We all need to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made. Even the ones that really hurt. Even when others choose not to forgive you. Life can get pretty confusing with or without Bipolar Disorder, depression or ADHD. If you haven’t yet made such a big mistake, be thankful… but know that it is coming.
Why We Need Wisdom
Wisdom isn’t available to the young. Jerusha Clark discussed some of the neurobiological reasons for this in our podcast and in her book, “Your Teenager is not Crazy”. Your brain continues to undergo major growth and development with nerve growth factors, myelin coatings and pruning until age 25. Even then, new neurons are formed and pruned every day afterward.
Wisdom is extremely valuable. When God offered King Solomon anything he wanted in 2 Chronicles 1:7, Solomon requested wisdom. Despite its obvious value, neurobiologists are just beginning to have clues as to where and how wisdom is created in the brain. In our podcast, Dr. Ronald Siegel explained that the complexity involved in being wise is still too vast to study effectively with our present tools and understandings.
Your brain is better organized in some areas than others. This can explain some of the strengths you bring to the earth. You may be very empathic because your mirror neurons are better organized. You may have better visual special skills or better memory in specific areas or even faster processing speed than others. The neurons in each of these areas of the brain will call out to be used in various ways. Each neuron competes to either grow, connect and add value or die.
The Struggle of Strengths
When you first begin using one of your strengths, you struggle. Even Michael Jordan failed to make his high school basketball team. It takes time and experience to make all of the connections necessary and form the neurological connections to realize and wield each strength wisely. The brain thinks in relationships so each neuron is given to finesse connections to optimize relationships within you, between you and others and between you and the greater good.
The more complex a relationship, the harder it is to manage a strength wisely. Smart people struggle with incorporating the ideas of others. Empathic people struggle to get their needs met as they tend to focus on helping others. People with a strong sense of self tend to not notice the needs of others and people who are considered handsome or pretty tend to ignore the daily work a relationship requires. This can lead to poor decision making and pain in any of your relationships.
Each mistake will look like a personal weakness. Given that it comes from an unrealized or underdeveloped natural strength, it may look like you are intentionally taking advantage of someone. People around you won’t understand and may judge you as a “bad person”. Eventually, you may feel similarly. Common self-talk goes something like, “I didn’t think I was a bad person - but look what I did. Maybe I have a sociopathic streak in me.” Here is where pain turns to suffering as you brain settles for untrue and terrible answers.
The Challenge of Forming Wisdom with Bipolar Disorder
Now, let’s add Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety or ADHD to the conversation with their variable and incomplete connections between your conscious and subconscious mind. This is very difficult to recognize as it uses the very same neuronal circuits that you use every day. In addition, your mind’s ability to self-monitor is compromised. You don’t know you are going to do it, are doing it or that you did it. This impairs the normal learning and wisdom formation over time.
Each cluster of symptoms adds its own flavor of blind spots that ends marriages, breaks up families and ruins careers. The mistakes appear unusual, unpredictable or more severe than people can understand. It doesn’t help that you can explain them either. When you try to explain yourself, the assumptions you make are frequently mistaken leading to even greater misunderstandings.
Unless recognized, learning remains impaired and wisdom elusive. Teachers and supervisors may negatively judge your variable performance. Friends may look down on you for inconsistencies in relationships. Family member may eventually give up on you and finally, you may settle and give up on yourself.
When a person decides to negatively judge you, thinking stops. Their conscious/subconscious connections shut down and they respond to you with mindless and often excessive anger, anxiety, addictive thought patterns and judgement. There is no discernable information in such communication patterns, making growth difficult. Separation from those around doesn’t help. Often, this leads to attraction to other people who are similarly lost and hurting.
Practical Ways to Form Wisdom
What can you do:
- Reach out for help. Do all you can to find answers for any faulty thought/feeling patterns and decision-making.
- Take the people who support you on this journey. They have vital information that can help. Symptoms clusters usually define a “diagnosis” but keep your eye on how all of this usually affects relationships. Talk about your relationship patterns. Look for connections between a cluster of symptoms and the mistakes you often make in relationships. Above all, seek out experiences that will help you to reconnect with your God, your friends and family and your life.
- Develop daily habits that focus on improving each of your relationships a little each day. (See the Grow in Oneness video series).
- Become a specialist in self-care e.g. the anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, and sleep hygiene. Join groups that encourage you. Look for ways to enjoy even more anything healthy in your life.
- You and God may not be on speaking terms. That’s OK. He understands. He is with you and all that he asks is that you know he is there. What you learn from this walk with God will serve other relationships for the rest of your life.
- Try this. In our podcast, Cheri Huber suggested that you audio record a difficulty you are having and your thoughts about it. Next, listen to the recording of yourself as your loving God would. This is a form of self-compassion. Often answers become evident between the words of your recording. (Cheri uses the concept “loving mentor” in place of where I have used God.) See more on self-compassion in my podcast with Kristy Arbon.
- Join a spiritual group. I know that the church or synagogue you previously attended may have rejected you. Hopefully, this will change. If not, look for a group that shares your beliefs but may include people from various spiritual communities.
- Forgive yourself. This will take time. Focus on joining with God to be the very best you that you can be. Recognize your strengths. Build on your wisdom. Learn about the usual symptoms and their effects on relationships. This knowledge applied over time will allow the formations of deep forgiveness for yourself and others. God forgives instantly but, its takes mortals a little more time.
- Why does God allow this to happen? I have spent my life exploring this question. It was given to me when I was young and my spiritual and compassionate grandmother suffered severe depression in an insane asylum typical for that time. I have heard many explanations but the one I am most comfortable with is, “I don’t know”.
This explanation frees me to move on and use every experience I am offered to love God and others a little more each day.
To learn more ways to cultivate wisdom in your day-to-day life while dealing with disorders like bipolar disorder, sign-up risk free for the Heal in Oneness course.