What Does it Mean to be Mentally Elastic?
So many ways to heal and yet we don't
The mental health industry has become a billion-dollar industry excluding the global mental health apps market which in itself is growing at light speed. Then there is the self-help industry that has gotten an enormous boost in the past decade from books, documentaries, and charismatic individuals spreading the "Heal Yourself" movement.
Everywhere we look there are workshops, blogs, articles, websites, and books about how to deal with whatever we might be going through. With so many options to choose from when looking for solutions in dealing with a challenging life situation or mental health issue, one might think we are getting psychologically healthier and mentally strong. This doesn't seem to be the case, depending of course who you ask.
Considering the current global epidemic, it is understandable that everyone's psyche is under pressure even more than usual. Crises tend to highlight our strengths and weaknesses in dealing with the unexpected so looking into creative mental health tools that can help us now and in the future can be a great resource in getting through this tough period.
We stretch so we don't break
It has been stated that we can not change what happens to us but that we can change how we respond to situations. This is the core of mental elasticity. To build our psychological capacity so that instead of constantly reacting to situations and people we respond mindfully. Becoming mentally elastic means having the capacity to regulate our mental state in high reaction situations.
In everyday situations, the skill to stretch psychologically is not only needed to manage our behaviour under stress or when feeling overwhelmed by a negative emotion but also to act as a mental bumper to prevent us from burning out. Instead of being at the "mercy" of other people's behaviour we become centred in a way that we can step back and reassess what is happening and then respond with clarity.
Very few of us grow up in an environment where building psychological endurance is encouraged positively. Most of us just learn how to survive. Then years or even decades after we find ourselves dealing with the mental aftermath of the past experiences. We can pretend like the past doesn't have a hold on us but the truth is that on some level it does. How tight the hold depends on many factors but how we deal with it matters the most. If we just pretend all is well we might find ourselves in the same situations over and over again all through our lives. Breaking the unconscious behaviour patterns means changing our current mental state the holistic way.
This is one of the most important reasons why I focus on building lasting "mental elasticity" when working with clients. When we become mentally resilient and as I like to call it elastic, we don't break down when we face setbacks instead we stretch, we look at the situation with calm curiosity and bounce back quicker.
"Don´t believe everything you think". Unknown
Mental elasticity in practice
Learning to regulate our mental state means we are in charge of our inner world no matter what happens around us. We become experts in filtering information, people, places, and situations that affect us negatively. This doesn't mean that we become disconnected from our environment and the people in it, quite the opposite. When we practice changing our behaviour and reactions to negative situations we are rewiring our brain with new behaviour models that support us in becoming an empowered individual.
"When we become psychologically coherent and as I like to call it elastic, we don't break down when we face setbacks instead we stretch, meaning we look at the situation with calm curiosity and bounce back quicker" because of our ability to stretch psychologically. ~ Julia Melnik
When I work with individuals in building mental elasticity it is vital in the beginning to assess if and how past issues act as triggers. Our past can sabotage our current life in various ways, usually through unconscious behaviour models that we carry with us since childhood. While many dread the idea of talking about the past with someone it is only a short but necessary step towards the future. We keep our main focus always in the present and the future self.
After the initial assessment session, we start the process of stretching mentally together with the client using a blend of neuroscience, environmental psychology, mindfulness, meditation, tapping, trauma-sensitive yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, music, drawing, or/and writing. What I use and how depends on the client and their needs. What we are working towards with clients is to build positive habits that enable self-regulation emotionally especially when life surprises us in unexpected ways.
An empowered individual of the future
Part of the human experience is to face some setbacks in life. No one is exempt from that. What is unique for our time is that it has never been easier than now to empower ourselves with the knowledge of how to strengthen our psychological stamina and where to find the right people to help us with the process. When we take responsibility for our well-being we are on our way towards the best possible version of
ourselves - an empowered individual in charge of our own psychological well-being.