The Adlerian View on Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder,

At the age of 18 while I was completing grade 12 I lost hope and got depressed because I would have to work at a job and miss Ottawa Senators hockey games as a result of the job.

Naturally while I was thinking about this I became depressed because watching hockey was my number one passion.

This depression was a message from my subconscious mind that I had to find a job that would allow me to go to my hockey games.

This is because depression is the subconscious minds way of saying; “we have a problem, I will make you feel like shit until you solve the problem.”

Depression is caused when there is a loss of hope in the problem being solved.

Some people when they are depressed say they simply have to “think more positive” or “distract themselves.”

This is nonsense,

The only way to solve your depression is to solve the problem that caused the depression in the first place.

If you are depressed because of financial issues, you must solve your financial issues, depression is your minds way of telling you,

“Your finances suck, so I will make you depressed until you get more money.”

If you are depressed long enough and don’t solve the real problem, your subconscious mind will elevate you into a euphoric state periodically because it wants to escape from the depression.

A bipolar manic episode is the minds way of saying,

“I don’t believe you can get me out of this depression anymore, so I will make you escape from reality so I can feel very powerful and happy again.”

At this point your mind wants to make you feel important and powerful, so it will lie to you and tell you that “you are God or Jesus” and you may hallucinate and hear voices. You will also be overconfident in your abilities and lose touch with reality.

This is called psychosis.

Now the problem with most doctors is that they think medication is the answer to bipolar disorder.

However,

The real answer is having insight into what your emotions are trying to tell you.

There are 6 human needs, and the real task is making sure they are all met. This is the only way to be happy.

The 6 needs are:

Certainty

Variety

Importance

Human Connection

Growth

Contribution

Let’s take a brief look at all 6 needs,

Certainty

We need to feel safe and secure. We need certainty about our next meal and that we can still enjoy things that give us enjoyment. Some people need a billion dollars to feel certain, others just need to pray to God. Certainty will prevent fear from arising.

Variety

We need to do different things to avoid boredom. We need to watch different movies and read different things otherwise we get bored.

Importance

We need to feel like we matter, this is why many people who didn’t feel important as a child strive for fame or riches to compensate. Everyone needs to feel important. If this need is neglected in a persons younger years, they will try to compensate in adult years by becoming as important as they have always wanted to become.

Human Connection

We need to connect with other people in order to be happy. We need friends.

People who were rejects in their early years might strive for popularity in their later years. For instance I wasn’t the best at connecting with people as a young person, and now I love meeting new people. Like I said earlier, our adult selves are designed to fulfill our unmet needs from childhood.

Growth

We need to be growing in order to remain happy, this is because if we don’t grow we stagnate.

Growth means to pursue self-improvement.

Contribution

The highest form of happiness comes from making other people happy. To make a positive contribution is to feel happy. This is why I perform generous acts such as writing this article.

If you don’t meet your 6 needs you won’t be as happy as possible.

If you are unhappy it’s for at least one of those 6 reasons.

If too many of your needs are unfulfilled your mind might make you depressed in order to get you to act.

Thanks for reading,

Angus Baynham-McColl

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How I Used Paradoxical Intention to Solve My Depression

2 years ago I was going through one of the worst depressions of my life, and at the beginning of my depression I resisted what was going on.

I tried everything possible to relieve my depression. For example I tried distraction, playing video games, trying to restore hope in my life, hanging out with friends, but none of that would work.

But here’s the problem,

DEPRESSION = RESISTANCE

This meant if I tried to overcome my depression, I would usually make it worse.

This is because,

“What you resist persists.”

So I did the opposite of fight my depression and told myself,

“I’m going to just be depressed.”

If I felt like doing nothing that day I would do nothing. And I actually went out of my way to do things I didn’t feel like doing with the intent of being more depressed!

But I didn’t become more depressed, no matter how hard I tried. In fact, my depression got much better when I did little things to try and make my depression worse.

It’s like following the law of non-resistance and embracing the negative was the very thing that restored me to normal!

Emotional Mastery 

First of all, recognize that there are people and corporations with a strong vested interest in conditioning you to maintain the (false) belief that you need some kind of external validation to feel a certain way. Marketers spend billions of dollars each year to convince you that you need to drink their soda, eat their food, wear their clothing, drive their cars, and shop at their stores to feel happy, cool, fashionable, popular, confident, successful, etc. Who benefits most when you adopt the belief that you need to dress a certain way to feel fashionable or drive a certain car to feel cool?

When you understand that you have the innate ability to consciously direct your thoughts to create any feeling you want, whenever you want, you’re not going to make such people rich. But you will be much more free, since you’ll gain the power of conscious control over your own emotional states. This is a skill that takes practice, but it is a learnable one. For example, in a matter of minutes I can get myself to feel any emotion I want, and for those I’ve already anchored, I can put myself into that state in less than 5 seconds. This is nothing unique — experienced actors can do it too. If an actor can laugh uproariously or cry rivers of tears or shout with intense anger over something completely fake, then you can certainly learn to be 100% confident on que as well (and really experience the genuine emotion).

My favorite emotion is the state of feeling “unstoppable,” which is one I anchored at a Tony Robbins seminar. Anchoring means conditioning a specific emotional state to be linked to a simple trigger, just as Pavlov conditioned his dog to link getting fed with the sound of bell. So if I make a certain movement, I automatically surge into this emotional state within a few seconds. In my old Tae Kwon Do studio, I noticed another student firing off an anchor several times during sparring matches. The tennis player Andre Agassi and the basketball player Byron Scott both used emotional anchoring in their athletic careers, and I’ve read that emotional conditioning has been used by German Olympic teams with outstanding results (the U.S. Olympic teams are generally much further behind in this area). Anchoring is well covered in Tony Robbins Unlimited Power book, and he also takes you through it directly in his live seminars and he covers it in his Personal Power audio program. Something really cool I discovered is that once I’ve conditioned an anchor, I don’t even have to physically fire it off. If I merely imagine myself making the particular motion, it still works. So Weds night when I was being introduced as the speaker, I mentally imagined myself firing off my trigger for confidence, and by the time I reached the lectern I was feeling 100% confident. Yes, 100% — no nervousness or self-doubt whatsoever.

Advertisers use anchoring on you all the time. This is why Pepsi will pay someone like Michael Jackson $20 million to be in a 30-second commercial (OK, so that was years ago). They want to condition you to link the emotions you get from hearing a particular song to their product. This emotional conditioning works a lot better than trying to logically argue why you should consume sugar water and chemicals. And it absolutely works … to the tune of billions.

Dr. Wayne Dyer said that when he was learning about self-actualization in college, a professor posed this question: If a totally self-actualizing person unknowingly showed up to a formal event wearing overly casual attire, how would s/he react? The answer: S/he wouldn’t even notice. That’s the state of total emotional mastery, where no external event can knock you into a negative emotional state. A mind like water.

The problem isn’t that external events have control over your emotions. The problem is believing that they do. Abandoning this belief and realizing that you have the innate ability to control how you feel at any given moment, regardless of your circumstances, is the first step to emotional mastery. Events are neutral. What causes you to feel a certain way is how you interpret an event, how you think about it. The same event (even one so serious as the death of someone close to you) will be interpreted differently by different people. You were taught to represent certain events to yourself as tragic, while other people on this planet were taught to celebrate those same events. The event itself has no meaning but the meaning you assign to it, and that act of assigning meaning (whether done consciously or unconsciously) is what causes you to feel a certain way.

Once you understand this, you can begin to take conscious control over these assignments. When stricken with a terminal illness, some people interpret it as terrible and go into a deep depression. Others interpret it as a challenge and find a way to overcome the illness. And still others see it as a wake up call to reevaluate their priorities and make the best possible use of the time they have left, developing deeper bonds with the people around them and living much more fully. To some people it’s an ending, while to others it’s a new beginning. But this doesn’t have to be a subconscious reaction — it can be a conscious choice. Whenever something happens that you would normally say “makes you depressed,” you can choose to find and assign an alternate interpretation that makes you feel empowered instead of disempowered. Instead of failure you can see a learning experience. Instead of a loss, you can focus on deepening your feelings of gratitude for what you do have. Instead of rejection you can see a temporary mismatch and a renewed opportunity to find the perfect fit. Just because TV teaches you to feel a certain way in response to a certain event doesn’t mean you have to blindly accept that interpretation, especially since the TV business benefits when you feel down and thereby tune in to try to change your emotional state.

Between stimilus and response lies the opportunity for conscious choice. You can be fired from your job and turn it into a victory instead of a defeat (Lee Iacoca did). You can go bankrupt and move on to even greater wealth (Donald Trump did). You can be injured to the point of disfiguration and turn it into an advantage to inspire others (W. Mitchell did). You can be dumped by your girlfriend, feel suicidal, and yet still bounce back (Billy Joel did). And on the other hand, you can enjoy outstanding external success and yet abuse yourself to the point of death (John Belushi did).

For any seemingly “negative” event, you can find someone who turned it into an empowering experience. And for any “positive” event, you can find someone who interpreted it in such a way as to destroy themselves. Avoid the trap of letting events subconsciously control you, and use the power of your consciousness to decide your own interpretation of events for the greatest good of all.

When you reach the point of becoming independent of external events, you’re truly free. This is the state of being detached from external events, knowing that you can exert direct conscious control over your thoughts instead of needing something external to do it for you. Dr. Wayne Dyer refers to it as being “independent of the good opinion of others.” No matter what happens to you, you can still choose to be at peace.

Note: This article was written by Steve Pavlina in 2004. 

Optimal Thinking

Here’s the concept of optimal thinking in a nutshell. Sub optimal thinking is when you ask questions like, “What’s a good/great way to do X?” or “How can I solve Y?” Optimal thinking is when you ask, “What’s the best way to do X?” or “How can I solve Y in the best way possible?” It may seem like a subtle and unimportant difference, but when you start applying this rule to your life, I think you’ll see some interesting results as I have.

For example, when planning your next day, you might ask yourself (perhaps subconsciously and non verbally), “What’s a good way to schedule my time tomorrow?” And by answering that question, you’ll plan a decent schedule for yourself. But it’s most likely a sub optimal schedule. Try instead asking yourself, “What’s the best way to schedule my time tomorrow?” Now you’re seeking the optimal solution — the best instead of just good or even great.

Sometimes you don’t immediately know the best solution to a problem. So what you can do in that situation is to ask, “What will the best solution look like?” And then you start listing attributes and constraints that your optimal solution will need to exhibit. This helps you narrow your list of alternatives. If you know a particular attribute of the optimal solution, then you can reject all possible solutions that lack that attribute.

Going back to the example of the best possible scheduling of your day, you might list some of these attributes: awaken early, exercise, work at least 8 solid hours, eat healthy meals, spend time with family, do something fun and rewarding in the evening, stretch myself in some way, get email inbox completely emptied, read for an hour, etc. Then you can work backwards from these sub goals to piece together your optimal schedule.

Keep in mind that the best solution always takes into account the resources you have available. If a possible solution is impractical, then it certainly isn’t optimal. So if the best way to schedule your day would require a supercomputer and six hours of planning time, then that solution is far from being the best. You might wish to include your key constraints in your original question, such as, “What’s the best way to schedule my time tomorrow in 20 minutes or less?”

In my experience the most beneficial aspect of optimal thinking is that it helps you raise your standards. Instead of settling for suboptimal solutions and mediocre results, you commit to doing your best, yet in a way that’s practical and which considers the reality of your situation. Often when you ask yourself, “What’s the best …,” you’ll find your mind zooming towards a very different kind of solution than you would if you asked suboptimal questions.

Here are some sample optimal thinking questions to get your mind moving in that direction:

  • What’s the best use of my time right now?
  • What’s the best way for me to exercise regularly (when, what, how)?
  • What’s the best way to get myself out of debt?
  • What’s the best way for me to make an extra $10,000 as quickly as possible?
  • What’s the best school for my child to attend?
  • What’s the best place for me to live?
  • What’s the best way to reply to this email? (use this one repeatedly to purge that clogged inbox)
  • What’s the best way for me to improve my social life?
  • What’s the best book I should read next?
  • What’s the best blog I should be reading regularly and tell everyone I know about?

Ask and you shall receive. Ask for the best.

We Become What We Think About

For the better part of a decade I have been interested in personal development information. I literally think about personal development on a daily basis. Often I listen to audio programs as I walk and sometimes I read personal development while I’m at work. One personal development work that I want to touch on today is Earl Nightingale’s The Strangest Secret.

The secret is simply 6 words: We become what we think about.

This certainly isn’t a new idea, in fact Earl clearly admits he learned it from Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich. And this isn’t a unique idea either. There are plenty of books that have expanded on the concept.

Nevertheless, the idea is a profound one.

Few people would argue that thoughts control our decisions and actions and that our actions largely control our results. If you think about going shopping and decide to follow through on that thought, your body soon follows suit, and pretty soon you acquire the results of going shopping. It all begins with what you think. But what people often don’t realize is that we have the power to consciously control our thoughts. Instead of just letting our brains randomly cycle through the same thought over and over again, we can actually spend time taking conscious control over our thoughts. And if we do that regularly, our actions will change and we will acquire new results.

Thoughts are like seeds. If you want different results in life, you have to figure out which thoughts are capable of growing those results and which aren’t. Then you have to fill your mind with correct thoughts and weed out incorrect thoughts.

For example, if you want to start your own business, I can tell you which thoughts are the right seeds and which are the wrong ones. Among the wrong seeds, you will find the following thoughts:

  • Starting my own business is very risky. I have a family to support.
  • There’s a good chance I will go broke.
  • I don’t have enough money yet.
  • I have no idea how to start my own business.
  • I’ve got a safe and secure job. Why would I want to mess that up?
  • I’m not ready to start my own business yet, maybe next year.

Now I’m not saying these thoughts are objectively wrong…just that they’re the wrong seeds for starting a business. These thoughts will not help you get the results of starting a successful business. A business isn’t going to grow in the soil of the thoughts above. But these are the right seeds if you don’t want to start your own business; these seeds will grow the tree of being a lifelong employee. So chances are if you harbor thoughts like those above, you find yourself an employee right now. There is nothing wrong with being an employee if that is what you actually want. On the other hand, if you’re an employee right now and you would like to start your own business, but your dominant thoughts about that idea are similar to those above, then you have a problem. Those mental seeds simply won’t grow a business, just like if you plant tomato seeds, you will never grow a watermelon.

So what kinds of thoughts are the right seeds for starting your own business?
Here are some of them:

  • Sure it’s a risk, but I believe in myself, and whatever obstacles come my way, I’ll overcome them.
  • I’d rather spend my life working hard to build my own business than to build someone else’s. If I’m going to build a business no matter what, it might as well be my own.
  • I love the freedom of being my own boss. I can only imagine what it must be like to be able to decide how to spend my time every minute of every day.
  • I can only make so much as an employee, if I want to get rich; I must build my own business.

Now just because thoughts like these above might be the right ones for building a business, that doesn’t mean that planting the right seeds is enough to grow the whole plant. Just like plants need water and sunshine, it takes a lot of hard work to build a business. But the right thoughts are the first step. I’m just using the starting of a business as an example here. I can just as easily use quitting smoking, losing weight, getting married, etc.

The main point here is that if you find yourself in a situation where you want new results in your life (i.e. something other than what you are currently experiencing), then the first step is to examine your dominant thoughts to see if they are the right seeds to grow the results that you want. The odds are better than 95% that if you aren’t making progress, than you’re probably not thinking the right thoughts. You must replace those thoughts with new thoughts. For example, you won’t become a non-smoker by thinking thoughts like “Quitting smoking is hard.”

A key concept to understand here is that shifting your thoughts is a conscious and deliberate activity. You don’t just say to yourself, “Ok, I’ll think about starting my own business. Sounds good. Next….” You have to be a lot more productive than that. You have to set aside an hour and be totally alone, sit with pen and paper, and figure out the correct thoughts/seeds you need to be thinking, and then consciously ram those new thoughts into your head, over and over again until they become dominant over the old thoughts. And if you really want changes with your results you must do this every single day.

You might find the above exercise very difficult at first. When you first think new thoughts it’s normal to feel doubt about them. So if you think about starting a new business, the initial images wont seem very good. Then you think about quitting your job and the negative reaction you will get from your boss, the office politics you have to deal with on a daily basis and you suddenly realize you are back to thinking the wrong thoughts again. That’s normal, but use your imagination to push beyond the doubt and keep working on it. See that new reality working out wonderfully, even if you have no idea how it could possibly work in the real world. It’s going to be sloppy in the beginning. But it will get easier over time. After about 2-3 weeks of repetition, you will actually believe these new thoughts. And that’s when you will feel the urge to start taking action. But in the beginning you will still be too full of doubt to act. That’s fine – it’s important to reach the point of belief first. So just give yourself some time, and let your imagination guide you. As Albert Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”