Most people don’t know it, but everyone owns a psychological immune system. Just like your physical immune system is designed to bring you back to health when ill, your psychological immune system will actually do the same at times of mental confusion or even depression. The trick, however, is to not interfere.
That said, here are my five keys to keeping your innate ability to self-correct activated to full capacity:
- Know where your feelings come from.
The most perilous misconception known to mankind is that our feelings come from circumstance (the actions of others, our past experiences, the future), when, in truth, they come from inside of us—from the ebb and flow of our own thinking. Feeling low and then looking outside and blaming what you find is a sure-fire way to obstruct your psychological immune system. Don’t look outside when you’re down and, without effort, your feelings will improve.
- Avoid coping strategies.
If you’re at the low point on a roller coaster and decide to pull the emergency brake and fix the car, you’re stalling a process that’s designed to go up on its own. Your mind doesn’t need your help. Coping strategies (self-help techniques, mental tools, gambling, sex, meditative practices, drugs) only interfere with your psychological immune system. Keep using them and you’ll feel better less and less.
- Grasp that the content of your thinking is irrelevant.
Analyzing thought is never in your best interest. Regardless of content, you’ll feel bad when you overthink; you’ll feel good when your head is relatively clear. Sure, it’s natural for your thinking to get the better of you at times. What’s not natural is to dig into what you’re thinking about (that’s learned). To self-correct with ease, remember: It’s that you think—not what you think.
- Stop adding thought.
How do you feel when you’re at your best? Light? Unencumbered? Free? What you’re feeling is an absence of personal thought. So, when you’re not at your best, using the intellect (adding thought) to find answers won’t return you to this wonderful state of mind. Take your foot off the gas pedal when your tires are stuck in mud—the mud will dry and you’ll pull out straightaway.
- Stay in the game.
What happens when you sit on the sidelines and think yourself into a troublesome experience? Right, it grows. Deliberately pausing to remedy a bad feeling only holds the bad feeling in place. It’s okay to instinctively take breathers, but the key to resilience is to get on with life—even when you feel like quitting—and allow your psychological immune system to wipe the slate clean. Everyone is blessed with an amazing capacity to get over, and make sense of, things. Stay in the game and you’ll keep this capacity running smoothly.
There’s the list. Question, comments, criticism? Refer to your psychological immune system and call me in the morning.