Mental Health Awareness
Sallie Bachman, Chief of Special Programs
Many of us are familiar with the adage, “you are what you eat.” This is very true: your body can’t hide what happens in the kitchen. Whether it’s good or poor nutrition that goes into your mouth, your body will show-and-tell. It’s the same principle with your thoughts: you are what you think. Whether it’s good thinking or “stinkin’ thinking,” your outlook will show-and-tell. Our thoughts really are that powerful!
As Mental Health Awareness Month (May) approached, I began to reflect on the thinking habits we need to be aware of: ones that lead us down a self-destructive path versus a self-empowerment path. These thought habits can be insidious and hard to recognize, or so ingrained in us that we would feel out of kilter if they were no longer there. If we truly ‘are what we think,’ then it’s worth taking a moment to consider how our thinking might be hurting or helping us.
Have you ever said to yourself, “I am my own worst enemy!”? If so, what led you to say that? And did you find it acceptable? If you found it acceptable, please consider what that allows you to do: acquiesce to giving up, accept shame, and anticipate defeat. We are with ourselves 24/7. Our relationship with ourselves is the most influential relationship we will ever have. How can we accept being our own worst enemy? If we can’t think well of ourselves, how can we expect others to do it for us? This is the challenge: recognize when we set ourselves up for self-sabotage and defeat, call it what it is, change the script, and then discipline our minds into healthier habits that lead to strength, victory, wholeness, and joy.
Experts estimate that the average person thinks between 50,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. That is a lot of opportunity to influence your outlook and quality of life! This means that you have more control over your life than you might THINK. Consider the messages that you are telling yourself. If they are filled with toxic thoughts that lead you to believe the worst about yourself, anticipate the worst reactions from people, and expect the worst outcomes in situations, it’s very possible that your thought habits will lead you to self-defeat and to being your own worst enemy.
I’d like to challenge you to take a moment to reflect, review the mantras you tell yourself, and assess the health of the thoughts that consume and control your mind. Awareness starts with hitting the “pause” button and considering the topic at hand. Your mental health is greatly impacted by what and how you think about yourself. There are great benefits to not being your own worst enemy! Be your best cheerleader, your best inspiration, your best caregiver. As the Good News translation of Proverbs 4:23 in the Bible says, “be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
Sallie Bachman is the Chief of Special Programs at HopeHealth. She is a licensed master social worker with more than 20 years of experience in public and mental health. She has been with HopeHealth since February 2009 and oversees the Behavioral Health Services, Latino Services, and Infectious Diseases departments. Her passion is to assist people in realizing their strengths so that they can walk in their purpose and impact the lives of others.