Why do you expect your mental health to improve if you neglect to do what is good for you?

Today is World Mental Health Day and I would like to use it to approach a difficult topic. Like with physical health, nobody will be able to heal your mental health unless you want to be healed and make the effort it takes. When doctors want to restore your health and you disregard all their recommendations and act in a way that damages it, you are not cured, are you? Then, why do you expect your mental health to improve if you neglect to do what is good for you?

Sometimes people think that their health, mental or otherwise, is the professional’s responsibility. They expect doctors and the like to heal them without them making the effort it takes to change habits, alter behaviors or disengage from negative or damaging practices. They believe that it is the professional who should work the miracle in them. Which is why I wanted to address this issue today. That type of expectation is like trying to fill a tub with a big hole on its side, no matter how much water is poured, the tub will remain empty if the liquid goes out through the hole. You need to add water but block the hole as well.

I have a lot of clients who come to me because they suffer from different situations that may associated to mental health. When they have a real illness or disorder, I accompany them by supporting what their doctors recommend; when the problem is more of an I-don’t-know-how-to-handle-a-certain-situation-in-my-life issue, I work with them to make sure that they have a clear path and the necessary tools and techniques to follow it. In both cases, the work I do will only succeed if the client is willing to face their situation and challenge it. Nothing changes when we remain in the same place, doing the same things.

Some people can not take care of their health on their own. They need professional supervision and control. Part of that support may imply helping them to help themselves. Professionals in cases like that may have to push their patients a bit, even when patients oppose it. Those cases exist, true, but they are not the ones I want to focus on today.

When a client doesn’t want to be healed, little can anybody do for them.

There is another type of client we sometimes encounter. They come to us because they don’t feel well and say that they wish to improve their lives. Some are encouraged by their families or friends to seek help and that’s why they visit us. They attend the sessions and listen to what is said but then do nothing else. They neglect to use the tools they are taught and always find excuses to not do what they agreed during their work with our professionals. Still, they continue complaining and letting everyone know how hard their days are. This is the type of case I want to write about today: people who express discomfort and unhappiness but do nothing to change their situation, clients who complain and cry, letting everyone know of their misery, but repeatedly refuse to do as they are suggested. Those people are usually firmly seated in the victim’s seat or somehow enjoy the attention and support they get and just refuse to actually change their reality.  Hard as it may sound, some people would rather suffer (sometimes a lot) than stop getting the care and help they obtain because of their circumstances. In some cases, that inability to take action and stop using the support they are offered is subconscious. It is not that they consciously CHOOSE to act that way. There could be many reasons behind such behavior like for example, extreme fear, blocks, staunch beliefs or others. The truth is, though, that no matter what the reason, when a client doesn’t want to be healed, little can anybody do for them.

Today I want to address those of you who have been suffering for quite a while, years even. If you haven’t learned how to deal with your situation yet, you could be one of those who needs forced help or one of those who remains a victim for some reason. I would like to invite you to consider this and ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Do you actually ask for help? If you do, move on to the next question; if you don’t, ask yourself why? What is preventing you from reaching out? Is it fear? Are you stuck in any way? Most other people will not realize that you need help unless you let them know. You might think that they should read your signals but let me tell you that many of us expect too much from others in that regard and fail to be understood; most of us are not that good at deciphering unclear messages. You might not ask for help for many different reasons. Just be aware that you are choosing not to do it (for whatever reason) and that this choice of yours has an impact upon your reality. Is the fear greater than the pain? If that is so, would you act if there was no fear? Just some food for thought.
  2. If you do ask for help, do you then do the work? Do you follow your professional’s recommendations and do what you agree to do between sessions? I’m not asking you for reasons why you’re actually not doing it. I am sure you have plenty of those. The only thing I would like you to consider now is how often you ask for help and then do nothing about it. If you find a pattern there, if you do it on a more or less regular basis, ask yourself the third set of questions,
  3. What do I gain by being in pain? What does my pain prevent me to do, for instance? How does my pain protect me from other things or what does it help me get that I think I would not get if there was no pain? Have you somehow become a victim of your own pain? All these questions should help you question your pain and mental health. Where are you and where could you be, were you to really act on your own behalf?

Are you somehow getting a better reward by remaining where you are?

Living a drama and having a reason to justify our fear can lead us to perpetuating our circumstances. I would like you to consider this possibility and ask yourself why you are where you are. Is there truly no way to change your situation or are you somehow getting a better reward by remaining where you are?

Health is paramount to our wellbeing. Although others can help us heal by guiding us in the process or giving us medication or tools and strategies, we are the ones who need to take control and be in charge of it. We are as responsible for our mental health as we are for our physical one. We need to nurture our body but also our mind; we need to take care of our basic physical needs while satisfying our intellectual, mental and spiritual ones as well. Whenever illness affects us, we need to seek the proper care, no matter what kind. We are, after all, the first in charge and command of ourselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *