Notes from the online course – How to Be Your Own Life Coach – Lesson 5. – The Mind: Blocking Out the Darkness, Letting in the Light.
Mental health is often overlooked for the average person. Individuals with mental health disorders understand how necessary it is to be diligent and consistent in attending to your mental health. Many people that are without mental health conditions tend to assume their thoughts, beliefs, and state of mind are fine without needing to attend to it every day; after all, if your brain works well, what would you need to do to have good mental health?
Stress plays a tremendous role in our mental and physical well-being. Guilt and shame can be just as destructive to the mind as schizophrenia. Anger and hate fester until they take over the person that you are. Disappointment and frustration can cause long-term resentment. Receiving cruel or unjust treatment can generate a lifetime of distrust and victim mentality.
It is easy to see why so many of us walk around with emotional scars. As your own life coach, you must try to interpret events objectively, be honest about past hurts that you are hanging onto, and decide what and when to let go. Some hurts cannot or shouldn’t be forgotten, nor must you forgive. But you can recover and heal yourself while still holding others accountable for the situations they have caused. If you have no one to blame but yourself, work on forgiving yourself. None of us are perfect and you will struggle to move forward until you admit the choices you’ve made that have caused harm and then forgiven yourself for it.
Make a list of the hurts, disappointments, and frustrations you are still holding onto. Some of these may be small while others may encompass your whole life. Identify if they make you angry, hurt, lost, overwhelmed, etc. Whatever the issue, list the primary reason you are still hanging onto the pain.
Now you will determine whether or not any of these hurts need to be discussed with someone else. Sharing your feelings and addressing issues head-on can help limit the frequency of such injuries being committed. As your own life coach, what is absolutely necessary is for you to prepare yourself for any possible reaction (or lack thereof). You cannot control others. For example, imagine that you have been holding on to a cruel comment that was made during an argument with your sibling. Moreover, you feel that they should know how hurtful it was and that you’ve been hanging onto that pain but do not want to anymore. Your sibling, upon hearing this, may apologize, may get angry, may bring up past hurts you’ve inflicted on them; there is almost no limit to the possible reactions. You have to prepare yourself to be able to say it and then be ready to let it go regardless of the reactions of others.
It is now time to let these hurts go. Obviously, it doesn’t mean you suddenly do not care but rather that you are committed to trying to live genuinely to who you are rather than to past actions that may have defined you. There are numerous ways to symbolically let these hurts go; chief among them are the following:
Put each hurt into a balloon and then let the balloons all fly away, taking your hurt away.
Burn the hurts, focusing on the cleansing of the fire which mimics the cleansing of the soul.
Take some time each day to focus on one of the hurts and make a concerted effort that day to change how you think and feel about anything connected with the hurt.
Old hurts and disappointments, however, are only part of the issue. The struggles and frustrations you see every day can also take hold and end up having more power over your life than you want. Everything from office gossip to a fight with your spouse can bring the hurt, anger, and frustration back in, even after you’ve worked so hard to rid yourself of these negative emotions.
To maintain and attack new issues as they come, there are habits you can develop that will help you stay mentally calm. A few ideas include:
Journaling briefly but on a consistent basis, making note of your emotions and how they relate to things that happened that day.
Spend some quiet time in meditation or reflection. You may journal or not during this activity. The goal is for you to identify what disrupts your happiness and focus on putting it into perspective.
Read a book that will give you guided meditations or address specific issues that you may be continuing to struggle with. The Resources and References page will supply a few of the most respected titles.
Create a space (or several) where you can spend some alone time decompressing. Whether that means closing your office door for 15 minutes where no one can come in or taking a long hot bath after you put the kids to bed, give yourself a little mental break on a regular basis.
Now that you have cleared out the darkness of your past and the disturbances of the present, you can make room for the light. Happiness, joy, and contentment are all about how you see the world, not how it sees you. When you succeed in tamping down the hurts of yesterday and today, you open yourself to positive thoughts and feelings. Make sure that space doesn’t remain empty; purposefully fill it with thoughts that bring you joy and peace.