General Reasons People May Not Give Some Mental Health Or Self-Help Advice A Chance
There are lots of useful pieces of mental health, social skills, self-help advice out there. Sometimes people dismiss them on shaky grounds, and miss out on tools or techniques that could have really helped. They may or may not be conscious of why they turned a suggestion down. Either way, if they knew their reasoning was iffy they might give it another chance.
A few points on what this article isn't trying to do:
- It isn't trying to lecture anyone, though with the topic it may be hard not to read it in that tone.
- It isn't arguing you have to wholeheartedly embrace every last tip you come across. Do your research on what is and isn't effective, and what's worth spending your time on. Some advice raises red flags, and once you look into it you realize you were right to be dismissive.
- Of the effective tools, it's not saying you have to use and like all of them once you've given them a reasonable chance. Different things work for different people. There's no arguing jogging can get you into shape. Some people love it. Other despise it, and can pick from tons of other ways to exercise.
- Finally, I'm not saying you're a bad person if you pass on a good suggestion due to mistaken thinking. We all do that at times.
I just hope the points below will get you to be more in tune with why you're choosing to follow a bit of advice or not.
"This won't single-handedly cure my issues"
Many social or mental health techniques don't make a giant difference on their own. Yet when several good ones are applied together the effects can really add up. For example, learning to meditate or breath in a calm, relaxing way won't fix most anxiety disorders all by themselves, but they're useful tools and part of many people's recovery.
"This has too much hype around it"
Some advice is quite helpful, if not an instant cure. However, people may make exaggerated claims about its effectiveness. Like I just said breathing techniques can work, but are only one piece of the puzzle. But you'll meet the odd person who thinks you should toss every other bit of anxiety advice aside and just focus on mastering your breath control. Someone who's naturally averse to bold, simplistic claims may hear that then dismiss breathing skills entirely.
"This won't work every time, or in every situation"
Some mental health tools can be very effective when they work, but they're inconsistent. For example, if you're having insecure or pessimistic thoughts one option is to logically challenge the thinking patterns and assumptions behind them. Sometimes this approach works really well. Once you stop and analyze a thought, it crumbles under the scrutiny. At other times you get to a spot where you logically know your thinking isn't realistic, but you still can't help but feel the emotion it causes. It can be disappointing when a technique doesn't make you feel better that time, but it doesn't mean it couldn't work in another situation.
"This won't work on the most intense version of my emotions"
This is another way a tool may not always work. There are several techniques, mindsets, and lifestyle changes that can reduce mild to moderate anxiety. But some of them aren't very effective against a full-on panic attack. Those require their own approach. The same goes for methods to curb anger or depression. Just because something may not help with the worst episodes doesn't mean it's not worth having in your toolbox for milder bouts.
"This is mundane"
Some handy mental health advice is very ordinary, like "exercise" or "get enough sleep". It's easy to skip over in search of something more unique and catchy.
"I've heard this a million times"
The suggestions that are mundane also tend to be ones you hear over and over. We can develop a mental filter where we ignore anything that isn't new. You can never be sure, that lifestyle tweak or relaxation technique you've known about for years could be the thing that takes your progress to the next level.
"This is too weird or corny"
Other tools are the opposite of dull, and have a cheesy or new age flavor to them. A relaxation technique may ask you to visualize an odd scenario. An exercise to work through some old baggage may ask you to create a fairy tale about your five-year-old self. It may make you roll your eyes, especially if you consider yourself a logical, rational person. I'm not saying every woo woo seeming exercise is effective and gets a free pass, but some of them work better than you'd think.
"This is tedious"
I wish it wasn't the case, but some things that will improve your mental health aren't that exciting. Like it may be monotonous to practice muscle relaxation exercises every day, or spend several weeks recording and dissecting the worries you have in social situations. Sometimes there's a variation on a dull suggestion that makes it easier to do, or an alternative that accomplishes the same thing. At other times it's worth it to find the motivation and do the boring work, because you know it will make things better in the long run.
"This doesn't feel connected enough to my main problem"
Like someone might think, "I'm stressed out about making small talk with my co-workers, why are you telling me to practice breathing skills at home every evening?" Even if they get the reasoning that learning to breathe in a soothing way could eventually be used to reduce their anxiety at a work party, it may still seem too far removed from their core concern. They may only want to hear suggestions that are direct conversation tactics. And I'm not saying that wouldn't help too, but so could the breathing.
"This will take time to learn and pay off"
Some self-help advice works right away. Maybe you read a tip on how to make friends and start using it that evening. Other tools take some time and practice before they start showing results. Like you may have to go to the gym for a few weeks before you notice a change in your mood. Again, I'm not trying to be preachy here. I know it's human nature to prefer things that have an immediate pay off, but hopefully you can make space for tools that take some time to get the hang of.
"This won't work if I try it for the first time in the middle of a crisis"
Related to the point above, some tools can be very helpful in a pinch if you've practiced them beforehand. But they won't be effective if you try to do them for the first time in a tough situation. You'll be too flustered and upset and distracted. Even if a technique seems simple, it may have nuances you need to get a feel for ahead of time, when the stakes are lower.
"This is asking me to make myself uncomfortable"
This one seems obvious, but I'll include it anyway since some people unconsciously steer clear of advice from this category. Some tools do the job without making us feel bad, maybe except for some boring practice. Other methods can help in the long run, but ask us to feel uncomfortable in order to get results. There are lots of examples, like facing your fears, or learning to sit with your anxious bodily sensations.
"I already dabbled in this"
It's pretty common for people to learn about a piece of mental health advice, half-heartedly play around with it once or twice, then move on. It's not that they purposely decided not to take it seriously. It just didn't capture them, or they learned five other tips at the same time, or they got busy with other things. But if they gave it a proper shot they may discover it's actually a big help.