Mental health and the element of self

Ian Bryan Meaning of Life

Mental health is a real issue – but its not what we think. Whole generations are running on faulty software that says

1 – The meaning of life is to “be happy”.

2 – “happy” requires knowing and expressing your “identity”.

3 – “healthy identity expression” requires “safe” people, spaces and experiences

4 – Apply “safe” candy sprinkles:

– avoid risk in a dangerous world

– shame/cancel the abusers

– don’t criticize anyone expressing identity

– your emotional safety = my responsibility

In 2019 I gave a presentation at Nexus Global on how trauma drives some folks to the neighborhood bar, some to church, some to management, some to art, and a precious few to live their lives fearlessly, existentially coherent, serving on the bleeding edge of truth. This visual makes sense to anyone who pauses to look. The room was filled with clinical professionals (I am not one), many of whom opened a dialogue in the weeks to follow about how they could apply my research in their settings.

Simply put, our societal approach to mental health is entirely focused on survival and recovery. Rarely do we even raise the subject of thriving. If anything, those of us who thrive are more commonly held in suspicion or contempt. This is inevitable in a sideline society, which is shaped by content media that defines the extraordinary for those less so.

I prefer the company of the extraordinary, and so far the most powerful souls I’ve met are always the ones who identify with, celebrate, and value their darkest moments and most vulnerable encounters. To date, no one in my circles have attributed their success story to a therapist, drug, or how-to book on diverting ones eyes. They all speak to the “gates of soul” that open when everything else falls away.

The “change makers” are thinning out. A new program is loading.

Have our mental health institutions succeeded? Do you believe in this field? Is our maturation made possible by ordinary life, or is there something we lose when we forbid all forms of risk, starting at infancy?