I am up early this morning…. my head has been working me over. Lots on the go with family, work, business, taxes, …. just life really.
I am both employed and self-employed. My wife and I run a business that has thankfully been working out. My job outside of the business is stressful but rewarding enough to keep going… yet I am conflicted. My heart is barely in it, yet I value the income and benefits. Gratitude is my best antidote to the nagging voices in my head that try to discourage me.
I slept only a short while last night, then my head woke me up and wanted to tell me about how life sucked. “Ya, ya, whatever”, is my typical response then I move as quickly as I can to filling my mind with the authentically good. I stress, ‘authentic’, because this isn’t just an exercise in fluffy feel-good. It is not just another self-deception that things are good when really they are bad.
Things that need attention need attention. Like paying bills, caring for family, raising kids, eating right, staying sane. Amidst the challenges, there is so much to be grateful for. I have a great marriage. Amazing when I think about it. I will spare the details of everything I love about Mrs. Chaz, but suffice to say she is amazing in my eyes and I am grateful for her.
Gratitude did not come naturally to someone like me who is predisposed to both depression and anxiety. The medical community figures that the basis for my anxiety and depression is not of a nature nor severity that it is treatable by medication, but rather the core of my conditions stem from a collection of bad habits of thought.
So my task and focus over the past several years has to been to continually become more skilled at, more habitual at, redirecting my thinking to the positive. And it works as long as I do it. Which is a reason I am up early blogging. Blogging is part of my discipline of redirecting immersing my brain in, and redirecting my thoughts toward, positive things.
At first it was drudgery. I hated it and didn’t trust it. It was counter-intuitive on a core level. Frankly, it was like passing a freakin kidney stone. I felt like the annoying, fictional Stuart Smalley character trying desperately trying to kid myself that all was well when it wasn’t. Yet, the truth was, much was already good, and even more was getting better. But my unrecovered self wanted no part of it and tried everything to invalidate it.
I was so self-deceived, I didn’t know what positive looked like. Positive to me had mainly been a chemical buzz or a pipe dream of one day in the future when everything was perfect, but until then, I had little to no skill to recognize the positive, let alone redirect my focus to it in the heat of the battle of negativity bombarding my head from within.
One day though, and I can’t really tell you all of the reasons why, the shell of the nut of my thinking cracked, and a small amount of light shone in. Question began to appear in my head, “Could this be real”?, “Can I trust this”?, “Is there value in these positive everyday things like a roof over my head, my health, my less-than-perfect family, my job, this country, God, and those annoying people in those bleak rooms of AA”?
That was all it took for me to try trusting it for a day. Or in some cases a minute. It was drudgery, but to whatever degree I could, I did it. And I sought help doing it. Any time my thoughts tried to pull me down the sewer, I would muster all that was within me, and redirect toward the positive, and ask for help doing so if I absolutely had to.
Some say “Trying is lying”, meaning if you only try and not do, you are kidding yourself. Well, the applications of this saying are limited. Because try was all I could start with, and it worked.
What started as drudgery became like a trusted friend. It became more familiar and more frequent. I found I redirected more often, and many times without realizing it. This was a process that took years and lots of support and learning. I have talked about it, been counseled about it, blogged about it, read about it, shared about it.
Then, on a morning like this morning, awakened by the remnant of my dark thinking, trying to tell me numerous negative things, without even realizing it, I simply said, “Ya, ya, whatever” to those voices and went out to my office to connect to some positive thinking.
I didn’t even realize it til I got to the office that the choice was barely conscious. It was mostly habit. I even made a pot of coffee on the way.
So what was once insurmountable, and kept me in bed depressed for days, and on an occasion or two, hospitalized, has grown through a phase of painful discipline and eventually to a level of virtually effortless habit. Wow… that is a lot to be grateful for!
Yet here we are in 2013 and this is nothing new. How many years ago was it that someone wrote, “… whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—keep thinking about these things”?
Wow… this stuff is finally becoming real! And helping me in a time when my family and I need it the most.