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365daysofbipolar.com

Where We Learn To Connect With Our Authentic Selves.

Page 18 of 21

Finding yourself in all the noise

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What do you really want? Do you want what makes someone else happy with you? That is, nine times out of ten, not what we really want. We buy into so much garbage that the first question gets buried by the second especially in our illness.  We are taught so early in life that to like ourselves is just plain wrong.  This is what so called “normal” people experience. Our illness pounces on this idea of self-love is wrong and takes it to the level of pure self-loathing and encourages self-harm. Until all we feel is pain.
Eckhart Tolle calls this “the pain body.” I call this “my personal hell on earth.” Having lived in this hell and having found a way out, I never want to go back.
You can find many explanations as to why this may be so, but for me not liking myself and taking all my beliefs from external sources was the cause of all this pain.
The Christian writer, Oswald Chambers wrote, “We are not born with character or with habits both these things need to be developed.”
If my Character and my habits do not align with my true nature can there be anything but pain?  Not likely.
The fact is there is no one to ask but ourselves what that true nature may be. This also is a great stumbling block. We are so used to being told all the answers are external that when we come to understand the real answer is within ourselves we have trouble believing it. Even if we do believe it we have no training in how to go about finding the answer.

Finding your true nature, your essential being, is different than finding a purpose, or goals, or anything else. It is digging and finding the bedrock of your being and exposing that to the world. It is not your personality, personalities can change. It is the spirit that came with you when you entered this body and this life. To find this requires diligence and a lot of trial and error. However this is the bedrock on which true Character and good habits can be developed.

Mental wellness, of which I speak a lot, is our requirement to start this process of finding our true nature. Our illness buries our essential being deep within us and fights us every time we get close to discovering our true selves. A true deceiver, our illness hides the truth and lies to us every chance it gets. But there is only one place to find your true self and that is within you and you are the only one who can.

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

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Happiness

 

 

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If you blame BP for your predicaments and circumstances this message I hope upsets you and makes you think.

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 this sentence.

The problem is not the illness it is you and your lack of action.

If you are sincerely trying to overcome this illness and are trying to look for happiness the problem may simply be not understanding what you are looking for.

Happiness is only a by-product of something else. There is no such thing as a happy person, it is a fleeting feeling unless the person possess the product that allows happiness to remain. When it comes to happiness there is always a way of feeling that proceeds it and happiness only remains as long as that other feeling is present. No matter how fleeting the happiness the other feeling must proceed it and as soon as that feeling evaporates happiness disappears as well. We can recognize happiness as it overshadows the other feeling and the other feeling remains hidden in the rest of our lives so we think it is happiness that we seek. In reality we seek the other feeling, the bedrock on which 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 humour 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 humour 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.

 

The Feeling Wheel

 

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One of my four truths of BP is that through developing a strong spiritual self we can control our mental anguish and emotional turmoil. Mental anguish and emotional turmoil are feeling generated and to gain some understanding of this we need know the feelings we are experiencing. What those feelings are called and which ones are driving us is a good place to start. In that area we, BP’ers, can take heart it seems most people cannot identify their feelings, so we are far from alone.

I found that over the years of my illness I had numbed, stuffed and denied my feelings to such an extent that I had no idea what a feeling was besides fear and anger.  Because of this the first thing I had to learn was to give myself permission to feel.  This permission had to be an actual act, like a teacher giving a child permission to go to the bathroom. I had to say to myself each day and sometimes many times each day that I had my permission to feel. Although this sounds corny without that permission I kept doing what I had always done, stuff and deny my feelings. It did not matter, without that permission I would not allow myself to feel. For me this proved to be an important step.

The Feeling Wheel was developed by Dr. Gloria Wilcox and for me it proved a useful tool. I carried one around in my back pocket for over a year and as my feelings bubbled up and ran over I would take out my Feeling Wheel and identify what word corresponded with what I was feeling. There were times during this process that I became an emotional wreck because I had not allowed any feelings in my life for so long and now I had given them permission to come out and they took over my life. This is surprisingly normal and over time my feelings became controlled and genuine.  If I tell you that I feel secure, serene and relaxed today that is genuinely how I feel. But it was a process to get there.

To become whole and healthy we need to recognize that our feelings play an important part in our lives.  That emotional turmoil is brought on by out of whack and misdirected feelings. In this state we are like tires stuck in the mud unable to move or rudderless ships trying to take off in several directions at the same time tearing us apart at the seams. But there is a way to overcome this turmoil and it is by planting your feet firmly on the path to emotional wellness and doing what is required each day, as difficult as it may seem. It takes time but it can be done.

The Feeling Wheel became my touchstone with reality enabling me to attach words to what I was feeling at any given minute. The interesting thing is that the Feeling Wheel is divided into six quadrants and it did not take long for me to realize I seldom ventured out of feelings that fell in the sad, mad and scared quadrants. It was deciding that I wanted my life to be more in the peaceful, powerful and joyful quadrants and having a visual description of what those feelings were that allowed me to work towards, them ultimately reaching, those feelings in my life.

A Feeling Wheel in your pocket or purse may be the answer for some, as it was for me, along with the appropriate supports such as a good counselor.

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

The Feeling Wheel by Dr. Gloria Wilcox can be found as a PDF on the internet along with hundreds of other charts and ideas describing feelings.

 

Entitlements or rights

 

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We were all given a rational mind. Our illness sometimes makes us irrational. The most irrational of my personal thoughts were those that made me think that I had any rights and was entitled to anything. These thoughts caused me to expect certain treatment from the world around me, especially from those closest to me. When I did not receive the treatment I felt entitled to I was hurt and became angry.

I have over and over talked about the need to change the way we think and especially to remove those negative thoughts and ideas that kept us from being a useful and productive person. All I ever wanted was to be useful and productive, I just did not know this was what I wanted, but when I became that person it felt absolutely right.

When I changed my view on rights, the meaning of a “right” being – “an abstract idea of that which is due to a person” and understood that all I ever had were privileges, meaning – “things given to me by others that may also be taken away without notice”. I was able to reconcile in my own mind that how others treated me was entirely based on how I appeared to them. If I appeared insane in my thoughts, words and actions, people reacted to me as any would to an insane person. If I appeared always angry and dangerous that is how people reacted to me. I then realized it takes a long time to change someone’s opinion once it is formed. I may no longer be insane or angry but if all the person has seen of me is insanity it will take a while for others to realize that I am no longer that way.

I am entitled to have my needs met by my medical team, no matter how demanding and unreasonable that I am.  That is how far out my thinking became, I really believed that.

Once I realized that I had no real rights or entitlement to anything, my expectations disappeared. Today, I take that realization of my lack of rights and entitlement with me everywhere I go and do not expect anything I have not earned. In doing this I find that I am well liked and invited to be with others in most places. That is a real change.

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

Who is responsible

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BP is a mental illness and yet few put together the fact that if our illness is mental we need to work on our mind and ourselves not on others. Our problems are not created outside of our selves they are our own creation. This argument is one we need to buy into as it takes the focus off of others and puts it squarely back on ourselves.

For myself, coming to understand this was very difficult. My problems were everyone else’s fault, it was this person’s fault I wound up in jail, it was this persons fault I was homeless. It was another person’s fault that I could not hold a job and kept winding up in the hospital.

There is only one common denominator in this equation and that is me. That realization struck me hard. It is hard to face this one fact, yes you have a mental illness and some things can be forgiven, but now that you are aware of it you have to do something about it. Nobody can take my pills for me, nobody can attend my appointments or my support group meetings for me. As the motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you.”

This one fact really struck me and is a major part of me buying into the idea that my problems were of my own creation. Now that I understand what the problem is, that being me. I have to work on me to fix my problems and overcome my illness. This has proven to be incredibly hard, but worthwhile work.

I am fortunate today in that I have a type of employment where I work alone and it is very routine, leaving my mind free to learn using the latest technology. I estimate I absorb about 30 hours a week of books, lectures and motivational material from sources like YouTube and ITunes U every week.

In being able to feed my mind this amount of positive information consistently has been great in helping me convince myself of things that lead to mental wellness, especially that I am responsible for my own life. The funny things is the more responsibility I take the more support I get.  Kind of inverse of what a person thinks would happen. Yet the reality is that people get tired of propping you up again and again. If they see you are trying to prop yourself up then they are more willing to lend a hand.

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

 

 

Success is how you look at it

 

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I have failed lots, but the man who had the most failures that I know of is Thomas Edison. He failed 10,000 plus times to invent the light bulb and only had one success in that area. Pretty bad really, 10,000 failures and only one success.

That is the thing; it is how you look at it, and for me, how to define success.

Today I am super successful and that success keeps growing. Wait a minute I am a Janitor/Goat farmer with no goats at the moment. How can I be successful? I am not rich or famous; I can meet my bills and have a little left over.

I am happy, joyous and free – to me that is successful. I am useful to so many people. I am asked to come around to places all the time. People actually like me, not put up with me.

I have heard so many BP suffers talk about giving up on success. Who’s success or definition of success? I am not successful if I do not have a Lamborghini? Would a Lamborghini even be practical in your life?

We are bombarded with things that say you must have a career.  For me a career is just a job with a suit on. Or that we have to do this or that.

I used to think like that too, and tried and tried. But I was never any good at it.

I have made and lost millions, had my own businesses and been a manager in other people companies. I was not good at any of those things. Why? Because I can not handle stress and listening to a lot of other BP suffers, they can’t either.

Stress is a feeling and what makes you stressed may not bother me. But in most cases I have found that if we, who have BP, feel stress we fold like a bad poker hand.

So we have to redefine success for ourselves. Each of us individually, success is a word and it follows ambition. I found when I came across a definition of ambition that worked for me, my journey to success started.

Do not look at what others define as ambition or success; find your own; you will be amazed at what that will do for you. If you make your own definitions and follow them, stress does not appear. I know because I have little or no stress in my life. Yet this last two weeks I have worked almost 120 hours and still had time to do my other interests and I am not bouncing off the walls. Because I love what I do at all times. I love my job and I love my life. I say that either out loud or silently hundreds of times a day to myself, so I cannot help but believe it.

 

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

BP an illness or an excuse

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This blog may turn into a rant, if it does that is not my intent.

The direction of my thinking is always towards mental wellness. In many places, by many writers and by the universal law of polarity we are told concentrating on the illness creates more illness. Concentrating on the opposite, in this case mental wellness creates more wellness. This is a lesson I have learned and taken to heart.

BP is a mental illness, not an excuse. We can choose to work towards mental wellness or we can use our illness as an excuse to stay the way we are. Those are our real choices, but those choices can only happen once we know what our problem is. When in the throes of our illness we are blissfully unaware. It is only when we get in a situation that causes us to be given a diagnosis do our choices appear. It is what we do after our diagnosis that is important. I have started looking at this one issue quite differently. I used to beat myself up severely for all the insane things I did in my illness.  When I was in my illness I was sick. I can no more blame myself for that as I can blame myself throwing up on the floor when I wake up with severe nausea. It is unavoidable.

Actually, I quit beating myself up, period. I came to understand that all the things that I condemned myself for were either the result of my illness or the result of trying to learn this new way of living on the path to mental health, of which I knew nothing. I made a lot of mistakes learning this new way of living. Mistakes are just learning experiences, not God condemned sins.  I have learned a lot about myself and the underlying causes for my inappropriate reactions to others. There are other issues in my life besides my BP, or maybe because of, that were the result of trying to kill the pain in my life. These other issues that my illness caused before I learned there was a real cause for the pain now must also be dealt with as well.

It is the idea that our shared illness is an excuse to remain as we are that troubles me and something I have little patience for. I have seen, or heard about, fellow BP sufferers who use their illness as a club in their relationships, be it their significant other, family, employer or whatever the relationship is.  They use BP as a weapon to get their selfish ends met. Granted our illness makes us self-centered, but we can actually get over that if we do what is recommended, take our meds, use counseling and do what they suggest. Once we have a diagnosis we have choices and it is the choices we make that makes us either a better person or the same sick puppy we always have been. It is always our choice.

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

Gratitude

 

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The third practice is Gratitude. The idea that we need to be grateful initially seems downright silly. On closer inspection though it can be found that in the times we were grateful, like when narrowly missed by a speeding car. We find a sense of relief coupled with a feeling that all is right with the world, even if it is for a brief moment.

Cultivating Gratitude in our lives is to bring those feelings into constant play. The feeling that all is right with the world, even with its issues, brings a sense of peace to our whole being. A constant sense of relief as described in the statement “No big deal” adds to that inner peace.

I cannot tell anyone what to be grateful for, we all have to find that for ourselves. As we all share a common illness one thing I can suggest to anyone who is reading this is being grateful that we are all still on this side of the grass. Many of our co-sufferers are not. We have been fortunate to be given a chance at mental wellness.

My gratitude list, and yes I have a list and read it daily, consists of some twenty items. It started with two, “I am grateful that I am alive and I am grateful for the chance to overcome this illness.” My gratitude for the change to overcome this illness has evolved to being grateful for mental wellness.

Why be grateful? Beyond what I have already stated, inner peace, and to tie the three practices we are talking about together let us look at this another way. Practicing acceptance of things as they are brings us closer to the reality of the world around us. Practicing forgiveness of ourselves and others gives us the ability to leave the feelings of the past behind us so we can move forward and ceases the collection of new feelings that can bring us down. Cultivating gratitude in our lives gives us the motivation to move forward. When you start looking for things to be grateful for and experience some of that inner peace you want more and look for more.

Practicing acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude do not change what is happening in our worlds. These practices change the attitude that we face our worlds with. The greatest of these three practices can be said to be gratitude because if you can find something to be grateful for even in the worst situations you will always have hope.

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

Forgiveness Continued

 

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It is all fine and well to practice the art of forgiveness on others, but it is in forgiving ourselves that we make huge gains but it is the hardest to accomplish.

We have all made mistakes and we have all done things in our illness that in moments of lucid reality almost made us physically sick. It is those things that are hard to put behind us or forgive ourselves for. How many times have we said in our heads?

“I can never forgive myself for, what I did to, how I acted.”

If we think holding something against someone else is making us a prisoner. Being unable and unwilling to forgive ourselves makes us doubly so. This is the one area that can stop our quest for mental wellness and negate any gains we have made.

Forgiving yourself is one of the most important things that we can do and it starts with one simple thought.

“I am no longer that person.”

If we are sincere in our attempts to change then we are no longer that person.

I found it to be the great out that I needed to forgive myself. I was no longer that person. I did not think like that person, I did not speak like that person and I did not act like that person.

When I think or speak about my past lives that is exactly how I do it.

I think and say, “In a previous life.”

I have convinced myself that all that bad crap happened in another life and not in the one I am currently living. This has worked for me. You have to come to place that works for you.

I have had three previous lives that all ended the same way, me very ill and with nothing. I do not intend for this current life to end that way and right or wrong I needed to build those partitions.

I can talk about my previous lives in the context of helping others but I do not have to relive the feelings nor do I have to relive that life.

It is not that I wish to forget the past because what I write about is how I overcame the past and stepped into a very bright future. I have to be able to bring out my past to do that. But to do that I needed to forgive myself first.

That is why I can tell you it is important to forgive yourself and also say it is not easy. But if you want to stay on the road to mental wellness that is exactly what you need to do or you will never stay on the road

Forgive your trespasses as you forgive those that trespass against you.

Jesus taught us to pray that way for a reason. It took me a long time to figure out the reason. I hope I just saved you some time.

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

 

Forgiveness

 

 

I-Forgive-You.

 

The practice of forgiveness is another essential practice for mental wellness. Holding grudges and resentments against others seemed to be one of my favorite past times. It was only when I was convinced of the fact that these grudges and resentments only affected me and my life and not the other person that I could change.

The explanation that worked was when someone explained to me that holding a grudge or resentment was like setting yourself on fire and expecting it to harm the other person. It doesn’t work that way and never will.

When I hold a grudge or resentment I am holding myself hostage for the perceived wrongs of others, most of the time they neither know or care about how I feel. That is the most frustrating part, they don’t even know what is going on inside of me. How could they, or anyone else know, what is going on inside of me. There are few, if any, mind readers in this world and I seldom told anyone how I really felt.

With our illness controlling our lives we always feel slighted, less than others and our emotions control our lives. In seeking help we are given medication that causes our mood swings to be leveled out. We no longer should have the high highs or the low lows. The medication does not change how we think or controls our emotional upheavals. We are responsible for that on our own, with the help of others. But we are ultimately responsible for anything we think, say or do.

When it comes to grudges or resentments we are also responsible for how we react to others and the feelings that we carry in regards to others. We cannot change other people and what they do but we can change how respond to them. Sometimes our hurt feeling, the basis of all grudges and resentments, are just because we have weak feelings. This means we need to strengthen our feelings not shut them off which is the direction many of us take not knowing any better. We need to learn to strengthen our emotions through understanding ourselves and changing our reactions. It boils down to choice and remembering that we always have a choice to react differently.

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

 

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