Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 23, 2013

Mental Wellness: Finding my silver lining

Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — I recently had someone pass an article on to me. In the article, the author wrote about how parents should not focus on their children’s positive, but rather on rooting out their own negative.

I found the argument fascinating, because it polarized the two issues, as if they were not connected. For me, if we act more positive toward others, it’s hard to stay negative, or if we reduce negativity in our own lives, we will naturally become more positive. I think both are needed.

Over the past year, I have battled cancer, had a child in the hospital, dealt with severe family illness, friends got divorced — you know how it goes. When it rains, it hurricanes.

In the midst of all of this, I shook my fist at the sky and often screamed and cried. Many times, I was well past what I thought was my breaking point.

No matter what you are going through or what is going on, there are ways that you can change your mindset.

Fake it, until you make it

In counseling, there is this concept of “fake it, until you make it.” Basically, if you feel depressed, act like you’re not and usually you’ll feel less depressed. The same is true of anxiety, phobias and social issues.

For years, I was unsure of what to think of this concept. Then, while in the hospital getting treatment, when everything seemed to be going wrong, I tried it. I started acting happy, even though I was not. Everything had gone wrong that day, but I acted happy. Within minutes, something shifted in me. I started to see other people differently; I appreciated the treatability of my diagnosis and appreciated more of what I did have. My mind shifted.

@InStory Sub-head:It will all come outsomehow

We somehow have believed that when we stuff negative feelings, that they actually disappear. The thing is, they always come out, whether healthy or unhealthy. Finding healthy release for stress and negativity is key to keeping a balance.

More fruits and vegetables, increased sleep and exercise all naturally help to let out negativity in a way that does not increase inflammation in our body and makes us feel better.

Socialize your way out

In the midst of family crisis, I really didn’t want to talk with people. They often said things I perceived as insensitive and made me think about what was going on way more than I cared to. But, in retrospect, that socialization, the “Wishing Joe Well” parties, and getting food from friends was as much a part of the healing and stress stabilization.

When we’re in the midst of stress, crisis, or just plain bad days, increasing positive thoughts, healthy habits and socialization almost always will add a magnifying glass to the silver lining of the clouds in our lives.

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a licensed counselor and owner of Mental Wellness Counseling. He is the author of “Mental Wellness Parenting: A remarkably simple approach to making parenting easier,” available on Amazon.