Often, we are more attentive to others, but the one person you should be more attentive to, gets neglected.
As I get older, one of my missions in life has been to better myself. In my opinion, moving towards a new and improved self is the best way to combat mental illness.
But damn, it’s not easy. In fact, it’s a never-ending battle to move forward. Can it be exhausting? Absolutely. Do I ever feel like giving up? You betcha. I mean, exercising, therapy, eating better, and constantly fighting with the voice in my head – daunting. Nonetheless, to forgo these things, would be to give up. Something I’m not willing to do.
There is, of course, more to the daily grind of self-growth, but these are the fundamentals for me. And if you were to ask me which one I struggle with the most, it would have to be the voice in my head.
Here, let me explain
We all have an internal dialogue and for a variety of reasons, it can work against us. So, what does that mean? I think the question here is what is influencing the voice in our head?
What I have been able to come up with is this: Essentially, our internal script can be re-written or influenced by several things.
Take depression for example. when depression speaks, it can alter our motivation. More than that, it can have real world consequences. Say, for example, that you’re in the midst of a depressive episode, asking yourself, “What can I do to improve myself?” The depressive voice will say something like; “I’m a failure, so why bother?”
The fight I had with myself this morning.
As I rose from the fog of a rare but welcoming good night’s sleep, I started running through my day. Because why not? As I was mentally going through my workout routine, my first thought was “I should go to the gym.” To which my internal script responded with a very loud and clear, “No!”
My mantra has been “It doesn’t matter what you say, Mister negative voice, I have to.” While some may say, “Well, you don’t have to, you do in fact have a choice.” And they would be right….. sort of.
Yes, you can choose not to do one thing over another. However, if you want to improve, your choices then would be: do what you have to or choose the path that re-enforces your misery.
When I frame it this way, the latter hardly seems like a wise decision. Therefore, learning how to be attentive to the influences of your own dialogue is essential. Why? So, the sinister voices of mental illness, alcohol, or drugs have less of a chance of derailing your success
If I, for instance, didn’t learn how to see when I was being hijacked by one force or another, I would have never figured this out. Thus, I would be perpetually floating in a dialogue of downfall.
Thats not good. So, in reality, if I am to grow, caving to depression’s mindset, in this case, hearing it say “No!” would halt my progress. What’s worse, in all likelihood, is that I would continue to move backwards. Trust me, folks – it’s not a choice, any more than refusing to have lifesaving surgery would be.
How to get better at detecting the negative voice.
As I said, it’s wise to become attentive to the convos you have with yourself. One of the most effective ways of doing this is through cognitive behavioural therapy, (CBT) a therapy that helps reframe your thought process.
When my mind says “no” to exercise, the question I ask myself is “why?” Furthermore, if exercise factually makes my mental health better, why would I not? Again, it’s all about doing the opposite of what we are doing.
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For instance, I live in Canada; winter can be tough here. In order to go to work in February, we have to shovel ourselves out. Do we want to stay in bed instead of dressing up for a fight with the snow? You bet we do.
However, if we did, we’d soon find ourselves on the unemployment line. In other words, we recognize that we must do the opposite if we want to eat.
Similarly, taking care of our mental well-being is just as important. Despite this being true, we are our own worst enemy.
Again, that’s why it’s important to learn what is going on inside your mind. In my case, I heard the word “no!” loud and clear. More than that, I understood what it was telling me. Finally, I know what happens if I listen to it. Undoubtedly, my road to mental wellness will start to crumble. I’ve come too far for that.
So, give it a try. Work on being self-attentive and learn to listen. More importantly, learn to differentiate between what’s good for you and what will make your mental health worse.