For good mental health... just be yourself

Dumbing down our uniqueness in this ‘superficial’ world can lead to poor mental health, says CATHAL O’REILLY, author and campaigner for greater mental health supports across Ireland — particularly in rural Ireland
For good mental health... just be yourself

Dumbing down our unique ‘voice’ in this lifetime can lead to poor mental health, says Cathal O'Reilly.

THE majority of our news feeds today are geared around improving things. An aspiration towards an imagined sense of a ‘better self’.

For example, “When I have that six pack, I will be happy” or “ Maybe if I started a new diet, it would lead to greater happiness” or “I’d better strike the balance between a photo that looks too filtered but also remain real in the process” – it is all exhausting to even think about, however it is the experience for many people today.

These ideas and notions have evolved from interests and hobbies into a pre-requisite in order to simply to fill the void inside ourselves where society has made many people feel that they must improve one-self to reach the next ‘level’ — a hierarchy of sorts which is particularly affecting the younger generation as they suffer from extreme FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) — be that a night out with friends, the perfect body, having children by a certain age, having a mortgage by a certain age or maybe even a relationship.

In order to fit in, younger people have developed survival mechanisms to fit into this hierarchy that is a pursuit rather than an being able to enjoy their experience.

Dating apps like Tinder have become so superficial now as we browse the catalogue of single people and question our self-worth, career choice, hobbies and interests as well as our own beliefs. So much so that many of us have readjusted our belief systems and challenged our core belief and values in order to fit in and meet society’s expectations. Many people believe they must do this to survive.

Dumbing down our unique ‘voice’ in this lifetime can lead to poor mental health. Although we may share many core values, each person has a unique and more deep set of core value systems that, if challenged and sometimes overthrown can also lead to difficulty as there is nervousness that exists in the pit of the stomach where something just doesn’t feel right.

There is a strong, emphasis, now more so than ever on a growth mindset that surely aspires to help us however it has come to hinder many people as there is a heightened sense of a pursuit of achievement and as well as an instilled belief that once this achievement is reached that it will lead to happiness which is certainly not the case.

Cathal O’Reilly, author and campaigner for greater mental health supports
Cathal O’Reilly, author and campaigner for greater mental health supports

The disappointment and the sometime realisation that the Disney story of achievement and notion that once we get what we desire we will be happier can lead to depression and anxiety. It may create short term happiness however once the novelty wears off, each individual must now, at some point, face the silence that is themselves which can be uncomfortable. This discomfort can than lead to the pursuit of more material validity which again, in turn, eventually leads to discomfort and the vicious circle continues to repeat itself over and over again.

There is also an increase in the need for validation in our lives. Like anything, if we have a ‘need’ for something and it is not fulfilled than it can be problematic. This may be validation for our work, our skills and talents, our self-worth and so on. To give another the power to control your state based on the need for validation for happiness is absurd yet many people still get caught in the trap of wondering what this person or that person will think about their decisions down to what they wear and say on a daily basis. So much so that it may begin to feel claustrophobic if the persons natural predisposition is to be themselves and to embrace and love who they truly are. 

Again, this constant stressor can lead to negative mental health.

Finally I would like to touch on the transformation that is now occurring where people are doing things well into their adult lives that they feel they ‘should ‘ be doing. Maybe they were told this by a parent or a teacher and they live in this imagined community where the imagined ‘they’ would approve of their career choice, hobbies, choice of clothing and so on.

Looking at social media and being influenced by the so called ‘friends’ recent holiday to wherever that Mary from down the road thinks is “Fab, hun xxx” may even prompt a holiday to the same place. Although at first thought, it may be humorous, it is also concerning as many people (children and adults) are looking outside of themselves for answers to basic questions on a daily basis.

The notion of an ‘influencer’ should be much more concerning than it is and many of our ancestors would turn in their graves if we started losing the ability to make up our own minds about things like what to wear and what to buy to make ourselves feel better.

In saying that, we do live in a superficial and shallow world now and it has also become a survival mechanism to ‘fit in’. If one is to have an unagreeable disposition or an opinion that raises an eyebrow or two they must be prepared for being excluded in some social circles. The very fear of this exclusion causes many of us to nod and agree at ideas that are safe and conform to societies jigsaw puzzle.

The very idea of this article is to open opinion and conversation around The Matrix society we are falling into where our thought patterns and conversations have become dumbed down so much that it is leading to poor mental health among many people who are now have Fear Of Being Themselves (FOBT) because Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is much worse. Yeah right.

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