And since the only person who will ever truly be able to do it is ourselves, that makes it a pretty big challenge.
Objectively, I think that everyone has the capability to take a look at what’s brewing underneath their own hood- and there are major health benefits in doing so.
Being self-aware and taking the time to look at ourselves can help us notice and address things that aren’t helping us anymore; things that could actually be hurting us yet we’re entirely unaware of. I’ve been learning about how the body can store different types of emotional pain in different areas of the body. This means that how something made you feel can literally translate to physical discomfort or pain building up in your body somewhere.
When our hand touches a hot stove, or even feels some heat coming off of it, we immediately pull it away, or better yet keep it away from the stove altogether. This is common sense, that s*** is hot, why would we want to burn ourselves.
The problem with emotional and psychological pain is that there’s a lot of it that we don’t see or have an idea about. And you can’t fix a problem you don’t know you have, right?
The thing with taking a look at what’s happening inside the mind is that it’s no coincidence that we’re oblivious to what’s happening. As already mentioned, we can’t see it ourselves; so unless we actively put an effort to peak at what’s inside us, it’s never going to happen. Nobody on this earth can do it for you.
So why don’t we then, if the onus is really just on us?
The answer is that it can be a pretty daunting, scary, and damn right uncomfortable thing to do. Who we are inside is between one person and one person only. We can’t blame something we don’t like on someone else, a situation, or some other thing. Which, as it turns out, is what our minds really like to do. Whether we like it or not, the conscious and subconscious parts of our mind are constantly justifying and explaining things to ourselves to reduce the amount of distress or tension that we feel.
There’s a term for this, if you cared about these things.
It’s called Cognitive Dissonance, and it’s a name for the mental stress we feel when we consciously do or think things that don’t jive with what our subconscious truly feels.
For example, if you say you can’t stand when someone comes in late but had the time to stop and get themselves some coffee, and then you go ahead and waltz into a meeting 15 minutes past the start time with a pumpkin spice latte in your hand, it’s going to put some pressure on your mental (whether you know it or not).
When things are going on that we don’t know about, there’s simply nothing we can do about solving them. I’ve found that looking deep inside of myself can be intimidating, because I find things that I like and things that I don’t. Looking at things that I don’t like about myself, for all intents and purposes, is uncomfortable. As it should be.
Pairing that with an open-mind but more importantly, a willingness to grow can pay dividends in the long run when it comes to mental (which translates to physical) health.
It takes courage to actively look into things about your personality and emotions and see them for what they are. And part of that is understanding who we are when we take that look. Being critical and just searching for things to criticize can deal significant blows to our psychological ego that we might not be prepared for.
It’s like a simple form of pure observation: gently looking at everything we’re seeing with an open-mind, jotting down the things we notice. I find it just as important to be observing positive things as much as negative things, maybe even more. Fortifying the characteristics we love about ourselves by affirming them in thought, and being open and inquisitive to the things we find that we don’t like.
Authors that have influenced the way I think about these things talk about questioning these things, becoming curious about them in a non-threatening way. Simply challenging them in this way can start foraging a path for us to begin walking down.
Pairing it with a strong perspective of a growth mindset can help us realize that growing through it and changing this aspect of ourselves is a very real possibility.
I used to struggle significantly with anger in my youth and as a young adult, and it’s through processes like this where I enabled myself to challenge it and grow.
It’s not easy, instant, or fun; but its value is undeniable. Uncovering things about yourself might feel uncomfortable, but getting down deeper and exploring why you are the way you are about something can help take the ammo out of the gun that you don’t even know is firing.
If it sounds like something you’re up to the challenge for, you’re going to have to do some convincing.
But only for one person.
Practice happiness, reduce your stress with a simple guided journal, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer.
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