Re-imaging the workplace: Making mental fitness important as food and as popular as sport

Making mental fitness important as food and as popular as sport

Well, I closed my article last week by seeming to suggest that security was a weakness. I believe that there is a desire, subtly as it might be, for comfort in uncertainty. There is pain and anxiety in uncertainty, and one wishes it was not that tumultuous. Now, imagine a life of comfort in uncertainty. Would you like that? Why? I think you realise that it is almost impossible not to be confronted by uncertainty. Maybe as you read this article, a lot is uncertain in your life, and you are anxious and wondering how things will end.

Covid-19 threw all of us into serious uncertainty when it hit the world. We were uncertain about our own lives, and wondered if we would make it through the pandemic. We did not even know when it would end and lived in fear, wondering what would become of us. Such torrid times make us afraid and sometimes even selfish. It becomes a moment of survival, and we think first of ourselves.

Now, imagine that you had been training yourself to live under uncertain conditions and had gotten to a point where you felt you could dance with uncertainty. Would that not have made you thrive under those conditions? Is possible to train the self in that kind of strength? Let’s treat the subject of whether it is possible to train the self in that kind of strength later and for now let us deal thoroughly with the goodness of being ok with uncertainty.

If being able to live and even maybe thrive in uncertainty is not a strength, then one can conclude that life is sad and sadistic and whoever oversees what is happening in this life is indeed a sadist. Why? Because there is so much uncertainty in life the world over. The question that begs for answers is whether this plethora of uncertainty is meant to destroy human beings or it’s a nudge to seek strength and a good relationship with it? What do you think?

To think that the presence of uncertainty in the world is ill-intended by the universe is to do oneself a disservice because it means whenever it hits us, we panic and are sad. The humanbody, its biology, chemistry, and neurology do not support the way we react to uncertainty.

Panicking, for example, triggers a whole lot of trouble in the mind, emotions, body, and energy

of a person. Do you think that the creator would have been so cruel and sadistic as to make us go through something in that way that it destroys us and makes us worse off? I mean the scientific and natural body reactions are so bad that it shows we are not ideally meant to experience uncertainty that way, but it does seem that we are meant to experience it because it’s there, everywhere.

A human being gets worse by the way they react to challenges, uncertainty being one of them and a big one for that matter. I know I have written a lot about the neuro-biochemistry of thought, emotions, and body of a human being but my intention now is to make this type of knowledge as popular as sport and as important as food. I will therefore repeat what I have saidbefore as many times as necessary until mental fitness becomes the order of the day. Yes, I believe that these are mental fitness issues. Eckhart Tolle speaks about ‘dysfunctional inner states…’ that arise in a human being when they fail to interact with challenges appropriately.

These dysfunctional inner states lead to dysfunctional behaviors and for many, dysfunctional physical body functions and dysfunctional energy. This puts a human being in a disastrous state and reduces the quality of their life in many areas of their life.

The biggest loss is that as this person stands and with all those dysfunctions that have been triggered by say a thought brought about by uncertainty, for example, their desire and actions want to get out of that uncertainty, but the dysfunctions have already dulled their whole system and thus making it more difficult to come out of the rut than they were when they started. In other words, their reactivity exposes them to worse conditions and for many, makes it impossible to overcome their problem. It looks as if nature conspires against the person to further drag them into worse conditions.

I do not think that nature conspires against anyone. I think that all these negatives that come

because of our reaction to uncertainty and other challenges are just like the role of pain in some instances. If you observe closely, you will see that pain does play a good role in some instances. Take for instance, you trying to pluck your eye out. Pain protects you from performing that mad act and you stop. If there was no pain, maybe some people would mutilate their bodies and we would be meeting people with no nose, eyes, or other body parts.

Look at the many hair styles we have, simply because the cells of human hair are dead, and we can cut it without pain.

The horror we experience, and I know that many do not know about it even as they experience it, in my opinion, is meant to say we should not interact with challenges that way. It says stop right there or risk damaging yourself, the way pain says stop pressing your eye like that because you will burst it and experience untold pain.

This then means that the first task for all mental health and mental fitness practitioners is to

create awareness and understanding regarding what happens when we interact with uncertainty in a negative manner, with fear and despondency. The whole of humanity must know about the dangers of the dysfunctions that come because of fear and anxiety brought about by this ignorance. It is from that understanding and foundation that we can then build the whole model and set many free from this rut we are stuck in.

It also makes sense to conclude that yes, it is possible to train oneself or to be trained in mental fitness and be fit and happy even as uncertainty rages. One can also conclude with some sense while we await research and empirical evidence, that security can be a weakness if not handled well. We close with the following quote as we prepare to further explore the subject of the possibility of mental fitness training and thriving under challenges such as uncertainty.

When you have a secure job, a secure family, made respectable by man, by law, by children, by everything, you have become dull. You may smile, but the actual fact is your sharpness has gone.

*Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu’s training is in human resources training, development and transformation, behavioural change, applied drama, personal mastery, and mental fitness. He works for a Zimbabwean company as human capital executive, while also doing a PhD with Wits University where he looks at violent strikes in the South African workplace as a researcher. Ndlovu worked as a human resources manager for several blue-chip companies in Zimbabwe and still takes keen interest in the affairs of people and performance management. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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