Mind over matter

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How increased psychological understanding can help us lead healthier, happier lives

Mental Health. Indian Link

Walking on hot coals is not my idea of fun. But this, together with levitation and the placebo effect, are all examples of mind over matter. Clearly, muscles are no match for the little grey cells in the brain. The mind can empower a person to amazing acts of good, yet we see society is replete with examples of destructive behaviour.

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) recently concluded its Psychology Week, which aim to increase public awareness of how psychology can help people and communities to lead healthier, happier and more meaningful lives.

APS members across Australia conducted a variety of events to promote this objective.

As a passionate believer in the ability of individuals to change their behaviour, Vidya Ravi Kumar, an APS member, decided to run a workshop designed ‘to explore many different tools and techniques to shift our perception in becoming creative by conscious design for effective outcomes’. The aim of the workshop was ‘to help participants discover how being proactive – how choosing our behaviour in certain situations – actually expands our ability to positively change our mindset’.

It’s always a tricky business for a presenter to try to win over an audience. Failure results in the message not getting through as restlessness spreads and faces take on that blank look. But Vidya’s engaging manner, ready smile and inclusive methods, set the right tone from the very start.

“Trying to be honest in what I am talking about is the best way to give credibility to what I have to offer,” she admitted.

Vidya began by reminding us that “self-awareness is an ability unique to humans that enables us to stand out and evaluate our own paradigm. It affects not only our attitude and behaviour, but also how we see other people”. The fundamental question we must ask in times of doubt is “Why are we still struggling and not living our dreams?”

To answer that we need to know what is stopping us.

As Vidya explained, if one is constantly told ‘You are not good enough, you are not capable, you shouldn’t do it, this is not possible’ then you start to accept these limitations and put them on yourself. Or you may excuse yourself by claiming ‘I am the product of my genes’. These limiting factors, instilled over a long period, become habitual and can make you the person you are as they drill into your subconscious.

The key is to remember the subconscious mind always trumps the conscious mind. It’s no wonder that New Year’s resolutions, often made on the spur of the moment, fail. If we can, little by little, repeatedly, and over a period of time, try to change our ways then we can alter our subconscious and improve ourselves.

All is not lost. There are ways to alter your mindset by being proactive.

“Proactive people own responsibility for their actions and do not blame circumstances for their behaviour,” Vidya said.

Mental Health. Indian Link

“Another way to become more aware, regarding our own degree of proactivity, is to look at where we focus our time and energy. There are many things that we might be concerned about but just a few that we can influence. We need to concentrate on this ‘Circle of Influence’ and see it enlarge and magnify.”

The whole session, being a multimedia presentation, was comfortable to follow. With some audience participation, including a guided meditation session, we were all left with a positive message for a brighter, happier future.

Meanwhile, Vidya’s future includes sharing her passion as she intends to organise local group and individual workshops and counselling sessions.