Reconsidering What Mental Health Is

woman with question mark

Sometimes you find a good chunk of wisdom in the most random places…

Recently I was reading an article in Psychology Today where clinical psychologist Ryan Howe commented, “A lot of mental health is about tolerating ambiguity and not having everything resolved all of the time.”

In Western cultures, being detail-oriented is highly valued. Think about how much of your day you pick at asking for specifics: Why did this happen? How long will this take? What’s next?

And when these answers aren’t at the ready we unleash an avalanche of additional questions, spin stories to try to connect the unknown, or incessantly review a situation looking for clues. Our active imaginations spiral into emotions of agitation, frustration, and overall disturbance which send us on a haunt that may have us tranquilizing ourselves with eating, drinking, or shopping our way to feeling better.

(Writer’s Note: I’m being forced to live my art as I draft this post as my computer has been acting up and has to be hospitalized at the Apple Genius Bar and the renovation that was supposed to be done on my apartment has changed three times! Help!😉 )

As in our bodies, over-exertion is actually harmful to our physical wellness so why do we allow our thinking to over-run itself and cause us cognitive distress? What if we let go of some of that needing to know all of the particulars immediately?

We believe our sanity is intact when we have the ability to rationalize and understand what is going on around us. But chasing the power to know is actually making us ill with cerebral irritation.

At the crux of all anxiety is that our existence is threatened in some way. If we can prioritize better for what exactly is at stake (i.e. car accident = yes, favorite bagel not available = no) and allow the uncertainty to be there we could give the contemplative hunting and pecking a break.

Sometimes I think achieving a handstand is easier than attaining stillness of the mind but isn’t that the fundamental goal for what we’re searching for? Being able to sit with uncertainty is the ultimate destination that we’re all on a journey to; to “just be.”

June 6, 2016 at 9:05 am Leave a comment

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