How to strengthen your psychological immune system
The Corona crisis shows in a special way that some people react with great fear, almost panic, to the general uncertainty, while others remain inwardly calm and keep their own perspective.
In this text, I deal with the question of why this is so from the perspective of the psychologist. I show you why Fear Poison for our immune system is how you express your fear through Stabilization of your self-value and why this even helps to strengthen your immune system.
Crises reveal the character
In challenging situations the inner stability of a person - his or her self-worth and self-assurance. How strong these are depends on the early childhood imprint that is firmly anchored in the character of every human being. Profound life experiences and existential needs are also able to Self-Security and fundamentally shake a person's self-esteem.
The early childhood imprint
I will make a very simplified subdivision of this approach here - everything else would be too complex for this article. Of course, there are hybrid forms of the two forms as I sketch them here.
Resistance - anger - defence against appropriation
There are people who learned early on to go their own way and to take care of themselves. Mostly the reasons for this early learned behaviour are lack of parental care or even neglect. Those who have had this experience will be more likely to react suspiciously to external guidelines for the rest of their lives. For people for whom this early childhood imprint is dominant, the following are self-determined thinking and independent action "normal.
What's the consequence? These people generally tend to react with anger than with fear when they find themselves in a challenging or unsettling life situation. They show a high degree of self-confidence and self-confidence because they are used to trust themselves and their personal perception. Their feelings and behaviour are basically rather rebellious, non-conformist and fearlesswhat their inner Strength and independence shows.
adaptation - fear - longing for protection and belonging
Most people experience a different reality in their early childhood. They have loving parents. But they attach conditions to their caring attitude. This usually happens covertly or even unconsciously. They want to be "loved" for their care, they demand adjustment and harmony and subtly threaten punishment for behaviour that goes against these requirements.
In the case of misconduct, the child is judged to be wrong, selfish and "bad", which of course no child wants to be, let alone be able to endure. If the child behaves in an appropriate manner, it experiences membership in the group and the feeling of being "right".
In this way, fear and insecurity as a fundamental emotion arises in most people at a very early age. If they show themselves to be maladjusted, these emotions appear. Therefore, they avoid appropriate behaviour. The basic Tendency to fear/insecurity is already activated by low triggers and is caused again and again. This is early childhood imprinting, which we can only break through when we understand the subtle mechanisms.
Dealing with crisis situations
In crisis situations, the early childhood imprint is particularly strong, as it provides inner security. This is why many people tend to be overly afraid in the face of the corona pandemic, while others rebel angrily against the "paternalism" of security measures.
However, the best way to deal with crises is only the person who is able to has made early childhood imprinting conscious and take a mature attitude about it. He connects his inner feeling with the outer realityperceives fellow human beings and the world surrounding him as a whole.
In dealing with crises he asks himself:
- What is my own view of reality?
- How do I see the world around me and my fellow human beings?
- Which emotions are active for me as a result?
- How do I react to my fellow human beings?
- How do I want to handle this?
- What is really important to me right now?
Such behaviour expresses a stable self valuewhich can be acquired through practice. How, I show in the following sections of this article. But first a short digression on the topic of fear - and why it is poison for our body's immune system.
Fear - a great inner need for protection
People who are prone to great fear and adaptation have an extremely strong need to protect themselves. Under no circumstances do they want to be a target for insults and injuries from others. Therefore, they tend to follow the instructions of (supposed) authorities. Thus the Responsibility for what happens to the others and not with them. It's important for them to feel "right." Because this state is easier to achieve at work than in often complicated private life, these people tend to concentrate on their job, to sacrifice themselves there. This makes them feel safe and calm.
But often enough, security is only appearance. Own wishes and needs fall by the wayside. If recognition, affirmation and rewards fail to materialise even in the seemingly controllable world of work, these people are often very disappointed, offended and embittered. At this point, stress reactions quickly occur - illnesses occur, accidents happen, a nervous-hormonal breakdown (Burnout) may follow.
Fear is poison for the immune system
Psychosocial stress, fears, loneliness or exclusion weaken the immune system. The young science of psychoneuroimmunology is concerned with investigating the connections between psyche, nervous system and immune system. It proves that life satisfaction, positive feelings, good relationships, the experience of perspective, self-determination, meaning of life and security in the community strengthen the immune system and improve our resistance against viruses or bacteria.
On the other hand, anyone who experiences anxiety will be flooded with anxiety and stress hormones within seconds. If this persists over a longer period of time or occurs again and again, this leads to damage to the immune system.
This brings us back to the corona crisis: anxious people experience the state of danger in a special way. The psychosocial stress for them due to the media coverage focused on COVID-19 and especially due to fake news via Twitter and Instagram is enormous. Panic, fear and loneliness thus develop into a disease factor of their own. The big question is here: What's the worse virus? The fear virus with its destructive consequences for the body, soul and spirit of humans or the corona virus with its still undefined consequences?
But what definitely strengthens a person is a stable self-value!
Learn in the following sections what this is and how you can develop a stable self-value.
The difference between self-love and egoism
Important for the development of a stable self-value are Self-love and self-care. However, there is a moral component that stands in the way of many people at this point: Self-love and active self-care are often perceived as selfish and negatively evaluated.
One picture illustrates the absurdity of this attitude: the safety regulations in the aircraft. There it explicitly says: "Please put the oxygen mask on your own mouth and nose area first, before you help other passengers, including your children." And that's exactly what it says: How does it help to help others first and then collapse yourself?
If you look at this reality, it becomes clear very quickly: Only those who take good care of themselves can be there for others. This is banal and yet very obvious.
The prerequisite for a strong self value: self-determination
The first step on the path to self-determination is self-knowledge. Everyone - even an anxious person - can achieve this if they realistically evaluate facts and their emotions.
These questions will help you to get ahead:
- What are the actual facts?
- How are my acute emotions?
- What does this existing reality do to me?
The second step is to take the insights you have gained seriously!
This step, his accepting personal realityis crucial to everything else. Because if I accept my self-knowledge and take it seriously, it also means taking on the responsibility that follows and bearing the consequences. However, many people shy away from this. Fear takes the lead, they take a defensive stance. It is therefore important to make an active decision about how you want to live in the future.
The third step is the decision. The question behind it is:
What inner attitude does a person want to take towards life?
- Do I want to go on be a child and relinquish my responsibility or be guided by external factors?
- Or do I want be an adult, Taking personal responsibility for my thoughts and actions and taking my well-being into my own hands?
This decision is fundamental. It essentially changes the course of individual life.
How do anxious people manage this change of attitude?
The most important thing is that the person concerned takes care of himself and puts his personal wishes at the centre of his own life. Sometimes this change of attitude only succeeds when the situation is perceived as hopeless. Then it takes a break from routine, for example through an accident, an illness, the loss of a loved one's job.
But Changes take place even without dramatic triggers. So there are people who, because of another experience or because they want to, find the taste for self-determination and life design. If they follow this taste like a "trail" and develop the necessary perseverance, they will voluntarily and self-determinedly follow their path to stable self-value.
This way is the optimal variant!
Rebuild internal security: The 7-step exercise
In adult life, everyone is responsible for themselves and their personal well-being, regardless of their childhood experiences. If people are willing to accept this task and to follow the necessary path consistently, they are also able to dissolve childhood disabilities and to build up a new, self-initiated self-worth.
With the following instructions in seven steps I show you how the path to active self-strengthening in adult life is possible.
Step 1: Dealing with yourself
Spend ten minutes a day actively dealing with the following questions:
- What's good for me?
- What strengthens me?
- What feeds me?
- What inspires me?
- What do I enjoy?
- What is really important to me in my life?
- What makes me deeply happy?
This is how you do it:
- Make sure you have these ten minutes to yourself.
- Have a DIN A4 sheet of paper ready for each question.
- First lie down flat on the floor and allow yourself to do nothing. Spread your arms and legs, palms down. Let the floor carry you, imagine yourself sinking deeper and deeper into the ground with the help of gravity.
- After this relaxation exercise, sit up and start thinking about the questions.
- Spread the notes around you like a fan and write down whatever comes to your mind at that moment.
- Write down your answers to the same questions every day - even if they are repeated.
Let us surprise you!
Step 2: Take yourself seriously
Read your notes after the first week. Be loving with yourself and let the answers you get be uncensored. Take yourself seriously, avoid any evaluation and consistently continue to search for your own individual answers.
Step 3: Discover your red thread
Most of the time there is some kind of consistency in the different sections and answers. You will also notice this when you read through your notes.
- Maybe you are a person who needs activity and initiative for your well-being.
- But maybe you are also a person who needs contemplation, space and time.
But no matter what you need and what is good for you - please let it be there and give it attention. Allow yourself to discover the red thread on your way to more well-being and take him and you absolutely seriously.
You'll see, it's worth it!
Step 4: Intensify what makes you stronger
At the beginning of the second week of the 7-Steps-exercise, please choose one activity from each of three of your lists, which you will consistently perform in the new week.
- What's good for me? Sleeping in without an alarm clock.
- What feeds me? To sit in the sun.
- What inspires me? Walking everyday distances, e.g. to work.
Begin to incorporate these three activities into your daily life and keep doing so consistently for a week. Observe what you experience. The following questions can help you:
- What happens inside me when I do this?
- How do I experience myself with it and with it?
- How does that change me?
- What effect does this have on me?
In the following week, keep the first three activities and add one or two more. In the following week, keep these four or five activities and add one or two more. In this way you will gradually test all the plans on your lists and allow yourself a living experience with the different activities.
You'll find out: Some of the activities have a stronger impact than others. Please keep the particularly beneficial activities and integrate them consciously and decisively into your everyday life. In this way you will gradually establish A strengthening and nourishing approach to yourself. You will find that Your self-confidence increases rapidly and you very quickly become less anxious and less prone to disturbance.
Step 5: Develop persistence
If you keep doing things that are bad for you, you will damage your self-esteem and self-assurance. But if you decide to actively strengthen yourself, you will end this self-sabotage.
Therefore, consistently follow the activities in your life that strengthen you, that are good for you and that make you happy. Keep adding new things to your lists, experimenting with them and keeping what works. In this way, you will gradually develop a guide to the activities in your life that will strengthen your self-esteem and self-assurance in the long term.
Step 6: Shape your life yourself
You'll find out: Persistence pays off. The more consistently you do only what makes you strong and happy, the more secure, independent and self-determined you will become.
It will become easier and easier for you to perceive what is good for you, what strengthens you and what is poison for you. This ability to discern will extend to all areas of life - lifestyle, biorhythm, nutrition, clothing, work, relationships, movement, travel. You will experience more and more what good living feels like and how it strengthens your well-being. This is the Basis for a stable self value. Now it is up to you to make a conscious decision about what and who else you want in your life.
Step 7: Put self-worth first
You may ask yourself: isn't it selfish to always put your own well-being first in life? Is this compatible with life in an equal community? Yes, it is absolutely compatible.
A stable self-value is even the prerequisite for really being in touch with other people and also for caring for them. Think of the example with the oxygen mask in an airplane. Only when you are in good shape are you able to be there for others. Only when you love yourself are you able to feel true compassion for others.
How to build a stable self value with this exercise
If you do the described exercise consistently for a while, your attitude towards life, your relationship to yourself and your relationship to all other areas in your life will change. You will feel like a new person - promised!
Forgive yourself relapses and mistakes - they are part of being human. They only show that at that moment you were missing something, like an insight, a knowledge or Mindfulness. So be gracious and loving with yourself while doing the 7-step-exercise, then you will quickly reach your new way of the consequent Self-love.
Apply this program for 40 days, and during this time, watch closely how you and your life change. The 40-day rule originates from Lent (time-honoured rituals often offer a high level of experience). Make your decision afterwards how you want to live on.
I promise you that in this way you will actively and self-determinedly build up a stable self-value and a lasting self-respect - no matter what childhood imprint you bring with you. And: You are demonstrably less prone to fear and scary news.
Stable self value - strong immune system
What sustainably strengthens us in times of crisis is a stable immune system. The psyche contributes a great deal to this. Feeling comfortable with yourself and your own life is therefore the Basic requirement for a successful immune defence.
The current corona crisis has been triggered by a virus. Viruses attack our immune system, but so do fear, insecurity, loneliness and existential need. A stable self-worth has a lot to offer in the face of these challenges, and you have it in your hands: Make an active decision to actively counteract the fear and insecurity in To offer your inner self a different way than falling into worry, stress and panic.
Actively find an inner attitude that gives you the conviction that you will independently develop a constructive approach to everything that happens - whether illness, loss of a loved one or existential need. Nourish and strengthen this inner attitude. This is how you gain the securitythat you are able to deal with the demands and find a self-determined way through the crisis.
The good news is that you can change yourself. You have influence on your emotions, your thoughts and actions - a lot more than you may have learned so far.
This article is a guest contribution from Lisa Carpenter.
My way of working with you is deep, intense, realistic and 100% solution oriented. I enable you to recognize what is essential for you, to take it seriously and to use it for your professional success as well as your private happiness.
Finding and realizing your full potential together with you is magical. The resulting solutions are unexpected and great for you and also for me. Synergies arise, the flow effect sets in - an exciting overall process is set in motion.
For me, this is the most wonderful way to work. It is always a great pleasure for me to be part of such a process, because it gives my life meaning.