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It’s Us not Them Part 2

Seeking New and Diverse Experiences

Something that we can all relate to when we’re feeling sad, low, depressed or generally down, is that we lock ourselves away, be it mentally or physically. We’ve all had those days where we don’t want to go out or see anybody. Nothing is going right, or feels right. You hate yourself or life in general. You can’t find meaning or reason in anything, you struggle to achieve mundane daily tasks, or simply don’t want to be at all. It’s tough. We’re going to look at 3 different ways that help to stimulate a new mindset and break the negatives that seem to dominate our thinking. In this first chapter we’ll look at seeking new and diverse experiences.

Firstly let me say, as a person who suffers from mental health, I completely understand that sometimes, words are simply that. People will try and tell you all the positive things in the world to try and pick you up, like, ‘Ah, don’t worry, things will get better, they always do’ or ‘well try not to think about it too much, remember what a great person you are’ along with, ‘well maybe get out and go for a walk or something’. I’ve had many of these types of sentences said to me, and whilst I understand they are trying to be helpful, it doesn’t actually make me feel any better. It feels like a distant pat on the back from someone who really has no clue (and how could they) about the mental anguish I feel and therefore it’s an automated response. This is the crux of the matter. The overwhelming negativity that is inside you is yours, and it’s strong, I know. On the flip side, that means that you in turn are strong and like the ‘Ying and the Yang’ the strength of your negativity is also available to you as positivity. One example where I could highlight this is in the case of people with bi polar.. In cases where people suffer from bi polar 1 and 2, they go through manic high’s, like going on shopping sprees or giving all their money away, become overly sexual and happy with everybody, have high energy level’s and overtly chatty. Then they will flip to manic low’s, such as huge depression, thoughts of self harm and sadly even suicide. They stay at home and everything in this world is just too much. To a bi polar person these experiences are perceived by the brain as swinging from positive and negative emotions, and although not the best example, as giving away all your money or being overly promiscuous isn’t considered a ‘positive’ thing, it’s an example on the topic of mental health that demonstrates that the power is there within us. Being able to change our brain's pattern ourselves is hugely important in our own battle with our minds. One way to do this is seeking new and diverse experiences.

What I mean by this, as you may well be aware, when feeling low or down, especially for long periods you become more and more ingrained in your way of thinking, or being, and become stuck in a negative bubble or rut. You don’t want to or can’t get out. Feelings of low self worth or that people don’t care or that you’d be a burden unloading on others. This creates a negative spiral and structure to your life that becomes increasingly harder to break. Yet you have the power to change it. You do. It just takes you to make the first step, and hard as this may be sometimes, once you have done it once, a little note in the back of your mind tells you that it can be done…for your own good.

Seeking new life experiences means doing things you haven’t done or tried before, especially unexpected ones, ones that change your perspective. Like learning something new, taking part in an activity that is alien to you or travelling somewhere you’ve never been. When you consciously seek out and open yourself to new experiences, you stimulate growth and expansion. This can alter your personality traits, emotional attitudes and how you treat your body. Overall this contributes to the feeling “this is why life is worth living”. I’m sure we’ve all been somewhere or were doing something when plans suddenly changed and at first you were unsure, but in the end it turned out to be a great if not memorable day and you talk about it still, well this is the same thing that you can do to yourself, to your own brain. For example, I was stuck in a rut myself a while back. I stayed in every evening after work. Felt low, no self worth, had no social life to speak of, and generally couldn’t be content. I hated my own four walls, every day was the same and I was just treading water. My brain repeatedly told me all was crap. One day coming back from the shop I noticed a sign in a window in town for art classes. Now I'm no artist, but I always enjoyed it at school and it wasn’t expensive and was local. I thought, why not? I needed to do something different, so just do it. Yes I had many apprehensions, I bet everyone there is amazing at art, i don’t know any of them, this isn’t in my comfort zone etc, but i over rode those thoughts and emailed the lady and booked myself in. I’ll be honest, I made an excuse and didn't go to my first class. I felt nervous, questioned what the hell I was doing, didn’t fancy meeting new people. All the things we naturally feel when our negative side of our brain is in control. However the following week I forced myself out the door and went. After arriving and getting over the initial awkwardness that WE ALL FEEL, it turned out to be fun. Everyone was nice, there was tea and biscuits! And there were all different levels of artists there. Point being, after breaking through that negative barrier, my brain switched over to positive thinking and I walked home glad of the experience. I went to bed without the other impressing thoughts and worries that had been dominating my nights previously. So this demonstrated to me that I myself CAN control my brain, and although it’s not a permanent fixture, it started to show me the tools that I can use to help break the negative cycles. It’s basically a type of brain distraction, but it works!

The hardest bit is actually taking the first step. Making that call, getting out the house, telling yourself ‘Just do it’, and that is the key, you must try not to overthink it, just throw yourself in. The experience alone will bring your mind into a new realm and stop the destructive negative thoughts that are feeding your inner worries. Changing this mindset lifts you and gives you gratitude for living, for your existence, and moves you from self conflict or disappointment.

So, if you suffer yourself or know someone that does, try any of these things and don’t worry too much about the consequences, it’s in the actions that will turn your negative outlook into a positive one, and you never know what might happen or what friends you might make along the way. It’s all about getting the experience. I wish you well and believe in yourself, we all have the power within us, be strong. You can do it! In the next part we’ll be looking at embracing the anxiety of uncertainty.


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