First of all I think it can be a lonely world. When the feeling of belonging comes specifically from the context of unhealthy behaviors it’s extremely difficult to continue on the healthy path and it’s not very far from reality that you might walk a great deal alone. At least for a while.
What it means to be healthy
There are now undeniable facts about what hurts us and what helps us. Navigating through that information can also prove to be a very difficult endeavor. Countless sources of information and very little education on how to filter the ones that are based on science. I think this is the case for most of the domains these days. But a lot of recommendations have became basis and pretty much everybody got the message that they can cause harm. Like
Drinking (high amounts of alcohol)
Not eating healthy
Too much sugar
Prolonged sun exposure
Not drinking enough water / not getting enough sleep .. and so on.
Yet we undermine the importance of all of those – especially when out emotional foundation is lacking as well. Because most of those happen (besides the cultural, normalization of those behaviors ) – from our inner unwell relationship with ourselves and the world around us.
Breaking through simply all those patterns alone can be a long, hard process. Because it’s not as simple as just quitting – because quitting one might actually mean you would be quitting friends, places, relationships – it’s a more complex issue and as long as we continue to view it as easy, we’ll probably not gonna break out of it ever.
What about being sane? *of sound mind; not mad or mentally ill.
Well, that’s another, probably entirely different but so connected discussion. When we say mentally we can think of emotional state and cognitive state. According to APA we refer to three traditionally identified components of mind: affect, cognition and conation.
Having emotional stability means predictability and consistency in emotional reactions, with absence of rapid mood changes. as opposed to emotional instability which is a tendency to exhibit unpredictable and rapid changes in emotions.
cognitionn. refers to all forms of knowing and awareness, such as perceiving, conceiving, remembering, reasoning, judging, imagining, and problem solving. Along with affect and conation, it is one of the three traditionally identified components of mind.
conationn. the proactive (as opposed to habitual) part of motivation that connects knowledge, affect, drives, desires, and instincts to behavior. Along with affect and cognition, conation is one of the three traditionally identified components of mind. The behavioral basis of attitudes is sometimes referred to as the conative component.
So, being healthy mentally would be to have all of those -invisible to the eye but very present– processes all working correctly and not affecting life negatively. The extent to which this can go is, I think, almost indefinite. Because no person is identical to another one and there is still a lot of unknown in psychology, as well as medicine, even. That’s a fact. So even from here, putting all of our hope in one doctor or person to know everything or cure everything is irrational. That on one side. On the other side, given that we are social beings, all of our existence is among people – that have their own history, background, social and emotional context that will inevitably impact us.
Soo we’re talking emotion understanding and management, cognitive flexibility, process of finding/creating purpose in life, relationship management, dealing with the unknown – and in the modern world – understanding the social and global context while integrating your own existence into that; witnessing wars, corruption and cruelty, abundance, waste while trying to live a good, balanced life. It integrates the social and cultural environment around us as well as our family history, because a lot of it is carried on trough genes. Only by having a holistic understanding can we actually talk about integrating new beliefs, feelings and behaviors that will also, shape future generations.
And that’s no easy. It doesn’t happen over night, it doesn’t happen from one vacation or one discussion. It’s a continuous process – part of a much bigger one, once you start to break it into small pieces, because they are all interconnected. We cannot so much speak about being at our best in one day for example if we only had 2hrs of sleep the night before. Everything in our body will be influenced by that. And at first it’s not even about changing that habit, it’s about being aware of it. As so it can begin in other areas as well, being aware of how something makes me feel, what hurts my stomach but also my mind (see the reference to the components of mind above)
But that’s also where a very lonely trip might start. Because we often go on it on our own terms, which means that might not always fit with other people’s journeys. You might leave at a different hour 🙂 or just take a different route. You might meet down the road – and share experiences – that will also, probably, shape you in a certain amount. So it might get lonely at times but you are not alone. Everybody’s struggling, one way or another. Keep on your own path, enjoy your trip and stop whenever you feel it’s time.
Even with a therapist the trip can seem lonely. At times you might not want to continue on your health and sane trip and their being there might remind of that. (maybe not even a therapist but a person that you’re in a very health relationship with) But whenever you come back, you are welcomed.
I’m writing this in English because I’ve had the great pleasure and honor (that comes to me with great humility) to have interactions with people born in other countries or people who decided to live abroad. And in a way I want these thoughts to reach anybody willing to read them – I think it’s eye opening and mandatory to also have an exposure to other cultural environments so we can get a better understanding of how that, also, shapes us.
We can’t live outside of our social context so we should, intricately, address that as well. Being in a specific country, with a specific history and background is relevant to understanding ourselves as complete social human beings.
Photo: irrelevant photo from private gallery – chosen probably because from that I get a lot of my own understanding of this world, alongside academical information and research – as I think we all do.