Part 2 - 10 Things I've Learnt Through Having a Mental Breakdown
We're back with 5 more things I've learnt within the last year, and these are big ones pals! I've learnt these things through personal experiences that really stood out to me, and were further understood through some amazing books I've read. These 5 things have really made me more comfortable in my own skin and free of negativity that have held me back. Enjoy!
6. Some things we just can’t control, let them go
One thing that I have been practicing constantly is letting go. This has by far impacted me the most because the more I let go, the more relaxed I become. I then become more open and trusting of the unknown. Most of the time we feel comfortable when we have everything under control, or we feel comfortable knowing that if everything goes as expected, I’ll be ok. But when something goes wrong, we panic and think we need to fix things and make them ok, when really the things we can’t control, we have to let go. Take a deep breath and move on. Things can happen unexpectedly, that are out of our control and rather than catastrophize the situation, remind yourself that you can only do what you can, with what you have at this moment. Stress in these situations can be avoided all together if we use the ‘so what’ attitude. By being open and letting go, we are almost preparing ourselves for future obstacles. By developing a ‘so what?’ attitude we are telling ourselves "no matter what happens, it will be ok. So what?" We go with the flow and don’t get caught up stressing over the things we can’t control. We simply begin to let things go as soon as they come up, and we take a deep breath, knowing that we can handle whatever comes our way. Going with the flow and letting go has definitely reduced my anxiety and even made me feel calm in situations that would normally stress me out. Letting things be the way they are, will make you feel more free and you might experience new feelings of peace you’ve never felt before.
7. We have the choice to be happy and the power to change our attitude
You have control over your own happiness. No one else can do that but you! Before I spiraled downwards mentally, I thought happiness generally came from outside factors, like hanging out with friends, having a good job, doing something meaningful, and having materialistic things. While all of these things do make us happy, they can be temporary and only do so much. I found that you can have all of those things and be completely depressed. Our own happiness is largely created from our mind. Our mind is capable of changing our mood in an instant, by just changing our thoughts. When I was in the depths of depression and anxiety during the first couple of months, I thought there is no way I can think myself out of this. I thought there is no way I could possibly get out of this despair by just changing my thoughts. I was right in some way during that time as I just needed some time to process everything that was going on, as all I could focus on was trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and dealing with the fact that my life had completely changed. I needed that time to sit in that sadness (as bad as that sounds), to realise that I didn’t want to feel like that forever. Once I came to terms with everything going on, I started to look inwards, and decided to start changing the way I was thinking. I began reading books and learnt that we have an amazing power to create our own happiness, just by using our minds. In my last blog post, I talked about gratitude, which is something that can create happiness. It’s a simple thing we can practice as often as we like, and we only need our mind. Positive self-talk and mantra’s are also very powerful. Being kind to yourself and saying positive statements to yourself like ‘I love and approve myself’ (Louise Hay), over and over again, will empower you and make you start to believe the things you are saying to yourself. Self-love is so important because we can truly be happy when we love and accept ourselves. Shifting your perspective can also create happiness. I began to notice the things that really matter and are the foundations of a happy life. For me these things are the health and happiness of myself and my loved ones. Being healthy, mentally and physically is so critical to our overall happiness. If we are happy and healthy most of the time and we look at the bigger picture of life, we can easily change our attitude from bad to good, by noticing how lucky we really are. Being happy will come naturally when you love yourself and everything in your life as it is, and you have the power to do that.
8. You are separate from your thoughts and emotions
We have this voice in our head, a mental dialogue that never stops. As I learnt that we have the power to change our mood, just by using our thoughts, then we must be separate from our thoughts. A book I’ve been reading called The Untethered Soul says, 'There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one hearing it.' This makes sense when you take a step back, and really notice the constant dialogue that goes on in your head. It is actually narrating the world around you, and when we mentally verbalize things we see, we bring that direct experience from the world into the realm of our thoughts. This book suggests that when we objectively watch all of our thoughts, a lot of them have no relevance. They don’t affect anything or anyone, except you. They are simply there, telling you about things in the present, the past and the future, making you feel better or worse. I now understand that we are the ones inside that notices the voice talking. We can remind ourselves to stop in situations of stress and anxiety, and tell ourselves we are not our thoughts and emotions. We are inside, observing our thoughts, where we then have the power to change them and shift our mood to a brighter one.
9. Care less about what other people think of you
Before my mental breakdown, I really cared about what people thought of me, and I thought that their opinion of me, defined who I was. I have learnt that what others may think of me, really doesn’t matter and the more I care less about what others think, the more free and confident I feel. I still of course care about what others think, but I don’t to the extent where I have constant anxiety, holding back being myself because of the fear of judgment. We all want to be liked, and accepted, so we try and be someone we’re not, just to impress others or to fit in. This is especially tough in high-school, and even into our early adult life. We are trying to figure out who we are and what kind of people we want to be around, so we really stress about the opinion of others, to get some sort of approval or self-worth. I really thought I got my self-worth from other people around me and the things I was doing, but later learnt that we get most of our self-worth from ourselves, and as soon as we accept and love ourselves, the opinion of others fades away. You’ll find that everyone is just thinking about themselves most of the time, they don’t judge you at all. We fear this judgment from others, when really everyone’s too busy with their own lives to really take notice about whatever you are stressing about. So, be confident being you, and don’t let the opinions of other people affect you, because the only opinion that really matters is yours, which should be loving. Please treat yourself nicely, you deserve it.
10. In order to get rid of inner pain, you have to go towards it
This is something I learnt after I went through most of the pain haha, but I still remind myself now when I’m feeling down, it’s actually releasing pain and tension I may be holding onto. We all have inner disturbances, whether that’s our own insecurities, anxiety, fears or traumatic memories, and we tend to avoid them at all cost so we don’t experience pain. I absolutely dreaded going to see my psychologist because at each session, I had to talk about everything that was hurting and really confront my own insecurities and negative mind. It took me while to really see the effect of talking about all of this to someone and bringing it to the surface. I found the things that really affected me started to fade, and my mind became clearer as I processed them and let them go. This wasn’t obvious until I read and learnt about solving our own personal problems. The Untethered Soul refers to this as ‘removing your inner thorn.’ It states ‘real transformation begins when you embrace your problems as agents for growth.’ It can be difficult to confront our own personal problems and it's important that you do this only when YOU are ready. The Untethered Soul uses a really great analogy to understand this process, using the idea that we have a thorn in our arm, which represents our problem. When this thorn is touched, it's painful and because it hurts so much, we tend to avoid situations that touch the thorn. To solve the problem, you only have two choices. The first one is to avoid all situations that could possibly touch the thorn, as it's so disturbing, and the second choice is to decide that you no longer want to feel this pain and need to take it out. Going with the first choice, you are limiting yourself and I've learnt that some of my insecurities have controlled how I live and the things I do and don't do. 'If you don't solve the root cause of the problem, but instead, attempt to protect yourself from the problem, it ends up running your life.' You can free yourself by simply allowing the disturbances to come up, and letting them go. As I talked about how we are separate from our thoughts and emotions, we are also separate from our inner disturbances. When a disturbance arises, if we notice it is an object, separate from ourselves (the one who is watching), we can sit back, feel it and allow it to pass through us, instead of suppressing it and hiding it inside of you. Witness it, and then it will go.
There we have it! These are some of the things I have learnt that have really made me grow and become super interested in learning more about myself and spirituality. I hope whatever has resonated with you in these lessons of mine can benefit you in your daily life.
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