“I need counseling”
“I’m having suicidal thoughts”
“I tried to kill myself”
Are any of those words familiar to you?
Does the thought of saying “yes, they are familiar” make your stomach tie-up in a knot?
That feeling of discomfort is called shame. And shame is the feeling of guilt or embarrassment after doing something dishonourable.
…Interesting definition, eh? Now here’s where my important question comes in:
What is there is to be ashamed of?
If you read my post last week, then you already know the first 4 steps to ridding yourself of shame. And you know I mentioned that shame can arise from (1) your actions that namely effected others and (2) your actions that namely effected you.
Since we’re talking about the second reason today, I thought I’d discuss the 3 steps you can take if you feel ashamed of having poor mental health.
#1 Question the Logic
Recall the definition of shame – it is the feeling you get after doing something dishonourable. Hmmm… something doesn’t sit right with me here. Why should anyone feel they have done something dishonourable simply by suffering with poor mental health?
Think about having a broken arm or a scrape on your knee… my guess is you wouldn’t be ashamed of those physical injuries. But maybe you made a stupid decision that led you to injure yourself (ex. You ran on a wet floor or jumped off a tall fence). So it is the action that you should be questioning rather than the result of that action.
In retrospect, I made a lot of stupid decisions when I was festering in my downward mental health spiral. But at the time of those decisions, I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing for myself. So on one hand, you could say that not making the effort to improve your mental health is a sign of disrespect toward yourself (also keeping in mind that EVERYTHING you do has some sort of effect on other people). HOWEVER, if you don’t know how to go about improving your mental health before you start spiralling downward, stupid decisions become easy solutions to your problems.
Remember that perspective is everything. So if you are spiralling downward, you might think your decisions are awesome but you have to try to take the perspective of a mentally healthy person. Should a mentally healthy person have thoughts like this? Is it okay for me to self-harm? Those are the types of questions you should ask yourself and the answer of a healthy person would be NO.
That leads me to the next step…
#2 Confront Your Discomfort
When you start that downward spiral and think decisions like calling in sick for work when you feel fine and starving yourself because you think you’re too fat, are good decisions, it is time to confront your discomfort.
If you feel like shit…or maybe even worse than that… you have to admit that feeling to yourself. And more importantly, once you admit that feeling to yourself, you need to admit that your feelings are not good ones.
And with those admissions, you will and should respond by wondering how you can feel better.
For example, “I feel upset and sad all the time. Those are not good feelings. I should ask a professional for advice so I can feel good again.” Your response can be as simple as that.
Confront your discomfort instead of burying it deep inside yourself. As Dr. Brené Brown says, “When we bury the story, we forever stay the subject of the story. If we own the story we get to narrate the ending.”
#3 Be Proactive
Although confronting your discomfort is a must, it is even better to be proactive and manage or minimize the discomfort that could arise in the future.
Follow the personal development loop by balancing your self-care, self-development, and self-discipline so you can avoid a downward mental health spiral.
Study-up on tools that you can implement when you feel stressed, over-whelmed, and over-worked.
Just like you are not born with the knowledge of cooking, or plumbing, or writing, etc., you are not born with the knowledge of personal development. You have to learn how to do things through reading and asking questions. So going to see a psychologist shouldn’t be any more “shameful” than picking up a self-help book.
Work to fill your mental health toolbox so you can be prepared to battle your mental health struggles.
Be proactive, be ready, be resilient. And as always, have a very Happy Monday ❤
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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional, medical, or legal advice.