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My Story: Canadian Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

Updated: Nov 3, 2023


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Today is the last day of Canadian Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme this year is "My Story".

Blue background with text that says "In light of my passion for both mental health and story-telling, I want to share part of my story in case it inspires even one of you to improve or prioritize your own mental health."

Image description: In light of my passion for both mental health and story-telling, I want to share part of my story in case it inspires even one of you to improve or prioritize your own mental health.

When I first started to learn about finding inner calm and building consciousness, I could not consume enough information about this stuff. I devoured book after book. I powered through articles. I did a year-long yoga teacher training program, where I learned a ton about yoga and meditation philosophy. I wanted to talk about it all the time.

I loved it. It was fascinating. It all made sense. It painted this beautiful, clear path to a calm and content human existence.

So, I started to approach it the way I approached so many other things in my life. I was a high achiever, a great student, a conscientious employee. I was never satisfied with being "okay" at anything; I had to be exceptional at it.

"This inner calm stuff is awesome. I totally GET this. I'm going to be amazing at inner calm. I'm going to NAIL being calm! I'm never going to NOT be calm again."

Ha.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

*Ahem*

Things didn't quite work out that way.

I WAS changing my reactions to some things and holding on to being calm at times when, historically, I might not have. However, at other times, I didn't. I got annoyed at traffic or stressed about work or sad when Krispy Kreme closed all but one of its stores in Canada. (Gah.) I still sometimes got up on the wrong side of the bed.

But, due to all my studies in this area, I felt I had no excuse to be anything but the calmest person all the time. I was holding myself to a ridiculous standard and then berating myself constantly for not meeting it. "You're a yoga teacher; you should not get angry! You meditate; you should never be stressed! You read all those books. You KNOW BETTER!"

I felt like I was failing.

I felt like I was not good enough.

This went on for quite a while until I eventually acknowledged that I needed help and went back to therapy. (I'm a HUGE fan of therapy, by the way, and happy to talk to any of you about it at any time, if you have questions.) I had a lovely therapist who, after I explained my frustration and despair, asked "You do realize you're still human, right?"

Huh.

I said " Well, yes… but I'm a YOGA TEACHER. I know better!" To which, she said "Yes, and I'm a therapist… But I'm still human, too."

Yep, even though I did all that studying and personal improvement, I was and, to this day still am, a human.

As humans, we are meant to think and feel and have all kinds of experiences.

But, at the time, I wasn't letting myself be a human. I wasn't giving myself a break. I wasn't letting myself live. I felt that, since I knew so well what I had to do to be calm, I should be able to do it all the time. Period.

As it turns out, that perspective isn't the right approach.

I'm telling you this because, through my work and this newsletter, I share many seemingly easy-to-apply ideas about meditation, thought and feeling management, stress management, inner calm, focus, confidence, etc.

Despite your best intentions, you will probably "fail" at applying these ideas on more than one occasion. Sometimes you'll forget entirely about them, even the advice you love most.

Red leaf background with text that says "I need you to know that that is absolutely okay. It's normal."

Image description: I need you to know that that is absolutely okay. It's normal.

Sure, you might know better. We all have situations - sometimes several in a single day - where we act in a certain way despite knowing better. Knowing something is not at all the same as incorporating it into our life. We have deeply ingrained habits and patterns of thoughts, feelings, and reactions that can be hard to change.

All practices that help you achieve inner calm - yoga, meditation and mindfulness included - are meant to be gentle. They are not something else to add to your list of things to conquer.

Abstract background with text that says "Perfection is not the goal."

Image description: Perfection is not the goal.

When it comes to learning to access a sense of inner calm, progress is anything but pretty. One day, you might remember to apply something you learned, but then forget about it for the next 20 or 200 days before remembering it again.

That is okay.

Yeah, I get that you're likely part of my newsletter community because you're interested in improving in some way. I love that. I'm a big proponent of continuous improvement and learning.

Please know that applying these inner calm practices even once will benefit you, even if you don't remember to try them again for a while.

What's most important is that your desire to improve needs to stem from a place of deep compassion for who you are right now.

Teal background with text that says "You are enough."

Image description: You are enough.

You are enough, even with your alleged flaws.

You are enough, even if you can't remember to practice something you really want to practice.

You are certainly enough if you feel you can't figure it out on your own and decide to get therapy or seek professional help in some other way.

You are enough.

Always treat yourself with compassion, even when you feel like you could have done better.



Thank you for reading!


Stephanie




LORA Concepts Inc.

workplace engagement & well-being




p.s. The information, insight, and advice I share through my work is meant to exist alongside whatever else you may be doing to bolster your mental health, manage stress, or improve your well-being. Nothing I share is meant to replace directives or treatment plans provided by your doctor, therapist, or other healthcare professional.


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