PUTTING OUR HURDLES TO GOOD USE
Is Mental the New Normal?
As I previously shared on my ANTIDEPRESSANTS VS. PLACEBO: And The Winner Is... article (please see under References):
“According to NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (which corresponds to 43.8 million or 18.5%) experiences mental illness in a given year; and approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (corresponding to 10 million or 4.2%) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities (for more numbers, please see link under References). That means a staggering amount of people with some level of mental health challenge. Considering that a whole lot of people don’t seek help and go undiagnosed, the real numbers are likely to be even scarier.
No wonder words like OCD, OCPD, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, chronic depression, etc, have become commonplace. Look around yourself. How many friends or family members display behavior that has been qualified as (or suggested to be) a mental health disorder of some kind? Or look in the mirror. When was the last time you’ve felt emotionally, mentally and physically (not to mention spiritually) healthy and balanced? Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with a mental health challenge, or do you suspect you or someone you know might have such a challenge?
One thing is certain: when a system says that a big chunk of the population has some type of mental health issue that requires medication, maybe it’s time to change a lot of things in that system. Mere common sense dictates that something is seriously wrong with that picture.”
Whichever the sources of such a dismal state are, the main question is: What do we do with this knowledge? Do we hide? Do we numb ourselves with soft and hard addictions? Do we convince ourselves that we’ll never be good enough to follow our dreams or achieve anything in life? Or do we make the decision to become comfortable with who we are in this phase of our lives, seek wholesome solutions and put our issues to good use?
What We Can Do:
- We can use mindfulness tools and holistic therapies such as Hypnotherapy.
- We can explore brain stimulation and biofeedback therapies such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or Neurofeedback (please see the articles under References).
- We can share our story and help inspire others to deal with their own mental issues.
- We can empower ourselves and choose to put our hurdles to good use! What we often consider to be our flaws or issues can be used in positive ways to help ourselves and others, by simply learning how to redirect these shadow aspects of ourselves and channel that energy towards accomplishing our goals and dreams!
What’s something about yourself that may have a negative side, but can also be used in positive ways?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/18/23
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash
ANTIDEPRESSANTS VS. PLACEBO: And The Winner Is...
Transcranial magnetic stimulation
Neurofeedback: A Comprehensive Review on System Design, Methodology and Clinical Applications
HOW DO YOU SELF-SOOTHE?
A Self-soothing Recipe for Nighttime Freak-Outs
Having an anxiety disorder sometimes means that I get to wake up in the middle of the night feeling high anxiety or the beginning of a panic attack. These episodes can be triggered by real or imaginary concerns and fears. One way or the other, that’s certainly not the best way to spend my time in bed at night, especially when I should be healing and recovering my energy through peaceful sleep.
One of the most effective methods I employ to trick my mind into relaxing and falling back asleep is the same technique I started using years ago to help release sciatica and osteoarthritis pain: I soothingly guide myself to sleep with positive affirmations (silently, in my mind), as a form of self-hypnosis.
Although my affirmations are customized to different circumstances, I usually start repeating something along these lines, as I take deep breaths:
“I am not my body... I am not my aches and pains or health conditions...
I am not my mind...
I am not my fears...
I am beyond my mind and physical body...
I am health... I am wellness... I am wholesomeness...
I am perfect in my imperfection...
I am loved... I am loved... I am loved...
I am love... I am love... I am love...
I AM... I AM... I AM...”
Occasionally, depending on the level of anxiety, I have to repeat this exercise more than once to achieve the desired effect. More often than not, however, I fall asleep in the middle of the first set, as I start relaxing and feeling relief from anxiety and physical pain.
This simple technique is just as effective for daytime anxiety or panic. Although it’s often recommended that hypnotic suggestions are made as affirmations, rather than stated in the negative, in this case it feels empowering to first acknowledge limiting beliefs by denying them, and then affirm that which is true.
What self-soothing techniques are effective for you?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 04/21/22
Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash
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What’s in the way of following our bliss?
Surely, it’s easy to come up with a long answer to this question, as we can list countless reasons why we find ourselves incapable of making positive choices in life and being happy. But the truth is that most humans get a kick out of being miserable. No point in denying this simple fact; scientific studies prove that our brain is wired for negativity (please see What Is the Negativity Bias? Article under References).
Research also shows that our default tendency is to say “no” and protect ourselves from change. According to an article from Psychology Today (The Power of No; please see under References), “the human brain is hardwired to respond to No more quickly, more intensely, and more persistently than to a positive signal. No is stronger than Yes.”
Of course, knowing when to say “no” is an important survival skill. The problem is when we get stuck on the “no.” Since change is the fiber of life (and one of the only constants in our lives), that means we tend to spend a lot of our time and energy resisting change by trying to avoid or control it, which is a sure recipe for misery. As misery loves company, we often contribute to making others around us miserable by resisting the changes they might be ready to make, trying to hold them back or resenting them when and if they do manage to change their lives. In turn, they do the same for us.
Another reason that prevents us from finding our bliss and keeps us stuck in misery is not being able to let go of the past. Past trauma can lead to PTSD and other serious issues that often need to be addressed with professional help. However, there’s always a choice to be made: Seeing ourselves as victims and refusing to let the past go, or acknowledging, accepting and working to heal from past suffering, remembering that our past experiences helped shape who we are.
So what’s the solution?
6 Rules for Leaving Your Misery Behind:
- Being willing to use “no,” while at the same time going with the flow. Developing and maintaining healthy boundaries is vital for allowing ourselves the space to seek self-fulfillment and live well. On the other hand, misery ensues when we keep saying “no” to the flow of life. The trick is to tap into our inner and higher guidance to find a balance between “no” and “yes.”
- Accepting change as a fact of life without trying to control it. Remember Ben Franklyn’s ol’ adage, “nothing is certain, except death and taxes”? The word “change” should be added to that saying. No point in digging our heels; it’s gonna happen...
- Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Life is full of discomfort. Trying to constantly avoid it doesn’t serve us well; it just makes us afraid and keeps us stuck.
- Reconciling with the past with the help of some core work. We can use tools we’ve familiar with (such as forgiveness) and learn new tools or get professional help.
- Sharing our story with the right audience as part of our healing process, and as a means to help inspire and guide others through their own challenges.
- Consciously choosing to leave misery behind! It does take a conscious choice or decision on our part. Less misery means more room for bliss!
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/26/22
Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash
What Is the Negativity Bias?
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…But Being Defined by Labels Can Become a Deficiency
Never before have we had access to so much information about… well, pretty much everything. That can be helpful and useful in many ways, if we have the discernment to sift through the overload of available information and determined what’s accurate, what’s inaccurate, what’s distorted by the sponsors behind the information being disseminated, and so forth. If we do manage to come out on the other side of the maze, there’s plenty of reliable information we can access on our own or through reputable healthcare professionals to help answer our questions.
Due to the outspread availability of information, it has also become easier to label conditions, even when those labels mean that current knowledge doesn’t have all the answers and healthcare professionals don’t really have a clue about what’s going on or how to cure it. Still, there are plenty of labels that get thrown around in relation to diseases and illnesses with internal, external and unknown causes that doctors can’t quite define or understand, from autoimmune to brain-related/neurological conditions such as RA, Fibromyalgia, Autism and Alzheimer’s, to name just a few.
On one hand, it’s important to know as much as possible about health issues and conditions that may limit our lives in any way. Knowledge is power; it can enable us to manage such issues and maintain a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.
On the other hand, being defined by such labels can become a deficiency if that instills fear in us, preventing us from living life to the best of our abilities. It can become a deficiency if we accept these labels without question and feel limited to the point where they are used as excuses to stop growing, to justify the belief that we’re not capable of pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, trying to overcome our circumstances and doing better every day. Labeling can lead to resignation that makes us forget the power of the mind and spirit.
As someone who deals with frequent anxiety and even the occasional panic attack due to OCPD, and who has discovered as an adult that I might be on the lower end of the neurodivergent spectrum (in addition to having physical issues such as herniated disks and hip repair surgery), I understand how difficult it can be to deal with and manage a limiting condition. Because I don’t want to take medication, managing myself takes a combination of alternative therapies (hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, flower essences, essential oils, etc), along with regular meditation, breathing techniques, etc. Exercising and practicing yoga also help; so do writing and coloring book therapy. In other words, proper self care is vital; that includes establishing priorities and strong boundaries that involve plenty of quiet time, while not neglecting to stay connected with loved ones. I also developed the habit of deliberately shifting my thinking when I start obsessing and feeling anxious about something; I try to focus on the ultimate goal, set my intention and simply say to myself: "I give this to God (or my guides, Angels, Source, Universe, etc)." That opens the space to receive clear guidance and be able to follow it, even when it’s unsettling. Not beating myself up for not being perfect is also key!
Of course, each individual has different needs and needs to find their own ways to cope or recover; but here are some additional tools that have been effective for myself, my clients and others who have tried them:
- Rather than reminding myself of why I can't do something, I make sure to constantly re-frame that thought by teaching myself how I can do anything I set my intention to accomplish.
- Hypno-coaching can help jump-start healing on a subconscious level by using scripts such as Gateway to Healing by Linda Bennett and Self-Health by A. Chips.
- The Emotion Code is a simple technique to help release trapped negative emotions from the body: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g7pRNLJKh4
- Mel Robbins' 5 Second Rule and other similar techniques are effective shortcuts to trick the brain into doing what I want it to do: htthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI2VQ-ZsNr0
- The morning pages exercise (also known as brain drain or mind dump) is a powerful method of uncluttering the brain and opening the space for creative solutions to life’s puzzle:
Here's Everything I Learned From Doing Morning Pages Every Day
FINAL WORD: We are all works in progress, doing the best we know how at any given moment. Whatever challenges we deal with on the physical, mental emotional and spiritual levels, we are the only ones with the power to define ourselves; and that in itself is an organic, ever-changing process. Let’s not get stuck on a label!
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 09/28/21
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
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