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While it is true that mindfulness is a key component to recovery from mental illnesses, understanding is an equally important component of recovery. Mindfulness means we are aware of what we are doing, but it does not ensure that we understand why we are doing it.

Mindfulness helps stop us from hurting ourselves, both physically and emotionally, while understanding helps us prevent these thoughts and actions. Mindfulness must occur before understanding. We cannot understand something if we are not aware of it.

While mindfulness makes us aware of ‘what’, understanding answers ‘why’.

Understanding is important when dealing with other people as well. It allows us to better relate to one another, both with others who share similar challenges in life as well as those who do not share them.

Think about how much easier it is to connect with people who understand you and people who you understand. The relationship with them is a lot easier and stable. I know how hard it is to really understand others at times; especially, when your emotions are all over the place, whispering lies to you.

When I first met my wife, I was afraid to date her. I was afraid because she was too ‘normal’, too well balanced and I felt that I did not know how to relate to her. I felt that I would not know what she needed. Over the years, most of the people I have had relationships with shared similar challenges as I do, whether or not they were diagnosed, they all had their challenges. So, I have learned how to relate and understand them. I understand what they need from a person and a relationship. I have in a way tailored myself to relate and provide these things. Since my wife was so ‘normal’, I did not really understand her or what she needed. I was terrified, I actually talked to my therapist about my concerns.

I would need to learn to understand her and a whole different type of person. Learning to understand people can be a very hard and terrifying thing when we first start down that path. The good news is that it can be done and is worth it.

The other important thing about understanding is that when you find someone who understands you, you start to feel less alone in the world. You know that when a person understands you, that you do not need about them judging you.

It gives you a sense of hope. The hope that if you can find one person who understands you, that maybe, just maybe there are more people who understand you. Things start to become a little less scary, a little less lonely.

Posted: February 1st, 2012 under Thoughts on Mental Health.

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