Everyone is aware of this topic, I'm sure. I am no clinical psychologist, by far, but I would like to offer a recent experience of mine that changed my entire outlook on mental health.
This past few years of life have been extremely trying. I have never dealt with such extreme, intense emotional and mental battles in such a small amount of time. (S/N: If you can relate to this, comment below!) In my quest to understand, heal, and grow, I've had many a-chat with God.
A defining moment for me was one teary-eyed shower prayer session this past January [who knows about those ✋🏽] when He began to answer my cries for wisdom to break the emotional hold over my mind. I had been asking all the biggies- 'God what', 'God how', 'God when'- [I try not to ask "why" as that has never gotten the inquirer much response]. But the answer had finally come like thunder in my spirit..
He told me that a large reason for the perceived heaviness and unbreakable nature of my emotional battles is
too much self focus.
He continued explaining that I should be intentional to get out and connect with others. That I should make it a point to give of myself to someone who is in a position of need that I can fill. And by doing so, I would cause more superior or higher unseen feelings to rise up in my soul which would counteract the negative feelings (we will unpack this in a separate post).
That thing hit so hard. It was wise and yet very practical; something I could easily implement to start making progress. [Don't ask how long it took to implement tho🤫🤐]
Let's unpack this...
When you really start to break it down, the sadness, anxiety, fear, depression, anger, numbness, loneliness - whatever the emotion, it's most likely an emotion centered around YOU. Life is a nonstop circus of your tiredness, your work, your dreams, your goals, your pain, your best life, your soulmate, your family, your spirituality, your kids - YOUR YOUR YOUR YOUR YOUR! Is it any wonder it's hard to get out of a place like that?
We were not made to be so self-centered and detached from one another. Every thought, action, and feeling should not be going towards yourself. With that type of mentality, it's easy to get swept away in things that affect and pertain to your world only, while tuning out the people and the world around you that, whether you know it or not, are affecting and being affected by none other than wonderful you. In fact, I'd go as far to say that the things you lack can be found in the people around you.
We Are All Connected. Is it any wonder so many people feel alone???
FAST FORWARD TO OCTOBER
This past Saturday, I had a pool party with some fun ones and there was TONS of food leftover. After having the idea come and go twice, I decided the next morning to follow the intuition to give the remains to the homeless people I drive by in Downtown Atlanta everyday, wishing that I could be a solution for.
Mind you, this was a cloudy, 'meh' Atlanta Sunday and that's how I woke up feeling. I was a little emo about a situation with a person I've developed feelings for and was thinking how I needed to spend my efforts on doing something productive instead 🥱 *yawn*. [I'd much rather be cuddled up, but I digress.]
So, I made up in my mind that I was going to do it whether or not I had help, but I would still put it out there to some friends just in case. I went to the store for a few more items, came home, and got to work.
As I was breaking the chicken down, so much was going through my mind:
-the time and effort it was taking to get everything together
-a homeless person somewhere wondering what dumpster their next meal would come from
-how much more faith my roommate's dog has than me to stand there under me all that time in the hopes that a tiny morsel would fall for her to enjoy 🐶🙄😂
And in those moments, for that hour or so, my thoughts did not once go to my broken expectations of my life, fears and doubts about myself or the future, life choices, frustrations with God, or romantic entanglements. For that hour, all I was doing was enjoying the warmth coming into my soul knowing that what I was doing could possibly make the day of a person who feels disregarded and hopeless about life.
I even ended up with two helpers. So, we bagged it up, and headed out. It took all of 2.5 hours to do everything, but the impact is still being felt days later.
Shoutout to my boys that came through! Mando (left) for helping me bag it all up and pass it out, and Bestie Phil (right) for helping pass things out, and just for coming along in general. I felt much safer and happier having help. :)
When it was over, they both thanked me for the invite and spoke about the impact that hour had on them. I won't speak on their behalf but I can say that they each are facing a world of their own life issues, just as I am, but they decided to participate and reaped the EMOTIONAL benefits from this simple act of generosity. We took our time, money, energy, and focus and put it somewhere that gave us no return. But we still left on the receiving end of the transaction! I also believe that planting seeds like this return harvests of more goodness to the givers, so in that way, we benefitted even more than we may ever know.
Perhaps that little sandwich, chips, and water was all the hope someone needed not to give up, simply because we decided to get beyond ourselves and see someone else for a moment. And it's that thought that caused all kinds of feelings of goodness, warmth, hope, joy, peace, love, and connectedness to rise up in me, completely obstructing the feelings of loneliness, boredom, anxiety, and unease from earlier that day.
Wow. Could it really be that simple? Can you integrate the care for and consideration of others into my daily lifestyle and experience a more well-balanced emotional life, personally? Hell yeah, you can. And I recommend you do! It's certainly unconventional to use a seemingly unrelated solution to address such a problem, but I found it to be HIGHLY EFFECTIVE. You just might, too!
HBU? Are you feeling emotionally overwhelmed in the "sea of ME"? What are some ways this can be implemented in your regular life? [You and I are not finna be feeding homeless every single day, so...let's brainstorm] 🧐 Share your thoughts. ✨