What do we do when we wake-up disgruntled or even frustrated and agitated about our current reality? It’s happened to me on many occasions, yes, I have a diagnosis of Bipolar 1, however, I manage these well and mood swings affect us all.
This type of day can start as soon as we open our eyes, emotionally we are extremely complex and we all have various level of maturity, strengths and weaknesses, in this troubling part of our human condition we all share, and often struggle to navigate. For some its awful, and so bad they resort to sedatives to deal with it. Many will think it’s just how they are and others inevitably blame externals, environmental or people.
This text below may offer some wisdom if it’s about identity, it helped me.
‘This approach starts with accepting ourselves as we are, not as some ideal of whom we think we should be. By doing this a relaxation can take place that creates space for insight to arise. For some people this space arises as the sound of silence, or simply a quiet or empty mind. However, it manifests, this points to the unconditioned; beyond body and mind objects.
From this place of spaciousness, social and personal conditioning can be investigated or reflected upon, thus freeing the heart from the delusion of identifying with the personality. This is not a process of rejecting ourselves or of considering certain thoughts and feelings as wrong, but of learning to be a silent witness to all that arises without attaching to that experience or rejecting it.’
Amaravati Buddhist Monastery
We can get ourselves in quite a state, even turn other people’s days upside down and long term damage our relationships.
This book I read many years ago is still a favourite.
Feeling Good Together Dr David Burns
’But sometimes anger turns into chronic resentment and hostility and sours your outlook on life. Letting go of anger can be extremely difficult because it gets tied up with our sense of pride, identity, and personal values. Anger can be exhilarating. It can make you feel powerful and alive. Although troubled relationships are incredibly draining and demoralizing, anger can be energizing. It can provide us with a sense of purpose and meaning. Of all the negative emotions—including depression, hopelessness, anxiety, panic, guilt, and feelings of inferiority—anger is by far the hardest to overcome because it makes us feel powerful and self-righteous.’
These bad days if allowed to continue without reflection and application of proven healthy actions to help us could literally destroy us. For me, I have to stop talking for at least thirty minutes and then when I do talk, speak softly. I am too loud when I get passionate about things. If I am out of sorts I can be loud and use words to dismantle and I become too analytical and unreasonable. This is a challenge, but one I have gradually understood better and continuously aspire to improve on. Clearly, this has not improved overnight and we all have our idiosyncrasies and some might use silence. This not talking is just as troublesome and disappointing to our loved ones.
So, bad days, what to do? Since we are all different there is no one size that fits all. However, awareness is a tool all of us can use. Being aware is not a skill most are born with. It is certainly a skill we all can develop. Listen to what The Buddha taught twenty-five hundred years ago.
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi, in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. There he addressed the monks, “Monks!”
“Yes, lord,” the monks responded.
The Blessed One said, “Monks, ignorance is the leader in the attainment of unskillful qualities, followed by lack of conscience & lack of concern. In an unknowledgeable person, immersed in ignorance, wrong view arises. In one of wrong view, wrong resolve arises. In one of wrong resolve, wrong speech… In one of wrong speech, wrong action… In one of wrong action, wrong livelihood… In one of wrong livelihood, wrong effort… In one of wrong effort, wrong mindfulness… In one of wrong mindfulness, wrong concentration arises.
“Clear knowing is the leader in the attainment of skilful qualities, followed by conscience & concern. In a knowledgeable person, immersed in clear knowing, right view arises. In one of right view, right resolve arises. In one of right resolve, right speech… In one of right speech, right action… In one of right action, right livelihood… In one of right livelihood, right effort… In one of right effort, right mindfulness… In one of right mindfulness, right concentration arises.”
SN 45.1 PTS: S v 1 CDB ii 1523
Avijja Sutta: Ignorance
translated from the Pali by
There is often shame associated with bad behaviour and sadness, we must be careful to keep this emotional state in check. This is a book I found doing my Theology degree, and I found it useful.
The Art of Listening. Noel Pembroke
Moral Shame This last observation points to the fact that shame and pride have a moral reference. Moral lapses produce a sense of shame. Following Kant, Gary Thrane contends that a sense of honour derived from a sensitivity to shame is the only truly moral motivation.48 The link between the moral personality and shame is established in terms of autonomy and identity. An important dimension in autonomy is the capacity for embracing the ideals and standards that are truly one’s own. Autonomy is a personal good because it requires `freedom, courage and self-command’.” When a person follows externally determined standards, he feels a sense of shame. The loss of autonomy produces a loss of dignity and sense of worth.
We must always reflect on ourselves, never compare because untimely looking to the other, or mimicking a hero, including deities or powerful characters throughout history is problematic on so many levels.
I remember people saying in church circles years ago ”What would Jesus do?” sounds noble and a good way to keep people in check? However, it never sat to well with me and I always felt it would generate nothing but shame and unrealistic expectations. The Buddha and Jesus are exceptional characters, to say the least. Trying to copy them will not help you find your way. You have to work on you, not just copy, you can follow their teaching. The teaching and the application are what changes you not the coping. Of course, there are many contemporary teachers these days too. Remember, whoever you learn from, you are not ever going to be them. We must find our own growth, not merely a cheap copy of something we know deep down we are not.
Best to be honest with ourselves and remember we can bluff others but the day will come when it all collapses and we have to face our true selves.
It is like a man separated from light by a wall and who cannot touch his wall without making it higher and higher, but a day comes when all the absurd efforts that have built up the wall to such a height that it becomes unsteady and collapse suddenly, a catastrophe that is final and triumphant, and which leaves the man bathed in the light.