Bee Afraid…But Don’t Quit!

This is a strange time for everyone – but the message remains the same: Bee afraid, but don’t quit. Fear serves a therapeutic and survival purpose, it indicates what we should avoid or be cautious of…fear keeps us safe. But like all things in life, we need to strive for balance. Fear can not only keep us safe, but it can trap us and paralyze us into isolation and inactivity.

One of our biggest flaws as a society today, is that we live in the extremes. A common “thinking error” is called “black and white thinking” where we see and function at the far ends of any situation.  We are either “in love with” or “hate” someone, we feel we are “perfect” or “failing”, we either “have it together” or we say we are “falling apart”.  Or similarly, we only focus on one distorted/artificially enlarged aspect of the horizon of life.

Are we kidding?! That is too extreme and intense a way to live! I guarantee that for everyone who thinks they are “falling apart” there are a lot of things going well. And for everyone who “has it together” there is something screwed up lurking in the shadows. We need to live in the middle people! The same goes for fear. We should be afraid and cautious and aware, but do not, and I can’t state this enough, DO NOT, let it paralyze you.

So – how do we find balance, and keep perspective?

  1. Reality Test a Situation – when we feel fear, take a step back and recite or write down how the situation can *actually* hurt/harm us in the short and long term. Then you can more realistically make a decision and take precautions.
  2. Review the Opposite Response – take a realistic and objective look at what would happen, what you would have to gain if you *did* push through the thing you fear.
  3. Talk it Through – grab a friend, read a blog, go to your therapist and reason these things out.
  4. Look Deeper – this one takes more insight, thought and likely a trip to the therapist, but maybe check in with yourself and see if you are really afraid of what’s in front of you (the new job, a new relationship, starting a weight loss program) or if you are reacting to an old hurt that is still lingering from before (a failed business endeavor, a broken marriage, lack of success in the past). The past teaches us, but shouldn’t paralyze us.

And this post is being written in the middle of the COVID-19 experience; it is not about the COVID-19 responses, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it.

This is a time when we are all afraid and there are a lot of unknowns. The reality is, this advice still applies. Keep yourself safe given your personal health and location/situation, but also be aware of the things we still have around us that are worth joy, gratitude and hope. This is very temporary and staying focused on everything else in our lives that is stable and sane will help us all rebound and thrive. Bee well.

Bee a Cultivator…

This year my young daughter planted flower seeds in her garden bed and each day we went looking for the sprouts. We diligently stared and scoured, and analyzed every green bit in the dirt, “is it a weed, is it a flower, are there more than yesterday?” Each little poke of a green germination was celebrated and admired. We then carefully watered and tended and encouraged the sprouts to form into seedlings and eventually full plants. We cleared the weeds and made sure the soil stayed rich, moist, and balanced.  Once the plants formed, we had another celebration: when they flowered!! And oh how they bloomed. Truth be told, I nearly cried when her first sunflower opened.

But what does this have to do with mental health? Today I personally had a moment of strength. The moment of strength was small, teeny, tiny and barely there. It would have been easy to miss, but thankfully I caught it and I stopped my busy mind long enough to stand still and appreciate this little moment, this feeling of strength and contentment and resolve. And because I stopped and admired it, that spark of strength and hope grew a little inside of me. And it was then that I saw the moment for what it was: as a tiny flower budding in the dirt.

Too often we see the mental health goals in front of us as huge, resolute, absolute standards. Strength is not an absolute thing that looks the same every time we engage it. Neither is self-love, serenity, peace, hope, organization, sobriety, or happiness. Any change in attitude, perspective, feelings or reactions will start small like the seedling. We must carefully search for the thing we want to grow in ourselves and when we notice it, we need to celebrate it for what it is – the beginning of something beautiful.  We then have to water it, tend it, keep the soil supportive of it. If we do, if we cultivate the thing we want in our world, it will grow.  Strength, resolve, hope, love, serenity, boundaries, organization, happiness, peace…..all of these things will start very small as you seek to grow them in your life. But if you become a cultivator of joy, then you will discover a full garden of your wildest dreams.

Summary: All goals are dynamic and start small and grow – and only what you feed and celebrate and cultivate will thrive.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

1. What do I want to plant/grow/have in my life?

2. When have I seen evidence of the spouts of this element happen around me and how have I helped it grow in my life garden?

Bee Sane….

Thanks for joining me!  This is the first in a series of posts about mental wellness.  “Bee Sane” is the first and the core because, let’s face it…we all want to bee sane.  As a mental health therapist, my primary intervention is the practice of therapy.  I work with people to help them process and understand parts of themselves or their lives that are making them feel lost, confused, hurt, angry, despondent, overwhelmed or just *crazy*.

The “Bee Sane” series will be a series of posts, tips/tricks and motivational tools to help us achieve this simple, fundamental and common goal in our lives.  To focus on finding the peace and joy in each day, despite the chaos we generally see or feel around us.

Let us begin at the beginning and begin simply.  In order to Bee Sane, we must believe sanity is possible…and not only possible, but achievable.  Each one of us can find that clarity and sanity in our lives by:

(1) Adjusting our perspective and expectations of ourselves and others and

(2) Consciously manifesting these adjustments in our daily lives.

Put simply, change your perspective and do it daily.  So find your hope.  Follow my blog, get a therapist, read inspirational literature, journal, breathe, walk, start somewhere, but no matter what – begin! Believe it can change and begin down that garden path today.

REFLECTION QUESTION: When thinking about the last thing that happened to me that felt “crazy” – how did I *expect* it to go instead and how can I adjust my expectation in the future to avoid the same disappointment?

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton