When someone says "be mindful," what does that mean? Be polite? Be aware? Stay connected? Well, it may mean all of those things, but above all, "be mindful" means to be present and active in the moment. A natural reaction, for some, may be to suppress or redirect negative feelings. Bad life events are hard to deal with, so why not just not deal with them? Out of sight, out of mind. Well...kind of. Those suppressed emotions will pop up again. You may experience an anxiety attack seemingly out of nowhere. You may get irrationally mad at someone you love. You may get an ulcer. The point is, emotions don't just go away. Mindfulness is a technique that allows you to acknowledge what you may be going through, accept it, and either let it go or find the appropriate place for it in your life. Mindfulness teaches us to "disengage, " as author Sarah Boseley puts it, from negativity. It allows us to shift our focus to what's in front of us, dealing with things head on, accepting them, and continuing on with the greatness of our lives. If you miss focusing on the greatness of your life, take a look at the article "Mindfulness as Effective as Pills for Recurrent Depression" in The Guardian.
Depression doesn't always look like a sad silhouette staring out a rain covered window. Often it looks like...well, us. As if the person is fine. Did you know that? For many suffering from depression, covering up the anguish is a daily routine. Making it so others don't have to worry. Making it so we can function appropriately when we have to. Making us feel as if there is some hope to faking it until we make it feel better and not empty or heavy. Depression does not always look like sadness. Sometimes, depression looks like a smile.
"I get nervous what the future will hold. I can't trust the dark. But then the waves that touch my feet are much gentler than I thought they'd be."
Life is beautiful and it is brutal. It's brutiful.
Life can be uncomfortable and messy. There are times when we are not okay. We may begin to cope in incredibly unhealthy ways, but ways that help to satisfy us much faster than healthy ways. We may self-medicate, we may self-harm, we may binge, we may isolate, we may cover up in any and every way possible the fact that we are not okay. We are given momentary relief from the life that hurts us, but after all of that, are you relieved? Do you feel better...for more than a moment? Do you want to? Glennon Doyle Melton talks about this very subject in her TEDx Talk entitled "Lessons from a Mental Hospital." Give it a look.
Perfect is the enemy of good.
Are you someone who feels that being the best is the only option? That exceeding a goal, rather that meeting it, is the only acceptable action? That even when you exceed and are the best, you still have not reached the level you feel you need to in order to be deemed a "success?" Perfection is a problem. The idea of being perfect affects an individual's whole being and prevents them from being present in the moment, gratified by accomplishments, and happy with who they are. The would-be perfectionist's problem is that his or her fear of failure and quest for the impossible -- yes, impossible -- permeate his or her identity and change it. Gone are the days, if they ever existed, when the would-be perfectionist is content with how an event turned out. Gone are the days when the would-be perfectionist can give him or herself a job well done pat on the back. The challenge is to reach beyond the stars and you know what's beyond those stars? More stars. The would-be perfectionist's quest is never done, never satisfied and creates such an unhappy, unfulfilled way of life that can result in anxiety, depression, stress, and isolation. Below is an article written by one such would-be perfectionist. Her point of view may resonate with you and may even help you to see that life does not have to be as you have chosen to make it. There's another way that will lead to gratification and success.
"I Was So Afraid of Failing That I Wasn't Really Living. Here's How I Took My Sanity Back."
By Clare Milliken
Empathy is a powerful tool that allows us to relate and grow in our relationships. Through empathetic listening and responding, we are better able to let another person know that we understand them. We've walked in their shoes, or something similar, and are willing to mentally do it again so as to deeply connect. It makes someone feel less alone, more heard, and, again, understood. Having someone in our lives that can pull us out of the isolation we've either created or found ourselves in is profound. It has the potential to help our emotional and mental well-being. It reminds us that our circumstances are not entirely unique. And, maybe most importantly, it shows us that we can and will come out on the other side eventually. Having a support system that is able to effectively empathize is invaluable.
When have you needed to feel understood? Is there someone who consistently is able to reach out and empathize or someone who tends to miss the mark? Life can sometimes feel isolating. It doesn't have to. By practicing empathetic listening and responding we can be better friends, partners, and family to those who are reaching out. We can model true empathy in hopes that those who are good at it continue and those that miss the mark eventually hit it. The tip to remember is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. By being willing to share your dark experience -- as either the one needing empathy or the one communicating empathy -- you are able to connect deeply with someone all while continuing to heal yourself. Each day is an opportunity to gain greater mental health and stability. Reach for it!
Depression is not sadness, it is much more than sadness. Depression is often described as nothingness. It is a state of being that grips us firmly, without end in sight. Depression is a hog of our attention, our energy, and our will to move forward. Knowing we are not alone in the experience of depression can provide momentary relief, but most times we just want the empathy to turn into strength that alleviates this weight. Below is a TED talk by Andrew Soloman on his battle and insights with depression. His story-telling propels us into the depths of depression and back out, giving us hope and understanding, whether we are the ones plagued by this destruction or we know and love someone who can't quite get out of the numbness and we are trying to understand.
A healthier, happier you.