Mental health is commonly associated with psychiatric, mood, or personality disorders. Society at large associates mental health with “crazy”. Why is mental health so negative? Shouldn’t the health of our minds be a positive? Could the negative stigma of mental health be, in large part, due to its negative associations? What is the positive counterbalance? What is good mental health? If we do not have a clear picture of what good mental health looks like how can we fully understand mental health issues and to what target we are aiming? What is good mental health?
Mental health is commonly defined by negative symptoms and behaviors. If someone’s’ thoughts, feelings, or behaviors fall outside the norm and lead to unwanted or negative consequences it is deemed an issue. A doctor may prescribe psychiatric medications to lessen unwanted symptoms. Group and/or one-on-one counseling may be part of the treatment plan. However, what are we aiming for, and what is the target of good mental health? Other than attempting to stabilize a person with mental health issues in hopes they can have a full life, or not compromise others, we have no real goals to aim for good mental health.
Emotional intelligence is a term used to define someone’s emotional maturity. Is the individual thinking illogically? Are their thoughts distorted? How does one respond to stress? Does the individual take responsibility for their emotions or do they blame others? Does one take other people’s actions personally? Does one depend too much on others or do others depend too much on them? Emotional intelligence is a good gauge for positive mental health because it is the direct result of our thinking.
Mental health isn’t necessarily about positivity or looking “on the brighter side”. Mental health has far more to do about identifying the thinking which is causing our feelings, and discovering the underlying beliefs which reinforce how we perceive and experience ourselves and the world. Distorted thinking and fallacious reasoning are two main culprits in the creation of negative feelings, beliefs, and actions. It is one big circle. If my thinking is illogical or distorted, my feelings will become illogical and distorted.
A key to mental health is the regular practice of accurate self-appraisal, owing our emotions, discovering our thinking causing our emotions, and challenging our thoughts for sound logic and clarity from distortions. Far too often, we accept our thoughts as they are and without question. Thinking is not just a voice in our head, a conversation we are having with ourselves or the story we tell. Thinking is a key in discovering and understanding how we create our experience and reality. It is a key only you can use.
If you have a negative or unwanted feeling check your thinking for common thought distortions above : ) do any of these apply? Or checkout this link to CBT worksheets here!