Strengthening the Psychological Infrastructure – Part 1 (Transcription)
Hi everybody this is Dr Ron Kaiser with your April 2013 podcast from The Mental Health Gym. This podcast is being recorded a little later than I expected. I usually try to get it done before the first half of the month is over.
Some months I’m a little more successful at it than others. Anyway I hope that this time finds you all well and growing and positive and looking forward to achieving more and more goals. I think that this podcast will be particularly helpful in helping you to do so, it’s actually the first of two podcasts around this subject and it is called part one of the topic which is “building you psychological infrastructure”.
It’s a term that not too many people use. I use it and I kind of compare it to the psychological infrastructure is comparable to the core with respect to physical health. Some of you may know that the core refers to those muscles that support and stabilize the spine. The abdominal muscles play a prominent part, the obliques and others are very important and when somebody goes to gym and tries to work on strengthening the core, it’s not always fun but the rewards are quite great and I believe that the same thing holds true for the psychological infrastructure.
I use the term psychological infrastructure because it has some of the same characteristics as the physical infrastructure that occurs in society. Roads, bridges, certain kinds of buildings and so on, the infrastructure is built to last and to do a particular function but it has to be kept up. And as time changes and new materials occur, you want to strengthen the highway by including the new materials or you want to make sure that the bridges are solid enough to support increased traffic and so on. It’s the same kind of thing as we grow and develop as human beings. The more we do so the more we have to build upon our base, our infrastructure or our psychological core in order to permit us to grow and develop and achieve increasingly difficult and rewarding goals.
Now I’d like to introduce you to this subject by having you commit a small sentence to memory. That small sentence is, it’s only four words and it goes “small victories matter greatly”. Once again that’s small victories matter greatly. It’ll be a way of staying in touch with and recalling the critical elements of the psychological infrastructure. And those critical elements start with the first letter of those words. So the first critical element starts with S and that is self-image.
Self-image is the picture that one has of oneself, ones sense of self worth the general overall picture that you have that is either positive or negative or somewhere in between. It’s kind of an overall global picture, the way that you see yourself and has a great part in the way that you present yourself to others. So the first thing that we have to be concerned about in building and strengthening the psychological infrastructure is self-image.
The second, the word that begins with V is values. Values are kind of beliefs and ideals that have also an ethic quality to them from our stand point in other words they are things that we regard as true guidelines to the way that we’re going to behave. For some of us, some of those values may be things like honesty or humility, kindness, it may be something else, it may be, revenge may be one of your values. One of your values may be physical health.
It’s something that almost all decisions are filtered through so that there’s probably as many values as there are words almost in a language, authenticity, ambition could be a value, friendship could be a value, and you know again some of these things may be more positive than other to the greater society but stop and think, what are the things that you consider to be your unchangeable kind of ethical standards and ideas guide the way that you’re going to behave. So that’s the second word is vale. The third word is mindset. Not too long ago I conducted a personal training on building a positive mindset. Carol Dweck who is a leading psychologist currently at Stanford University has done the major work on mindset and she has identified really two types of mindset.
The fixed mindset, the type of people who tend to think that behaviors and things of this nature are pretty much fixed and we can’t make any changes and the people who have a growth mindset, people who are constantly working toward changing and building their lives in a more positive direction. But that’s not the only way to divide mindsets.
I have pointed it out that I’ve taught about positive and negative mindsets, politically you can have liberal and conservative mindsets and so on. But mindset is kind of an established set of values or attitudes that kind of guides the way that you approach things in general. And then we come to the fourth word which is goals.
Obviously that’s pretty important from my stand point as my commitment to goal achieving psychotherapy is pretty well known, but goals as you may well be aware are your objectives. Where you are aiming to be after a certain period of time whether it be three months, a year from now, ten years from now or whatever it may be, they’re objectives that you develop and they guide your endeavors for the future.
So I believe that the psychological infrastructure, the core of personality involves four basic elements. Self-image, values, mindset and goals, and the best way to remember it at least for me, the easiest way is through the sentence, small victories matter greatly.
Now I would hope what you do in the next few weeks will be to kind of observe yourself and see, where do you fit in, where is your psychological infrastructure, how strong is it? Do you have a strong self-image? Do you have a set of values that you are confident in and comfortable with? Do you have a mindset that aims in the direction of growth, positive thinking, caring and so on, and do you have goals that enable you to move forward and build upon things in the future, so that your psychological infrastructure does not remain stuck at this point but is prepared to take on the challenges as we move forward. In doing so I would like you to continue to think of the sentence, small victories matter greatly.
It’s not only a way of remembering the basic aspects of the psychological infrastructure but it’s also an approach to making the changes and strengthening the infrastructure. If you think in terms of the fact that small victories matter greatly, you’ll be able to see that small victories do in fact matter greatly. When we make changes, they don’t have to be dramatic, they may be seemingly rather small at the time but they have an additive affect and they will help in strengthening psychological infrastructure.
Next month I’m going to be dealing with that to a greater extent by offering some ideas as to how things get weak in the first place and how you can overcome some of the issues that may have contributed to not having as strong an infrastructure as we might like.
Just like with regular infrastructure, sometimes roads or bridges and so on are built with relatively cheap materials because either that was the best that was available at the time or communities couldn’t afford better, but a lot of times, that kind of cheap work has to be overcome. And so a lot of times while it may be preferable to build a strong infrastructure in the beginning, if we can’t then we just add to it, replace it, repair it, move forward and strengthen the psychological infrastructure just as we can go to the gym and strengthen our core, whether it’s been something that we’re just starting to work on or whether it’s been developing in a positive direction for a long time.
So we will pick up from this point next month. In the mean time I hope you will be thinking about some of the aspects of your psychological infrastructure, some of the things that you may be proudest of and some of the things that could use some strengthening and hopefully you’ll get some ideas on how to do so next month. In the mean time I will be glad to hear from you as always you can always feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I hope you’re enjoying the new season and life in general. I’ll talk to you next month.