Claim Your Own Mental Fitness

Ask, and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

The scaffold described in the previous Exploring the MF FORMULA blog #25 demonstrates how much your Adult is responsible for managing, both for your inner and outer worlds. Your pre-frontal cortex, where it resides, isn’t that big. Your Child and Parent parts can easily overwhelm it with fight-or-flight chemicals. Do consider reading my book, if you haven’t. It offers a step-by-step approach to this material that makes it easier to begin using. Without that background the scaffold may seem pretty overwhelming.

You deserve wise support for your Adult. Your Wise Parent is your Adult’s only brain-related ally, and your Adult must work to build it. Your Adult is charged with keeping you functioning among other people whether it knows how to manage your Child and Parent parts or not. Your success with others, of course, depends on how well your Adult expresses your values and skills. It needs inner calm to cope with other people and their fight-or-flight reactions.

I’ve wondered why psychotherapists for decades made the workings of our minds seem so scary and mysterious that we should only probe them with the years’-long guidance of a highly trained analyst. As I consider the reality of what our Adult must do for this mental fitness project, I begin to understand a little. However, the research-based concepts in my book and this blog don’t require advanced education for understanding. Yes, when one is overwhelmed and suffering from anxiety or other emotional states a trained therapist can help greatly, supporting the Adult to find a way to take charge again. But if all of us had a chance to learn many of these skills before we developed such problems, it would certainly prevent a lot of misery.

In blog 5-s, Your Brain Is Not Your Soul, I discuss how having faith in a higher power helps you to feel safer and more confident no matter what traits your brain has. As chapter 1 in Part II of my book notes, many brains are wired to have less effective or reliable Adult functioning. But even for those with the finest brains, the tasks of the Adult are daunting over a lifetime. In some ways it may be good for our newer generations to grow up tackling ever more complicated video worlds; their activity duplicates some of what they’ll have to do in real life, with less influence from their fight-or-flight reactions. Could this strengthen their Adult brains?

When you open your mind to the idea that there might be support for your Adult beyond what shows up on a brain scan, you may engage in activities proven to help Adult function. First, just having a more open mind is a big part of “optimism.” You can review the growing evidence for how optimism can improve and extend your life. Optimism keeps your Adult looking for answers instead of withdrawing in Child-driven defeat. Another area you can study is how prayer and meditation have some similar beneficial brain-wave patterns and soothing effects on your Child, allowing your Adult to stay in charge.

Faith is by definition what you can’t study to validate. I know and value many who don’t share my faith in a benevolent God and I respect their right to this choice. Yet I question why they close their minds to the idea, often fiercely. What’s the harm of keeping your mind open in all directions? It’s the best protection for your Adult, to be aware of everything it can when it must guide you. What does it cost to be open enough to pray like this, asking: “If you are there, please let me know.” Why not seek through studying others’ beliefs? Why not knock on the doors you haven’t opened yet to see what lies behind them? Life is never boring when you keep an open mind and explore a new path whenever you can.

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