Appreciation for the G.L.O.W. is a four-step process that helps you on your path to Mental Freedom.
Each month, I have been dedicating one of my blog posts to my new Mental Freedom Process. This month, I’d like to expand the concept of Appreciation that can come after discovering and accepting the G.L.O.W., which is a four-step process that helps you on your Path to Mental Freedom.
Inevitably, while living your life, you will encounter people, places, situations and things that are unpleasant for you. This is because you have a self-constructed place in your head that contains your script for what your perfect life looks like. Not surprisingly, our real lives do not always match the version of perfection our brains contain.
The first clue you aren’t experiencing perfection often comes from the emotions you experience. When your real life does not match the way you want your life to be, you often experience a painful emotion such as sadness, anger, jealousy, discontent, boredom, anxiety, fear, disgust or stress. Whenever you experience these painful emotions, the first step on the Path to Mental Freedom is to acknowledge, name and honor that feeling. Too often, we believe we shouldn’t be experiencing these painful emotions; they don’t fit in with our public image or commitment to living a grateful lifestyle. Trying to deny this painful experience, you stuff that feeling deep inside where it can lead to the next symptom of not having the world give you what you want—physical symptoms. Sometimes these are explained by medical causes, other times they’re a mystery with no apparent medical disease. You will see this in terms of respiratory distress, autoimmune disorders, hypertension, muscle tension, compromised immune systems and heart disease, to name a few. Your emotional and physical experiences are closely intertwined.
Before getting to the physical manifestation, let’s recognize, name and honor the emotional experience. That does not mean wallow in it. Take the moment you need to feel it and decide what it is—anger, sadness, fear, disgust—and honor your right to feel that way if you want to. Your world is not matching the world you want and it’s only natural to experience emotional pain over that.
Once acknowledged, the second step is to ask yourself if there is anything you can responsibly do about it by determining whether it is something you have control over. For example, if you are bored, you can fix that by finding something enjoyable to do. On the other hand, if you are destroyed because you just learned someone you love died, there isn’t anything you can do to change that. If you decide you have some control or influence over the situation, then you need to determine if the course of action you are considering is responsible. Responsibility is defined by acting in a way that can get you what you want without interfering with other people getting what they need. For example, if your lover has moved on to someone else, you have the option of stalking them, contacting the other person, or threatening suicide if they don’t return to you, but those are not responsible choices. They may, however, be the behaviors you choose; irresponsible behaviors are always available, but you won’t find them on the Path to Mental Freedom.
If Mental Freedom is your goal, then you will only be searching for responsible responses to your misery. If you have responsible choices available, great. Engage them. That would be your third step. However, if there are no responsible choices on the horizon, then your third step is to find your G.L.O.W. In order to find the G.L.O.W., you first need to accept whatever it is that you don’t like about your life in the moment. If you are unable to responsibly do anything about it, your only three choices are to fight or deny your reality, which will lead to further misery or accept your reality. The way to Mental Freedom is through acceptance, especially when there is nothing you can do to change it.
Once you have accepted it, you will then remind yourself that there is also something positive about this situation. In fact, for all the sadness, fear, disgust or anger you are experiencing, there is equal positivity—if only you are ready to find it. It is in that moment when you can know you are truly on the path. You are specifically looking for the G.L.O.W.: the gifts, lessons, opportunities and wisdom you can reap from the experience. Ask yourself what you can learn from this experience.
When my husband died, it was one of the worst things that ever happened to me; we only had 17 years together. And yet, I gained a stronger relationship with my sons and a vocational freedom I wouldn’t have otherwise known. The lessons are about what you learned. I learned I was stronger than I knew, and that life can be challenging, but I will survive. Opportunities are about doors opening because of the experience. For me, the opportunities have been endless in terms of my work. My husband was far more conservative than I and would have struggled with me leaving my steady job, but since I did, I have felt an enormous sense of vocational freedom. I also had the opportunity of doing grief work, since I had lived through it and found a way to thrive. I particularly love working with women who are struggling with the end of a relationship, either from death, divorce or personal decision. This opportunity is a direct result of my widow status. And finally, wisdom comes from how the experience changes you for the better. My own path toward Mental Freedom began when my husband was diagnosed with leukemia. I credit going through that experience with him as the genesis for Mental Freedom: the concept, the process and the movement.
If Mental Freedom speaks to you as a person, perhaps you’d like to join my second Mental Freedom Group Coaching experience. You can get on the waiting list here: https://bit.ly/MFCoaching. If you are a therapist or social worker helping others and want to use Mental Freedom in your work, the Mental Freedom online course will be coming in 2021.