Dealing with mental health challenges is rarely simple or straightforward. And, left to its own devices, the mind will often focus on negatives rather than positives. So it can feel like you’re less competent, charismatic, or confident than you actually are.
Thankfully you can remedy negative self-perceptions by feeding your mind with positive ones. And the way to do this is by embracing personal growth. As you grow, your mind will begin to associate positive experiences with your self-perception. And while this won’t erase mental health challenges altogether, developing a positive self-perception can help alleviate their weight. Read on to learn about a few ways you can embrace personal growth to navigate your mind.
Seek the Appropriate Help
You might see asking for help as a sign of weakness. But, in reality, it’s simply an acknowledgment of your own humanity. People are flawed, and everyone needs help from time to time. The good news is that, as a social species, people like to help others — especially those they consider part of their tribe.
Reach out to those close to you and ask for feedback about yourself. It’s often difficult, if not impossible to see your own blind spots. So rely on others you trust to act as a mirror. Genuine critical feedback — not undue judgment — is one of the greatest gifts anyone can receive. Because when you understand what your flaws are you are better equipped to improve them.
You can always seek professional help if you don’t feel like you have someone you can talk to. And, even if you do, sometimes a professional is better at communicating their feedback clearly. Additionally, if your mental health challenges are a result of a chemical imbalance, you can address them directly with medication. If deemed appropriate, you can order mental health medication online, which can give you a more solid foundation to build upon. Seeking help can provide the clarity and direction needed for effective personal growth.
Directly Challenge Your Beliefs
The mind loves facts and will latch on solid evidence that supports its preconceptions. Then it will use that evidence to reinforce its beliefs. For example, say you have a belief that you’re bad at socializing. As soon as you start to challenge this belief, your mind will bring up all the times you forgot people’s names at parties. To combat this reaction, you need to provide your mind with evidence to the contrary.
The way you get this evidence is by creating it. Continuing with the example of remembering names, spend a week going out and talking to people and asking for their names. Then repeat their name throughout the conversation at least three times after learning it. Develop this memory skill enough and eventually you’ll have plenty of evidence to support the belief that you’re good at remembering people’s names.
You can use this general method to challenge any belief. Just keep in mind that the more central a belief is to your core identity the harder it will be to shake. Or, in other words, the more evidence you’ll need to change your self-perception. Remember to be kind when challenging your core beliefs. Cognitive dissonance can truly be uncomfortable. Many core beliefs are attached to values, were formed during key experiences growing up, and will take time and understanding to address.
Develop Your Willpower
Everyone has challenging moments in life no matter how solid their mental health is. And while you can’t prevent bad things from happening, you can improve your response to them. There’s a moment between stimulus and response where you can make a choice. And to choose your responses rather than let your emotions control you is an act of will.
For example, you could get angry when someone cuts you off while driving. You could speed up, follow too close, flip them off, and honk loudly. Or you could take a deep breath, consider if they even meant to do that, and let it go. Both options are valid, but only one de-escalates the tension. That option isn’t always easy to choose, but it can become easier by developing your willpower.
To develop your willpower, put yourself in situations where you have to choose between comfort and a goal. That goal could be waking up before the sun every morning. Because it takes willpower to make yourself get up even when you don’t want to. By developing a practice like this, you increase your capacity to choose your responses. So when negative perceptions or emotions do arise, you can choose a different response to them of your own volition.
Be Patient With Yourself
Navigating mental health challenges can be incredibly difficult to do. While embracing personal growth is one of the most effective ways to do so, it also takes time. It may be days, weeks, or even years before you start to see a change in your behavior or emotions. But it’s important to be persistent. This is an investment of time and energy that can pay dividends throughout your life.
To help ease the process, start a journal. Journaling is a great way to keep track of your thoughts, emotions, and experiences over time. When you feel like what you’re doing just isn’t working, your journal can serve as evidence to support or contradict that feeling. If you find it’s true that things aren’t working, you can try a new approach. And if they are working, you can move forward with increased confidence that you’re actively working on bettering yourself.