Reality Check: 7 Ways to Self-Regulate

Has anyone ever thought lately about how humans have only been on the Earth for a small fraction of its existence? Not to mention its creation compared to the initial coming together of the Milky Way Galaxy? And the Big Bang? Okay — you get the picture. Our brains and minds are very, very new natural phenomena.

If you think in this way, “errors” in mental functioning are, well, a product of nature. It is inherent in our consciousness and our perception that we experience the world not as it is, but only as it relates to us. This is just one effect of a mental filter that is responsible for things like (to name a few):

  • Self-consciousness
  • Acting based on emotional urges
  • Misunderstandings
    • Seeing ourselves as unrelated to our fellow human beings
    • Faulty concepts and categorizations
    • Our tendency to generalize see things as black-and-white or reject new and correct information based on our intellectual stubbornness
    • Donald Trump running for president (and Bernie losing his momentum)
    • Racism, high standards, violence, greed, addiction, drugs, disorders, depression, suicide…

Again — you get the picture.

When it comes down to it, it seems to be a necessary consequence of living in this type of world that we are each lacking inner peace. And let’s face it: this is something that doesn’t go away unless it is directly attended to. When we ignore our problems, we can’t help but project them onto everyone and everything in our lives, which in turn influences us. (We trashed the planet and now it is literally heating with frustration. Ever heard of karma?)

Since each individual’s mind (and thus, their “mental filter”) is determined by their experiences in their own bodies and environments, the place to begin is the self. I believe that if each person commits themselves to change, they can make it happen. But everybody needs certain things to attain a stable and healthy lifestyle, and they are listed below as aspects. 

So, behold my Recipe for Psychological Wellness

Listed below are necessary aspects of a healthy mental life and their emphases (*to be discussed in therapy, ideally):

1. Spiritual/Existential Aspect

  • Contemplating your place in the world
  • Observing a passion and following it
  • Practicing a religion/spirituality
  • Gratitude for the things in life that matter to you
  • Understanding of context
  • Exposure to new experiences
  • Connection with nature

2. Individuality/Emotional Expression Aspect

  • Things like painting, music, karate, photography, you name it.
  • “Soft-catharsis”
  • Emotional Self- Regulation
  • *(to be discovered in therapy or by individual themselves)

3. Your Passion Aspect

  • Your unique talents, skills and strengths
  • Interests, hobbies, curiosities
  • Goals (career, school or life in general)
  • *(to be discovered in therapy or by individual themselves)

4. Presence Aspect

  • Finding space between awareness and objects of awareness (emotions and thoughts are like waves in an ocean)
  • Mindfulness
  • Observing the ways your mind tries to embellish upon information gained
  • Eating healthy and getting enough exersize

5. Love/Trust Aspect

  • Self comes first
  • Family, friends and close relationships
  • Between therapist and patient

6. Social Aspect

  • Community, feeling of belonging
  • Clubs, church, etc.
  • Work or school

7. Mental Health & Catharsis Aspect

  • Dealing with trauma, repressed emotions/thoughts
  • Childhood/past experiences
  • Psychoanalysis
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