I think one thing that we underestimate in our day-to-day lives is checking in with ourselves. If this is something new to you, it may sound awkward. I am naturally a very emotional person, and I am always very in tune (almost too in tune) with my emotions and feelings. I’m usually the first to break the silence after an argument, I’ll happily share too much about my life with a stranger, and I find myself constantly yearning to learn more about someone else. I want to know what makes people tick, what makes them the way that they are. I’m slowly learning to appreciate that not everyone is like this, and that’s okay. I think it’s helped me a lot to be married to someone and friends with people who don’t wear their emotions on their sleeve. It’s taught me a lot to learn how to love on and accept others. I can’t project my emotions on another person, and I can’t expect them to share things with me that they don’t naturally want to share.
However, this blog post is aimed at explaining the importance of sharing things with ourselves, and getting to know your heart and soul through introspection and reflection. I realize this may sound kind of “new age”, but I swear it is worth it and so key to recognizing when things might be “off”. I feel like as a society we don’t put enough time and energy into our emotional and mental health as we do our physical health, and trust me – they’re just as important (if not more!).
When I moved last summer, I knew something was “off”. I knew that I just didn’t feel like myself. I was having episodes of severe anxiety, some nights feeling like I couldn’t catch my breath. I had many days where I just didn’t get off the couch for hours at a time because I lacked the energy and willpower to. I tucked myself away from others but tried to hide it with a smile or an excuse of being busy or having a hectic season of life. I eventually found counseling and medication, and I shared about this experience with others. The amount of people who reached out sharing that they had the same experience was astounding. I think this is great, and we should never feel alone in our struggles, but it also made me realize how hidden mental and emotional health still is. I find people are nervous to reveal they are seeking counseling, hiding that they are on medication, or simply masking what they feel and chalking it up to an external source.
Things happen, or maybe they don’t. It’s okay if you’re not feeling like yourself as a result of a life event, but it’s also okay if you’re not feeling like yourself because of nothing at all. I know this may sound kind of weird, but it’s something I feel I need to address. Nothing has to have happened for you to feel sad. Nothing has to have happened for you to feel anxious. Nothing has to have happened for you to feel scared. Our minds can be both dark and bright places. The power our brain and feelings holds over our thoughts and actions is simply crazy! But maybe this whole thing I just explained is something that’s holding us back as a society for accepting mental illnesses or emotional seasons of life. We chalk actions up to the motivation behind them. So think about it…you’re sad, maybe you’re even depressed. But you have a great life. You have a wonderful family, supportive friends, just got married, have the cutest dog in the world, so you have NO reason to be sad. Right!? In case you didn’t catch on, I’m talking about myself.
It’s time to get rid of the thought that something bad had to have happened for you to feel a certain way.
This brings me back to my original point of introspection and reflection. Introspection, by definition, is “the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.” Reflection has many definitions, but for all intents and purposes we’re going to use this one: “serious thought or consideration”. I highly recommend regular check-ins with yourself. These don’t have to be official, or even written down. But take the time to practice this. It’s also important to recognize what is in your control and what isn’t. Differentiating between the two can help immensely in what you choose to give your breath and energy to. There are so many things that we give our energy to that are beyond our control. Frankly, we don’t have enough time or mental space to take on these things. They cloud our mind and take away our thoughts on the things that do matter and that we do have control over.
Reflect on how far you’ve come from point A to point B. Even if they’re baby steps, they’re steps! I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for moving forward. We often hangout in the past and keep our eyes focused on missed opportunities, things we may have messed up, the list goes on and on. But taking the time to reflect back can show you so many things. Like how you kicked butt in that one thing you forgot about, or how you made a new friend along the way. Don’t forget to give yourself credit – we don’t do it enough.
I feel like I have to say that I am by no means a professional and this is not professional advice. I fully suggest that if you are even thinking about it (or even if you’re not), you seek out counseling as a potential opportunity. I also recommend sharing your thoughts with others you trust. Above all, I recommend allowing your thoughts and emotions to appear valid to you. We often push them down or make excuses for them, but let’s try and move forward. Let’s give them the validity they deserve and recognize what they bring or take to and from our lives.
Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear your thoughts!