Do you know that walking for 20 minutes a day and eating a handful of cashews a day is more effective than taking anti-depressants? For the record to make sure I eat two handfuls of cashews a day. Regular walking during the golf off season has been a ritual for me for a number of years. Last winter I slacked off and paid for it mentally and physically. So I am back at it. Actually my doctor suggested I exercise to regain elasticity in my lungs. There is another story there. Over the years I have tried watching TV or listening to music to overcome the monotony of exercise. This year I am trying something different. I am listening to podcasts. So my physical exercise, which also helps my mental health, is now also helping me learn. Wow, the benefits are almost overwhelming. I can hardly imagine the person I will be come spring. Fit, happy, and smarter. I might be dangerous.
So a week in and I have already learned some interesting stuff. Two podcasts I listened to, one by Brene Brown dealing with vulnerability and one by Johann Hari on addiction, put forward a common theme. They both talked about the importance of being connected. NO, I am not talking about Facebook, twitter, emails or cellphones. It is probably important to sometimes disconnect from those. I am talking about having a connection with the world around us.
What is one of the first things that happens when we feel shame, low self-esteem, not worthy? We withdraw. We isolate ourselves. We can’t face other people. We don’t enjoy nature. Feel they will be judgemental. Just don’t feel good about ourselves. Live a life of regret and self-doubt.
However if we make an effort, and at times it takes a Herculean effort, to get together with others, to participate, to be involved, and to get out, our lives will improve. I often talk about golf helping me mentally. That is for a few reasons. First of all I am outdoors enjoying all that nature has to offer. I get exercise. And I socialize with others. I feel rejuvenated after each round. At times that is hampered by shoddy golf but that is easy enough to get over. Just go again.
Often times a disconnected life will lead to other problems. As we withdraw and isolate ourselves we turn to medication or vices to numb our feelings of shame and unworthiness, our emotional pain. Although these negative feelings arise from perception and not reality they hamper us in being who we really are. There have been times in my life that I have withdrawn from life. But through support and encouragement I have been able to get back to being the real me. Each time I found it interesting how many of my family, friends and colleagues commented on how good it was to have me back. The decline into this “hibernation” from reality can be a slow and insidious slide and we often don’t realize or understand what is happening. The road to recovery and connection can be much quicker and more fulfilling.
Inherently we search for ways to get rid of our emotional pain. This emotional pain, often accompanied by addiction, arises from feelings of low self-esteem, low self-worth, and shame. In general, a poor relationship with ourselves. Through connection we lose the desire to numb those emotions because our emotions become less painful. Through vulnerability, an ability to identify and express feelings, we can find connection with others. We can relate to others and others can relate to us. Through that comes an awakening, a healing, an ability to build relationships, and most of all, to make life a positive and fulfilling journey. A spiritual rebirth, if you will. Make it a good one.
“Make life changes before life changes”