The Middle Ground

Before you assume, learn the facts. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think.

             In dialectical behavioral therapy, we learn coping skills that subdue anxiety and emotional distress. We unearth the risks of seeing the world in black and white, fraught with judgment and extreme thinking. There’s a concept called Wise Mind, the overlapping and centeredness of Emotional and Rational Mind, and an equally regarded idea of The Tolerance Paradigm where “riding the wave” of our feelings and emotions constitutes higher awareness. We respect the gray areas of life – the middle ground or way.
It’s absolutely possible for persons recovering from mental illness to defy social convention. Somewhere in the journey to recovery, we stumble upon a crossroads where the choice for wellness is met with urgency. We understand its critical nature – if we choose wisely, potentiality is real; if we’re foolish and careless, problems will persist. We learn to pave ways and navigate depressive symptoms; repair relationship damage; recover from financial disaster; survive unemployment; manage grief and loss; overcome identity crises; and cope with the myriad list of other occurrences that complicate mental conditions. We redefine ourselves despite challenge and circumstance.
Since our world experience is a matter of consciousness – we make choices, feel emotions, assess thoughts, and manage social interactions – the mind is vital and essential to our well-being. Mindfulness meditation instills healthy habits for relaxation, self-soothing, introspection and reflection, creative visualization and planning, and spiritual contemplation. We learn skills which enable us to transform the course of our lives through critical awareness, behavior modification, and relationship management. For the person who overcomes mental illness, strength and courage accurately define character. We work almost double-time, consistently, to remain cognizant of our influence both in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Determination and self-compassion become integral parts of a healthier existence.
             I’ve experienced the deepest depression and the most frightening anxiety – I’ve lain almost lifeless in a blank daze staring into the void; and sat panicked, horrified of the next moment or situation. I’ve perceived my world in both black and white – lacking patience, compassion, or consideration. I’ve witnessed the destruction of close relationships from my very my own hand. It’s these limits of the mind that prompt such quick judgements and hurtful condemnation. We feel compelled to choose between two opposing concepts, unaware of the option to carefully pilot the “in-between” places. Conceptually, our human experience reflects this duality in sharp contrasts – good and bad, sun and rain, light and dark, rich and poor, love and hate (or more precisely, fear). Yet amidst uncertainty or confusion, I believe balance is achievable.
My efforts in self-awareness and self-care generate mental and emotional space for higher understandings. I believe awareness either works for us or against us – we create in our minds a harrowing, fear-based scenario while our blood pressure rises and our palms sweat; or, we discover ourselves calm, relaxed, and smiling simply by envisioning peaceful thoughts or memories. Our minds possess an infinite capacity for a better, more human existence. Our self-talk and the words we use to self-identify affect our everyday most common experiences, and in the long-term dictate the lives we lead. With mindfulness, movement, and other growth work, we hone skills that work in our favor – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We shape our reality.
The mind is precious. It must be respected and esteemed, not the object of labelling and stigmatizing. The ability to challenge assumptions is fundamental to self-discovery and personal evolution. Fact-checking, self-exploration, emotional intelligence, and critical awareness are tools that empower. With knowledge and practice, we’ll meet gratitude and abundance on the road to success. We’ll traverse rocky terrain with improved confidence and new self-awareness.
            I believe that the brain is the most important structure in the human body – it’s the seat of consciousness, the place where reality happens. Optimal mental health and self-care are priceless. When we become masters of being in the world around us, we recognize our potential and the given charge to co-create our life experience. The middle ground emerges. The gray is appreciated, purpose is manifested, and balance is restored.

By Kim Bragado for The Authentic Thinker