There are three fundamental concepts that, when understood and incorporated into your thoughts and behaviors, will assist you in moving towards optimum mental health. They are inbornintentions, basic beliefs and anxiety. Each is described briefly below and more completely in subsequent posts, but first I want you to have a concept of what mental health actually is.
Mental Health Defined
The mentally healthy individual is one whose basic beliefs are consistent with inbornintentions and who has learned to manage anxiety.
There are degrees of mental health ranging from excellent to poor, and you can always improve no matter where you are on the continuum. Being at the low end does not mean that you are mentally ill; it simply means that there is more room for improvement. Mental illness is beyond the scope of this blog.
Since perfect consistency between basic beliefs and three of the four inbornintentions is impossible, nor can anyone escape anxiety entirely, it would be best to think in terms of optimum mental health rather than seeking perfection. You can always identify problematic basic beliefs and change them and you can learn to reduce unavoidable and prevent unnecessary anxiety. Doing so leads to optimum mental health.
This new term describes the fundamental intention of every human to move towards four conditions that are ideal for functioning in daily life. They may be considered as intrinsic behavioral goals. Inbornintentions exist in every human being from birth, so they are inborn. There is no need to learn them anymore than there is a need to learn how to breathe.
In addition to being inborn, they are also immutable. They remain with us as long as we live although we do not always move in their direction for reasons to be explained shortly.
An objective examination of human behavior reveals that humans have four major goals in life: we need to be respected, we want to make choices without undue restriction, we must accomplish that which is necessary or desirable and we seek to establish positive relationships with others.
These, then, are the four inbornintentions: human dignity, freedom of choice, sense of accomplishment and love. Our natural tendency is to move towards them, and we would do so if it were not for the negative influence of some experiences that have resulted in problematic basic beliefs. The closer we come to acting, thinking and believing in the direction of inbornintentions, the better our mental health.
We learn through experience. In addition to retaining facts and figures, we attach meaning to experiences and these meanings are retained in the subconscious mind as basic beliefs. It is important to understand that our thoughts, feelings and behaviors stem from our subconscious basic beliefs. Unless we consciously choose a behavior in the direction of an inbornintention, we will automatically act in accordance with our basic beliefs, whether they are consistent with an inbornintention or not.
Certainly, a perfect relationship with the four inbornintentions would be ideal, but this is not possible in the real world. Of the thousands of basic beliefs acquired over the years, some are bound to be contrary to inbornintentions, thus contributing to less than ideal mental health.
Even though basic beliefs determine our thinking, feelings and behavior, inbornintentions are still present and it is always possible to change a basic belief so that they are more in harmony with inbornintentions. Because some basic beliefs are compatible with and others contrary to inbornintentions, they are the pathways that lead either toward or away from inbornintentions and optimum mental health.
I will have a great deal to say about anxiety in subsequent posts because of the tremendously powerful role it plays in every aspect of our lives. However, only one facet needs mentioning here: anxiety compromises our ability to think, reason or act as we would ordinarily. When anxious, thoughts are centered on the issue at hand to the exclusion of all else, and behaviors are automatic rather than thoughtful and deliberate.
Since it is necessary to think clearly in order to change problematic basic beliefs, anxiety can be detrimental to our mental health. Look at anxiety as a pothole to be avoided or circumvented on the pathways leading to inbornintentions.
A question for your consideration and comment
On a scale of 1-10, from poor (1) to excellent (10), where do you see yourself on the continuum of mental health; why?
Before delving into the business of improving mental health, it will be helpful to understand a couple aspects of the brain and its functioning that I will refer to throughout this website.
Next Step: Go to Understand Inbornintentions for Optimum Mental Health