"Every human being is sitting in the middle of mental health, they just don't know it." Sydney Banks
A faulty premise that causes much suffering is the idea that If I am not happy and/or comfortable 24/7 I must be doing something wrong or there is something wrong in my life.
I innocently set out to control the outside circumstances of my life to create more happiness. It makes sense because my brain kept pointing out areas that needed improvement. I lost weight, I improved my financial situation, and my marriage became more harmonious.
These things are all great and made for a more pleasant life, and they didn’t create the unending self-confidence and happiness I desired.
The faulty premise goes inside. If it is not my circumstances it is me. My glass is half empty. I need to work on my self-confidence, self-love, and self-esteem. I have a fulltime job, but I’m willing to take on a second job to create this Zen, joyful person I think I should be.
I did inner work. I read lots and lots of books. I journaled endlessly. I created mantras. I did cognitive models to see how my thoughts created my feelings which fueled actions that produced results. I learned a lot and much of it was helpful, but what really made an insightful change was understanding human principles.
We all go up and down the ladder of moods day in and day out. When we are feeling low (angry, frustrated, stressed out, uncomfortable, etc.) chances are we are in a low mood. In low moods the things we tell ourselves about ourselves, our lives and the world are largely inaccurate and unproductive. When our mood is higher, we are feeling happy, content, we view circumstances from a wider angle and take things less personal. Understanding this creates more graciousness and less resistance in low moods, and more gratitude for higher moods.
We go from struggle and making it very personal, to perhaps I’m in a low mood looking at the world through everything-is-hard glasses.
Humans also have a lot of habitual thoughts that arise from the protective brain. The brain is wired to protect and defend, including relentless thoughts about what is wrong with me. I imagine it wants to tell me what is wrong with me before an unforeseen threat can point it out. Or it focuses on what could go wrong, losing site of this precious moment’s security.
It is not personal, that is what a brain does. Not just my brain…all brains. As my friend Bob says, “Brains will be Brains.” With this understanding, my relationship to my brain’s output changes, I’m not as concerned with the content.
Humans are innately well. We are wise, we know what to do. When we aren’t focused on the brain’s negative Nelly chatter, we can get in touch with our insightful wisdom. We know what to do and when to do it. There is nothing we need to achieve or do, rather it benefits us to turn toward what has always been there.
These human principles help us align with what we already are: joyful, grateful, content and innately wise. Honestly, I can’t think of anything better.