In his short story “What Men Live By” the famous Russian author Leo Tolstoy gave me one of the great secrets for my mental health. The secret is said in many ways in many different languages, but it was in this short story that I finally heard the secret and learned from it. My hope is that in telling this secret in my way that some may hear the secret and learn to practice it.
The gist of the story is a poor man went to the store to get something and not only did he not get what he supposed to, but he also brought someone home with him for supper. A scenario that would anger any wife. There is more to the story than this of course.
Near the end of the story, one of the characters says, “I entered the house and a woman came to meet us and she began to speak………. the spirit of death came from her mouth.” That line stopped me cold and I had to go back to the beginning of the story to find what the woman said.
She said, “her husband was a drunk, she hated him and should never have married him. The man he brought home was as worthless as her husband. She dragged in things that happened ten years before. She talked and talked and at last flew at her husband in her rage.”
To my bipolar mind, this was a pretty typical husband and wife argument and very well written, where was the “death” in that. Then I focused on two words, hate and worthless. Words I spoke every day about myself and every person, place, thing and situation in my life. That’s when the secret jumped out at me.
The secret is a simple statement, “Do not speak death.” What does “do not speak death” mean – that we should eliminate the words that kill our spirits from our spoken words. This, in turn, will remove these words from our thoughts as we become conscious of them.
With those two words, “hate” and “worthless” I started on a journey. The journey was to eliminate all the spirit killing words from my vocabulary. My first step was to track how often I used those words. On a typical day, I used the word “HATE” a remarkable one hundred and ten times. The word “WORTHLESS” only about thirty times. As I became more and more aware when these two words crept into my spoken language, I began to look for words that I could replace them with. For “hate” I chose “like” which over time became “love” and “worthless” I chose “useful.”
Here is a concrete example. On June 10th, 201O I said, “I hate my job,” out loud fifty-two times. That does not include the number of times I made that statement in the confines of my mind. In that mindset, I did not want to go to work.
On June 10th, 2019 I said, “I love my job,” sixteen times in conversation and another twenty-three times to myself. The thing is it is the same job. Nothing has changed but me and how I speak of my job and now I want to go to work every day.
As time went on, I found more and more spirit killing words and using the same process eliminated them from my spoken vocabulary. In a future post, I will compile a list of the common spirit killing words that we use in our everyday speech.
As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things. Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our minds
The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”
I say,” Work hard on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.
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BLOG OF THE WEEK:
Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well. This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you. I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.