Be Impeccable With Your Word for Better Mental Health

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I made it through the first part of the book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  The first agreement is “Be Impeccable With Your Word.”  He says that our words have power; are like magic.  Words can harm or help.  Words can incite hate or promote love.  It is here where the impeccable part comes in.

Impeccable means to not sin against one’s self.  When we attack or speak unlovingly to others we create in them negative feelings towards us, thereby causing harm or “sinning” against ourselves.

Being impeccable means being genuine and loving with ourselves by being genuine and loving with others.  It’s knowing when to say something and when to be silent.  It is avoiding gossip at all costs.  It’s not only learning what to say, but HOW to say it.  I am finding out, as I try to apply this agreement to my daily life, that it is a very difficult thing to do.

I find myself NOT being impeccable with my word about things all day, even silly things like complaining about an app on my phone – saying things like, “These app developers don’t know what they are doing.  If they had any sense they’d know what people want!”

That is not being impeccable with my word.  Instead I could have said, “I wish the app had this feature on it.”  See the difference?  In the former I felt irritated and angry and self-righteous.  In the latter, my emotive state would have been much calmer and serene, thus impeccable.

This is going to take a lot of practice and mindfulness to change, because I think I am more of a complainer than I realize.  I gossip and I judge and I complain.  I’ve worked really hard over the last couple of months to stop judging myself; to be impeccable with my word directly towards myself, and I’ve made a lot of progress with it.

Now, it is time to look outside of myself and make some changes.  Now, it is time to try to be completely impeccable with my word in not just my relationship with myself, but in how I relate to everyone and everything.

Wish me luck.

 

I Will Do the Best That I Can

There’s a lot of confusion in my brain when it comes to my behaviors, because depending on my mood state my behaviors change considerably.  For example, right now, and for the last four days or so, I have been rather hyper and talkative and gossipy, opinionated, controlling, passive aggressive, and argumentative.  I’m normally somewhat controlling and I gossip sometimes, but not to this extreme.

I am working on Step 6 with one of my AA sponsees, and I thought maybe I should probably work it myself on some of the aforementioned character defects.  But, are they true character defects or are they symptoms of some hypomania?

It fucking drives me crazy trying to distinguish between the two.  I keep trying to tell myself to stop doing these things and then a minute later I am compelled to do them again.  It is like I can’t stop myself by sheer will power.

How can I improve my character if my character isn’t even the problem.  But, then again, what if it is?  Or is it my bipolar?  How do I know?

Just to be on the safe side, I’ve decided to reread a book I have, called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  It has some awesome communication tips that I think will make me feel a whole lot better if I am able to follow them.  (See #1 below.)

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I just got to get out of this mouth-running, ego trip, complaining, controlling, perfectionist, high and mighty state of mind.  It makes me feel guilty for talking about people in a negative manner.  It makes me feel shameful in front of the people with whom I am gossiping.  I beat myself up over it, often berating myself with negative internal dialogue, which I am not supposed to do.  My doctor warned it can trigger depression in me.  I feel remorse after I do it, too.  Guilt, shame, and remorse – not fun.

I’ve been having a hard time communicating properly with my family as well, being passive-aggressive or yelling aggressively.  Always apologizing, and again beating myself over it afterwards.  I think Agreement #3 will help me a lot in dealing with my family from here on out.

This all stops now.  If not the behaviors totally then the negative internally dialogue for sure.  I can use Agreement #4 as my mantra to combat the times I start to beat myself up for slipping.

Wish me luck.

 

If You Can’t Say Something Nice

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“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Remember that old saying mom used to tell us?  I think it is a useless piece of advice at times when it is necessary to stick up for one’s self or set a healthy boundary with someone.  However, say for example, you are given an opinion for which you did not ask, then yes, maybe that person should just keep his mouth shut.

Case in point:  I got a new hair cut yesterday and my youngest daughter comes home from school, takes one look at me and says, “I don’t like it.  It’s too puffy on the sides.”  Normally I would have been secretly hurt a little, but laughed it off and responded with something like, “Oh yeah, it kind of is.  Oh well.”

However, I have noticed something inside of me as I have stopped allowing myself to have negative judgements about myself.  I am suddenly feeling the urge to challenge those who negatively judge me as well.  So, instead of my usual response, I gently said to my daughter after she criticized my new hairstyle, “Please only say positive things about me from now on unless I ask for your opinion.”  She said she was just giving her opinion and I reminded her that I didn’t ask for it.  Then I asked her if she would have said something like that to one of her friends and she said, no.

In general, my kids tend to say negative things to me about the way I look and act in a teasing way, and we all laugh about it, but after awhile it starts to wear on me and my self-esteem.  I feel like I am at the point where I don’t want to listen to it anymore.

Of course, my normal self is saying, “Oh, Jessica you are being silly.  They are just joking around.  Quit being so sensitive.  You are making a big deal out of nothing.”  After all, I tease my husband, and really, we all tease each other sometimes.

I think I may just be extra aware of it because I am being so conscious of my own negative judgements.  It is such a fine balance between being able to joke around and being offended.  I am truly confused right now about where I stand with everything.

I know with the hair comment, what my daughter said was rude.  But, with the other stuff, like them teasing me because I cry over sappy commercials or because I am forgetful or about getting old, it really is said in loving fun.

What do you guys think?

I Stuck Up for Myself But Now I Feel Guilty

fitness-826940_640Here’s the problem:  I am so sure in the heat of the moment that I am doing the right thing when I express my opinion, set a boundary or stick up for myself.  Then ten minutes later that little voice inside my head begins to ask me unassuming questions like, “Are you sure that was the right thing to do?”  “You caused that person harm, didn’t you?”  “Wouldn’t it have been better just to have walked away?”  “Was it that big of a deal?”

The voice is infuriating!  I hate it!  It robs me of my confidence and fills me with fear and self-doubt.  Fear of what the other person thinks of me and of being wrong, and self-doubt for saying what I said.

Yesterday, my daughter and I went to a restaurant where they seat you.  We stood there for five minutes watching a waiter wait tables and mop the floor, another waiter bus tables, and another worker behind the counter ringing out customers.  All three of them saw us standing there.  Half of the tables were filled with dirty dishes that needed to be bussed, so they were obviously short-staffed.  The people in front of us walked out.  No one even greeted us.

My daughter finally said, “Mom, let’s just go.”  We walked out, and I told my daughter to head to the car.  I went back into the restaurant and walked up to the woman (it was a woman, not a kid) bussing tables and told her how we were waiting to be seated for five minutes while she bussed tables and “I don’t think that’s right.  I will be calling your manager.”  She said, “I’m sorry, ma’am.”  I turned around and left.

We went somewhere else for lunch then home.  After getting home and sitting with myself for about ten minutes, thinking about what I did, the guilt started to creep in.  What if I upset her?  Ruined her day?  Made her cry?  Pushed her over the edge to suicide?  I know, I know – catastrophic thinking on my part, but this is where my mind takes me.

Then I realized:  I am not responsible for other people’s feelings.  I didn’t attack her personally.  I did not degrade her, verbally assault or abuse her, threaten her safety or well-being, or even yell at or embarrass her, or make a scene.  I simply explained the situation, shared my opinion about it, and told her what my plan was.

Am I justifying my behavior?  I am not sure.  I just know I needed to let someone in there know how unacceptable their service was and she was the only one that I saw who could have easily seated us.  Although even if she had, I can’t say we would have gotten served anytime soon after that.

Do you ever second guess yourself after expressing your opinion or sticking up for yourself?

I think the most important thing I learned from this, and now, after looking back on a lot of the times I have doubted myself after expressing my opinion about things, is that I have a great fear of, one, what others think of me and, two, of being wrong.  Those two fears really drive many, if not all, of my behaviors.

How to get rid of these fears – that is the question.  Any ideas?

 

What to Do When Thoughts and Feelings are Jumbled

alone-513525__180My mind is all over the place this morning.  I get into the groove of wanting to write something educational for you all because I do write mental health articles for other websites, and I am just not used to writing so much about myself personally.  It really takes a lot of effort to reflect on what is going on inside of my head and how I am feeling.  When I sit to do so, I often feel nothing and then things turn panicky because I get scared of the “nothing” feeling.

When I think about my thoughts, they are either blank or seem to be hiding behind walls in my head.  What is that all about?  I surely don’t know.  I suppose meditation could help me get in touch with more of these thoughts and feelings.  I meditate sporadically, often looking up 10-20 minute sessions on YouTube.  I can’t sit through anything longer than that without getting restless and bored.  This probably means something.  I wish I had a therapist who could give me feedback on it.  Does anyone out there have any thoughts on it, or has experienced it and knows why?

I bet a therapist could give me feedback on a lot of things.  You know who gives me good feedback?  My husband and a few select friends.  I have a small faith group that meets a few times a month and we share about real stuff and give each other honest, loving feedback.  Talking and listening is truly one of the best ways for me to “unjumble” my thoughts and feelings.

Another way  I get things out is to write about them, which is why I started journalling on this blog.  So, write I will….

My daughter is doing great at her new school.  Her anxiety is under control and she has adjusted well to the new environment, which is so much better than her old school.  She feels comfortable and safe and happy.  I feel relieved and grateful, and so happy for her.  I want high school to be a positive, fun experience for her, not a nightmarish hell.  Prayers have definitely been answered.

High school was pretty much a nightmare for me because I had undiagnosed depression and probably the beginnings of bipolar disorder as well as alcoholism.  I also lived in a home with active alcoholic parents.  It was tough.  I am glad I am in recovery now, being treated for mental illness, and providing my children with a much better childhood than the one I had.

One of the things I love about being stable is that I feel like doing my hobbies – photography and writing.  I enjoy them so much and feel so fulfilled by doing them.  It is so disheartening when my mood takes a dip, as it always does with the bipolar disorder, and I don’t have the energy or motivation to do them anymore.

The writing especially goes by the wayside.  The words just don’t come….at all, which sucks because it makes keeping up a blog a bit challenging.  My hope is to make connections here that are consistent and lasting.  So, feel free to comment and I will always reply and check out your blog as well.

I am scanning my brain trying to think of any house chores that need to be done, but there are none.  It is the perfectionist in me who is acting up.  I need to learn to let things go a little.  Although, some of it may have to do with needing something to fill up my time.

I am thinking about looking for a job as a photography assistant.  Not sure if there is anything like that out there, but I won’t know if I don’t look.  Hopefully, by working on my negative judgements like my psychiatrist asked me to, I will be able to maintain a stable mood longer than I usually do and be able to possibly do something crazy like work a little part-time job.  Wouldn’t that be amazing, considering I haven’t been able to work in seven years?

Hope you’re having a nice day.  More soon…

I Feel

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My irritability is better than it has been for the past two months.  I think it had to do with a medication change and my hypomania/rapid cycling.  It got bad enough that my daughter confronted me about it.  I was shocked into looking at my behavior and forced into reframing how I expressed my feelings with people.

I am no longer blaming and criticizing others like I was.  Instead I am taking ownership of my feelings and stating them in an assertive way.  You know, the whole “I feel this way when you do this” rather than “You make me feel blah, blah, blah.”

It makes a huge difference in how the conversation goes.  Communication is much better, because if I say it in the former way, the other person doesn’t get as defensive and I feel better about myself and the way I handled things afterwards.

My daughter says her anxiety is the same, but she is doing a lot more socially with new friends and new situations.  It is such an awesome thing for me to see.  I am so happy for her.

I am very tired these days.  I have come down from my hypomania and am experiencing some apathy and a lot of boredom.  I feel annoyed and depressed when I am bored so I hope it passes soon.

It’s in the How We Say Things

Teenage perception is looking through someone else’s glasses while driving

or getting dressed in front
of a fun house mirror
after riding the Tilt a Whirl
ten times in a row.

Screaming on a roller coaster is cool;
not so much at home
unless
you want to be the topic of therapy

while minions play space invaders inside your head and
needles show up in wierd places
like

under your finger nails and pinning
your eye lids open.

Eventually the pain subsides and
your able to grab a rope
and some friends

and go play double Dutch.