If you’ve read any of my articles so far, you may have noticed a theme, June = Headache awareness, May = Mental Health Awareness, etc. But July…July all I can focus on is Shark Week! If you didn’t know that was a thing, you’re really missing out! I highly recommend you look it up!
There is so much hype about sharks this time of the year with people taking vacations, my 6 year old seeing ads for shark week, and sharks migrating ( as they always have but in larger numbers). But the underlying tone is fear, we’re scared of Sharks with their big teeth, large size and overall ability to hurt any of us who brave the ocean. But the sharks, the sharks are just living their best lives, doing their own thing. Statistically, we have a better chance of being hurt by just about anything else before a shark. But there is always a bad egg, right?! Occasionally one rogue shark does something awful and all the sharks are feared and stigmatized.
As a society, this is what we do! We overgeneralize seeing more in black and white, not noting all the gray in-between. But, when we miss the gray in-between, we miss the good stuff! Sharks are scary because we can’t really predict them, if we enter the ocean there’s always that underlying awareness (for most of us) of the potential to have a scary experience. That’s the black and white of it. But we’re missing so much of the gray. Sharks do their part, did you know they are a major part of keeping the ocean healthy? We need them. Not to mention the awe, that moment of taking a breath and just feeling amazed at something “bigger” than ourselves, we need them.
Okay, “Sharks are important Amy, what does that have to do with Mental Health Awareness?” I’m concerned that as a society we’re over generalizing and missing all the gray in-between everyday. And we’re all becoming a little like Eeyore. You remember him, Winnie the Pooh’s buddy? Best case scenario we become like Eeyore, we internalize the negative and have a sad outlook on life. Worst case? Well, just watch the news. People are so angry they can’t see straight, hurting themselves or others, seeking someway to feel better by blaming everything on something else, or someone else. Picking out the rogues and making them the standard for entire sets of people.
IT’S TIME TO LOOK FOR THE GRAY! I know you’ve heard this, but change really does start with you. It’s time to be intentional with the things we acknowledge and the things we choose not to engage in. Go out of your way to find something good every day. Make it a point to not let yourself feel negativity over something you cannot control. Do your part when you can. We can’t always do major things to help our society. Sometimes we have to see the gray in-between and be the gray in-between.
Start with being kind to yourself. Name 1,2,3 things you like about yourself and remind yourself of those things daily. Then focus on others, you’ll be surprised by how much your mental health will improve by helping others. Its the easy things, the free things, compliment someone, for their clothes, their smile, their actions, make someone smile. Help someone, hold a door, help lift a stroller, step on that TP stuck to their shoe. Smile at a stranger, thank a veteran, small good deeds are what we need so much more of today. We can help ourselves and create a healthier community at the same time. Help society’s health by doing your part just like the sharks keep our oceans healthy. And when you run across a rogue, try kindness, it’s so easy to respond to negativity with negativity but it never leaves anyone feeling good. Help yourself and our community’s mental health, be a Shark.
If you are experiencing a mental health emergency and need to talk, contact Louisville-based Centerstone 24-Hour Hotline at (502) 589-4313 or the National Suicide Prevention/Talk Line at (800) 273-TALK.