It is understandable that most people are focused of their symptoms. They are unpleasant, destructive and persistent. The symptoms of anxiety, panic, depression and stress are the things that capture your attention. They are the things your doctor asks about and they are the things you are keen to tell her about. But they hold no value when you are searching for a cure. You have to shift your focus to the causes of your symptoms. It is only through challenging and changing the brain programs that create the symptoms will you get any meaningful relief. Watch this video and I will explain fully what this means and what it looks like in practice.
I am out and about in the guise of Wild Psychology and reflecting on three of the most troubling aspects of problematic mental health. The first one is that depression and anxiety are confusing to understand when you are inside of them looking out. This is because you feel you need to understand the many spurious elements of your life that probably have no bearing on depression or anxiety but seem important to you. This probably feels like eating a very confusing soup that never seems to come to an end. The second confusing aspect is not at all your fault. It is that you were never taught the vocabulary of psychological process. Yes, you learn history and math at school but nothing useful about the psychology of being human. So, you are probably not equipped with the tools to name, understand and deal with depression or anxiety. Finally, you probably get hooked on symptoms and never delve deeper into what actually causes them. Psychological symptoms are unimportant. They are...
One of he most interesting aspects of being a psychologist is that I get to help people, I work with, re-structure their reality. This may sound a little grandiose but consider these examples.
If a woman believes she has little personal value then virtually everything she does will be affected by this belief. I would anticipate that she will seriously underestimate herself and probably settle for much less that she is capable of.
Let's say a man believes that masculinity is defined by how hard he works and what he objectively achieves in life. This leads to overwork and and stress as his resilience to over-delivering reduces with age. Life itself is not that much fun as feeling driven is also like feeling chased.
As I work with these people and they progress through Anxiety Wizard they come to realise that the version of reality they are living in is only one possible version. The woman with low self esteem can learn that she does have value and people cannot treat her...
The problem of reality is a ticklish one. You see, non of this may make any sense to you, or on the other hand it might seem very profound. To a great degree your reality is whatever you think it is. That's the problem, if your reality is not delivering for you on life's promises it can just seem like 'life' whereas it's actually the version of reality you are living that is the problem. Even though you won't believe it. So let's see if we can come at this a little differently.
In this video I open up the possibility that we have more control of the version of reality we live than we may think. Of course, if you don't believe any of this you are also right!
Which brings us to the litmus test. Does your life create friction: negative energy experienced as stress, anxiety, panic, depression, OCD or any of the other myriad ways that life friction can spoil your experience. If so it might be worth learning a bit more about the version of reality you are running.
A lovely client of mine really hit the nail on the head when he said, for years he had been choreographing the dance of fear. He had laid the groundwork, he had put effort into it and practiced it day after day until he was really good at it. Result he was successfully anxious. I said don't go on the dance floor and certainly don't practice something you don't want to be good at. If this sounds like good advice give it a like.
I was recently a guest on the ACT Natural Podcast. We talked about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, some of the conceptual ideas at the heart of therapy and why mental health problems are often just a magnification of natural human brain processes. We had a lively conversation that naturally turned to simple and effective ways that people can use Active Self Help to make significant life improvements. If you have an interest in taking back control of your mental health be sure to listen in.
I was talking with a lovely client who helped me develop this image of an event horizon, which is a place neither fully in nor fully out of depression. It is a place of choice and possibilities. We are not free, of course, the beliefs we have about depression actually limit what we can see, think and feel. Nevertheless, we still have some choice left to us and we can use this choice to decide to continue into the black hole of depression or move away from it. Empowerment is using what you have to do what you can.
Way Back at the beginning of the 20th Century researchers were very interesting in the effects language had on the structure of reality, which for our purposes can be thought of as what we see, think and do. It became clear that language was not only a way of communicating with each other it was also a way of limiting or facilitating what we are actually able to understand about...well...everything! This eventually became known as the Whorf and Sapir hypothesis. In it's shorthand version we might say 'you can only understand what you have language for.'
This is relevant to my Active Self Help Theory and my push to help people to help themselves because I often find that people do not have an adequate language to describe their mental health problems beyond symptoms and so are limiting what options are available to them. Recall you are limited or facilitated by language. If you are restricted to the language of symptoms without being able to go deeper into the language of...
Julia Kristina is a You Tube sensation, with over 197,000 subscribers and tens of millions of views. She agreed to talk with me about the her experience of helping people with mental health problems to change their mindset and move towards more thinking about mental wellness instead. I found her a fascinating and entertaining guest. Watch the interview here.
To learn more about Julia Kristina visit her website: www.juliakristina.com
Or, simply search for her on You Tube.
Problems exist and persist in the absence of an alternative to that problem. The alternative has to be specific and directly relevant. In the absence of this specific alternative there is no way the problem can go away, because it is not being challenged to go away. This video explains more.
Learn how your brain tricks you into thinking and doing all sorts of crazy stuff. You won't believe it.