Disclaimer: Let me begin by saying mental and emotional problems are labyrinth in nature. I am not a psychologist, mental health expert, or certified counselor and realize each person’s journey with mental health is vastly different than mine. This post begins with a disclaimer because these are thoughts I am working through with my life coach navigating my personal struggle. I share this with you in hope that by sharing stories and experiences we may help each other. If my experiences don’t relate to your situation, I completely understand because mental health issues are so complex.
With that said, let’s begin.
We make choices in how we respond to occurrences in our life. Those choices are directives to our mental and emotional health. If we want to control every incident in our lives and make certain that the desired outcome meets our expectations, we will eventually crack.
How much control do we have?
In my own life, I attempt to micromanage every detail. I want what is best and I am unsatisfied to settle for less–for myself, my immediate and extended families. Furthermore, I try to control every aspect of my church ministry and the result of this white knuckle control is an epic failure. So I grip tighter thinking I can make it better. The cycle continues until mentally I crack. I struggle with how to lead instead of control in my personal life and in my ministry context. Each day I discover the staggering amount of leadership qualities I need to develop both personally and professionally.
The Apostle Paul gives powerful instruction about our attitude and mindset when approaching life. :
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,”Philippians 2:14-15 ESV
In James 1:2-4 we are told to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
How do you respond?
These verses and others I have set to memory but the practice of living them out is a struggle. A practice that I have been working on for the last couple of weeks to close the gap between how I know how to respond and how I actually respond I will outline here.
- Slow down. I don’t have to give an immediate answer to everything. Let my responses sit awhile and do not speak until ample time has passed. I can then respond without pressure.
- Eat some food and drink water. I have found that I am so much more on edge when I don’t eat or get enough hydration.
- Get a life coach or counselor that will really rough you up to get you mentally back on track. I have found tremendous value in talking things through with someone who is distant from the situation.
- Make sure I am reading and exercising the mind. I focus on: scripture, stoic philosophy, and something for pleasure. I find doing this each day exhausts my mind in a very healthy way.
- Get some exercise, sunlight, and get the heart rate up. I have written about my fitness journey. It is so critical to keeping me centered and in emotional balance.
- I use this line in my self dialogue throughout the day: “It is my preference that (person)___________ would (or would not) do (action)___________. But my self-worth is not attached to how (person) _________ behaves or what they say or do..” OR “It is my preference that this occurrence would not have happened, but it has and my self-worth is not connected to it.”
These are very simple thoughts but I find myself making small progress each day mastering the grey matter in my head. As Marcus Aurelius says, “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.” Alter your way of thinking and find yourself mentally and emotionally healthier.
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