One of my beliefs about bipolar is that when we seek help we become two distinct people or break into two parts, the part of us that wants to get well and the part of us that we currently are. The part of us we currently are is comfortable with its current thinking and actions, even if that thinking and actions always land us in trouble. It is, after all, all we know. The part of us that wants to get well does not know how to go about getting well and is easily drawn back into the old thinking and old ways of acting but clearly sees this is not the best course. The part that wants to get well is tired of nothing ever working out, not relationships, not jobs, not life.
Now the sage advice, and I even give this advice, is to go to therapy and build a team of professional and non-professional support around yourself. To study and learn about yourself and this illness we share. I encourage everyone to do these things. I want to add one thing to this list of things we need to surround ourselves with and learn, that is we need to learn to parent ourselves.
I can hear every one going, “What is he talking about, parent ourselves?”
The part of us that wants to get well needs to learn to parent the immature, selfish, self-centered person we currently are. Although I do not buy into the inner child theory, I do know that when I decided to concentrate on mental wellness instead of participating in mental illness I was immature, selfish and self-centered. What needed to change was that immature, selfish and self-centered person I was. The part of me that wanted to get well had to learn how to help the person I was grow up into the man he was supposed to be. That is the job description of a parent, to help someone grow up. Thus, we need to learn to parent ourselves.
I will tell you why I think learning to parent ourselves and using that exact label is so important, these are the attributes of a good parent according to Resource.com, “unconditional love, boundless patience and the ability to set boundaries.” These characteristics are the foundation for good parenting, and all other qualities necessary to raise a confident, empathetic person come from them.”
Do you unconditionally love yourself?
Do you have boundless patience with yourself?
Do you set boundaries for yourself and others?
For the most part, as BP sufferers, the answer is, “no”. We are usually verbally abusive to ourselves, the exact opposite of love. We have no patience with ourselves and we have no boundaries. That is why I put this thought of learning to parent ourselves out there, first to myself and then here. Because if we can learn to practice these attributes of unconditional love, boundless patience and the ability to set boundaries on ourselves, we can maybe in time learn to practice them on others. We need to remember to practice them on ourselves first.
This concept of learning to parent myself led me to look for and find many helpful resources in parenting books and parenting internet searches. I have found learning to parent myself through the good ideas of others really helped me to learn skills that I am able to practice on myself that have improved my life. Skills like how to encourage myself rather than beat myself up. To set boundaries for myself and others and remove the victim mentality I had held for many years, plus many more.
The term parent ourselves may seem strange, but it is no more strange than the great teacher saying we need to be born again. We do need to be born again into a new life of mental wellness, but somebody needs to parent that new born child we become to grow up into the healthy man or woman they are meant to be. The only person that can is you.
Our battle is with our minds, not with other people, places, situations or other external things. 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.