001 Knowledge

Below the video link is the transcript, or watch the video [link].

YouTube video – Knowledge

This is one of a series of videos of background concepts that are very important to mental health.

Today’s topic is Knowledge.

I am confident that you have probably heard the phrase “Knowledge is Power” – But how?

In Physics, the science of understanding the raw nature of the world, Power is defined as Work over Time. 

Don’t worry, we aren’t going to delve too deeply into physics at this point.

Work for humans is Effort – physical, mental, emotional, social and so on – if it takes you effort, you are doing work.

When we know th e outcome we are after, we can make a few choices and pick one that seems like the most efficient method to get the task done. With efficiency, we expend less effort and we are more effective. That is, we gain power through choice. How did we get that choice? Through knowing what our choices are – that is, knowledge.

It is more accurate to say that Knowledge gives you options, options allows for choices, smart choices give you greater efficiency and greater efficiency gives you greater power.

That’s a bit cumbersome though.

Knowledge gives you power, because knowledge gives you better choices.

We often know when we are powerless – we feel like we have failed.

We often don’t recognise when we are powerful – because that is normal.

Experiment time: Look around and notice a small object on a thing. Pick it up…. Did you succeed? If so, did you recognise the application of power? You had a goal, you put in some effort and you got a success.

Now imagine a scenario where you failed. Perhaps the item is glued to the surface, or you have a physical condition where you can’t move. Or someone is stopping you. Perhaps that someone is yourself – depression is not fun.

This failure to do what should be easy prompts you to feel powerless.

It is an odd thing, in humans, that the two outcomes create such different levels of feelings. On the one hand, we barely notice success, on the other hand, we really notice failure.

Back to knowledge – if you know why you failed to do the thing, then you can start to make a plan to succeed where before you failed. That understanding brings knowledge, and knowledge gives options, options gives choice and that brings you back to a position of power – that is, you can get things done.

A good deal of mental health is knowledge. 

Thought experiment time.

There is a boulder. You are told by The Boss that it needs to be somewhere else and that you need to move it. So you put work into moving the boulder, which will take time. It’s too heavy to lift, so you roll it some distance away. You have exercised your power. Physics completed.

You are told by The Boss that this is the wrong place, so you need to move it again. The effort you put into moving the boulder has been wasted.

How many times will you move the boulder hoping that it you move it to the right place before The Boss nods approval?

In Mental Health, we often know when something is wrong, but we don’t know what right looks like. We are moving that boulder around randomly, hoping to stumble on success. A more efficient way is to gain a bit of knowledge.

You ask, and The Boss tells you where they want it.

Now you know where to move it.

In this series of videos, we want to cut down the trial and error. 

If you understand the nature of the problem, you can start to use an efficient solution.

Back to the boulder.

What is the best way to move the boulder? So far, in this thought experiment we have rolled it. Perhaps with enough people we could lift it. Or if we are going to have to move it many times, it is time to get some tools involved.

There is more than one way to move a boulder, and more than one place to put that boulder. 

What I am trying to say here is that there are many ways to get mentally healthy and many ways that mental health can look. One solution doesn’t fit all circumstances.

So while we want to cut down the trial and error of mental health, we need to acknowledge that each situation requires its own good solution.

Knowledge of mental health does not require one outcome, but it can reduce randomly looking for your solution.