let today be the day you stop being haunted by the ghost of yesterday
on a poster
on a dingy wall
in the room where
the meetings were held
were these spiritual words
no ill will, hostility, bitterness
no matter how ugly the jealousy
dissatisfaction, rancour, antagonism
there is no justification for resentments
not here, not with one you loved, not ever
in a bar hunted by singles
drinking and smoking alone
is no panacea for resentments
mindfulness is a way of non-judgmentally connecting with your life
some things are in the wrong place, but none can know the future
Until pretty recently I had never heard the words mindful nor mindfully and to be honest, for a man of my generation, background, and upbringing, the concepts and processes of mindfulness are fairly alien and unknowable.
However, to each of us there comes a time when we need to look outside of our everyday wants, needs, struggles, and conflicts to find something we can trust to lift the pain and distress from our shoulders. There may come a time when we sink as low as to destroy the relationship we hold most precious, to harm ourselves with booze, drugs, gambling, casual sex, lies and deceptions, and to have thoughts of suicide. Just a few short days ago I had sunk that low. I had arrived at a rock bottom, and I knew there was yet another rock bottom even lower and worse than the one I was suffering.
Now I know that mindfulness is a way for me to live fully in the moment, and by being totally in the now, cutting off worries about the past and stress about all possible futures.
Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different. ~ James Baraz
Mindfulness is a way for me to calmly pay full attention to what is happening to me right now, how I am feeling right now, and how I am reacting to those feelings. Deep down there is a need for me to be calm and at peace with what is happening in the now, instead of worrying and being resentful about what has happened, what could happen, what was and could be bad, what went wrong, what could go wrong, and what is missing in my life. No matter the chaos that is troubling me in my heart and mind, outwardly I need to radiate inner peace.
Being mindful is about me letting the past stay in the past and leaving the future as something that is yet to come about, it’s about being in the now without being hurt, disturbed, and distressed by what might happen, or what has already happened, or what my twisted mind thinks has already happened.
I may never be able to silence the thousands of negative thoughts and feelings that uninvited pass through my mind each day, but I have learned how to slow down my mind, and allow my feelings to come and go without reacting badly to them.
Some say that they don’t need to feel bad about anything they have ever done. And that they have no regrets about the past nor worries about the future. All I know is that I can stop being afraid, I am the master of my fate.
how the disconnect inside my mind feels
How many bad decisions seemed like a good idea at the time?
Over the years I’ve made some really bad decisions. From time to time I got angry and subsequently did some reprehensible things I now regret. I have reacted with nasty spite when I should have stayed calm, and I’ve felt resentful for no good reason, which usually turned me into a dangerous Mr. Hyde or a rabid black dog.
And when he was good he was very, very good, but when he was bad he was horrid. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Not every time things went badly pear-shaped was my fault. Not every person I’ve hurt was an innocent bystander. Some of the people I’ve had uncharitable thoughts about actually deserved my condemnation. And there have been some people I wouldn’t cross the road to spit on. But, and here’s the thing, all the time I was an angry, judgemental, resentful, dangerous
bastard person, I was still suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, and / or, Bipolar Disorder. I was always afraid, and I was always running away.
Add the whole lot together, all the anger, resentments, mental illness, and it’s not surprising that I used to be hypercritical, lacking in understanding, and totally unwilling to accept anyone who didn’t measure up to my warped standards. It’s not surprising that from time to time I could hurt the ones I love. Sometimes the only things I was good at was causing pain and heartache.
It only takes one word to hurt a woman, a matter of seconds, one stupid, impatient sting of the whip. But winning back her trust takes years. And sometimes there isn’t the time. ~ Nina George
I have actually made a list of all the people I believe I have hurt over the years, (that’s the difficult step 8 in 12 step programmes), and thought about the what, why, when, how, where, and if of making amends to those people. Of my original list I’ve crossed off some names, because I’m not a saint, so I’m not making amends to everyone I’ve wronged. And, I’ve underlined some other names, of women I really do need to make immediate, meaningful, and lasting amends to. (my Goddess Aphrodite and The Girl Riding Shotgun spring to mind.) But as the quote from Nina George says, sometimes rebuilding trusting relationships takes years.
I have spoken in haste too often, spoken from negative and dark emotions too often, and been thoughtless too often. But, the recent paradigm shift that I experienced from being way outside of my comfort zone for a week should mean that I don’t make those enraged mistakes again.
Some say there is no such thing as a mistake or a bad decision. And that the consequences of a really bad decision are a learning opportunity. All I know is that if I go off the rails there is going to be a painful disaster, and someone will get hurt ~usually including me.
Nobody likes to be with a dangerous jerk.
Be that guy, and be alone in the dark.
Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.
There seems to be a lot of angry people in the world today, mostly angry that recent events didn’t turn out the way they wanted, and the future is looking very different to the way they wished it to be.
Angry people are not always wise. ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Even very recent events are beyond our control. The past is the one part of our lives over which we have absolutely no influence, none whatsoever. No amount of regret, bad feelings, or anger can ever change what has already happened. All that anyone has any control over is what they do right now, and what they do right now will shape the future. If people choose to feel angry about the past, then they are denying themselves the opportunity to enjoy the present, and thereby create a better future.
Life is difficult and painful. This is the first of The Four Noble Truths. Things often don’t turn out the way we would like them to. Dwelling on the past and being angry about it isn’t necessarily the best way to make either the present or the future a better and happier place.
We don’t have to get angry, and we don’t have to stay angry. There are other and more positive emotions we can create from our anger. More often than not our anger does not get us what we want. Anger often turns inward and makes angry people bitter, twisted, and ineffectual.
Anger is an acid than can do more harm to vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. ~ Mark Twain
We shouldn’t suppress our anger, but there are positive and constructive alternatives to aggressively inflicting our anger on other people. Intentionally hurting other people is almost universally a bad thing. All to often angry people won’t listen to calmer counsel. All too often angry people will not listen to opposing viewpoints. All to often angry people try to shout their opponents down.
If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. ~ Noam Chomsky
We can use anger to spur ourselves on to greater and better things. The energy, the adrenalin, the drive our anger arouses in us can be used to make positive and healing changes to the world around us. We all need to learn to tame our temper.
The best fighter is never angry. ~ Lao Tzu
We don’t always have to get mad. We don’t always have to get even. We don’t even have to tell other people that they are wrong, stupid, ignorant, uneducated, ungentlemanly, and childish. We can keep our opinions mostly to ourselves, and instead work quietly for the greater good.
We may not like recent events like Brexit, President Trump, Populism, and a lot of other crazy stuff going on in the World today, but getting angry and then belligerently expressing your anger probably isn’t the answer. More often than not, anger isn’t nice, it isn’t often pretty, and it isn’t really healthy. People die from too much anger.
And, depending on who has been in the wrong, then every once in a while, a sincere apology helps. Sometimes.
these thoughts are mine, and mine alone
I have had a problem with drink for many years. I can stay away from booze for long periods, but eventually I will go back to self-medicating with alcohol.
How to stop this binge drinking has puzzled me, and long seemed an insoluble problem. However, after my last relapse a couple of things have become somewhat clearer. It is now plain to me that my going back to boozing has always followed some crisis of negative emotions.
These negative emotions include irrational feelings of;
Anger, anxiety, bitterness, conceit, depression, disgust, envy, fear, frustration, grief, hatred, jealousy, perfectionism, possessiveness, resentment, righteousness, ruthlessness, sadness, self-hatred, self-pity, shame, unhappiness, and being untrusting.
Usually what I feel is an amalgam of several, or all of these emotions, at one in the same time. Basically I feel angry, anxious and miserable. From some research I have come to believe that the onset of these negative emotions may be the result of attention seeking and drama addiction on my part. For goodness sake, attention seeking is something that one is supposed to grow out of! Maybe when I was younger I discovered that displaying powerful negative emotions were a certain way to get attention?
Brains wired to equate lack if attention as dangerous, naturally respond to it as a threat…. Psychology Today
However, there is one piece of good news. Excessive attention seeking is not considered a character defect, it is usually the result of childhood neglect, (in relative terms).
I suspect the reason compulsive over-eaters, alcoholics and substance abusers are more prone to excess attention seeing and drama addiction is because those populations are more likely to have endured developmental trauma. ~ Billi Gordon Ph.D Psychology Today
There are undoubtedly better strategies for dealing with negative emotions than getting drunk. There are also probably strategies for dealing with an excessive need for attention and drama
Spirituality, meditation, self-control are not strangers to me, so why do I sometimes lose these good things and wallow in anger, depression, jealousy and drink?
What I need to do is find these new coping strategies because drinking is doing me no good at all. My last two, (or was it three), day binge caused a complete memory loss ~ I cannot remember several important events that took place during my latest ‘slip’ as Alcoholics Anonymous call going back to drinking again. As these important life events mostly involved my losing my temper, they are something to be avoided. In the past three months I have also badly hurt myself, twice, while intoxicated.
Psychologists say that there is no actual cure for what may be wrong in my brain. The doctors say the rewiring is permanent, short of invasive surgery, but they also say I can manage my condition. In order to do that am resolved to accept what I am, and love what I have more than what I don’t have. I shall look for the good things in my life and try to accept these negative emotions for what they really are, a dangerous chimera which I can fight with the right strategies.
Life presents itself in constantly changing ways, but you’re able to accept the challenges, rather than recoil, throw up your hands, and go on a binge. Carnie Wilson.
I have realised that I am not my pain. I know I may never beat my problems, but I can ameliorate their dangerous effects. Perhaps instead of binge drinking, I need to do something spiritual, like watching the sunrise over the sea. Perhaps instead of losing my temper I should focus on the good friends I have, and how supportive they have been. All I know is that I will give these new strategies my very best shot, and hope to do better in future.
Happiness a feeling of pleasure, contentment, or joy.
Who knows what it like is to be really happy? Recently? Really?
Everything that follows is based upon my own direct, personal, painful experiences.
I am not at all happy just now, but there’s a reason for my lack of pleasure, contentment and joy. A couple of weeks ago I suffered some skull trauma, and I’ve had a dull headache and nausea ever since. It is difficult to be truly happy if one is feeling unwell. Ask any guy who has influenza if he’s happy? Any woman will tell you the kind of answer he will give ~ it’s likely to include the word miserable.
Rule #1 for being happy. First be physically fit and well. If you are feeling miserable and depressed, get yourself out for a walk, have something healthy to eat, go to the gym, or if you are really unwell make an appointment with your doctor. Do not indulge in self-diagnosis. Take whatever medication you are prescribed.
Have you ever seen a truly happy alcoholic? Or a joyful heroin addict? Or come to that, a contented compulsive gambler? Addicts may be happy for a while, but sooner rather than later they will hit rock bottom and be caught in a slough of misery and depression. That’s if they’re lucky. If an alcoholic or drug addict is unlucky they’ll just be dead.
Rule #2 for being happy. Quit whatever you’re addicted to. Again, you may want to visit your doctor. Withdrawal from substance abuse, (including alcohol), can be terrible, it can kill you, you may need medical support. Think about attending an appropriate 12-step group, or getting some professional counselling. In any event, you can’t follow rule #1 if you’re continually as drunk as a skunk.
Some people, in my experience men especially, become obsessed with their partner and / or the object of their romantic or sexual fantasy. This is a short route to total misery. Perhaps she will not love you, or return your affections, or when you get to know her she may disappoint you, she may turn out to be a carnal slut, or she may be a real ‘bunny boiler’.
Rule #3 for being happy. Never put your happiness in the hands of another. Other people will not always do as you wish. They may not be nice to you. They may not want to spend time with you, or have sex with you. They may ignore you, or get a restraining order. You may spend your life wishing for things which are never going to happen because the object of your desires does not want what you want.
Some people are plagued by guilt. This may be a rational thing. You may have done something utterly terrible, bad enough to carry the scars on your soul. It may be irrational guilt. Some feel guilty for no good reason whatsoever. At most they should be embarrassed for a while. Yet some people are addicted to guilt, don’t want to be free of it at all. Guilt is a black and corrosive thing.
Rule #4 for being happy. Learn to forgive yourself. Whatever you did is in the past, it’s done and gone. So you weren’t always there for your drug addict child, and they died of an overdose. That was bad but the best you can do is learn from the tragic experience. Nobody is completely in control of events, not even you. Accept yourself, unconditionally. Forgive whatever mistakes you believe you made and move on.
Then there are the angry, aggressive and hostile people. There is a savage pleasure in giving free rein to insane anger for a while ~ trust me I know all about that one. Yet there are some people who are constantly angry, always aggressive, usually immoral, often sinister and vicious. These people should either receive anger management counselling or be taken out and shot. If you are often angry you will also have diabolical depression under the anger. You are not truly happy, sooner or later you will be physically and psychologically ill.
Rule #5 for being happy. Learn how to control and diminish your anger. You make yourself angry. Nobody else can really make you feel anything. If you are angry it’s all down to you. You do not make rules for everyone else to follow. If you are an alcoholic or addict then you are probably often angry, so first quit your addiction. Learn to accept life for what it is and stop trying to make everyone else jump when you bark.
These rules cannot be applied by everyone in every situation. Some of us are genuinely, deeply, obscenely unhappy. Some of us may be suffering from clinical depression. This is not an easy trap to get out of. May I suggest that the first thing to do is to gain some spirituality and genuine acceptance of your situation. There is a well-known prayer;
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Don’t worry, don’t doubt, be happy.