For as long as I can remember, witnessing suffering of any kind was nearly unbearable for me. As a child I protected and befriended kids who were being teased and bullied on the playground. I brought home stray animals. I entertained my parents and siblings to make them laugh and feel good. And I tried to “save” my dad from his addiction to alcohol. I just wanted everyone to be happy.
As an adult I knew I wanted to help the world or humanity, but I didn’t know how. I majored in Cultural Anthropology because I have always been fascinated with human beings and how we make sense of the world. A career as an Anthropologist wasn’t in the cards for me.
It wasn’t until I learned the Three Principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness (the work of Sydney Banks) that human beings started to make sense to me. I started to see how we really tick. I knew I had found the key to ending mental and emotional suffering. Gaining an understanding of a simple but profound truth about where our experience really comes from and who we really are as human beings helped me realize lasting peace of mind and happiness. I overcame my own mental habits of anxiety, insecurity, self-consciousness and low self-esteem. I dropped self-defeating habits such as negative self-talk, worry, procrastination, mood swings, overanalyzing, self destructive behaviors, unhealthy relationships and more. This healing transformation led me to pursue a career in Mental Health Counseling and Personal Coaching.
In the first blog of this series, I promised to share more about these principles. Briefly described, the power of Mind refers to the essence or energy behind and within life-call this what you choose. Mind gives us life and endows us with a spiritual intelligence that is ever present. The gifts of Thought and Consciousness enable us to have a 3-D, living color, sensory perception of Life. Without the power of life and the ability to think and be aware, we would not experience anything at all. In other words, we do not experience life directly but only through the powers of Mind, Thought and Consciousness. All feelings, moods, perceptions are products of Thought. This simple but elusive fact turns out to be incredibly helpful to know!
I help people understand the workings of these principles in ways that make sense to them and with amazing results. For example, I have worked with many young women who are beginning their careers or in mid career. Some are married, some trying to have children, some uncertain about relationships or career path. Some have suffered hard break-ups, some have had miscarriages and are grieving their loss. Some have difficulties with containing their anger and frustrations, some have difficulty expressing any emotions. All of these women report symptoms that fit criteria for depression and anxiety-mild to severe. Most of them are not interested in taking medications or being labeled with a disorder.
I feel so fortunate to be able to help these women by sharing my understanding of the mind. As each of them have insights and realizations—little light bulb moments—they begin to heal. They report being lighter, more at ease and more hopeful. Gradually, their symptoms of depression and anxiety lessen and then disappear.
I am incredibly grateful to be able to help them SEE the true source of their “symptoms.” As they learn the connection between the power of thought and their moment-to-moment experience they realign with their true nature: innate mental wellbeing, peace of mind, resilience, wisdom, common sense and a fresh perspective.
I wonder what would have become of some of these amazing women had they been diagnosed and treated for an “illness,” referred for medication evaluations, and listened to through the lens of diagnostic categories. I wonder if their feelings of depression and anxiety would have been reified by the innocent misunderstanding of the source of these feelings. I wonder if they would still be in long-term psychotherapy, rather than having recovered in 10, 20, 30 sessions. I wonder if they would be suffering the side effects of antidepressants and anti anxiety drugs while “coping” with their “illnesses.”
Fortunately, these scenarios are not the outcomes of my work. Instead I have the privilege of watching people heal and transform as their “symptoms” fall away and they regain a deep, lasting sense of wellbeing. And this is why I draw out mental health rather than treat “mental illness.”
Stay tuned for the 3rd part of this series where I share some stories of hope and transformation.