Mental & Emotional Health

May Is Mental Health Month: Where’s Your Sanity?

By Dr. Claudia Luiz

Everybody is overwhelmed and nobody is afraid to talk about it. Historically speaking, we are more sophisticated than ever emotionally; we are highly aware of what we feel, and we can talk about it. If we don’t feel better, it’s only because our methods for dealing with what we feel are still so antiquated. It’s just the same-old, same-old: try to be better, get inspired to change. But it doesn’t’ work.   

It is deeply American to work more and try harder. Unfortunately, strong and deep emotions do not respond to common sense. No matter how much we want to be calmer, more organized, get a grip, be patient, loving, healthy, happier, and at peace, these good intentions can fly right out the window in the face of emotions. Our favorite ideas for leading our best life disappoint us because they don’t penetrate our hearts. They simply don’t impact our emotions.
When it comes to dealing with deep inner emotions, there is a method you can really use to change. It starts with five simple steps:

1) Look inward. You don’t have to get stranded in a no-man’s land of navel-gazing, replete with endless complaining that alienates everyone around you, if you look inward. Nor do you have to get trapped ruminating, over and over, on how bad you feel or how hard and tough life is. This only leads you down a dismal, depressing dead-end road. Looking inward means trusting that there’s something about yourself that you don’t know yet.  You may believe that the reason you don’t exercise is because you’re too tired or lazy, or that you can’t make headway writing that book you’ve always wanted to write because you’re too extended and overworked. But chances are, there’s some other reason why you do not have the energy for change. So keep asking yourself “why?”  

2) Stick with it. Don’t just take a quick peek inside yourself, freak out, and leave. You have to hang out with your own thoughts for a while, in search of something you don’t yet know about yourself. And there’s a lot you don’t yet know about yourself, by the way. Harvard researchers are calling the unknown parts of your brain the “adaptive unconscious.” Simply put, there is just no way that you can know everything that’s going on in your own mind at any one time. If you’ve ever scratched your head and wondered why you can’t change, that’s why: you don’t know your whole story yet.