How Much Weight Can Your Mind Lift?
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
In one sense, the intangible mind cannot lift any weight at all. Even Einstein couldn’t lift a feather with his mind.
But in another respect, if you think of highly complicated physics problems as ‘mind weights,’ then maybe Einstein was the Mr. Universe in this event.
From this perspective, minds are always being challenged by ‘weights.’
The question is: How proficient are you at lifting them?
Sometimes, as for Einstein, ‘mind weights’ are intellectual problems.
But they are also difficulties such as sadness, anxiety, anger or frustration; obsessional or negative thoughts; relationship issues; injury or illness; or stress.
If you wish to improve your ability to lift any ‘mind weights’ that are bogging you down, engaging in ‘resistance training for your mind’ could be the ticket.
Just as lifting dumbbells, which is called resistance training, can strengthen your muscles, learning how to ‘resist’ your ‘mind weights’ may make you a stronger athlete of the mind.
In a funny way, when it comes to the mind, ‘resistance’ often goes hand in hand with ‘acceptance.’ By accepting pressing thoughts and feelings you will be better able to ‘resist’ letting them have a negative impact on your functioning. For example, if you ‘accept’ your anxious thoughts about speaking in public you can concentrate more on preparing a good talk, as opposed to fixating on what’s going on in your mind, which won’t help at all.
Finding the positive or the opportunity that is hidden in a problem is also a form of ‘resistance’ to allowing adversity to get the better of you. Not to minimize the ramifications of job loss but how many people have started a business after being laid off? Plenty, I’m sure.
Making a positive behavioral change that necessities ‘resisting’ procrastinating or giving up is also lifting ‘mind weights.’ Examples include facing rather than avoiding a feared situation, persisting through a boring or lengthy task, refraining from self-defeating behaviors such as self-medicating with alcohol or other substances, or maintaining self-control when you feel like reacting.
How about this? Select a mental ‘weight’ in your own life that you want to work on.
Then apply one or more of the strategies described above and see if that ‘weight’ starts to feel any more manageable. If so, keep training! Remember, just like exercising your muscles, it is best to start gradually and it will take some time and effort to see results.
However, if you feel like the ‘mind weight’ on your shoulders is simply too heavy to work on by yourself, consider seeking professional evaluation and treatment. Be mindful that, in certain cases, being able to work on your ‘mind weights’ effectively may also entail utilizing medication.
It may help to think of a mental health practitioner as a personal trainer but one that focuses on your mental rather than physical fitness.
The upshot is that with consistent practice, ‘resistance training’ may be an excellent way for you to boost your ability to ‘bench press’ life’s inevitable pressures.
Jonathan Hoffman, Ph.D., ABPP posts opinions and information to help you live a psychologically better life.