Many of my mental health clients want to know the “cure” for their disorder, co-existing disorders, or past painful experiences. I am straightforward with every client by explaining that, in mental health, there is not a permanent “cure” for intrusive thoughts, insecurities, fears, regret, and sadness. As a verb, to “cure” means to relieve or alleviate the symptoms of a disease or condition. I often explain to my clients that they have the innate strength and wisdom to “cure” their moods, thoughts, and behaviors, one moment at a time, through learned coping strategies and deep introspection about the connection between their past experiences and their current symptoms.
You can begin the curing process at any moment of each day. When you let go of societal pressures to “get over it” or to “find a cure,” you can start to focus on your own unique path of empowerment, self-compassion, and courage to do your best with the circumstances given to you. Taking action is the most important step which must be done throughout your daily curing process. Taking action means that you create and follow a daily plan of coping behaviors and inspirational, grounding thoughts. Taking action is all that you can do in each moment of your day. Some days may cause self-doubt, sadness, and anxiety, but you must continue to refocus on YOUR actions and YOUR thoughts, which are separate from what you believe that others want or how you perceived yourself in the past. Doing your best each day can be simply completing your work, personal, and parental tasks. You may still experience negative or disturbing thoughts, but the actions which you take are moving you forward. If you try to do your best in your curing process, you are practicing a valuable skill which taps into your higher wisdom and strength, which are always within you and are the key aspects to personal growth and transformation.
You can change your daily life ANYTIME, but this requires motivation and effort, similar to learning a new language or sport. If you begin to view your depression, past painful experiences, anxiety, or PTSD as a catalyst for learning about your true higher self, you will release a sense of freedom and hope toward managing every moment and experience in your daily life. Your daily choices of actions and thoughts absolutely influence your emotions. My clients often tell me that they feel “anxious” or “depressed” and often ask for a “cure.” Yes, medication can improve or rearrange your brain chemistry and may be necessary for more productive daily functioning. However, this is only the chemical basis for working on your day-to-day thought processes, learning how to be mindful of your daily emotions, and, if needed, talking or writing about any past painful experiences and intrusive thoughts in romantic relationships, family relationships, and/or traumas.
The Curing Process
Under any circumstance, you CAN do your best, which may be just taking a shower, doing some small organizational or cleaning tasks in your home, completing work tasks, and taking care of your children. If you struggle with intrusive thoughts, anxiety, depression, or general past painful experiences, you will certainly exhibit disturbing thoughts and memories. However, if you are mindful of your small daily actions and accomplishments, you can gradually learn how to accept negative circumstances and past painful experiences as part of your curing process and not as obstacles to your mental stability and strength. Societal, familial, religious, and cultural expectations and pressures can be HUGE obstacles in your curing process, in that they distract you and can get you into a state of “stuckness” about how you “should” be. These pressures are completely counterproductive to your curing process. If you simply do your best, you will find that regrets, insecurities, intrusive thoughts, and pain will dissipate in time with coping behaviors.
The curing process requires your exploration into your past stumbling blocks and current areas of “stuckness.” You must be aware of the problems in order to know how to free yourself from these stumbling blocks in your life. Your painful experiences and current stressors will not just go away, even with medication. Therefore, you must accept all circumstances given to you by life. The curing process involves visualizing yourself as free from your past pain and as a proactive “warrior” who can use daily gratitude and appreciation for your health, your loved ones, and your moment-to-moment ability to derive joy from any small action. The curing process also enables you to live your life without intrusive thoughts, fear or judgment by self or others.
Overcoming Barriers in Mental Health
Visualize your life without the fear of opening up to or loving others. Visualize your life without being afraid to take risks. Visualize yourself as a strong, wise, and free survivor of bad experiences. You can visualize yourself as joyful and accepting of all life events. You CAN live a different life. You can actively choose to be free of conflicts and to be free of your past-induced pain and insecurity. Imagine your life as letting go of blaming or judging others, expecting changes from others, and relying on others’ actions to define who you are. All of these patterns are 100% self-destructive and 100% negative energy in this short life. You may continue to crave an “answer,” a “solution,” or a “cure.” This is not a realistic viewpoint. Life changes in each moment. The curing process also helps you to value each moment of your life as a new opportunity for hope, progress, change, and growth.
You can rewrite your story. You can perceive your past in a much more rational and less threatening way. You can reprogram your perceptions about past events and negative people when you let go of the “weak victim who needs a cure” role. You can use your new freedom to change your intrusive thoughts and actions and to live as your true higher self, as opposed to staying caught up in a cycle of self-defeating beliefs. The best way to change your beliefs is to initiate coping behaviors to focus your attention on the present and all that is possible for you in each moment. You are NOT your past, but, of course, your past largely defines you. However, you can gain mastery over these past beliefs and incorporate them into your new curing process, which creates a sense of personal mastery and transformation. Through the curing process, you will gain both acceptance and control over fear-based, ruminating thoughts about the past which are literally impossible to change
Take Action in Your Mental Health
The curing process involves two other crucial coping behaviors. The first action is to forgive others and to forgive yourself through self-compassion and empathy. The second action is to revise your self-perception from being a “victim” to being a “warrior” of your past who is now in control of your daily thoughts, emotions, and actions. Your emotions do not just arise in isolation. Your emotions are created and sustained by the thoughts and memories and worries which fuel these emotions. When you learn how to appreciate just being alive each day and when you learn how to gain and maintain control of your thoughts, you can transform your fear and sadness into gratitude for making it through painful circumstances and hope for your continued strength and progress.
Written by New Age Psychiatry’s Compassionate Therapist: Rebecca Wang-Harris PhD
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