Undermine Mental Health

How a Single Phrase in Conversation Can Undermine Mental Health

**The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and communicated without reference to supporting documentation. The writer also recognizes that BPD is a disorder that affects both males and females, and uses of “she” or “he” in the communication of ideas are not intended to covey sexual bias. Breakaway MHE Disclaimer

As a therapist working with people every day, it continues to amaze me how damage to mental health can take on such subtle forms, particularly in the ways people attempt to interact and function in relationships.

Being in conversation and therapeutic relationships with many people on a regular basis, one of the jobs I have is to pay attention to the patterns or “style of conversation” people use. One of the things I often notice is that people are using a “style of communication” that does not support mental wellness, but rather seems to undermine it, although people don’t realize what they’re doing while it’s happening.

What am I talking about here you might ask?

The particular phrase in conversation that I am referring to is: “Well, there is nothing I/we can do about that anyway”. I often here this phrase pop out of someone’s mouth after inquiring how a situation or experience has affected him or her emotionally. It is as though the person is not used to having permission to go into the emotional aspects of his or her experience, but rather assumes it is better to dismiss or ignore these things altogether.

If there is no apparent solution to a problem or you can’t go back in time, then apparently it is not worth discussing or expressing, or so they say.

I fundamentally disagree with this “conversational philosophy” or “style of conversation” as it is so neglectful to human emotion and the real need for processing human experience. It also cuts off opportunities to connect with one another and deepen relationships in a meaningful way. What’s more, it just seems like an excuse for not taking the time to practice listening and empathy – pure laziness in other words.

We as humans have a need to experience acknowledgment and validation, and to connect meaningfully, so as to keep moving forward with our lives, otherwise we can get stuck in unproductive thoughts, emotions, and destructive coping behaviours.

In fact it can get very ugly and unhealthy in the absence of healthy connection… eating disorders, substance abuse, verbal, physical, and sexual abuses, conflict in relationships, impulsive acting out and other self-defeating behaviors. Many of these types of reactions or “side-effects” to absent or poor quality connections are observed in the very common mental health condition, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

In the absence of healthy connection and the experience of feeling loved, people struggle to stay focused and achieve their goals. They feel deflated and lacking in the necessary energy to stay dedicated to their projects.

So why would we do this to each other and ourselves? Why wouldn’t we allow the time and put in the efforts for creating healthy connections and so on?

My guess is that the problem lies mostly within culture… meaning that it is not emphasized as a priority in western culture to support the ideal conditions for mental health and relational wellness.

Perhaps these words of mine are mere opinion, although it seems people would rather focus their attention on individual pursuits (including the acquisition of money and things, in particular) rather than put energy into each other. People seem to believe that a “healthy economy” is more fundamental to solving our problems over and above other things, and so learning about psychology and mental health becomes drastically DE-prioritized.

Of course there could be other reasons for this kind of neglect, such as being afraid of being an authentic human. People may not trust themselves to feel and express their emotions, or that others in their midst could never be decent listeners. Unfortunately it is very common to experience negligent reactions when people dare to be open about their inner world, and this can produce overwhelming emotional pain and counterproductive reactions in return. The net outcome is usually more cutting off from each other and more commitment to an unhealthy “style of conversation”.

It is better to make the time and to invest the necessary energy for learning to listen and practice empathy. Failure to do so is the equivalent of disrespecting nature, biology, and psychology in humans. If we are to thrive and remain mentally healthy, we must respect some of the fundamentals, and not continue looking for excuses to avoid taking this kind of responsibility.

Peter

 

 

 

 

 

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photo credit: Gareth1953 All Right Now Cuba – Havana Public Artwork – Mar 2014 – Empty Headed Conversation via photopin (license)

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