Taking Thoughts Captive

Taking Thoughts Captive

Good Morning Friends,

I have been struggling lately. I have been struggling to find the time to do the things that I love; blogging and spending time with God. Sometimes I question, it is laziness or mental illness. There have been a few days where I do nothing but cry all day and other days where I do the bare minimum. I know that those are the symptoms of deep depression; the same symptoms that I experience at least once a month, so does that mean that I’m in denial?

When I go a period of time having really awesome days, I forget that I struggle with mental illness. I forget that one day, deep depression will come rushing back like a flood and try to destroy the hope that I have built up over the past few weeks. Even though it happens time and time again, I always feel thrown off and unprepared. Like, “wait, what? Why is this happening? Why am I so sad?” Then I have to claw my way out like a tiger trapped in a pit of sorrow and self-pity.

I’ve come to the realization that I have to push through and force myself to do the things that I love even though I may not “feel” like it. One thing that I have learned is that feelings lie to you. Feelings have the ability to make or break who you are and what you want to become. I will never become a successful writer if I only blogged when I felt like it. And even though I have a condition that makes it more difficult, I will not allow it to become a crutch nor an excuse for failure.

I see people using mental illness as a reason to feel sorry for themselves, for not accomplishing their goals, for being mean and disrespectful, or even falling back into harmful, risky behaviors. Mental illness is just like any other illness. Yes, it can cause limitations. Yes, it has the ability to delay goals and aspirations that you have set for yourself in life, but it is no different from any other illness that others face on a regular basis.

For those of us who struggle with mental illness, it does not define us or make us who we are. It’s just a challenge that we have and EVERYONE has a challenge that they have to face in life. It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves and boo-who to and from the doctor’s office. It’s easy to allow the feelings of hopelessness to plague our minds and entertain the thoughts of suicide. I see so many of my brothers and sisters “talk” about how mental illness is ruining their life, but I see few talk about what they are doing to overcome it (besides taking medication).

How do we do that? How do we overcome the sad days and push through thoughts of suicide and hopelessness? The answer is right in front of us. BELIEVE IN JESUS AND HIS TRUTH!

I believe in Jesus’ truth because when I am doing well, when I am having good days, I believe that I am loved. I believe that life is worth living. I am able to look at up the clouds during the day and the stars at night and see the beauty of the universe. I am able to see how glorious it is to hear my children laughing and playing and causing all kinds of “kiddy hell” in their rooms. I can see that. But when the dark days come, I become wrapped in my own pity. I can only see how badly I’m hurting and how dark the world is.

Life isn’t about how dark the world is. The world has always been dark since the beginning of time, but there has always been beauty forged from the darkness; art, love, and redemption. You’ve had artist struggling with their own mental illness make history by painting, drawing, or singing about their pain. Lives have been changed for the better because of it.

Jesus is the truth. He is the way to true freedom (John 14:6). He is the light to get through the dark days. Darkness cannot outdo light. It’s virtually impossible. Allow Jesus into your heart and allow his light to shine through when those dark days come. When you don’t feel like doing what you love, press into Jesus who loves you! Take a breath and ask for strength to get through it because you know one day, you’re going to wake up and be able to see the beauty of life once again. That won’t be by chance or accident. It will be because of God’s mercy and love that he has for us.

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. Usually today I would post Funny Friday, but I had to get this off of my chest. Please remember to pray for one another. Love you all and God bless each and every one of you.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7

Feelings? How Many Of Us Have Them?

giphy4Mental illness sucks. I’m sitting here trying to come with clever ways to express those three simple words, but all the comes to mind is mental illness sucks. One reason why it sucks is that mental illness will trick you into believing that feelings matter. When, in the grand scheme of things, they do not. For example, mental illness makes me feel like I’m a bad mother for having a mental illness. When the truth is, I’m not. It’s because of mental illness that I am a good mother. I am always conscious of making sure that my children do not experience the harsh realities that come with having a mentally ill parent. I am always aware of their feelings and what may or may not be affecting them.

Because of my mental illness, I am more aware of my children’s mental stability. I know what it is like to have a parent with a mental illness. For years, I failed to understand why my mother chose to do and say the things that she did to us. I used to be upset with her, but after learning what her struggles are, it made it easier for me to forgive her. Which brings me to my previous point; mental illness will trick you into believing that feelings matter. If feelings truly mattered, then I would be unable to forgive my mother because she has hurt me in ways that no child should be hurt. But I’ve chosen to forgive her for a couple of reasons…

  1. Peace of mind “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
  2. God says I have toBear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

giphy5For me, forgiveness is more about me than it is about you. People chose not to forgive because they feel they may be doing that person a favor or they may feel like that person doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. But then there is that word again, feel. If you are having a hard time forgiving someone, ask yourself…what great feeling do you have when you chose not to forgive? Do you feel better or worse? Do you feel like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders or do you feel angry and bitter?

giphy6Feelings should have nothing to do with doing the right thing. For example, saying hurtful words feels so good when I’m angry. When I become angry, my mind begins to fill with horrible thoughts. It’s like I am possessed. I am capable of saying some pretty awful things. When I’m angry, it feels great to say those awful things…until I calm down. Then I feel like the worst person in the world. I then, begin to obsess about how to make it right. Thus, resulting in an obsessive cycle of beating myself up. All because I felt angry. When in fact, my feelings should not cause me to want to hurt someone else. God says:

When you tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirits words to explain spiritual truths. -1 Corinthians 2:13

Feelings can be wonderful; joy, hope, serenity, gratitude, faithfulness, love, clarity, etc. It is the negative ones that mental illness uses to feed on. Mental illness is just like every monster you’ve read about growing up. The more you feed it what it wants, the stronger it becomes.

giphy7Right now, I feel overwhelmed and hopeless. I feel like I am never going to move past these moments of dread and disparity. I feel like I am losing the war that is going on in my mind and body, but guess what? Those are just feelings. They are not my reality. We have to hold on to the fact that feelings do not define our truth, they do not reflect our reality. They just simply reflect our mind frame.  We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are more than what we are feeling at the moment. Moments are periods of time that have a beginning and an end. Moments can last for seconds or for years, but we are not meant to set up permanent residence in said moments. We are meant to live life, embracing those moments so we can learn and grow from them. What do you do when you are done reading a chapter in a book? You move on to the next chapter, right? Moments are chapters in your book of life. Don’t stay stuck in one chapter because you feel trapped or hopeless.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. I appreciate every last person that decided to hit that FOLLOW bottom. You’re the real MVP’s! Stay blessed.

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” -Charles Haddon Spurgeon

img_0598-6

I Want To Twirl, Dam**t!

1

As people, we have the tendency to take our lives for granted. The heartache that we go through numbs our ability to live in the now. This past week, my husband and I chose to watch Valerian and The City Of A Thousand Planets. It’s a movie about a planet full of intelligent beings viciously wiped out by a galactic war that they had nothing to do with. The opening scene of the movie was with this beautiful blue girl twirling out of her seashell home only to walk out onto a white, sandy beach with a wonderful view of a clear blue sky and a gorgeous blue, clear ocean. She looked so peaceful, so serene. You could tell that she didn’t have a care in the world. I immediately thought to myself, I want to twirl dammit. I wish I was able to walk outside every day with a positive attitude, skipping along to the birds singing, twirling around soaking up the sun. I’m not being facetious. I want to have a natural high from life that only each breath can provide.

Then I realized that I can.

When you walk outside to face the day, you and only you determine what kind of day you’re going to have. Once your foot crosses the threshold, you can choose to handle your circumstances or allow your circumstances to handle you.

I wake up every day knowing that unfortunate circumstances are going to happen. Who I am will determine how I deal with what is going to happen. I don’t want to be a coward and hide from them. If millions of people can do this, then I can too.

Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that a life of misery was my destiny. The heartache and anger of my past and present is a permanent part of my existence, like depression. I’ve allowed Lupus to trick me into believing that my spirit is doomed. Honestly, the person that I’ve become and the thoughts that I continue to have is a person that is foreign to me. Up until now, I’ve never had to put so much effort into getting through the day. It’s discouraging.

So, I chose to face the day with dignity. I chose to face the day with the armor that God has provided for me. I chose not to sink into a dark place that only feeds my inner demon.

I chose to live life.

“On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted.” –Ecclesiastes 7:14

 

 

 

Pain-Body? What the Heck Is That?

web3-suffering-upset-crying-woman-silhouette-sitting-shutterstock_636183893-shutterstock

Andrew was a troubled child. He was always getting into trouble. Why? At the age of 10, he began to witness his little sister get molested by their father. Andrew tried to tell other family members about the abuse his little sister was experiencing and about how his father and his uncles made Andrew watch pornography and drink alcohol. This trauma started a series of unfortunate events. He began acting out; getting into fights at school and at home, smoking marijuana, and eventually was expelled from school. His mom eventually sent him away to a children’s home for kids who have experienced trauma, but after a couple of years of being away, he came back extremely angry.

Between the molestation trial and Andrews family believing the accused side of the story versus his, he became severely depressed and engulfed with anger, indulging himself into more violence and eventually joined a gang to silence the pain. At age 16, his mom was at her wit’s end and gave up, packing up Andrew’s other brothers and sisters and left town while Andrew was at school.

After that, Andrew became homeless. Jumping from house to house, surviving by stealing and scamming for the next 4 years. Andrew did a lot of things that he wasn’t proud of, but he didn’t know what else to do.

Andrew developed a cycle that he was unaware of. Due to his trauma, a negative energy field called the pain-body was awakened in Andrew that would haunt him for the next 11 years of his life, taking over his body and mind.

When I first met Andrew, I immediately noticed that he was in pain. I didn’t find out until later why he was in so much pain. When I found out, I didn’t understand why he wasn’t able to get help with his issues and just move on. It was like he was addicted to being reminded of his past. He wanted to hold on to it. Andrew was also addicted to drama. I know a few other people who are like this, but it was clear that he needed chaos surrounding him at all times. He was fighting with his family, strangers, girlfriends, everyone.

I finally understood why Andrew was like this when I read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. In the second chapter, Tolle describes The Pain Body.

What is the pain-body?

The pain-body is an unforeseen force that causes us to unconsciously seek pain over and over again. This is the perfect recipe for self-sabotage. It’s made up of accumulated pain in a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind.

There are 2 different kinds; dormant pain body and active pain body. Active pain body live in those who are deeply unhappy 90%-100% of the time.

What can trigger the pain-body?

“The pain body can be awakened by any unhappiness within yourself. It can take the form of irritation, impatience, a somber mood, a desire to hurt, anger, rage, depression, a need to have drama in your relationships, and so on.” -Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

For example, a child who won’t stop whining about not wanting to take a nap would be considered the dormant pain-body. Active pain bodies are vicious and destructive monsters that feed on your pain. Thoughts and feelings about your life become negative and self-destructive. Some pain bodies have the ability to drive a person to suicide.  

In Andrew’s case, the pain-body inside of him is awakened whenever he would talk to his father about his childhood or if he is reminded of his sister, whom of which has since passed away from a life of violence and drugs.

How does the pain body survive?

The pain-body is developed in the unconscious and that’s where they want to stay. It’s only purpose is to bring pain and grow from it.

“The pain-body wants to survive, just like every other entity in existence, and it can only survive if it gets you to unconsciously identify with it. It can then rise up, take you over, “become you”, and live through you. It will feed on any experience that resonates with its own kind of energy, anything that creates further pain in whatever form; anger, destructiveness, hatred, grief, emotional drama, violence, and even illness.” Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now 

Once the pain-body has taken over, you will want more pain. You either become the victim or the victimizer or both. You either want to cause pain or want to suffer from pain.

For example, at a very young age, the pain-body inside of me convinced me that cutting myself was the best way to escape the emotional trauma I experienced growing up. I thought, if I felt actual pain, then my heart wouldn’t hurt so much. It worked. Well not really. It was a very unhealthy way to deal with my issues, but at the time, every time I would put a blade up to my skin, I was unconsciously feeding the pain-body. Making it stronger with every tear and every stroke.

So, once it takes over you, you unconsciously want more pain. In Andrew’s case, the pain body has already developed from years of abuse and pain. He knows no other way to live. The pain body has not only taken over his entire life, but he is completely unaware of its existence. The pain-body has convinced him that pain and anger were the only emotions that he would feel and the only way to feel better is to cause even more pain and destruction.

How do I become aware of the pain-body?

Have you ever said something to someone that was hurtful? But you knew before you said it, that it would be a really harsh thing to say, yet you say it anyway? You’ve just awakened the pain-body inside of you. You’ve just given it the food that it needs it continues to survive in your psyche. The pain-body is excited now because most likely, there will be negative consequences to whatever you decided to say. Once those events occur, the pain-body goes back to sleep until the next time you decide to awaken it.

“So the pain-body, when it has taken you over, will create a situation in your life that reflects back it’s own energy frequency for it to feed on. Pain can only feed on pain. Pain cannot feed on joy. It finds it quite indigestible.” -Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

How can I get rid of the pain-body?

Become aware of the pain that you cause onto yourself and to others around you. Once you are aware, now you can make a conscious decision to not say hurtful words or make hurtful decisions. Then, you’ll starve the pain body, eventually forcing it to no longer exist.

I don’t think anyone wants to admit they enjoy pain. I mean, I wouldn’t. But it’s like overcoming an addiction; the 1st step is admitting that you have a problem. Same with the pain body.

“Just as you cannot fight the darkness, you cannot fight the pain -body. Trying to do so would create inner conflict and thus further pain. Watching it is enough. Watching implies accepting it as a part of what is at that moment.” -Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

When you become the “watcher” or aware, the pain-body will try to trick you into believing that your pain is a permanent part of who you are. The pain-body is even known to cause physical pains if parts of your body, but it won’t last long. As long as you continue to stay aware and present. At this moment, the pain-body will longer be able to control your thinking.

For instance, Andrew is now aware of the pain-body living inside of him. He is now aware of the pain-body, so he chooses to make a conscious effort not to say or participate in hateful acts. By doing so, he is starving the pain-body. It continues to try to convince Andrew that his life of destruction is great, but Andrew refuses to get back into the negative mind-pattern that he lived with for so many years.

To Summarize

-Pay attention to the feelings that you are having

-Be aware that it is the pain-body

-Accept that it is there

-Don’t allow yourself to think about it (easier said than done)

-Do not allow your feelings to turn into thinking

-Do not judge or analyze

-Do not identify with the pain-body. In other words, do not become the pain-body

-Stay present with the power of your own conscious presence

 

In the present day, Andrew is a work in progress. He has grown so much in the time that I have known him. Addressing the pain-body inside of him is changing his life in so many positive ways. He is now married to a wonderful woman and has three beautiful children. He determined to become a better Andrew.

If you feel like you have awakened the pain-body inside of you, just know that you can overcome those feelings of despair, pain, and anger. This is NOT you! You are NOT your pain or your past.

If you know someone who is struggling with their pain-body, encourage them to read this post or  The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I think one of our many basic instincts is to avoid people like this, toxic people. The truth of the matter is, we may have no idea what a “toxic” person is dealing with inside of their heart. It may take this post or Mr. Tolle’s book to open up the opportunity to change their lives.

“Scars mean you fought. Wrinkles mean you lived. Heartache means you loved.”  Matshona Dhliwayo

Original Photo owned by Google

6 Ways to Manage Your Emotions

Are you emotional wreck? Hell, right now, I am. I’ve always been a pretty sensitive person, but because of some of life’s challenges, I learned a long time ago how to hide my emotions from everyone. At the time, I thought I was managing them, when in fact, they were just being stored away in a very dark place.

When I was 15 years old, I began to notice that I was different from other people, very different. How I felt, what I liked, even my philosophy on life and it’s meaning, was very different from everyone else around me. I began to think that there was something wrong with me and this thought would eventually manifest into deeper, darker thoughts.

Since this year has been the most trying time of my 32 years of life, I have been forced to address emotions that I thought were long gone. When I first became sick, I was bedridden. Without realizing, I allowed the fear and uncertainty of Lupus cloud my judgment and my mind. I allowed negative thoughts to replace any hope I had of becoming healthy again, which exposed a lot of those old, buried feelings. I slowly began drowning without being consciously aware of it. I’m sure that’s why they say it’s never a good idea to have an idle mind. Thoughts can creep into your mind that will have you convinced that everything that you knew about yourself is a complete lie. Thus, becoming an emotional wreck.

Lately, I’ve had to practice how to handle my emotions, old and new, and I would love to share what has worked for me. So, below is a list of ways that you can keep your emotions in check.

  1. Know Your Triggers

We all have emotional triggers. Emotional triggers are situations or people that have the ability to cause a negative emotional response. For you, an emotional trigger can be friends, family members, or even the upcoming holidays. We may not have the ability to avoid our triggers, but we can certainly learn to live with them without becoming overwhelmed.

Once you are aware of your triggers, you can then deal with them accordingly. Remember, do what is best for you! If you need to remove yourself from the situation, do so. If you need to seek counseling or a support group to help you through dealing with the trigger(s) that just won’t go away, like a family member or boss, do it. Your emotional stability is what is most important.

  1. Don’t react right way

Have you ever lost your temper in a drop of a hat? Some of us *cough, cough* have the tendency to overreact while in the midst of emotional turmoil. Someone can say that one thing to drive you nuts, and then bam, you’re yelling and screaming, probably saying things you’ll later regret.

It’s better for your emotional state if you stepped back for a moment to ask yourself, “Is this worth getting upset over? Is this worth disturbing my peace over?” I’ll let you know right now, 8 out 10 times, the answer is no. Well, at least with me. When I think about it, there are very few people that are worth me compromising my peace of mind over, but admittingly, I am still a work a progress.

  1. Change Your Thoughts

I’ve spoken about this so many times. It’s really important that you have healthy positive thoughts. So, whenever you find yourself in emotional hell, you will already be convinced that you are awesome and strong and that you will get through whatever is happening at the time. Negative thoughts will no longer have room in your mind. You can change your thoughts by listening to inspirational speeches, reading motivational literature, or church.

  1. Do something that you love

When you’re immersed in something that you are passionate about and that you are focused on, your mind will be too occupied to become sad. Doing what you love uplifts and motivates you in ways that wouldn’t be able to imagine. It is also a great coping skill to get you through rough moments.

Do what you love as often as you can. That way, whenever you’re going through a rough patch, it’ll be second nature to jump straight into a healthy coping mechanism.

  1. See the bigger picture

One of my favorite sayings is, “There are 3 sides to every story; yours, theirs, and the truth.” Whatever may have happened to trigger a negative emotional response, try to step back to view the entire picture. For example, let’s say your co-worker comes into work upset with an attitude. It’s normally not like her because she usually comes in happy and chipper. She’s really not talking to you or giving you much attention. You could either take it personally and assume her attitude has to do with you, or you could try to consider other reasons why she’s being snappy. You never know what people are going through behind closed doors. Be a friend. Find out. Show support.

  1. Meditate

I am a huge fan of meditation. Sometimes I pray during mediation, sometimes I work on redirecting my busy thoughts. Mediation is a great tool to use due to some of its great benefits:

-reducing stress

-improving concentration

-practicing increase of self-awareness

-reducing depression and anxiety

If you take 5-10 minutes out of your day to meditate, you will begin to see a significant improvement when trying to get your emotions under control. People say it’s too hard because they are unable to get there brain to shut off. Meditation is not about getting your brain to turn off, but more about training your brain to redirect itself when you begin thinking about chores or errands or anything outside of self-improvement and growth.

Some days I don’t have to think twice about how to handle my emotions, but other days, I need to refer back to this list. It has been helping me real my emotions in when I feel they are out of control,  so I really hope it’s able to help you.

Do you have anything that helps you keep your emotions in check? Drop a comment below to let us know. I’m down for all suggestions. Again, I’m a work in progress *cough, cough*

“As you heal, you see yourself more realistically. You accept that you are a person with strengths and weaknesses. You make the changes you can in your life and let go of the things that aren’t in your power to change. You learn that every part of you is valuable. And you realize that all of your thoughts and feelings are important, even when they’re painful or difficult.” -Ellen Bass, Beginning to Heal