“What you focus on expands. If you want to attract positive experiences into your life, begin by focusing on the good things you already have.” –Albert Einstein
What does it mean to be Mentally Well? Wellness has the possibility of illness. Possibility, however, means not required, only potential. Potential is also a term we use for rising up, moving on, achieving goals and dreams; living my best life.
When I consider my journey with Mental Wellness and Substance Use Recovery success, I recall the times when I saw these challenges through the eyes of the Law of Repulsion. The Law of Repulsion is a certain amount of focus on the past and almost a threat of not wanting to go back there. The challenge with that is we are always entertaining the past to some extent. I understand that this works for many people. Many recovery treatment programs operate from this belief, I’ve been a therapist on a couple. Personally, I strive to operate from the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction says “What is the life you want and how are you going to get there.” The joy in it is that I get to focus on the future, always looking forward, propelled by the potential of creating my best life.
Symptoms come and go (and some linger) and even in those moments I’m in success because I’ve noticed them. I am aware that I don’t have to be swallowed by them and even though I am not at my best, I am not at my worst either and I am still thriving. As a person who hears things that others don’t, I used to try to figure out where these came from. Maybe it was my significant Meth use or was it a natural progression of my mental health challenges and none of that was helping me move forward. So, the day came when I decided “OK, these visitors have actually moved in for good so how will I create a life to live with them than against them. (Ever wanting to be the considerate host!) That gave me the freedom to search for and consider many ways to manage what was going on. Today I have developed a relationship with these old intruders, now my guests and they never get to take over. Sometimes they rise up so I tell them “Back to your room!”
That is just one example of practicing Mental Wellness, even when the symptoms are pulling at my very thread. It takes practice, willingness, belief in self and the willingness to believe that everything changes. A knowledge that this is a moment, it doesn’t need to define me and I can build strength from this.
So, as we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, consider, perhaps, that everything happens in our lives is a potential teaching moment. Wake up to the day with the thought “What can/will I learn today.” Just this simple thought invites possibility and success in all we do. “What do I do if the learning is unpleasant, doesn’t seem fair”. What works for me is telling myself to build a bridge and get over it.” Find the forward movement. Maybe find the funny in life’s events (laughter heals). Look for opportunities to practice kindness, empathy, mutuality and love. Demonstrate to the world that Mental Illness is not a prophecy of doom because where illness exists, wellness does as well (If we look for it).
Terrence Smithers came to RI International through Community Building as a resident and Student of the Recovery Education Center. Within a year he was hired and is now more than 16 years with RI. He is in co-occurring recovery and has worked in Behavioral Heath as a Tech, Counselor, Therapist, and Healthcare curriculum developer and facilitator for 35 Years.