Strengthening the Psychological Infrastructure – Part 2 (Transcription)
Hi everybody this is Dr Ron Kaiser with your May 2013 podcast from The Mental Health Gym. As those of you who listened to last month’s podcast are aware, this is a rather unusual situation for us, in that we are doing a two part podcast on strengthening the psychological infrastructure essentially strengthening the core of personality.
Now if you didn’t hear last month’s podcast I would encourage you to go back and listen to it. It’s available on the resources tab of The Mental Health Gym website. It will make this month’s podcast more understandable and more meaningful. For those of you who did hear that audio. You are aware of the fact that I kind of taught us a phrase.
Phrase goes small victories matter greatly. And it’s a way of remembering the basic aspects of the psychological infrastructure by focusing on the first letter of each word in that sequence. So for the word small that refers to self-image, the S refers to self-image.
Victories start with a V and we’re talking about values. The M for matter is for min set and greatly which starts with a G refers to goals. So I like us to think in terms of psychological infrastructure as referring to self-image values, mindset and goals and once again I went over that in more detail in last month’s audio. Now this month I’m going to basically work on how we deal with strengthening of psychological infrastructure.
Assuming that we’re not tremendously thrilled with all aspects of it just as when we’re trying to strengthen the core physically there’s always stuff to work on even if we’re in pretty good shape physically. Even for those of us who are pretty happy with ourselves and are quite confident that we’re moving in the right direction from the mental health stand point there’s still stuff to be done and that’s what we’re gonna be talking about in the next few minutes. Now the first aspect of strengthening the psychological infrastructure that we have to be concerned about is history.
Unlike a lot of people from this side of the mental health continuum in other words people who tend to emphasize in their theories, the here and now and moving forward, unlike many of them I am interested in history but I’m particularly interested in those aspects of history that enabled us to grow and develop and overcome difficulties.
In general I think we will find that people who have a positive mindset have had some really good things happen to them historically so that they developed a positive self concept, they developed that use that encourage, ambition, growth, moving forward, achievement, interacting with others, so on.
All of us however have had to deal with aspects of history that were disappointing and what I’m particularly interested in you looking at is your resilience in dealing with those issues. In other words are there aspects of your history where you kind of gave up and continued to have somebody really controlling the away that you feel about yourself.
Are you an adult who is still carrying the criticisms of your mother or father? Are you acting out the prophecy of a school counselor, a teacher who said you wouldn’t amount to anything? Are you reflecting the attitudes of a previous spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend? Let’s get rid of that by calling upon that part of our personality, that part of our history where we’ve been resilient.
What made us resilient? Is it that we felt strongly about certain things and we were able to move forward in those areas even though we’re not totally pleased with where we are? Is it that we have been able to get some positive feedback from others in our environment? Is it the fact that we made a commitment that we’re just not going to give up. Something that we’re doing is making us resilient otherwise you wouldn’t be listening to this podcast altogether.
So think in terms of your response to history and your resilience in dealing with it. Another thing that will us to strengthen the mindset, excuse me to strengthen the psychological infrastructure, is our attitude toward change. Some people accept the fact that they’re really uncomfortable about change. As if that’s a fixed kind of thing that you can’t do anything to change. The only way that you can change is by changing and if you can acknowledge and accept the fact that even if there is some discomfort associated with it, change is a good thing. So that’s another aspect of changing the psychological infrastructure in a more positive and strong way by developing a positive attitude toward change.
Another area that I thing is important to look at is our attitude with respect to locus of control. Many years ago when I was in graduate school there was a lot of emphasis upon studying the locus of control, it’s still done today but not as frequently.
Locus of control essentially refers to where do we put the emphasis for control and the making of decisions and changes and overcoming difficulties? In other words a really kind of person who says that other people are responsible for our development and other people are to blame for the bad things that happen to us and other people are kind of responsible for saying whether we’re lucky or not. Or are we the type of person who says that the control for making change for doing things in a positive direction lies within us.
Look at where you consider locus of control to be and if you can develop an internal rather than external locus of control, it doesn’t happen overnight but if you work upon it and work towards developing internal locus of control its gonna help you to overcome difficulties and strengthening psychological infrastructure. Another thing that will help us build our core is optimism. The belief that good things can happen that change can occur with our efforts. We may not always be successful but we can always be optimistic about the possibility that we might make positive change. As many of you know my first eBook was called What Can Go Right and that kind of sums up my attitude in this regard.
What can go right; let’s think optimistically before we look at negative factors. And one more thing that we should be concerned about in strengthening the psychological infrastructure is to develop a problem solving cognitive style. In other words when faced with difficulties, when faces with problems, the first impulse should not be to withdraw, it should not be to become self critical, it should not be to tell us, tell ourselves that lousy things happen to me, I’m just unlucky or so on. When faced with difficulties, when faced with problems, the approach needs to be, this is something to be solved.
Let’s go ahead and solve it and if we have those various aspects of strengthening the psychological infrastructure as part of our thinking process including our reaction to history, our attitude toward change, internal locus of control, optimism and a problem solving style then it becomes relatively easier to develop behavioral strategies to strengthen our psychological infrastructure. The Mental Health Gym website contains lots of other podcasts and lots of blogs devoted to behavioral strategies for thinking our way to a greater and more successful psychological infrastructure. An again no matter where we are some of us may feel that we’re in really pretty good shape emotionally but every super highways needs maintenance, every building needs maintenance, every bridge need maintenance or ultimately it’s not going to function as well as it once did.
So whether we’re starting with lots of work to be done or small amount of work on building the psychological infrastructure it’s important to think in terms of doing so and go about doing it on a regular basis. Remember again, small victories matter greatly, it’s just a matter of using that sentence to recall terms like self-image, values, mindset and goals but is also is a guide to helping us change and build and strengthen our psychological infrastructure, our psychological core to enable us to move forward and enjoy the happiness that all of us have the potential to achieve and to continue to grow and be optimistic and enjoy life to its maximum. And to that extent the mental health gym serves as you ally in doing so.
This has been Dr Ron Kaiser with your Mental Health Gym podcast for May 2013 as always I am particularly happy to get correspondence from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always interested in your ideas and I’m particularly interested in your reaction to this two part series.
Was it helpful, was it in depth enough? Was it too superficial? Was it specific enough? What kinds of things can we build on toward the future? Thanks a lot for listening and I’ll look forward to speaking with you again next month.