OK – last blog I talked about how we have the capacity to have exactly the same amount of control over a ‘body’ event (like lifting a finger) as over a ‘mental’ event (like a scary thought, feeling, memory or image). Now I want to go some way towards explaining how we can achieve the high levels of mental control that I am describing.
The first thing to note, is that none of us is born with a ‘perfect’ brain. All brains are limited. We are all born into imperfect environments and we build our brains exactly in accordance with that environment.
Learning mental control is going to take quite a few blogs – so that you fully understand it and how to achieve it. I cannot get everything written in one posting, so stick with it.
Just to humour me – I’d like you to do a little exercise:
Put both your hands flat on a table and then just lift up the index finger of your dominant hand while you keep all your other fingers flat on the table. Now, stop lifting up that finger and place it flat again. Then lift up that same finger one more time, and then stop lifting it and place it flat again.
At the end of my last blog, I talked about how taking charge and taking control are at the very heart of recovery of almost all ‘clinical’ problems. The most essential way of taking charge and ensuring strong mental health throughout life is through exercising mental control.
To help you exert the level of mental control you need for recovery, it is important to understand how your brain works at a physiological level.
One thing that I think needs to be noted is that it is not a coincidence that almost every person I see in my anxiety clinic has come from a ‘difficult’ background. A difficult background simply means that objectively a person has, on average, experienced more distressing events in her or his childhood than other people have experienced. These events could be all sorts of things, like parental separation or divorce, death of someone close, serious illness, school bullying, excessive parental criticism, physical or sexual assault, excessive moving from place to place, or over-protection from parents (which teaches children that the world is a frightening place that they need protection from, and, which also teaches children that they cannot trust themselves and depend upon their own resources and, therefore have to be rescued or over-protected).