Mental health: managing your reaction to events

Open hands healthy, clenched hands unhealthy.  Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

When difficulties happen, we are immediately given a dilemma:

  1. Do I respond by getting annoyed, blaming other people, and trying to change them?
  2. Do I respond by staying calm, accepting things as they are, and exercising patience?
Generally speaking, the first response causes mental ill-health, and the second response causes peace.


One of the problems of the first response, is that it acts as a catalyst for projection.  If your primary response, when things go wrong, is to blame others, then you have already set the direction of flow of your attention.  Projection diverts corrective attention away from the self, and on to others.

The reason why projection can cause mental ill-health, is that it creates a world in which others have to be watched and managed constantly.  If the world is always at fault, then the blamer has an enormous task to try to correct everything in the world.  In its extreme forms, projection can extend into paranoid delusions, in which a person attributes to others faults and bad characteristics which are well beyond the bounds of realism.  Others are considered to be spying or plotting against the person, without good evidence.

In this way, irritation becomes a rod for our own back.  When we are irritated, we are unconsciously taking on responsibility for correcting the entire world until it fits our profile for living – an impossible task.  Watch someone liable to road rage, and you will see what I mean.  They are very ready to blame others for difficulties on the road, and use up a lot of energy as self-appointed distributors of blame, and aggressive correctors of others.


A more mentally healthy approach is to learn to manage one’s own response to events.  Instead of trying to correct everything in the world, the thinker simply works on their own thoughts and actions.

The reason why acceptance causes mental wellbeing, is that it gives the thinker a rest from constant watchfulness.  If the world is not at fault, then we are relieved from the responsibility of correcting it.  We will see more clearly, since we are not trying to project our difficulties onto others by distorting their attributes in our minds.  We can simply watch.

Acceptance gives the mind a holiday from constant blaming.  We can attend to our own behaviour, which is the only behaviour we can really affect.



When I experience difficulties today, will I blame others, or will I accept the situation?

Will I be able to spot my own bias, when I start attributing fault to others, and getting frustrated when they don’t do what I want them to?

Will I be able to rein back my urge to blame, and instead work on accepting all situations, and learning to watch patiently?

Will I notice that, when blaming others, I become mentally unhealthy?

Will I notice that, when accepting, I become mentally healthy and peaceful?