When Pop Mental Health Advice is Actually Enabling

pop mental health

There’s a lot of pop mental health advice floating around on social media these days and I’m totally here for it…well, some of it. Should we be more informed about trauma, emotional intelligence, relationship dynamics and attachment issues? Yes,100%!

Although it can be beneficial, there are some times when this is actually enabling you. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Holding boundaries can enable avoidance behavior

Setting boundaries is important for your mental health and we talk about this frequently on the blog. But when a boundary turns into avoidance, it can actually be a negative thing. 

When you are in recovery or working through trauma there will be various stages of coping, healing and growing.  “At first, you may need to avoid certain situations because they are triggering, but at a certain point it may be helpful to face those situations so that you don’t have to avoid them forever.” (White, Amanda [therapyforwomen]. “5 Signs Your Boundaries are Actually Avoidance”. * Instagram, May 16, 2023, www.instagram.com/p/CsUbHLFOPi9/?igshid=ZDE1MWVjZGVmZQ%3D%3D&img_index=2)

How do you know your boundaries are actually avoidance?  Here are a couple signs:

  • You ignore, ghost or don’t spend time with certain people rather than having a conversation about why.
  • You find yourself dodging more and more people over time.  Your boundaries are becoming increasingly rigid.
  • You avoid people and situations where you feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable.

(White, Amanda [therapyforwomen]. “5 Signs Your Boundaries are Actually Avoidance”. * Instagram, May 16, 2023, www.instagram.com/p/CsUbHLFOPi9/?igshid=ZDE1MWVjZGVmZQ%3D%3D&img_index=2)

Boundaries can be a personal challenge that presents in a variety of situations and then there are specific challenges surrounding relationships like fear of intimacy.

Having “high standards” can actually be a fear of intimacy disguised

If you have been hurt in relationships in the past then you may avoid intimacy in your future relationships to protect yourself.  This may be hard to admit, or you may not even realize you’re doing this. You may just chalk up the avoidance to having ‘high standards’ or the fact that you want to ensure that the person meets all the qualifications you think they need to be a good match for you. 

“A subconscious fear of intimacy, can, on the surface, look like knowing what you want in a partner and not “settling” for anything less…when it’s really a way to avoid the messiness and vulnerability of a healthy, loving relationship.” (O’Brien, Lindsay [thereallovealchemist]. “A Fear of Intimacy Can Look Like Having High Expectations for a Partner”. * Instagram, November 14, 2023, www.instagram.com/p/CzohB0Us_6T/?igshid=ZDE1MWVjZGVmZQ%3D%3D&img_index=6)

In reality, no one is perfect and you may never find someone who meets all of your qualifications or standards.  But that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a deeper connection with someone if they could be right for you.  

Facing your fear of intimacy can ultimately lead to a long lasting, healthy relationship.  That doesn’t mean it won’t take some work on both your part and your partner’s part, but all good things require some work. 

In addition to these personal challenges around boundaries and relationship challenges related to intimacy; there are also parenting challenges that we need to be informed about.

Understanding your child’s feelings is really important, but it doesn’t teach them emotional intelligence

Teaching your child how to regulate their emotions is one of the most important things you can teach them because it will be a useful tool for them not only in childhood but through every stage of their life.  We talked about this in a previous post HERE. 

You can let your child know that you understand the emotions they are experiencing, but it’s important to go a step further and help them learn to cope with those emotions in a way that is positive and does not lead to negative behaviors.

What ends up happening is if you are only understanding and compassionate, you are living in an environment where a young psyche and emotional system are in charge. And that is too much power for your child to hold. That will result in entitlement, disrespectful behavior or anxiety because their emotions are not able to be held by them or by you.

“Regulation isn’t natural. It’s taught. Emotions are instinctive but handling them is a language that is imparted.” 

(Rhodes, Ginette [ginetterhodestherapy]. *Instagram, October 14, 2021, www.instagram.com/p/CVCFKHdFxjN/?igshid=ZDE1MWVjZGVmZQ%3D%3D)

Healthy coping mechanisms can be taught at a young age and once learned they will contribute to the overall emotional intelligence of your child.

So even though it is possible to find helpful mental health advice online, there is also a risk that some of it may actually be enabling and not so helpful.  That’s why it’s important to always dig a little deeper and make sure the advice you are taking is actually correct for you. 

If you need help knowing what is right for you and your situation, contact us, we can help. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *