Seriously Mental / by Dana Bergstrom

Pauly and I have discovered that it's wise to see a therapist whenever our 23 year long marriage becomes a drag. Sometimes we need assistance getting to the root of the issue. Marital tune-ups help us to enjoy each other to the fullest, which is why we hooked up in the first place -- to have fuuuuuun!

During one session our marriage counselor said something out of the blue that totally rung my bell. He said he thought the two main causes of mental illness are #1) seriousness and #2) perfectionism. Actually, it wasn't out of the blue. I was displaying some troublesome perfectionist tendencies that were jamming up my happy marriage.

Anyway. Holy crap! What a bold statement!

Our therapist's idea totally resonated with me because every time I don't feel well, whether it manifests physically or mentally, if I take the time to look I can always find its roots in a form of resistance/fear such as worry, anger, sadness, trying too hard, etc.

I believe that my thoughts shape my life experiences, which means that I cannot be a victim of external circumstances. I've spent most of my life feeling like a victim so I now love the empowering idea of 100% responsibility for myself; except, of course, when I forget and I'm out of my mind PMS/TDYing, then somehow it's all Pauly's fault, eh?!

I also love to boil things down to the core nuggets of truth, so my wheels immediately started turning. I told our therapist I'd make his crisp little statement even simpler! I'd file #2) perfectionism right under #1) seriousness. I mean, c'mon, if I wasn't taking everything so dang seriously, I wouldn't be worried about doing stuff perfectly, would I?

So I'm currently operating under the assumption that SERIOUSNESS is really my only big, fat, hairy deal. And this past week I got super duper serious. I got so serious that I worked myself up into such an emotional tizzy that I managed to land a nasty cold. Nose blowing, coughing fits and lying around in bed have been the sum of my existence.

WTH?! What's there to be so serious about? The only time I get serious and judgy is when I think I or others are going to experience some kind of loss or lack. Well, in these human bodies we often think we're losing, lacking or missing out on important things.

I spent the last week worrying that this new project that we've officially taken on, Fixer Upper #5, is going to be the end of me. I worried that it would not go as swimmingly or be as fun as the first three rundown houses that we loved remodeling so much. I've been focusing solely on what happened with dreaded Fixer Upper #4. That project, my friends, was sheer hell. Not only was it not fun, it was a financial disaster that still haunts me every year when I fill out the capital loss forms on my taxes.

I've been living in the unpleasant past during this last week. And I brought that fear into my present, which blocked my energy and that's how I made myself sick.

Then I had a moment of lucidity and remembered that I create so-called "problems" whenever I focus with seriousness/fear of lack on any topic.

Nobody else gets to decide what I think. I can choose the thoughts and beliefs I want to think at any time. I can focus on what I love about my life NOW because it just feels better. Focusing on lack will only create more lack in my experience. And lack is wack.

Ever seen that adorable 48 second video of the cute, curly haired blonde girl meeting her baby sister? Sometimes when I get out of the present moment, get serious and overly focused on past or future lack and I remember this fun vid, I'll repeat her wisdom to myself while imitating that sweet little voice. It's fun and it shifts me into a state of ease.

So, I'm looking up! At least I am this very minute. And because this game of life is only played minute by minute, from this NOW to the next NOW, that's where I'm going to stay...until, of course, I forget and place my focus on the past or the future, then I'll march around wildly waving my arms and hollering. But once I've worn my feral, human self out, I always eventually remember that in this moment there is no need to be serious.

Each and every one of us are all fine fine fine fine fine and okay okay okay okay okay.