In this article, Mental Health and Wellbeing expert Caroline-Ribeiro Nelson talks about how embracing our feelings and our humanity is vital to our mental life.
Denying Our Mental Life Comes at a Price
I used to think that being perfect meant being invulnerable, being strong by not showing weakness in expressing feelings or mental struggles – I wanted to be amongst the best.
I wanted to be impervious to being hurt or influenced by others. Of course, I was fooling myself – isolated and hidden behind a mask.
- I couldn’t tell those closest to me how much they meant to me.
- I couldn’t tell friends how much they had hurt and disappointed me.
- I couldn’t ask for support when I needed support or felt anxious or fearful.
- Above all, I couldn’t be the real me and I paid the price.
I lost people I loved, I lost friends, I lost great opportunities and for a while, a big part of my mental self was buried under a frozen wasteland.#MentalHealth Expert Caroline-Ribeiro Nelson: Our way of thinking, perceptions, feelings and emotions are who and what we are. These allow us to get on fully with life and provides us with deep value and meaning. Click To Tweet
We are What We are – There is no Escape
Fortunately, I learnt an essential lesson in life. In fearing or denying my mental self I ultimately lost myself along with my potential to grow and connect to others.
I had to learn to face and embrace this. The thaw was a painful one, but it was necessary and made me more complete.
Our way of thinking, perceptions, feelings and emotions are who and what we are. These allow us to get on fully with life and provides us with deep value and meaning.#MentalHealth expert Caroline-Ribeiro Nelson: Denying your mental self means losing your potential to grow and connect to others. Click To Tweet
Healthy Minds & Broken Minds
Yes, it’s a mental life.
Our minds not only connect us to ourselves and the world around us, but they also dictate how well we understand and perform.
Working naturally, our minds enable us to maintain relatively happy and productive lives.
On the other side, our minds can also “break down”, become ill and not work, as well as they should. We can become confused, irrational, highly emotional or lack emotion, behave in inappropriate ways, lose control, be unable to cope adequately with stressful life demands or be mentally harmed by adverse life situations and traumas.
It’s our Life – We have to Deal with it
That’s life and that’s how it works. No one is immune, although many of us behave as if we were.
Especially boys and men, who have been socialised to hold back and not show, what is perceived as vulnerable feelings and emotions. Being told from birth to be brave and “man up”. This has served to prevent males from expressing a vital aspect of being human and tapping into an intuitive and fulfilling part of themselves.
Time to Come to our Senses
This really needs to change. It’s time for all of us to accept and embrace our mental life.
When a man cries, it should be natural to tear up or cry with him not become embarrassed and try to get away from the situation. We have to stop with the ‘I’m sorry I’m human and I’m showing that I’m human’.
If we are to develop, as natural and healthy human beings then we need to start celebrating, acknowledging and openly expressing our real reactions and what we feel.
It’s time to get rid of the ridiculous and unnatural societal restraints, which tell us that poor mental health, mental illness and expression of feelings are weaknesses. These only serve to harm and hinder us rather than inform and support us to thrive.
We have Nothing to Lose
We can only gain by being who we are and expressing our lives completely. Through embracing our mental life, we are able to:
- Express a natural and essential part of who we are.
- Gain greater understanding and connection with others.
- Be fully human and experience life in a healthy way.
5 Ways to Embrace our Mental Life
Being Proud to Be Human
In order to reach our potential and experience a fully healthy life, we have to acknowledge and accept our mental state.
Through embracing and celebrating this as a positive and fundamental part of how we exist, we not only free ourselves from the senseless self-imposed detrimental barriers, which hold us back, we allow the possibility for deeper meaning and connection to the world around us.
Being Human Means Being Vulnerable
This is what leads us to care for and value what we have in life. It serves as a reminder of our fallibility, keeping us alert and on our toes.
We are driven to take a risk and test our limitations and courage. Our human vulnerability motivates us in defining our purpose, meaning and connects us to each other.
In recognising this as a strength rather than a weakness we possess the power to grow and accomplish great achievements in life.
Being Open and Honest
Being open with others and honest with ourselves about the status of our mental health allows us to make constructive choices.
In talking about and sharing our experiences we develop a greater understanding and the possibility for support.
Not only can our concerns and fears be addressed, but this also allows our mental health needs to be more readily met.
Being Connected to Others
Hiding and keeping our mental experience to ourselves and away from others isolates us.
In expressing this natural part of us all, aids greater understanding, allows us to gain support when ill or suffering and enables us to share this unique aspect of being human.
Being Caring and Nurturing our Mental Health
Being caring and nurturing our mental health builds mental resilience allowing us to cope better with life demands.
We are able to develop more positive and productive relationships, as well as achieve greater fulfilment and happiness.
I’m no longer afraid to feel, express my needs and continually work on accepting, along with strengthening my whole self.
Accepting and embracing my mental life has exposed me to a superpower, which has shown me huge possibilities and enabled me to achieve things in life, which I never believed were possible.
We all possess the potential to fulfil meaningful and happier lives if only we can grasp the courage to realise it.
Caroline-Ribeiro Nelson, Psychological Health & Wellbeing Expert, Consultant and Coach