Opinion: Mental health more than just personal
January 28, 2016
Most people learn from an early age to control their moods, and this socialization process could be called "learned mental-health."
People learn that the private and the public "person" need to mostly match up, and this can be called "coming into maturity." Self-awareness is a form of mental health that goes beyond external conformity, and the goal is peace-of-mind in the face of any obstacle or challenge life brings.
Everyone struggles with the "human condition"; we are prone to sadness because we know we will all eventually experience loss. But using negative language and labels to "frame" people and groups, labels like "hypocrite," "crazy," "liar," "extremist," "psychopath," etc., only causes more emotion and does not provide a constructive cognitive framework for discovery.
Also, it's a bit of a cheap shot to attack another person or group's mental health without medical basis. In fact, it could even be breaking the law, such as in cases of slander, libel and defamation of character.
A wide range of behaviors are part of accepted human society, and most cultures agree with the framework of treating others as one would wish to be treated. Isn't it difficult, if not impossible, to fully know/understand another person's true mental state at any given moment? Even professionals will admit that human psyche and behavior are "moving targets" and can change depending on a variety of factors.
People born after the mid 1990s might not remember not having access to the internet and all this wonderful "inter-connectedness" that now surrounds us. But science leaves no doubt about the fact that all energy fields generated by living beings have a way of inter-reacting within the electromagnetic energy field.
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Therefore, even without the internet, social media, IM, etc., people have always been an inter-connected species, pursuing not only individual happiness, but group/team and community happiness as well, through our processes and ability to remain connected, even through physical separations.
Because there is no doubt of how much all of us can affect one another, even on the subtle and unseen planes, it makes the process of becoming self aware even more important. Self-awareness is an acknowledged and important part of mental health, and it can be developed and strengthened, just like a muscle that helps people stay truthful and grounded.
When people lack self-awareness, and/or carry negative hidden agendas they want to keep secret or share only with certain select others, they tend to want to project this negativity onto others to avoid the work of dealing with it themselves.
Self-awareness has a spiritual as well as a psychological aspect. Therefore, mental health also has a spiritual/sacred aspect, and attacking another person's mental health without due medical cause is very offensive and not a joke.
Cultivating self-awareness has been advocated for as long as there has been prayer, study, thought, empathy and constructive discussion. Peace is a goal, but this does not inherently mean the absence of all conflict, for that would be "the peace of the dead" and not meaningful.
Peace-of-mind and peace-in-the-world require frameworks for understanding and dissolving violent conflicts, for the purpose of reducing the suffering of humanity. Especially when people and/or groups disagree, taking the time to gather facts and build up understanding can help reduce human suffering, so is a worthwhile use of time and energy.
Rebecca Ann Hale is an Incline Village resident.