The Law of Exercise states that more we practice or engage in a habit, the stronger it becomes. This may apply to our repeated “attention” to our “psychological problems and mood,” which may unwittingly feed into strengthening these the problem associated behavioral habits and mood, and the underlying “neural networks in our brain” that support these behaviors and the moods, following the dynamics of brain-behavior interaction that we know. In the process of trying to “understand” or find “cure” and trying to “eliminate” these bothersome behaviors and mood from our life, we may neglect the use of our inherent “adaptive” thinking and capacity for coping, which otherwise may be used to displace such “troubling and persistent” negative mood and behavior.
Our approach to dealing with psychological problems, which are considered to be a part of “deficit” behavior syndrome, accompanied with personal distress feelings, and at times evoking social distress (negative reactions of “significant others” in one’s life,) typically may involve our targeted attention to the problem, understanding the dynamics of it , thinking about what may have caused it, and revisiting the experience and associated memories. Through this self-reflection, we may attempt to generate ideas how best to “eliminate” or manage such “deficit” behavior syndrome using our own knowledge base, and the information gathered from various media sources and social and family contacts.
When experiencing a lack of progress, we may seek professional help from medical service community, family physicians or psychiatrists, and psychological counseling either on our own initiative or at the request of “significant others” in our life (e.g., family member, friend, or any other caring member in our community network) The psychiatric community -psychotherapist-counselors and medication practitioners (psychiatrists)- also target their assessment and intervention at our “deficit syndromes” which are supposed to be causing our “personal distress.” For many of us, we have active ongoing productive day life, such as work, family, social life, recreational activities or hobbies, and active involvement in religious practice or community activities, which help us to divert our mind, from being preoccupied with our problem behaviors. Given that level of engagement in productive activities and family-social support, we are also able to utilize the benefit of medication treatment (from anxiety or mood stabilization medication) or from counseling and psychotherapy. The positive medication effect, when experienced, allows us to stabilize our mood, and think adaptively and help us to stimulate our redirection capacity to engage in positive behavior activities in our life and ignore or suppress our negative behavior traits. Similarly psychotherapy and counseling helps us to internalize experiences from therapy sessions to change our thinking and behavior outside the therapy to effect productive changes in our life, and consequently reduce associated personal distress. As a result, we may be able to move on with our daily productive life as we are able to rediscover our ability to redirect away from preoccupation with “deficit” behavior syndrome, or learn to think differently in dealing with emergence of negative behavior habits that causes distress in us. In the process, we are able to restore some sort of balance to our personal life.
But for many of us, who may continue to exhibit “negative behavior syndromes and mood,” either periodically or on a continuing basis in spite of our repeated personal attempts to eliminate or reduce the “negative behaviors associated feelings with “internal reflections,” or with intervention of psychiatric support services, including medication and or psychological counseling, this kind of repeated attention to one’s personal problems may unwittingly strengthen the negative behavior traits or feelings that we want to eliminate or reduce. This is consistent with the Law of Exercise, as repeated attention to the problem, and repeatedly revisiting the “negative behavior issues” and their dynamics, or thinking about or reflecting on them, or having our “well meaning” care givers (e.g., family or mental health clinicians) focusing on them in our interactions, all of which may have unintended “iatrogenic” effects, reinforcing the maladaptive behavior habits and associated feelings. This may also promote one’s continued identification with the “illness persona,” that we may adopt for us, complicating any potential benefit from medication or psychotherapy treatment. In the process of paying attention to “negative behavioral symptoms” we may also lose touch with awareness of our inherent capabilities and in our ability to utilize our “dormant intact” thinking and reasoning to help us in coping and managing our “negative behavior syndromes,” and dealing adaptively with our present life circumstances.
We may have heard many times in our life the value of positive thinking, and belief in one’s inner capacity for growth and change, but we may not be consciously aware how engagement in “positive” behaviors and feelings displace “negative” behaviors and feelings automatically, as only one of its kind can be experienced at a time, lessening the frequency of one over the other. This will require us to actively re-direct ourselves to our inner strengths and positive traits and feelings and able to see a situation so to speak as “ glass half full as opposed to glass half empty.” This level of thinking may also require us to evaluate our expectation of change in a realistic framework, and to focus on the present moment of our living existence, focusing on “What” one is doing now, and not on “Why” what one is doing, as “Why” may lead to many innumerable speculative causes and interpretations, and in the process, we may find ourselves repeatedly “visiting” our negative thoughts and feelings, reinforcing their influence and presence In our life, as the Law of Exercise dictates, fulfilling the dictum, “The more you think of your problem, the worse it becomes.” As human beings, we are all processing information within and from outside our social and physical environment and our adaptive behaviors to specific situations are guided by this process. Finding a balance between relying on our inner strengths and abilities, and seeking external professional services and supportive social contacts, when appropriate, is challenge to all of us.
Please note, this is one of the series of blog postings by Mohiuddin Ahmed, under the blog tittle of reflectionsandthoughts.wordpress.com, created in 2014. Any unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links can be used provided full and clear credit is given to Mohiuddin Ahmed and reflectionsandthouights.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.