Guilt, Shame, Remorse and Regret, Part Two

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The revolving ball of emotions labeled guilt, shame, remorse, and regret, destroy our hope. The unnatural whirl of these emotions keep us locked in the past and fearful of the future. Guilt, shame, remorse, and regret are normal human emotions that are there as warning flags, warning us we have crossed into territory that may be harmful to ourselves. That we have violated something we should not violate within ourselves. Our illness of bipolar as a mood disorder does more than just play with our moods of elation and depression. Bipolar distorts, or denies, all our normal human emotions. This distortion, or denial, means we are clueless as to what we have violated within ourselves and why I stated last week that mostly these emotions express themselves as pain during our illness.

Last week I ended the blog with the statement, “there is another aspect of guilt, or what people confuse with guilt. That is when we make a mistake, or perceived mistake.” Our quote today explains clearly that if we view a mistake as a mistake, we feel guilty when we make them. If we make a mistake and think our world has come to an end, we are ashamed.  There are other aspects that are confused with guilt as well, such as the belief we have fallen short of the perceived expectations of others.  Or we have not met the incredibly high expectations we have placed on ourselves.  In reality this is not guilt, but shame we are feeling. The feelings of guilt and shame are so close together on the range of human emotions that sometimes they can seem inter-changeable. On these issues of error and falling short of expectations it can be hard to tell if we are feeling guilty or ashamed. These issues fall in the grey area of shame and guilt, but shame is really the emotion that is active here if our self worth is called into question. Shame is the topic of this week’s blog.

It is when we have judged ourselves to be inadequate or worthless. When we realize that we are acting as a helpless victim, that there is no longer a grey area. In these situations, we feel ashamed of ourselves. The feeling of shame is directly tied to our personal identity.  We have betrayed who we thought we were and therefore are ashamed of ourselves. This feeling of shame is hard to overcome as we have to change our whole opinion of ourselves, we have to build an whole new self-image. To over come shame requires more than telling ourselves that we are not failures or inadequate. That we have worth and are not a helpless victim of this world.  Those are things we need to tell ourselves, but are just some of the tools to overcome shame. To overcome shame requires drawing a line in the sand and coming to firmly believe one idea or statement, “In the past I may have been that person, but today I am a totally different person.”

It is only by making it a fact that you are doing everything in your power to become that totally different person that will drive that sick feeling of shame from your life. Oh, we will still always make mistakes, but we learn to no longer beat ourselves up over our errors. In fact, I am personally driving the word mistake from my verbal and mental vocabulary, to be replaced by the word errors. Errors, I can learn from. Errors happen, but they are not personal failures.

When it comes to feelings of inadequacy, I may feel inadequate as I learn and practice new skills to battle this illness. What is surprising is that it is actually normal to feel that way, every one feels inadequate when learning new things.

I am never the helpless victim; I always I have the choice in every situation. I may not like my choices, that is not my problem. I just have to choose. Usually help is only a phone call away to help me find my choices. Most importantly, I do something each day to prove my worthiness to myself, through helping others.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Please remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday, as we look at the truths of living with and managing our Bi-Polar disorder.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

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

Guilt, Shame, Remorse and Regret, Part One

 

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Guilt, shame, remorse and regret can be a revolving ball of emotions in many BP sufferers lives. We know in some abstract way that we have these feelings, but mostly we experience these feelings as a continuation of the pain. This pain is what brought us to seek help. To stop reliving the feelings of guilt, shame, remorse and regret, we need to find out what they are, where they come from and learn ways to keep reliving these feelings in our new lives. Over the next few weeks I will be discussing these feelings in depth. Let’s start with the feeling of guilt.

Guilt is a violation of our personal value system, what I have come to call the unknown positives in our lives. Many of us, by the time we seek help, feel we are of little, or no, value. Much of that guilt is unearned, or miss placed, as we never had a clearly defined value system or understood the importance of values. Sometimes these hazy values we felt we had violated were not even our own values, but someone else’s. When our feelings of guilt are examined in this light, that we had no knowledge of values and our guilt was an emotion driven out of what we thought rather than reality, then we can make the needed changes. We need to really stop and check what our values are. I know in my case this was a hard job because I had to do a lot of learning as to what real values were. Human values are human qualities, honesty and the like. Many of us confuse values with beliefs, what we assume to be true about ourselves and others and how we think things should be. Our values can be based on our beliefs. Or values with behaviours, our thoughts and actions.

Originally I thought the easy road would be to look at my employer’s value statement at least for a start. It was quite a shock to find it contained no values at all, only a list of behaviours. I kept looking and learning to get an idea what values were.  The best work on values I found was by a man named Steve Pavlina.

http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2004/11/list-of-values/

Unfortunately, I had done the bulk of my own work by the time I found Mr. Pavlina’s work, but his list of 400 + values is great and I really recommend it. It is a quick reference that you can pick and choose the things that relate to you and your life. The thing is values evolve, especially as our beliefs fall in line with reality. So what you value most today may fade as what you assume to be true and the truth come closer together. A regular review of our values is worth while.

What I learned is that by establishing a list 10 to 15 values and listing them in order of priority, sets a course. A course that it is hard to knock us off of once we incorporate our true values into our lives.

There is another aspect of guilt, or what people confuse with guilt. That is when we make a mistake, or perceived mistake. We all make errors. Errors of judgement, errors in math or push the wrong button on the computer deleting a week’s worth of work. The thing is those things happen and instead of beating ourselves up we need to learn to practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion.

To keep from reliving guilt, we must work on developing and strengthening our personal value system so that we will be constantly aware of our values and know it is a huge deal to violate them. We must also practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Please remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday, as we look at the truths of living with and managing our Bi-Polar disorder.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

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

Truth 4, A strong spiritual self to overcome our mental anguish and emotional turmoil

 

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Be careful of your Thoughts, they become your words.
Be careful of your Words, they become your actions.
Be careful of your Actions, they become your Habits.
Be careful of your Habits, they become your Character.
Be careful of your Character, it becomes your Destiny

Your feelings, thoughts words, actions and habits define your character. Your Character defines your destiny.
ONLY YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR DESTINY.  Loa Tzu

Having had a destiny of hospitals, jails and homelessness, receiving this piece of information from a kindly Psych Nurse did not seem like much at the time. But when I accepted the truth of it and starting acting on that truth – Only I can change my destiny – my life changed dramatically and my destiny today is one of a useful, productive member of society.
Such a simple thing had an amazing impact on my life and when ever I can I share it with others.

I have learned there is something missing from that statement and today when  I recite it I add;

“Be careful of your thoughts because they drive your feelings, which drive your emotions.

Be careful of your feelings and emotions because they drive your words and actions”
A lot of what was wrong with my life was the result of my lack of emotional control. After I got my diagnosis and on the proper medication I thought that as long as I took my meds emotional control would fix itself.  I can assure you medication has never given any of us emotional control. Not that originally I thought that emotional control was important. It took a while for me to figure out emotional control is everything. I was slow to learn this important lesson – because I thought a certain way, which made me feel a certain way, did not mean I had to fly into a rage and endanger the people around me all the time.

This brought me to my fourth truth of bipolar, “developing a strong spiritual self is essential in overcoming our mental anguish and emotional turmoil.”

Recently I was reading the brochure for a new, six-month intensive counselling program that is based on the 12 steps of AA. This intensive counselling program calls for surrender to a power greater than yourself, confession and repentance, reconciliation and restoration and continual growth, that ends in service. This program promises “Emotional Control” as the key to overcoming mental illness. I know dealing with bipolar is life long way of living not a six-month program and I never want anyone to think that they can overcome this illness in six months and never have to do any more work. That is far from the truth. Battling this illness requires us to be vigilant every day. The most important thing we need to be vigilant over is our thinking because our thinking causes our destiny. We may have to go through a few steps first, but our thinking is what gets us there. Our thinking requires guidance and it is our spirit that guides our thinking. As our spirits are not well we need to learn to turn that guidance over to another power greater than ourselves.

Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things.  Please remember our battle will always be with our minds and our minds alone.

Please subscribe to this blog, or check back every Monday, as we look at the truths of living with and managing our Bi-Polar disorder.

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”

I say,” Work harder on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”

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