In one of my earlier posts I wrote about hiring a new counselor. I’ve been seeing him every two weeks for four months. The relationship on a professional level has been established. The large theme we found is that I often have self defeating thoughts. My counselor thinks we get caught up in negative thinking about ourselves and act on thoughts whether we are aware or not.
At first I thought this was one of those meme type philosophies like ‘what you think about comes about’ that oversimplifies. For years I thought my mental health problems were mostly the result of a bad draw when it came to genetics. The more I went into what my counselor was saying, the more I realized I wasn’t being proactive enough in my thinking. I was allowing bad things and poor thoughts to happen because I thought I was essentially powerless to change what was happening in my mind. I had fallen into the trap of being too reliant on psych medications and not adjusting my thoughts and behaviors.
While psych medications can knock down some of the immediate anxieties and depression, they are unable to address the issues of behaviors and self image. A med can’t make anyone think better about themselves. We still have some control over what we tell ourselves and how we see ourselves. We are not condemned to a lifetime of failure because we have mental health problems. I have heard about too many people with issues to think depression and anxiety are death sentences. Just Google or Wikipedia Famous People With Mental Illness and you’ll see names including Noble Prize winners (John Nash), U.S. Presidents (Abraham Lincoln), musicians (Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd), and so on. I would argue that famous explorers and inventors like Daniel Boone, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Leonardo da Vinci, etc. would have been considered ADHD and problem children by 21st century standards. Some people simply don’t fit some preordained little box to be ‘normal citizens.’ People like this are the ones who change the world for the better and make life more interesting. Just because someone is quirky and doesn’t fit in socially doesn’t mean that person is doomed to a life of pain and obscurity.
What we think about and act on has an influence on our lives. Once I took charge of my health, started dwelling on how I can make myself healthier, started exercising, started to eat healthy, my physical health began improving. It all started with the idea that I could go against my previous trends and improve my health. I’m finding the same thing with my mental self image. As I’m thinking, and acting on, the idea I don’t have to be threatened by feelings of anxiety or depression, things are improving in those regards. As I think, and act on, the idea I don’t have to believe anything anyone says, my life has changed for the better.
Once I accepted that I don’t have to always be the one giving without receiving good in return, I have found that others respect me more. I respect myself more now. Feel free to tell others ‘no’ when you aren’t up to helping them. Tell others ‘no’ when they keep taking from you without giving anything back to you. You know what it’s like to be disrespected. We all do. Ways to get more respect include respecting yourself, setting boundaries, telling others ‘no’ when they are using you and treating you poorly, and don’t go out of your way to bend to whims of disrespectful people. If you don’t think you should respect yourself, don’t expect respect out of others.
Talk yourself up. Start small if you have to. Do not buy into the idea that you have to be humble and groveling at the feet of others. Far too many people believe that being humble means thinking poorly of yourself. Because people think poorly of themselves, they allow themselves to be victims of their circumstances, their diagnoses, and of every hustler and con man who comes along. Think well of yourself. Treat yourself with love and respect. Think good about your ability and accomplishments. We all have accomplishments and talents. We just discount them because they are ours. We, mentally ill and neurotypical alike, need to talk more dignity, honor, and respect into ourselves on a daily basis. If we don’t hold ourselves with higher regard, we have no reason to be sickened when others won’t treat us with dignity and respect. What we think about and act about does come about.