May: Mental Health Awareness Month
by Joanne Halt. M.A., NAMI FaithNet
Thoughts matter. A major emotional resilience builder is observing and managing thoughts to learn how we construct our inner reality. How do we choose to interpret what we see or experience? What behaviors/desires come from our attitude? What brings us guilt or shame? The former (I did a wrong) can empower behavioral change. The latter (I am defective) brings a cascade of stress chemicals, lowers emotional resilience, and actually changes our nervous system for the worse. Ever been unable to let go of regret, worry, resentment, worthlessness, and end up spiraling downward (rumination)? Managing ANTs (anxious negative thinking) is a learnable skill and a spiritual discipline. It’s healthier than drinking or drugging to forget. Detaching from the belief that we are our thoughts is the first step.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
Attachment is destructive. Our thoughts and emotions come and go and have no substance; our eternal life in God, our true self, is changeless. Jesus said of Satan (also called The Accuser) “He is a liar…from the beginning.” (Jn. 8:44). We should expect deceit from our mind. I think of Judas: his betrayal of self and God; the mental constructs and emotions that preceded his attitude toward self and others. Peter also betrayed Jesus, to a lesser degree: was guilt ridden, but stood on the promises of Jesus, managed fear, anxiety and anger; kept himself in community and chose trust. Judas could not. Judas or Peter, shame or guilt. We can call upon the Holy Spirit for direction and hope when our eyes open to our human condition and to our self-deceit. Start by being a curious non-judgmental observer of thought. Be like a mirror as they arise, just reflecting back. Disengage by bringing attention to your breath, then imagine a compassionate response to what reveals itself in thought or emotion. Be curious about reactions and open up a dialogue with your inner critic. Dispute what isn’t true. Get active by moving and doing; break negative self –talk with exercise (mindful walking, tai chi, yoga), dance, sing. If ANTs seem to be winning, seek professional help. “Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you; all things are passing; God never changes.” Teresa of Avila
Join us – Journey to Hope
We will be resuming our monthly support group, Journey to Hope NAMI Family Support, for family members who need to understand how to best support their loved one. We will meet in the St. Therese room in the Parish Life Center starting on Thursday, May 11 at 6pm.
If you need help now in understanding how best to support your loved one (or yourself) with a mental health difficulty, email email@example.com