Psychological Distress is at an all time high…why?
Despite the many beautiful inventions and technologies that we’ve built over the centuries, we now find ourselves in dire straits. We’ve been so focused on making society more productive and efficient, that we’ve not noticed something of significant importance.
Imagine you are an octopus hovering on the seabed. You’ve caught sight of a crab for your dinner. You wait patiently. You are watching your prey and being careful not to scare it off. Months of practice has turned you into a proficient hunter. All your attention is laser-eyed on the prize…you are about to pounce. Suddenly, a seal swoops down from above and gobbles you up.
Having a focus can be both good and bad. You can get close to the detail of your task. You can hone your skills and be a star performer. The flip side is you lose awareness of what else is happening around you. Unless it’s imminently life-threatening, you can choose to ignore it. In our pursuits to be efficient and productive, we’ve neglected our collective well-being. Mental health problems or psychological distress are at an all-time high!
Human Suffering is a problem of culture and evolution
The significant causes of suffering are cultural. Suffering and pain are different. Pain in life is inevitable. Suffering is not. When you have ambition, you will fail. When you love fully, you will grieve a loss. Suffering is something that we create when we try to avoid pain.
In the western world, we promote individualism. We believe that ‘I should be able to thrive on my own’. This ‘rule’ goes in the opposite direction of all we know about evolution. Humans have evolved in small groups. It is the behaviours of a group that determines the well-being of its members. Not all animals need the group. Bears stay with their mother after they’re born and then when they’re old enough, they go off by themselves. They only get together with other bears for sex. You are not a bear, of course. Humans evolve when we belong. We sink and die when we don’t, and there is a reason loneliness kills people. It’s toxic!
When our solutions focus on problems or defects within the individual, we buy into the same cultural catastrophe. By saying your thoughts are irrational or that you aren’t doing enough, we are sending a message, that it’s all your fault. We are asking people to fix themselves. We are pointing the finger and saying, get more efficient. Be better at managing your ‘self’. And, if we keep doing that, then what the stats have shown us, is that rates of stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness will keep rising.
We need to build a new Culture
Where do we start? Well, to build a new culture, we need a different philosophy. The good news is that a different philosophy already exists. It just hasn’t gotten into our water supply yet. It still sits on the fringe of how we think and how we act.
If you are interested in reading more about the Openforwards Method, you can download the full report. Inside the report, you’ll read about:
- What kind of Culture we need
- How we meet the challenge of rising levels of psychological distress
- What Contextual Behavioural Science has to offer
- The Power of Empathy, Compassion and Flexibility
- The many ways that you and I can work together