UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE Not aware of what’s not working
CONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE Identifying what’s not working
CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE Learn how to make it work
UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE Making it work becomes a new habit or second nature (easy)
Maintaining our mental health is something we all do. However, when the physical symptoms, cognitive or emotional responses, and/or behaviors reach a level of intensity that they interfere with the ability to function in life, they are diagnosed as a mental illness. All breakdowns in a healthy system come from either a deficit of something needed in the system; an excess of something toxic; or something that is, in fact, needed, but that reaches a level of toxicity that causes the system to break down. Much of what we call mental illness is the individual trying to survive from traumas.
- Some traumas come from internal wounds that have not been identified and healed, but instead stay submerged and covered up. These often leak out as destructive behaviors in current relationships.
- Examples of common social traumas include verbal, financial, physical, and/or sexual abuse, along with abandonment. While we denigrate and blame the victim for his/her current behavior, it is often the culture that we all develop that needs to be healed. The root cause is a systemic issue, with mental illness as a resulting side effect.
- We may also receive trauma from the ecological environment: volcano eruptions, floods, droughts, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, etc.
- The lack of equal distribution and the unethical use of the technological environment is also a major stressor which can cause mental illness.
When our physical body is wounded, we regain health using a three-step process:
- Identify the wound and where I am now (get a diagnosis)
- Identify where I would like to be, realistically, from a health standpoint
- Develop the strategies of how to get from here to there
When our mental health is wounded, we use this same process to heal.
But we don’t have to be sick to get better. Whether we, or our relationships, become sick is not a matter of whether or not we have wounds (we all do), but in what ways we’ve been wounded, how intense the wounds are, how the wounds are addressed and how healthy we were to begin with. Personal growth and development, or growth in a relationship, strengthens our mental health much as exercise strengthens our physical health. Personal growth also involves a three-step process, but with the order changed from healing physically:
- Identify where I would like to be.
- Identify where I am, so I can start the journey and know what direction to take. Say I want to get to Chicago: I go West if I am in Boston, but I go East if I am in Seattle. I don’t go anywhere if I am already in Chicago.
- Develop the strategies to get from here to there. Even with the same origin and destination, there are many ways to get from here to there. A person could drive, fly, take the train or bus, walk, hitchhike, or bike, to name a few. But it is uncommon for two people to have exactly the same origin and destination, or to prefer identical strategies. Many different strategies are needed to address individuals’ wounds and build healthier relationships.
Enjoy the healing journey from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence. The journey is even better when we share it with each other. As one person does their work, everyone has an opportunity to learn by vicarious experiences that open doors of potential possibilities.
In what areas of your life would you like to be in a different place? Where are you now? What is in your way?