The state of “Well-being” is one that most of us yearn to be in. Apart from this state being a desirable and positive indicator of our health, harmony, and happiness, it also conveys our motive in life and the social contentment we have.
Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto and author of “12 Rules of Life – An Antidote to Chaos”, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, has come out with one of the most graphic definitions in recent times, regarding the responsibility we have towards our wellbeing.
He says, “Adopt responsibility for your own wellbeing, try to put your family together, try to serve your community, try to seek for eternal truth. That’s the thought of the thing that can ground you in your life, enough so that you can withstand the difficulty of life”
We are reminded here of the Swiss Psychologist and Psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s contribution to our understanding of ourselves. Founder of Analytical Psychology (also termed as Jungian Psychology), Jung termed the journey of self-revelation as “Individuation”.
To an extent, as a process of our development and growth, Individuation will inevitably result from our life experiences, whether we may be ready for them or not. Challenges or crisis are two of the biggest teachers in helping us learn what we are capable of and understanding the person we are. Ironically, though we may appreciate and prefer learning through experiences that are enjoyable, it is during the critical junctures in life that we learn transformational lessons.
Our social psychological and emotional wellbeing is a reflection of our mental health. The maintenance of our wellbeing is also a process of self-awareness. It is crucial in determining how we face and deal with life. Coping with stress in a positive and effective manner is key to maintain our wellness and mental health. The preservation of our wellbeing also helps us work productively and realize our potential. The most meaningful impact of the positive mental health of a person would be in making meaningful difference and contribution to the environment. Each of us has our own way of keeping our well-being in a state of harmony. However, when acute stress affects our behavior, thoughts, and actions, we may consider seeking the support of friends, wellwishers, counselors or other mental health professionals, no matter what stage of life we are in.
7 years ago, I had experienced a devastating personal crisis in my life that threatened to affect my wellbeing and physical health unless I sought the help of either friends or a counselor – or so I initially thought. A series of deeply distressing experiences that had gone on for years resulted in the crisis. Today, my recollection of the traumatic crisis is vivid not because it was intensely stressful, but for the significance, that this very event revolutionized my life. Through that trauma, I got to learn a life-altering lesson about myself.
This episode taught me how much we have it within us, to not just recognize our problem but also find solutions that will help us overcome the issue that affects our well-being. It is also a lesson that I believe is worth sharing so that anyone who may undergo a crisis or trauma may seek to gain wisdom from themselves (if possible) rather than seek support from their environment. Our life experiences are varied in terms of how they shaped us into who we are and what we would rather not continue to be. Learning from our oversights, errors in judgment, unavoidable unpleasant memories and painful recollections of undesirable relationships take us a step closer into coping and overcoming the distressful emotional state we may be in.
Born into a loving family and always fortunate to have caring friends and wellwishers, I have always been one who appreciated privacy and personal space. Hence, I was hesitant to discuss this crisis in my life with anyone, even a counselor and ignored the stress the issue created in me. But when I started realizing that my physical health was starting to get affected by the experiences I was going through, it dawned to me that my body was communicating a very crucial message.
It had reached a point that it was instructing me to take help and that it could not cope with the state of distress that was taking an emotional toll on me. That day and over a couple of days, I spent considerable time carefully analyzing and contemplating my life, (the past, the present, and future), my aspirations and what I’m doing. My next steps were focused on what I need to do to overcome the crisis state that I was in.
The journey that I then took to recognize and solve the challenges were admittedly uncomfortable. They questioned some of the fundamental cherished beliefs and practices I thought I need to have. Beliefs that questioned the extent of my desire to see others happy, understanding of learning from my mistakes, my self-respect, my relationships, my desire to be judgemental and the cost that I had paid to adhere to the societal expectation of perfectionism.
Most importantly, what my cathartic experience revealed to me is that we have a tendency to underestimate the strength each of us has. We all have that courage, that can lead us to find the innate ability to stretch way beyond our imagination – by stepping out of our immediate perceived perceptions and impressions. And that it is courage alone that forces us to confront our deepest fears, find the purpose of existence and get to know yourself.