Seeing what we Believe

An interesting thing happened today: I started the day really badly. What do I mean by that? Let me explain ...

I am not great in the mornings.  This is a fact.  It is due in great part to the two mood stabilisers I take in the evening.  They do their job well - ie. they help me sleep a good night sleep (the Holy Grail in Bi-polar Land!) and they keep the fluctuations of my condition within an amplitude I can live with. The down side is that I am definitely not a bright spark during the first half of the day.  I drag myself out of bed to take my third medication (an anti-depressant) and it takes me a good two hours to 'come around'.

Because I know I am on Morning Go Slow, I avoid starting the day with anything stressful.  Easy Does It is my morning motto.

For some reason, this morning I checked my email as soon as I had reached the downstairs floor in our house.  I got a big shock: there were two emails from a well known on line retailer telling me that I had failed to act on their last instructions and was effectively in breach of contract. Once I had managed to rub my unbelieving eyes and resume my normal breathing, I realised I had binned their instructions because I had failed to see the emails for what they were and assumed them to be spam. The way my brain is at the moment, my mistake did not surprise me but it did really rattle me.

I started to run around getting ready the two packages I was supposed to have already mailed. Just getting the right envelopes, labels, sticky tapes and apologising compliment slips was an ordeal of substantial proportion.  Living in a three-storey townhouse is very hard on the brain and on the legs!  I never remember where I last put different bits of stationery so I huff and I puff up and down the stairs like an old steam engine, only much slower.

I found one of the things I needed to mail but I could NOT find the other.  This only increased my sense of panic and I kept telling myself to breathe deeply.  I wasn't sure whether I had lent the missing item to two of my friends so I managed to panic them too!  I felt dreadful: stupid, incompetent and unreliable (my least favourite trait).

The missing item was nowhere to be found.  I got to the point where I also felt totally lost.  I stood at the bottom of the stairs now discouraged and upset.

This is where my old coaching training kicked in.  I suddenly remembered that when I cannot find something I ask myself out loud "what am I not seeing to help me find this whatever?"  There is something about that question that is incredibly powerful.  It usually (I dare not say 'always' even though I am sorely tempted!) does the trick.  I went back upstairs and felt the need to look in the box for the fourth time where my missing item should have been and ......  I saw it!  

I thought I remembered this item looking a certain way and therefore I expected it to look that way. Because I expected it to look that way my brain automatically ignored what did not match my expectation and my eyes were blind to it.  

This has nothing to do with bipolar disorder per se.  We ALL do this, which is why I am fond of saying that the greatest human limitation is not that we only believe what we see, but that we only see what we believe.

My little story is not important in itself but the lesson it brought back to me is very relevant to my sustained recovery.  I have already said that I needed to change my underlying belief about my current situation but I had forgotten how powerful that change could be.  What I believe is what I see, what I see more of I believe more in, and so I see even more of what I believe.

This bad start of the day has reminded me that I need to keep my expectation clearly focused on the best destination even (and that's the really hard bit) when the road is rocky and muddy.

As well as a good pair of legs (a bit of a luxury for us all who live with bipolar disorder!) rambling in Bi-Polar Land requires a good pair of walking boots AND a good pair of binoculars  :D

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