The importance of following your inner guidance: a few concluding thoughts as we head into 2022
Updated: Jan 1
I can hardly believe that 12 months has passed since I made the pact to write daily on this new blog.
I haven't quite managed to keep to my word, (there have been a few breaks due to illness and unforeseen circumstances) but generally I'm pretty satisfied with what I've achieved.
I have had to remind myself to 'practice what I preach' in the last few days because I've felt burnt out and tired, and self praise' is one of the things I've had to consciously remember... so I will actually go one step further:
I am proud of myself for what I have achieved:
I have survived the impossible
I have documented the whole thing for other people
I have managed to maintain stability by constant effort and sacrifice
I am continuing to grow and develop as a person: mentally, spiritually, holistically
I am a writer!
Talking to the brilliant Joanne Barker yesterday made me realise a few things...
Christmas was a bit triggering for me since so many people that I support have been having suicidal crises.
Now, I admit - I am the best person in the world to talk to when it comes to depression, bipolar and suicidal ideation because I have extensive knowledge and lived experience BUT...
It is very very very draining on my reserves of energy and it takes me back to a place that I never want to revisit
So, I have been very torn because I want to help people but I cannot do one to ones gratuitously as I have been doing.
Everything I know has already been written down. I have always known I needed to do this because there is no way I can help the number of people that need this stuff if I do one to one calls!
The information is all here for other people - I know this may sound harsh but they need to learn to read and they need to learn to help themselves because:
Recovery can only come from inside the individual who has to want to get better
James Frey - a million little pieces
This has all become clear to me while reading James Frey's - A million little pieces which is a sort of embellished memoir of addiction, suffering and recovery.
I have said this over and over again and I still don't think people are listening, but reading books is a recognised therapy called 'bibliography' or 'bibliotherapy'.
Anyway, this book has reminded me of something that I realised back in 2018 when I first started writing my own book.
I realised I had three options:
Live out this life in pain and misery and try to last until my body packed up
Do fucking everything to win the battle
I chose option three and committed to reading as much as I could until a clear decision could be made.
Doing so saved my life.
James Frey was exactly the same. There is a part in the book where he comes to the realisation that he needs to commit to wanting to live.
He finds inspiration and solace in two very different, and perhaps unlikely, sources.
First, his friend Leonard’s advice to:
“be smart, be strong, be proud, live honorably and with dignity, and just hold on,”
is a simple directive that resonates strongly with James.
Guess what the other thing is that James Frey starts doing in rehab?
R E A D I N G.....
James finds a source of strength in the Tao Te Ching, a book that James’s brother brings for him to read. Perhaps reluctantly, he realises that the book is the perfect source of guidance.
Its very philosophy is rooted in simplicity, a concept that James prefers to the concept of the 'Twelve Steps', which involve God or a higher power.
This is important because everyone is different (as I keep reiterating) and there are many, many, MANY different routes out of this nightmare - books are simply the tool to get there.
The Tao deals specifically with the here and now, things that James can concentrate on easily.
Since reading 'a million little pieces' I've started to learn a bit about Taoism and find it fascinating.
Remember that this process of maintaining mental wellness, stability and growth never ends until the day we die (if then even)....
A simple way to start learning the definition of Taoism is to start within yourself. Here are three easy starting steps to learning Taoism:
1. Don’t concentrate on the meaning of Tao (this will come later naturally)
2. Understand what Taoism is.
Taoism is more than just a “philosophy” or a “religion”. Taoism should be understood as being: A system of belief, attitudes, and practices set towards the service and living to a person’s nature.
3. The path of understanding Taoism is simply accepting oneself.
This leads to inner peace. Live life and discover who you are. Your nature is ever changing and is always the same. Don’t try to resolve the various contradictions in life, instead learn acceptance of your nature.
4. Having a set of basic guidelines can be helpful. However realistically, guidelines don’t determine how to live; instead, Taoism teaches:
'by living, you will express your nature.'
Think about the following:
1. With care, I aid those who are extended expressions of my nature
2. Be true to me
3. Connect to the world as I want to be treated
4. Connect to those outside my nature with decisive action
5. To those unwilling to accept me for my true nature, no action is required: Just silently let them be themselves as I remain myself
6. I own nothing; I am merely a passing custodian of items outside of my nature
5. Discover a set of practices to aid keeping the mind, body and spirit engaged and strong. Remember practices should support your essence with the activities fitting the needs of the moment. Your life practices will end up being an ever-shifting mix of activities relative to your needs.
6. Take time, relax and just explore and poke around. Taoism has no plans. Taoism is based on following your gut feelings and trusting your instincts.
7. It’s the pause in a breath… that each step of living becomes visible for your larger life to improve and follow upon. Smile, when needing to pick a possible next step. To smile is to open possibilities. Breathe when needing a break. Since to breathe is to be at one with yourself. Alternate the two, and your path will become free and clear for an entire lifetime of wonder to explore.
James Frey's 'A million little pieces' doesn't go into this much detail about Taoism but it is one of the themes of recovery in the book.
Anyone considering taking their own life needs to read it immediately (and mine when it's published!) especially men, and especially those with dual diagnoses & addiction problems.
Unfortunately, do you think they are encouraging anyone to read in mental hospitals? Holding simple book groups, discussing themes and sharing creative thoughts & ideas?
Hell no! There's currently zero of anything at all and all of this has to change!
Being more open minded
My last thoughts of 2021 are about expanding our beliefs and our minds and being open to possibility.
I feel as though most of us in this country are either victims of our own arrogance or victims of society's restrictive beliefs, or both...
We have got to stop confining ourselves to this 'real world' that people keep banging on about because:
It is the 'real world' that is fucking everyone over!
We must learn to be independent thinkers and not be so hemmed-in and influenced by what society says is right or what is wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.
I recently read this in a book about shamanism:
The Pueblos believed that white people were restless, Mirabal told Jung, as if they were searching for what they could not find. ‘We do not understand them. We think they are mad’ he famously told Jung, adding that ‘whites believed they thought with their heads’, when everyone at the Pueblo knew that thinking comes from the heart.
We have to be open to other ways of thinking if we are going to help people and we must also as individuals take the responsibility of learning, expanding and growing for ourselves.
In this vein, I am not going to be making some silly new years resolution to 'quit smoking, drinking or whatever' - not only have I already kicked all of that crap but I just think it's so shallow and pathetic.... surely we can do better?
Mine is going to be to:
Listen to my intuition. Follow my heart; to grow, think independently & always be true to myself
I will continue to blog next year, perhaps not quite as regularly as I have done this year, but I have other plans for my writing - I am starting my novel...
I have two books finished, and I'm starting a novel.
I have no publisher but I have FAITH!
Thanks for reading,
Happy New Year!