Breaking The Rules

Black man with yellow wooden stool on top of shoulders and head

Your Rigidity Is Holding You Back

Ever since we’re toddlers, we’re taught about something called “rules” that govern our conduct within a particular activity or sphere. For the most part, rules are necessary in order to attempt to live in a structured and civilized society. Without rules and regulations, our world would be in even more chaos than it already is.

So as you can imagine, rules do not always have to be followed depending on the situation that you are in. All of us break rules on a daily basis without even knowing it:

  • We’re late to work by 10-15 minutes (but no one says anything about it)
  • We run the yellow and many times red light at intersections
  • We don’t fully stop at stop signs
  • Sometimes we pay our rent a few days late
  • Some people still torrent music and movies (forgetting that it’s illegal)

. . . and the list goes on. We cannot live a perfect life where no rules are ever broken. We constantly break rules without even knowing it. But there are people who are just way too serious regarding their conduct, allowing their rigidity to prevent them from living more flexible lives.

If you’re living a rigid life where you’re finding yourself always following the rules, and repeating the exact same actions day in and day out, then you might have found your answer as to why you’re not finding meaning and happiness in your life. Humans weren’t created to live as rigid creatures; God provided us with free will!

Even though Adam and Eve broke the first rule of all time and imposed sin and punishment on all future generations that followed, does not mean that you should attempt to live a life in which you are stuck within the rules established by society. Rigidity only promotes a dull life and a dull life promotes behavioral and mental health problems.

When you’re rigid, you’re not living: you’re experiencing the inability to be changed or to adapt to new circumstances in a psychologically healthy manner. When this happens, you’re essentially constructing a mental prison and voluntarily entrapping yourself in it. The worst part of it is if you lose the keys to your mental prison and become stuck indefinitely.

Many of us build a mental prison multiple times throughout our lives and not even know it! Some of us remain in these prisons for years or even a lifetime. Real prisons are actually not as bad as mental prisons: they at least provide a structured environment where inmates can participate in activities and learn from each other.

Prisons restrict one’s physical boundaries but mental prisons restrict one’s state of consciousness. Do you prefer being confined within a physical boundary for an X amount of years, or within your own mind despite having the physical freedom to navigate as you wish?

This is not to indicate that after reading this article, you should go out there and start breaking rules left and right. This is for you to take a step back and reanalyze your way of being, and to prevent yourself from constructing a mental prison which can hold you back. This is for you to break free from your rigidity and to start living life again!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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Living In Superstition

Assorted skull hangings and Halloween decors

Friday The 13th

Many people live in superstition because they seek reasons and explanations for the events which they have no answers for. For others, being superstitious is a fun mindset to apply because it brings them excitement, thrill and hope. On the other hand, there are people who are superstitious out of fear that something unlucky or bad is going to happen.

There are also many people who are not superstitious at all. For them, being superstitious is humorous and silly. They believe that it’s a waste of time and energy to sit around and analyze why a bird repeatedly pecked on their bedroom window at 11:11am, or why a cockroach fell on their shoulder at work.

Living in superstition is not the best way of living, because if randomly odd events do occur and you just so happen to pick up on them, they tend to leave you in a worried and frantic state of mind. When this happens, your superstition is being reinforced even more, increasing your chances of experiencing future episodes of unnecessary stress and worry.

Superstition can lead to chronic stress and anxiety. No one really thinks about it in this way, because not many people relate superstition with mental health. We kind of just take superstition for granted. But superstition can also affect you on an unconscious level, activating stress and anxiety when you least expect it.

Don’t give superstition power when it’s not necessary to do so. It’s completely unnecessary to hold a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation, leading to certain consequences of an action or event. You don’t have to incorporate “the supernatural” in your everyday events.

All you need in your life is God, the creator of what was before, what is now and what will soon be to come. If you dedicate your heart to God and his beloved son Jesus Christ who was sacrificed in order to save humanity on judgment day, then you are living in good hands. Step out of a superstitious state of mind and step into God’s heart.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Being Ashamed Of Your Drug Addiction

Addicted young man in front of messy bed praying

It’s Time To Come Out

There are many people who remain in hiding because of their drug addiction. Many are ashamed to tell their families because of their religion and stigma surrounding drug use. Drug use has no boundaries: it affects all races, nationalities, ethnicities, religions, ages, mental illnesses and whatever else has not been mentioned.

People find it easier to hide their drug addiction in order to avoid the uncomfortable and embarrassing conversations that often follow. In an addict’s mind, the energy and stamina required to cope with these conversations is simply not worth the effort. Time becomes more valuable when it’s used to obtain the drug and enjoy its high.

But living in shame is not the answer in the long-run. It might work for a few months or a few years, but your mental health slowly breaks down from your shame and misery. All you’re doing is suppressing your drug use into your unconscious mind; you’re essentially building a ticking time bomb.

Then there are the people who don’t care about being ashamed of their drug addiction, because they prefer to just enjoy the high and ignore the consequences. This scenario too does not last very long. Eventually the risks outweigh the benefits (getting high) and something always goes wrong.

Drug use has and continues to be associated with concealment and privacy. But it’s time to come out of the shadows and reveal your drug addiction to the world: “Hi. My name is Lisa and I’m a drug user.” “Hey. My name is Mark and I’m hooked on drugs.” We’re not attempting to embrace the use of drugs; we’re just attempting to initiate the first step much sooner, which is admitting to the world that you have a drug problem!

The stigma of drug use remains alive and kicking, but this is exactly what public enemy number one has been all this time. The war on drugs was a legitimate attempt by the U.S. government to help protect its people from the serious evil addiction to drugs. But the problem with the war on drugs is that it had the wrong enemy identified from the start.

The enemy of the people are not drugs. The enemy of the people is the stigma associated with drugs. Stigma is behind the secretive and allusive nature of drug use. Stigma is what keeps people in hiding and their drug use flourishing underground and well-hidden. If you eliminate the stigma, you eliminate an entire mindset that is associated with the use of drugs.

This is not in any way promoting the use of drugs. This is helping bring drug users out in the open in order to be exposed to help much sooner than perhaps “never later.” Exposure to treatment and support earlier in the addiction process has a much higher success rate than exposure later in the process.

Public enemy number one has been revealed. Are we ready to finally initiate the right war?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

God Loves Life

Jesus Christ crucifix statue

Distracted By Negativity

If God didn’t love life, you wouldn’t be here today experiencing love and happiness. He created this world so we could experience what it feels like to live, laugh, smile and most importantly to love. Yet no matter how many opportunities we come across to live a happy and blissful life, we somehow still allow the negativity of this world to influence us.

God loves life when he sees his creation living a prosperous, loving and caring lifestyle. He loves it when we help each other and extend our hearts to one another. He doesn’t like it when we lie, indulge in lust and sin, steal, deceit others, kill and spread hated, negativity and evilness in the world.

Evilness is the negativity which attempts to influence us on a daily basis. Negativity is like an invisible force that hovers all around us in space and time. It easily spreads from one human to another, engulfing us under its influence and keeping us locked and loaded in the negativity trigger.

Once we are positioned in the negativity trigger, we’re shot around like spraying bullets, infecting and injuring others around us. This is the evil never-sleeping chain reaction that continuously rocks this world from its peaceful core. And the more that you partake in it, the harder it becomes to set yourself free.

God loves life because he has given us an opportunity to experience free will. He does not force himself upon you. He allows you to decide if you want to live a life full of love or a life full of sin. But God experiences pain as well, especially when he sees us suffering and indulging in negativity.

One of the crucial problems experienced by many people around the world, is the indulgence in negativity without even knowing it; this is happening on an unconscious level. As we previously discussed, the unconscious mind pulls the strings of your conscious mind. But who is pulling the strings of your unconscious mind?

When the answer is “negativity,” then that’s when you know that you are in too deep. That’s when you have to take a step back and reanalyze your way of being: your choices, decision-making, thought process, thought content, perception, intentions and relationships. Again, God gives you the free will to pick and choose your route: are you going to take a bite out of an earthly and tasty fruit or are you going to drink the blood of Jesus Christ, and live a pure and dedicated life to God and his salvation?

God loves life. Do you?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Psychiatric Patients Have Their Reasons

Middle-aged brunette woman yelling with strings attached to face

Psychosis Or Personality?

When it comes to understanding psychiatric patients, many times it can prove to be quite a challenge; their behaviors leave you scratching your head, “is it their psychosis or are they just being oppositional?” Sometimes it’s fairly obvious that a patient is so psychotic that their behavior suffers as a consequence. But then there are times when it’s hard to tell whether their improved psychotic symptoms are still contributing to their behavior, or they are being oppositional.

Patients have many reasons for being oppositional:

  • They don’t like the psychiatrist or the treatment team
  • They don’t believe that they have a mental illness
  • They don’t like taking medications
  • It’s simply their personality
  • They’re angry at the world and are taking it out on the treatment team

. . . and the list goes on. Sometimes you’ll never understand a psychiatric patient’s behavior. And many times, you will never be able to discern between psychosis and personality, because they’re often intermixed. This is when the field of psychiatry becomes challenging and even frustrating for many clinicians.

It’s like a child or significant other who starts changing their behavior in a negative manner; they leave you wondering at what point did something go wrong! And you continue to gently probe and offer your assistance and guidance, only to be shut down with resistance and oppositional behavior.

Becoming frustrated in the field of psychiatry comes with the job, but the frustration must always be concealed from the patient and dealt with privately. Showing a patient that you are frustrated will influence the therapeutic alliance, almost always in a negative, counterproductive and potentially destructive way.

The solution is patience, dedication and professionalism. You will not always understand the behavior of a patient and that’s okay! As long as you continue working with them in a safe, professional, caring and compassionate fashion, then that’s what matters most! Psychiatric patients have a very good eye for being able to tell which clinicians are kind, honest and caring, and which are in it for other reasons.

The stigma that revolves around “he’s crazy” or “she has lost it” is something that we need to eliminate. These kinds of statements only promote division, hatred and more suffering, and these are the last things that patients need; especially patients who are mentally ill! Don’t add to the stigma.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Can't Keep My Eyes Open

Tired young man laying in bed with sunrays shining on face

Exhausted But Still Kicking

The lack of sleep is a silent killer, similar to uncontrolled high blood pressure. While high blood pressure viciously attacks your organs such as your brain, heart, kidneys and more, the lack of sleep nonchalantly attacks your mental well-being. And so you start to rely on coffee, energy drinks, stimulants or a bunch of sugar.

While not the best way to go about your day, millions of people worldwide are sleep-deprived due to a poor sleep hygiene. Not having enough time to sleep is only an excuse propelled by those who actually do not have the discipline to get a full night’s 8-hour rest. It’s not hard to get good sleep, but are you interested in getting it in the first place?

The worst days are when you wake up and can’t keep your eyes open! All you can think of is emailing your employer, “leave me alone for today, I don’t want to think about you” and climb back into bed and peacefully snooze. That sounds nice and can definitely be done once in a while, but should not be your go-to-strategy.

And even if you sleep all day, it’s just not the same quality of sleep as you get during the night, especially when going to bed earlier in the evening. Sometimes it’s worth considering taking days off from work in order to refresh your mind and unwind your chakras. But your best strategy should be an awesome sleep hygiene!

You may be exhausted and still kicking, but is that really how you want to go about your day? Wouldn’t have it been easier to just go to sleep on time the previous night? But that’s where a lot of us struggle: we want to watch another episode of a Netflix show, talk an extra hour on the phone, fall deeper down the YouTube hole, etc.

The excuses for not getting enough sleep at night can pile up, until you become chronically sleep-deprived and start to experience a change in your mental well-being. Lack of sleep is associated with irritability, sadness, anger, anxiety and a poor outlook on life; it’s associated with feeling incomplete!

Can’t keep your eyes open but are still kicking? Good. A little pain is what it sometimes takes to make a change in poor behavior.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Couch Laziness

Lazy adult American bulldog sitting on brown leather couch with pillows

When Exercising Is The Last Thing That You Want To Do

. . . is when you have to push yourself the hardest to get off that comfy couch and jog straight to the gym! You think that couch wants you to get off? You think those beers want you to stop drinking? You think your girlfriend wants you to stop paying attention to her? When exercising is the last thing that you want to do, you do it anyways!

It’s so much easier to come home from work and crash on your furniture; just lay back and browse the internet or surf your cable packages. But within 20 minutes of relaxing on your couch and decompressing after a long day’s work, you begin to experience a nagging feeling within your mind, “get off the couch and head to the gym!”

You then begin to contemplate whether going to the gym is even worth it, “I have to jump in some comfortable clothes, actually get there and then put some effort on the machines or free weights, all while experiencing a crowded environment in-between the hours of 6-8 pm.” On the other hand, the little red bastard demon on your left shoulder is whispering in your ear, “forget that BS! Grab a beer or a fat J and kick back and relax!”

Sometimes you give in to the flesh and do just that. But if you want to improve as a person and lift yourself to the next level (no pun intended), then you have to get off your behind and go lift some weights! It actually doesn’t take that much effort after you develop a consistent routine, and you end up feeling better physically and mentally.

It’s easier to take the lazy and comfy route in life, but are you expecting to gain long-lasting results that way? The harder routes are the ones that pay off dividends in the long-run. But many people lose patience and don’t want to put in the work for that long; these are the folks who never learned or applied the concept of delayed gratification.

When exercising is the last thing that you feel like doing, then you go ahead and do it! It’s as simple as that.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Blessed But Still Suffering

Blessed brunette woman holding her hair near pink flowers

Everyday Nagging Pain

When everything lines up nicely and smoothly and your life is going according to plan, you become quick to admit to yourself, “I am blessed!” But when things don’t go your way and you start to complain to others, all you hear in return is, “count your blessings!” So whether you feel blessed or not, one thing remains obvious: suffering just does not seem to ever go away!

Many of us feel blessed when our lives are going according to plan. While a list cannot be composed because everyone considers their blessings to be different than others’, it can be universally concluded that feeling blessed equals something along the lines of, “living the life.” But even with all of our blessings, life still finds a way for us to suffer.

Some of us suffer by experiencing a nagging pain related to emptiness, as if we feel incomplete. We often feel like something is missing within us or in our lives; this is not in reference to materialism. This is in reference to something much larger: a deeper meaning about our lives and where we stand in the world.

Some of us also suffer because we lack a significant other or a close friend who we can call or hang out with. You can have all the materialism in the world and still feel incomplete, without a good set of friends! Continuing to indulge in materialism without meaningful relationships makes the surface smooth and shiny, but the interior dusty and rusty!

And then there are the unexpected life circumstances that can happen at anytime. This can include the death of a loved one or friend, the loss of your job or just about anything under the sun. Keep in mind that you may be blessed and still experience unexpected life circumstances. And your blessings won’t help you recover from them any easier!

It’s fair to say that no matter how blessed you are or you will be, you will always be suffering in one way or the other; maybe not at the same level as others, but still at some level significant enough to impact your emotions, mental health and well-being. Remember that your mental health is not immune to everyday suffering; blessings are not a shield that protects your mental health.

Your mental health is very vulnerable to change, pain and influence by outside forces. Maintaining sound mental health on a consistent basis is a much bigger blessing than living a life full of pleasure and materialism. With sound mental health, you can at least enjoy the peacefulness of sanity. Without sanity, the many blessings that you may have can easily fall apart very quickly.

Are you blessed? Are you still suffering? Probably so.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Addicted To Addiction

Closeup photo of green and white signage of person running towards arrow and door

Warning: Addiction Territory Ahead

No matter the amount of pleasure that some people seek and receive, it never seems to be enough. Either more of where that came from is their thought process, or they seek a new form of pleasure. Not every source of pleasure is derived from a substance, but all sources of pleasure have the potential for inducing an addiction.

Why are some people more prone to developing an addiction? What is an addiction? Why do we feel the need to provide ourselves with pleasure? These are all fundamental questions that need to be answered in order to better understand ourselves, and the decisions that we make in our everyday lives.

An addiction is a state of mind that involves a person becoming dependent on a source of pleasure. Dependence is a state of relying on or being controlled by something. People can be dependent on alcohol, drugs, sex or even other people, known as dependent personality disorder!

Some people are more prone to developing an addiction because it has a great deal to do with their personality traits and genetics. If their relatives had addicting personalities, there’s a high chance that their genes were passed onto them; genes have a great influence on personality. Some people also enjoy pleasure more than others: what might be “fun and cool” for one person hitting a fat J, might be “amazing and dope” for another.

The “amazing and dope” person could be that one person who develops Cannabis Use Disorder, Severe. The same applies with sex, eating, gambling and any other type of pleasure that happens to be very reinforcing. Reinforcing means that you want it over and over again, because of the intensity of the pleasure; your behavior for seeking a particular activity is credited, strengthened or reinforced with pleasure.

We feel the need to provide ourselves with pleasure because it’s human nature to feel rewarded and happy. Without pleasure, life would be mundane. Depression and suicide rates would probably be astronomically higher than they already are. But keep in mind that pleasure can also lead to a mundane, depressing and suicidal state of mind!

At the end of the day, pleasure is innate in all of us. We need pleasure to survive. But what we don’t need is that invisible line that we are all susceptible to crossing over into addiction territory. You’ll never actually see the line, but you’ll be bombarded with warning signs and flashing lights! When this happens, stop and return back from where you came from. It means that you’ve overdone it with pleasure.

Don’t overdo pleasure; it’s much sweeter in moderate amounts.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Coping With Anxiety Without Medications

Man with an anxiety disorder hugging himself next to his shadow on wall

Fighting Anxiety Naturally

You walk into a psychotherapy appointment or on a tennis court with good intentions, when all of a sudden your mind sprinkles anxious symptoms all over you. For someone who has never experienced anxiety, this may be quite frightening: worry, fear, uneasiness, on edge, constantly touching your hands or face or feeling like something bad is going to happen.

For a seasoned veteran suffering from anxiety, the symptoms listed above are nothing new; just more pain to suffer but grow from. For many, medications are used to control anxiety, especially panic attacks. Medications such as antidepressants take at least 4-6 weeks for you to see a difference in your anxiety, and even then it’s no guarantee.

Nothing is a guarantee when it comes to mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, medications work great for anxiety! But you just have to make the choice of wanting to be on one or not. Remember that no medication is free of side effects. Your typical SSRIs commonly cause sexual dysfunction such as delayed ejaculation, anorgasmia, reduced sexual desire and more.

But it doesn’t mean that you will experience sexual side effects if you get started on an SSRI, but it’s definitely worth being informed about them! The other solution of battling anxiety is fighting it naturally, such as going through psychotherapy, performing mindfulness in your free time, praying or just experiencing the symptoms enough times that you eventually adopt a good control over them.

When you decide to take the natural route, you will notice that it’s a much more rocky and unpredictable road: the symptoms can return at anytime and you must be prepared to deal with them. When on medications, the symptoms tend to be much better controlled in the long run.

But the risk of experiencing side effects from antidepressants does not outweigh the benefits in many peoples’ eyes. So they rely on beating anxiety naturally. But “beating” is the wrong word because you will never beat a mental illness, you will just learn how to be in better control of it! And being in better control may mean never experiencing the symptoms ever again.

You won’t “beat” it because there is no cure for any mental illness; there is no magic formula or special medication which eradicates the mental illness from your mind. There is no talk therapy which does that either! The illness is multifactorial: genes, altered levels of neurotransmitters, unconscious conflicts, personality, receptor damage 2/2 alcohol or drug use, etc.

Your goal should not be to “beat” your mental illness. No . . . your goal is not that. Your goal is to live a happy life and not allow your mental illness to take that away from you!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)