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  • Writer's pictureAlex Rathbun

Letting joy and pain coexist

Hey friends. Welcome to this week's Brightly Alex Mental Health Monday!

I've recently realized that when I feel anxious, I tend to stop myself from feeling anything else. It feels like I'm in a shadow that is blocking me from letting in good things. Why? I feel disingenuous if I act happy when I'm actually struggling. If I wake up anxious in the morning, I feel incapable of any other feeling until I can push through the anxiety or depression or whatever struggle I'm working through. (The same typically applies for physical pain. I can let a headache or cold completely dictate my mood.)

I'm not saying that I'm learning to just push through the pain and not let the world into my struggles, but instead I'm focusing on a new truth that I learned this weekend: joy and pain can coexist.

What! This is a crazy idea, I'm realizing! I don't need to wait for the pain or the struggle to go away before I can be joyful or allow myself to experience goodness!

And as simple as this little nugget of truth is, I think it's going to be transformative for me moving forward. Realizing I am not a fake if I am both thankful and frustrated at the same time is amazing! I can encourage someone, even if I am not feeling whole or stable myself. I can dance to a fun song even if I'd rather complain.

One small way I've begun to put this into practice is when I start to feel anxious, I look around me and note everything I'm thankful for in that moment. Not only does it feel good to not wallow in my anxiety, but it can help lift me out of it.

Some other ways I hope to put this idea into practice include:

- Being honest when someone asks how I'm doing, then genuinely listening and caring about how they are doing, when I'm able

- Not letting anxiety automatically equate to a whole bad day by carrying out whatever fun plans I have

- Intentionally naming the good things I see/hear/experience around me, despite my mood

Have you thought about this before? What are ways you try to let joy exist at the same time as pain? Comment below!

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