COMPLICATIONS ARE PART OF LIFE
One of the mistakes we all make in managing our mental health, is expecting our minds to work without complication. In practice, we are full of mental contradictions, bad dreams, unexpected frustrations, fits of irritation, wayward desires, insecurities, and discomforts. If we expect every day to run perfectly, it would be like expecting every journey to go without hitch – not realistic, and not within the spirit of adventure that is so much a part of our lives.
WE SHOULDN’T OVER-POLICE OUR IMMEDIATE SELVES
If we are too harsh with ourselves, our mind becomes like a police state. Free will disappears, and fear reigns. Anxiety emerges, and panic attacks arrive. These are the mental health results of over-watchfulness. Often this happens after trauma. Something knocks our faith in life, and we start to try to over-manage ourselves, going into a hyper-alert state whenever we detect any diversion from the perfect.
WE CAN ACCEPT OUR NATURAL SELVES
The way through such over-anxious times, is to relax our watch on ourselves. It doesn’t mean we let ourselves go, or start to misbehave. But it does mean that we allow ourselves to be complicated beings, with our own natural reactions to life as it happens. We shouldn’t be surprised by our sudden urges, appetites and irritations.
EMPATHISE, THEN CHOOSE
The trick to managing ourselves is finding that gap between our natural reaction, and our next chosen action. Our natural reactions can be complex and varied. We shouldn’t feel guilty just because we get annoyed, or tired, or lazy, or distracted. We can watch and accept all of these reactions. We are human, after all. But we can then settle on a next action that empathises with our complexity, and yet takes us where we want to go.
ACCEPTING OUR COMPLEXITY IN DAILY LIFE
This allowance for complexity has many applications:
- When dieting, we can accept our very human responses to restriction, and find actions that are sympathetic to our nature
- In our relationships, we can accept our very human responses to focused partnership, and find actions that are sympathetic to our likes and loves
- In our work, we can accept our very human responses to the demands of discipline and plans, and find actions that are sympathetic to our complex selves
Just for today, I will not be disappointed or upset if I find myself thinking or feeling something that I am not ‘allowed’ to.
- I will stay aware, and watch the thoughts and feelings. I will accept that they have emerged as part of my complex human nature.
- Then, having accepted my very human response to life, I will choose some next actions that are sympathetic to my individual character.
- With others, too, I will not be upset if they respond differently to my expectations. I will accept them, too, as complex human beings. I will try to find actions that are sympathetic to their individuality too.