The Term Mental Health No Longer Resonates: Part 1 of 3Jul 06, 2023
I have been a traditional therapist for twenty years, and a holistic therapist for the past eight years. Yet, fascinatingly enough, the term mental health does not resonate for me anymore.
The concepts of mental and physical health break us up into pieces that are easy to observe and analyze with specificity. This gives us data to feel a sense of control and understanding of the human experience.
But in order to solidify sustainable self-acceptance, we need to understand and integrate all five layers of our being as a whole; physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
This blog focuses on eliminating the labels of mental and physical health and taking a more holistic approach to healing and self-acceptance.
Approaches to Healing
I have always been a therapist who has thought way outside of the box, consulted with other professionals, and found opportunities for my clients to encourage their highest level of functioning and joy. Regardless, there have been many people over the last two decades with repeating cycles of the same symptoms or “problems” that cannot be solved through traditional means.
At the beginning of my own physical health journey, I looked into alternative methods within the energy healing world and saw a significant improvement before I even understood what energy healing was. At the time, my brain was pretty stuck in mental health mode.
But mental health is only one aspect of a much more comprehensive picture of who we are.
Most people migrate to inner child work, nervous system regulation, and cognitive techniques to resolve what they perceive as “problems” with their mental health.
In actuality, there are no problems at all. These so-called symptoms are cues to dive into further and deeper discovery of the multi-layered being you are.
Two of these layers are mental and physical, but they are not separate entities. The physical body expresses our thoughts and beliefs through sensations and emotions.
The mind creates the meaning of what comes forward in our physical bodies, often amplifying and distorting the message our body is sending to us.
Simply looking at these two layers can keep you stuck in a loop between the two, and overlooks the underpinnings of both, which is your energy.
We know from basic physics that everything in our world is made up of atoms and molecules, which are in constant motion. This constant motion means everything on this planet is malleable and ever-changing.
Learning how your particular energy flows and shifts is key to creating a life that flows with you, rather than in dissonance with your natural way. This dissonance is when symptoms develop.
You can learn energetic practices or go straight to connection and relationship with your soul. Your best one-stop shop will be spiritual expansion; the spirit is what programs, creates, and fuels every single one of the layers discussed above. More on that in parts 2 and 3 of this series.
For now, you can see how focusing on a problem to be solved creates a repeating cycle between physical and mental health, and perpetuates shame, whereas a holistic approach leads you to a curious understanding of exactly who you are and how you’re meant to operate. The latter is much more growth-enhancing.
The Role of Energy Work
When I started introducing some of my clients to energy work, it was like a switch flipped. Some of the people that had been struggling for decades grew so immensely through energy work that they were able to come into themselves, stand with confidence in their own bodies, and see themselves for the first time.
The closest theory in the psychology and the therapy world that tackles this is internal family systems. It discusses looking at the different parts of ourselves and integrating them into the whole.
But still, that approach looks at parts of us from a cognitive perspective rather than an energetic and spiritual perspective. We don’t just exist within our cognition, emotions, or behaviors. We are multilayered.
The Mental Health System
As a therapist, I was taught to evaluate people from multiple different layers including how they were feeling physically, when they last met with their doctor, their thought process, and their cultural and spiritual backgrounds.
The purpose of this was to gain context for the client’s mindset, behavior, and perspective. But unless you specialize in spirituality or have been trained in energy work as a therapist, you are not diving deeply into these vital influences.
You are simply establishing surface-level context for the question, what is the problem?
The mental health system is very problem-centered, which gives clients the impression there is something wrong with them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you whether you are as sick as a dog or constantly experiencing hallucinations.
Practitioners are starting to inch toward looking at things more holistically; instead of fixating on the problem, they’re addressing each client with a completely fresh and unique perspective.
When you tune into your specific energy, you gather information coming up in your field and allow it to inform you about what you are meant to do on this planet and what is meant for you.
When you look at and understand the energetic building blocks of who you are, you create an intimate connection with your own energy and how to more easily create the reality you desire.
This is intentionally not an overnight process. You are meant to heighten patience with getting to know and understand yourself, so you can sustainably rely on yourself as a consistently compassionate parent.
Depending on the person, reprogramming and reorienting ourselves after decades of living a certain way can take time.
The Holistic Approach
Allow this time to be an adventure, a process of curious excavation of what makes you you. It is absolutely fascinating to meet more and more people who are thinking a different way, operating a different way, and interacting in a different way. Approach yourself with the same interest!
Practitioners need to do the same with clients! The red tape of the mental health system has interfered with adopting an air of curiosity and relationship with clients rather than clinical examination.
Luckily, instead of looking at a client with the mindset of right and wrong, more practitioners are looking at their clients with an open mindset. Instead of something being “wrong” with a client, they are genuinely interested in identifying the unique way the client operates that is not always consciously understood.
We are learning how this whole human sauce operates at every moment. With each person we meet, we gather more and more understanding of how the universe works with and through us!
There are infinite possibilities in this world and infinite ways we can show up as human beings. The more we get to know and understand each other’s nuances and get curious, the more opportunities we recognize for those of us here and coming into this world.
Some people are good at things others are not (and have no interest in learning to like) and we are meant to coordinate, balance, and honor our unique talents and interests. Let’s get creative about how to collaborate with one another to take advantage of each other’s strengths.
The New You
This blog is your cue to get rid of labels like physical health and mental health. Instead ask someone, what does it feel like to be you? By asking this question, you are beginning to understand how others see and experience the world.
Does the energy feel good? Does it feel expansive? Does it feel like you’re on your way to your next level? Are you feeling really energized and hopeful?
There are many people who don’t feel that way and are instead looking at their mental health issue as something that needs correcting.
Ask your client or loved one, what energizes you? At what time in your life have you felt energized? What unique mix of things need to be in place for you to explode into your best self?
It’s not really mental health, it’s how we can all come together to assist one another in becoming our highest selves (no matter where we are now).
We are all snowflakes and there is nothing wrong with you if traditional approaches are not “working” for you. Your mental health is simply one part of you; it does not define you. In fact, any symptoms are simply invitations into a deeper level of self-understanding and acceptance.
Enjoy and celebrate your “idiosyncrasies.” Life would be boring if we were all “mentally healthy,” based on standard definitions! Let’s shake it up a little bit and own that we are all contributing our own special sauce to the collective pot.
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