Life is uncertain; in the end we control only a single thing: our own thoughts. From the book “Pandemic”
While reading the book this jumped out at me. It is so true. There is very little that we can control and sometimes we have trouble controlling our thoughts. And yet, it is one of the things we most need to learn. Our thoughts can take us on a wonderful journey or send us into the deepest depths.
For those who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar etc. it transpires daily. Our thoughts control how we feel. Sometimes the problem can begin with a trigger such as stress caused by the life we deal with or by physical issues such as IBS. Whatever sets off the thoughts can bring us down in a minute.
Most of the coping mechanisms we learn have to do with changing those thoughts. If only it were easy. We can learn the coping skills but we have to use them for them to work. This means making them become habits and that is the hard part.
Whatever helps you to override the thoughts that bring you down work hard to have it become natural as breathing. It is a struggle but one that is worth the effort.
Never give up on finding and using what helps you calm those errant thoughts!
Today has been a better day. The hurt of yesterday has had time to be absorbed and put in its proper place. There is a difference between sadness and depression. Sadness is something for me usually comes from the outside and gets logged into its place. Depression hangs on.
So, I will still feel that hurt but it will not push me into depression. It will just go its way in time. Thanks for the kind words that lifted me up.
It is difficult to face each day thinking that whatever chronic problem you have will never change. Yet, there are people who do and live fully each day. Their “fully” may not look like yours and mine but for them it is enough.
How do we learn to live in the “enough?” I do wonder. Could I do it? I don’t know and I have to say I don’t want to find out. Maybe the stressors that have been present in my life would have swamped someone else. Maybe each of us can best manage our own problems. I have mentioned before that at a conference the leader asked everyone to write their biggest and most pressing problem on a sheet of paper. Those were passed forward and put in a jar. She then asked if anyone would like to come and draw one out and take it on. There were no takers.
Our expectations of life can be so extravagant and unreasonable. I know that those who grew up in problem homes may not have seen things that way but many of us did. We want everything to go exactly the way we want. We don’t look for life to knock us down. When I grew up with IBSD I thought it was normal. In those days people didn’t talk about it. For that reason I just accepted it and moved on with my life. Fortunately, I had some breathers between episodes so I coped pretty well. I just battled through when it caused anxiety and depression. I guess in some ways ignorance was bliss.
I know so many people who are living with issues that seem insurmountable to me. I think I would be crushed by them but they are living each day. On Word Press I read someone who has ALS and writes about his faith and love for his family. I used to visit a lady who had lived her whole life with Cerebral Palsy, in an electric wheel chair. Part of it was spent in a nursing home as a young adult. (imagine having to live with only the elderly for company in your youth) She was able to live in an apartment after changes were made in disability coverage. She was always cheerful and grateful for her life.
It is people like them who help us to see that life is about choices. Will I choose to live a life of “poor me” or one that is grateful for each day no matter how difficult. We are entitled to get down but not to stay there. We have to learn to continue learning, being grateful for life, coping and growing.
What we are taught from childhood on is what carves us into the people we are now. Children absorb not only what they are told but also what they see. Their world is their home and family. What happens there sets the path.
Have we been teaching children to think only of themselves?
Have we taught intolerance?
Have we taught hatred?
Have we belittled them?
Or have we taught love?
Education is not just what we learn in school. That is important and the more we learn the more we can understand about the world around us. The more we learn about the lives of others the less likely we are to be intolerant. However, learning in early childhood is crucial.
Every kind of education is necessary to make the world a better place. We must help families to teach their children well. We need to marry what we learn at home with what we learn of the world. The more knowledge the better. Never stop learning.
In today’s world people like to play “the shame game.” We have no problem shaming someone who is not “like us.” This is rampant among teens but any of us are capable of joining in.
It is so easy to put down those who are different. Maybe they are fat, or too thin, or too black, or too white, or Muslim, or Christian, or Hindu….I could go on and on. Maybe they just don’t agree with us. We are becoming so polarized. Left vs right, Republican vs Democrat.
One of the things I have encountered recently is intolerance about my moderate position. Somewhere between the black and white there is a whole spectrum of gray. Few things in this world are a simple as black and white. Most things have layer upon layer of opinion. Each of us has to make decisions based on our upbringing, our core values and our ethical stance. A choice that may be right for me may be terribly wrong for someone else.
We are losing all respect for opinions differing from our own. It is considered fine to metaphorically hang, draw and quarter those who are different. Love, tolerance and respect have given way to hatred and abuse.
Somehow I hope the pendulum begins to swing the other way. As the population of the earth continues to grow our exposure to others will grow also. We will have to learn to respect the personal space and ability to see things differently of those around us.
I hope we can.
Today is a much better day. Partly due to my mindset as I got up. Even having to go to a funeral was not a downer. Lutheran funerals are not depressing. Their theology is it is a celebration of the life lost and a trust in God’s promises. Usually lots of happy hymns are chosen…especially Easter ones.
Today the funeral was at a funeral home and the organist was used to playing dirges. The first hymn, which could have been lively, was dragging. That’s the way it goes. It made me decide that if I can’t have someone who plays a joyful tempo I want guitars and drums. Guess I better pass that on to my kids.
Funerals can remind you of your own mortality. The truth is I don’t think any of us can imagine a world without us. We know death is inevitable but still can’t see not being present.
Most of us live in a world where death can feel as if it won’t touch us. Our medicine improves every day and life expectancy is so much longer. I was watching an Amazon series called “The London” which is about the hospital during the 1800’s. Life expectancy is 45. That is just half of what we expect today.
When I am ill and approaching death I just want to feel that I have lived. I want to be able to see my life as having had some meaning. Life doesn’t have to be grandiose for that to be the case. Have I helped others? Have I raised my family the best that I could? Have I been true to my core beliefs? Have I have worked the best that I could with what I have been given? This is really important. If I had a disability or struggled with mental illness or developed a long term illness did I do the best that I could? If I can answer yes I can be confident my life mattered.
Remember, none of us is perfect. We are only meant to do the best we can. Don’t concern yourself with your limitations just work with your strengths. That is what life is all about.
When I look back over my life I wonder what things I have not done because of thinking I couldn’t. I grew up caring greatly what other people thought. I don’t like conflict and would back away from things to avoid it. I always wanted peace and was the mediator in my family. I was afraid to make waves.
The funny thing is that in some ways I was an independent thinker. In my teen years everyone smoked. I didn’t. I took a stand about getting drunk ( although I would take a drink.) I never took drugs. I didn’t like feeling out of control.
However, those were things I did for myself. I never confronted others about their ideas. I just faded into the background. I was an only child and had trouble relating to those my own age. My primary experience was with adults. I found good friends in high school and in college where I finally felt I belonged.
I was not one to take risks. There are some risks I regret not facing. I always wanted to learn to paint but never tried since I assumed I couldn’t be best at it. My father encouraged me to try things and I never really stepped out of my comfort zone until I was married.
Now I will try anything. (maybe not skydiving..I watched my husband jump with the military for years although I have been on some planes I would rather have jumped out of.) I am not afraid to speak my mind and disagree when I want. I don’t care as much about the opinion of others and am unafraid to rock the boat. I still don’t like conflict but am unafraid to speak up rather than hide.
I am sorry it took me so many years to get to this point. Each of us is the only person who can hold us back. I am loving who I am now and having a great time exploring anything I want. Don’t wait to try things. There is no disgrace in failing. That’s how we learn.