My posts from the last few weeks have me thinking a lot about making adjustments and self-improvement, and for good reason. My two-part post on making mental health adjustments allowed me to reflect on making the necessary adjustments to my changing mental health – whether that’s adjusting to my new symptoms or how this impacts the world around me. I also want to find ways to get out of my own head and feel freer in conversations, which is why I questioned if everything I say is actually that important. But my mindset is extremely important when it comes to making adjustments, which is what I wanted to write about today.
One of the things I share often about my mental health journey is that for a long time, I had an unhealthy approach to mental health. This showed up in a lot of ways, but the basis of it all was that I was trying to ‘fix’ myself – to cure myself of depression and anxiety. I thought I could willingly get rid of mental illness, and that all it took was finding the right solution and wanting it bad enough. It took years for me to learn how wrong I was.
Not only was this approach unsuccessful, but I was also creating unrealistic expectations that were unhealthy and impossible to reach. So, I tried to find other ways to change. I looked for other opportunities to manage my depression and anxiety. These came in little tweaks and adjustments to my mental health – exercise more, develop coping strategies, etc. – but over time, I noticed I’d started fixing things.
I used to think it was years before I noticed any changes in my wellness, but in hindsight I don’t think that’s true. Change was happening around me, but it took a long time to acknowledge what that change was. I wanted the change to be that my mental illness disappeared, which was a vague and impossible goal right from the jump. Instead, the change was that I was finding more and more ways to be who I wanted to be – depression and all.
When I say I was fixing things, I want to be clear – I didn’t think I was ‘cured’ of depression, or that I’d ‘fixed’ myself when it came to anxiety. But there were situations that I was getting a better handle on, and I was figuring out how I could live my healthiest life while managing symptoms of mental illness.
I thought I needed to be fixed, but what I actually needed to figure out was how to adjust my behaviors. But it was important to acknowledge that I was creating new behaviors and not fixing myself because I was broken or defective (which is a common thought I have). Changing our perspective on self-improvement can go a long way to limiting any possible damage it has to our self-worth and self-esteem. It’s just just what you do, but how you do it that impacts your wellness.
Have your views on self-improvement changed over time? Do you feel like there’s a different between adjusting and fixing? Let me know in the comment section!