I was in and out of therapy from the age of 13 until the age of 42, undergoing the type of therapy reminiscent of the “repairing damage within a disease model of human functioning” (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). In fact, since World War II psychology has principally focused on this model. As a result, there have been positive outcomes including a classification of mental illnesses and the provision of ‘pharmacological treatments for 14 major mental disorders.’  According to Seligman (2004), at one time 30% of the population of the USA suffered from ‘a severe mental disorder’ and psychology has done an ‘excellent job’ helping that 30%. 

Nonetheless, he emphasises the importance in now concentrating on the other 70% because even though these people may not be suffering from severe mental illness:

“There is good evidence to indicate that the absence of maladies does not constitute happiness (Diener & Lucas 2000). Even if we were asymptotically successful at removing depression, anxiety and anger, that would not result in happiness. For we believe ‘happiness’ is a condition over and above the absence of unhappiness.”     

(Seligman et al, 2004:1379)

No longer lost

Reliving the past = Staying Stuck

This observation resonated with me because although I don’t suffer from severe mental illness, I’ve had my share of mental health problems throughout my life, suffering too from severe depression, anxiety and anger. During therapy, the cause of my anxiety and debilitating depression would be explored in the context of my past, talking about traumatic life events, the relationship with my parents and siblings, for example. After talking for an hour, the session would end without offering me with any direct strategies or tools to support my psychological and spiritual wellbeing. Talking about, and re-living the past did not, as Seligman (2004) observes, result in happiness, actually, I felt, therapy helped to a point, but it kept me very much stuck in the past.

It was not until my third and final burnout at the end of 2012, I decided to a change the type of therapy available to me. I didn’t want to be admitted for a short-term stay at a clinic, nor take medication for my depression and sleeping pills for my insomnia. Although steadfast in my resolve I had to agree to therapy as this was both a requirement from HR and my health insurance as I had to ‘prove’ I’d burnt out for the paperwork.

The Path to Transformation

In addition to therapy, which at the beginning I attended (with difficulty) three times a week, I decided to take my psychological and spiritual well-being into my own hands.  I always knew there was another way because, yes, while I had mental health problems, I always had faith that I could rise beyond them because it was in my nature to do so – I always did.

I’ve always been very spiritual and throughout my life have accumulated many books within the personal growth, self-help field which helped me keep grounded. Books that have often been scrutinised as not trustworthy and scientific enough and all very ‘woo-woo!’  Nonetheless, I decided to conscientiously and actively apply the strategies and tools I’d been reading about to my life.  And that’s when real transformation happened.

Now, following my certification as a Trainer in the Success Principles, The Canfield Methodology and currently in the middle of my Diploma in Positive Psychology, I’m able to connect, acknowledge and understand the science behind the strategies and tools I implemented and continue to use in my life.

I have a deeper understanding of my Self and able to share and expand my knowledge and understanding with the people I mentor and coach through my 1:1 and group training programmes and, importantly, through positive psychology, I now have the science to back it up.  Want to find out more? Then take me up on my FREE 60-minute discovery call and let’s discover your why.

For a long time, psychology was often connected to something negative. Talking or mentioning being in therapy was bit of a taboo topic. Not anymore. We’ve now discovered the ‘positive’ in psychology and the discussion of psychological, spiritual and physical wellbeing has found its place.

Finally, mental health is coming out of the closet, understanding what makes people flourish.  It’s your time to bloom!

Book your FREE discovery call with me today and let me support you through the tools I’ve learnt and let me help you flourish! 

Sources:

Seligman, M. E. P., Parks, A. C. and Steen, T. (2004). A Balanced Psychology and a Full Life. Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania, 3701 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA, 18 August 2014 

Seligman, M. E. P., and Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive Psychology. An Introduction. American Psychologist.

Image courtesy of Jon Tyson / Unsplash

 

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