Latest wellbeing article

How mental health affects us, and where therapy comes in. June 2, 2018
Wired for survival

Mental health issues are wide ranging. Much of what we experience is down to the fact we are wired for survival.

At many times throughout our lives we are very vulnerable, and it can feel like our survival is threatened. In these moments we form fears that can affect us deeply throughout our lives. We get scared by the most unlikely of things, usually when there is no obvious source of threat.

This manifests as anxiety, which is fear that happens regularly. Our behaviour becomes distorted, and we end up stressed and confused as to why we are reacting out of line with reality.

This is what can be referred to as faulty wiring. We are good at surviving, but not necessarily at doing so in a non-fearful manner. Early humans lived in a pretty anxious state, but then much of the world back then was pretty dangerous!

Where our problems are

The manifestation of these issues, and their interaction with our modern and complex world makes for a host of confusing and painful problems. One reason it is so hard to understand what is at the root cause of these problems is that our wiring and defence mechanisms are stored in the subconscious.

Mind and body defences hinder solving our problems

This makes it hard to access and understand why we are the way we are. Therapy, self reflection, meditation, being out in nature etc can all help us access and shift the problematic wiring. The brain has a sort of self healing instinct, but it can’t engage this whilst it feels there is danger.

This is the frustrating paradox of sorting out our problems. The minute you start to think about what is upsetting you, it triggers the brain’s defences, one of which is to shut down the rational part of the brain and long term memory access.

Unfortunately it is the combination of these two which are required to heal old memories and create new meanings and understandings and a new way of being that is free of unhelpful reactions.

Some hope…

Therapy is a tool which can help through the medium of the relationship with the therapist, a safe and judgement free environment, and various techniques to keep the danger centres of the brain calm enough to engage rational thought and sort the problems out.