By Takanori Kuge (JSS counsellor)
“Whether or not & how much you accept yourself as you are = self-acceptance” and “whether or not & how much you like yourself as you are = self-affirmation” are the good key indicators In order to assess the level of mental wellness. Generally speaking, the people with high self-acceptance & self-affirmation is apt to keep their mental state healthier than those who with low self-acceptance & self-affirmation. In a sense, self-acceptance & self-affirmation are like the immune system for mental health.
The examples of the self-recognition of people with high self-acceptance & self-affirmation are:
“I think I’m cool.” “I feel I’m an overcomer.” “I believe in myself.” “I’m a proud geek.”
The examples of the self-recognition of people with low self-acceptance & self-affirmation are:
“I’m nothing…” “I shouldn’t exist…” “I’m garbage…”
As our physical immune system tries to protect us from germs and viruses, our mental immune system helps us fight with various stressors in our lives. For instance, when the cause of your stress is your finding out that Ms. Jane Doe, a member in your social group, has been baselessly gossiping about you behind your back in the social group. This situation will be unpleasant and stressful for anyone. However, how much negative impact you would get depends on how mentally immune you are, and there will be a big gap between people who are highly mentally immune (HMI) and those who are low mentally immune (LMI).
The examples of reactions of people who are HMI would be like:
“What the…. Well, but I didn’t do anything to be ashamed of, so I just stand tall.” “Okay. I get clear about it with Jane in-person.” “That’s all Jane does all the time. I kinda feel sorry for her.” “I’m fine if she does not like me. That’s not my problem.” This way, the HMI people can minimize the damage from the stressful incident, so that it takes only a short time for them to recover from the damage.
On the contrary, those who are LMI take it like the following:
“They don’t like me because I’m hopeless… I cannot even have a friend…” “Oh,, I hate myself… I must have done something bad to Jane…” “I cannot see them any longer… I must stop going to the group…” “I know nobody likes me…”
With these self-defeating thoughts/beliefs, the LMI people unconsciously amplify the damage from the stressful incident, so that the damage becomes bigger and more long-lasting.
Many scientific and medical researches have proven that mental health and physical health are closely connected. In order to enjoy our lives, we have to handle and deal with a lot of and various kinds of stressful incidents that comes one after another. And having the strong mental immune system would be the essential key to it especially in this lengthy pandemic.
Let’s enjoy the rest of the most snowy and coldest winter in the last several years!