Can You Prevent Mental Health Problems?by Dr Emma Gray - 3rd October, 2022
Challenges to our mental health seem to be a part of life, a part of life with an important function. These challenges create the opportunity to learn, to develop, to evolve. The suffering that they involve providing the impetus for that development.
However, there is a line past which these challenges create more suffering than is, useful. So, I’m going to tweak the question slightly and ask instead, how do we stay the right side of this line, the side where we are able to live in a world that regularly presents us with emotional and psychological challenges without being overwhelmed by them, instead being able to embrace and learn from them.
First, accept the inevitability of challenges. Resisting the reality creates an additional and unnecessary layer of suffering. “I wish it wasn’t like this” only creates more suffering and keeps us stuck in a place of emotional discomfort.
Second, understand the purpose of challenges. A good place to start is to review past challenges and consider what wisdom you gathered from these.
Finally, linked to these two things, having confidence that the inevitability and functionality of challenges suggests that we must have the capacity to overcome them, even if how we will do this isn’t immediately obvious. This confidence can be hard to build if we haven’t learned that we are designed to manage what life throws our way. However, a good place to start is to look at why we believe we can’t manage. Then consider how that belief has developed. Finally, stepping back a little from that belief, consider how accurate is it and then, possibly more importantly, how helpful is it? Ask yourself the question, does this belief get me where I need to be?