What is Health? Part III: Mental Health (a.k.a., Emotional Health)
Mental health can be better described as emotional health.
There are conditions known as psychoses that often require medication and/or constant vigilance by way of a full-time, well-trained medical staff, especially in cases when the patient is a danger to himself and others due to his or her distorted perception of self and collective reality. Those conditions are beyond the scope of this article, except to say that they can often start as a result of neglect, abuse, and chemical toxicity as far back as three months prior to conception. So if you’re thinking of having a baby, cut the smoking, drinking, pharmaceutical/street drugs and artificially grown and processed foods now, and make sure your partner is a happy, healthy, emotionally stable and supportive person.
There is a reason I am a chiropractor and not a psychiatrist/psychologist. I don’t have patience to listen to someone try to consciously work through their issues by discussing them week after week in order to try to get them to realize their subconscious motivations. I’m more direct; I say, “Do this, this, and this, because this is going on and you can change it by changing your habits. And by the way, lie face down so I can check your spine.”
Psychologists and the like try to reach the subconscious through the conscious mind. Bless their ever-loving hearts! That is really tough, because, by design, the conscious mind does not readily understand the workings of the subconscious. In my humble but rather educated opinion, unless there is truly severe and possibly permanent neurologic damage, one will have great difficulty understanding their subconscious motivations until they can come to understand the workings of their bodies.
If you want to know the workings of your subconscious mind, look at your body. Your body is the physical expression of what is going on under the surface.
Mostly, the conscious mind is resistant to understanding the workings of its subconscious, because that is where it stores that which it hasn’t the easy capacity to cope. Your body’s job is to service the will of the mind. Therefore, when you are under emotional duress, your body will attempt in its beautiful wisdom to keep you going by storing as much stress as it can in its systems. Your body is the very expression of your subconscious.
It’s no mystery. We walk around with what is going on in our lives every day. The subconscious is not a nebulous concept consigned to the netherworld of dreams and R.E.M. sleep. We wear our subconscious mind every day in the way we walk, in the way we interact with others, in the way we choose to live our lives and feel about ourselves.
If we, by conscious choice or not, live our lives with a bundle of stress from day to day, hour to hour, that has a very real effect on our physical health. If we have trouble with our physical health and see the difficulty as an insurmountable obstacle to living a rich, full life, this has a very real effect on our mental –aka, emotional health.
This is a topic upon which volumes are written. Let me just say that there are repetitive steps that one can take in order to encourage emotional health. The subconscious mind works through habit. It is sort of a recorder. It records things that make it feel good and things that make it feel bad. This is functional and healthy within reason. If you are a child and you run into the street and you almost get hit by a car, chances are you never want do that again. So the brain gives you that memory; “Oh yeah; last time I ran out into the street, I almost got hit by a car! I better not do that!”
If you have good parents or guardians, you need never run out into the street to learn that lesson. They will say, “Before crossing the street, look both ways to make sure you don’t get hit by a car,” a few thousand times, until your brain learns the lesson without having to actually live the experience. That’s called conditioning. Our brains are wired for this sort of conditioning, especially during the ages of 0-7.
When conditioning gets dysfunctional is when those who have no business laying their unhappiness in your innocent mind are able to do so, and whether deliberately or inadvertently, they record a message in your mind that states repeatedly that you are unworthy of love, that you are incapable of loving others, and that you are unworthy of self-respect and goodness. That’s when the mind struggles with life and develops habits aimed at relief that aren’t necessarily healthy habits; and that’s when the body tries to help the mind cope with a paradox by storing the stress. At first, it’s not all that noticeable, the health problems that begin. But over time, as these habits continue, they become very real problems for our health, as well as the health of our society.
We have to make a concerted effort to erase those inappropriate recordings and replace them with positive ones. The keys are:
- A powerful, all-consuming willingness to achieve perfect health;
- A conscious plan in order to achieve the work backed by consistent action;
- A deliberate conscious override of negative influences, including those by well-meaning friends and family AND MOST ESPECIALLY OF SELF;
- A supportive person or persons in alignment with your mission who will help you follow through with your intention.
- Don’t give up no matter what!
Napoleon Hill delivered these keys in a book called Think and Grow Rich2 back in 1937. He stated them a little differently, intending them for an audience who wanted to acquire material wealth and success, but they work in any and all situations – especially health. It is the mind that must decide whether to listen to old programming or not. The programming is powerful, but not all-powerful – its power lies in that the programming is tricky to recognize.
Hill also said that the seven most constructive emotions – the ones with which we must replace the negative emotions of fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, superstition, anger (I’m adding apathy, depression, and hopelessness), are these:
Desire, Faith, Love, Sex, Enthusiasm, Romance, Hope.3
I rather think that most of these are drives, as opposed to emotions – particularly sex, but the others too – so they are easier to achieve than one would think. They are ingrained in our makeup; they are the emotions that our bodies want to express in their task of exploring the wonders of life.
It takes a concerted outside effort on the part of influencing person or persons, or an institution, to override these drives. When these negative influences occur, we must help each other back to health.
These seven drives are why I am even writing this blog and (shortly) recording my podcasts and videos. I can adjust spines until the cows come home, but until we begin to own our drives and take the Wheel of Life into our own hands, we will never really experience the perfect health and happiness that we can – and neither will the people in our lives.
Which leads to the third component in the WHO’s definition of health. In the next post, we will discuss that which was alluded to in point four of the keys: Social Health. We will also introduce you to the nine habits that you must incorporate into your daily life that will give you the health you desire. It takes 42 days to make a habit. I will show you how to get the perfect health mindset in 42 days.
Truthtime question: Do you begin projects like weight loss or fitness by going top speed out of the gate with enthusiasm, only to quit a few days or weeks later with excuses like, “I don’t have time,” or “This is too hard,” or “I feel guilty devoting this time and effort to myself when my _______ needs me to be there for them.”?
2 Hill, Napoleon; Think and Grow Rich, The Ralston Society, 1937, pp 169.
3 Ibid, pp 207.