Think better—or, how to stop messing up your life | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Think better—or, how to stop messing up your life
Think better—or, how to stop messing up your life

The world’s mental health quotient is steadily declining. That’s my wild guess. If there’s a measure to the current mental and emotional health of the world’s population, it must be plummeting. It’s so ironic that in this age where technology has accelerated so much, supposedly to make life better, it’s also when the mental health crisis is upon us. With every part of our lives becoming more convenient, people are getting angrier, more stressed and more anxious than ever.

Whenever mental health is discussed, the topics that ultimately follow are those of emotions. Talk about depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and hopelessness emerges. Emotions are blamed for relationships going sour, or for productivity at work suffering. Yet, they’re just symptoms of our thoughts.

We think in distorted and toxic ways that create our fears, trauma and despair. We think our way through most mental health issues. The good news is, thinking also provides the cure.

The following are ways we can mess up our lives, and ways to reverse them to allow enjoyment.

Relying on validation from others. When we rely on others to validate our worth, it feels like running on a battery, always draining and waiting to be recharged. This dependence will feel like a threat. Criticism will feel like death. Validation should come from within. Believing that we are enough as we are is the ultimate cure.

The need to win. When we compete with others, it makes us competitors rather than collaborators. This win-lose mindset causes toxicity in our society’s culture. Instead of needing to win at the expense of others, aim for excellence equipped with passion for a positive vision. This creates an energetic motivation within us that grows as we do more. This energy is contagious to those around us.

Living by other people’s standards. Social media has made it easy to peek into the lives of others. It has been a useful medium to connect people faster. It has also made feeling bad about our lives easier. Instead of focusing inwards and appreciating what we have in life, many of us look outward and focus on what we don’t have. Find a new perspective on what you can be grateful for. Create and maintain friendships that fill you. Limit social media time. It’s good for your eyes and your mental health.

Trying to be strong. Somehow, somewhere, showing emotions started being tagged as weakness. Not feeling anything became equated with being cool. This may be the single most nonsensical assumption that’s causing the mental health crisis.

Emotions are just a function of our thoughts. They’re our gauge of whether our expectations are being met or not. They’re just feedback to inform us of our options. When we feel them and hear the message, they go away. Keeping them bottled inside direct the emotions toward ourselves, causing stress, tension and anger.

Once accumulated, the emotions become fused so that we can’t tell what we’re feeling anymore. We don’t know what caused them in the first place, we don’t know what to do, so we feel stuck. Take time to listen to the messages of your emotions. Feel them, and express them well.

Having too many rules. Many individuals feel bad about themselves because of many rules they unknowingly impose on themselves: “I should own a car by this time,” “I should be earning this much at this point,” “I should be married by now.” Many of these rules were passed on to us by our parents, and by society. Many of them operate from unrealistic assumptions.

Make it a habit to keep evaluating what rules we have unknowingly taken on, and how they impact us. Not abiding by them makes many of us feel like failures. Even if we’re able to abide by them, it takes out the joy and celebration out of the achievement because it’ll feel like we just ticked a box. In colloquial terms, we say, “Dapat lang naman.” We lose every time.

Letting our fears limit us. Many fears are unexplored and unquestioned. They just lay there like a ticking time bomb, getting in the way of our journey to our best. Countless fears made sense when we were younger and not so resourceful. As adults, many grow into wisdom and experience enough to blow the fears away.

But because most people refuse to face them, the fears feel solid and omnipresent. Facing fears only means understanding them, analyzing them and having a choice over them. Do that, and many of them will just lose their power.

These are the simple ways we can stop messing up our lives. Most people can effortlessly become better in relationships and in work if only this mindset stops getting in the way. The best way to make the world better is by thinking better. —CONTRIBUTED

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