Mental health

As the French-born novelist, Annis Nin, said “You do not see the world as it is. You see it as you are.” In my work as a workplace mediator, it is fascinating to see how different people can view the same situation in completely different ways. We each bring our own history and conditioning and experiences to every situation and we see the world through our own lenses.

We cannot necessarily control things that will happen in our lives and no-one is immune from the suffering and pain that can come with having a human experience. However, as Viktor E. Frankl writes in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, we can choose how we respond and cope with difficult situations.  Mr Frankl survived being in a Nazi concentration camp. He wrote “the experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of action. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.”

Our self talk is critical to how we experience of life.  Do you back yourself and champion yourself or do you question your ability, your limits and engage in negative self talk? Shad Helmstetter in his book “What to say when you talk to yourself” teaches how to reprogram yourself to ensure your self talk is moving you towards your goals and not away from them.  There is immense power in words and thoughts. On this note, I recommend reading a book called “Power versus Force” by David R. Hawkins.

One incredible story to illustrate how strong our thoughts are is a story about a man called Nick Sitzman. He was a strong and healthy man who worked on the railways. One day when colleagues were checking on some railway cars, they accidently locked him in a refrigerator box car. He found a knife on the floor and etched into the floor “it’s so cold, my body is getting numb. If I could just go to sleep. These may be my last words.” The next day his body was found. The autopsy revealed that he had died of hypothermia. But, the refrigerator was inoperative and had not been on. He had literally killed himself with the power of his thoughts. He had 100% believed that he was in a fridge and was going to freeze and his body followed this instruction. What beliefs do you have about yourself and what thoughts are you feeding yourself? Are they serving you or are they limiting you?

Science is now proving that if we have a strong emotion about something or a strong belief about something then our brain will actually start to grow more connections in our brain to support the fulfilment of this belief. We are exposed to thousands of pieces of information each day, but when we have a resolute belief in something, our brain will help us to see opportunities aligned with that belief, that we may not have noticed previously.

Believing in yourself is a choice. Every day you have the opportunity to choose to believe in yourself and back yourself or not to. You have the ultimate power over your own thoughts. Another great book on the power of thoughts is “The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris.

Tips to keep our minds healthy and strong:

  • From your first breath to your last breath on this Earth, you will be with you every single moment. So, love yourself and be your biggest supporter and your best friend through life. Every night talk to yourself in the mirror and say, out loud, things that you have done well that day, things that you are proud of yourself for and tell yourself you love yourself and you believe in yourself. This exercise will give your subconscious mind and your inner child the affirmations it needs to pursue achievements and spend time doing the things that are really important to you and feed your soul. If we can soothe our inner child, then this helps us to remain calm which, in turn, helps us to be more productive, make better decisions and have richer experiences in our interactions with the world.
  • Have a daily meditation practice – I talk about this more under tips for spiritual health. Even if you can only find 2-5 mins a day, make it a sacred, non negotiable habit in your life.
  • Minimise spending time with people who bring you down and see problems in everything. You can love them where they are at and send them love, but, ultimately our time on earth is precious and I recommend that you spend your time with people who uplift you and you uplift them, people who you know you have each other’s backs, people who you feel at ease with and you can be completely yourself. For some people, this may only be only a couple or a handful of people. It doesn’t matter. Just spend your time with people who will love you no matter what. There is stacks of research coming out about the positive impact of having deep and nourishing relationships.
  • Read books, listen to podcasts and/or watch talks that inspire you, motivate you, challenge your thinking and keep you feeling excited and alive.