How does understanding your mind help you achieve your potential?
What is mind?
If you think of your mind, what do you think it is? Is it your brain? Is it your thoughts? Is it your intellect? Is it your mental health or well-being? Or are these all just aspects of mind? Do you include your senses when you think of mind? These questions are important to ask because everyone will have a different understanding of what they believe mind to be. I am going to try and explain what I believe mind to be from my perspective, and hopefully one that is helpful to others.
Life is hard. We all know this. From day one when we are asked to leave the warmth and security of the womb and thrown into a loud and unfamiliar world, we realise that we can’t always get what we want. And from this day, our main aim in life is to try and get our needs met. At first, we rely solely on our caregivers for this but over time we develop the capacity to look after ourselves to greater and lesser extents. We learn to look to the world for the answers. If we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are five stages: Physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualisation. Physiological need is all about food, water, breathing, sleeping and procreation, the basic needs to keep us and our species alive. Stage two is safety which involves personal security, financial security and our health and well-being. Stage three is social which is best described by the quality of our relationships with family, friends and lovers or our feeling of inter-connectedness.Stage four is esteem which looks at our status in society and our sense of achievement and success. These are usually measured externally from ourselves by the society and culture we have been brought up in and vary from place to place which shows you just how fluid they can be. And finally stage five, which is self-actualisation. This is where our full potential can be achieved.
But the best way for us to achieve our full potential, or at least be on route to it, is to be aware of all our needs and know how to meet them.
So, I guess the simplest definition of what I believe the mind is, would be the tool we use to meet all our needs and our ability to know when these needs are met sufficiently. On a basic level, our body tells us when we are hungry or full, tired or re-energised and the desire to procreate keeps our species alive. Our ability to connect with others is important for our mental health and well-being so the quality of our relationships is an important factor in reaching our potential. We like to feel acknowledged and accepted. A recent study showed that loneliness can reduce our life expectancy by up to 10 years.
And all of this is done through a central database called the mind. All the information required to meet our needs is processed through this database so having a healthy relationship with our mind is of the utmost importance if we want all our needs met in the most nourishing way possible and to reach our full potential. But at the same time the best way to achieve a healthy mind is to meet all these needs sufficiently so one does not happen without the other, they work in sync. By learning to listen to yourself and what you need, you are able to make small adjustments and you can begin to move towards your full potential and self-actualisation.
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