Saturday, November 5, 2016

Be The Expert!

Everyone likes to feel like we are an expert at something in the world.  We are all experts at the same thing, nobody knows us as much as we know ourselves.  Others may think they understand you but we all know there is so much more in there to learn.  I read and research a lot which makes me knowledgeable, but I don't consider myself to be an expert in anything other than me.  Through self-reflection you can become an expert about yourself as well.

The more time we sit in quiet contemplation, the more we learn about what goes on within us.  If you are like me right now and there are many thoughts and feelings plaguing you, then this means that we have things to process and learn about ourselves yet.  Those uncontrolled thoughts and feelings are things that we have not taken the time to understand yet, but it is worth the time and effort to process them.  This is where you begin to become the expert.

We learn things every day of our lives, and some of the those things we learn make sense while others do not.  If the new things cause conflict in our inner values and morals, then they will remain unprocessed until we think our way through them.  Many of the unprocessed thoughts come from interactions with others.  The other person may have said or did some things in our presence that disturbed us for example and we go away trying to make sense of it all.

These sort of thoughts can plague us for days, weeks, months and even years depending on the severity of the interaction.  The longer we leave those thoughts unprocessed, the more they will lead to anxiety and often depressive states.  If you want to start searching for that place of inner peace that is inside of all of us, then you need to start processing through controlled thought.  The more of these unanswered questions you have within yourself, the worse your state of mind will be.

Nobody else can remove these thoughts and feelings from us.  We can find others who can help guide us at times but we need to become experts of our own mind if we want to 'tame the beast' within.  Get to know yourself better and begin finding ways to calm your inner self with answers.  There is a book called 'The Four Agreements' that I found helpful in this journey.  Follow their ancient for rules and you will have a better chance of finding peace.

The four agreements are simple to read but a little more complex in practice.  Don't assume anything! Ask questions and verify information before taking it as law within yourself, otherwise you will be adding to the mountain of unprocessed information you are already carrying.  Don't take anything personally!  When someone says or does something negative to you, most of the time it is because of their state of mind at that moment as opposed to them having a problem with you.

Be impeccable with your word!  This refers to choosing your words carefully when you speak so that you are always speaking in a truthful and honest way.  Doing this helps to stop inner conflicts before they begin. If we choose our words wisely and carefully we can immediately process the information within ourselves rather than adding to the unprocessed thoughts.  Finally, always do your best, because if you always give your best effort nobody can tell you that you did not try or intend the best possible outcome.

Get to know yourself!  Become the expert on you.  Learn what works and what does not.  The more you learn about yourself, the better your relationship becomes with you and with others.

Have a peaceful and happy day!
Be Well

Self-Reflection Is A Must For Better Mental Health

The only way to fix your thinking is through self-reflection.  The answer are not out there, they are inside of you.  How we view and perceive the world is how we will feel about it.  This part is our choice.  I am positive person for the most part because I choose to see the good in things, but we all have things that are difficult to view in a positive manner.  These are things that eat away at us and poison our spirit.

There are others who will try to guide you to your way of thinking, but you must consider if they have your best interests in mind or their own.  This is where I will share a bit of my own self-reflection at this point so you can view how the process works.  I use a lot of self-reflection to weed out the bad thoughts that plague my thinking processes.

When I close my eyes and calm my mind I am filled with conflicted peace.  I can feel the peacefulness that I found years ago, yet there are thoughts that are continually trying to pull me from that peaceful state as of late.  At first, in my 'beaten down' state, I was resentful towards certain others because of how I was feeling, and struggled to understand how someone could treat me so poorly.

It took me a while but eventually I was able to stop taking it personally.  There is something wrong with them, not with me.  Because their actions and behaviours were affecting me so dramatically, I was constantly finding fault with myself and believed that I was in the wrong.  Once I spent many hours reflecting on my issue and inner conflict I was able to understand that I was feeling resentment which was becoming toxic to me.

I finally realized after much reflection that if I stopped taking it personally and used my empathy to realize that the person's problems are theirs and not mine, I began to empathize instead of wanting retribution.  It is very difficult to do this when we are suffering while still seeing the others continue as though nothing is wrong.

Now that I have been able to remove most of the toxic thought, I am using my writing to move forward for me.  The world has become filled with sociopaths and narcissists and learning how to identify them is the best way to overcome the abuse we suffer at the hands of others.  Look more closely at those in the business world and government and determine whether they truly have your best interests in mind, or whether they are doing what they do for personal recognition and personal gain.

These people will seem nice and good when you meet them and they are very good at creating a persona that will draw you into their world.  What you won't see is the manipulation and the clever tricks being used without you even knowing.  These types of relationships can go on for a long time without you even knowing you are being abused.  You will just be left with an empty feeling and feelings of frustration because you empathic self cannot understand how someone could treat you this way.  Especially when it is someone you trust or at least believe you can trust.

I will add more information about this as I reflect more, but in the mean time check to see if others have empathy for others or whether it is a fake persona they are creating.  This is a key to identifying abusive people.  These people will often make you question yourself and your own values and empathy.  If you truly care about others and try to help where you can without expecting anything in return, then you have empathy and are safe from one of these horrible mental illnesses.

Don't let others abuse you, you are better than that and do not deserve it, nobody does.  If someone is robbing you of your peace, get away from them no matter what it takes.  If someone is stealing your good energy and offering none in return, they are likely toxic and you will want to create distance from them.

Reflect on your own peace and inner conflicts and you will find the truth in there.  Find what is removing your peace and let it go for you, not for them.  Find what adds to your peace and reflect on it as much as possible because it is your inner self trying to show you the right way.  Surround yourself with others who care about you as much as you do them.

Your mental health matters and should be nurtured.  If someone is not helping you to nurture your well being, they don't have your best interests at heart because they likely don't have one themselves. Spend some time in self-reflection today and let go of toxic thoughts about others because they don't care about you, so stop caring about the.

I will not write from a negative standpoint very often but when I need to get a point across I will use it to help others understand.  I hope for good mental health for all, even those who don't deserve it.  If we all improve our thinking and mental well-being, the world will become a much better place to live.

Be well and have a great day!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Setting SMART Goals: Step 3

Step 1 is about making a choice to improve your state of mental health.  We can all use some help in this area and it is not just about the ones who are struggling the most.  Once you have decided that you want to feel better, then you are ready to move forward.

Step 2 is about self-reflection and understanding what your own issues are.  Doing a self-assessment can be difficult, especially if the problems are deep rooted and sometimes scary to deal with.  Pick only issues that you feel you are ready to deal with and don't overload yourself.  Even if you assess one problem at a time and work through the steps, you are heading in the right direction.  If gets easier as you get stronger.

Step 3 is where you begin to set goals for yourself.  If you can't take a positive approach to your future then you will end up stuck where you are.  Especially with anxiety issues, it is difficult to change our mindset towards the future because we always have a sense of impending doom and are often overwhelmed by the amount of thoughts we are flooded with each day.

In school we learned about setting SMART goals and I use this quite often in my own approach to myself and others.  To begin, your goals should be Specific.  Find the issue you want to deal with and come up with a specific goal in regards to it.  If I am anxious about something that will happen next week, identify specifically why you are anxious, and then decide what you will do about it.

The second part is to make sure the goal you have set is Measurable.  How will you measure your success in achieving your goal?  How will you know if you have met your goal?  It may be a reduction in stress or anxiety levels and you will want to be able to look back and see your progress.  This is what keeps you moving forward.  Is your goal Attainable?  Is it merely a hope or is your goal something that you will be able to accomplish?  Make sure when setting goals that you have every opportunity to achieve them, otherwise this can set you up for feelings of failure.

Is your goal Realistic and Relevant?  Is it something that you will have the time and energy to accomplish, and is relevant to your overall suffering?  Goal setting is about making sure that it is doable so that you can drive yourself to do it.  You will be directing your own improvements so make sure that you have set a goal that is actually possible once you have looked at all of the parameters to the problem.

Finally, set yourself a Timeframe in which you would like to accomplish your goal.  Do you want to complete it by tomorrow or will it take a week or two?  This step is very important because otherwise we can lead ourselves down the path of procrastination.  This is your mental health we are talking about and there is nothing more important than your health.  Take on this step with the importance that it holds, and do something good for you!

I will expand on goal setting over the next few days, but in the mean time start thinking about goals for yourself which will improve your thinking and your own state of mind.  Rather than letting your feelings and emotions overwhelm you to a point of exhaustion, start taking steps to make it better.  Find those thoughts that are plaguing your existence and set some SMART goals that will help you improve your own situation.

Be Well

Social Isolation

This is a term I hear more about all of the time but it still needs more attention from all of us.  It is bad enough that a high percentage of seniors are becoming more isolated all of the time, but it is affecting the younger population in a dramatic way, and most of us can't even see it.

We all know someone who is somewhat isolated from society but we tend to forget about them easily because we don't see or hear from them often.  Many of those that are at home and socially isolated prefer to hide from the world, and much of the time I can not blame them for wanting to stay out of this crazy society that has been created for us.  With the rise of technology over the past couple of decades, we have also seen a huge rise in cases of individuals becoming isolated in their homes.

Even workplaces seem to promote this idea, especially if you work in an office setting or anywhere a cubicle can shut you off from those around you.  Whether at work or home, we are able to put on headphones and lose ourselves in the land of the internet.  Smartphones and video games only exacerbate the issue.  Hours and hours are spent on these things each day, and although many feel that this is their connection to the outside world, if you took these things away the person would have little to no contact with the outside world.

Like it or not, humans are social beings and have an internal need to be around others once in a while. I figure that if I cannot reach out to you directly in my own community, then I will reach out online where you are spending much of your time.  You are absolutely not alone in this.  There are millions of people in the western world alone that are suffering from isolation, but if the rest of us can't see it, then we can simply ignore it.  I certainly don't like that idea but it is reality!

If you are home and feeling socially isolated then find ways to connect with others online.  Face to face interactions on Skype or Facetime can be helpful.  The problem is that the more socially isolated we become, the worse the problem gets.  We get more comfortable inside our little bubble and draw ourselves away from society more each day.  The world is a scary place and I can see why this is such a big issue.

When you are ready to push yourself and face your social anxiety, start small.  Don't begin in large crowds of people, start interacting with one or two people at a time.  Anxiety will continue to grow the longer you remain isolated because we all have an inner urge to be around others once in a while, even a hermit like creature such as me.

If you are stuck in your comfortable bubble and are afraid to come out, take baby steps.  Don't let it progress to agoraphobia or severe social anxiety.  There are still lots of good people out there for you to trust but it is often hard to see them beyond all of the misery we see in front of it.  There is more information and research being done each day, so look for some helpful tips online that can help you to feel more in touch with your world, even if it is for few minutes each day.

If you want to some conversation or to feel like you have some input that you would like to share please comment below and get a discussion going.  Human interaction is out there and all around us, we just need to choose who we want to interact with on our terms.  The more positive interactions you have, the more you will want to come out of the bubble.  Experience life and enjoy the things you can!

Have a peaceful day and be well

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What Is The Opposite of Anxiety?

We know that the opposite of depression is happiness and that up is the opposite of down, but what is the opposite of anxiety?  There are lots of words I could use here like calmness or carefree, but I will use the word peace.  This is why I push the concept of inner peace as much as I do.

I spent over 20 years suffering from anxiety and tried just about every self-help book out there in an effort to relieve it or cure it.  I spent all of those years using medications prescribed to me to ease and control my symptoms.  After more than two decades of suffering I got tired of simply trying to deal with my symptoms, I needed it to finally go away for good.

Although I still have other afflictions to deal with, I am no longer weighed down by anxiety and panic and I have been pill free for many years now.  I finally determined what the opposite of anxiety is and used that information to set a new path for myself.  I determined that the opposite of anxiety had to be peace because the two of them can not exist at the same time.  You cannot have anxiety when you are in a peaceful state and you can't find peace if you are suffering with anxiety.

Millions of people suffer with anxiety and panic disorders, and every one of them would like it to go away.  Anxiety is like worry and the two are very similar in nature, and they are both useless to our good mental and physical health.  Actually, anxiety is a detriment to our health as a whole.  Even though many learn to cope with the symptoms for long periods of time, the effects build up over time and eventually manifests in negative ways in regards to our health.

If you want to cure your anxiety or at least find a path which will ease your suffering, start searching for a path that leads away from your anxiety.  Just like with depression, if we can focus on happier things and become happy, then our state of depression will ease and hopefully stop at some point.  With anxiety, the closer we can get to a state of peace, the less our anxiety will plague us.

There is a cure for anxiety and it is inner peace.  I cured mine after more than 20 years of suffering and now I would like to show others the way to do the same.  I don't have a quick fix or some simple program 'to a better life', but I can share with you how I did it.  I have helped others ease and cure many of their symptoms, including my own daughter, and pills are not the answer; they are only temporary relief, the problem is still there.

I will be sharing some of the ways I cured my anxiety over the next few days in the hopes that you will be able to find some helpful information which will help you get over yours as well.  Anxiety and panic are horrible things to live with and if I can help you to ease your suffering, then my purpose will be fulfilled.  In the mean time, look for that state within you that is the opposite of anxiety and find yourself some peace in this crazy world.

Have a peaceful day everyone and be well!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Inner Peace: Not a 'Mystical' Journey

When I use the term 'inner peace', I have nothing attached to the term other than was we would learn in a dictionary.  It is not some magical or mystical place we need to find, it is simply the quiet within us.  I will use references to philosophy or religions when talking about find the path, but that is because the information is helpful.  Whether you want to believe in the story of the Buddha does not matter, it is the information provided in the stories which is helpful and important.

I am not a religious person but I love the stories that they tell.  I believe they all have excellent lessons about morality and basic human values, and they all have some sort of prophet who likely found some form of enlightenment.  In order to find enlightenment, you first need to find that quiet spot within you where inner peace exists.  Stop for a moment and try to focus on moments between your thoughts, that is the quiet you are looking for.  

The longer you experience these moments, the more you will appreciate how nice the quiet is.  The longer you can hold onto those moments, the more in control you become of your thoughts.  Now imagine being able to hold onto that quiet peace all of the time.  It is absolutely blissful and this is where you will find enlightenment as well.  The inner peace calms everything about you, and rather than having random thoughts shooting around all of the time, you are able to pick the thoughts you want to think rather than being plagued by unwanted ones.

If you want better mental health and to improve whatever issues you may have within, you will want to get control over your thinking processes rather than having them control you.  Using relaxation techniques such as meditation or mindfulness can help us to attain a better level of inner peace.  Anything that you do which gets you 'out of your head' for a little while will have meditative qualities.  For me I like to do yardwork or walk my dog,

After reading both good and bad articles on the internet today in regards to better mental health (yes I still do daily research as well for my own well-being), I learned that there are way to may people out there offering quick fixes and bandaid solutions.  This bothers me because they offer false hope to people and get them thinking that there is a quick fix to their serious problems  I am not saying that some of the methods they use would not be helpful, I just don't like when they offer a goal of 'inner peace' or 'happiness' or 'enlightenment' or 'awakening'.  

These are all excellent goals but you should realize that there are no quick and easy fixes for mental health issues, and there are not shortcuts to those goals listed above.  It takes time and effort to find the path that will work for you, and your path will be different from mine and everyone else's.  I can tell you that we all have that quiet place within us, but for some it will be harder to find than others.  Just knowing that it is there is a good start.

Even the 'step' program that I am sharing will show you that it takes effort to achieve inner peace.  Nothing good ever really comes cheaply or easily, and if you want to find that peaceful state, you need to really care about you and want to be a better version of yourself.  Imagine not having to worry about anything anymore.  It is a wonderful state to live within.  You can choose to have concern and empathy for others but you will no longer be plagued by 'worry' which is an absolutely useless thing.

Don't be fooled by 'get well quick' schemes or having someone 'show you the path' to inner peace, the path is yours to create.  The reward is the same for all, a quiet and controlled mind and a more peaceful existence.  Finding inner peace is only part of the journey, once you find it you will want to keep it, I guarantee it.  Keeping the state of inner peace is the next part of the journey and we will work at that in the near future.

Good luck and be well on your path!

More About Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia

After seeing how well read my article was on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, I decided that I should write about this topic regularly.  I am not going to provide you with statistics and research, I am simply going to share what I have learned from my own research and from how it feels to suffer from these horrible afflictions.

The first part I will talk about is the stigma attached to CFS and Fibro.  Because they are 'invisible illnesses', many people in the world still believe they are not real and that 'it is all in your head'.  I have heard this comment before and has been a commonly used phrase that too many sufferers have had to hear.  Although I agree that much of it is rooted in our mental state, the effects of these illnesses are very real.

If you have one of these afflictions or know someone who has, you will have a much greater understanding of how crippling they can be.  I posted a phrase with the other article that referred to getting the flu and having it last forever, and that is similar to how it feels at times.  Imagine all of the symptoms that come along with a flu such as body aches, lethargy and fatigue, foggy head, and general overall malaise, and then imagine living like that every day of your life with no real hope for relief.  Yes, it is that bad, and worse.

Maybe you used to function at a high or normal rate in your life, and then one day you woke up, the inner drive is still there, but your body no longer responds to your drive.  Think about the things that you would normally do in a day that we take for granted, and have little or no ability to perform those functions anymore.  How would you feel if you were then diagnosed with one of these illnesses and find out that there is no cure?  How do you think that would affect your mental health?

All I know is that it has a domino effect where the worse you feel, the worse our thinking becomes, and so on and so on and so on.  Yes there are ways to stop this effect but when you are naturally feeling horrible physically each day, it is very difficult to stem this process.  I understand how it feels and I struggle physically even while writing this article.  I share this so that if you are a sufferer, you are not alone, and there is something better for us.  I also share this so that if you are not a sufferer, then you can understand that it is not 'all in our heads'.

I do know this though, even though I can ease my physical suffering somewhat by staying active and taking good care of my physical self, I can control how I view my issues, and so can you.  This is why I am driving my writing towards the idea of inner peace for better mental health.  The calmer we become on the inside, the easier it is to react to the world, and the less physical exertion we need to deal with life.  Finding inner peace helps us to inject positive thinking into our mental state which in turn helps us to feel better as a whole.

I don't have all of the answers but I do know that I have learned to greatly ease my own suffering by finding peace within.  I am no longer dragged down into depression by my illness because I realize that I can either give up or keep moving forward.  I choose to move forward even when my physical self tries to pull me backwards.  Taking control of our thoughts and our mind gives us the ability to see things from different angles.

Even though there is no cure for these afflictions presently, I still believe that if I can continue to strengthen my state of mental health, then my physical self will improve as well.  I have proven this to myself over and over again.  When I feel truly at peace, my suffering is eased greatly. If there is one thing to hold onto, it is hope.

I believe that the path to healing these afflictions comes from within, and even if I am wrong, I know that this thought provides me with the hope and positive nature to remind me each day that life is a blessing, and I should not waste it.  Keep your hope alive and know that you are not alone.  Keep looking inside for answers and you will eventually find some.  No matter what your beliefs are, remember that the body has the ability to heal itself, and we need to find a way to let it do so.

Take care and be well

Ready For Change-Finishing Step 2

Now that you have done your assessment and mental health check-up, you will want to determine what the results are.  This step is very important because the better the assessment, the more clearly you will be able to define and prioritize your list of needs for the next step.  If you feel you have made a good assessment and have truly defined your most prevalent issues, then you are ready to move forward and begin doing something about them.

If you are still having difficulty figuring out some of the things that are blocking your peace, then more research or outside help may be needed.  Don't hesitate to go over this step a few times until you can provide yourself with the best assessment possible.  Personally, I have a few inner conflicts which have been plaguing my mind lately and I have written down what they are, and how they are affecting me.  Remember that you can work the steps over and over again if you prefer to tackle one problem at a time.

This step is meant to provide you with a greater understanding of yourself.  It is a time to reflect and use your own insight and knowledge to find out what is blocking you from finding your own inner peace.  I will continue to reference inner peace because if you find that, then you are in control of your own happiness at that point.  Once you are in control, you will begin to heal and improve your mental state of being.

The reason you want to make sure your assessment is well research and rationalize is so that you can begin to make a plan for yourself.  The more information you have access to, the better your plan will be.  We will move forward in the next step by prioritizing our issues and setting goals for ourselves.  We will create a plan that is attainable and realistic.  We will create time frames and goals that we can work comfortably and also be able to measure our progress.

The next step is where the work begins, and the more effort you put in, the more rewards you will receive for yourself.  Don't worry about how much effort you can put in at this time because any effort at all will help you get started.  If you are in a weakened state right now then it may take some time to build up your strength first.  Don't overextend yourself, work at a pace that is comfortable for you because you can always go back and do the steps as many times as you like.

At the end of the steps, the hope is that you are able to remove some or all of your inner conflicts, and get a much closer look at the peaceful state that lies within us all.  The more inner peace you can obtain, the stronger and healthier your mental well-being will be.  If you have completed the first two steps then you are well on your way to finding that calm inner being you have been searching for.

All of this is designed to ease your suffering through understanding of 'self' and to increase your self-esteem and confidence.  Learn to love yourself so others can love you as well.  If we don't love ourselves then it is hard to expect others to do so.  You are worth it no matter how you feel right now. Your life has meaning and you deserve to be content and at peace.  This truly is the ultimate reward.

Have a great day and I hope you find many peaceful moments
Be Well

Monday, October 31, 2016

Common Sense Approach to Mental Well-Being

Step 2 continued:
When doing a self assessment we should use a common sense approach.  The methods I am sharing can be used with any mental health disorder, but you need to be the judge of your own emotions and feelings.  My goal is to help you find ways to move forward in a positive way, but this cannot happen if you are experiencing overwhelming issues and emotions/feelings that are completely out of your control.  We need to get them under some sort of control first.

If you are dealing with an overload of past problems that continually plague your thoughts, or if you have issues that require medications to control, these need to be dealt with first.  This is where professional help of some kind is a must in order to stabilize your situation.  You could be dealing with depression or social anxiety that feels crippling at times; there is a root to these issues and there are people out there specifically trained to help you through these in a safe manner.

If you were to come into my office and start telling me about past problems that are affecting you, I would listen briefly and explain to you where you could get the best help that I know of.  I tell people that I don't deal in the past because that is not where I want to specialize.  There can be a multitude of demons to deal with in your past and you will want calm them so you can move forward with your mental health healing.

We all suffer mental health issues in different ways and at differing levels.  You need to assess what level you are at or have a mental health professional help you to do so.  Our past issues control much of who we are now and hold us back.  There are toll free crisis lines just about everywhere that can help you if you don't know where to start or if you want to remain anonymous.  Don't be afraid to ask for help, this is your health you are dealing with!

Once you have dealt with your past or at least found ways to keep it from holding you back, you have the ability to move forward and find some peace and happiness.  For those who know me well, I am all common sense.  I am a natural problem solver and rational thinker, and I use this ability to help others where I can.  

If you are dealing with milder forms of mental health issues and are somewhat stable in your thinking then you can use your own common sense to improve your health.  I don't have all of the information to help you move forward but much of that information is at our fingertips.  You need to have an idea of what your issues are and where to look for help during this step.

If you came to see me and told me you feel that you are depressed, I would ask you few open questions about your life and your support systems, and then I would ask why you think you are depressed.  You can ask yourself the same question.  Find out what thoughts are causing you to be depressed and then ask why again.  If you can't get a helpful answer after the first few 'whys' then the problem could be hidden deep and you may want to seek help.

If you start finding answers though, think about your answers and begin to determine whether you should be holding onto the sadness they are creating.  The more questions you ask about yourself, the more answers you will find.  Usually we are afraid to dig too deep, but without digging a little you won't find any other the answers.  I will keep saying the same thing over and over, start somewhere.

Nobody can fix what is wrong with you but you.  I am also saying that you should ask for help if you need it.  If you are having worse thoughts as you progress, stop and seek help from a mental health professional.  If you are able to control the line of thinking and want to keep going, be careful and handle with care.  Remember to care about yourself because you deserve to be cared for.  Feel free to email me if you hit any glitches along the way and I will be happy to offer you some helpful options.

I will finish up step 2 over the next article or two and then on to stage 3.  My program is a very common sense approach where I offer ideas but you have to do the work.  I think you are up for it though!!

Mental Health Check-up: Step 2

When was the last time you considered getting a mental health check-up?  Especially in countries where we have access to good health care, many people get regular physicals along with assessments when something is not working right so why don't we get regular mental health check-ups?

Our mental health is as important, if not more important than our physical health (I will leave that one for a debate at a later time), yet when have you ever had a mental health check-up?  For most of us this would be never.  As a society we have only discovered the importance of good mental health over the past few decades.  Now we are seeing mental health issues rising to epidemic levels.  Something needs to be done to stem the growth of this issue and it begins with regular mental health check-ups.

This can be done through visiting a mental health professional who can help you to assess your issues, or you can try to do a self assessment.  Similar to our physical health, with some knowledge we can do an assessment on ourselves to begin the process.  We may not be able to diagnose ourselves but we can at the very least centralize where the symptoms are coming from.  We can do the same thing with our mental health but the process will have us searching within ourselves rather than in the physical realm.

We have established that we need to want to change first in the previous step, and now we need to identify what the problem is.  Use your behaviors and how you are feeling to begin the assessment.  Do you feel sad, angry, anxious, frustrated, or other emotions that are happening outside of your control?  Only you can tell how you are feeling and discovering what those feelings are is the beginning to better understanding your inner self.

Ask others that you trust how they see your behaviors.  It is often difficult to get some honest insight from those who care about you, but if you can handle possible constructive criticisms, this can be very helpful in identifying things about yourself that you may or may not be able to see.  Those close to us can share insight into whether they perceive us as being down or depressed, frustrated or angry, or maybe simply conflicted and lost.  Each piece of information will bring us closer to understanding where our issues may lie.

I have been struggling physically more than usual for the past couple of weeks now.  I did my own mental health check-up this morning and discovered that I am feeling a little frustrated and a little down.  Once I discovered this, I dug a little deeper to understand why.  I am frustrated because I like to be an active person and this illness has kept me from that for longer than normal this time.  I decided to push my self a little past my comfort level today so that I can feel like I have accomplished more and expect that this frustration will pass as the day goes on.

I reflected on why I am feeling down and much of it comes from the same place as my frustration.  I am also struggling to write as much as I would like since the illness has caused quite a bit of 'fog' in my brain, and the words do not come out as easily as normal for me.  I am pushing myself a little in this respect as well because I 'want' my condition to improve. We often have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone if we want to see improvement in our mental health.  Exercise helps to strengthen us both physically and mentally.

I will continue with step 2 as my clarity increases over the days to come.  If my plan to push myself works, I will be pushing forward sooner than later.  For now I will suggest that you do a self assessment and start working on the easiest parts first.  Care about yourself and do regular mental check-ups and you will begin to see yourself more clearly.  Become an expert on you!

Be well

Improving Your Mental Health-Step One

If you are looking to improve your mental health and mental health literacy levels, you have to want to first.  This sounds like a simple thing but it is the largest and hardest step to take.  Much of the time if we are suffering from a mental health issue we will hide it or deny that the problem exists.  As a society we have been taught to do this without even knowing it.  This is a big part of the reason that so much stigma exists in regards to mental health.

Who wants to admit there is an issue when we can see how judgmental the perceptions of mental illness can be?  We don't want others to treat us differently or have a negative perception of who we are.  We are already fragile when we are suffering and this can often make it worse.  So what happens is that millions of good people suffer in silence.

If you are not ready to share your issues with the world, or at least a professional, then get started right from your phone or computer.  If you are truly ready to improve your quality of life and your mental health then you have to really want to do so.  This can only come from inside of you and it needs to drive you to be better.  You will want to be passionate about your own happiness and well-being if you plan to do this.

Find the reasons why you want to start your own improvement.  Write them down so you can look at them each day and refocus on why you are doing it.  If you don't feel like doing it for yourself yet, look at those you care about and do it for them if it will get you started.  Simply find reasons for you to be a better you who is happier and more at peace with the world.  Believe me, if those around you care about you, they will want to see you happier and more at peace as well.

Once you have made the decision to 'want' to change, especially for internal reasons, then the process will begin to make sense.  There is no sense in making goals for yourself until you can see them to be possible, and have passion to make them happen.  You deserve to feel better and to move forward in your own healing.

If you truly want to change and improve, then you will!  I am here to help you get started in this process.  It is my hope that you will spend some time today focusing on what your life could be like if you felt happier and more at peace.  Really focus on what that future could look like.  If it is something that you want, then you can make it happen.  A few tools, tips and strategies can help you along the way and that is what I will be providing over the next few weeks.

Although I have worked my own program, I will be working through it again each day with you because we can always continue to improve and strengthen our mental health.  I hope you will join me on this journey to better thinking and that I can help you to feel better about yourself and your own life.

Once you are ready to improve your mental health the first thing we will need to do is a mental health check-up, just like we would do with our physical self.  I will explain ways to go about this and how it will aid in developing a plan that is attainable for you to achieve.  As we go through the steps, we will get to see the results for ourselves and see the improvements as they happen.  I look forward to taking this journey with you and I truly hope that you find the happiness and peace that you deserve in this life.

Take care and be well

It Is Time To Share

I figured it was about time to write an 'about me' article.  I had a hard time wanting to write it because I don't like talking about myself.  I will often share things about myself in articles but that is to let you know that I understand because I have experienced.  I was writing earlier today and reminded myself that when I helping people one-on-one, I share stories about myself to make them more comfortable sharing their personal details.  That and so that they understand that I have been in a similar place or situation in my life and that I truly empathize and 'get' what they are going through.

I will share a brief synopsis about me so you know where I am coming from when I write about the things that I do.  I am a pretty simple guy in his mid forties who has lived through some trials and tribulations in my life, and I found peace through the storms.  I have parented 5 children successfully and understand how hard being parent nowadays can take its toll on our physical and mental health.  I worked full-time as well for 23 years at varying careers/jobs and took care of my family's needs.

I went through a horrible divorce after a 10 year marriage and 3 children, and then spent 7 years fighting for my kids in the court system.  I won my court case and primary custody of my children many years back and hopefully set a good precedence for others fathers at the same time.  After a life of dealing with all these stressful years while suffering from an anxiety/panic order, I finally fell down.

I started breaking down and could not function anymore.  And I had functioned at a very high rate for most of my years up until that point.  Through all of those years I read book after book, mostly texts and theology, but none of that could help me at that point.  I had to leave my good paying job because I just could not do it anymore.  It was my first time in my adult life that I did not have a decent job.  Talk about scary!

I spent the next year trying to put my health back together and it was tough  Oh, I forgot, I was diagnosed with Fibromylalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the middle of this mess.  With very little information to go on at that point about these illnesses, I had to cope on my own like many others were doing in silence.  As information and research started to flourish I read everything I could find on them.  Although I did find helpful information along the way, I knew that I needed to solve my problem myself.

I started doing yoga and meditating again.  This is where all of those years of reading came flooding back.  I was overwhelmed with information but I pushed through day by day.  I began my first blog ever and started writing.  I was writing about religion, philosophy, science, and anything else I could use to solve my unanswered questions.  My family worried for a while that I had lost some scope on reality but then people started reading my blog.  At one point I had hundreds of people from around the world coming to read the multitude of information that was coming out of my head.

Once I got an abundance of the information worked out, my mind began to calm.  Meditations got deeper and deeper until one day I finally relaxed.  I found some sort of inner peace and it was quite noticeable to those around me.  I have no other way of explaining it at the moment but to say it was a time where I felt completely at peace, and I got to feel truly happy for the first time in a long time.

With a clear head I began searching for a new purpose in life that was driven from within.  I had the ultimate urge to help others ease their suffering.  I went to a local employment office to talk about jobs and they asked me if I would go back to school.  Absolutely!  I spent two years studying social work and mental health at college and absolutely loved the program.  It was giving me the extra skills and knowledge I needed to be a good 'helper' in society.  I graduated with a 4.00gpa with distinction, not because I am super smart but because I loved the education I was receiving.

I worked at the local health center for a few months and then ended up helping young adults better their education and mental health for a couple of years.  I absolutely love helping people.

I tell my story to let you know that 'i get it'.  Life is hard.  Physical and mental health issues in today's world are getting us down.  I am telling you that there is more.  No matter your struggles, there is something better for us.  I found peace and want to help you find it as well.  Not from a textbook standpoint, but from being honest and showing how I got there, even through my own struggles.

I am a regular guy who has found inner peace and hopes to share it with as many others as I can.  There are paths we can all take in our lives that will lead to the same things.  This is why I try not specify any illness because the path to our inner peace is within ourselves and our physical self is irrelevant to that.  No matter how you feel, there is peace within you, you just have to find it.  I understand what it feels like to be down for days and weeks, and feeling like you can't get up no matter what, but I still know that the peace is still in there.

Good mental health, in my opinion, can only be solved by finding peace with ourselves and can only be strengthen with good practice.  I wrote this to let you know that I understand that you are suffering, I am as well.  I believe that finding peace is the only thing that will heal us, and then together we will get stronger.  Together we can make ourselves and the world a better place.

By the way, this is me taking myself through part of Step 3.  Setting goals and starting.  My goal is to share more so others understand that they are not suffering alone.

Thank you for taking the time to read this today.  Be well

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Awakening Continued

As I reflect on the past couple weeks it is becoming more clear to me what my purpose here should be.  I sit down each day and start writing and become intrigued by the words that are coming out, not because they impress me, but because the words are helping to push me forward in my own understanding each day.

I have decided to take two paths over the next few weeks to create a better understanding for the two premises that I identified in the previous article: the first will be to share my 12 step program to better mental health through reflection and critical thinking, and the other will use philosophy and questions which will help to expand our minds.  Both are paths to better mental health and both need to be traveled to find different answers.

A few years ago I wrote hundreds of thousands of words on the concept of 'awakening' and during this time I learned a lot.  I also learned that my earlier writings were searching for answers while my later ones began to find some.  I certainly don't make like of the concept of awakening as it is something I believe we are all suffering through together.  I say 'suffering' because it is a long and arduous process.

We will hear about 'spiritual awakening' as well.  I believe that we can define the awakening process however we like but it all amounts to the same questions and answers in the end.  Some will assume the concept of creation while others assume randomness.  I have chosen a side in this argument but I will not share that for the time being in the hopes that I will be able to write more objectively without a personal assumption.

Awakening can only happen from within, not without.  Because it can only happen within, this means that it only deals with the 'self'.  The self is the part where the confusion begins.  Our inner self has been referred to as the soul, the spirit, and the inner being.  It is simply the essence of who we truly are, but where it comes from is a discussion too great to be shared in a few short words.  I just assume that there is something inside of us that we don't truly understand, but we want to.

The more we understand ourselves, the more we understand the world around us.  The more we understand ourselves, the more we awaken to a higher form of consciousness.  You may hear others say that they are 'wide awake' or already awakened, I am here to tell you that they are not, yet.  When we are truly awake we have become enlightened.  This term applies to prophets from our past and we hear the term most often used when people are talking about the Buddha.  If you believe you are enlightened then you must believe you are like the Buddha.

Some will attain this in our world, but for now I can only find others who are more enlightened than the average population, because if there were a truly enlightened human on the planet, we would have heard about it by now.  It is hard to hide something like that in this new age world on the internet.

My point to this article is to explain that the answers are found within, just like with mental health issues.  I am not saying that there is not help outside of ourselves, I am simply saying that the answers to our own inner conflicts can only be found in our 'self'.  That is why we use terms like self-reflection, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth and so on.  Change the word self to soul and see how that makes you feel. They are the same thing to me.

Nurture your self as you would nurture your soul or spirit.  This is the main rule you will want to follow during your awakening.  Read good information and find helpful ways to do this but remember that we are all on a separate journey and your 'self' is yours alone.  Your journey is yours alone.  It does not mean that we can not travel together at times but if you want to feel your awakening, make it yours.

Ask questions, find answers and expand your mind.  These things will help you find a better state of mental health, and if you work hard enough at it, you may attain enlightenment yourself some day.  I know I am looking forward to it.

Smile and be happy today!

'Awakening' to Better Mental Health

(I apologize for any grammatical or spelling errors, my mind thinks faster than I can type)
If you spend time on the internet and especially social media, you have likely read or heard of the term 'Awakening'.  There are an abundance of theories about this new age term and many are capitalizing on this premise.  Some will give you tips and strategies about how to begin your own awakening process as if they were some sort of 'guru' or specialist.  Others use the theory of awakening to guide to a higher form of existence.

I am going to provide you with an alternative theory today that will help us to gain a more objective look at what it really means.  I do not have the answers, only ideas.  If my ideas are sound then I will continue to try proving my theory through practice.  The ideas I will share are here to help you expand your mind and think outside of the box somewhat.  The more controlled our thinking becomes, the stronger our control over our own mind and thinking become.  Better mental health will follow.

We have been thrown into an age where the sharing of information has become almost infinite in nature.  The amount of information and knowledge out there to be absorbed is overwhelming.  The more information we download into our brains, the more that needs to be processed.  Compared to only a hundred years ago, we are likely absorbing hundreds of times the amount of knowledge we would have as a species at that time.

Just like a computer, the more knowledge we want to store and the faster we want to process it takes upgrades in chips and memory.    Well here is my theory.  The evolutionary process is slow and methodical and can be observed over hundreds of thousands of years,  Humans have changed in needs, from base instincts to requiring many complexities to live within the social system we have created.  Evolution has not caught up yet and this is my theory of why mental health issues have hit epidemic levels in the world.

We are absorbing more and more information each day through the internet, so we end up with an abundance of unprocessed information in our minds.  This unprocessed information is taking away from our ability to clear and quiet our minds and this is where the detriment to our mental health begins.  As usual, I will try to keep this article brief and expand on each idea at a later date.

Here we can look at the 'awakening' process and take a closer look.  Awakening is simply an evolutionary response to a very physical problem.  It does not happen in one generation because our genetic code needs to be rewritten to better facilitate our new existence.  Long in the past, a philosopher or thinker could take an idea and ponder it for days.  This becomes more rare all of the time because of the distraction of the world around us.

Many people who write about the awakening believe they have moved further in the process than others and do their best to share what they have learned along the way.  Others write about it in a way that gives you the impression that they have achieved something we have not, and that if you follow them you will awaken as well.  If my theory is correct, and awakening is an evolutionary response to the overload of information, then I will also state this: the whole world is awakening!

We are all going through some sort of 'awakening' in the world and it is wreaking havoc on our mental health.  The more we look at the world around us based on the abundance of information we have and have access to, the more confused we become.  When we see others commit acts of evil we have trouble making sense of it, and this causes more inner conflict.  The more inner conflict we obtain, the worse our mental health becomes and the downward spiral continues.

Much of the time, those who are trying to help others achieve their awakening are actually adding confusion to the process.  Nobody has all of the answers otherwise we would have another 'prophet' in the world right now.  Based on pure thinking, the smartest person on the planet right now is the Dalai Lama, and he is likely the only one who could possibly understand what is going on.  The rest of us simply have ideas, and some are better than others.  Remember that a little of bit of knowledge can be dangerous.

There is a huge difference between 'awakening' and 'waking up', but I will go into this at a later date. For now I will offer a couple of ideas that will help you to ease the abundance of information in your mind so you can begin strengthening your own mental health.  I see two options at the moment that are within our control and which can help us to improve; the first is to find quiet moments in the day to process some of the information that we have not critically thought through yet so that we can begin to remove some of the load from our mind, and the other is to expand your mind so that there is more room in there to house all the information that is already there.

Many people who talk about the awakening have come up with good tips and strategies to help us better achieve both of the options, with ideas to quiet the mind and brain exercises that help us to expand it.  I am simply suggesting that you start somewhere, don't just wait for it to heal itself.  Our minds are overloaded, especially if you live in a busy part of society or spend a lot of time on the web.  Of course our mental health is suffering because genetically speaking, we were not quite ready for this explosion of information, but we will be.

Self reflection is a wonderful way to work on clearing out the mind and I recommend it to anyone who will try it.  Again, look around to find information that you find helpful to yourself instead of spending time downloading more useless information from the internet into your mind.  I have found that expanding our minds is the best way to ease the suffering we are experiencing.  There are many ways to begin expanding your mind and I have found that best way to do this is through 'mindfulness'.

Look up mindfulness training and techniques and find out what this is all about.  Being mindful means to live in the present moment and to experience everything around us in a new a childlike way. We learn to open our minds and truly ponder simple concepts which begin to provide clarity to what we consider to be more complex problems.  Read an Eckhart Tolle book if you want to better understand what it is like to expand your mind, and find some peace within.

We are all going through an awakening process which is leading us to a higher form of consciousness.  We will all go through this at different rates and with differing successes.  The true success is becoming your best self, all of the information does not really matter in the end, so stop worrying about it all.  The awakening is the cause of much of the mental health issues we are experiencing, but we must choose the proper path if we want to 'wake up'.

One of my strategies to opening the mind is to better understanding Zen Buddhism.  For example, in Zen Buddhism you will learn to concentrate on your breathing while meditating on a question which has no answer.  'If a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody there to hear it, does it make a noise?' or 'What is the sound of one hand clapping?', are types of questions that can be used.  It is meant to free your mind so you can begin to observe the flow of thoughts from within.  This is wonderful mind expansion tool.

I hope you are finding some of this helpful to your own thinking.  My purpose it to get you thinking in a more open way so that you will begin to strengthen your own mental state.  These are theories and ideas which I find somewhat sound at the moment but it does not mean they are right.  There is still much to be pondered if we want to wake up eventually.  I hope you all have peaceful day and that you find some calm points in your mind today.

Take care and be well