Most people probably will have a mental breakdown at some point…

I felt compelled to write and give my perspective after reading an article by Gregg Henriques, PHD, titled “The root of our suffering”, which appeared in the June 2018 issue of psychology today. 

I will start with a quote from the article, “because many of us block our negative feelings, these emotions build up until we find ourselves completely flooded by them”. Which from my personal experience I found his perspective insightful but have a little to add. I came to realize that it is more an issue with facing stress we have never dealt with before, not necessarily that we block the negative feelings. I personally think blocking can be a good thing, along with thought stopping and other cognitive tricks.  

Back to my point though, when we come to a problem we have never dealt with before, are brain doesn’t know how to handle it… it needs time to figure out how to cope with that particular stressor, has to learn the proper paths to defuse the situation or brush it off. Which, I think can be done by blocking, because your brain is going to keep using trial and error until it figures out a way to cope with it, it will find a path, which it will then use the same paths when you face a similar problem again. So, the next time it shouldn’t stress you out as much. I have found, when analyzing my brain, a bit, that our brain uses its own form of electric shock therapy in a way, but that is a story for a different day 

Where I see the problem is when we face too many new stresses at a time, that our brain hasn’t figured out how to cope with it. That is when they can pile up and boil over… if they happened spread out over time, your brain would figure out the proper path each time. But, when too many new issues come at once, it becomes a disaster, especially when you are young. Another reason why bullying is so bad, so many stressors at one time, to add on to puberty, school, life, and all the other problems. 

I honestly think it might be hard to avoid reaching a boiling point in your life no matter what you do, at least for many if not most people. Life is by nature very stressful, and your brain will most likely at some point be trying to solve too many stressors at one time, reaching that boiling point, and a possible mental breakdown. The key then is to use good anxiety control techniques and manage your stressful time while your brain figures out how to handle the stress. After you go through it, especially if you use good techniques, you will be much more equipped to handle stress in the future… perhaps part of the reason they say we are much happier after 40 or later in life, our brain has learned how to deal with every day stressful matters much better, leaving us in a much more mindful state. 

Whether or not a mental breakdown or boiling over is avoidable is a good question… is there a way to avoid it? Perhaps by using good techniques for handling stress starting from an early age could be very helpful. Also, knowing you are most likely going to boil over or have a break down at some point in your life, may then make you prepare for it and be ready. Armed with different coping techniques and things like that, knowing is half the battle…  

Which brings me to an excellent technique from Gregg Henriques, when he talks about his “CALM MO” approach and becoming a “participant-observer”, where you begin to separate yourself from your feelings, you become your own therapist in a way and analyze why you feel a certain way. Instead of being mad, you might think, why am I mad? How can I calm myself down? You have like two minds inside of your mind, the part that is naturally and instinctually reacting to stressors and then there is your conscious observation of it, separating yourself from the stress, seeing it as its own separate thing. Reports are actually starting to show that people are better self-analyzers than previously realized, often diagnosing themselves fairly accurately. 

I disagreed a little with Gregg, when he also says, “rather than seeking to avoid them or control them”, speaking about our negative thinking. Because some thoughts definitely need to be avoided and learned how to control… thinking about killing yourself is not good, or thoughts of harming others and things like that. Which I also see his point when he says, “learn how to use them to guide us toward long-term valued states of being”, I just think first it needs to be brought within the manageable range of using your negative thoughts for good. I don’t want to be guided to jumping off a bridge, heaven use to sound really good if you know what I mean… I could be sitting here wanting to kill myself or sitting in heaven having the time of my life, heaven is only a minute away… 

A quote he also said is worth noting, “attempting to regulate our feelings does make good sense”. So, he does believe in regulating and all that as well… perhaps I took some of his viewpoints to an extreme conclusion… 

His sections on how we have to stop negative reactions to negative feelings is also very informative, enlightening, and thought provoking… 

I don’t want to quote too much of his article, as it is a great article you can read for yourself. But, I found it fascinating and wanted to give my 2 cents. 

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