Back in early 2013, I was in a dark place mentally. I was nearing the end of my tether and it wasn’t looking good. My brain was full of terrible thought processes and I was looking at life with so much anger and distrust. Things needed to change. I wasn’t much of a reader, but something drew me towards self-help books. I hit the Kindle store and I found books that focused on Taoism and Buddhism. I am not a Buddhist, nor a Taoist. But the beliefs that they teach as a philosophy can definitely be taken on board and used in your everyday life. There were certain phrases that really struck a chord with me. I learned to meditate with these phrases, and it gave me faith. I am not a religious person in the slightest, but I definitely learned a lot about faith and beliefs during this time of my life. The best way to describe it would be a spiritual revolution.
Before we get into the phrases and how they affected me, I want to talk about thought processes and how they affect your mental health. A thought process is basically the way you handle a situation. For example, a negative thought process would be if you go to work every day, you hate your job and it affects your personal life as you anxiously await another terrible day in work. The way to turn that from a negative thought process to a positive one would be if instead of focusing all your energy on the dread of the next day, put that energy towards the present and where you are at now. Enjoying your downtime and making the most of it can totally change how you view the bad stuff.
Changing my thought processes was what I need to do. Discovering Taoism and Buddhism ultimately changed my thought processes towards my current situation — and this wasn’t just a phase. These are still methods I use every day to combat bad mental health and to keep me viewing the world in a more positive way. I want to start off with:
You Are Safe, You Are Loved.
The full phrase gets written all sorts of alternative ways, but here is the one I repeat to meditate on:
The Past is nothing but Memory,
The Future Is Nothing But Prediction.
Memories and Predictions cannot hurt you.
What Matters is the Present.
You Are Safe,
You Are Loved,
You Are Beautiful.
I suffered very badly with anxiety. Constantly thinking of bad memories and worrying about any little thing coming up. But looking at it from this perspective was a game changer. Remembering that you have zero control over the past or the future, and focusing on the present is a very important exercise. In essence, it’s a meditation. Being at one with the present and feeling safe will extinguish all those anxious thoughts and bring you to more of a peaceful state. And it is also super important to remind yourself how great you are.
Reply, Don’t React
This is probably the biggest change I made to my thought processes. There are many situations that can use this process, but here is one example. You put up a new Facebook status, and an acquaintance replies with something a bit snarky or negative. There are two ways to handle this situation: reply or react.
The reactionary response is to write straight back with an equally negative response and thus perpetuating and adding to a negative atmosphere. All this will accomplish is attributing bad vibes to both your lives (a negative thought process!).
To reply, however, is a very different process. Take the comment on board, think about whether it holds any value to your life, try and determine why this comment has been made. Has the acquaintance been through something lately? Are they just a general jerk? Are they truly trying to bring you down? Ultimately you need to really think about whether responding in an equally negative fashion will help you with your day. Take time to gather your thoughts and make the best choice for yourself.
It may seem like a lot of hard work, but these micro-aggressions can add up to a really dark cloud of negativity over yourself and your actions which you may not even notice. Taking the time to think about how you handle things and replying in a more self-positive fashion will soon become second nature and really empower you to be a better person and ultimately a more positive person. Becoming a more positive person can have a major effect on your mental health.
This Too Shall Pass
Now I know this one is quite a cliche, but bear with me here. Similarly to the first phrase in this list, taking the time to remember that everything is just temporary can really help focus your mind from being bogged down and help you look at the situation from a completely different perspective.
I doubled-down on this particular phrase after watching an episode of “Arrow” (Taoism and DC Comics in one quality piece of content, you read that right folks). In Season 2, Episode 4 of Arrow, the main character Oliver Queen is talking about going through a Crucible. He states that “Sooner or later, we all go through a crucible… There are two types of people who go through a crucible: the ones who grow stronger from the experience and survive it, and the ones who die.” I was in the midst of this spiritual revolution when I heard this, and it really resonated with me.
Going through hard times is obviously a very tough process, but making sure that you learn from it to better yourself can almost make it worth it. Which is why it is (again) super important to examine your crucible and help it make you a better and more positive person.
The final phrase is pretty simple. I picked this one up from a book about Enlightenment and they gave this fantastic example: “You always have two choices in every situation: either curse the darkness or light the candle. Choose the positive always.” This really encompasses the whole attitude towards changing your thought processes — the more positive actions you take, the more positive you will become. Negativity breeds negativity, you won’t get out of your rut and improve your mental health without actively trying to change it. If you are looking for positivity in your life — you must become it!
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Author: Joel Davies