“Maybe you could try to get something done by this week”,
“Maybe you’re trying too hard, you could do with a little bit of letting go”
“There may be a lot more options you haven’t explored”
“It would help if you would stop exploring more and more options and instead focus on one”
“Maybe you could reach out to your partner more”,
“Maybe you could detach a bit from your partner and work with yourself instead!”
Yes I’m quoting myself! What in the world am I trying to do contradicting myself all over???
You’ll soon know!
These contradictory statements are made by me while working therapeutically towards better mental health with different people. And they sound quite alright within the given context too.
The idea is:
People often suffer because they are on one extreme of an idea, feeling, thought, quality, attribute or trait.
Through statements such as these the attempt is to help people see that there is a “middle road”.
For instance the idea is to:
- Work hard enough but not too hard.
- Connect and reach out enough but not so much that you lose yourself.
- Be selfless but not so much that you get bitter about it
- Voice your opinion but not so much that others can’t be heard
- Adjust and adapt but not so much that you break down with the burden.
As you can see both extremes are detrimental to people. Leaning towards either extreme keeps one emotionally strained and unbalanced. But it isn’t easy to know your middle path. How much is too much? How far to go? When to stop?
The answers truly lie in how much you are in touch with yourself.
How then can you find your middle way to better mental health?
Finding Your Middle Path-A Short Exercise
To know what is your middle way, it is extremely important that your mind and body both settle down first. No matter what dispute, disagreement or uncertainty you are facing in your present life; to start with just allow yourself to rest in the present moment.
Remember even overthinking is one extreme, just as avoiding the situation is another. Try to do neither.
Once you feel somewhat settled, think slowly of the situation that is upsetting you the most in your life.
Be very careful not to get carried away in the flow of thoughts. It is important to keep returning to the present and to your intention of finding the middle way.
Watch yourself and your feelings with a lot of compassion. Notice the emotions come up in you. Tell yourself softly but aloud, “I feel sad/ hurt/helpless/angry or whatever it is that you feel”.
Then quietly watch the feeling grow in you-watch how it affects your mind and body. Check in your body, in your sensations, where you feel the helplessness or sadness or hurt.
If you feel like crying, cry. Allow yourself to stay with the feeling. It is important here to not go into causes and consequences and to not let thoughts overtake you.
This is a process of being one with the feeling and being accepting of that feeling in you.
Then slowly after sometime of being that way, ask yourself what your middle path could be in that situation. What could you do which is not extreme enough to harm either yourself or anyone else too much? Don’t justify, defend or attack, either yourself or anyone else in your mind. Just question yourself softly.
The answers will come… Because the answers are always within you, unique to you, just waiting for all the noise of “judgment” and “shoulds and oughts and musts” to die down so they can be heard.
I wish you good luck in finding your middle path…
Do write in about your experiences with finding the middle path via the comments section. Also, if you know somebody who would benefit by reading this article, do share it with them.
Image Credit: Sadia Raval
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About the Authors: Sadia Raval is the Founder & Chief Psychologist of Inner Space – A center for counseling and psychological assessment. You can know more about her here. You can follow Inner Space on Facebook, Google+ and twitter for regular updates of their work and share with them what you feel about this post.