Changing Bipolar Disorder: Through Positive Thinking

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by Carley Cooper 

This is the third article in, what’s turned out to be, a series on Changing Bipolar Disorder. If you haven’t read the first two they are:

Journaling has given me the tools I need to gather important information. Healthy food and exercise have helped improve the physical part of me. But what about my mind? Being whole and healthy involves 3 aspects; body, mind, and soul. If any one of those is unhealthy, the whole package is flawed.

Negative Thinking is Hurtful

Positive thinking is healthy for all aspects of our being. My past lead me to develop negative thinking patterns very early in my life. I didn’t know I was thinking negatively. When I realized that I needed to change my thinking patterns it felt like a massive sized task; and it was. I learned early on that thinking positive isn’t something that comes natural to everyone. Negative thinking not only hurts others around us, but it hurts ourselves as well, and it can have a huge impact on the progress of mental illness.

It Can Be Overcome!

In the beginning I got advice from others who said things like “just focus on the nice things.” However, it’s not that simple. That kind of advice ranks down there with telling a depressed person to “just snap out of it.” It just doesn’t work that way. If the ‘operating system’ that your brain functions on is negative, than first responses will be negative. To have basic instinct and first responses be positive reactions, thinking patterns have to be changed. Your brain’s ‘operating system’ has to be wiped out and new updated ‘software’ has to be installed. This takes work. A lot of work, time, and dedication, but I assure you it’s worth every minute.

When I first started out with the goal of changing my thinking patterns, I researched the topic and read anything I could get my hands on. The one thing that kept popping up was ‘Positive Affirmations.’ The more I read, the more fascinated I became. If you keep repeating things to yourself, eventually you start to believe them. Repeating positive statements become natural first-reactions if you tell yourself often enough.

Reprogramming is Difficult but Worth the Effort

I started with positive affirmations written on index cards. It didn’t take long and it started to work. Every morning I read through my stack. I also had a book of positive quotations, and made a point of reading several pages from it each day. Then, I surrounded myself with positive things and people. I stopped watching a lot of TV. I started hanging out with people who seem to be naturally happy most of the time. Now, several years later, I have people telling me all the time that they like how positive I am. I’m told that I am an inspiration. It’s wonderful to hear these things. Not only do they help keep me motivated to continue on this path, but I also know that my ‘reprogramming’ is working. As such, Bipolar Disorder in my brain is not disabling anymore. I am on the path of starting a new career. I’ve built a good life for myself that I like. I am productive. I’m capable of living alone, where as in the past I wasn’t. I needed someone to take care of me.

Positive thinking has helped me greatly. Write affirmations down on index cards. Another idea that I have tried is to write them over photos on your computer. Then load those photos onto your smart phone. You can flip through the photos reading the positive statements each day no matter where you are; standing in line at the grocery store, riding the bus, waiting in the doctor’s office... anywhere you are and have a few minutes to spare, use it as ‘programming time.’ My doctor gave me a prescription once and written on it, instead of medication was “You can’t think yourself into a new way of acting. You have to act yourself into a new way of thinking.

Here are Some of my Favourite Positive Affirmations.

General:

  1. Today is a very happy day. I choose to rejoice
  2. I am confident
  3. I am beautiful inside and outside
  4. I am worthy of love
  5. I am a positive thinker
  6. I am happy
  7. I am free of anger and resentment
  8. I forgive (person’s name who you want to forgive) for (the offense that they did / said to you)
  9. For singles: I am fulfilled as a single woman / man
  10. I am at peace with my past
  11. I am sexy
  12. I love working out
  13. I am strong
  14. I am independent
  15. I was made for more
  16. It’s OK to say ‘No’ to others requests when I feel they are crossing my personal boundaries
  17. I am at peace with my past
  18. When socializing, I enjoy lots of conversation and I have lots of worthy stuff to contribute to the conversation
  19. I love working out
  20. I love living a healthy life style
  21. I have happy memories
  22. I am honest
  23. I am loyal
  24. I am at peace with those I love including those who love me in ways other than how I would like them to
  25. I am patient

Bipolar / Mental Health Specific:

  1. I am excited, happy, and anxious to go to work every day
  2. I will not make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions
  3. I am not Bipolar Disorder. I have Bipolar Disorder
  4. It’s Ok that I have Bipolar Disorder
  5. I have nothing to be embarrassed about
  6. I will share the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder because it helps to kill stigma
  7. When I am tempted I will either remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation
  8. I have these boundaries in place not for restriction but rather to define the parameters of my freedom
  9. When I am considering compromise I will think past this moment and ask myself “How will I feel about this choice tomorrow morning?”
  10. No matter what happens I am fine

Spiritual:

  1. I know I can depend on God to save me
  2. God loves me just as I am
  3. I have overcome all my trials in life, and will continue to do so with God’s help
  4. I will keep my faith in God for all my needs and desires
  5. I am strong and I can get through anything with God’s help
  6. Jesus loves me
  7. God’s grace is enough
  8. Relax – God has a great plan for my life
  9. God does not waste anything
  10. God will not lead me to anything that I cannot get through

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