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.
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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.