You will progress more quickly toward improved health if you remove some key psychological obstacles.
Psychopathology is the study of behavioral disorders and how humans unconsciously interfere with their own progress.
Positive psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing and how people can function optimally.
What follows are statistics about common obstacles people experience currently within our culture – some might be preventing you from being even healthier than you are right now.
Also included below are potential solutions to these challenges that can help you to thrive.
What Science Says about Common Health Obstacles
The US is the most obese country in the world currently, with over 34% of Americans considered clinically overweight (see source citations below this article).
Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada, Ireland, and Mexico are countries also experiencing a dramatic increase in body fat among its citizens.
Perhaps more concerning than the sharp increase in fat specifically, is the significant decline in overall health. In the US:
- new cancer cases are approaching 2 million a year
- deaths from heart disease approach 1 million
- over 40% have hypertension
- diabetes is on a dramatic incline – with over 100 million people having either it or its precursor, pre-diabetes.
- significant rise in autoimmune disorders (1 in 5 people) in which immune systems become fatigued and overreact to irritants – creating an other unnecessary acceleration of aging process.
As startling as this data is, statistics and information – in and of themselves – are usually not enough to change negative obstacles into positive habits.
There are five psychological obstacles that must be removed from our path in order for us to progress toward improved health.
1. Not Comprehending that Psychological Health is Prosperity
Let’s face it, most of the time we take our health for granted.
We tend to get caught-up up in the minutia of our daily lives and we think we’re doing the best we can – yet when our health is taken away, we then realize that we’d do almost anything to bounce back into good health.
Faced with a significant health obstacles, we wish we’d been more respectful – more mindful – of our self-care.
When you have good health, you are pure potentiality. Anything is possible.
No matter how sour you might feel emotionally in any given moment, if your body is vibrant with excellent health, your life is yours to create.
Good mental health helps you to be brilliant at work, show-up for your loved ones, craft and deepen your relationships, and fulfill your life purpose.
2. Not Understanding How Change Happens
There has been an enormous amount of psychological research conducted on how people actually change. Several stages of lasting-change have been identified and among the most pivotal – and often skipped – is preparation.
To live a healthier life, you’ve got to prepare adequately to remove obstacles as you build each new habit.
For starters, you’ll need weekly inspiration. My suggestion is to find a couple of interactive, healthy-living websites that resonate with you, and then subscribe to their free newsletters and podcasts.
3. Not Being Curious about Inflammation
Inflammation is the number-one cause of accelerated aging.
It’s a complex process, but essentially inflammation is when your own immune system attacks the healthy tissue in your body, mistaking it for harmful obstacles.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to irritants, but when the irritants are relentless the body gets overwhelmed and the immune system spirals out of control. Again, our modern lifestyle – eating sugar and flour, and a lack of exercise combined with a relentless amount of low-level stress – creates inflammation.
4. Not Taking Glycation Seriously
Glycation is what happens when sugar reacts with your body’s proteins.
If I could go back in time, I would eat much less sugar during the earlier part of my life. I spent two years eating a ton of fruit thinking I was doing a good thing for my body, but by the end I became sick.
I’m feeling great now, and I learned a valuable lesson: fruit can be healthy in small doses, but too many carbohydrates of any kind – refined sugar, fruit, flour – can create insulin resistance.
Sugar is among the most common health obstacles in contemporary life.Are you a remover of obstacles?Click To Tweet
5. Not Having a Self-Care System
Modern life in most first-world and developing countries creates an unnecessary psychological duress.
After age 45 in the human body, this process can happen even faster and therefore the amount of time that needs to be devoted to self-care increases.
In order to age at a more natural pace, it’s helpful to have some sort of system in place for improved organization and time/energy management.
Become better organized by subscribing to our Quality of Life newsletter.
Each week you’ll receive a simple lifestyle strategy that will inspire you to make better use of your time and energy.
It’s free. Sign-up now and as a bonus you’ll also get instant access to our downloadable report on using checklists to become highly effective:
The big idea here is to offset the hidden daily effects of our current culture – the sedentary lifestyle, psychological stress, and environmental factors.
Sometimes, modern challenges require modern solutions.
Ask your own medical doctor what obstacles he or she thinks might be standing in the way of you becoming healthier more quickly.
To install more self-care protocols into your average week, you’ll need more windows of free time and energy, and a good productivity system can help with that.
Ways to Successfully Navigate a New Chapter of Your Life
You can re-engage with your own desire to achieve life’s fullest potential.
In particular, many people experience a new peace of mind after age 50.
In part, this happens because after age 50 the struggle of trying to pretend to be something else is given up.
In the autumn season of life, you will be more likely to accept yourself as you actually are – including your faults.
Life after 50 can be either dull or adventurous – fraught or fabulous. What you experience in life is largely determined by the mindset you bring to it.
No matter what your age, there are ways to embark enthusiastically on a new chapter of your life’s journey.
Navigate Smartly By Asking Better Questions
As you begin to strive to see yourself more realistically – yet without shame – certain questions are bound to present themselves:
- when do you carve out a moment to inspect the contentions that cause unease?
- how do you know if what you’re uncovering has worth?
Byron Brown asserts “truth is not something to believe; it is a direct experience of knowing that ‘yes, this feels true, feels accurate, feels right.’”
“You know truth through a felt sense,” he said, “a settledness, a solid certainty, or perhaps a shifting or releasing inside of you.”
“You relax a little, you breathe deeper or feel clearer, even if you don’t like the truth you are experiencing.”
In other words, pay attention to the internal compass.
Even if it evokes unpleasant feelings, you can usually sense that there is something within a discovery that feels true.
When you have a revelatory moment and you realize something new about yourself, give yourself some time to metabolize the information.
Let it settle in and find its place in your growing awareness:
- in what ways do you notice it affecting your perceptions?
- is the shift subtle or more profound?
- does this new awareness affect your mood, your outlook, your response to others?
- is your interest in the process of self-discovery piqued, or do you feel like shutting it down?
The effect of tuning-in to these responses is it permits you to learn more about how you either defend stasis, or allow shifts in your awareness to occur.
This will bring a greater understanding of where potential obstacles lie.
There is no gold star or big red “F” being handed out based on your reactions.
It’s simply a way of refining your understanding of yourself – a way of blowing away the clouds that obscure your view.
If you can move beyond your psychological resistance and habitual stances, you may move closer to a truth that can truly sustain you on your journey to remembering the wonder of who you are.
Asking yourself important questions is a smart start as you move into the next new chapter of your life.
Learn to Recognize the Feeling of Being Centered (Versus Off-Centered)
Perhaps life’s ultimate success secret is the ability to metabolize anxiety naturally:
- how do you manage the inevitable anxiety that arises throughout daily life?
- what do you do with stressful thoughts and feelings as they come up?
In this modern age, the vast majority of us experience varying degrees of anxiety every single day. How we choose to process these instances can vary greatly from moment to moment and from person to person.
For some of us, the various signs of psychological anxiety are a reminder that it’s time for some self-care.
For most, however, anxiety is a cue to check-out (disassociate), to self-medicate (sugar, booze, smoke, etc.), to dispel (get angry) or repress.
Some choose to calm their disquiet with mood-altering substances and drugs.
Others find comfort in food, television, romance novels, or relationships that create enough diversion to serve as a temporary distraction.
Though these are common and completely understandable avenues to reduce anxiety, in all likelihood they cannot sustain our sense of ease and in some cases they may even cause physical and emotional harm.
Fortunately, just as a plant uses the process of photosynthesis to turn the sun’s radiation into sustenance, so can humans take anxiety and use it as fuel for increased clarity and personal awareness.
One way to realize this possibility is to cultivate a different and more sustainable coping mechanism for those periods of time when you experience distress.
A healthier option is to create time to take care of your body (and subsequently your mind and spirit) through exercise.
This can take the form of utilizing all of the equipment, classes, and trainers that are available at your local gym; however, it can also be as simple as going for a jog in the neighborhood after work, heading to the tennis court with a friend, or just walking your dog.
It’s also possible that you may find it more enjoyable to de-stress in a calm and quiet way. In that case mediation, tai chi, qigong, or guided visualization may allow you to tap an inner source of calm that helps you ride out waves of anxiety.
As you learn to recognize the physical sensation that inner calm creates in your body, you’ll find it increasingly easier to access it in times of heightened tension.
Engaging the creative process can also be a surprising avenue of stress relief. This can involve allowing your fingers (and mind) to become lost in a block of clay or pouring out your worries onto a blank canvas or sheet of drawing paper.
Even grounding yourself in the soil of your garden as you pull weeds and nurture your vision of the perfect patch of flowers and vegetables, can be a way to reconnect with your vitality (while sloughing-off the stressors that can mount during the course of a day).
If you happen to be more extroverted, simply increasing your weekly social interactions can have a calming result. Extroverts recharge their psychological batteries by being around other positive people.
Decide that You Want to Keep Learning and Growing
It is easy, especially in response to the breakneck speed of contemporary life, to not feel like doing anything other than flopping on the couch with your close friend Mr. Donut and allowing the distractions from your television to carry you away. The only problem with methods like this is that they are not truly sustaining.
Though they may provide a much needed moment of distraction, they often have the unfortunate effect of leaving you feeling like something is missing. When all is said and done, your natural vitality and vigor have been depleted rather than restored.
Shifting your coping mechanisms can have an enormous impact on your sense of well-being.
So why aren’t we all out there scrambling to implement healthier methods of stress reduction?
For many of us, our tried and true de-stressing stand-bys are not unlike a child’s nubbie or blankie, in that if you dare to take them away, there will be hell to pay.
We associate our current methods of self-soothing, even if unhealthy, with our means of escaping pain and discomfort – we don’t take kindly to having them tampered with.
This idea will make sense to those of you who have had a young child (son, daughter, niece, nephew) in your life; it’s likely that you’ve witnessed them very lovingly clinging to a beat-up stuffed animal or blanket that you would be mortified to donate to the Goodwill.
For that child though, that tattered piece of cloth stuffed with polyfill, symbolizes nothing less than their connection to a sense of inner calm and security.
In psychological terms, that item is referred to as a transitional object and it becomes an external representation of that which brings them comfort (their primary caretaker).
Through healthy development, the individual becomes able to internalize the outer sense of aid so as to create a source of support inside themselves.
Seeing Yourself with New Eyeballs
You can cultivate a feeling of compassion for yourself while negotiating the processes of reevaluating and replacing your methods of self-soothing.
It’s important to muster the patience and compassion for yourself that you would have for a child that you were asking to give up her object of comfort.
Yes, you’re a grown adult, logical and intelligent – but your need for self-soothing comes from your emotional self.
If you try to do it all at once, you invite the inner saboteur to the table, and you can wind up back where you started – only more distrustful of the process of change.
Navigate calmly. Weekly demonstrations of learning make for a good start as you move into the next new chapter of your life.
Many Eastern spiritual teachers have commented, time and again, that we in the West have an unfortunate habit of going at things with “all we’ve got” once we’ve made the determination that we’ve found “our path.”
Often we wear ourselves down before we have really even opened the gate.
This just serves to feed the fallacy that we are permanently flawed and are incapable of change.
It’s both admirable, and inspiring, when one has thousands of steps ahead on his or her journey to adventure and increased self-awareness.
Just remember that the grace comes from completing step one, before moving on to step two.
- which person do you know who would most benefit from seeing this article? I encourage you to utilize this site’s share buttons and highlight feature.
- which of these five psychological obstacles are in the way of you living your best life possible?
New cancer facts and statistics – Cancer.org http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/
Recent data on heart diseases and stroke cases – American Heart Association http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/133/4/e38
Insulin resistance and “fructose poisoning” – Life Extension Federation http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/10/Are-You-Suffering-from-Fructose-Poisoning/Page-01
Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Inflammation – Medical News Today http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php
Autoimmune Stats – https://www.aarda.org/autoimmune-information/questions-and-answers/