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  • Paul Lavella Jr.

Be Well. Be Raw. But What Does That Mean?

Updated: Apr 2

Wellness is a multi-faceted concept, with different meanings for most of us. To get to the root of what it means to us and what we need to grow, we need to have the courage to look within. #njraw #wellness #recovery #mentalhealth

Be Well. Be Raw. This is one of our slogans at NJ Recovery & Wellness. If you're familiar with slogans, you likely already know that not only is there a meaning to them, but also a meaning behind them. However, before we take a dive into the meaning and importance of this particular slogan, I wanted to take a moment to make a personal acknowledgement.


As of this writing, NJ Recovery & Wellness is a newly formed behavioral health organization, providing counseling for mental health condition and substance use disorder, consulting services for other organizations, and community education & training to improve the quality of care people can receive and reduce stigma toward mental health.


I've written blog posts and articles before, both as a contributor for various media outlets as well as for other organizations I've been affiliated with in the past. This particular entry, however, is different. This is a first posting on a blog for an organization I've had the privilege to build from the ground up; an organization that 5 years ago had simply been a thought, a daydream, that is now coming to fruition. And, accordingly, I'm scared shitless.


Over the past year, my personal and professional life has had many challenges, setbacks and breakthroughs, building toward the opportunity for this once distant goal to be realized. And yet, with all of the imaginable excitement, I found myself putting up every possible barrier in front of just doing the thing that I put so much energy into conceptualizing for several years.


It took a few beats, but once I saw what I was doing, I was disheartened, and got overly self-critical. I recognized that too... and I knew that I needed to do. I had to get raw to get well - to get toward what I'd wanted, what I'd dreamed of for so long. This is the underlying meaning, why this slogan is so important.


Be Well.

What exactly is wellness? If you ask Siri, she (or he, depending on your settings) will tell you that wellness is "the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal." We also know through social sciences that there are various components of wellness: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, and intellectual. So ideally we need to balance health in all these areas of wellness to be well. Cake walk, right?


Of course not. Wellness is a rather fluid, ongoing journey that involves self-driven goals and commitments, coupled with flexibility to work with life on life's terms and the self compassion to allow oneself moments of grace when things just don't seem to fall into place. A generally common goal, with very different meanings depending on who you ask.

Wellness is a rather fluid, ongoing journey that involves self-driven goals and commitments, coupled with flexibility to work with life on life's terms and the self compassion to allow yourself moments of grace when things just don't seem to fall into place.

Reflect on yourself for a moment. How would you define balance and wellness in those aforementioned areas? Where would you rate your strengths at the moment? Where do you find yourself struggling? What are the barriers that perpetuate these struggles? No, not the things you can't control, look deeper... What are those internal barriers, those walls we all put up (seriously, all of us do it) that hold you back from your ideals? Yup, there it is - that, right there! These are your true barriers to wellness.


Great. Now what? What can we possibly do with this revelation? Now that I've recognized something unproductive about myself, a characteristic or perception that keeps me back from what I want, I can't just go ahead and change it. I wouldn't be in this situation if I could... I know that tape. I've sang that record off-tune in the shower... for years. The truth is, at the end of the day it's always going to be your choice of what you do with the information. Know one thing though: If you want to move through those barriers, you need to do something different. You need to get raw.


Be Raw.

We all have our own internal resistances to change. If there's one thing, aside from our need for human connection, that is a shared experience amongst us, it is the simple fact that in one way or another, we push against it. Call it the fear of the unknown, preferring the comforts of a particular routine or way of being, or just plain stubbornness, there's just something about change we don't want to get down with. All the same, when we experience these resistances to moving past our internal barriers, we're faced with doing more of the same (resisting change), or leaning into the discomfort and getting raw.


Being raw involves us getting into our emotions; sitting with them. Feeling the depths of that experience and learning to tolerate that space. When we're in this space, we're exposed... to ourselves. We tend to not like what we see and most certainly don't like how we feel. It's in this vulnerable space that we can learn from ourselves about how we're hurting, maybe in places we've been hurting for a long time, and learned how to not acknowledge that pain by simply not looking at it. Being raw requires us to accept this pain, and to have compassion for it.


When we are able to take a look at ourselves, truly look at ourselves and not turn away from what we see, we are then empowered to take action. We can brave the storm and walk, be it ever so slowly, through these barriers toward our ideal selves. This is how we change, this is how we grow...this is how we get well.

When we are able to take a look at ourselves, truly look at ourselves and not turn away from what we see, we are then empowered to take action.

The meaning of this slogan is as personal as the meaning behind it. NJ Recovery & Wellness (NJ RAW... see what I did there?) is a behavioral health organization dedicated to counseling, consulting, and community, all in efforts to improve the quality of treatment and reduced stigma toward mental health conditions and substance use disorders. In order for us to be well, we need to be willing to get raw. This is the perfect place for it.


Thanks for letting me share.

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NJ Recovery & Wellness, LLC

135 Columbia Turnpike, Suite 201

Florham Park, NJ 07932

(973) 944-0225

info@njraw.com

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