You Only Get Out What You Put In
Improving mental is a unique, and often challenging, project for any person to take on for several reasons.
In fact, we usually hear it referred to as “battling” with your mental health (a term I don’t respond well to, but that’s another topic altogether)
The main part of the reason is because your mental health is completely internal to you. It rely’s on your perception of what causes your comfort and discomfort with your mental health (with the obvious exception of externally observable conditions such as schizophrenia)
What you might find comfortable with your mental health someone else may find uncomfortable.
For example, I am an introvert. I am comfortable in my own home, and during the lock down periods in Sydney I didn’t really have a lot of difficulty adjusting, while many others reported feelings of being trapped and a desire to escape, as well as the rise of depression and anxiety.
It all stems from a place of disempowerment
Ultimately, any poor mental health you feel stems from the same place; an experience in which you were helpless and felt disempowered.
Because it’s all come from the same place (or rather the same feelings), it is typically easy to identify what you need to do to improve your health.
You need to take back your power in the situation.
You can't just sit on your couch and expect things to change for you
This unfortunately is where many people are tripped up, and why it feels like a battle to win back your mental health.
Taking your power back in a situation can be tough, your mind likely has 2 opposing forces battling against each other.
In one corner, is your mind’s singular purpose, it’s entire reason for existing: the need to keep you safe by avoiding what causes pain and attracting what causes you pleasure.
In the other corner is your desire to take back your power.
Your mind is trying to keep you safe by keeping you out of situations (like the ones from your past) that cause you pain, and in many cases it even blocks your memory of the pain, making it even more difficult for your to face your past experiences and integrate those experiences so they no longer cause you to act out of a traumatic response.
This battle usually causes immobilisation. You can’t move forward and you can’t move back towards safety.
And it’s this immobility that you need to address.
You can’t sit on your couch, wishing your mental health to improve. You need to actually take some steps in the right direction, proving to yourself and your mind that you actually desire this.
Every step you take in the direction of your goals, the universe brings your goal 100 steps closer to you. So if you take just 1 tiny step each day, your goals are actually becoming 101 tiny steps closer.
And when it comes to improving mental health, every tiny step counts just as much as the big ones do.
And if you don’t know what to make your goals, take this generic one from me: Reclaim your power. Stop letting your mind and body react to situations in a way that does not work for you.
Reclaiming your power has a domino effect in your life
When you reclaim your power from a situation in which you felt powerless in the past, your whole world starts to open up for you, it has an incredible domino effect on your life.
You prove to yourself, and to your mind, that you are stronger than you believed possible.
Your mind starts to reassess other areas of your life that it held you back from because of a belief that you weren’t enough; not strong enough, not brave enough, not worthy enough.
It reassess these beliefs and starts to whether those beliefs hold any merit now. This creates a compounding effect in your life of positive situations.
I’ve had clients report that they’ve seen an increase moments and situations that give them joy, which at first seems like a coincidence, but because it happens so often they begin to realise that it is in fact their brain which has been rewired to view events in a different light.
But if you don’t put in the effort to do the work, you will prove to your mind that it was right in it’s beliefs.
And this is a trap that a lot of people fall into.
Let me tell you a story about one of my past clients. I will call her Maria to keep her anonymity.
Maria had ended up as a recluse that never leaves her house. It had started many years earlier when she was a carer for her mother.
Her mother had physical and mental health problems, and Maria had experienced them with her mother as her carer.
Added to that was the fact that Maria was gay, and had some experiences when she was younger that left their mark on her psyche. At the time she dealt with it as the tough lesbian that she was, but her mind had already filed away the experience as something that might cause harm in the future, and it should be avoided.
During her time as a caregiver, Maria witnessed a lot of the struggle that her mother went through.
By the time Maria’s mother had passed away, Maria was in her 60’s. She was at an age that her mother was when she started to get sick, and Maria’s mind decided that she needed to avoid doing things otherwise she would get sick also.
It started out innocently as not being able to go to the shops by herself, then not able to catch and type of public transport.
From there, it quickly progressed to not being able to leave the house at all.
She became completely agoraphobic, and it progressed this fast because, when she noticed the warning signs, she didn’t make any effort to address her mental health.
She put it to the side and got on with life, hoping it would resolve itself.
Some Great Tools
So what are some of the things you can do to improve your mental health? What are some of the steps that you can take so that you’re not just “wishing” yourself healthier.
There are a lot of different tools that you can use, I’ve only given you an example of 3 of them here, but there are so many other different ones out there.
One thing to remember is that you should be looking at improving your health from a holistic perspective, that is from a mind, body and spirit perspective.
If you are not mentally healthy, chances are that you have some deficiency in your physical health and spiritual health also.
So with that in mind, I’ve given you 1 technique that addresses each of the 3 areas of holistic health that I talk about.
Inner Child Work
Inner child work relies on the studies of parts therapy. Parts therapy tells us that our personality is made up of many different parts, which each have different needs, desires and reactions to certain situations.
Your inner child is one of the parts that you can work with to improve your mental health.
Essentially your inner child is one of the parts you should keep happy within your subconscious. Think of your inner child as a version you yourself under that age of 7.
If you have children of your own, or if you remember yourself at this young age, you probably understand that the inner child will resort to tantrums if it feels that it’s not being listened to, and that it can take a while to calm them back down again.
You will find your inner child is the part responsible for when you become irrationally angry or afraid, and can’t move out of those emotions.
To work with the inner child, you need to enter a meditative state, and use creative visualisation to see your inner child, that version of yourself under the age of 7.
Your subconscious mind should be allowed freedom here to create, so don’t go into meditation with a preconceived notion of how old your inner child is or what they will look like, allow your subconscious mind to fill those details in for you.
If you’re new to meditation, it may take a while to “see” your inner child, don’t worry if that’s you, just stick with it. After about a week (or less) of meditation you should be able to see and interact with your inner child.
The goal when you first start doing inner child work is to just build that relationship with this part of yourself. Remember, they are a child under the age of 7, they will have active imagination, and because this is an internal mental state, anything is possible.
I remember when I first started inner child work, the first few sessions were just me and him flying around places he found important!
As you progress in your work, you will be able to work more on some of the issues your inner child has. The goal then changes to making sure your inner child feels heard, and that you are taking their needs and desires into consideration.
Ho’oponopono is a traditional Hawaiian practice. It focuses on forgiveness and accountability as a method of integrating issues and moving forward.
There are religious beliefs involved in this method, but it can be performed by anyone regardless of religion, as long as you believe in something greater than yourself.
There are 4 phrases you need to repeat, which you can do in your mind or out loud, and they should be spoken to that greater power, whether you call that God, Budha, Allah, or simply The Universe. These phrases are:
1. I apologise
2. Please forgive me
3. I love you
4. Thank you
What you are essentially saying is “I apologise for my role in causing this condition”. You are telling that greater power that you understand you had a role to play, and that you feel remorse for whatever it is in your consciousness that caused this.
“Please forgive me for playing this part in causing this condition”. It’s helpful to remember your remorse from step on in this step.
“I love you, and I love myself as a divine piece of you. I love you unconditionally” You’re saying this to the greater power because, regardless of what your religion is, or even if you have no religion but have connected with your spirituality, it is important to recognise that you are a spark of divinity. You cannot love a divine being that you are a part of if you don’t love yourself
“Thank you for the role you play in my life, and for your forgiveness of my role in causing this condition.” This last phrase gives you a sense of gratitude, which has powerful healing qualities.
This is the deeper understanding of what you’re saying, but when you actually do Ho’oponopono, you’re only saying those 4 phrases over and over:
1. I apologise
2. Please forgive me
3. I love you
4. Thank you
This works best when you enter a meditative state, and bring to mind any feelings, emotions, or visualisation of a condition you want healed.
Yoga has so many benefits that it could be a topic on it’s own, so I will focus on the mental health benefits of doing yoga here.
There is a theory developed by Dr Stephen Porges called “The Polyvagal Theory”. It places the emphasis on the vagus nerve in our response to trauma, and describes how having an inflexible, or even immobile, vagus nerve is often responsible for being unable to move forward from traumatic experiences.
He suggests Yoga as one of the methods of improving your vagus nerve because it physically moves the body, and many of the poses help exercise the vagus nerve.
There are plenty of resources online for this, I suggest typing into youtube “yoga for vagus nerve” and following along some of the exercises on the videos that come up.
Find a video that suits you and stick with it for a few days.
If you're struggling with your mental health and need to talk to an expert about it, book in a consultation with me using the button below.
This is a phone call where we discuss any issue's you're experiencing and come up with a plan to overcome them. It is just a phone call, there is no obligation to take this further, so you have nothing to lose by reaching out.