Employment and Careers – Ambition

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This is ambition in the eyes of many.

Where is his ladder? These are his ladder

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I have always been ambitious, in the way of wanting something. I wanted to be successful, to have money, adoration and possessions.  That is what I thought ambition was. Often described as climbing the ladder to success, based on that ambition I would self-destruct every time.  Using this analogy of the ladder, life became a game of snakes and ladders, I would always find the snake that led right to the bottom. What caused this? The answer was quite simple, in the analogy of the ladder we are not told that we need to construct our own ladder to climb. What is this ladder made of? The ladder is made out of the things that that make up human character. The stronger the human character, the stronger the ladder. There was nothing inside of me to support my climb and my ladder always collapsed. I had to change, I had to first build a better ladder.

Steven R Covey, in his book, “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”, says that in the first 150 years of the science of success the focus was on Character. Character, he defines as clear principals for living. In the early part of the last century the focus changed to techniques of success. Techniques are good, a better, quicker way of climbing the ladder is always good. However, you still need a strong ladder to start with.

Then I came across a quote by  Bill Wilson, co founder of A.A., “True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the profound desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.”

This refocused my idea of ambition to being useful. This is what I needed while I learned to build a better ladder. While I worked on my character I could still do useful things and be useful to others, none of which required the stress of monetary strings. I could do things for others and in that way test out my new character traits.

Today, gainfully employed, my principals for living allow me to pass on to others the message of hope that was given to me.

I must point out that none of this change of focus and character building was possible without proper medication to stabilize the mind and the support team of counselors and groups I had made.

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

The Integrity of Our Mind

“Nothing is at last sacred as the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself and you will have the suffrage of the whole world.” Ralf Waldo Emerson from “Essay on Self Reliance”.

If we treat as sacred the integrity (a totality with nothing wanting) of our mind, I have found that many things become easier. Like not falling into the trap of not taking my meds, thinking that if I am feeling well I do not need them. Or, all the things I have to do to stay somewhat sane, like feeding myself my daily readings and things like that.

Sacred in the context it is used here means declared to be holy. If we declare the integrity of our minds to be Holy (sacred) we stand a much better chance of staying on that path to wellness and not falling into that place we love so much – utter insanity, either really depressed and glued to the couch or so manic we think we can fly.

Our wholeness as people depends entirely on that integrity, but placing that integrity as sacred gives us something we never had before. That something is willingness, a willingness to do whatever it takes to be well.

In the language of the mid 1800’s Emerson is asking us in the second sentence to become self-aware.

Jesus said, in the Gospel of Thomas: “Know yourself and you will know all.”

Self-Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment. Something that I am finding as I write these messages keeps coming up again and again. The fact that in not knowing ourselves we are in constant conflict with others

Self-awareness  is the key to the lock, the lock that will open the door to let us out of our wretchedness and into a new and better life.

 

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

 

 

Employment and Careers

“They are the unfortunate people who have mistaken their mission……..Their ambitions is forever outrunning their capabilities.”  Edmund Morris

Our shared illness causes us to fail in a lot of areas of our lives until we sincerely embark on the road to mental wellness. We fail most miserably in the area of employment. We spend years going to school where many of us implode at the level of higher education. If we graduate we find we are incapable of handling the work we are assigned in the profession we have chosen and dreamed about for years. All of which causes us to think we are failures. We are not failures, our untreated illness causes the failure.

One of the big issues with BP is that we, as sufferers, cannot handle stress. Our untreated mental state does not allow us to learn the skills needed to objectively look at stress and how to deal with stress. I never say manage stress because trying to manage stress is akin to herding cats, in my opinion. Learning the skills to deal with stress takes the demand of management out of the equation. It becomes a learnable skill like tying my shoes and if practiced enough can become as much of a habit as tying my shoes.

My thinking in the area of employment and career was all wrong, like my thinking in a lot of areas of my life. Having a career carried way to much weight in my life which caused stress and led to failure. I redefined career for myself with this simple statement, “A career is a job with a suit on.”  This worked for me and really took the pressure off, because a career is just a label on a job. The weight we put on the idea of career, a label, far outweighs its real importance. This weight we place on the idea of career is what causes us to “mistake our mission” as Edmund Morris says.

My idea of career and my actual mission in this life were as far apart as the poles on this earth. In finding my real mission, or calling, which is to help others through my experiences and what I have learned, rather than my career in health care with its erratic shift changes and extreme pressure.

This is the first part of my change in thinking on employment and career. Tomorrow I will discuss the other part of the employment puzzle which is stated in the quote of Edmund Morris, our definition, or idea, of ambition. “Our ambition exceeded our capabilities” which again caused feelings of failure.  Failure is not failure if there is a cause beyond our control and BP is way beyond our control.

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

Today’s Site: https://www.facebook.com/newlifeoutlook.bipolar?fref=nf

Criticism

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I was recently criticized for not talking enough about medications and the symptoms of BP on this blog. I can, in one sentence, answer this criticism. “I do not concentrate in thought, word or action on the illness of BP. I concentrate on mental wellness.”

I say that medications is essential to stabilize our minds, but I am not a doctor. Therefore anything I say on that subject is not going to be based on any education, just my opinion. The same with dealing with symptoms, I am not a PDoc, Psychologist or Counselor so anything I say will be my opinion. My opinion almost got me killed and it will for sure kill you, so I keep my opinion to myself. I have heard, and read, people say you should or shouldn’t take this or that med. How do they know? I recommended a med once and the guy killed himself after being on it for two days. Symptoms are the same, I have never experienced a number of symptoms that are attributed to BP due to BP’s individuality and its ability to affect each of differently. I have no idea how to deal with those symptoms. Of the symptoms I have experienced, I can speak on how I deal with them, but what I do may not work for you. There are many great sites if you wish to know about meds and symptoms and I will be posting links to them as an answer to this comment it will appear as Today’s Site at the end of each post.

Today’s Site is: www.bphope.com on which you will find a wealth of factual information on Bi-Polar disorder

I talk about sticking to the hard path of mental wellness and the tools that may help us to be useful, productive members of society, that is my direction.  I share my experience, strength and hope that this illness can be overcome. I talk about the mind, body, spirit connection and how you must not ignore any of these keys and if you do it will be at the expense of the other two. That all three respond like the muscles in our bodies and need to be exercised. Atrophy (decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect.) of the spirt was my greatest failing and I maybe talk disproportionately on that subject. Body, mind and spirit and ways of overcoming our shared illness are the main focus of this blog.

I do appreciate criticism because it makes me look at what I am doing and in most cases causes me to improve. This criticism caused the creation of Today’s Site which will be helpful to many in the future.

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

Easter 2015 Message

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The Easter weekend is upon us, the time of the Easter Bunny and Cadbury Cream eggs and if you can believe the commercials cows that cluck. For some these times can be extremely difficult and they have been for me in previous times as well.

Mostly, for me, it caused a depression brought on by unmet or unreasonable expectations of others and myself. Why, was the predominant question in my mind in those days? Why this and why that? Why, why, why? The truthful answer in most cases was, “Who knows?”

Today, the predominant question is “How?” How can I make this the best Easter ever? How can I make everyone I know world a little brighter?

I will be cooking a dinner for about 6 on Sunday. I am going to make my roommates day by doing something he does not expect. I am making my girlfriends day with chocolate and dancing. Got to exercise off the chocolate. I gave out Easter eggs at work and I helped an organization I am fond of increase its membership.

What I did in the past was nothing. What I do now is act. The difference is incredible. By simply changing the question in my mind from “Why?” to “How?” I could change my reaction to life.

None of the change I described was easy, nor did it happen instantly. The change of thinking happened over the past five years making this the best Easter ever and giving me hope that the next Easter will be better still.

I wish you all a happy Easter and as always to:

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

The Challenges of Life

Bipolar8

Men and rivers both become crooked by taking the path of least resistance – Napoleon Hill.

I end every message with a statement about taking the hard path to mental wellness. The truth about the easy path is it always leads back to the same place every time. That place is where we need to make the decision to get on the hard path to mental wellness.
Resistance, challenges, issues are all words that I have replaced the word problems with. It does not matter which path you are on, easy or hard, there will be issues that come up. On the easy path we whine, cry, blame others, run away and never really deal with the issue. On the hard path we learn to deal with the issues as they come up.
Brian Tracy says that we are either coming into a crisis, in a crisis or just leaving a crisis and he is talking to audiences of so called normal, successful people. We all want to be content and have peace of mind, the way to achieve this is to become mentally stable and to learn to deal with the resistance, challenges and issues as they come. The key word in this statement is the word “Learn”, we can learn new ways. That has been the constant miracle to me, I can learn new ways to handle life’s situations that used to leave me totally baffled.
When I learned that I can take some time with the issues that come up in my life, that I was allowed to take a breath and think things changed for the better. Nothing requires immediate action except fires, floods and other real disasters. In our shared illness we see all issues as immediate and life threatening disasters. It takes time to convince ourselves that they are not and we have time to deal with the challenges placed before us.
What struck me when I took the time to look at the challenges that came up in my life, it was mostly some past inaction that caused the issue in the first place. Something that I did not do like, apologize, pay a bill, ask a question or straight out ignored something. My inaction caused most of my grief in this world. There were very few challenges that were not caused by my personal inaction.
When I meet resistance in my personal relationships it is because usually I did not do something or did something that hurt them and failed to make amends.
When I meet challenges at my work place it is again mostly due to a failure to act in some way.
When other issues crop up in my life, they usually showed up because I forgot to do some little thing in the recent or distant past. There is an issue that I am dealing with today that is the direct result of not asking a question four years ago.
I can reduce the number of resistances, challenges and issues in my life by simply doing my best to do everything that I am supposed to do each day.
There are other issues and challenges that come up in my life that are not caused by my neglect. Those issues are there for me to learn from and are the best teachers I will ever have.
When I look at the things that challenge my life and realize that they are there because I did not act at some time in the past, or they are teaching me something I need to know, these issues do not seem to be such a big deal anymore. I can deal with them and move on to the next challenge. I learned that these so called “bad things” in my life were as James Allen said, “a passing phase of my human experience.” They are like the waves of the sea on a rock, slowly molding me into a better man.
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere

Understanding Happiness

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We think it is happiness that we seek.

If you blame BP for your predicaments and circumstances this message I hope upsets you and makes you think.
The problem is not the illness, the problem is you and your lack of action.
I want to be the first to tell you that if you are doing nothing to overcome this illness and are blaming the illness for your problems then you need to reread the above sentence.
If you are sincerely trying to overcome this illness and are trying to look for happiness in a life that has held very little of this quality, take heart, the problem may simply be not understanding what you are looking for.
Understand that true happiness is only a by-product of something else. When happiness comes into our lives, there is always a way of feeling that proceeds that happiness. That happiness only remains as long as that other feeling is present. No matter how fleeting the happiness may be the other feeling must proceed it and as soon as that other feeling evaporates happiness disappears as well. We all easily recognize happiness so we think it is happiness that we seek. There are thousands of places to look to find the formula for happiness, but few that lead you to find the feeling on which happiness depends. We think, and are told, it is happiness we seek. Seldom, if ever, are we told to seek and cultivate the other feeling, the bedrock on which real happiness is built. That other feeling is called a few names, Biblically it is called peace, in modern terms it is called contentment. If you search the happiest times you can remember, no matter how fleeting, you will find that you were content as well. For happiness cannot exist without contentment. This is a truth that most of society has not understood. The truly happy person is content before they are happy, it cannot happen any other way.

I lost my humor yesterday
Where it went I cannot say
With it went the light inside
That burns so bright to lite my eyes
Today I woke and fell to pray
In slipped my humor right away
With it came that inner lite
With a whoosh it did ignite
On Gods command I think, right?
j.p.stefanuk published in Island Wonders 2013

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

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Feeding yourself 2

I kept trying to do something, thinking that was how I became someone, rather than knowing myself and in that way becoming known.
One of the problems that BP caused in me was to feed me many false perceptions of who I was and what I wanted. This illness even lied to me about what I needed. It was in learning that these false perceptions can be recognized and changed that solidified my path towards mental wellness. Prior to that knowledge the path seemed too made of shifting sands and was never clearly defined, sort of like a road obscured with heat waves.
The biggest lie was thinking that what I did was who I was. Which led to the belief that to be anything or anybody I had to do certain things, be the boss, and hold a position of some type of esteem. With this came stress and with stress came the self-destruction that the mixture of BP and stress brings about in most of us.
Today I am a janitor at a medical clinic, which means I am as low on the status pole as you can go and therefore feel no stress. I work 4 to midnight and I work mostly alone. This is absolutely perfect for what I want to accomplish. For six hours of my eight hour shift, thanks to YouTube and Wi-Fi, I feed myself an incredible amount of positive information and affirmations. I actually planned this change in my life.
For 30 hours a week or more I feed myself knowledge and overwrite the false programing that BP has allowed into my subconscious by strangling that sentry that is supposed to be at the gate. I realize that few, if any, others have that kind of time to devote to reprograming themselves and I am not advocating that anyone does devote that kind of time. I chose to set up my life in this way for a few reasons, the biggest being I was very tired of the boom and bust cycle of my life and wanted something different. I am no longer young and any change takes time. I wanted to be around to enjoy some of the benefits.
What I can say is that reprogramming yourself towards the positive pole of life works. You can change the way you think, speak and act and in doing so change your destiny.
You can develop good habits and leave behind the life sucking residue of our shared illness. I am not advocating you do not need your meds or that you will no longer have BP. BP never goes away and it will always affect you but the degree that it affects you will lessen.
There are far better teachers than me on reprogramming and overcoming and if you are a willing student they will appear in your life. I will say that I started with the works of Louis L. Hay and Joyce Myers and their books, CD’s and YouTube channels helped in my reprogramming.
Today, I know myself and have become known to others through that knowledge. I have quit trying to be something because I was usually trying to be something I wasn’t.
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.

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Why I write this blog

Over the last number of years I have made one field of study a priority – me and this illness we all share. Over time I have come to some conclusions and developed these three absolutes for myself. They reflect my beliefs about how this illness affects my life and how to deal with the affects in a positive way.

1. I have BP 1 and left unchecked my life is a disaster
2. That medications and a good medical and non medical support team can only help to a point. Achieving mental wellness is mostly up to me.
3. That a strong spiritual foundation of faith and hope, based on an unshakeable belief, can give me the spiritual character and mental strength and emotional control to balance my life.

I truly believe that these three things have allowed me to have a useful and productive life for the last number of years. Yes, I still fall off the rails once in a while, but never to the points of the highs and lows that I have experienced in the past.

I began to talk to fellow sufferers of BP and this caused me to developed my four truths of Bi-Polar:
1. Bi-Polar as an illness is as individual as the people that suffer from it.
2. Medication is essential in stabilizing our minds.
3. Developing a strong spiritual self is essential in overcoming our mental anguish and emotional turmoil.
4. We, as Bi-Polar sufferers, can be useful and productive members of society.
These truths were developed to make some sense in my own mind of the things I was coming across when I spent time with fellow sufferers and through them seeing in myself.
What I kept seeing was:
We are all individuals and this is not a one size fits all illness. Once the proper medications were found, and taken (this is a very important step, we became mentally stable, but this only dealt with our rapid mood swings and removed the brain fog.
To overcome our mental anguish and emotional upheavals we need something more. Once we found and began to incorporate this spiritual aspect we could become useful and productive members of society.

That has become my goal to help others to find their way to being useful and productive members of society.

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

Feeding Ourselves

Most of us learned to feed ourselves by the time we were toddlers and although messy at times we got whatever was in front of us into our bodies. The same went our minds, we have been taking in and processing information since some point in our mother’s womb according to some studies and others say since conception. Mostly what we have fed our bodies and our minds in our illness has not been healthy. For the most part it has been strictly survival that has driven what we have eaten or thought. Wellness, both physical and mental, requires a shift from survival mode to purpose driven living.
This shift is more akin to the changing of gears in the manual shifter of an 18 wheeler than in an automatic car, it takes time to accomplish. We are fortunate today in that there is an incredible array of supports and tools that we can access to help with that shift of consciousness.
Our shared illness causes us to spend a lot of time in our minds. The problem is that we had no idea what we putting into the vault that is called the subconscious mind. Once information is locked in there it is very difficult to get it out and in our illness we have allowed a lot of erroneous information to take up residence there. Understanding that our subconscious is like the vault in your bank and thinks just like the modern vault with all its electronic bells and whistles. The vault cannot tell if the money in the vault is real or counterfeit it just protects them money with all its might. This is exactly what your subconscious does with the information you have allowed in there. Our reactions, beliefs, rights, expectations are all stored away and brought forth by triggers. Exactly like intruders trigger the alarms on a vault.
Our inappropriate beliefs, expectations and reactions, those things that destroy our relationship with others, can be changed once we become mentally stable on our medications. Once mental stability is reached we can reprogram our subconscious and work towards becoming a useful and productive member society. We can feed ourselves so much positive information that it will easily push all the negative thoughts right out. We will find ourselves actually thinking right thoughts, which when it happens for more than a fleeting second is absolutely amazing.

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