The Downside To The Upside (And It’s Cause & Effect on Mental Health)
Why We Need To Talk.
(Yes, About Our Feelings)
Constant positivity leaves no room for the full spectrum of the human experience.
The concept has the potential for debilitating an individual and society. Take the idea of The American Dream as an example. Though well-intentioned, true happiness is often lost in the act of striving to attain the dream. People love their families. Therefore, they attempt to work, sweat, and hustle in the search for a better life.
A human needs a purpose,
I do not discredit that. I am also not suggesting settling in poverty, nor am I implying that wanting more out of life is some kind of pseudo-sin.
A human is taught by society that if he is not happy, he is flawed.
Think, for instance, if there was ever a time that you told someone you were unhappy. How did they respond?
Did they ask you to be grateful for what you had?
Did they tell you others had it worse?
If you were told these things or something along those lines, how did you feel?
Did you feel selfish?
Did you feel bad for feeling bad?
The good news is that with understanding and acceptance of all emotions, mental health issues in society are likely to decline if we teach each other that our value will not change if we are mad, sad, in despair or indifferent. There are three key points worth mentioning: acceptance, dialogue, and surrender (not necessarily in that order).
The first adverse effect that can occur from repressing negative feelings may not seem like a negative consequence at first, but it can be, especially as the person enters into adolescence and adulthood. When a person feels as though they have no one they can share their emotions with, they become self-reliant to a greater extreme. How can this be a bad thing?
While it may not be a considered a hindrance in the person’s developmental stages, as this is the age they are required to learn how to perform tasks independent of their caregiver, such as tying their own shoelaces or counting to one-hundred,
this need for autonomy is not meant to remain static.
For example, this very same child may be well-behaved and self-sufficient but may struggle with emotional regulation as they grow older.
As they enter primary school, children may be faced with more emotional issues than what they can handle on their own, and may not even possess the language or emotional intelligence to let their caregivers know that they are being teased or if there’s a particular child he cannot resolve an issue with.
Therefore, the child becomes withdrawn and aloof.
Since no proper dialogue has been opened about the child’s concerns, the cycle becomes reinforced, and self-esteem is lowered.
Secondly, this is why,
dialogue surrounding feelings and emotions no matter how intense they may be, absolutely need a space to exist in each person’s life experience.
The effects of not communicating are much more detrimental to individuals and their families compared to feeling temporary discomfort that will open doors to solutions while simultaneously giving everyone involved the opportunity to be on the same page with one another.
Dysfunction only begets dysfunction unless we are willing to roar even when we are in pain. We must remember that we are not our suffering. Suffering is a part of human life; it is natural.
In contrast, repression asks us to go against our very core selves. This is more unnatural, in my opinion than becoming overwhelmed by our emotions.
Feelings such as doubt, anxiety, fear, and all of the emotions we see as negative are often the catalyst for creating a new, enhanced version of the self.
After working through the initial discomfort, we are then free to explore our needs that have been unmet and create our own opportunities to meet them. If staying oppressed becomes more comfortable than the gift of freedom (that only we can give ourselves) we essentially accept defeat until we are empowered to make different choices.
This is why I encourage anyone, as soon as they can, to advocate for themselves.
This can come in the form of seeking therapy.
We are not a victim to our circumstances for longer than we need to be. There are, of course, obstacles to be overcome.
Things rarely get solved overnight. What we do have, is the ability to decide. Often when we suffer from mental illness, it is hard to think clearly: we can still choose.
We are always free to choose. Even if we ask for help, we are still responsible for our own liberation through our own personal hells.
Yes, it is easier said than done but not impossible.
When our minds work against us, our compass is our soul.
Though many have argued that mind and soul are the same entity, (or that they are not, or that the soul does not exist) we have the power to switch the seat of the soul.
We do have the ability to put ourselves in the driver’s seat and go from unproductive rumination and transition ourselves into the higher position of the soul, thereby moving from victimhood to empowerment.
This is soul work!
We do need help during transitions, lest we move forward in an incomplete state. We will think we have moved on from the trials in our past, that is until we discover that we have not. The phrase ‘rearing it’s ugly head’ seems to encompass this phenomenon. Notice the terminology here: ‘ugly head’ could mean the dilemma came to pass through an unhealed, neglected part of the mind. We can prevent these effects by nurturing the unhealed parts of ourselves, by befriending that which hurts us.
Resistance requires energy. Often when we get caught in cycles of shame, depression, addiction, or any other loop, we are resisting that which needs to be nourished, watered and examined before we can break any cycle.
Surrender breaks all chains, all circles, all hurdles.
Rather than fighting off shame, sadness, and pressuring ourselves to feel happier or cheer up, would it not be a better idea to become good friends with negativity?
After all, we would not know one without the presence of the other.