Physical and mental health, how to have them

Blog Post

How to be Happy, Healthy, Successful and Wealthy!

Reflections upon my approach to self-monitoring and self-management

By Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Tuesday 12th January 2021

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Introduction

People and goalsIt has been said that if you do not have goals for yourself and your life, you will get used by people who have goals in which they can use you to their own ends.

An illustration of this could be that if you do not have goals for your own physical and mental health, you will get used by individuals and institutions which have goals to “process you” in their surgical theatres, or with their side-affecting drugs.

My A1 goal in life is this: “To be happy, healthy, successful and wealthy”.

The point about this goal is that many readers will insist that they also have their goals – which may actually be nothing more than wishes.  To quote Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”.

So what is my plan? Or, more generally, how do I set out to plan to achieve that goal, and my other goals (such as my A2, which is “To have a really powerful relationship with my wife”.)

In this blog I can only mention one of several actions that I take to function intelligently towards my goal of being healthy!  This is it:

Writing ‘Morning Pages’ as a form of self-management

Julia-Cameron - CopyAt least three or four mornings per week – (it should be six or seven, but I am busy, and also distracted at times!) – I sit down and try to follow Julia Cameron’s advice to write three A4 pages of “stream of consciousness”. That means, whatever pops up in my mind gets written on the page, including “I don’t know what to write”; “I have slight pain in my leg”; or whatever comes up.

For example, this morning I wrote these lines, at the start of my pages:

“I had a dreadful sinus headache during the night, which disrupted my sleep.  And my Candida Albicans symptoms[1] were painfully overgrown and intensely itchy”.

“Theoretical cause of both conditions: Milk/Dairy.  I have been having cottage cheese for a few days, to try to gain weight; and I had a glass of full fat milk last night before bed.

“I am also eating other foods (that I would not normally have, or only in moderation) to try to gain weight. (I am determined to combat any tendency towards sarcopenia, which would certainly thwart my desire to be healthy!) These unusual foods (for me to be consuming) include: dried fruits (high GI), pineapple chunks (ditto), prunes, (ditto), gluten-free cereal (mostly buckwheat – not really a cereal) with dried fruit (ditto), plus gluten-free bread (as opposed to my more usual rice cakes).

“I will eliminate all dairy products at once. Stick to rice milk.

“I will continue to monitor the effects of the other (high-GI) ‘dietary indiscretions” on my Candida symptoms”.

…end of extract…

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Reflections upon my Morning Pages extract, above

1. What can we learn from my pages above?

(a) Firstly:

Diagnose your medical symptomsJim had a dreadful headache during the night which disrupted his sleep – three times.  Why did he not take a painkiller?

Painkillers are a very bad idea.  Whoever came up with the idea of painkillers is probably the same person who came up with the advice to “snip the wires on your burglar alarm, when it rings at an awkward time!”  That will switch off the “problem”! 

Have you spotted the obvious mistake here?  The headache is intended to tell you something very important.  Something is wrong in your body, and you need to fix the problem, not the symptom of the problem!

If you switch off the alarm, the disease burglars can run amok in your bodily home!

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Secondly:

Writing as self-managementAlthough Jim treated the Candida symptoms topically, he also has a plan to monitor the link between those symptoms and his high GI deviations from his usual diet.  If the Candida problem persists, he will reduce those high GI foods, and find some other way to gain weight!

(If you do not understand the link between food and mood, you need to read our book in Footnote 1 below).

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Thirdly:

Front cover, sleep book, Feb 2019Sleep disruption is a significant disturbance to normal mood states. See Renata’s book, Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap the Rewards.*** 

People who experience significant sleep disturbance often feel irritable and depressed.  But Jim did not feel irritable or depressed, because he accepted ownership of the problem; and responsibility for solving the problem, using his years of research on how to be healthy! (In an unhealthy world which does not, to any significant degree, address the questions: How should each of us strive to be healthy?  What would a healthy lifestyle look like?)[2]

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2. What is my advice in this blog?

Writing Theapy book coverMy advice to the readers of this blog is this:

If you want to have a long, happy, healthy and productive life, then you have to take back responsibility for managing your own physical and mental health. 

And one way to begin to do that is to begin to write your Morning Pages.

Your physical and mental health are too important, and too complex, to be delegated to somebody who cannot ever come to care as much about you as you should care about yourself!

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3. What is the general approach to self-management that I teach to my clients?

My general approach to self-management is described in detail in my book about How to Write a New Life for Yourself.***

As follows:

1. Monitor your moods and emotions, as they are your basic (functional or dysfunctional) guides to action in the world. (See Chapter 8 for guidance on this; plus Strategy No.17A [both in ‘How to Write…’[3]). In E-CENT theory, we argue that human beings are primarily emotional beings, who learn to ‘think’, after a fashion, in the course of their socialization, at home and in school.

But we are not ‘thinking beings’, because thinking and feeling and perception cannot be separated from each other. When we try to think, we are actually perceiving-feeling-thinking, all in one grasp of the mind. (For shorthand, we call this process ‘perfinking’: perceiving-feeling-thinking). So, because you are a perfinking being, who wants to perfink better, you need to learn how to manage your emotions[4], so they will not undermine the quality of your perfinking.  (If your response is: “To hell with this.  I’m just going to keep on thinking”; then you will tend to perfink very dysfunctionally, inefficiently and with disappointing results in the real world!)

2. Monitor your inner dialogue. In E-CENT counselling and coaching, we say that each person is split between two potentials, which we call the Good Wolf and the Bad Wolf. These can also be thought of as the Inner Critic (or Bad Wolf; which is negative and judgemental, and self-frustrating and self-downing); and the Internal Mentor (or Good Wolf; which is positive and praising and supportive, and promotion of self-care). (See Strategies Nos. 17B and 17C below, for help with the monitoring of your inner dialogues). (Each of the two Wolf states is further subdivided into Parent, Adult and Child sub-states – See Stewart and Joines, 1987 – but, for simplicity, we will not be breaking the Wolf states down in this book!)32. Monitor your approach to diet/nutrition, physical exercise, and sleep. (See Byrne, 2018; plus elements of Chapter 8, ‘How to Write…’[5]).

3. Monitor your goals, and your goal-directed actions, and the feedback you get from the world. (See section 7.2 of my “How to Write…” book).

4. Monitor the problems that arise in your life, at home and in work, and engage in problem-solving behaviours. (See section 7.6 of my “How to Write…” book).

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4. Summing up and signing off…

Dr-Jim-photo-cover002In this blog post, I have tried to draw attention to the importance of conscious self-management, if you want to be happy, healthy, successful and wealthy.  (Having lots of money is not wealth, if you do not have your physical and mental health, and emotional wellbeing!)

Do you want to optimize the possibilities of your life? 

Are you willing to take responsibility for your goals and actions in the world?

Or are you willing to be ‘processed’ by others?

Wakey-wakey!

Best wishes,

Jim

Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

The ABC Bookstore Online

The E-CENT Institute

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Email: Dr Jim’s Email Address***

Telephone: 01422 843 629 (from inside the UK)

Or: 44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)

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[1] Jim has suffered with Candida Albicans overgrowth (a common form of gut dysbiosis [SIBO]) – as many of his depressed clients similarly suffered! – and he has been managing this condition himself throughout that time, using alternative health strategies.  See How to Control Your Anger, Anxiety and Depression, Using Nutrition and Physical Activity.*** This book contains a detailed description of his Candida problem, and how he has managed it.

[2] We have produced a book on how to establish a Healthy Lifestyle.  This is the title: Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person.***

[3] How to Write a New Life for Yourself.***

[4] See Chapter 7 of Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person, above.

[5] How to Write a New Life for Yourself.***

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