Have you wondered about any benefits of what we might call 'mental illness'? Think of your physical body. When you're in pain, it's because something needs attention. It might be as simple as placing your foot in a different spot or seeking medical attention. This is how our physical body takes care of itself.
We also have a way for our mental or emotional 'body' to take care of itself. Depression, anxiety, remorse of conscience, etc., are healthy indicators of something being wrong, a system out of balance. I am not referring to brain abnormalities or physiological impairment or damage. In an individual without these defects, these indicators are inviting us to place ourselves in a different position. This often means a growth and change process which undoubtedly can be painful. The problem we have is we often want to avoid legitimate suffering. Some claim this is even the root of all mental illness (Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled). Change is a natural process of growth but we often fear leaving our comfort zones or taking responsibility.
So, how should we respond? We exercise faith and acceptance. This means we have the courage to ask tough questions like "What lie am I telling myself that maintains my suffering?" or "What truth am I rejecting" and "What causes me to reject this truth? What's my fear?"
If we do not act and refuse to change than those indicators worsen until they interfere with daily living and create a mental and spiritual atrophy and decay. This creates a numbing effect that takes over our attitude and well-being.
So welcome pain, as it teaches us and creates meaning in our lives. Let's have the courage to face these indicators and look inward to develop ourselves!
The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
― (Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled)
Parents often ask me what makes their child look at porn or chronically masturbate. The answer isn't as simple as some people think. On one end of the spectrum you have those who suffer from serious trauma that don't feel that they're important or that they matter. Their number one need is focusing on themselves and they believe they are the only ones who can meet this need. This belief can be the result of abuse, neglect, adoption, or other circumstances. For them, feeling good is important because people around them aren't. They have not benefited from having others meet their basic needs to give and receive love at important developmental stages. This is a devastating faulty core belief that takes considerable time and effort to help change.
On the other end of the spectrum are those that come from healthy families who were excited and aroused and learned that porn and masturbation is a kind of "quick fix" when feeling bored, lonely, tired, or disinterested in life around them. It's not necessarily deeper or more serious than that but is very powerful when those feel-good chemicals are released in the brain. Simple exploration with porn and sexuality creates a cycle of guilt and shame that leads to more desire to feel good again. Working with individuals like this means learning new coping skills as we work on helping them understand and meet their primary need of giving and receiving love through relationships.
There are also those who have a combination of factors. Either way, as long as someone has the desire and motivation to make a change and they are willing to be honest, open and willing with others, they can turn their lives around. Remember, this isn't something that can be forced and they have to want it for the right reason or it will lead to chronic frustration. To help someone you love prepare for this kind of change might be simpler than you think. Make them more important than the problem, show unconditional love and be as positive as you can. This kind of environment is the best place to invite and encourage them to consider changing. And remember, there is no worse case-scenario as they are loved by a Heavenly Father who knows them and what they need. Don't act out of desperation!
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