Some people deem to float like bits of flotsam adrift on the sea of life, directed by the tide, while others seem to be fully conscious and in control of their lives, aware of what they are doing and why they are doing it. In terms of mental health, being in control is an extremely important factor. Again and again, studies show that those who have little or no control suffer - and that is as true for rats as well as people! Research has shown, for example, that patients who are allowed to control the amount of morphine given for pain relief not only achieve better pain control they use less of the drug.
Dr Dean Omish is rather famous in medical history because he has shown that coronary heart disease can be reversed by using a combination of medication, group therapy, walking, stress-reduction exercises and a vegetarian diet. He says: If you believe you have some control over your life, and that you have the ability to make choices instead of being the passive recipient of medical care, or the victim of bad luck or bad genes, then you are more likely to make changes that are going to do you good in terms both of your behaviour and the direct effects of your mind on your body.
But one cannot take control unless one is conscious - which the Oxford dictionary defines as 'to be aware of what one is doing or intending to do'. In a sense, it is quite easy not to be conscious. Schools and colleges have been criticized for not encouraging creative or original thought - the students are instead forced to learn and repeat whatever version of 'wisdom' is prescribed, and not encouraged to ask the question why?
As an adult, it is relatively easy to listen to the news but blank it out, to go to work and passively take orders, and come home and let the partner or the children take control. Indeed, the world is full of people who go through life letting the forces of circumstance mould their existence. There's many a passive soul who has woken up at the age of sixty and asked themselves 'what was it all about?', or bemoaned the fact that they spent so much time pleasing everyone else they never got to please themselves.
However, if one goes through life not fully conscious, a mish-mash of other people's opinions and priorities, what is our state of consciousness, which is described as 'the totality of the impressions, thoughts, and feelings, which makes up a person's conscious being'? And whose consciousness is it - yours or your teacher's, parent's, lover's or your daily newspaper's? Part of mental health involves being in control - not passive, not a piece of flotsam adrift on the sea of life.
Sit down for five minutes, write on top of the piece of paper 'Me', and underneath make a list of your dreams, priorities, dissatisfactions, satisfactions and so on, and try to establish where everyone else wants you to go). Take stock, be aware, and move forward in the direction you want to go (not where the tide takes you).
Reference: The Fragrant Mind: Valerie A. Worwood
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