This question was asked in a man-on-the-street type of video and it got me thinking. What are the skills and practices anyone can use to improve and maintain their mental health? Two skills immediately occured to me That anyone can begin to Implement. They are practicing Mindfulness and setting good boundaries.
Mindfulness is the practice of observing your thoughts and your reactions to things around you. Being mindful creates an objective distance between what happens around you and how you respond to it. Mindfulness allows us to see how we are responding to experiences and gives us time to evaluate if we could do better.
As an example a person Maybe in a conversation with someone who is very angry and if set. For many people this Might become defensive and overly aggressive. mindfulness would allow that person to evaluate what would be a response to the situation.
How to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness requires a quiet mind. Thus you would first take time to simply observe your thoughts and feelings. This observation would be done without judgement. If you are feeling angry you would say to yourself “This is me feeling angry”. If you are feeling frustrated by another person’s constant interruption you would say “This is me feeling frustrated”.
Mindfulness, is about observing, not reacting. If you are in a situation where you must react or respond having a clear set of boundaries will help guide you.
Boundaries are a clearly defined set to responses that you see as acceptable or unacceptable. Knowing when to firmly say “no” is a simple way to understand boundaries. Boundaries are designed to help you navigate the complexities of human interactions.
External and Internal Boundaries
External Boundaries are the set of acceptable behaviors we expect of others. An example of an External Boundary is “Belittling speech is unacceptable. If someone demeans me I will leave. If they demean someone in my presence I will calmly explain that is bad behavior”.
It should be noted that boundaries are permeable and they allow for change and exception. They are not the same thing as a Wall, which does not allow exception or negotiation. Parents are continuously setting boundaries and children will consistently test those boundaries. That is a dynamic that happens in most relationships. It isn’t easy to maintain ones boundaries in all relationships so this idea demands much forethought.
Internal Boundaries are the rules of behavior we set for ourselves. “I will not allow myself to go into debt” is an example of an Internal Boundary. Other such boundaries may include “I will walk away before I act aggressively.” or “I will speak less so my words have more value” or “I won’t smoke tobacco. I am not that person anymore”.
Boundaries, whether External or Internal are things few people think about. Those who give thought to this have an advantage over those who don’t. They tend to suffer less confusion and can be more decisive when needed.
The only way to learn Mindfulness and set good Boundaries is to intentionally practice them. You can’t learn them by accident, but the practice is rewarding. To practice mindfulness you must intentionally observe your thoughts and feelings and ask how you could respond better. Boundaries can be set by reflecting on challenging situations and determining how to better respond in the future.
By consistently being mindful and setting clear boundaries you will provide yourself mental time and space that you can devote to healthy interests.
“What am I experiencing right now?”
“Is my reaction/response going to help me in the future?”
“How might I better respond?”
“What feeling/emotion would best serve this situation?”
“What behaviors/actions from others would violate my values?”
“What would be the best response to having this boundary challenged/violated?”
“What standards of behavior do I want to live by?”
“What habits/patterns/reactions do I want most to change in myself?
You are not alone. Everyone needs help at one time or another. If you feel hypnosis would help you build the support and strengths you need, I would love to help. Make the call (603)589-8033.