OK so we talk about the mind-muscle connection as it relates to physical strength and deliberately contracting a muscle to help foster its repair, strength, and growth.
I pose the question: “What is the difference between the phrase “mental health” and the phrase “physical health?” I mean, besides the one innocent word preceding the term “health,” of course. Let’s be honest here, if I were to initiate a conversation about physical health, I could expect an immediate understanding, and lively discussion about priorities, trends, and different ideas about how to reach your optimum physical health. The conversation, I imagine, would be full of questions, personal experiences and debates about the many aspects of physical fitness, almost completely without stigma, judgement, or shame. Now imagine a different conversation. When someone says the words “mental health.” The aura changes immediately. Body language stiffens, facial expressions reflect uneasiness; the chatter stops as if you were buzzed in Taboo for saying a word on the no-go list. How can a difference in one word change the entire feel of someone’s conversation? How can work on your biceps, quads, or hamstrings be applauded and deeply sought out but work on your brain, the organ that outperforms all others and is in charge of all bodily functions, be shamed and judged? The neural pathways that send signals to your brain are just as important, if not more intricate, sensitive, and worthy of focus than muscular circuitry. Why are there hundreds of resources offered, discussed, and available for increasing muscular strength and corrective exercises for improving physical problems, yet such limited resources for mental health issues most of which are cost prohibitive? I have so many questions about this physical/mental health dichotomy. Unfortunately, I have come to realize that this is not a topic I can easily discuss with many people because their discomfort is so clear.
The fact that the mere suggestion of having a mental health issue creates a suffocating silence is one of the reasons that so many people suffer. The fear of being judged becomes emotionally paralyzing, and the person then begins to feel too ashamed to speak up about their emotional conflicts and isolation. The feeling of needing to keep quiet about emotional pain is one of the reasons people often delay, or flatly refuse, to seek help.
How do you foster MIND-muscle connection without freely being able to work on the mind? How do you expect the best results in overall human performance when half of the equation is left out?