You know that quote, “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” I love that quote - and all of the ways you can transform it.
“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just eating a bunch of crap” or “in a relationship with a narcissist” or “spending too much time on social media” or or or. The list goes on. I love this quote because it immediately normalizes mental health challenges for me. It immediately acknowledges that a mental state like depression, anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, eating disorders, you name it, can oftentimes appear when any part of our ecosystem is out of whack.
I remember the first time someone in my life told me what a calorie was. I was in 10th grade in high school and it was during lunchtime. Most days, when my account could afford it, I would eat my lunch and then go back for extra snacks. I was a hungry human - always ready for more deliciousness. On this particular day, this friend told me that I ate too much and broke down to me that sooner or later I was going to have to start paying attention to calories - not for my health, but for my aesthetic. This was one example of how the fear of food was instilled inside of me. Sooner or later I succumbed and I developed very unhealthy eating patterns (I will go deeper on Pretty Mental).
I also remember a time when I was extremely anxious, always worried that the ground beneath me would sooner or later crumble. Cut to a few years later, I removed myself from a very tumultuous environment and it was like magic. My anxiety drastically reduced and I soon left my antidepressants. I have never been back to them since.
I am bringing these (very slimmed down) examples to the table as proof that our mental health is extremely multidirectional. Just like we said in episode 28,
“you can’t expect an organism to be healthy in an unhealthy ecosystem,”
The food we eat, the people we surround ourselves with, the information we take in, the amount of fresh air we breathe, the partners we choose, they matter. They matter in a very real way. Getting completely honest with ourselves can be pretty uncomfortable. Because once we acknowledge that there actually is a problem, we will have to do something about it.
This is where the whole cognitive dissonance theory comes into play. If our attitudes, behaviors, or thoughts conflict with one another, we will experience mental discomfort which will then push us to change something in order to ease the discomfort. Our thoughts & actions want to align. That is why we may perceive lying to ourselves as a survival tactic - because it is too painful to make a change.
We oftentimes settle for illusions of comfort, familiarity or even simplicity. Pay attention to what I said though, illusions. We think that by putting up with “things” or people that weigh us down or just allowing situations to ride out, that the bad will disappear. It has been my experience that we put up with situations until the pain outweighs the pleasure or until the pain becomes the norm. Humans can sometimes be a little too resilient.
So we have to be real with ourselves right now. We owe it to ourselves, to our spirits, to live the life we came here for. We are not on Earth for very long and the truth is, we will all end up the same whether we are ready for it or not. The time in the middle, however, is totally up to us. It all comes down to getting really really real by looking at all parts of our life and choosing ourselves first. Choosing to respect our own needs, owning up to the fact that we are ultra deserving of being loved, and asking ourselves, what is it that my heart is asking for right now? & listening.
It’s easy to get comfortable, to allow fear to take over, to belittle our needs, to make ourselves smaller, to eat for temporary pleasure, to escape when things get hard, or to befriend the pain.
That’s easy. But is that a life well lived?
We owe ourselves a helluva lot more than just complacent satisfaction. We have to give ourselves a shot at what life could truly be. We have to take a deep look into our ecosystems with lie detection goggles and get honest. What do they look like? What do they really look like?