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  • Writer's pictureAngela Belcher

Mental Wellness

The Battle Within: Understanding the War Between Our Conscious Thoughts and Ego





There's a constant war going on in our minds between our conscious thoughts and our egos (subconscious). The ego seeks pleasure, hates pain, and doesn’t want to work. How many times have we stared at a pile of laundry, only to decide to do something else instead? This is one example of the many exchanges between our conscious and subconscious minds. The ego never wants to work at something. If it does, it wants to get it over with quickly so it can go have some fun elsewhere. This is where our conscious minds come in and force the ego back so we can get our stuff done.


To complicate matters, when we are presented with something we don’t quite understand, we tend to reject it immediately. Carl Jung, one of the pioneers of modern psychology, said, “the conscious mind rejects that which it does not understand.” The healthier holistic response should be the desire to analyze new information objectively; then make the conscious decision to accept or reject it.


The Power of Thoughts in Shaping Stress

Gerald Jampolsky once said, “stress is caused by your thoughts, not the situation.” Since the exact same situation can be stressful for one person but not the next, our reactions are what differs. When something happens, regardless of what it is, our first reactions are a thought and an emotion; all of this happens before our bodies physically react. Subconsciously, we run the situation through all of our experiences, everything we’ve learned, and what we believe it; we quickly categorize the situation, then produce an emotion or thought, then perhaps an action if it’s needed.


Human Behavior and Its Impact on Stress

Among all animals, humans are unique in that they have autonomy and self-consciousness and are able to rationalize. This is also our greatest weakness because it means we get ourselves into situations that cause stress and dysfunction. Sanchez-Sosa wrote, “human behavior has the peculiarity of being a component of nearly all human problems… it includes... attitudes, emotional reactions, cognitions… everything we do and say.” It’s safe to say that humans create human problems by being human. But how do we manage those human problems? By paying more attention to our attitudes, emotional reactions, and cognitions… all of which originate in our minds.


The Global Cost of Mental Health Issues

The World Health Organization estimates mental health conditions cost the global economy one trillion US dollars each year and states 76-85% of sufferers receive no treatment. Over 322 million people suffering from mental disorders receive no treatment whatsoever. It would cost more than 66 trillion US dollars to treat every person who has a mental disorder, and these figures do not include those suffering from stress and anxiety.


The Dangers of Prolonged Stress

Over prolonged periods and frequent releases, stress hormones and chemicals begin to turn on the body, resulting in mental and emotional disorders and diseases. Anger, grudges, depression, and injustice are all things that seek to destroy us mentally, emotionally, and physically. For example, “patients with depressive symptomatology… have a markedly decreased life expectancy due to increased mortality from primarily cardiovascular causes.” In some cases, medication is required while the patient seeks behavior modification counseling. According to a mail survey among random adults, the results showed “emotional health problems are the most important cause of disability in adults of working age.” In most cases, the best way to combat mental and emotional issues is to utilize stress relief.


Breaking the Cycle of Hate

A.T. Beck paraphrased Freud by saying, “human beings are endowed by nature with hostile, violent feelings [that] build up over time… [and it] is necessary for the human race to have a periodic blood bath in order to be able to maintain its sanity.” Hate is bred by the hater believing they are a victim; they then spread the hate by creating their own victim(s). It’s a perpetual cycle that will not end until someone stops the spread. It often takes many people together to stop a hate cycle. The Twin Towers is an excellent reference for this: the towers were destroyed because of hate, but most Americans did not return the hate. We stood shoulder to shoulder and supported each other, crying and helping, grieving and giving. And, we prevailed as a people and as a community.


Conclusion

Understanding the interplay between our conscious thoughts and our subconscious ego is crucial for managing stress and maintaining mental health. By recognizing the power of our thoughts, paying attention to our behaviors, and breaking cycles of negativity, we can improve our overall well-being. Let’s strive to analyze new information objectively, manage our reactions, and support one another through life’s challenges.

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