Getting Started With Self-Help Program
The purpose of this self-help program is to provide a manual to help you learn how to work with your mind and brain to think, feel, behave, and relate with greater clarity and adaptiveness in life. This program will also help you learn how to change maladaptive implicit memories that originated from past or present experiences. In other words, it is intended to be a guide for how to work with your mind to foster greater meaning, structure, happiness, confidence, and peace of mind in life. And to help you learn how to change subconscious beliefs which determine your automatic subconscious emotional interpretations and expectations about self, others, and the world that originate from past or present experiences. This is because early experiences during development that you have no conscious recollection still affect how you automatically interpret the present.
It is important to check with your mental health and medical professional before, and during, learning about or engaging in the knowledge and exercises in this self-help program. This program is to be done only under the guidance of a mental health professional. Do not read or listen to this program while you are driving or doing anything which may cause injury or damage from lack of attention or increased stress.
To give you an idea of the sections of this self-help program series, first I will take you on a brief and practical tour of the mind and nervous system (including the brain) because the mind reflects the way that the nervous system works. I will then teach you how you need to implement the tools and exercises in the series to be able to work with your mind. Many people assume that working with the mind would be like working with a machine, but I will teach you how it is more like indirectly fostering the conditions for growth instead of directly manipulating the mind. The mind plays by different rules than what we are conditioned to believe maybe because of the primacy of language, and the literal and logical focus we have in order to deal with external physical problems.
This is understandable why we would have proclivity for this because dealing with immediate and significant physical problems needs to be a priority for physical survival. However, this does not mean that happiness, meaning, and fulfillment is not important, it’s just that the immediate physical needs have an evolutionary precedence. So, this may be why there is a tendency to work with the mind the same way as we deal with the external world because it’s a habit; and, we have not developed the knowledge, or been lucky to have had someone teach us how to work with your mind and nervous system.
After teaching about these ways to influence your mind, you will learn how to consciously direct the formation of what’s called implicit memory, which is the unconscious sensory-motor, somatic (which means body), and emotional memory that life experience creates outside of conscious awareness starting right from when we are in the womb. These subconscious memories from past experience influence how we automatically and unconsciously interpret the world and the automatic expectations we have. This, in turn, affects our mood, sense of self and worth, levels of stress, and how we relate to others. Remember, this is not necessarily conscious. These unconscious memories greatly contribute to the automatic ways we think, feel, and the impulses we have to behave, and ‘reactions’.
In order to start the process of personal growth and self-help program therapy you need to learn how to manage your stress levels. This is because mild-to-moderate levels of stress need to be attained in order to consciously foster the formation of implicit memory as well as learning in general. After this, I will teach you how to counteract the Brain’s Natural Tendency to Think Negatively and Generalize. This is important because most people think that if they just let their mind go where it wants to then this will ‘naturally’ will heal itself. This is not entirely accurate because there needs to be some orienting stimuli like bilateral stimulation for this, but even then there needs to be conscious mediation to direct and explore in a way that is more growth promoting and constructive. One way for counteracting the negativity bias and generalizing tendency of the mind is identifying and fostering core emotional needs such as safety, satisfaction, connection, and meaning to create more resilience from the bottom-up.
Once the core needs have been cultivated more, you will learn some ways to foster greater wholeness of mind through reflecting on your existential importance, how to relate with others more constructively, how to develop community and find mentors, how to meditate, how to contemplate, how to navigate ethical dilemmas, how develop wisdom, and I will give you precepts for daily living.
There are often mild-to-moderate psychological blocks that come up in the process of change and transformation, such as lack of motivation, discouragement, fear of failure, among others that can impede the process unless dealt with before dealing with the deeper blocks or issues in implicit memory. Once this has been accomplished, it can be helpful to work on some self-discovery and exploration to find what your values and goals are apart from what you may have internalized in your development in order to fit in with your family group you needed to conform to for survival and thriving.
After this, you can then begin learning how to explore, identify and change unconscious implicit memories to create or change maladaptive implicit memories from early experiences that are not helpful or reflective of present reality that still negatively affect the way you think, feel, behave and relate with others. I truly hope you find this self-help program helpful in your journey to greater happiness, meaning, and connection with others. Best wishes in your journey.
How to Use this Self-Help Program Series
Small, frequent, and consistent changes in daily life over a long period of time is the essence of real change. Most of the big changes in life come from seemingly insignificant occurrences of effort over a long period of time. This concept is called “Kaizen” in Japanese.
This process need not be tedious as the lessons in this series are designed to provide greater enjoyment, calm, and meaning in life, so this should largely be an enjoyable process. There will be some challenges, but a core tenet is to pursue change in a manner that is balanced and takes into account your emotional and physical boundaries. It can be challenging, but it also needs to be balanced with rest and enjoyment. This is what optimal and sustainable self-development looks like.
Generally, you want to be practicing in this self-help program at least one exercise per day. You can, of course, do more if this is in keeping with a balanced and sustainable approach for you. If your life is particularly chaotic and you do not have the opportunity to engage in this level of integration, any amount can still hypothetically add some positive influence and buffer of resilience in your life, and the degree to which you incorporate the exercises may ebb and flow based on your needs. Stay fluid – be water, my friend.
It is important to start from the beginning of the self-help program series and work your way through sequentially because each section builds the necessary foundation for subsequent knowledge and interventions. For example, one must learn how to manage their stress before delving into uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. Similarly, one must build up their emotional resilience and be able to counter the basic tendency of the negativity bias and generalizing predisposition of subcortical brain networks. This should be done before repairing maladaptive beliefs otherwise the turmoil from the more basic and powerful systems of the lower brain regions and circuits will greatly impede the functioning and effectiveness of the interventions if the capacity for sufficient affect regulation is not developed first.
Consider using interventions from each major section of the series sequentially (e.g., stress management, resilience, wholeness, self-discovery, exploration, individuation, perspective, and problem-solving) and in concert with each other as all domains are necessary for self-development to varying degrees. This is because the sections reflect the domains of experience and functioning that humans have. Each section becomes a foundation for the next and all have reciprocal influences on the other because they are interconnected, and thus all are necessary for self-development.
Most of the sections have an experiential component, meaning that you are engaging in an action and a context (real or imagined). This is important because new learning encodes in the memory systems associated with the type of experiences in which you are engaged. In other words, the types of systems used in the experience are the same ones you need to activate when trying to form a new way of being.
Again, it is recommended that you read through the entire self-help program series first while doing the exercises that are provided sequentially so that you form procedural memory of the techniques and are familiar with the big picture of this approach to self-development.