There is a new paradigm of health brewing and it's hotter in mental health than anywhere else. Mental health problems are frightening, painful, and daunting, and some can kill us, but how we see the problems accounts for a lot of that stress. We propose a fresh new way to think about our own mental health issues and those of the people we love.

It's a walnut. You know how your best ideas come through you, they come out of nowhere, and something about them sticks, which is what happened for me with the Walnut Theory of Mental Illness. In brief, we all have a walnut. It has a hard craggy edge to it but a generally lovable appearance. The shell is hard as a rock, it's not going anywhere. The meat is sweet but a bit odd, and it's probably not worth cracking open the walnut to find it. Better to love the walnut, set limits with it, and go about creating a great life.

Does it take 80 years of life to love our walnut? Why not love it NOW?

The great life in EBT is to get from stress to joy and, over time clear away the clutter of past hurts, rewire some brain glitches that send us into questionable terrain, and adopt a generally vibrant lifestyle, that is, to the extent possible. Where does the walnut come in? It's that knot of circuits we were born with or that suddenly appeared after a really toxic experience. It lives somewhere at the bottom of our brain. When it shows up, we say, "I feel awful. I am out of control. I am miserable." Then as the worst of the stress fades, we realize that like all other people on the planet, we do have a walnut. It's our walnut, and it takes emotional evolution to love it, accept it, and then work with it (whether it's with medications, therapy, limitations, or just noticing vulnerabilities and blind spots.)

How do we live a great life even though we have a walnut? We use EBT, both to stop all judgments, to love ourselves unconditionally even if all other people on the planet reject us for good reason, and to figure that everyone else has a walnut too.

I have my walnut, that cluster of circuits that makes me a little defective, but if I can love that walnut, set limits with it when it gets a bit out of control, and come out the other side, that's the best life anyone can live. It's about loving ourselves, understanding that the walnut can be pretty annoying or dangerous at times, and deciding to celebrate our life - walnut and all.