Tamika, 26, was raised in a home with parents who were deeply religious. She was adopted and she was aware that she was adopted from an early age.
A part of her always wondered about her birth parents, but she subconsciously felt trying to learn more about them would be a betrayal to her parents. Regularly, people said things like: “you’re so lucky you got adopted” which reinforced the belief that she should feel nothing but gratitude. She never felt fully emotionally connected to her parents, but she did know that they loved her.
When she meets Aaron, she’s smitten. They move quickly. She knows her parents will approve because he shares similar religious beliefs. But as they get closer she can’t help but feel a lack of trust. She regularly goes through his phone. She questions him consistently about where he’s been. She pushes him to propose to prove his loyalty.
The voice in her head and the alarm in her body speaks loudly: he will betray you.
Aaron doesn’t know how to cope with her insecurity. In his mind, he’s done nothing but be faithful. He’s feeling exhausted and worn down by allegations. He starts to pull away, which only activates Tamika’s abandonment wound.
She doesn’t have the words to communicate the impact of her adoption trauma — and even if she did she fears she’d hear what she’s heard since she was a child; “you should be grateful.”
She also can’t explain why she’s never felt safe in relationships and that her controlling behavior stems from an unconscious fear that people who love her will eventually leave her.
This is where a third party with a trained ear can be of service; to listen, to interrupt at key points during the conversation and ask questions, and gently guide the client towards seeing if the unconscious is influencing the conscious. There is absolutely no shame or embarrassment about looking at oneself and wanting to live more consciously, changing the course of one’s life for the better.
The month of May has been Mental Health Awareness Month in the US, so lets review some facts about Mental Health.
One in five adults in the US will experience a mental health challenge at some point during their lives. One in five. And over forty percent of people suffering from a mental health event will take over a year to seek out help.
Stigmas around mental health and its treatment can include shame, embarrassment, ego and pride, discrimination and even culture. Many “isms” go hand-in-hand with mental health: substance abuse, food, and sex are common ways that people can avoid themselves. People can overwork, over acquire possessions and people in their lives to numb themselves so that they won’t have to feel what they do when there’s no action around. Simple logic dictates that we see a doctor when we’re physically ill. Working to treat our emotional health is no different.
What is Mental Health?
Mental Health is a state of emotional well-being in which an individual:
Realizes their own capabilities
Can successfully mange the normal stresses of life
Can work productively
Can contribute to their Community
What is a Mental Health Challenge?
There is a major change in someone’s thinking, feeling or behavior that interferes with the person’s ability to live their life.
The interference lasts longer than typical emotions or reactions would be expected to.
How to observe Mental Health Awareness:
1. Take care of yourself. Sometimes life’s ups and downs can seem to be heavy and burdensome.
2. Check up on your friends and family. Often, all people need is a non-judgmental listening ear. Support and encourage your friends and family if they are being treated for any mental problems.
3. The more mental health is discussed, the more accepted it will become. Learn about what behaviors and language to watch for in your friends, family and also in yourself.
The feeling of disconnection and numbness that afflicts so many people’s lives comes from habitually absenting ourselves from our difficult experiences.
Like a mountain climber that is stuck on their rope and would rather die there that way, we’re terrified of sinking down into those places within us that we refuse to inhabit. The grief for what we’ve lost or never had, the longing for a worthiness that we don’t feel, the unknown of it all threatens to swallow us whole. So instead, we insulate in the form of alcohol, drugs, sex or material objects; or we find a way to exist in an anxious suspension above our fears and loneliness.
We can undermine our own efforts to move forward, remaining in fear of becoming self; because to walk the maze towards our next selves means we need to face all that we’ve neglected or abandoned, and relinquish that which no longer serves us.
Sacrifice is a show of trust in the unknown. Like quitting a job only to have a new opportunity appear that very afternoon, or ending a toxic relationship only to meet your true love two days later, there is magic in sacrifice. Life is calling you, and the severance of the tethers that bind you to outgrown thoughts/ideas/reactions is you answering that call.
The idea of a thing, situation or person is often what is fallen prey to rather than experiencing the thing, situation or person itself.
We can see this especially at play in matters of love; in our lives, in our friends’ lives and in fictional characters on TV and in movies. However, very little of what is offered actually leads up to us having an authentic experience of love. It can be that when we grasp for what we think we want and fail to find it, we bring suffering to ourselves and to those around us. We can feel that we’ve not found love, but something else…
Often the feelings of anxiousness, nervousness, and thrill in the area of love are actually romance, and not really love itself. Romance can be a lot of fun as long as we don’t try to make too much out of it; if we do, it could become painful. Romance may lead to love, but it can also fade without growing into anything more than flirtation. If we cling to it and try to make it more, we might pine for a fantasy or worse; find ourselves stuck in a situation that was never meant to last or be to begin with.
Real love is identifiable by how it makes us feel. Love should feel good. And its important to realize WHERE these feelings come from; from within ourselves – NOT from an outside source. True love activates this. Authentic love doesn’t ask us to appear in a certain manner, drive a certain car, live in a certain zip code. When someone really loves you, their love for you awakens your love for yourself. Its SO much deeper than just romance. We realize that we have to trust ourselves, and not somebody else. They remind us that what we seek outside of ourselves is a mirror of what’s already inside of us. Real love is empowering; reminding us that we always were, and always will be, completely enough just as we are.
When we practice being thankful, we go through the process of counting our blessings, acknowledging the wonderful people, things and places that make up our reality. While it is fine to be grateful for the good fortune we have accumulated, true thankfulness stems from a powerful comprehension of the gift of simply being alive. When we feel it, we feel it regardless of our circumstances. In this deep state of gratitude, we recognize the purity of the experience of being, in and of itself, and our thankfulness is part and parcel of our awareness that we are one with this great mystery that is life.
It is difficult for most of us to access this level of consciousness as we are very caught up in the ups and downs of our individual experiences in the world. The thing to remember about the world, though, is that it ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, gives and takes, and is by its very nature somewhat unreliable. If we only feel gratitude when it serves our desires, this is not true thankfulness. No one is exempt from the twists and turns of fate, which may, at any time, take the possessions, situations, and people we love away from us. Ironically, it is sometimes this kind of loss that awakens us to a thankfulness that goes deeper than just being grateful when things go our way. Illness and near-miss accidents can also serve as wake-up calls to the deeper realization that we are truly lucky to be alive.
We do not have to wait to be shaken to experience this state of being truly thankful for our lives. Tuning in to our breath and making an effort to be fully present for a set period of time each day can do wonders for our ability to connect with true gratitude. We can also awaken ourselves with the intention to be more aware of the unconditional generosity of the life force that flows through us regardless of our circumstances. . #thanksgiving #blessings#breath#gratitude #beherenow
There is freedom that comes with awareness, because with it comes the opportunity to make a choice.
Each day, we are provided with a myriad of opportunities that can allow us to transform into our next best selves. One moment we are presented with an opportunity to react differently when yet another someone in our life rubs us the wrong way; on another day we may find ourselves wanting to walk away from a particular circumstance but are not sure if we can. Eventually, we may find ourselves stuck in a rut that we can never seem to get out of. We may even make the same choices over and over again because we don’t know how to choose otherwise. Rather than moving us forward, our personal paths may take us in a seemingly never-ending circle where our actions and choices lead us nowhere but to where we’ve already been. It is during these moments that awareness can be the first step to change.
Awareness is when we are able to realize what we are doing. We observe ourselves, noticing our reactions, actions, and choices as if we were a detached viewer. Awareness is the first step to change because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing. Afterward, it becomes difficult not to change because we are no longer asleep to the truth behind our behaviors. We also begin to realize that, just as much as we are the root source behind the causes for our behaviors, we are also the originator for any changes that we want to happen.
There is a freedom that comes with awareness. Rather than thinking that we are stuck in a repetitive cycle where there is no escape, we begin to see that we very much play a hand in creating our lives. Our behaviors and choices are always ours to make. Our past and our present no longer have to dictate our future when we choose to be aware. We are then free to move beyond our old limits, make new choices, and take new actions. With awareness, our paths can’t help but wind us forward in our lives while paving the way for new experiences and new ways of being. It is through awareness that we can continue to consciously evolve.
October 10 is World Mental Health Day. This day was created to draw attention to the importance of Mental Health, and to help understand it a little better. So I’m going to share a very personal story here to demonstrate the importance of understanding not only Mental Health, but also the importance of understanding life.
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself emotionally triggered by an event that took place. But initially, all I understood about what was happening was the emotion that I was experiencing; which made absolutely no sense at all. I couldn’t figure it out, and all I was doing was experiencing this emotional reaction to something that I couldn’t connect a reason to.
Well, eventually I enlisted a trusted ear that immediately reminded me that I was being triggered by an old reaction that was left over from something that happened twenty years ago. I couldn’t believe it. I’d worked on myself for literally years. HOW could this old thing come up out of nowhere like it happened just the other day when I was sure that I’d settled it long ago?
This is the important part. Life is NOT linear; life is cyclical. Life only appears linear to us because of how we measure time. But that’s not how life actually flows. It is cyclical, like so many other things in our perception; a day cycle, seasonal cycles, lunar cycles, etc. The same things that “got us” once upon a time can and likely WILL come up again and again during our lifetimes. But with each reoccurrence comes the opportunity to take a step back from ourselves and go “Oh yeah, there this is again” and respond more effectively and appropriately.
So if you’ve ever experienced something coming back up in your life time and again, even though you may have worked on it, do NOT beat yourself up thinking that you didn’t do a good enough job or that you didn’t “do the right thing” about whatever your situation is. This is how life happens. With each (re)occurrence comes another opportunity to put a little distance between you and the situation so that you can see for yourself that the situation isn’t you at all.