The Most Essential Discovery of Your Lifetime—and You Don’t Even Know About It
In the November 26th issue of Sports Illustrated, Michael Bamberger wrote an editorial column, “Emotional Rescue,” in which he talked about mental health issues in sports. I read it with interest. In this column, Bamberger asserts that professional athletes who are victims of panic attacks, drug addictions, alcoholism, and OCD “put a human face on mental health issues too often ignored.” He does not, however, discuss what could be done about these issues, nor does he write about the alarming fact that the number of athletes (and people, for that matter) who struggle with mental health issues appears to be growing every day.
Now, before you tell me that mental health issues in athletics and elsewhere were always prevalent, but the public just has access to more information now, consider this: Virtually every professional sports organization in the world today has trained mental coaches or sports psychologists on staff and readily available to players. And in individual sports such as golf and tennis, athletes have the same services at their beck and call. Likewise, off the field in our high schools, bullying cases are growing by leaps and bounds in spite of the fact that bullying specialists are present at nearly every high school in the United States.
The question is why? Why, with all the self-help resources on hand today (including a self-help market oversaturated with books and videos), are these psychological issues not improving, at least a little bit?
The answer has to do with the training and methodology of therapists, counselors, and self-help experts—not only today, but throughout the history of psychology. For the most part, mental coaches and psychologists are trained to examine behavior, judge behavior, and then offer ways to fix behavior: psychological techniques, hypnosis, meditative practices, exercise, motivational tools, positive thinking methods, or codes of conduct. All to no avail. Focusing on behavior (doing something), in order to improve behavior, is just not helping people find long-term peace of mind—much less help them live lives of harmony, productivity, and excellence.
So what will?
Before I answer, I want to tell you about the man considered to be the father of modern psychology, William James, and a man who James would love to have worked with, Sydney Banks.
James published his most prominent work, The Principles of Psychology in 1890. In it, he likened the 1890 state of psychology to the state of physics before Galileo came along (over 200 years earlier) and introduced or supported many of the scientific theories accepted as truth today. However, even though most people thought it groundbreaking, James considered his work in psychology to be somewhat deficient and only exploratory because, while he knew they must exist, he had not discovered the causal laws that would allow for the prediction and influence of mental life. He claimed, “Such knowledge, realized on a large scale, would be an achievement compared with which the control of the rest of physical nature would be relatively insignificant.”
To put it simply, James knew that analyzing one’s behavior, and trying to manage or change it, would ultimately not help people. To him, there had to exist universal principles (like in other scientific disciplines) that governed why human beings did what they did.
These principles are precisely what Sydney Banks was fortunate enough to discover forty years ago (see www.SydneyBanks.org or www.3pgc.org): The innate principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought. And Syd spent the rest of his life sharing and teaching these inherent principles.
As a result, thousands of people, including me, my clients, and my audiences, have benefited from the simple truth that each of us experiences a thought-created reality—not a circumstance-created reality. Hence, the answer to any mental health issue is not found in behavior specific to that issue. The answer is found in the degree to which a person understands the varying nature of thought, how thoughts are brought to life by one’s level of consciousness, and the inner workings of the human mind. To Syd, as it was to James, digging into the details of a specific psychological issue in order to help someone was not only irrelevant, it was also counterproductive.
To explain one’s feelings, then, Syd pointed people inward, toward how the mind functions; not outward, toward circumstances. He found, time and time again, that people led a more peaceful, successful, and loving life when they grasped that their psychological perspective was constantly changing and that this perspective determined the quality of their life experience—their life experience did not create their psychological perspective.
Yet, regrettably, the mental health establishment did not buy in, or appreciate the implications of Syd’s teachings, to a large degree. And although those of us who learned from Syd have made inroads in recent years, millions of people continue to suffer. What became clear to me as I read Bamberger’s column is that two roadblocks exist today that prevent Syd’s discovery from helping more people. Here, in brief, are those roadblocks:
1. For many in the field of therapy, and for many who need help, it is just too simple to explain one’s mental health by the depth to which a person understands the principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought—as opposed to delving into circumstances, one’s past, or behavior.
2. It doesn’t appear, to many self-help experts who should know better, to be commercially profitable to point people inward—toward the fact that the human mind is designed to default to tranquility on its own—as opposed to providing external strategies, mental techniques, rah-rah speeches, or quick behavioral fixes that divorce people from their innate ability to overcome. What these self-help experts continue to offer are nothing but marketable gimmicks that prey on the insecurities of those who are suffering. I’m not saying these experts are doing this intentionally; it’s just that since most experts don’t understand how the mind works themselves, they fall victim to their own errant thinking (and insecurities), just like their clients do.
In summary, to me, the turbulent state of affairs of the world we live in (Bamberger points out that sports represents a microcosm of this world) proves that William James was dead on. Until we look toward the psychological principles behind behavior—Sydney Banks’s essential discovery—and not toward behavior, we will continue to use therapeutic and cognitive strategies that are “relatively insignificant.” As James feared, people today are simply looking in the wrong place—thus, turmoil, strife, and conflict abound.
All I ask is that you reflect on the prediction of William James and the epiphany of Sydney Banks and consider how they relate to your personal trials and tribulations. Like most people, including mental health experts, you can keep grinding, searching, and looking outside for explanations and answers. Or you can look inward and see that your experiences are all born from your thinking.
Sydney Banks made an essential—no, monumental—discovery, so consider taking full advantage of it. I encourage you to point yourself in the direction of three principles that you already own—Mind, Consciousness, and Thought—then let life take care of itself. I believe that it will, with relative ease.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please reach out if you have any questions or want to learn more.
Garret Kramer is the founder of Inner Sports. His clients include Olympians, NHL, MLB, and collegiate players and coaches, and he often conducts seminars about his “inside-out” paradigm for performance excellence. Garret has been featured on ESPN, WFAN, FOX, and NPR; and in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Sports Illustrated. He is the author of the book, Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life, www.stillpower.com.