Have you ever decided that you want to lose weight? Decided that you are going to go on a diet and you just need to decide what the start date of that diet will be?
You tell yourself every day that you need to sort your weight out, that you need to eat healthier, that you want to get into a healthy routine, that you want to shed that bit of weight you have been wanting to lose For the last couple of months? But your brain does not seem to want to co-operate?
The same brain that knows what it wants and how to get it, but the same brain that keeps putting up mental obstacles to knock your motivation and hold you back?
That is what it is like living with a mental illness and being told to ‘be happy and ‘think positive’. Our brain may know what we want, and even have ideas how to do it – but there are mental blockers In the way, holding us back, stopping us from being able to just flick a mental switch to ‘positive mode’.
Telling someone with mental health issues to ‘think positive’ and ‘stop thinking so negatively’ is like telling a smoker to quit smoking.
We know that smoking is bad for our health, just like we know negative thoughts are bad for our mental health. The more we smoke the worse our health gets, and we know negativity breeds negativity.
We know that quitting smoking is the best thing for us and our health, just like we know thinking positively is better for mental health – but that doesn’t make it a quick fix option. The mental blockers are there preventing us from just switching that ‘positive mode’ switch.
We can try for days, weeks, months, years to get in to ‘diet mode’ and not succeed in losing that weight because of the mental blockers we keep fighting.
We can try for days, weeks, months, years to get in to ‘quitting mode’ and not succeed in quitting smoking because of the mental blockers we keep fighting.
We can try for days, weeks, months, years to get into ‘positive mode’ and not succeed in feeling positive because of the mental blockers we keep fighting.
But often, suddenly, without anything being different, other than the mental blockers seem to lift – the stars seem to align and we succeed to put ourselves into ‘diet mode’, ‘quitting mode’, ‘positive mode’. It feels like we are fighting to the same degree we were before, but the mental blockers are gone.
And for a while we start to lose weight, stop smoking, thinking positively.
But just like we can end up putting weight back on, or start smoking again, the negative thoughts can creep back in again.
It is a lifelong battle.
That is the reality of mental health issues.
That is why telling someone to “think positive” can great more of a negative effect.
Just because they aren’t being positive does not mean they are not trying to fight a hard mental battle.