You are not a rock : a step-by-step guide to better mental health (for humans) / Mark Freeman.
- ISBN: 9780143132608
- ISBN: 0143132601
- Physical Description: viii, 262 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
- Publisher: New York, New York : Penguin Books, 2018.
- Copyright: ©2017
|Bibliography, etc. Note:||
Includes bibliographical references and index.
"We all want to feel less anxiety, guilt, anger and sadness. We want to obsess less and be less lonely, free ourselves from our demons, compulsive habits, and stress. But as humans (unlike rocks) we experience all of these. And paradoxically, trying to avoid and control them only makes things worse. Having struggled with serious mental illness for many years himself, Mark Freeman has become a dedicated mental-health advocate and coach. He makes the case that instead of trying to feel less and avoid pain and stress, we need to build emotional fitness, especially our capacity for strength, balance and focus"--Provided by publisher.
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Emotional Freedom Techniques.
You Are Not a Rock : A Step-By-Step Guide to Better Mental Health (for Humans)
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You Are Not a Rock : A Step-By-Step Guide to Better Mental Health (for Humans)
Step 1 Â Understand that you are not a rock Â I want to share a true story with you. It's about some rocks. And it goes like this: Â One day, early in the twenty-first century, up on a mountain in the Italian Alps, there were two very large rocks. They sat on the side of a mountain, overlooking a farm on the road between Ronchi and Cortaccia, Strada Provinciale 19 (in case you're planning a road trip). Â On that particular day, there were external, contextual factors affecting the rocks, factors over which they had no control. Those contextual factors caused a landslide. And the rocks fell off the mountain. Â They tumbled down the slope toward the farm. There was a single-lane country road at the bottom of the slope running alongside the farmhouse and the adjoining barn. One of the rocks landed on the road and stopped directly in front of the entrance to the farmhouse. It was a massive rock. It reached up to the roof of the farmhouse. With some extra momentum, it would have destroyed the house and everything (including everybody) inside. Â The other, similarly enormous rock, however, didn't stop at the road. It rolled right across it, into the three-hundred-year-old barn on the other side. The force of the impact destroyed the barn, scattering wall planks and whole sections of the roof across the yard. The rock continued on down into the valley, getting an inefficient head start on the annual wine pressing, coming to rest beside an even larger rock that had fallen off the mountain many years before. Â If rocks could feel, how do you think that rock would have felt after it did that? Embarrassed? Guilty? Desperate to blame the landslide? Angry at the other rock for not following through on their plan? Do you think that other rock was obsessing about the carnage it would have caused if it hadn't stopped? Â How would you have felt if you were either of those rocks? Have you ever spent an hour thinking about what to write in a text message because you were afraid of saying the wrong thing and ruining a relationship? Have you reread and rewritten work e-mails over and over again, anxious about getting fired or seeming incompetent? Does responsibility make you anxious? Do you spend days obsessing about mistakes in your past? Do you wish you could get rid of those memories? Do you hear people in your head shouting at you for screwing up? Do you spend hours trying to rationalize why you're not to blame for things going wrong in your life? Â So here's my point: Those are all very human experiences. Those rocks in that valley in Italy will never have any of those experiences. I said "If rocks could feel." They can't, they're rocks. You are not a rock. You feel things. Â Be human Â You probably approach physical fitness like a human. If you want to build strength, you lift heavy things that make you feel weak. If you want to increase endurance, you run until you're sweating and aching and ready to stop, and you keep running a little bit farther so that next time it won't be so difficult. If you want to be more flexible, you stretch into stiffness again and again until your flexibility increases. You try to go beyond last week's limits. You fail and fail and call it practice. You do squats and dead lifts until your legs are wobbly and so sore the next day that you can't sit down on the toilet, and you call that a good workout. Â This paradoxical practice of doing the difficult thing so that the difficult thing isn't difficult is how humans change. This is a concept most people understand. If you told somebody that you plan to become stronger by avoiding strenuous exercise, even people who don't exercise would know that's ridiculous. Â But there are probably many people around you who encourage you to approach mental health in the exact opposite way. They tell you not to do the difficult things. Avoid anxiety, feel less stress, don't think bad thoughts, watch out for triggers, get rid of uncertainty, man up, don't be so emotional, don't feel bad (everything will be okay). This is not how humans develop abilities to handle difficult challenges. Trying to avoid difficult things makes difficult things more difficult. Â This is so important to understand as you get started on building better emotional fitness. You can develop your ability to handle emotions by feeling more, especially by feeling more of the feelings that challenge you. By lifting heavy emotions, lifting heavy emotions becomes easier. You can feel a greater range of emotions and you can feel them more deeply. Â Poor mental health doesn't fall from the sky. Mental illness is like heart disease-you work your way up to it through a complex mix of environmental, genetic, and educational factors combined with each decision you make at home, at work, at school, and in relationships wherever you might be, every single minute of the day. Turning away from feelings, or trying to control them, cover them up, or chase after them, are the deep-fried pepperoni sticks, triple-decker cheeseburgers, and supersized routines of the mental health world. Sure, you might crave them, and they'll feel good, and you'll never be able to blame a specific junk food for giving you a heart attack, but when they become a regular part of your everyday life, the results are always nasty. Â In the first two chapters, I'll cover two concepts that are fundamental to building better mental health and emotional fitness. It's important that we have a shared idea about what exercises for mental health look like and why we do them. So I'll repeat: Â You are not a rock. You feel things. Â I wanted to be a rock Â In the past, I constantly chose to do things inside my head and outside of it not to feel things. I didn't want to feel uncertain, or hated, or alone, or broke, or trapped, or ugly, or hurt, or unhappy, or guilty, or anxious. . . . There were so many feelings I didn't want to feel! I basically wanted to be a rock. Â Rocks don't have varying levels of improvable mental health. Rocks don't imagine stabbing other rocks. Rocks don't get jealous or struggle with their sexuality or question the meaning of existence. Rocks don't convince themselves that other rocks are trying to poison them. Â When we're trying not to feel things, we're trying to be rocks. So it's not surprising that we sink the moment we're thrown into uncertainty. Rocks sink. Â Rocks will always feel less anxiety than you do. They will beat you every single time at feeling less guilt and regret. No rock will ever make as many mistakes as you will. No matter how much you practice meditation, you will always be more easily distracted and less focused than the most mediocre pebble in a muddy ditch. You will never worry as little as a rock worries. You will never be able to suppress your cravings as well as a rock does. No rock will ever relapse as many times as you do. No rock will ever fail as many times as you fail. Â As you work through the exercises in this book and you live your life, remember that rock in that vineyard in Italy not thinking or feeling about the antique barn it obliterated. You are not like that rock. You cannot be like that rock. You can spend your entire life trying to be like that rock but you'll only make yourself more miserable and you'll probably destroy much more than a barn. Â You cannot build better mental health by trying to avoid being human. If you want to improve your mental health, it won't happen through wanting to avoid uncertainty, anxiety, and all of the other feelings you don't like. It'll happen by learning how to have those experiences. If you want to avoid human experiences, this is not the book for you. If you continue to pursue escape from those experiences, you will have only more of them, at ever-increasing levels of severity and complexity. Â What is your goal? Â We often set goals for ourselves that might be better suited for rocks than for humans. We want to feel less anxiety, less guilt, less sadness; we want to obsess less, engage in compulsions less, be less lonely, less paranoid. . . . But we will never be able to do any of those things as well as rocks do. Have you ever seen a rock addicted to drugs or gambling? I haven't, either. Rocks are so disciplined! Â Understanding that I am not a rock frames how I approach every mental health issue in my life. As a human, I can feel and think things I don't like. Translating this understanding into actions has been an incredible support for overcoming mental illness and continuing to improve my mental health. In particular, it shapes the goals I pursue. For you, with your mental health and even with this book, I strongly recommend that you DON'T PURSUE GOALS THAT ROCKS CAN DO BETTER THAN YOU. Â Avoiding unhappiness is not the same as experiencing happiness. You can pour the rest of your life into trying not to be anxious and trying to prevent your worries from coming true, and all you'll have done is focused your energy on things that didn't even happen and you didn't even want to think about. Use this book to do things that rocks can't do better than you. And to help you with doing that, use the next exercise to set some creative human goals. These will be goals to keep in mind throughout the rest of the book and beyond. Each chapter ahead will help equip you with the knowledge and the skills to achieve these goals. But as you take steps toward your goals, always reflect on this question: Am I trying to do something that a rock can do better than me? Â EXERCISE: Creative Human Goals Â Rocks can do anything less than you can. But they can't do anything more than you can. So rather than setting goals around what you want to avoid, it helps to set goals around the things you'll build and create. Health is creative, not destructive. That doesn't mean we don't eliminate barriers like compulsive behaviors that get in the way of achieving our goals, but eliminating barriers isn't the end state. Unhealthy behaviors simply become things we don't do anymore because we're spending our time and energy on creating health and happiness and a life that's aligned with our values. Â So grab something to write with and some paper and articulate creative human goals for yourself that rocks can't do better than you. Here are a couple of ideas to help you with this: Â If you had one overarching goal for your entire life, what would it be? If you looked at the different areas in your life, like health, relationships, work, education, etc., what would your goal be for each? What would your goal be for today? What's your goal for this moment right now? Take a look at the examples below comparing goals for rocks and goals for humans to see some possible directions for your goals: Â GOALS FOR ROCKSÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â GOALS FOR HUMANS Â I'll use this book to learn how to get rid of anxiety so I can finally start doing things I care about.Â I'll use this book to learn how to handle more anxiety while I do things I care about. Â Not be lonely anymore. Attend at least one group social event every week. Â I don't want people to judge me.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Be more accepting of others out on the street and online. Â Stop feeling so much guilt and regret.Â Â Â Â Learn how to practice feeling compassion toward myself and others. Â Get rid of this uncertainty about whether my partner loves me.Â Practice expressing myself honestly in a relationship even when I'm afraid of being hurt. Â In any situation it's possible to have a goal you're working toward, even if that goal is simply to breathe. The goals we carry into a situation shape our expectations. Whether our experience aligns with our expectations determines whether we laugh, shout, or cry. So what is your goal with this book? Did you pick up this book in the hope of getting rid of a feeling? Because every rock is already much better than you when it comes to not experiencing that feeling. What's something that only you can do? What's something that you care about that you want to do more of in your life? How will you know if you've achieved that goal? Â Make sure your goals are visible. Put them where you'll see them. You might want to write them out on individual pieces of paper so you can put relevant goals where they're more likely to remind you to take action. If you have a goal to sleep more, maybe you need to stick that to your computer so you remember to go to sleep earlier. Take your work goals with you to work. If you have a goal to improve your capacity to experience anxiety, where can you put that goal, physically or digitally, as a reminder to push into anxiety instead of avoiding it? Excerpted from You Are Not a Rock: A Step-By-Step Guide to Better Mental Health (for Humans) by Mark Freeman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.