This series of blogs is all about taking a holistic view of you, your life, and your wellness. The goal is to help you gain the self-awareness, understanding, and skills you need to be successful on the road of life. Mindful-Mastery is a personal road-map and instruction manual for getting where you want to go!
Your Mind-Body Vehicle
A good way to think about your well-being is to think of your mind-body as the vehicle in which you drive the roads of life. That body, which you inhabit at this very moment, is your vehicle. It has brought you to where you are now, and will take you where you need to go. It is the only vehicle you have so becoming familiar with its workings is an essential first step for learning how to maintain it for optimal performance!
We are all Unique – and the Same
Your story, of course, is unique. Your experiences, desires, strengths and vulnerabilities, all come together to make you, You. However, while your personal attributes are unique, we all share three basic components. Just as automobiles can come in any number of colors, body styles and makes, they all have an engine, steering wheel and tires.
Similarly, the components of our mind-body vehicles are interrelated, so that they function as a system. When we understand how this system works, we may learn to better manage the inevitable bumps on the road of life.
Basic Mechanics of the Mind-Body-Vehicle
Just as your car has an engine, steering wheel, and tires, your mind-body-vehicle has Emotions, Thoughts, and Action tendencies. Your ETA system also functions in this inter-related way, and underlies your driving experience and performance.
You can think of your emotions as the engine, the power that helps motivate you to take action. Your thoughts are a bit like the steering wheel, deciding the direction of the vehicle. But neither of these will take you very far without a set of tires, which you may think of as your actions, to take you there.
We will discuss more about how each of these influence the other in coming blogs. The important thing to know here is that each component is essential to the journey. If all three do not work together harmoniously, or if one takes over…. “Houston, we’re gonna have a problem!”
It’s important to recognize that we all have strengths and vulnerabilities, depending on the demands of the road. Knowing yourself is not a question of ‘better’ or ‘worse.’ This self-reflection is simply taking an objective, non-judgmental view, so that you may learn the skills you need to adapt to road conditions.
Some cars can go really fast, but they are not very good at going off road, taking the bumps, or hauling heavy loads. Others are great for heavy lifting, but have more difficulty picking up speed or taking sharp corners. Some are unique and interesting, but may need a bit more skillfulness to cope with day-to-day routine driving needs.
Just like a car, every mind-body–vehicle is predisposed, (has tendencies) to behave or react in a certain way to certain road conditions. Predispositions are traits that you have noticed about yourself since you were very young. These might include things like being naturally more introverted or extroverted, athletic or intellectual, tall or short… You get the idea.
Any one of your traits may be a strength or a challenge for you, depending on the situation you are in. If you are tall, this is a strength if you play basketball, but not if you are a gymnast. If you are naturally more of an extrovert and enjoy expressing yourself, this is a strength if you want to go into media, or communications of some sort, but less helpful if you need to focus on silent contemplative pursuits. See how this works?
How we get Stuck!
The important take-away here is to recognize that we can all get out of balance or stuck sometimes. When the strengths of our vehicle do not match the demands of the road, or when we set out on new or more stressful roads, new driving skills are needed to adapt successfully.
Take a moment to consider if there have been recent changes in your life. Embarking on the open road of adulthood is by definition a stressful period of change. Are you feeling stuck, or out of balance?
We are just beginning to learn in the psychology research, that the skills we need for maintaining one part of the system are very different from those needed for the others. Just as you would not want to mix up the needs of your car (putting oil in the gas tank for example), we must learn how to Mindfully attend to the particular needs of each component of our mind-body-vehicle.
We get stuck because the ETA system is tricky. It is a paradox that is far from intuitive. The driving strategies we use to feel better, or get our needs met, might have worked on previous roads. But as the road changes, or becomes more stressful, they stop working over time.
The goal of this series of blogs is to help you to identify:
1. What road conditions are more stressful for you,
2. The strategies you once relied upon that no longer serve you, and
3. The skills you need to more effectively stay on the road to success.