Resilient Trevor

 

Would you like to find a different and more effective way of supporting your mental wellbeing?

 

I'll start by challenging the belief that mental health is all about your mind; and that when things go wrong, only science, medicine and therapy can help.

Your mental wellbeing is also about your environment. In the right environment for you; you feel comfortable, you do well and can thrive. In more challenging environments, you may struggle.

Let's see this play out through an example. Think about the most resilient creature you can imagine. If I were asked this question I'd choose this chap - a chunky-looking silver-backed gorilla, who I'll call Resilient Trevor.  

Hello

What I'd like you to do next is draw a wider picture in your mind.  Think about the environment that your resilient creature lives in. What does its home look like?

 

Does it inhabit the rich ocean, a warm savanna, a lush jungle, a well-stocked and well-proportioned zone in a wildlife safari park?  I imagine that Trevor's home is a lush jungle.

 

Again, use your imagination to the fullest extent to give your resilient animal a wonderful environment to live in.

The next thing I want you to do is to imagine taking your resilient animal out of that home and instead place it somewhere entirely different. 

I'm going to take Trevor and dump him, rather unkindly, in the Antarctic. He’ll no longer live in the comfortable warmth and humidity of the lush jungle, with plentiful food and like-minded company, with few threats to life.

Instead, he’ll be in the freezing cold with very limited supplies of food, the threat of the hostile environment and the company of penguins with which he has little in common.

I imagine that Trevor would feel far from resilient in this environment.  He would probably be scared, hungry, cold and fearful. And yet he is supposed to be the most resilient animal that I could think of, isn't he?  If resilience were all about the mind, surely he'd be ok in this environment? But he isn't.

Let's take this a bit further. Imagine now that you have the ability to intervene and support your animal.  You have the creative power to evolve your animal in any way you like to support it in its changed home.  You can alter its physical appearance; its biology, its bodily chemistry and its capabilities in any creative way you like - to help it adapt to this different environment.  

For Trevor we could perhaps choose to support him by giving him a thicker coat, layers of fat, more claw like hands to catch food to eat and so on.  

 

But there is another much easier way of helping Trevor. Without any specialist powers or science-based skills at all, we could have simply moved him from the challenging environment and helped him live in conditions that suit him better.

What do we learn from this exercise for our wellbeing and resilience?

We learn that Trevor was not absolutely resilient.  No-one is.  He was only resilient in an environment that suited him.  Likewise, you are resilient in an environment that suits you.

We also learn that his wellbeing could be supported and managed by being in the right environment and that's far easier than trying to fix his physical appearance, his chemistry and his biology to cope with a hostile environment.  Likewise, you can manage your wellbeing by being in the right environment for you; and this can be easier than trying to fix your mind so that you can operate well in hostile environments.

Your environment is incredibly important to your wellbeing. So, your wellbeing is not just about the way your mind works. If you can get the right environment to suit you, you feel comfortable, you do well and you can thrive.

Fixing your environment is so much easier than fixing your mind. What's more, other people find it easier to help you too.  The people you interact with on a daily basis are experts in the sort of things you face on a daily basis. They can give you the things that help you to have a good day.

Evenhood is here to help you change your mind about mental wellbeing - for the better. Explore how you can take practical and effective steps to build an environment that supports your wellbeing.

All the v best

Jonathan

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