Success is how you look at it

 

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I have failed lots, but the man who had the most failures that I know of is Thomas Edison. He failed 10,000 plus times to invent the light bulb and only had one success in that area. Pretty bad really, 10,000 failures and only one success.

That is the thing; it is how you look at it, and for me, how to define success.

Today I am super successful and that success keeps growing. Wait a minute I am a Janitor/Goat farmer with no goats at the moment. How can I be successful? I am not rich or famous; I can meet my bills and have a little left over.

I am happy, joyous and free – to me that is successful. I am useful to so many people. I am asked to come around to places all the time. People actually like me, not put up with me.

I have heard so many BP suffers talk about giving up on success. Who’s success or definition of success? I am not successful if I do not have a Lamborghini? Would a Lamborghini even be practical in your life?

We are bombarded with things that say you must have a career.  For me a career is just a job with a suit on. Or that we have to do this or that.

I used to think like that too, and tried and tried. But I was never any good at it.

I have made and lost millions, had my own businesses and been a manager in other people companies. I was not good at any of those things. Why? Because I can not handle stress and listening to a lot of other BP suffers, they can’t either.

Stress is a feeling and what makes you stressed may not bother me. But in most cases I have found that if we, who have BP, feel stress we fold like a bad poker hand.

So we have to redefine success for ourselves. Each of us individually, success is a word and it follows ambition. I found when I came across a definition of ambition that worked for me, my journey to success started.

Do not look at what others define as ambition or success; find your own; you will be amazed at what that will do for you. If you make your own definitions and follow them, stress does not appear. I know because I have little or no stress in my life. Yet this last two weeks I have worked almost 120 hours and still had time to do my other interests and I am not bouncing off the walls. Because I love what I do at all times. I love my job and I love my life. I say that either out loud or silently hundreds of times a day to myself, so I cannot help but believe it.

 

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere

BP an illness or an excuse

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This blog may turn into a rant, if it does that is not my intent.

The direction of my thinking is always towards mental wellness. In many places, by many writers and by the universal law of polarity we are told concentrating on the illness creates more illness. Concentrating on the opposite, in this case mental wellness creates more wellness. This is a lesson I have learned and taken to heart.

BP is a mental illness, not an excuse. We can choose to work towards mental wellness or we can use our illness as an excuse to stay the way we are. Those are our real choices, but those choices can only happen once we know what our problem is. When in the throes of our illness we are blissfully unaware. It is only when we get in a situation that causes us to be given a diagnosis do our choices appear. It is what we do after our diagnosis that is important. I have started looking at this one issue quite differently. I used to beat myself up severely for all the insane things I did in my illness.  When I was in my illness I was sick. I can no more blame myself for that as I can blame myself throwing up on the floor when I wake up with severe nausea. It is unavoidable.

Actually, I quit beating myself up, period. I came to understand that all the things that I condemned myself for were either the result of my illness or the result of trying to learn this new way of living on the path to mental health, of which I knew nothing. I made a lot of mistakes learning this new way of living. Mistakes are just learning experiences, not God condemned sins.  I have learned a lot about myself and the underlying causes for my inappropriate reactions to others. There are other issues in my life besides my BP, or maybe because of, that were the result of trying to kill the pain in my life. These other issues that my illness caused before I learned there was a real cause for the pain now must also be dealt with as well.

It is the idea that our shared illness is an excuse to remain as we are that troubles me and something I have little patience for. I have seen, or heard about, fellow BP sufferers who use their illness as a club in their relationships, be it their significant other, family, employer or whatever the relationship is.  They use BP as a weapon to get their selfish ends met. Granted our illness makes us self-centered, but we can actually get over that if we do what is recommended, take our meds, use counseling and do what they suggest. Once we have a diagnosis we have choices and it is the choices we make that makes us either a better person or the same sick puppy we always have been. It is always our choice.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

Gratitude

 

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The third practice is Gratitude. The idea that we need to be grateful initially seems downright silly. On closer inspection though it can be found that in the times we were grateful, like when narrowly missed by a speeding car. We find a sense of relief coupled with a feeling that all is right with the world, even if it is for a brief moment.

Cultivating Gratitude in our lives is to bring those feelings into constant play. The feeling that all is right with the world, even with its issues, brings a sense of peace to our whole being. A constant sense of relief as described in the statement “No big deal” adds to that inner peace.

I cannot tell anyone what to be grateful for, we all have to find that for ourselves. As we all share a common illness one thing I can suggest to anyone who is reading this is being grateful that we are all still on this side of the grass. Many of our co-sufferers are not. We have been fortunate to be given a chance at mental wellness.

My gratitude list, and yes I have a list and read it daily, consists of some twenty items. It started with two, “I am grateful that I am alive and I am grateful for the chance to overcome this illness.” My gratitude for the change to overcome this illness has evolved to being grateful for mental wellness.

Why be grateful? Beyond what I have already stated, inner peace, and to tie the three practices we are talking about together let us look at this another way. Practicing acceptance of things as they are brings us closer to the reality of the world around us. Practicing forgiveness of ourselves and others gives us the ability to leave the feelings of the past behind us so we can move forward and ceases the collection of new feelings that can bring us down. Cultivating gratitude in our lives gives us the motivation to move forward. When you start looking for things to be grateful for and experience some of that inner peace you want more and look for more.

Practicing acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude do not change what is happening in our worlds. These practices change the attitude that we face our worlds with. The greatest of these three practices can be said to be gratitude because if you can find something to be grateful for even in the worst situations you will always have hope.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

Forgiveness Continued

 

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It is all fine and well to practice the art of forgiveness on others, but it is in forgiving ourselves that we make huge gains but it is the hardest to accomplish.

We have all made mistakes and we have all done things in our illness that in moments of lucid reality almost made us physically sick. It is those things that are hard to put behind us or forgive ourselves for. How many times have we said in our heads?

“I can never forgive myself for, what I did to, how I acted.”

If we think holding something against someone else is making us a prisoner. Being unable and unwilling to forgive ourselves makes us doubly so. This is the one area that can stop our quest for mental wellness and negate any gains we have made.

Forgiving yourself is one of the most important things that we can do and it starts with one simple thought.

“I am no longer that person.”

If we are sincere in our attempts to change then we are no longer that person.

I found it to be the great out that I needed to forgive myself. I was no longer that person. I did not think like that person, I did not speak like that person and I did not act like that person.

When I think or speak about my past lives that is exactly how I do it.

I think and say, “In a previous life.”

I have convinced myself that all that bad crap happened in another life and not in the one I am currently living. This has worked for me. You have to come to place that works for you.

I have had three previous lives that all ended the same way, me very ill and with nothing. I do not intend for this current life to end that way and right or wrong I needed to build those partitions.

I can talk about my previous lives in the context of helping others but I do not have to relive the feelings nor do I have to relive that life.

It is not that I wish to forget the past because what I write about is how I overcame the past and stepped into a very bright future. I have to be able to bring out my past to do that. But to do that I needed to forgive myself first.

That is why I can tell you it is important to forgive yourself and also say it is not easy. But if you want to stay on the road to mental wellness that is exactly what you need to do or you will never stay on the road

Forgive your trespasses as you forgive those that trespass against you.

Jesus taught us to pray that way for a reason. It took me a long time to figure out the reason. I hope I just saved you some time.

Keep to the path the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

Forgiveness

 

 

I-Forgive-You.

 

The practice of forgiveness is another essential practice for mental wellness. Holding grudges and resentments against others seemed to be one of my favorite past times. It was only when I was convinced of the fact that these grudges and resentments only affected me and my life and not the other person that I could change.

The explanation that worked was when someone explained to me that holding a grudge or resentment was like setting yourself on fire and expecting it to harm the other person. It doesn’t work that way and never will.

When I hold a grudge or resentment I am holding myself hostage for the perceived wrongs of others, most of the time they neither know or care about how I feel. That is the most frustrating part, they don’t even know what is going on inside of me. How could they, or anyone else know, what is going on inside of me. There are few, if any, mind readers in this world and I seldom told anyone how I really felt.

With our illness controlling our lives we always feel slighted, less than others and our emotions control our lives. In seeking help we are given medication that causes our mood swings to be leveled out. We no longer should have the high highs or the low lows. The medication does not change how we think or controls our emotional upheavals. We are responsible for that on our own, with the help of others. But we are ultimately responsible for anything we think, say or do.

When it comes to grudges or resentments we are also responsible for how we react to others and the feelings that we carry in regards to others. We cannot change other people and what they do but we can change how respond to them. Sometimes our hurt feeling, the basis of all grudges and resentments, are just because we have weak feelings. This means we need to strengthen our feelings not shut them off which is the direction many of us take not knowing any better. We need to learn to strengthen our emotions through understanding ourselves and changing our reactions. It boils down to choice and remembering that we always have a choice to react differently.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

 

The Practices of Acceptance, Forgiveness and Gratitute

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There are three practices that go a long way to aiding in mental health and help in keeping our shared illness at bay. These three practices are the practice of acceptance, the practice of gratitude and the practice of forgiveness.

They are called practices for a reason. Acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude are things that need to be practiced on a regular basis like a soldier drills the use and function of his weapons into his subconscious. Practice and training in acceptance, gratitude and forgiveness make them available when they are needed most, in times of crisis.

Acceptance is the ability to see and understand things as they really are, not as we want them to be. To achieve peace of mind and any serenity in our lives this is an essential practice. We need to realize that every person, place, thing and situation that is causing us grief, making our lives miserable, actually are as they are supposed to be. It is us that is out of step with reality.

As an example, dealing with some things that spring from our past actions, or inactions, can cause us to begin the “why me” serenade that leads onto that incredible downward spiral.  My response to “why me” has become “because on close examination you caused it.”

The practice of acceptance has removed one of the greatest hindrances to mental wellness for me, that hindrance is finding excuses. I had an excuse for everything.

When I accept things exactly as they are I no longer need an excuse to justify my non-acceptance. I can just move on.

A while ago the Tax man garnisheed my wages due to outstanding taxes for unreported income. The income was unreported because I had never received the income but it took quite a while to convince the Tax man of that fact. I found it hard to accept that I was losing a substantial amount of income to pay taxes on something I did not get in the first place. However the response to the “why me?” question has of course proven that I was the cause of this issue. I failed to notify someone that I had not received the funds that they owed me. It took months to sort the problem out and could have been the cause of a deep depression. By practicing acceptance of the situation I was able to avoid a deep depression and keep moving forward.

I am not going to say that I instantly accepted this situation because that would be a lie. It took a while to fully accept that I had to keep paying this money even if I didn’t owe it. I had to accept that in time it would all work out in my favor and of course it did in time. But if I had not practiced real acceptance I could have lost more than a little money for a while. I could have lost me.

That is really what the practice of acceptance does for you, it allows you to keep moving forward, rather than being glued to the couch in a depression and at risk of losing yourself again.

 

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

Fear and other things

I spent a good hour today in my little green house willing my tomatoes to ripen because I do not want to buy any more of those want to be things from the store. I want a real peanut butter and tomato sandwich.

What does that have to do with BP and dealing with this illness? Only this, I harp a lot on the subject of self-awareness, I quote things about knowing yourself. I say that self-awareness is the key to our lives.

I say to be healthy we no longer want to be something we are not, but who we really are. And like the store bought tomato, that is only a facsimile of a tomato, we want to go from being a facsimile of ourselves, to being the real deal.

Part of being self-aware is listening to your thoughts and words and monitoring your actions, to see if they line up with who you are. That you are not lying to yourself or others. Presenting a false façade, like a forever changing movie set.  As you do that you find yourself literally confronting yourself and finding things that make you feel not so great.

I was confronted with me today in a way that I did not like.  Because of that confrontation I realized I still have some great fears lurking with in me. Yet I felt that, Yea, though I walk through the valley of death I fear no evil, cause I am the scariest person in the valley, but I found I do have fears.

I fear success, I fear being less than, I fear financial insecurity.

Things I thought I had left behind years ago, but they are still there lurking in the deepest corners of my being. Waiting for a chance to jump out and take over my life. I know because fear ran my life for many years and if I am not diligent fear can take over again.

It was fear and stressing over fears that brought me down in the past, causing those deep and really dark depressions. My history is far more depressive than manic, but I did the manic thing too.

What do I do about fears, exactly as I have done here – put them on paper and test them against reality. Is it realistic to afraid of success – every time in the past that I was successful I crashed and burned shortly after because of my arrogant nature. That was the past, I need to trust that I have the tools today to overcome my arrogant nature and pray that God will help me in that area.

I would do the same to each fear, at one time my list of fears was three neatly written pages long. Finding only three hanging on is kind of surprising, it should be more. But thankfully there isn’t.

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.