The Positive Side Of Pain: Re-defining Your Experience

Have you noticed that the most compassionate, understanding, modest, and intuitive people seem to be those who have suffered, been oppressed, or are in constant search for life’s ultimate meaning? I have and I find that it is an interesting phenomenon. As stated in a previous article, it was not until rain and “dark-valleys” appeared in my life that I grew and could see my potential.

Pain gets our attention, refocuses our purpose, and breaks the human will to compete or be better than others and rise to the top to the exclusion of others. It adds character to some people, while with other people they may become bitter and angry with the world.

Once people begin to understand the personal qualities, rewards, and potential benefits to their pain and suffering, they can begin to reject bitterness and anger in favor of a growth experience designed to change, re-structure, and transform their mindset, their behavior, their life, their purpose.

For families and caregivers caring for loved ones, it is important that you learn to redefine your experience and to see hope in all the pain and suffering. It is very difficult to do this, but once the pain subsides to a level where you can reflect, you will be able to see where you have grown, what you have learned, and what you can possibly give to others.

Here is a list of reasons why we are better after pain and suffering:

  1. You are more open-minded and focused: When you experience pain you see the world differently including yourself and others. You approach life differently and you recognize that your time is better spent pursuing what truly matters and rejecting temporary pleasures.
  2. You can relate: Pain levels the playing field. We recognize our vulnerabilities and limits and become modest enough to reach out to others. We recognize that all of humanity is subject to many conditions of living (homelessness, abuse, domestic violence, loneliness, depression, mental health problems, loss of family and friends, financial difficulties, and death).
  3. You’re more pressed to succeed: One most important benefit to suffering is that when you become tired of suffering, somehow you begin to fight back. You look for ways to reduce the pressure and strive for a better way, a better level of existence. Think about the success stories that fit this profile (John Newton, Victor Frankl, Chris Gardner, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, etc.). There are many successful people today in many fields who were rejected, abused, or suffered some sort of pain. No one is exempt!
  4. You’re emotional: Have you ever spoken to a therapist, friend, or family member who just didn’t get you? They couldn’t understand why something hurt you so bad or even stopped you from moving forward. You get those distant, non-caring looks that make you feel odd or misunderstood. This person might claim to understand you and might even use their own personal experience as proof that they get you, but somehow you realize they don’t. When you’ve experienced pain, you truly understand, although not entirely, what pain can do to you. You have a close idea that helps you empathize.

Each time I experience a set back, disappointment, or hurtful life event I find myself more intuitive than before. Something happens and I begin to reach out to others without strict barriers. You can experience this too.

The next time you walk by someone who is homeless or see someone suffering and in pain, just consider the fact that these may be people who have wonderful talents, qualities, skills, and charm. When you walk by or see someone who is down on their luck, just remember that this could be you or someone you love too.

The Power of Positive Thinking – 5 Steps to Curb Negative Thinking

Even if we are depressed, anxious, moody, or any other difficult feeling we experience, it is important to keep in mind that your mind is a powerful source of strength.  Recently I was at my psychiatrist and admitted I had been in a dark place, negative, a complainer, and finally realized that I am not going to get anywhere in life with that attitude.  Like my father used to say when I was in a bad mood as a child, “Someone needs an attitude adjustment!”  This can be hard when we struggle with negative thinking, however, it is possible.

Here are some steps to consider adjusting your attitude:

Step One – Recognize your negative moments.  Admit to yourself you have negatively that can be curbed. How do you do that?

Step Two – When a negative thought crosses your mind, accept it, acknowledge it, and find a way to use the power of positive thinking to adjust your feelings.  Think of something positive about your life. Think of something you are thankful for and let that replace your bad thoughts.

Step Three – It is easy to let negative thinking result in complaining.  Whether big or small, before you open your mouth to make a complaint, stop.  You have control over your mouth, so don’t let your bad thoughts spill out onto your environment.

Step Four – Be mindful of people around you.  No one wants a complainer on their hands, and it only feeds more negativity to your life, and your environment.  It can isolate you from your peers when really you want to lean on your support group.  Respect your peers, and catch yourself before you open your mouth and say something unnecessary.  Find a positive thought and verbalize it.  Compliment your friends. You’ll find others being positively affected by your affirmation and, as a result, more positive energy will come your way.

Step Five – Optimism is a choice.  Know you have the power to turn a frown upside down.  You are in control of what you say so know that you have the power to make that attitude adjustment a reality.

Just started a new blog completely dedicated to being positive. It’s mostly affirmations, pics and quotes supporting a positive attitude. You should check it out!!
The UP-side of Bipolar Disorder

Even though the majority of research highlights the negative aspects of bipolar disorder, it is not uncommon to listen to patients who talk warmly about their experiences.

A new study conducted by Lobban, Taylor, Murray & Jones (2012) at the University of Lancaster, UK investigated the positive experiences of people who suffer from bipolar disorder.

The participants reported that they experience many positive feelings, including intensified abilities, such as higher academic abilities; acute senses, perceptual sensitivity, focus and clarity of thought. They also reported feeling more creative and productive.

The research indicated that a sub-group of people with bipolar disorder prefers to be with the condition as they experience invaluable feelings. Some of the participants work or worked in high professional positions and provided information concerning the times when it was incredibly easy for them to work hard. They felt that they could achieve high levels of productivity and were very ambitious.

Some of the participants stated that they felt “lucky” or “blessed” to have this disorder. They reported being grateful for having a bipolar disorder as it provided special opportunities for them in their life.

Dr. Fiona Lobban, who led the study, said: “Bipolar Disorder is generally seen as a severe and enduring mental illness with serious negative consequences for the people with this diagnosis and their friends and family. For some people this is very much the case. Research shows that long-term unemployment rates are high, relationships are marred by high levels of burden on family and friends and quality of life is often poor.

High rates of drug and alcohol misuse are reported for people with this diagnosis and suicide rates are twenty times that of the general population. However, despite all these factors researchers and clinicians are aware that some aspects of bipolar experiences are also highly valued by some people. We wanted to find out what these positive experiences were.”

She also indicated, “It is really important that we learn more about the positives of bipolar as focusing only on negative aspects paints a very biased picture that perpetuates the view of bipolar as a wholly negative experience. If we fail to explore the positives of bipolar we also fail to understand the ambivalence of some people towards treatment.”

There are definitely many bad times to be had by people with bipolar disorder, but there are also good and creative moments. Acknowledging the positive aspects of bipolar disorder without romanticizing it can only help our clinical work.