Pastor Brad Hoefs

Pastor | Author | Speaker | Hope Coach | Mental Health Advocate

Bipolar Medicine Side Effects And Exercise

Bipolar Medicine Side Effects And Exercise

By Rick Qualls

I was shocked when I read the doctor’s notes about my check up older obese white male. I did not realize my weight had gotten that far out of control. In my mind, I see myself as a bit overweight but not obese.

Like many other bipolar patients, I struggle with weight. A number of my medications have the side effect of weight gain. Other side effects include a slowing of cognitive function and speech. It is no wonder my metabolism is slowed.

Like many, I have a lack of motivation to exercise. One bipolar patient describes it as a vicious cycle. There are things we can do to get over depression (including exercise). But this requires motivation. Depression takes away motivation and keeps us from doing things to improve our health. It is a downward spiral.

Exercise is missing in my self-care, perhaps yours, too. Here are some things I have learned from other patients.

Walking a dog regularly forces us to walk. It pushes us out of the house on a regular basis.

A little exercising in place, such as jogging, can get you started to exercise. Even doing a little bit stirs the cardio system and may give the motivation to walk or exercise outdoors.

I once jumped rope inside when the weather was too bad to jog. It was easy to begin for a few jumps and then I allowed myself to quit if I needed or to continue if I felt like it.

Many people use small acts to begin a new habit. Set a time limit of 10 minutes in the gym and give yourself permission to quit if you feel you can’t go on. Probably after the effort to do 10 minutes, you will discover the motivation to continue a full workout. 

If you are fortunate to be able to hold a full-time job, coming home leaves you with the tiredness from work and the lack of motivation caused by depression. It is a double hit to motivation.

Having a workout friend can help with external motivation. It is hard to say no to someone you have agreed to exercise with. This lack of motivation can be positive. You may not have the energy to say no to your exercise partner.

Some people find that exercise is as good as an antidepressant. Others find that exercise does not lighten their mood.

What are some exercises people have found helpful? Jogging, swimming, biking, and gym workouts that include weightlifting. Loud music may help with motivation. (My music tastes run into the line of light jazz. Light jazz does not motivate exercising! )

In the Bible we are reminded to take care of our bodies because it is a temple for God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own;  you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

I’ve made my start in an exercise habit. In a shed behind our house is an old elliptical machine. I have started using it in the morning. Maybe this will be the beginning of a program for me.

Good luck with yours, too.

 

Quails-bio-slide

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

Over the last 30 years, I’ve spent untold hours doing pastoral counseling with what seems to be a “gazillion” or more individuals, couples and families. I’ve heard just about everything and seen even more than I’ve heard. I’ve seen what seems to be manageable problems tear families apart. Broken relationships, wounded people, discouragement, and despair seem all too familiar. But, interestingly enough there have been times when I have watched families, couples and individuals actually pull together and become stronger because of overwhelming circumstances that I was sure that no one could go through and “survive”. They not only survived, but they thrived!

I’ve asked myself what it is that those who thrive in spite of horrible life altering circumstances have that those who seem done in by even less severe circumstance do not have? I have come to the conclusion that there are some things that the “thrivers” have in common. And there seems to be one major thing that they all have in common for not just surviving but thriving in spite of their circumstances. What is that one thing? They help others in spite of their circumstances. They regularly and consistently give and help other people in spite of their pain.

Helping and giving to others gives temporary relief to one’s overwhelming circumstances. It has the power to cause a shift in one’s perception of their problems. Time and time again I have seen people going through tragic events in their lives step out of their pain to help someone else. By giving to others their focus changes. When you and I help others in spite of what is going on in our lives, it has the power to change everything. When I move the focus off of myself and onto someone else to give to them, if even for a brief moment, my personal pain is brought into focus.

It seems that when you and I lose our perspective due to our circumstances the circumstances feel even worse. When we focus only on ourselves and how horrible our circumstances might be we allow the circumstances to hold even more power and pain in our lives.

Giving and helping others in spite of what we might be going through is the release valve from the pressures of our circumstances. Just like a teapot the pressure builds in our lives when the circumstances are difficult. There has to be a release of the build up of the environmental pressure, or it leads to potential disaster.

A mental health disorder/illness can be very challenging. It can cause difficult circumstances within one’s life. It can cause you and me to become very self-focused. Which at times is necessary. But, if all we do is focus on ourselves, then bipolar disorder has the potential to hold too much power in our lives. You know what I mean?

How about you? Are you only focused on you and your circumstances? If so, have you thought about helping someone else? Or doing something for someone else? Have you found helping others to be good for you?

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

Over the last 30 years, I’ve spent untold hours doing pastoral counseling with what seems to be a “gazillion” or more individuals, couples and families. I’ve heard just about everything and seen even more than I’ve heard. I’ve seen what seems to be manageable problems tear families apart. Broken relationships, wounded people, discouragement, and despair seem all too familiar. But, interestingly enough there have been times when I have watched families, couples and individuals actually pull together and become stronger because of overwhelming circumstances that I was sure that no one could go through and “survive”. They not only survived, but they thrived!

I’ve asked myself what it is that those who thrive in spite of horrible life altering circumstances have that those who seem done in by even less severe circumstance do not have? I have come to the conclusion that there are some things that the “thrivers” have in common. And there seems to be one major thing that they all have in common for not just surviving but thriving in spite of their circumstances. What is that one thing? They help others in spite of their circumstances. They regularly and consistently give and help other people in spite of their pain.

Helping and giving to others gives temporary relief to one’s overwhelming circumstances. It has the power to cause a shift in one’s perception of their problems. Time and time again I have seen people going through tragic events in their lives step out of their pain to help someone else. By giving to others their focus changes. When you and I help others in spite of what is going on in our lives, it has the power to change everything. When I move the focus off of myself and onto someone else to give to them, if even for a brief moment, my personal pain is brought into focus.

It seems that when you and I lose our perspective due to our circumstances the circumstances feel even worse. When we focus only on ourselves and how horrible our circumstances might be we allow the circumstances to hold even more power and pain in our lives.

Giving and helping others in spite of what we might be going through is the release valve from the pressures of our circumstances. Just like a teapot the pressure builds in our lives when the circumstances are difficult. There has to be a release of the build up of the environmental pressure, or it leads to potential disaster.

A mental health disorder/illness can be very challenging. It can cause difficult circumstances within one’s life. It can cause you and me to become very self-focused. Which at times is necessary. But, if all we do is focus on ourselves, then bipolar disorder has the potential to hold too much power in our lives. You know what I mean?

How about you? Are you only focused on you and your circumstances? If so, have you thought about helping someone else? Or doing something for someone else? Have you found helping others to be good for you?

Check out Brad’s weekly podcast at www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com 

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

 

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5 Insights on Forgiving Yourself

5 Insights on Forgiving Yourself

By: Brad Hoefs

When your brain is not functioning properly, it certainly affects your behavior, which then affects your relationship with others. Those of us with a mental health issue can end up hurting a lot of people that we love. Whether it’s through our words or because of something we have done, those closest to us are left wounded.

Those who have been hurt will either forgive us and give us another chance, forgive us but no longer be in the relationship or choose not to forgive us and leave us. And we end up feeling the deep pain our behavior(s) have caused for them and ourselves. It is at this point that we have a critical choice to make; whether we will forgive ourselves or not.

Even if others will not forgive us, it is important for us to take responsibility for any of our hurtful behaviors; asking for forgiveness and then choosing to forgive ourselves. If we do not, we end up getting stuck and unable to move forward in living well. Everyone gets stuck at times. But, staying stuck is not okay. Thus, being able to forgive yourself is an essential component of living well in spite of having a mood disorder.

These are some of the insights I offer to you about “how” to forgive yourself so that you can move forward in living well:

1. Come to this realization: no matter how hard you try, you cannot change what has happened. You can only learn from it, grow from it and move forward. Accept what happened.

2. Take responsibility for what you did and the pain it caused others, asking them for forgiveness. Even if they choose not to forgive you; you must forgive yourself. Forgiving yourself cannot be contingent upon them forgiving you. Remember, them forgiving you is going to be a process, it’s not like switching on or off a light switch, just as forgiving yourself is going to be a process.

3. If you are a person of faith, then ask God, your higher power, for forgiveness. If it is within your faith tradition to go to the clergy and confess to him or her what has happened, then I would encourage you to consider doing that. Sometimes we need to hear out loud from someone in spiritual authority that God has forgiven us.

If God forgives us (and He does), who are we to refuse to forgive ourselves? God sets the example for us. So be kind to yourself, just as you would be to a close friend.

4. Decide to stop rehearsing over and over in your head what has happened. Rehearsing it will not change it. Rehearsing over and over is a way abusing yourself for what you did or didn’t do. Decide that you will stop allowing the rehearsal of it in your head. Yes, it’s tough to do. But, it is possible. You and I can be in charge of what we think about in our thought life. At first, it will feel as though it is next to impossible to do. With time, it will get a bit easier.

To stop rehearsing over and over what I had done that had hurt so many people in my life, I disciplined myself to have two times a day where I would think about it and grieve it. I promised myself that I would only spend 20 minutes each time. During this period, I wrote what I was thinking down in a journal. At the end of that time, I always spent time in prayer and reading some carefully selected scriptures from the Bible.

Wallowing in what happened will get you nowhere. Allow those few times a day to do this and then get on with your day. Don’t sit around letting your mind “wander around” on its own. Take charge. As you do this, it will get easier.

5. With my therapist, I began to work through any emotional issues that I had that were being exacerbated by my mood disorder, that I could work through in the hopes that it would give me a breakthrough in any of my dysfunctional behaviors that were harmful to my relationships with others. Too often you and I think we behave a “certain way” because of our mood disorder. However, more times than not, much of our behaviors happen due to emotional issues that we have yet to resolve, and the mood disorder merely intensifies those issues. Plus, if you and I are not stable, we can have great difficulties with impulse control. So, in my thinking, it is imperative for you and me to be working through as many emotional issues and any of the dysfunctional ways of being in relationships as possible.

One of the emotional issues that I had to work through was not to hate myself. I did not like myself at all. I had a very critical parent tape playing over and over in my head. I had to erase that tape. And create a new healthy adult tape. It took time. It was a process. And even yet today, some 20 years later, that critical parent tape plays just a bit here and there, but I stop listening to it rather quickly.

These things helped me to forgive myself. I hope that some of them might be helpful to you. It is a day- by-day process, but you can do it. Remember, if you tell yourself, “I can’t forgive myself for that,” then you won’t forgive yourself, and you will stay stuck at that point. If you choose not to forgive yourself, then you will not move forward in living well. Without forgiving one another, where would we all be? We live in a broken world that necessitates forgiving one another and forgiving ourselves.

How about you? Do you need to forgive yourself? Have you forgiven yourself? If so, how did you go about it?  (We encourage you to leave a comment or question!)

Check out Brad’s podcast: Fresh Hope for Mental Health

For more information about Fresh Hope go to: FreshHope.us

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

A Key to Thriving in Spite of Your Difficult Circumstances

Over the last 30 years, I’ve spent untold hours doing pastoral counseling with what seems to be a “gazillion” or more individuals, couples and families. I’ve heard just about everything and seen even more than I’ve heard. I’ve seen what seems to be manageable problems tear families apart. Broken relationships, wounded people, discouragement, and despair seem all too familiar. But, interestingly enough there have been times when I have watched families, couples and individuals actually pull together and become stronger because of overwhelming circumstances that I was sure that no one could go through and “survive”. They not only survived, but they thrived!

I’ve asked myself what it is that those who thrive in spite of horrible life altering circumstances have that those who seem done in by even less severe circumstance do not have? I have come to the conclusion that there are some things that the “thrivers” have in common. And there seems to be one major thing that they all have in common for not just surviving but thriving in spite of their circumstances. What is that one thing? They help others in spite of their circumstances. They regularly and consistently give and help other people in spite of their pain.

Helping and giving to others gives temporary relief to one’s overwhelming circumstances. It has the power to cause a shift in one’s perception of their problems. Time and time again I have seen people going through tragic events in their lives step out of their pain to help someone else. By giving to others their focus changes. When you and I help others in spite of what is going on in our lives, it has the power to change everything. When I move the focus off of myself and onto someone else to give to them, if even for a brief moment, my personal pain is brought into focus.

It seems that when you and I lose our perspective due to our circumstances the circumstances feel even worse. When we focus only on ourselves and how horrible our circumstances might be we allow the circumstances to hold even more power and pain in our lives.

Giving and helping others in spite of what we might be going through is the release valve from the pressures of our circumstances. Just like a teapot the pressure builds in our lives when the circumstances are difficult. There has to be a release of the build up of the environmental pressure, or it leads to potential disaster.

A mental health disorder/illness can be very challenging. It can cause difficult circumstances within one’s life. It can cause you and me to become very self-focused. Which at times is necessary. But, if all we do is focus on ourselves, then bipolar disorder has the potential to hold too much power in our lives. You know what I mean?

How about you? Are you only focused on you and your circumstances? If so, have you thought about helping someone else? Or doing something for someone else? Have you found helping others to be good for you?

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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You Are Here to Make a Difference

You Are Here to Make a Difference

It is not easy for me to take a compliment or say something good about myself.  I was in counseling for quite some time before I could even say out loud “I matter”.  The first time my counselor had me say it, I cried.  I didn’t believe it.  I did not feel like I mattered to myself or anyone else.  It wasn’t because someone was mean to me or bad things had happened to me. It was what I believed of myself.  Many people, do not think good things of themselves. Here are just 4 things God says you are:

Loved/Chosen – I am greatly loved by God. Col. 3:12

Forgiven – I am forgiven of all my sins & washed in the Blood. Eph 1:17

Fearless – For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Warrior – I can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one with my shield of faith. Eph 6:16

There are so many more things God says we are. I chose these 4 words because most of us do not feel this way at all. Even on a good day, I struggle with believing what God says about me. I don’t doubt God; it is me who has a hard time believing any one feels that way about me. But God said it in His Word that we are each of these things.

My friends, let this soak into your soul. You ARE chosen by the Almighty God because He loves you. He made you ON PURPOSE. He FORGIVES you of all your sins if you ask Him to. He has also made you a FEARLESS WARRIOR.

Another very important reason you matter because we have a purpose. Even though we have a diagnosis of a mental disorder or a lable of some kind, Romans 8:28 (NASB) says, “And we know God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

He will work things out for good. I believe with my whole heart that the things we go through are to help others when they go through them. We have felt alone at times, ashamed, or embarrassed but there is someone out there who feels the same way and needs help just like we did and do. That’s our purpose. That’s how we make a difference.

2 Corinthians 1:4 (The Message) says “He comes along side us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us along side someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

That verse also says YOU MATTER. He has given us a purpose. Let’s use all the tools, ideas, and help others and God has given us to help someone else.

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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30 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love is Clinically Depressed

30 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love is Clinically Depressed

When you love someone that is experiencing deep depression it can be exhausting and melanie-wasser-233297frustrating.  You want to encourage your loved one but don’t want to push them too much. Encouraging them to “push through” but knowing when not to do so is a delicate balance.  You might even find yourself feeling the depression emotionally.  No doubt caring for someone who is in the depths of depression can feel as though life is being sucked out of you.  You can end up having no idea as to how to help or encourage your loved one.

Here’s somethings my wife did for me and/or encouraged me to do when I was in the depths of depression:

  1. Encourage them to do something that they usually have enjoyed doing and do it with them.
  2. Watch an uplifting movie with them.
  3. Make them their favorite meal.
  4. Sit quietly with them. Hold their hand.
  5. Take a walk with them.
  6. Take care of yourself!
  7. Help them establish and stick to a schedule if possible.
  8. Have some expectations of them.
  9. Assure them of your unconditional love.
  10. Assure them that this will pass sooner or later.
  11. Give them a back rub.
  12. Listen to soothing, spiritually uplifting music with them.
  13. Ask them to help you make or do something.
  14. Encourage them to talk and listen carefully.
  15. Encourage them to see a doctor if they have not done so.
  16. Assure them you don’t believe that they are weak or lack faith, but that you know their brain chemistry is experiencing imbalance.
  17. Ask them to promise you that if they ever begin to feel like they begin to feel suicidal that they will tell you. If they tell you, consult with their doctor as soon as possible or contact the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If the situation is an emergency, dial 911.
  18. Ask them what might bring them comfort.
  19. Talk about the future. Help them see there is a future.
  20. Encourage them to exercise with you.
  21. Turn on the lights, open the windows.
  22. Find out as much as you can about depression. This is a great website: https://www.lighterblue.com/#lighter-blue
  23. Change your light bulbs to full spectrum light bulbs.
  24. Give your loved one a mood light. Northern Light Technologies has a wide variety of options.  http://northernlighttechnologies.com/  (Before purchasing these you’ll want to check with the doctor.)
  25. Get them vitamin D and B12.
  26. Remind them of times when they have overcome adversity so they know it is possible for them to do so again.
  27. Encourage them to get outside for a walk and some natural sunlight.
  28. Turn off news programs and other negative media. Control negative inputs.
  29. Where possible, encourage them to connect with friends.
  30. Pray.  Every time you find yourself worrying about your loved one, pray instead.

Please know, as a loved one it is SO important that you do take care of yourself too. Stay balanced and do somethings that you enjoy.  Take care of yourself spiritually and emotionally.  Also, know this, the Lord is with you too!  He will see you through this valley. Stay in His word. Hold to His hope. And when you can, laugh a little!  You are not alone. There is hope.  And there is healing.

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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7 Keys to Successful Mental Health Recovery

7 Keys to Successful Mental Health Recovery

When others find out that I have experienced no symptoms of mental illness for the past 14 years, they usually want to know what I have done and do in my journey to have 14 years of sustained recovery.

My standard answer to them is:

  • 1. I take my medicine as directed. If I have needed a tweak or change here or there I have talked with my psychiatrist.  And if something is not quite right, I do not hesitate to call his office immediately.
  • 2. I have become extremely “self-aware.”  I pay very close attention to what is going on with both my thinking and any perceivable changes with mood.  This has resulted in changing some of my “stinkin’ thinkin’” and learning to pace myself, especially when I’m stressed.
  • 3. I choose to believe I can live a rich and fulfilling life in spite of having a mental health diagnosis.  Yes, it’s a choice.  And yes, it’s possible to make that choice.
  • 4. I have a circle of accountability in my life.  I signed a waiver for the doctor to be able to speak to my spouse and three very trusted friends who have my best interests in mind.  For the last 12 years I meet with them twice a month.  They can all talk with my doctor if my behavior and thinking would seem to be “off”.  To my knowledge, none of them have ever talked with my doctor.
  • 5. I decided it was time to get up and choose to live again; pushing myself to do things I didn’t necessarily feel like doing (unlike my first seven years prior to the last 12 in which I simply was trying to cope with life).
  • 6. I choose to believe by my faith that the Lord can work all things out together for my good (Romans 8:28).
  • 7. I have a great support system of family and friends who have been instrumental in my recovery.

While there is never “one-size-fits-all” approach to recovery, these seven have been key for me.

What about for you?  What has contributed to your success in recovery?  

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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Bipolar Medicine Side Effects And Exercise

Bipolar Medicine Side Effects And Exercise

By Rick Qualls

I was shocked when I read the doctor’s notes about my check up older obese white male. I did not realize my weight had gotten that far out of control. In my mind, I see myself as a bit overweight but not obese.

Like many other bipolar patients, I struggle with weight. A number of my medications have the side effect of weight gain. Other side effects include a slowing of cognitive function and speech. It is no wonder my metabolism is slowed.

Like many, I have a lack of motivation to exercise. One bipolar patient describes it as a vicious cycle. There are things we can do to get over depression (including exercise). But this requires motivation. Depression takes away motivation and keeps us from doing things to improve our health. It is a downward spiral.

Exercise is missing in my self-care, perhaps yours, too. Here are some things I have learned from other patients.

Walking a dog regularly forces us to walk. It pushes us out of the house on a regular basis.

A little exercising in place, such as jogging, can get you started to exercise. Even doing a little bit stirs the cardio system and may give the motivation to walk or exercise outdoors.

I once jumped rope inside when the weather was too bad to jog. It was easy to begin for a few jumps and then I allowed myself to quit if I needed or to continue if I felt like it.

Many people use small acts to begin a new habit. Set a time limit of 10 minutes in the gym and give yourself permission to quit if you feel you can’t go on. Probably after the effort to do 10 minutes, you will discover the motivation to continue a full workout. 

If you are fortunate to be able to hold a full-time job, coming home leaves you with the tiredness from work and the lack of motivation caused by depression. It is a double hit to motivation.

Having a workout friend can help with external motivation. It is hard to say no to someone you have agreed to exercise with. This lack of motivation can be positive. You may not have the energy to say no to your exercise partner.

Some people find that exercise is as good as an antidepressant. Others find that exercise does not lighten their mood.

What are some exercises people have found helpful? Jogging, swimming, biking, and gym workouts that include weightlifting. Loud music may help with motivation. (My music tastes run into the line of light jazz. Light jazz does not motivate exercising! )

In the Bible we are reminded to take care of our bodies because it is a temple for God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own;  you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

I’ve made my start in an exercise habit. In a shed behind our house is an old elliptical machine. I have started using it in the morning. Maybe this will be the beginning of a program for me.

Good luck with yours, too.

 

Quails-bio-slide

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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5 Insights on Forgiving Yourself

5 Insights on Forgiving Yourself

By Brad Hoefs:

When your brain is not functioning properly, it certainly affects your behavior, which then affects your relationship with others. Those of us with a mental health issue can end up hurting a lot of people that we love. Whether it’s through our words or because of something we have done, those closest to us are left wounded.

Those who have been hurt will either forgive us and give us another chance, forgive us but no longer be in the relationship or choose not to forgive us and leave us. And we end up feeling the deep pain our behavior(s) have caused for them and ourselves. It is at this point that we have a critical choice to make; whether we will forgive ourselves or not.

Even if others will not forgive us, it is important for us to take responsibility for any of our hurtful behaviors; asking for forgiveness and then choosing to forgive ourselves. If we do not, we end up getting stuck and unable to move forward in living well. Everyone gets stuck at times. But, staying stuck is not okay. Thus, being able to forgive yourself is an essential component of living well in spite of having a mood disorder.

These are some of the insights I offer to you about “how” to forgive yourself so that you can move forward in living well:

1. Come to this realization: no matter how hard you try, you cannot change what has happened. You can only learn from it, grow from it and move forward. Accept what happened.

2. Take responsibility for what you did and the pain it caused others, asking them for forgiveness. Even if they choose not to forgive you; you must forgive yourself. Forgiving yourself cannot be contingent upon them forgiving you. Remember, them forgiving you is going to be a process, it’s not like switching on or off a light switch, just as forgiving yourself is going to be a process.

3. If you are a person of faith, then ask God, your higher power, for forgiveness. If it is within your faith tradition to go to the clergy and confess to him or her what has happened, then I would encourage you to consider doing that. Sometimes we need to hear out loud from someone in spiritual authority that God has forgiven us.

If God forgives us (and He does), who are we to refuse to forgive ourselves? God sets the example for us. So be kind to yourself, just as you would be to a close friend.

4. Decide to stop rehearsing over and over in your head what has happened. Rehearsing it will not change it. Rehearsing over and over is a way abusing yourself for what you did or didn’t do. Decide that you will stop allowing the rehearsal of it in your head. Yes, it’s tough to do. But, it is possible. You and I can be in charge of what we think about in our thought life. At first, it will feel as though it is next to impossible to do. With time, it will get a bit easier.

To stop rehearsing over and over what I had done that had hurt so many people in my life, I disciplined myself to have two times a day where I would think about it and grieve it. I promised myself that I would only spend 20 minutes each time. During this period, I wrote what I was thinking down in a journal. At the end of that time, I always spent time in prayer and reading some carefully selected scriptures from the Bible.

Wallowing in what happened will get you nowhere. Allow those few times a day to do this and then get on with your day. Don’t sit around letting your mind “wander around” on its own. Take charge. As you do this, it will get easier.

5. With my therapist, I began to work through any emotional issues that I had that were being exacerbated by my mood disorder, that I could work through in the hopes that it would give me a breakthrough in any of my dysfunctional behaviors that were harmful to my relationships with others. Too often you and I think we behave a “certain way” because of our mood disorder. However, more times than not, much of our behaviors happen due to emotional issues that we have yet to resolve, and the mood disorder merely intensifies those issues. Plus, if you and I are not stable, we can have great difficulties with impulse control. So, in my thinking, it is imperative for you and me to be working through as many emotional issues and any of the dysfunctional ways of being in relationships as possible.

One of the emotional issues that I had to work through was not to hate myself. I did not like myself at all. I had a very critical parent tape playing over and over in my head. I had to erase that tape. And create a new healthy adult tape. It took time. It was a process. And even yet today, some 20 years later, that critical parent tape plays just a bit here and there, but I stop listening to it rather quickly.

These things helped me to forgive myself. I hope that some of them might be helpful to you. It is a day- by-day process, but you can do it. Remember, if you tell yourself, “I can’t forgive myself for that,” then you won’t forgive yourself, and you will stay stuck at that point. If you choose not to forgive yourself, then you will not move forward in living well. Without forgiving one another, where would we all be? We live in a broken world that necessitates forgiving one another and forgiving ourselves.

How about you? Do you need to forgive yourself? Have you forgiven yourself? If so, how did you go about it?  (We encourage you to leave a comment or question!)

Check out Brad’s podcast: Fresh Hope for Mental Health

For more information about Fresh Hope go to: FreshHope.us

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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