Mental health has been a hot topic of conversation lately and I’ve been seeing a lot more blog posts about it. While I’m hopeful that the increased awareness will foster positive communication & action in relation to mental health and well being, I feel like many people are still misunderstanding what being mentally healthy can look like.
I recently saw an article where someone was talking about metal health in regards to strength and weakness and it piiissed me off. More specifically, they mentioned people being mentally weak when they choose to avoid situations that stress them out too much.
I’m sorry, but I’m calling bullshit.
There are times when it’s necessary to muscle up, step out of your comfort zone, and do things you don’t want to. It’s a great space for personal growth, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Then there are times when it is 100% necessary NOT to do things that could negatively impact your mental health.
Setting boundaries is one good way to take care of your mental health. Up until a few years ago, setting boundaries was a foreign concept to me. Let me tell you – there is nothing weak about learning, establishing and sticking to the boundaries that you set for yourself. Particularly when it comes to family and friends.
Throughout your various relationships with friends and family, you’ve unknowingly established boundaries with each person on what they can expect from you, and what you will tolerate in terms of how you’re treated by others.
I want you to sit down and think about it. Think about a time when a friend made a comment that rubbed you wrong. Did you let it slide or did you address it with them? Or has there been a time when it was “highly suggested” by a family member that you participate in an event that made you uncomfortable (regardless of the reason), but you did it anyway?
If you didn’t stop and communicate with the person how it made you feel, they assume moving forward, that is an acceptable way to interact with you. Which makes it more likely that you’ll experience the same from them in the future.
Setting a boundary can look like “hey, I don’t like what you said because it made me feel xyz” or “thanks for inviting me, but I don’t think being in this environment would be good for me”. It might be uncomfortable, but with practice, you will feel a lot better when you’re more open and honest with what you truly are comfortable with.
There is nothing weak about setting and sticking to boundaries you set for yourself. TRUST ME – when you start speaking up for yourself or saying “No” to things that don’t bring you joy, it’s probably going to piss a LOT of people off.
I don’t do well in large crowds. Hell, depending on the day, I don’t always do well in small crowds of people either. They make me physically uncomfortable. It sets me on edge.
Knowing this about myself, I’ve learned to gauge when I can go and enjoy myself and when it’s better for everyone that I stay home.
Guess what? If I push myself to go somewhere knowing there will be a lot of people and I’m feeling particularly edgy, it just means I’m more liable to put a damper on everyone else’s good time. No one wants to be around me when I’m testy and throwing bad vibes around like I’m tossing dollar bills at strippers.
Laugh – but you know what I’m talking about. You’ve all been somewhere and there’s always that ONE PERSON who looks like someone pissed in their cheerios that morning. Bet you thought “eesh, what crawled up their ass?”
Look, I’m not saying if you’re grouchy or feeling off, that you need to seclude yourself from others. You know yourself and what you’re comfortable with better than anyone. All I’m saying, is to honor how you’re feeling, do what you gotta do to protect your peace, and speak TF up!
Placating everyone else at the cost of your mental health is not a symbol of mental strength – it’s the result of being conditioned to prioritize other people’s feelings over your own.
If you’ve been waiting for someone to give you permission to prioritize yourself, here it is. Your mental health matters, and prioritizing it doesn’t make you weak. Respecting it makes you strong.