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Poverty: A Holistic Definition- Mental Poverty

Updated on August 22, 2010

Mental Poverty

In a continuing look at poverty, we have learned that poverty is affected by much more than a lack of money. Those with a lot of money can be experiencing poverty. In the previous hub we took a look at emotional poverty. Now let's turn our attention to mental poverty.

This subject can be controversial, but doesn't need to be. There are those who struggle with mental illness. I want to make a distinction between mental illness and mental poverty. Mental illness occurs when a person has a defect of the brain that cannot be controlled by the person themselves. Mental illness can manifest itself in many ways. Mental poverty occurs when a person acts in inappropriate ways, has abnormal thoughts, or reacts to circumstances in unusual ways. Mental poverty is different than mental illness in that the person can overcome the struggle with help and lead a normal life.

Causes of Mental Poverty

While there may be numerous causes for a person struggling mentally, following are a few of the most common causes.

1. Learned behavior

The fact is that many of us are a result of our upbringing or society around us. We learn to react to life by the way we saw it from our family or from those we are in contact with daily. My wife reminds from time to time how much I am like my parents. When I was younger I was determined to not be like my parents with their flaws, but at last I have followed the way of all people and carried my parents flaws into my own life. Fortunately I have been able to overcome some of them.

There are those who were brought up in very difficult homes and learned very wrong ways of dealing with life. These individuals may have a constant struggle with suicidal thoughts, extreme anger, extreme depression, shutting down mentally when life gets tough, etc. For these individuals, good counseling will go a long way in learning the right way to deal mentally with life.

2. Lack of Education

I work as a volunteer in the court system and have seen individuals come through with little to no education. Because of this they commit crimes with no thought of the consequences. Education opens our minds so that we can think on a broader plain. We have difficulty as humans discovering life on our own. We need mentors along the way to teach us what they have learned. Those who did not have those mentors are making life up as they go, and not able to fully discover how life works.

Education goes beyond traditional school as well. We need to be educated on how to think through things, solve problems and how to look at all options before us. A good mentor is helpful when we were not taught these principles growing up.

3. Lack of Support

When someone does not have positive role models and supportive friends in their life they very well may end up with mental struggles. When someone is constantly put down and surrounded with negativity they will develop low self esteem, constantly accusing themselves. For anyone to be strong mentally they need a group of friends who support them and guide them positively through life's struggles. In my own life it is the people who cheered me on when I was down that made the difference. Choosing to let go of people who are constantly down on you and surrounding yourself with those who build you up is a step in the right direction in achieving mental wholeness.

Achieving mental wholeness

Once you have recognized what you lack mentally and the things that contribute to that, it is time to journey towards mental wholeness. How do you do that?

1. Humble yourself and learn

One of the most difficult things to do in terms of overcoming mental poverty is to humble ourselves enough to admit we have the struggle, to accept help and to learn new ways of dealing with life. Just like someone with an addiction, a difficult first step is to admit you have the problem. Once you do this though you will experience freedom and healing.

2. Do the tough work

In Western society we want everything quick and easy. Overcoming mental poverty is neither quick nor easy. However, the rewards are worth the time and effort. Determine now that you will stick it out to the end. You will be glad that you did.

3. Find mentors and friends

Look for mentors who will guide you well and for friends who will support and encourage you through your struggle to overcome. A life coach may be in order at this point. You may consider someone who once struggled mentally and overcame.They will be your best resource. As mentioned earlier it is important to be surrounded by those who have your back through this. They will be friends who lift you up and keep you going when it gets tough.

4. Give back

For a while you will have to be on the receiving end of everything as you find healing and wholeness, but once you are mentally strong it will be time to give back. At this point the right thing to do is to find others who are where you started and teach and guide them in what you learned.

Going through the fight of overcoming mental poverty is tough, but the reward of finding wholeness is well worth it. I encourage you that if you find yourself in this struggle to not give up. Know that there is hope. Know that you are not alone. You can make it. You can overcome.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting how you define poverty by type.

      Fascinating hub.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      That's not just the best anrwse. It's the bestest answer!

    • Michael Davis profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael Davis 

      4 years ago

      mathira- yes, so true. Thanks for sharing that. We must support those with mental struggles

    • mathira profile image


      4 years ago from chennai

      Lack of support can really induce mental poverty. A new concept and well done, Micheal.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      "Broader plain" *plane. Ironic due to the former sentence.


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