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Are You Stirring Your Own Pot

I think that it would be fair to say that we all know someone in our lives who likes to stir the pot. We all have that one friend, family member, or coworker who likes to instigate things and get others worked up. What if you are that person for yourself? What if you are stirring your own pot?

So what do I mean by that? I mean, are you allowing those little voices that we all have to burst into your mental kitchen and start wielding spoons? Are you allowing those voices to say things to yourself that you would never allow anyone else to say? Are you feeling helpless to escape those negative thoughts running around in circles in your head? I feel your pain.

Part of the joys of living with Mental Health struggles is that occasionally, I have times throughout the year where I struggle. Things can be going absolutely amazing in my life when suddenly in creeps those inescapable feelings. There seems to be a darkness that slowly creeps in and as much as you try to shine the light, it doesn't seem to help. Every sense of warmth and happiness feels like it has been inexplicably sucked from your life. Sounds pretty ominous, doesn't it? It can be!

So the question is, what do you do when things like this happen. Do you continue to allow those spoon-wielding thoughts to have control, do you let them keep stirring the pot of negativity, or do you choose to take back your mind, and if so, how do you do it? Here are some things that I have learned to do over the years that you can do when you feel like your pot is ready to overflow.

1. Recognize what is happening to you at the moment. Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms when you are starting to struggle emotionally can literally be a lifesaver. Catching yourself at the beginning of the negative self-talk gives you time to head it off at the pass and start to implement some positive talk. This leads me to number 2.

2. Talk about it! I cannot express enough how important it is to have someone that you trust in your life that is willing to listen to you, without judgement, and without the need to fix things. Sometimes it is important to just dump out that mental pot out by talking. Quite often we keep repeating the message to ourselves that we don't want to be a bother or a burden to someone else. Believe me when I say there are always people who will be there for you, and if you don't want to be a bother to anyone in your private life, reach out to a professional service. There are many options available in todays' world for Mental Health Support, and many of them have little to no cost.

3. Get outside and get some fresh air and exercise. This is completely opposite to what your mind and body are telling you to do which is to lie in bed, pull the covers up over your head, and hide, but we know that's not going to help. Getting outside is basically opening up all the doors and windows in your mind and allowing the fresh air to come in a blow out those cobwebs that are building up. It's spring cleaning for your mind.

4. Write it out. If you don't feel comfortable being able to share how you're feeling to someone because you don't have anyone you trust or you are afraid of what someone will think or say, then have your conversation with yourself. Allow yourself to purge your thoughts out onto paper. I can't express how cathartic this is for me. Spend at least fifteen minutes writing non-stop about everything you are feeling. It doesn't have to make any sense, it can just be words, or pictures if you can draw more than a stickman. Just get it out of your mind so that you can free up space. After you are finished writing you can choose to keep what you have written or burn it, this is a symbolic way of letting it go that can help.

5. Reflect on what has been going on. Was there something that came up that caused you to start stirring your pot? Being able to identify your triggers or causes can save you much pain and heartbreak. Was it a certain person, a day of the year, a song, or a place that created this flow of negative thoughts? If so, then how can you better guard yourself against it? How can you avoid these situations or prepare yourself for them? Learning to become self-aware of how you are feeling and why is like taking all of the spoons out of your mental kitchen. No spoons, no ability to stir the pot.

6. Be forgiving. It is so easy when we are slipping down that rabbit hole to be hard on ourselves. Trust me, I know. Be compassionate with yourself and understand that not everyday is going to be that perfect day, but tomorrow is always a new day, and with it new opportunities to be kind to yourself.

So when you feel yourself starting to meander your way into your mental kitchen, make the decision to leave the spoons in the drawer where they belong. Know that this too shall pass, and treat yourself with the same love and compassion that you would give to those who you love in your life.

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