Functionele Legacy Mindsetfebruari 22, 2020
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The Functional Legacy Mindset approach educates people on how different minds function (to embrace their strengths) and the legacy of such minds in terms of the benefits to society. The theory of a Functional Legacy Mindset is grounded by the therapeutic benefits of embracing the authentic self, to promote a sense of purpose, in which clients feel empowered to embrace their unique strengths and abilities to contribute to society in ways that feel authentic and meaningful to them. Blocking your emotions and masking (repression of emotion and camouflaging) can lead to burnout. You don’t grow out of the way your mind works, rather you grow into it. A great tragedy is going through life disconnected from our brilliant minds because we see the self as broken. The assumptions and narratives that dominate different minds play an important role in the mental health and wellbeing of our clients.
The Focused Mind
The focused mind leads to distress when intrusive thoughts are centered around death anxiety, health anxiety, and/or thoughts do not align with the person’s values (e.g., not being able to control a distressing thought and thinking this will lead to terrible consequences). Fusing with an intrusive thought is when the person considers the thought to be important, dangerous, or saying something about them as a person. When the focused mind is under high levels of distress, there is an intolerance to uncertainty, perfectionism, excess sense of responsibility, and an overestimation of danger. Intrusive thoughts are catastrophic, in which a person may imagine the worst feared possible outcome and feel traumatised as if it is happening. The strength of judgement is overused and obsessive thinking about feared outcomes develops. Subjugating (pleasing at the expense of the self) can lead to exhaustion and guilt. Self-esteem fluctuates in relation to if the person is achieving, pleasing, or gaining reassurance.
Alternatively, when the focused mind directs cognitive capacity and emotional energy in a healthy way, the person exhibits strengths of emotional intelligence and an insurmountable passion leads to self-motivation, self-discipline, and perseverance. The focused mind allows people greater attention to detail and organisational abilities that drive society’s functional systems and helping professions.
The Awe of the Autistic Mind
When the autistic mind is overwhelmed, flooding may present as heightened hypersensitivities, rigidity in thinking, intolerance to uncertainty, routines, rituals, and perfectionism. When the autistic individual is tired and overwhelmed it may feel like they preset and practice for what could happen at any given moment. Recognition that some of the difficulties experienced by autistic individuals stem from a society that is not yet inclusive or sensitive to the needs of autistic individuals is important. Masking is physically and emotionally exhausting (which can lead to social fatigue or burnout) and is particularly adverse for mental health (anxiety, depression), self-perception, and self-esteem. Autistic individuals are acutely aware of their differences energetically, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and their acute sensitivity to sensory experiences and stimuli gives them a remarkable view of the world.
Hyper-focus, a common trait of autistic individuals is an ability to focus on details for a long period of time. Surrendering is the strength of detaching from what life must look like (fixed outcomes) and the science of finding something thanks to an observant mind. The energy of people aspiring to create, teamed with the surrender of the autistic mind, is powerful and creative. There is a natural love of learning, a fascination with facts, an ability to listen without judgement or assumption, a maintenance of order and accuracy, a pursuit of personal theory despite conflicting evidence, and a heightened awareness of details which leads to great insights. Connections (as distinct from socialising which is internalising social norms) provide meaning in relationships with people (sincerity, loyalty, authenticity), objects or stimuli (special interests). By, offering respect, support, and flexibility (accommodations in the workplace and education systems), we will encourage self-determination, empowerment, and innovations for the good of all. A diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder can allow autistic individuals to stand with pride and connect to their tribe.
The Problem-Solving Mind
The problem-solving mind can lead to inattention, impulsivity, and hyper-activity. Adults who present with ADHD often describe their frustration of the mind leading them towards new topics of discussion and questions of great importance (which presents as the mind wandering, tangential thinking, and disengaging) and a sense of not feeling satisfied (a craving for stimulation). Rejection Sensitivity and emotional hyperarousal precipitates clinically significant symptoms of distress.
The ADHD mind has an interest-based nervous system that is not motivated by rewards and consequences and this can eventuate in motivational and time challenges and achieving below potential (e.g., not finishing what one starts). A strength-based perspective does not deny that ADHD carries potentially life-threatening risks and deficiencies, however, it also seeks to acknowledge the talents, interests, and skills upon which the person can build a life of success and joy. If a person is genuinely proud of who they are, it helps them to navigate the world better. In this way, expectations become more realistic and do not require the person to meet standards that are unreasonable. Flexibility allows people to minimize the negative and leverage on the positive.
There are many strengths of the problem-solving mind, including; increased energy, creativity, innovative thinking, high motivation, and the ability to hyper-focus. Many celebrated innovators of past and present are known or thought to have had ADHD. People with ADHD tend to thrive in situations of rapid change, variety, and environments that reward creativity and out of the box thinking.
The Existential Mind:
When existential thoughts are directed towards the self in a punitive-way they have nothing encouraging to say and there is a sense of overwhelm. When your mind wanders to an existential headspace (what is the meaning of life, where do I fit in) it is difficult to focus on the present moment and challenge unhelpful thinking. Existential thoughts directed on a macro level evaluate the way human beings act towards one another, nature, and/or the cruelty of animals. This may be particularly detrimental to a person’s mental health when they believe that they have used up their responses in their coping repertoire and develop maladaptive thinking about their plight. The values people hold (authenticity, integrity, fairness, kindness) tend to match people’s triggers of anger. One of the strongest factors in fuelling anger and keeping it going is when attitudes and expectations clash with the real world (I need the world to be fair and just).
Existential thinkers acknowledge suffering in the world and imagine a better way. The character strength of transcending provides existential thinkers with meaning, connection, and creativity.
The Entrepreneurial Mind
The creativity, energy, productivity, charm and euphoria of the entrepreneurial mind can create businesses (in a variety of industries) that have a positive impact on society. Entrepreneurial ventures can also create jobs and conditions for a prosperous society. Unfortunately, these perceived advantages are only temporary and, for most people, progress to increasing mania, disruptive lifestyle choices, poor impulse control, increased substance abuse, and can lead to psychosis. Bipolar Disorder requires ongoing management with the right medical support (psychiatric care) to achieve an overall sense of balance and prevent symptoms from exacerbating.
Whilst it is important to achieve self-care and balance, it is also important to follow your heart and trust that you will do great things. A fear of fostering strengths, talents, and interests can leave people feeling disconnected and not valuing themselves. Embracing your authentic self is an effective formula for success. Entrepreneurial minds are not afraid to make mistakes or give things a go, and often their creativity is stifled by other people imposing their limits upon others. Entrepreneurial minds have a wealth of new ideas and are productive. When you build a healthy self-concept, clients are eager to learn and are more likely to develop a self-compassionate mindset that acknowledges that support is vital and needed. Neurodivergent clients have an admirable level of psychological grit.
To all of the beautiful minds I have had the privilege of working with, I acknowledge the valuable contribution you bring to this world with the utmost respect. The ripple effect of these beautiful minds benefits many people for years to come. What these minds share in common is an altruistic concern for the wellbeing of the collective. Jung quotes: “If you are a gifted person, it doesn’t mean that you gained something. It means you have something to give back.” Greatness can be achieved through diversity.
Please note: The Functional Legacy Mindset Five Mind Model should not be used to replace a face-to-face clinical interview to assess the diagnosis of mental health concerns and the content of this blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing significant emotional difficulties, you should contact your GP to obtain a referral to see a qualified professional.