The Truth About Mental Health
The breakthrough happens when you become more interested in being aware of your thoughts than in the thoughts themselves.
*Please see disclaimer
How to get the most out of these Wisdom Quotes:
Put aside everything you think you already know.
Open your mind and heart to receive something new.
Take your time going through each point.
Return to any points that particularly touch you.
In the coming days, listen carefully to the wisdom within you.
1. Discovering Innate Well-Being
"It's ironic that I first met Mr. Banks and listened to him on April Fools Day in 1983. Here I was, a psychiatrist with 26 and a half years of schooling and paper plastered all over my wall that said I knew something, and I knew absolutely nothing about mental health. I was a mental illness professional, I was not a mental health professional.
As I sat in the audience, listening to Mr. Sydney Banks and, as he talked about these three universal principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness, I, like many people, wasn't clear. Intellectually, I couldn't grab it but I was touched at a place in my heart, or in my soul, that my truth meter was all the way on Truth.
I knew that I was hearing something that was going to allow me to live in a much gentler place inside and also then have some awareness that I could start to point other people towards, people that had been coming in my door for many years, in a hope of finding some peace.
I see people that are in pain and they admit that they're spending up to eight to 15 hours a day in some form of negative thinking - worry, guilt, resentment, upset, over-analyzing, unresolved grief - all innocently. I used to spend five to nine hours a day in negative thinking. For 25 years I had periodically gone in and out of clinical depression. I went through weeks and weeks when I had to drag myself to work, I would close the door at noon and have tears coming down my cheeks from an internal pain that I felt, and I was innocent. I wasn't miserable because I wanted to be miserable. I just didn't know.
No one had ever taught me that thinking was something that I was doing. No one had ever taught me that I was truly, in form, a formless energy, that I literally was the principles in form and that I was using these three principles to navigate my way through life. No one had ever taught me that the default setting was a place of well-being, that it was a place of joy, that it was a place of peace, that it was a place of love.
We hear people talking so much about biochemical imbalance and yet the studies are showing very clearly that, when they take volunteers and ask them to think upsetting thoughts for just three minutes, in that three minutes, people make a considerable change in their physiology that starts to affect even their neurotransmitters.
I know it's hard for people to grasp the power of this and I ask people just to be open to it. We use the word understanding, but it's not intellectual. It's that we're touched and we have an insight, where we literally see the connection to life, how we're all connected, and how we're all then connected to a Source that everybody is connected to and, as people get a glimpse of that and have their own insight, it changes everything.
Every human being has mental well-being that has been untouched and can't be touched because it's based on spiritual truth. But for the innocent misuse of the gift of thought, they could be back in touch with their mental well-being.
~Dr. Bill Pettit, from the videos: Psychiatry 1 & 2
In this quote, Dr. Bill Pettit shares that his entire life and psychiatric practice were turned around by an understanding called the Three Principles, introduced to him by Sydney Banks.
Over a period of about six months, he became aware of how his thoughts were creating his human experience and that he was actually formless energy playing the game of life. Since then, he has shared these transformational insights with all his patients and seen incredible results.
If you want to explore more about the Three Principles understanding, there are several helpful resources here. Remember though, that they are not to be understood intellectually. Rather, they point to the bridge between the psychological and spiritual aspects of our human experience.
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2. Recovering Instead of Coping
"We’re going to talk a little bit about how the world currently sees mental illness and mental dysfunction in people. Marriage and family therapists tend to look at people as dysfunctional in terms of how they interact with each other, psychiatry tends to look at things as if there’s a biological or chemical imbalance that can be cured by getting the chemicals changed, and psychology looks at the content of thinking as a way to help people deal with a condition that is created or biological.
They view people as if they have something wrong with them that can be fixed at best and most likely managed. Most mental illnesses are seen as things that most people need to cope with and they are not even told anymore that they could actually recover from what they’re experiencing.
When I was a young therapist, mental health really meant mental illness and, in most places, it still does. So, if you go for mental health care, you’re diagnosed with a condition that is an illness. That’s where we part ways. We really look at every mental illness as being a lack of understanding of how thought works."
"I do a lot of training with graduate students in Marriage and Family Therapy and I’m still kind of shocked that, in our graduate schools even, people get taught that there are certain diagnoses that you can’t recover from.
My last student said her teacher told her that if you are diagnosed with a major depression that you can’t expect that person to get over it.
Another nurse was in her master's degree in nursing and she was talking to a woman who came in with anxiety and the woman said to her, Will I have this for life? So she started talking to her about, no, she didn’t need to have it for life, there were things that she could do. And the proctor came in and interrupted the session and said, no, you’ll have this for life.
I think we forget sometimes the possibilities for people and I think that the rest of the system doesn’t really see that hope we’re talking about."
"They see mental illness the way they see physical illness, as something defective in the mind. They see that the cause of it is external to the person, things beyond their control, and because they see it as beyond their control it’s very predictable that they would say you can’t cure it because it’s really beyond your control, but you can improve it.
So the standard of health in mental illness is that the person can cope with it well enough that it doesn’t interfere with their life too much."
~All excerpts from the video: Panel Discussion 6 Mental Health 2
These quotes from mental health professionals are eye-opening in that we can see how the current system is stuck in an old paradigm that isn't working. One way we know this is that people aren't getting better, and the number of people suffering from mental health disorders is constantly growing. Coupled with that is the frustration of a system that, even in its inadequacy, is unable to meet the current demand.
So what do we do with this information? Preferably not use it as fuel for anger and despair, but rather recognize that perhaps we are not as helpless as we have been led to believe. Consider your own view of mental health and mental illness. Change always begins with ourselves.
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3. Realizing Where Our Experience Comes From
“I was working on myself and I started to realize, everything in psychology is based on a premise there’s something fundamentally wrong with you - you don’t have well-being, you have to work hard to get it. Whether you work hard spiritually or psychologically, it’s going to require a lot of hard work.
You know how many years I did contemplative silence? 4 hours a day - I did 20 years of trying to fit that into my family’s schedule. And I had my dreams to work on and I had my affirmation notebook and I had my cognitive book where I had to work on improving the content of my thinking. Now this is just a start. I had my structured journals and then I had my unstructured journals...”
"In 1965 I met a man called Sydney Banks, who was an ordinary man. He was a welder and he was so poor growing up that he had to leave school at the end of 9th grade and, by his own admission, he was a very insecure person.
One day he was blessed and he had his first insight, a very profound insight. He was saying to someone, “I’m so insecure, it’s really hard for me to just relax and enjoy my life, I’m so insecure.” And his friend said to him, “You’re not insecure, you just think you are.” He said, “What did you say?” He said it felt like an explosion went off inside of him and, what he heard was, “There is no such thing as unhappiness or insecurity, it’s just a temporary creation from thought.” So he had his first insight. I think this insight has implications for each one of us. That we all live in a world of thought.
Here’s Sydney Banks saying that his first major insight was that every bit of his insecurity and unhappiness was just creative thought, so that when the thoughts clear, the unhappiness goes and it’s not being created and it doesn’t exist. When it’s in your thinking, it’s in your feeling. When it’s not in your thinking, it’s not in your feeling. In order to experience stress you have to have stressful thoughts. When your head clears of those thoughts, you have a different feeling.
You know what the biggest problem is? People don’t know where their experience is coming from. I have asked thousands of people all over the world. What are you feeling and where do you think it comes from? And it doesn’t matter if they say, “I feel good” or “I feel really stressed” or “I feel really upset” when I ask them, "Where do you think it feels good?" not a single one has said, “It’s been created from the divine power of thought.” No one has said that ever.
People say, “Well, I feel the way I do because of…” circumstance, other people, the world, my background, my history, my genetics, my parents - it was parents that made me feel the way I do. So, without understanding the true source of our feelings we get into all kinds of trouble.
You’re always and only living in the feeling of your own thinking but you have to see this for yourself. You have to see the truth of this for yourself. It doesn’t do any good to understand that intellectually. You will begin to discover, like I did, the vast majority of the thinking I was doing during the day was generating feelings of worry, tension, stress or just distraction. I was being more and more caught up in my thinking.
I started seeing when I got really annoyed and bothered with the traffic, when I was driving around, “Whoa, could that be thought?” And I had a little moment of recognition of what’s true and what’s always been true and what always will be true - that each of us, in every moment, is experiencing our own thinking.
I started seeing, more and more, that, when I would recognize that, that thinking would tend to naturally flow again and fall away, and when it did, I would feel better. And I wasn’t even working on myself. I wasn’t doing the 7 steps. I was just recognizing that I’m a thinker, that I was living the experience of my thinking.
I go home after my first training and I’m going, “Oh my gosh, this is the secret to life here! We live in the world of divine thought. The divine thought is the power that is able to create within us and it’s always generating mental activity and that whatever is going on in our thinking is going to be what we feel and experience.
That’s where my stress comes from! That’s where my anxiety comes from! That’s where my “bothered” comes from! That’s where my hurt comes from! That’s where my happiness comes from! That’s where my joy comes from! It’s all created by this divine gift that allows us to experience life.
This was helping me so much, to realize that my feelings were created from thought and that anytime I recognized that, it would just snap me out of it and I would come back into the present moment and I would start to feel better."
~Dr. Dicken Bettinger, from the video: The Spiritual Nature of the Principles
This is a beautiful account of Dr. Bettinger's life-transforming insight which, as a clinical psychologist, he has gone on to share with all his clients very successfully.
The fact that we are only ever feeling our thinking is something which profoundly affects our moment by moment experience. As soon as we realize that our feeling is coming from what we're thinking and not from anything else, the blame game is over and we spontaneously come back to a place of present awareness in which there is peace and natural mental health.
Are you still blaming life, others, your past, circumstances, etc for the way you feel? Or do you see what is really creating your experience?
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4. Seeing Through Thought
"I was listening to Roger Mills talk about this new work in psychology and, all of a sudden, when I really listened, I saw that I had been looking at life through my own thinking.
It was kind of like when your life flashes before your eyes when you’re having a life-threatening experience. All of a sudden, everything that I had thought wrong about, I saw. It was like, oh, that’s me, that was me! And I started to laugh about it. I thought it was hilarious because I spent about $25,000 and seven years in therapy analyzing what I made up.
You see that you’re thinking and that everything you’re thinking is not necessarily true or accurate, that we just get tricked by our own thinking and it kind of distorts how we see our life. But we don’t know it and so it looks like it’s life making us think that way.
When I switched from traditional psychology to working from this understanding of innate mental health and how these principles create our experience, within a week my clients were different people."
~Christine Health, from the podcast: Why Psychology Has it Backwards
The flash of insight described here is something we're all capable of experiencing. How do we know when we've really seen through the illusory nature of our thinking?
We're no longer attached to our thoughts. We begin to see through all our blaming, complaining, worrying, arguing and suffering. It's as though an internal light is switched on and, as soon as we catch ourselves getting caught up in our thinking, there's an immediate detachment and everything calms down again very quickly. No effort. Just innate mental health.
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5. Taking the Meaning Out of Low Mood Thinking
"We all come down and we all have negative thoughts. As soon as you take one of these thoughts and think it’s a conclusion about life rather than just a thought - a temporary, made up interpretation, it’s one thought out of a kazillion and it’s a pretty low quality thought so it doesn’t really mean anything - if you don’t understand that you’ll think that, because you feel it so strongly, it must be true. That’s what mental illness is.
To realize that it’s just thought is to take the meaning out of it, to see that it’s not truth. I can’t tell you how often I’d take my low mood thinking to be true and how painful that is and how much I suffer and you suffer and we all suffer because that happens to everybody. And then it’s just a matter of degree, so you could say the healthier somebody becomes, they still have the same thoughts but they start not listening to them.
Syd Banks said something to me one time, it was so simple, he said, "Any time you don’t feel good, pay no attention to what you’re thinking. Ignore it." Ego does the opposite. Ego is saying, that is who I am and it’s true. I am miserable and it’s true and what I think when I’m miserable is true."
~Dr. Dicken Bettinger, from the video: Dicken Bettinger on Mental Illness
"Every mental illness, no matter how serious it is, is nothing more than a person’s relationship to their thinking. And, that being the case, any understanding that is able to educate people to change their relationship to their thinking, is going to be effective.
It would be impossible for a person to be schizophrenic if they understood that their thinking isn’t necessarily real. And the same thing with people with depression and anxiety disorders. If they weren’t frightened by their perceptions and feelings brought about by their thinking they would turn around.
It’s wonderful that we’ve really identified that generic mental illness is one’s ignorance of the role of thought and that the generic cure is understanding that."
~Dr. George Pransky, from the video: Panel Discussion 5 Mental Health 1
Here we see very clearly that the problem is not our thoughts. We all have thoughts, and we all have negative thoughts. The problem is whether we listen to them, believe them and take them to be conclusions about our life.
It may sound too simplistic to say that mental illness is a person's relationship to their thinking, but if you consider what is being presented in these quotes, doesn't it actually make perfect sense? " The question is, are we ready for such a simple truth?
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6. A Natural Realigning and Balancing
"When I had a realization that I was feeling my thinking and I was thinking in stressful ways, it wasn’t that then I took my personal will and tried to change my thoughts. It’s that, in that moment of realization, I became realigned with this beautiful gift that life has given us to realize that we’re feeling our thinking in every moment. When we realize that, we align with a pre-existing, divine system in place for us to function perfectly as human beings.
And so, stress was removed from my thinking over and over again and I got on an evolutionary track - when stress was gone I began to have a much higher quality of life. I began experiencing mental presence more and more often without doing anything and we all know the benefits of that: more well-being, more happiness, more mental clarity.
With all of that thinking gone about "What’s causing my feelings?” you know, which I thought for so many years, "Was it the way my mother treated us? Was it my father’s death? Was it this? Was it that? Was it the other thing?" With all of those questions gone, my mind became freed up to enjoy life.
When your mind is freed up of all of those questions and when you get the hang of allowing yourself to align with pre-existing principles, aligning with them is as natural as, when I walk across the room and I lose my balance and then I realign with gravity. Gravity is always up and running. I instinctively know how to realign with it. I can’t explain to you how to do it. These are the psychological/spiritual equivalent of that. They’re the principles of psychological balance.
I didn’t feel like I had to find a beautiful feeling or understand the principles more deeply anymore. I just always knew that it’s built into our psychological systems to get pulled into this illusion that we’re feeling something other than thought and, when we realize that that’s it, our mind automatically realigns with this divine truth. We are always feeling our thinking in the moment.
When it comes to the principles, years of experience have taught me, that people come to this when they’re ready. When they’re ready, they’ll suck in the information like a sponge. And, when they’re not, they won’t. And we have no say over that. It’s simply evolution. People are ready when they’re ready. "
~Dr. Annika Hurwitt, from the video: 3 Principles, Always True
"And so, stress was removed from my thinking over and over again and I got on an evolutionary track." When Dr. Aniika Hurwitt remembered that she was feeling her thinking in that moment, she immediately realigned with her natural state of psychological balance.
This is our default state when we're not getting caught up in the psychological drama of our thoughts. From this state, everything in life has a way of naturally balancing out and we find ourselves going through life with a delightful absence of stress.
Of course, that's not to say that stressful things won't happen or that anxious thoughts will never arise, but when they do, we find we have a natural resilience and built-in wisdom to navigate through life.
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7. A Word About Mental Health
Three Principles resources as mentioned in the video:
1. Three Principles Global Community
2. Psychology Has it Backwards
4. Videos of transformational stories