Mental health is a combination of our “beliefs” and “values” directed toward the “objects” of our affection. Seeking to be mentally healthy is to pay attention to these three unique aspects of the self and being honest about their impact on your life. In other words, what quality of life are your beliefs, values and objects of affection working together and bringing you? Be honest, investigate, think about what you’re thinking about. What ideas are informing your beliefs?
I once asked a prisoner, “How did that idea work out for you?” obviously, not very well! Secondly, be honest, as much as possible, about what you truly value. Recall how you’ve spent your time and resources within a given period of time is a good indicator of your true values. In conjunction with your values, consider the objects or experiences you have sought after. What you believe, what you value and that which you reach for, can be very informative about your mental wellness and quality of life.
The problem with honest self evaluation, however, is that we are such a complex web of thoughts, dispositions and behaviors, it is extremely difficult to truly know ourselves. We say we believe and value one thing while actually pursuing another. We deceive ourselves. For that reason others close to us can be good resources for self understanding and evaluation. Because they observe our actions and often personally experience consequences they can, therefore, help us be honest about ourselves.
So how mentally healthy are you? Who are you and what do you truly value? Be courageous enough to ask a friend; if you’re fortunate enough to have one vulnerable enough to tell you the truth.
Perry Sanderford, PhD, LPC