The 8 Mental Health Myths Which Keep You Unhappy

E.B. Johnson

by: E.B. Johnson (Image by @mshahawy via Twenty20)

When it comes to mental health, there are a number of myths out there that can prevent us from seeking the help we need. These myths dismiss our very real, very human experience, and they also perpetuate a sense of guilt that keeps us stuck in unhappiness. If we truly want to unlock the power of positive mental transformations, we have to understand these myths and bury them in the past once and for all.

There is no weakness in embracing the quality of your mental health, and there is no shame in taking the steps you need to improve it. Just as we would tend to a wound of the flesh, we have to learn to tend to the wounds of our souls and our minds. This begins with letting go of all the old myths and taboos which tell us that mental health issues are shameful, worthless or wrong. Once we’ve removed these shackles for ourselves, we are free to find positivity again.

Our mental health transcends myths.

The fact of the matter is that our mental health is a very complicated thing, and it can fluctuate and change with the time and circumstances of our lives. Even if you don’t have a diagnosed mental health condition, you can struggle with some serious ideas and emotions that are hard to process and even more difficult to resolve. It makes this process even more challenging when facing a society or support network that tells you your mental health issues are less important than they truly are.

Mental health myths perpetuate feelings of guilt and shame, and can also hold us back from getting the appropriate help. They keep us small. They dismiss our emotions, our experiences, and even our very humanity.

When we get realistic about understanding these myths — as well as the deep-rooted places from which they stem — we can bring about some truly astounding changes in the way we feel and the way we see the world. Myths like mental illness makes you “crazy” (or mental wellbeing isn’t that serious) are toxic. Stop allowing such shallow and archaic ideals to keep you small, scared and unhappy. Free yourself and your mental wellbeing to thrive by stepping up and taking charge for your future health and happiness.

The mental health myths which are keeping you unhappy.

Feel like you just can’t break out of the funk you’re struggling through? Know that there’s a deeper issue, but just can’t find the courage to address it? More often than not, we miss out on taking care of our mental wellbeing because we allow ourselves to get caught up in the surrounding myths. These are the mental health myths that hold you back and keep you from building a fulfilled future.

Mental health isn't serious

The most common and pervasive myth where mental health is concerned is the dismissal myth. This myth tells us that mental wellbeing is not that serious or not worth spending energy on. Because there’s no blood, it’s not seen as an immediate risk — but mental health hangups take a roll on both our personal and professional lives, as well as the intimate relationships that provide reassurance and fulfillment. Only when we take our mental wellbeing seriously can we find genuine joy.

Doctors are always right

One extremely toxic myth (where our mental health is concerned) is that of the doctor infallibility. It makes sense. We’re brought up to see doctors are veritable gods, with more money and education than we could ever dream of. The fact of the matter, however, is that all doctors are human just like us. And they are (occasionally) capable of making genuine mistakes that result in dismissal or misdiagnosis.

It should be easy

There’s a common misunderstanding among many of us that our mental health works a little our physical health; throw the right thing at it and it will go away. It’s a little more complicated than that, however, and it can take many different attempts at different solutions to find the right thing for you. Giving up when medication or psychotherapy doesn’t work the first time is a myth that’s perpetuated by this idea that we should abandon things when they don’t work immediately.

Mental health is harmless

A particularly pervasive myth when it comes to mental health is the idea that it’s “harmless” or somehow fanciful in nature. Mental wellbeing isn’t something that only the rich have the luxury of dealing with; and its nuanced nature doesn’t make it any less dangerous to your health and happiness. You might think that a mental health issue won’t impact the other important aspects of your life — but nothing could be further from the truth.

Psychology is a pseudo-sciences

As far as some sciences go, psychiatry and psychology are relatively new — with the greatest strides being made in the last century or so. For this reason, there are many among us that have come (wrongly) to believe that these sciences are “pseudo-sciences” or myths that are somehow not real. The amount of time something has existed means little, though, when you consider technological advancements and the weight of research-based evidence behind it.

Mental struggles are a defect

Mental illness and mental health issues are still greatly misunderstood by many, and this can lead to some strange ideas. Chiefly among them is the idea that mental illness or struggle makes you defective. To some, this defect means extreme violence or sudden and unpredictable shifts in mood. To others, it looks more like a poorly lit scene from a crime thriller. All definitions, of course, are based in erroneous ideas on mental wellbeing and health. There's nothing defective in you. We all deal with our own mental health.

Seeking help is weakness

One of the most toxic mental health myths out that is that of weakness. Many see admitting to a struggling mental wellbeing as a form of weakness, or a way of devaluing themselves. This idea, however, is completely irrationally. When we injure our bodies — break a bone, cut ourselves — don’t we seek care, or at least a bandaid to stop our bleeding? There are millions of people out there who deny themselves the mental health help they need because they see it as admitting weakness or somehow acknowledging that they are less-worthy.

Medication isn't an option

There is a strange stigma among many when it comes to mental health and medication. Just as some might see admitting a mental health issue as a weakness, this sub-set sees medicating their issues as a weakness. Though they might willingly treat a wound of the flesh, they aren’t willing to treat the mis balances of the mind through medication tailored to their needs. Like it or not, some issues require a more medicated approach.

How to shed the myths and build better mental wellbeing.

The better care we take of our mental wellbeing — the more honest we are about it — the better we are able to build the future that we want. By refocusing on positive emotions, leaning into the process, and opening up to the people we trust, we can uncover true and lasting transformation…and happiness too.

1. Shift your perspective

Our thoughts and emotions are major informers and indicators when it comes to our mental wellbeing. When we spend all our time focusing on negative thoughts and feelings, we often find our lives filled with more of the same negativity. By reshaping and replacing these with a more positive outlook, we can drastically transform our mental health and the way we come to see it in our lives.

Sure, not every mental health condition can be treated by positive thought. But it can be improved by learning how to more positively relate to these states of mind and being. Look at the lessons your negative emotions bring you; the things they try to protect you from.

Consider how different your life experience has been, compared to someone who hasn’t suffered the mental and emotional hangups you have. What strengths has this battle endowed you with? Can these strengths inspire more positive emotions and outlooks? When we learn how to effectively reshape the negative (in the best way for us) we can seriously transform our joy.

2. Take everything slow

Handling our mental health is a delicate issue and finding happiness (despite these hangups) is a process that takes time. There are endless setbacks and pitfalls on the way back to our joy, and — sometimes — our darkness never fully goes away. It’s important to embrace the journey for what it is, and learn how to build up to our future slowly, moment-by-moment.

Stop rushing to the finish line and don’t expect to find happiness overnight.Celebrate every small victory, and every little moment in which you manage to find enough genuine joy to eclipse your darkness.

Take everything a day at a time. And, above all else, learn to look at your setbacks as important teaching moments rather than backtracks. Falling back into old patterns is a reminder. It’s your process standing up and saying, “Hey — remember this jerk? Look how far we’ve come. Put them back in the cupboard.” Let things unfold naturally and trust your strength. Find your way back to mastery of life little-by-little.

3. Build a support system

Though not everyone benefits from a large and thriving support network, many of us are lucky enough to enjoy one or two people who love and support us unconditionally. When you’re really struggling, these people can be a critical part of the healing process, as they can provide an improved perspective and the inspiration we need to get up and take charge of our mental wellbeing.

If you’re no longer strong enough to carry your burden on your own — don’t. Find someone you can trust and open up to them. Ask their permission first, then find a safe place where you can open up to one another (whether that is over the phone, or through text, etc). Tell them how you’re feeling as ask for their point of view.

Let them see exactly where you’re at and exactly how you’re feeling. If you don’t have someone like this in your life, look for a mental health professional who can help you heal. No matter how hard it might be to admit, not all mental health hurdles can be overcome on our own. Stop struggling uphill when you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out to the people you trust and look to their love and support to find your way back.

4. Give yourself space

Not every horrible thing in our lives requires instant and consuming acknowledgement or energy. It’s okay to walk away when you’re feeling the pressure, and it’s okay to take a pit stop and decompress. The more we master this skill, the more we come to realize just how in control we truly are. Don’t force yourself into places you aren’t ready to go. Walk away and hit reset when you’re struggling mentally and emotionally.

Press pause and give yourself time and space to decompress when things get tough. Whether the issue you’re experiencing involves family, friends or even a situation at work — have enough time and respect to take a step back and count to 10 before you make any judgements or react to your thoughts and emotions.

Utilizing this practice, we become masters of our environments. We realize that it is possible to overcome our emotions and put them in the places where they belong. Let go of your need to react, and rise above your need to feed that darkness or that shadow that keeps you small and sad. Walk away from the tough stuff and allow yourself to calm and recenter before you start making the big moves and decisions.

5. Be kind to your body

Like it or not, the state of your physical body has a direct impact on your mental state. We’ve all heard the tips that ask us to keep a better diet or get more exercise — and they’re right. But treating your body doesn’t just end there; especially if you’re someone living in chronic pain or with a chronic medical condition (outside of any mental diagnoses).

Start being kinder to your body, and lookout for ways to remove stress from it as much as possible. Get more sleep, improve your diet and get enough exercise to keep your cardiac health in order. Likewise, learn how to just take a step back and unplug when the stress is too much.

Treating our bodies better isn’t always about going for a 10-mile run. Sometimes, it’s simply about learning how to love our physical bodies and let off the gas when they’ve been pushed too far. Look after any physical medical issues you might have and treat your body as the temple it was meant to be. The more your physical body is at peace, the easier it will become to look after your mental wellbeing.

6. Tap into gratitude

If you’re someone who has battled with your mental health for a long time, then you are probably familiar with the “gratitude tip”. This self-help guru go to is all about learning to focus on things in the here and now that you’re grateful for. But what about the future? When we get grateful for our futures, we can unlock an entirely new motivation to fight on.

Be grateful for what you have in your life right now, but don’t forget to look to the future too. Imagine yourself in your dream life 10–20 years from now. What does it look like? What did it take to get there? Look at these things and consider all the gratitude that is still yet to come in your life. Consider all the changes you can enact when you are where you wanna be.

This can be an especially helpful technique when you’re dealing with a painful reality, or you’re struggling to find things in your current life to be grateful for. It’s also a great way to get re-inspired, and a great way to get refocused on what matters and what you really want for you. Mental health is a hurdle that we are responsible for removing ourselves. It can either prevent us from getting where we need to be, or it can be the thing that inspires us to get better.

Putting it all together…

Mental health is a hot topic, but too many of us ignore our own mental health because of the destructive myths we receive from society. These myths dismiss our emotions and our experiences and drive us into tunnels of shame and guilt that keep us scared and small. If we truly want to thrive, we have to learn how to let go of these myths and see our mental health reality for what it truly is.

Refocus on your positive emotions and learn how to reframe the way you think with a crash course in positive psychology. Don’t rush and understand that coming back from the brink is a process. Take things step-by-step and moment-by-moment. Enjoy the process. Use your support systems, and shift your perspective and the way you see yourself in the world. Stop forcing the fit and understand that it’s okay to walk away when you’re feeling too up against it. We don’t have to solve every problem overnight, and not every emotion needs to be faced with the dawn. Give yourself the space you need and take better care of your body to give your mind and spirit that extra boost. Look to your future and get grateful. Tomorrow can be what you want it to be, you just have to get realistic about the work it’s going to take to get there.

#MentalHealth #MentalHealthAwareness #Psychology

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Writer. Host. Certified coach. Host of the Practical Growth Pod. Master Practitioner NLP. Get all my books and resources at the link below.

Pelham, AL

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