Mental health and the medicine of love
Mental health and the medicine of love
Mental health has been in the spotlight for a while now, especially during and post COVID, and statistics certainly confirm that there has been a rise in mental ill health across all age groups around the world. People, feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, have become commonplace and the corresponding mental health decline can be vicious, rapid and devastating.
Millions, if not billions, of dollars have been spent researching this topic and investing in strategies aimed at stemming the tidal wave of poor mental health. We know that factors such as having a history of childhood abuse and neglect, living with domestic violence, drugs and alcohol abuse, bullying of all descriptions, and poverty increases the risk of mental ill health. But if we know all this, and have invested huge amounts of resources into this area, why is it that we haven’t been able to make a dent in the problem? Are rates of mental ill health simply a reflection of how poorly humans are coping across the lifespan in all areas of life?
We know that mental ill health is a significant problem amongst teens and young people, but when we stop and think about it, it is not as if those that make it through their teens and early 20’s are suddenly able to walk through a doorway and life magically becomes smooth sailing from that point onwards. If anything, the intensity of life becomes even greater as people focus on establishing a career and obtaining financial security, entering into a long-term relationship and perhaps starting a family. The reality is that mental ill health is just as rife here, if not more so, than at earlier life stages. We have more services and supports available now, such as psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors, help-lines, support groups and pharmaceuticals, than ever before, but still the problems persist in pandemic proportions worldwide.
It is not that Western medicine and the associated industries are not doing their bit, but it is more of a question of what are we missing? We know so much about how the physical brain and the body work, but the extent of global poor mental health shows that our understanding of what is needed for sound mental health and wellbeing is incomplete. We can understand that the mental health of those experiencing extreme hardship, poverty and trauma from violence and abuse is often poor, but that doesn’t explain why it is also very common amongst the rest of the population.
If we stop and observe the world around us, it is clear that positive mental health is not guaranteed through wealth, fame, qualifications, recognition for achievements, status or by holding a position of power.
The media is full of stories of those we thought had ‘everything’ this human world holds up as being the hallmarks of success, only to find that their personal lives have been riddled with mental ill health. It is the same scenario amongst remaining populations as they too are experiencing widespread poor mental health. What we are being shown is that, irrespective of our place in society, there is more to health and wellbeing than what modern science has been able to explain.
Ask anyone what they are seeking at that deepest point inside of themselves and the answer will invariably be ‘love’. To love ourselves and to be loved and adored for who we truly are in our essence is our universal birthright – but it is not how this world operates at the current time. Too often there is still a lingering sense of emptiness and inner sadness. We know there is something ‘more’ but unfortunately the usual response is to attack ourselves by going into stories that we are not enough and that we must add something further into the mix to improve ourselves.
Even when we do follow the known steps of needing to take care of our body through a nutritious diet, exercise, a healthy sleep routine and so on, we rarely feel complete and deeply settled within ourselves because we are trying to apply external knowledge in the hope it will fit, rather than making a connection with our essence and then from there, taking the practical steps of what is needed.
Additionally, as wonderful as it is to be told that we are loved, rarely is it an unconditional love that first and foremost confirms, celebrates and truly values who we uniquely are on the inside. In almost every circumstance praise or recognition has been given on the basis of achievements and meeting the expectations of others. How the person delivers the praise or pullup speaks volumes about them, but without sufficient internal resources we make it personal, thus comments and feedback often leave us feeling degraded as a human being and we add it to our bucket of hurts that we carry around with us.
We have all experienced the hurt and emotional pain of the lack of love in our lives. Sometimes we blame ourselves and, at times we blame others, both of which simply adds fuel to the flames. We learn to compartmentalise that part of us that feels lonely and unmet through a variety of ways such as being super competitive and wanting to prove ourselves by being a high achiever, right down the line to checking out, giving up and withdrawing from life. Yet, no matter what we choose as a distraction, we can’t stop the unsettled feeling inside of us that won’t go away regardless of what we try. We can have our momentary rewards that bring relief, but invariably, the emptiness and unsettlement remain underneath and rear their heads again as soon as an opportunity presents itself.
We toughen up and block love – the very thing we are seeking – from coming in or going out. We have learnt that it feels safer to maintain a boundary around ourselves and keep our defences up in an effort to avoid further hurt. Or we go to the other extreme and keep moving from partner to partner, person to person, begging for their love and approval through acquiescing to any demand they make of us. We are willing to accept any crumb in order to feel like we are loved and valued. But regardless of which way we go, our mental health is compromised.
"When you give up on life being about love, you initiate the early beginnings of ill mental health."Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 569
Beliefs about managing mental ill health varies. Sometimes mental health is treated as a case of ‘mind over matter’ and so those experiencing the mental health decline try, or are told, to ‘toughen up’ with the expectation that if they push on through, the problems will disappear.
This option works to a certain degree but does not bring any true healing because this strategy involves a cold, critical, hard emphasis on overriding what is going on in our mind and lacks any connection with our body and, furthermore, our essence. It is an exhausting way to live and lacks any true spark of vitality and genuine sense of wellbeing and when another crisis inevitably arises at some point further along the way, we tend to find that the mental health problems flare up with equal or even more force than previously and we are no better equipped to handle them.
Equally, there are those who find their mental health issues difficult to hide and furthermore want others to know they are suffering in the hope that their family, friends and colleagues will step in and offer care and support. When others do respond, we take that as a symbol of their love and concern for us and it feels like a welcome relief compared to the alternative.
It is also important to note that the constant effort of trying to ignore or override what is going on mentally takes a toll on our body, however we don’t usually make the connection. Physically, symptoms such as headaches, poor digestion, sleep issues, high blood pressure, and autoimmune and endocrine conditions can all have links back to mental ill health.
Yet, regardless of our approach to dealing with mental ill health and the cost to ourselves and others, there is no disguising the fact that we still feel the lack of love and emptiness inside. We search for and gratefully accept anything that resembles love and approval, but the insecurity remains and the harder we try to make all the dots join using what our temporal world offers, the more we go around in circles, getting nowhere. No wonder the quality of our mental health is frequently so poor when we still can’t say with any confidence that we feel whole, loved and complete!
Asking ‘what is love?’ can seem like a very philosophical question, but really what it comes down to is firstly learning to value ourselves; our unique qualities and strengths that are innate in us as opposed to being something that we have done. It is usually quite challenging for people to even recognise what their qualities are, but with honesty and a genuine willingness to stand back and observe ourselves, we will find at least a handful of attributes. Depending on where partners, close friends and family members are at with themselves, they may be able to also help out and nominate what they appreciate about us.
Can we accept what we are hearing and learning about ourselves and celebrate these qualities, or are we quick to dismiss and override them? The more we can start to enjoy what we bring to the world, the more we feel inclined to take greater care of ourselves. Afterall, while our strengths have likely not been confirmed when we were growing up or as an adult, they are nonetheless still there, letting us know that we have something very special to offer the world.
We may not be living life in the limelight, but even so, we are interacting with people on a regular basis, whether that is to buy food, refuel the car, drop children to school, attend work and so on. Every interaction is an opportunity for us to share our gifts through words, gestures and looks, and it will surprise most people as to how much richer the moment feels as a result when we are aware of what we have brought to the exchange. It lifts not only our own mood, but also that of others involved, which then has a ripple effect on out to the next person and the next, and so it keeps going.
The more we learn to love, care for and appreciate ourselves, including accepting our imperfections, the easier it is to nurture ourselves and feel our cup getting fuller and fuller. We are not reliant on others to fill the void inside as it is being dismantled through opening to self-love. What we are then able to offer others is not coming from any type of need; it is simply an offering to share what we can feel inside of ourselves without any demands or impositions.
None of this is to say that we will be tension free and that life will flow along without any challenges – but we are coming from a much stronger place of true health and wellbeing where mental ill health is given little or no opportunity to enter. We may need the support of Western medicine, including psychiatric care, counselling and pharmacology, while we adjust our lifestyles, but ultimately with commitment and willingness to take self-responsibility for connecting to our essence and allowing love to naturally flow in and out, we have a completely different experience of life awaiting us.
This way of life is not for a select few: we are all innately grand beings made of love, and nothing can take that away from us. All we are asked to do is let love be our daily medicine and the rest will follow.
"With self-love you are your own truth and no outer influence can manipulate you, for you know what is truth and what is not!"Serge Benhayon Esoteric & Exoteric Philosophy, ed 1, p 262