May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
In the spirit of normalizing conversations related to mental health, I’d like to take a minute to share a bit about my own mental health journey.
For the better part of the past five years I’ve participated in some form of weekly therapy.
Whether I’m working through painful personal challenges, or struggling to manage stress at work, I find myself investing an hour each week to sit, self reflect, and lean into a dialogue on self care and self improvement.
It began in Utah, where I met an eclectic and eccentric kundalini yoga instructor who doubled as a certified therapist. He taught me meditation to manage negative thinking, breathing techniques to disarm anxiety, and even guided me through several powerful deep meditative exercises that unearthed repressed memories.
In San Diego, I bounced around therapists until finding the perfect match, a wise woman who has spent years challenging and changing my perspective, caring for me with a form of firm kindness that can only come from a place of shared accountability.
And as painful as much of the process has been at times, it’s also been deeply insightful and tremendously rewarding.
Here are a few of the insights that have emerged from these past few years of therapy:
#1 We Are Not Our Feelings
When we feel frustrated, sad, stressed, or anxious, we do not become those feelings, we're simply experiencing them.
Understanding the difference between “I am anxious” and “I am feeling anxious” is a powerful step towards disarming debilitating emotions.
#2 Moving From Critic To Coach
The world is full of critics, we don’t need to be our own. It’s about transitioning the voice in our head from critic to coach.
We should all be our own biggest champion.
#3 Listening To The Language We Use
I used to describe work like it was a war zone, whether a client was trying to “kill the project,” a boss was “attacking me” over an issue, or I was “in the trenches” with my teammates.
The language we use matters and this type of internal narrative was unproductive and furthered my anxiety around work.
#4 Failure Is A Rep
Perfection is impractical and on a long enough timeline we all will stumble.
It’s important to reframe failure as another rep that helps us build up mental muscle memory.
#5 Peace Is In The Present
My old therapist alway reminded me that the three best ways to reduce stress are to spend time outside, spend time with animals, or to mediate.
Whether it’s pain from the past or anxiety about the future, often the best way to manage overwhelming moments is to try to remain in the present.
It’s about slowing down the voice in our ahead and elevating our senses.
I used to think I had to fix myself, that something about me was innately broken. But I have learned that therapy is not about fixing, but about fostering. That self reflection is not about criticism, but about self care.
This month, more than ever, I am hopeful we can one day find ourselves in a place where high quality mental health care is accessible and affordable for everyone.
Until then, let us all do our part to increase awareness of critical mental health issues impacting ourselves and our communities.
Wherever you are in your own journey, please know that I’m rooting for you.
About the Author
Seth is the Founder and CEO of Kanahoma, a San Diego-based education marketing agency. Operating at the intersection of beautiful brand creative and effective direct response marketing, Kanahoma partners with colleges and universities, education technology and service providers, as well as K-12 organizations.
You can learn more about Kanahoma at www.Kanahoma.com.