“Before you can do, you have to learn.”

A few months ago, someone said this phrase to me and it stuck with me. I thought to myself- “that must be why so many people have difficulty managing stressors- because they haven’t learned how to”. I mean this wasn’t like an AHHHAH moment or anything. I knew this to be true already. But sometimes things are so simple that we forget them to be true.

So of course, I first related this to my clients or in general people who seek the help of a mental health professional. I thought about the amount of time that I spend with clients discussing strategies for relieving distress. Some of the strategies require quite a bit of brainstorming; developing plans that are unique to that person and especially taking in to account their past experiences. Do they have (significant) relationship distress, do they have a trauma history, do they have comprehension difficulties, do they have a lack of support- in what ways are they struggling. Some strategies are generic- they can be applied to anyone and if applied correctly the person will experience a decline in stress which interferes in their life. Ie taking a bath, working less hours, applying boundaries to a relationship, exercise, hobbies, more sleep and so on and so on…

We all experience stress. Stress maintained turns in to anxiety and so often when people feel a lack of control over their life they also experience depression. Why is it though that so many people have difficulty reducing stress at the onset? Remove factors such as relationship distress, a trauma history, comprehension difficulties or a lack of support. There’s still an individual. An individual with the responsibility to care for themselves.

As I continued to think about that phrase I began to think more that maybe people are not giving themselves enough credit, maybe they are not taking responsibility for their emotional and mental health. Maybe there are adults out there who could be further along than they are irregardless of their circumstances if they just started taking responsibility for themselves. If they stopped waiting for someone else or something else to change first and if they decided now that a lot of stress management is common sense- go ahead and teach yourself. (I really should take the “maybes” out of those sentences but I wanna be nice here.)

Some people work from an internal locus of control- meaning that they believe that they have influence over their life and that create their reality. Some people work from an external locus of control- meaning that life just sort-of happens to them. Random. What I mean by taking responsibility is not like a behavior control thing- “If you took responsibility for yourself you’d make better choices” While I agree with that, it’s not the point I’m trying to drive home here. I’m saying that this is an inside job. It’s a real mind-bender, it’s not easy but it can be done and with less energy than is required to remain in the stress.

So, take a minute, step back and ask yourself what am I waiting for someone else to do first that I could do right now? Am I taking responsibility for my emotional and mental health? If not what would it look like if I were to?- that last question will tell you what you need to do.

 

MONDAY MANTRA: Do well at all things.

COMMITMENT: I WILL NOT ACCOMIDATE STRESS

*close your eyes, breathe in your nose (to the count of four) and then out your mouth (to the count of four) and say to yourself: Even though I am struggling I completely and totally accept myself. Repeat this three times.

 

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