off branches of an overgrown tree. To build a strong foundation, you need to get to the roots.
A Better Approach to Feeling "This Way"
Roots are where the nutrients are. Roots tell the story and have the answers. They don't always make sense. But that's because most people aren't used to looking at something from the bottom and working their way up.
Just as it's hard to see the forest for the trees, it's hard to see the tree when buried in the dirt and looking up through the ground floor. But that's the whole point and is often the reason why good people find themselves in the muck of bad feelings.
Mental health can't ever be one thing. You have to get down in the dirt.
That's where we all started, after all.
As a baby, you didn't have all the answers. You had to crawl before you could walk. And before you could talk, you had to gurgle and babble your way through your very first words.
There is a beginning process for all great acts. Starting something before you're ready is something that you and I were forced to do when we were children. It continued as we became teenagers. But something happens in adulthood. Adults are supposed to have all the answers. They're supposed to know the reason for everything that happens to them.
This is silly. We don't expect this for childhood and adolescence. But we expect adults to have the handbook for their hearts and minds.
It's, quite simply, never the case.
Try This Approach When Feeling Down
The next time you are stuck in a feeling that you think you shouldn't be having, try this new approach.
Admit that you're in it. Admit that this is the feeling state that you find yourself in. It's reality, and you're going to have to crawl through it. Mental health issues can be hard to navigate, but I think a major reason they are that way is because we expect people to dig through them without the proper tools.
When you're down in the dirt, you don't need a textbook or a telescope; you need something much more mundane. You need a simple shovel. Lacking that, you need your hands and feet.
Start kicking up dirt. Start scooping through it until you see what's in front of you. What is it exactly that you are facing? It's most likely not one magical reason that your life ended up at this precarious point. It's probably a combination of factors that are currently right in front of you. Sift through them long enough and then you might start to see the patterns. But you always have to start right where you are.
Old behaviors and events can be instructive. But they only start to make sense when you see the dirt for what it is. It's all around us. Full acceptance of that fact is not only healthy--it's admitting to a common reality in which we all exist.
We all can relate to dirt. Start talking about that. Lofty statements about why you shouldn't feel a certain way will get you nowhere. People can't get behind that because they don't know exactly what you're talking about.
We can all relate to that. We've all been there. We're there right now.
Start with dirt.