Updated: Jun 2
I posted a quote by a well-known actor on my Instagram a few weeks ago in which they stated, "Sit in it and go through it so that I can heal it." This individual spoke about their personal traumatic experiences and how sitting in it and facing it, partially due to COVID, brought about healing. It was an interesting statement because the most common reaction to any traumatic experience is to run from it. It's easy to run from external situations. However, it is hard to escape from something internal. We all were on the merry-go-round of life during this global pandemic, and suddenly, everything stopped, and we landed in front of the mirror of self-reflection. As we examine ourselves, basically looking inward, we can either acknowledge the pain and deal with it or pretend that it's not there.
Some people will choose to take the road of vulnerability by taking off their masks, acknowledging the pain, and by seeking professional help from a therapist. Others will decide to take the road of denial with questions like, "Who me? What wounds? What hurt? What pain? I'm good. Hey, I got this!" But we really don't. Our smile is masking the pain, but our eyes are telling the story. The narratives we believe about ourselves are based on the thoughts we have accepted, be it positive or negative. Our thoughts are like personal librarians, activated by triggers, pulling files and bringing them to the forefront of our minds. Once a familiar trigger goes off, a thought or memory is activated, waiting for us to react or respond.
Not all thoughts are bad, but when we consistently accept negative thoughts about ourselves, we're building strongholds in our minds that will eventually become a reality. Essentially, we're becoming the architect of our own demise. Every negative thought has now become the raw materials needed to build a stronghold of depression. These strongholds can become a fortified house of negative thoughts which can only be brought down through a combination of the spiritual application of God's word and the practical application of mental health tools from a skilled therapist.
Since the pandemic started, more people have been experiencing mental health issues. The busyness of life helped to temporarily keep our thoughts occupied and traumatic memories at bay. It wasn't until we were forced to be still in our own homes that we began to "sit in it" or deal with our unpleasant memories and dark thoughts. We had to deal with thoughts from our past, childhood memories, relationships, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, addictive behaviors, etc.
It is unfortunate that we only seem to maintain that which we can see but not the 'unseen.' After all, we take pride in looking good and getting our physical bodies in shape. We are an Instagram and Facebook-ready generation. I don't recall seeing posts where someone praised achieving a mental health breakthrough. If we could take pictures of our thoughts and post them, what would it look like? Would it mirror what's on the outside? We take pride in all things external while the internal is dying.
If we are to conquer anything, we must face it. Running from it will not solve the problem. We must face the Goliaths in our lives and say, "Yes, it happened, but it doesn't define who I am." We all have Goliaths in our lives, but it's how we respond that matters. Whatever your Goliath is, you can overcome it. You are not powerless; you are powerful!
Biblically speaking, scripture tells us in Romans 12:2 (NLT), Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. We can change the way we think by speaking life and not death. God's word is life. Scripture tells us in John 6:63 (NLT), The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. You have the power to control negative thoughts with the words YOU speak over yourself. Thoughts do not make it so. YOU make it so. You are not your thoughts. You can choose to speak life or choose to speak death. I'll give you a hint: Speak life! Scripture tells us in Proverbs 18:21 (NLT), The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. When negative thoughts come in, counteract that thought with what God says about you. In Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV), it says, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Say what God says. Remember, you are not powerless; you are powerful. Speak life!
There are times when we need to seek professional help, such as a therapist or a counselor. I consulted a therapist in my own life, and it was a tremendous help in getting through a dark moment in my life. I wanted to come out of my situation completely whole, mentally, and spiritually. I prayed, fasted, and then I consulted with my therapist. I am so glad I did. I came out of that dark time a stronger woman mentally and spiritually. Therapy is so important for everyone, especially in the black community. There is no shame in asking for help. On the contrary, it is an act of courage and bravery. Here is a link to a resource that may be helpful for you: https://www.theshineapp.com/
Remember, you are not powerless. You are powerful. Speak life!