Wrapping Up Mental Health Awareness Month

mentalhealth May 30, 2024

Wrapping Up Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I’ve been participating in this important cause by checking in with myself this month and doing my best to course-correct my perspective. I focused on acceptance this month, working to be more accepting of my emotions and myself. 

I centered my goals around acceptance by focusing on four authentic emotions:

  • Eustress (vs. Distress)
  • Injustice (vs. Anger/Hatred)
  • Humility (vs. Worthlessness)
  • Belonging (vs. Fitting In)

Accepting counterfeit emotions as messengers: 

Stress (Eustress vs. Distress) and Anger (Injustice vs. Anger/Hatred

There are many emotions that we are taught to be wary of, and we may even be taught that they are “bad” or “wrong”; emotions like Stress and Anger. There are many reasons an emotion may be labeled as “bad”. In the case of stress, it is because stress is said to be correlated to an increased risk of heart disease. When in reality, stress does not increase this risk of disease, a negative perspective of stress is what increases the risk. In the case of anger, we are told to shame and fear it because it is associated with impoliteness and violence. However, impoliteness and violence are both reactions to anger, not the actual feeling. 

Emotions help us by either taking us where we want to go or bringing a message that we are in the wrong place. Stress and anger are not “bad emotions.” They are simply messengers telling us that something isn’t right in our lives. Authentic emotions serve as avenues for progress and peace. And the less helpful ones relay messages that we can learn from. 

Some counterfeit emotions will try to turn their messages into controlling demands. When we give in to impulses and allow our emotions to control our actions, that is when they become destructive. However, when we accept our emotions (authentic and counterfeit), we can follow them when our authentic emotions lead us in a healthy direction and reevaluate our situation when counterfeit emotions sound the alarms. The alarm bells of counterfeit emotions let me know that something needs to change in my life, actions, or circumstances. I accept them as messengers, instead of shaming, fearing, or avoiding them. 

If you’d like to read more about Stress (Eustress vs. Distress) and Anger (Injustice vs. Anger/Hatred), read my series on Mental Health Awareness: parts 1 and 2. 

Accepting myself: Humility (vs. Worthlessness) and Belonging (vs. Fitting In)

When we accept ourselves, we understand that we are imperfect and that our imperfect actions do not have any connection to or impact on our worth. We are divinely made beings that slip up often because we learn by experience. Experiences, positive or negative, both contribute to growth–they are both necessary. The divine worth within us is unchanging. It does not fluctuate with how “bad” or “good” we behave.

Humility and Belonging are easily twisted into counterfeits that try to destroy our sense of worth and power.

Humility’s counterfeit, worthlessness, distorts our worth by telling us that it is “wrong” to place any kind of value on ourselves. In truth, humility has nothing to do with valuation. Humility is not the practice of valuing ourselves less and it is not the practice of valuing others more. In its plainest form, humility is a willingness to be taught. Being humble means being teachable.

Humility is not a dismissal of our power, it is an acceptance of our potential and a striving toward it. We have the power to become something amazing; humility is being willing to be taught how to become that. 

Fitting In, Belonging’s counterfeit, is driven by fear. We alter things about ourselves to “fit in” with other people because we are afraid they won’t like us for who we are. 

Belonging isn’t about being similar. It is about being accepting of our uniqueness because that is what makes relationships valuable. We belong when we are connected to each other, and our individuality makes those connections worthwhile. We are each meant to be something wonderfully different because we are each meant to contribute something wonderfully different to the larger whole: our families, our friend groups, and the human family. 

To read more about Humility (vs. Worthlessness) and Belonging (vs. Fitting In), read my series on Mental Health Awareness: parts 3 and 4. 

Acceptance

As I have practiced being more accepting of my emotions and of myself, my life has become more peaceful. It isn’t so difficult anymore to break away from impulses and listen to the messages my counterfeit emotions are sending instead of letting them control me. I have gotten better at acknowledging my power and the areas where I lack knowledge and skill. It’s become a little easier to separate my abilities from my worth. And I feel more authentic and more connected to the people in my life.

Going forward, I hope to stay accepting and remember that all of my emotions can serve me in some way and my worth is infinite and unchanging.

BE A BETTER HUMAN

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