My fascination with human behavior and Psychology started as a Sophomore in high school. The intrigue continued, and I took every human services course offered at my high school including introductory courses in Psychology, Sociology and Human Development. I was accepted into Colorado State University in 1984 as a Psychology undergraduate student. I never switched my major and my intrigue with human patterns continued. Over 35 years later, I find myself a Clinical Psychologist serving as a virtual psychotherapist and providing psychological assessment through advanced automated methods. In 2015, I founded MentalRenewal, LLC and I have been honored to serve in my private practice as well as in independent contractor positions as a Psychologist for innovative organizations such as Doctor on Demand and Highlands Professional Group.
In this series, I will share based on my professional and real-life experiences KEY considerations for maintaining strong mental health. Why am I emphasizing “maintaining” solid mental health? Mental Health is NOT a given. As an example, in order to maintain strong physical health through proper nutrition and exercise, I believe we must do the same thing for our overall mental well-being. To ensure the highest probability of maintaining mental health, we must track and implement key behavioral, environmental and cognitive patterns and habits. Let me begin with developing and maintaining the “Wise Mind.” This is imperative to the intellectual aspect of our mental well-being.
“Let me vent for moment!” How many times have you heard a person say this as if it is necessary for their mental and emotional well-being? Earlier in my life I bought into this venting theory and thought it was helpful, but I’ve made a pivot in my thinking. Unbridled venting of strong negative emotions over extended periods of time has proven to not necessarily resolve issues such as stress reduction and anger. If not done in a healthy way, venting can be compared to spraying lighter fluid on a fire – the emotion escalates and explodes. So, what is truly helpful in transforming our reactions? It is when we vent through a healthy and monitored process. It is through this process that our wise mind is activated and grows enabling us to discern healthy choices and mindful clarity.
What do I mean by the “impulsive or reactionary mind”, “logical/reasonable mind” and “wise mind” that exist within you? The wise mind is our logical self that directs our emotional, reactionary mind. Our emotions are great indicators as to what is coming. It can be compared to roadside billboards letting the driver know what’s up ahead. For example, anger can be an early sign that something in our life is feeling outside of our control. Unbridled anger can quickly move into rage if not processed in a healthy manner. How many times have we heard the vent: “That … is so stupid!” But, with bridled/controlled anger we begin to direct our thought processes towards viable options within our control. So, rather than venting something like: “That idea is so stupid!” We can transform our reaction into something wiser like: “Well, that is an option, but here are some other options … and this is the option with which I am most comfortable is …”.
It’s important to be familiar with, understand and clearly distinguish between the reactionary mind, logical mind and wise mind – these are vital parts of our personality.
At any given time be mindful and check-in with yourself asking:
- Which one is activated?
- Which one is controlling me?
- Which one am I going to allow to direct me?
For part one of this series, I leave you with these concluding remarks. Watch your patterns! And, work on developing, and responding, from your wise mind. For me, I have this pattern where when I’m driving if I leave my phone in my purse I am not tempted to use it while I’m driving. But, if I put my cell phone on the seat beside me it’s distracting and tempting to use it. Clearly, by leaving the cell phone on the seat it’s simply my reactionary mind that responds. By leaving the phone in my purse I’m letting my wise mind do the directing. I’m avoiding doing some crazy driving by making that one simple change. And, so many times it is just a simple pivot, or a series of simple changes, guiding us in the right direction that leads to remarkable results.