In this modern age of instant messages, people say hurtful things and nastiness spreads faster than a wildfire. And then too, we live in a time of moral chaos so that good is labeled as bad. It’s a mess don’t you think?
There are some basic things that can help preserve mental health for all of us…please share these thoughts if you find them helpful:
1) My teenage children both decided not to open up Facebook accounts. I am proud of them for that. They made this decision because they have seen the drama and heard enough of the stories. I think it was the right call. I, on the other hand, thought I should keep up with the community and let people know about my work through various forms of social media. So I signed up. Now I have to tell myself, “Tune it out. Don’t read it all. Focus only on the positive.” It’s hard to do this…I still see the complaints, the gory pictures, the stuff I would rather not see. But I now use the scroll button and try to tune out most of what is posted and to limit time online. This is a discipline that MUST be practiced.
2) There is also a “right ordering to the psyche” that most people in the modern world don’t understand but I learned this from my very wise husband.
The most primitive part of the self is the sensory. Animals follow instinctual behavior based on the senses. We should NOT be basing our lives on that which is purely physical pleasure.
Our senses tend to work with emotions. So we feel passionate about various things. Emotions have a role…enthusiasm is motivating. Joy is uplifting. But emotions can lead to wrong action. Emotions must be held in check by reasoning.
Our intellect is given to us so we can sort through our emotions and our sensory experiences. So we can make sense of the world. But sometimes our minds lead us astray. (This is especially true nowadays because clear reasoning requires education in logic. This is no longer taught…perhaps for a cultural reason.) Our intellect should come under the guidance of faith.
Long ago people understood that Faith/Theology is the highest endeavor. God is beyond anything we can study with normal methods. We can’t fully grasp Him because He is above all that is. So Faith is needed.
When we turn our lives over to God, all the rest of who we are comes in line. The mind, the heart and the senses instinctively long to surrender to God!!! Under the direction of faith, our lives make sense.
3) So how do we let our lives be guided by faith instead of those lower aspects of the self? Prayer and silence are necessary. There are also some other tools: Post reminders and inspiration around the house. An important reminder is this: “This too shall pass!!” No matter how we feel, no matter what doesn’t make sense, no matter how much pain our bodies feel….these states of being are temporary. Sometimes we just have to wait it out. “Let go and let God.”
4) Music can be soothing or inspiring. Carefully choose good music to listen to and be inspired.
5) Remember that we have an abundance of spiritual aids as Catholics: Our angels, the saints, our sacramentals, the rosary, special prayers and the sacraments. Make use of the help that is close at hand!
Mental health means having a mind that reasons past emotions, and emotions that make sense of the physical world. But overall, we need to be guided by He Who Loves Us Beyond All Measure!
Copyright 2013 Judith Costello