Since the mental health of every citizen and resident in America either contributes to or detracts from the national state of mental health, you can help make America mentally healthy again by improving your own mental health.
To do so, you first need to know what mental health is and then how to improve it.
Most of us have satisfactory mental health, even though it can never be perfect. However, some thoughts, feelings and behaviors clearly indicate compromised mental health. Start with behaviors stemming from greed, apathy or pride. Then add prejudice, discrimination, xenophobia, prejudice, misogyny, bigotry, unwarranted judgments, intolerance, mistaken assumptions… and many others. All these reflect compromised mental health wherever found.
What is mental health anyway?
No one has perfect mental health. Its quality is reflected in thoughts, feelings and behavior and these are determined by what you subconsciously believe. So, to understand what mental health is, you need to know about two components in the brain that are outside conscious awareness…until you pay attention to them.
The first significant component of mental health is a set of intrinsic behavioral goals that are common to everyone, known collectively as “inbornintentions.” There are four, (human dignity, freedom of choice, sense of accomplishment and love) but we’ll consider here only the most significant contributor to mental health: human dignity.
Human dignity is a quality possessed by every human being. It is innate and permanent. It does not vary between individuals. It is not lost by problematic behaviors nor can it be increased by selfless behaviors.
The term describes the total of positive characteristics that define us as human beings, including consciousness, ability to think/reason, language, dexterity, introspection, conscience, writing, mathematics, aesthetics, conceptualization of time and space and humor, among others.
These qualities, possessed by all, justify the claim that every human being possesses human dignity.
The other significant subconscious component of mental health is the set of basic beliefs acquired over a lifetime.
Every significant experience leaves three traces in the subconscious brain: a memory, an associated emotion and a meaning derived from the event. This meaning is a basic belief. Memories and emotion may fade over time, but basic beliefs are retained throughout life unless replaced by new experiences.
The quality of your mental health is determined by the relationship between your intrinsic inbornintentions and your acquired basic beliefs. The greater the consistency or agreement between the two, the better your mental health.
The key to healthy mental health
The key to healthy mental health is to hold basic beliefs that are consistent with the inbornintention of human dignity.
Those holding a positive self-concept support self and those within their sphere of influence. Those with a negative self-concept act in ways detrimental to themselves and others.
Before we explore exactly how to change your beliefs about yourself, bear in mind that since you have human dignity, so must every other human being. If you respect your own human dignity, you will also respect it in others.
Whatever you currently believe about yourself, it’s just that: a belief, and it can be changed. Remember that human dignity is still a part of you regardless of whether you realize it. Human dignity is permanent and immutable as long as you draw breath.
How to improve your mental health
Believing in your own human dignity is always possible. Here’s how in three steps:
1) Introspection. The goal here is to bring a subconscious basic belief up to consciousness where you can deal with it.
To do this, look inside yourself (introspection) to identify what you currently believe about yourself. Express this concept both verbally and in writing. Why you currently hold this belief or how you came to believe it is not important. Don’t judge it, just accept for the moment that it is what you believe.
For example, you might consider yourself as unworthy, undeserving, unsuitable, good-for-nothing, valueless, degraded, ignoble, no-account and/or without merit.
2) Reformulate. In this step, consciously form a concept that is opposite the basic belief that you just identified and is consistent with human dignity.
Any negative self-concept can be replaced by a simple affirmation such as, “I am a worthwhile human being with human dignity.” That’s all you need to define yourself.
3) Practice. The affirmation you just constructed is useless by itself. It is in your conscious mind, but the subconscious basic belief has probably not changed. It is possible to have had an epiphany and change instantly, but this is unreliable as a process for improvement.
When you have done this consistently for a relatively short period of time, adaptive behaviors will become automatic and you will no longer have to make conscious choices.
What’s in it for you and for America?
Everyone has the right to believe as they do; that’s an exercise in freedom of choice (an inbornintention). Recognizing the availability of choices and opportunities is far more likely when you are in tune with your own human dignity.
Our sense of accomplishment (an inbornintention) calls for behaviors consistent with beliefs, otherwise nothing would get done. When you believe in human dignity, your accomplishments will benefit both you and those affected by your efforts.
Holding basic beliefs that are consistent with the inbornintention of love (not the emotion but the mindset of seeing the outside world in a positive, optimistic and hospitable light) is far more likely if your basic beliefs regarding human dignity are already in place.
While it is not possible to hold basic beliefs that are perfectly consistent with freedom of choice, sense of accomplishment or love, it is possible to unreservedly believe in your own human dignity. Doing so makes you self-confident and comfortable with yourself.
Every man, woman and child in the country can contribute to making America mentally healthy again by considering the extent to which they understand, accept, believe in and act in ways that are consistent with human dignity in self and others.
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