What is the link between mindset and mental health? Can a positive mindset help with mental health issues? And can you cure depression or other mental health issues with things like Law of Attraction, for instance?
I can tell you that I absolutely credit what I’ve learned about LOA and the power of my own mind in affecting my external reality with getting me through my own clinical depression. But at the same time, I do urge caution in this area – rushing out and telling your depressed friends that they just need to “think happy thoughts” is not only not going to help those friends, you’re actually going to hurt them if you do that.
Law of Attraction and Mental Health
A 2009 study published in Psychological Science by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada found that, while people with high self-esteem benefited from the use of positive self-statements (affirmations) people with low self-esteem who used affirmations ended up feeling worse than they did before. On the surface, this might be seen as making positive thinking look bad (and I’ve seen more than a few posts lately that are referencing this particular study as “proof” that positive thinking is a bad thing). But from a Law of Attraction perspective, the outcome of this study actually makes perfect sense.
Law of Attraction tells us that what we send out into the world is what comes back to us (“as within, so without”). From this, we understand that what we are focused on, and in alignment with, is what we manifest into our lives. So the automatic assumption is that focusing on the positive and squashing all forms of negativity is the only way to go. A lot of LOA types push the positive thinking thing for precisely this reason. But the problem is that trying to squash out negativity doesn’t work. When you resist something this way, you’re actually focusing on it. And trying to force positivity when you’re really not there is not only ineffective, it can actually be harmful.
A Positive Mindset is Preventative, Not Curative
And this is particularly important to understand when it comes to the mental health focus that I take here on Vibe Shifting: positive thinking is preventative rather curative. This means that positive thinking is not going to save you when you’re already mired in the hell that is depression – it’s too big of a vibrational jump to go from depression to positive thinking. It’s just not possible. And trying to force yourself into it is going to feel false, and it’s going to make things worse because you’re going to feel like a failure for not being able to think positively. Don’t do that to yourself.
Instead, take a step back and allow yourself to notice where you’re at, and then just accept it: “I feel really bad right now, and that’s OK.” What you CAN do to help yourself is to work with some of the tools that LOA provides you with – your emotional guidance system and the emotional scale. Instead of assuming that you have to just “be happy”, realize that you can’t go from depression to happiness right away. Cut yourself some slack, work with the scale, and find yourself some relief from where you are now. All you need to do is get just one tiny step up that scale from where you are now.
Eventually, you will find happiness again. But it’s a process, not an instantaneous transformation. And as you go through the process of working up the emotional scale, you build up your positivity muscles. It becomes easier to maintain that higher vibration – to prevent a depression “relapse”, and to correct the downshifts when they do happen.
Mindset and Mental Health
I still sometimes feel the old depression hovering around the edges of my awareness, and sometimes, I do get sucked back into it. But the other thing that I have learned through my LOA experiences is that these episodes won’t last. I am able to just let them wash through me without fearing that a major depressive episode is around the corner. I KNOW that I will feel better again soon, and that belief alleviates a lot of the anxiety that goes along with these things, and also seems to make the downshifts shorter than they used to be.
Mindset and mental health do go hand in hand. And negative mindset cannot result in a happy life. Likewise, a positive mindset is critical for creating a happy life. It is absolutely possible to choose to be happy in life. But if you’re starting from a really bad place, then you need to be gentle with yourself and aim for an incremental improvement in your mood, rather than a quantum leap forward from depression to joy.
photo credit: pixabay.com cc (modified by me)