As bipolar sufferers what do we really want? For most of us it is to be free of the emotional turmoil we feel within us and maybe a little peace from the constant noise in our heads. To earn some of this freedom and peace of mind, this is what I have learned to do and how I learned to accomplish this.
I meditated on this for a long time, “You can’t change another’s behavior, but you can change your response to it.”
“What the hell does that mean?” was my initial reaction to that statement.
To make a long story short that is the difference. I can react, or I can respond. When I react, it is an initial emotional feeling! I have no control, none, it just happens.
If B says something, I yell. If things don’t go right, I throw stuff. If someone really bothers me, I get angry and yell and possibly get violent.
I have bipolar that is what I am supposed to do isn’t it?
I think asking that question is the only time I ever made my therapist laugh out loud in a session. I think he laughed at me a lot but usually waited until I had left.
After he quit laughing my therapist responded: “If you want to feel any peace within yourself and know a sense of freedom that you have never felt before, then “NO,” that is not what you are supposed to do. You react as you do because it is what you have learned, what you have always done. What other people allowed you to do. Now that you are stable you can learn another way.”
It was at this point when I started to learn what I call my freeing responses to life. You see previously when I reacted, I usually reacted badly. By reacting badly, I created a huge amount of guilt and remorse within myself and utter turmoil within my mind, which I then had to carry around. It was by learning my freedom responses that I reduced my guilt and remorse and stopped many useless conversations within my mind.
My fist freeing response to life – learning to practice the old saying, “bite your tongue.” I have learned I don’t have to react to everything.
My second freeing response to life – walk away and deal with those negative feelings within you in private. Punch a pillow, not the wall, but in the end, laugh at yourself for getting so worked up for what in reality is nothing.
My third freeing response to life – If I must respond, take deep breaths and think before you speak.
My fourth freeing response to life – learn to forgive those that hurt, slighted and offended you. There is truth in this saying, “When I forgive I set a prisoner free and find the prisoner was me.” Forgiveness is for ourselves not for others. A lot of times if you went up to the person who had hurt you and said I forgive you they would not know what the hell you are talking about nor would they care.
My fifth freeing response to life – Learn to thank those that criticize you. There is both constructive and destructive criticism and as a bipolar sufferer that takes things so personally, we really can’t tell the difference. So, learning to just say, “thanks, I’ll take that under advisement” and walk away seems the best response to all criticism. Go home and really look at what was said, if it applies use it and if it doesn’t chuck it.
My sixth freeing response to life is – Learn not to take things so personally. Of all the freeing responses to life, this one is the hardest to lean. It is difficult to realize that many things that others do or say that cause our feelings to be hurt are because they are hurting as much as we are. We just happen to be there at the wrong moment.
By practicing these freeing responses to life, I have found an understanding of serenity and know a little peace of mind.
There is another aspect of how to respond to life that I want to touch on. As bipolar sufferers, our emotions are aroused by a lot of things. I want to recommend some things we need to do to enhance our freedom.
Put away the cell phone for a while each day. I must admit this is easy for me as I can remember when the phone stayed home when you went out. I can even remember when answering machines were a new invention. Even today, as I write, my cell is in another part of the house and I couldn’t hear it if someone called. I do not expect this will be as easy for you in this connected age. I can only ask that you give it a try and see how freeing it can be.
Start each day by putting positive into your life. I have five daily readers that I read every day with my first coffee. Nothing happens before my coffee and my books. Include others or kick them out during that time, that is your choice. My girlfriend was quite startled the first time she stayed over, and I told her to be quiet I am reading. Now we read aloud to each other most days.
Quit watching the news. I can tell you first hand that if something is going to affect you directly you will hear about it. On two occasions since I stopped watching the news things have happened that directly affected me, and I heard about them right away. Out of all the news, local, area and national, the world, over the last four years, only two things affected me personally. This proves that most of it is just noise that makes us angry.
There is one expert about freedom responses that everyone should know about and that is Viktor Frankl, the author of “Mans Search for Meaning.” His story and his book are amazing. I recommend you look at his work.
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. Remember our battle for mental health will always be with our minds and our minds alone.
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.
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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 Dr. Rick Nauert