Moving Toward Instead of Escaping From

The Oprah magazine seems to be getting better.

In his recent column, Dr. Phil addresses the topic I started here last Thursday: having the courage to discover and do “your own thing,” not what you think you should do to escape the hell you’re in.

I will quote the best part of his column: “Escape-based choices are almost always disastrous, because they solve only half the problem. Target-based decisions at least have a shot of being successful, so keep that in mind every time you have a significant choice to make.”

“Don’t be pushed away from what you don’t want; let yourself be pulled toward what you do want.”

Dr. Phil understands that when we find ourselves in a hellish dilemma, we’re “ready to run headlong for anyone, anything or anyplace…without regard for whether it’s better, healthier or even what we want.”

He calls this “ready, fire aim.” It’s the topic of his column in the Oprah magazine out now on newsstands.

In it, by the way, he’s critical of most women’s urge to settle for the wrong guy because they’re afraid of what others will think of them if they’re single.

“Ready, fire, aim” is no way to live.

Each of us deserves better than to cycle through one dead-end scenario after another on the way to finding our true happiness.

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The Upside of Hell

I want to talk about the upside of hell: how a situation that is not ideal can turn out to help us move toward our true calling.

I spent 7 years chained to desks in cubicles in offices in buildings. I had two-hour commutes each way for a total of twenty hours spent traveling to and from work. That’s no way to live.

I had hitched myself to the first job that came along to spring myself from the hell of a dysfunctional mental health system. True: I went out of the frying pan into the fire.

It’s 2014: too late in the history of the recovery movement for individuals to be told what they should accept, what is possible for them, or what they should want. Providers aren’t the ones who are supposed to tell us that we have to accept a one-size-fits-all lifestyle.

Only us: we’re the ones who can take control over the direction of our lives. The tools to get there are ours to create and to use. Do you want to only “defy mental illness” and live your life in reaction against the diagnosis? Or do you want to “win at the game of life” and take your rightful place on the playing field by “moving toward” a great life instead of away from hell?

All is not lost though. There can be an upside of the hell, if that is possible. A silver lining exists; you just have to turn the cloud inside-out or upside-down to reveal your own opportunities to move toward wellness instead of escape from illness.

The detours we take can have an upside, even if it’s often in retrospect that we realize the road taken moved us farther away from what excites and energizes us.

We need to find the hidden positive elements; the silver lining in our experiences from our dark days. Often: had we not been in hell, we’d become complacent, and not strive to better ourselves.

The upside of my time spent in offices was that I learned social protocol and interacted with people from different walks of life. My first boss told me to tell callers on the phone “one moment please” instead of “hold on.” That is one of the things I always remembered from that time.

I’ll talk on Thursday about words of encouragement along these lines that I read in the Oprah magazine.

Following Your Bliss

I’m going to share a secret I figured out recently that would’ve made things better early on in my recovery and in my life.

I was reading this on the Internet and it makes perfect sense.

So often, when we lose a job or are dissatisfied with our job, we think the only thing to do is find a new job in the same field. In the 1990s, I was laid off from one job after another: 3 jobs in a row failed to work out.

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I’m guilty of being crackers in this regard too: it wasn’t until I had spent 7 doomed years in the gray flannel insurance field that I realized something had to go.

The chance meeting with a therapist set me on the new course of going to library school so I could get a job I’d like and would be good at.

The wind-up of this story and the takeaway is that you owe it to yourself to take the time upfront to research the kinds of jobs you’d be good at and would like to do. Do this to spare yourself the misery of going down the wrong path.

If you experience burn out or this chosen field turns out not to be worth its salt down the road: you can always have a second or third career.

I’ll talk in next Monday’s blog entry about how even challenging times in our lives can turn out to have benefits.

DressingWell

I want to recommend the Virtual Consulting services of Organization by Design at http://www.dressingwell.com.

Circa 2005 I bought the Mary Lou Andre book Ready-to-Wear about choosing and using your wardrobe.

For an initial $300, you can hire the services of an image consultant to talk with you via telephone. You e-mail her as an attachment up to 10 photos of yourself wearing outfits. She analyzes how you can improve and talks to you in a half-hour telephone consultation. Then she e-mails you hyperlinks to products you can buy online.

Going on, you can enlist the consultant for $75/per half-hour telephone talk.

I’m telling readers about this in here because it’s the perfect solution for anyone that wants to create a professional wardrobe for going on job interviews, or to assemble clothes you can wear on dates, or to discover the items that fit and flatter your body and your style, for whatever occasion you’d like help with.

I’ve used this service at least 3 times since I had the original first-time consultation.

It’s well worth the money. The way I see it: some people spend money on cigarettes or street drugs or alcohol. Instead of doing that (hardly advisable) you can splurge on the Virtual Consulting service.

The consultant can also tell you your body shape and your face shape to advise on the most flattering eyeglasses or hem lengths for jackets and pants and skirts.

If you love fashion, you might just get hooked on this service.

No kidding: it’s well worth trying out. The Virtual Consulting option is also available for men.

There you go.

Ethics – Part Two

I make the case for acting ethical in your dealings with other people.

Acting trashy isn’t the way to get ahead. The world doesn’t need another person pretending to be someone he or she is not just to be taken seriously and fit in.

The Left of the Dial philosophy that I’ve created and champion I’ll talk more about in the Left of the Dial page on this site.

Here, I’ll tell readers that you’re in the driver’s seat on the road to you. Have the courage of your convictions. Don’t give up the fight. You and only you hold the keys to unlocking a better life for yourself.

Research with diligence the options you’re presented with in your recovery. Research, research, research these options. Understand that the choice should be yours and your treatment providers should consult with you before creating any kind of “treatment plan” for you to follow.

In my experience, attending a traditional day program or longer-term program isn’t the way to go for young adults. The goal is to be resilient: to quickly get back into the mainstream and go to school or find a job.

I will be writing about “Recovery 2014” at HealthCentral for Mental Illness Awareness Week. In this news article, I will make the case for acting as your own advocate to obtain the right treatment for your needs at this time in your recovery.

I do think it’s unconscionable if not unethical for mental health staff to stigmatize the very individuals they’re supposed to treat.

I use humor in Left of the Dial to spoof what went on in the day program I attended.

You have everything you need right inside yourself to succeed. Everyone holds the keys to their own happiness.

Each of us will come in contact with unethical people in our lives.

We need to hold them accountable and not let them off the hook.

I was lucky I got the right treatment, right away.

I’ll talk next about how I challenged a provider that was not ethical. Stay tuned.

Ethics

I’m going to insert in Flourish a sentence or two about ethics.

I do not think I was a special person. This is not why I succeeded. I wasn’t special. I credit my recovery and my life to my parents’ quick action to get me help within 24 hours of my break.

I discounted my role in my success until a guy suggested I was talented not only in writing: I was talented because I had a work ethic: I was willing to work longer and harder to get what I wanted.

That’s it in a nutshell. I had the experience recently of seeing a lazy-ass worker in action. He was so slow and lazy I thought there was something wrong with him. I thought he had some kind of mental defect. He was so slow and lazy I recommended to his supervisor that she replace him and hire someone else.

No kidding. You want to succeed in life and you want to succeed at work: have a hard work ethic.

No one is going to give things to you. If you’re fortunate in that everything comes easy to you, or that other people give you things, you’re most likely not in the target market for my book(s).

Acting self-reliant is a critical skill to have in recovery. You’re responsible for taking action every day in the direction of your dream(s). The hardest-won victory is the sweetest.

Nevermind when you see management rewarding unethical behavior. Keep your nose in front of you (not stuck up in the air or stuck in other people’s business.)

Keep your eye on the prize(s) of your life and it will hardly be an effort to take action in the direction of your goals.

Hard work. That’s the ticket to success.

Your Ace In The Hole

Easily 15 years ago or 20 years ago I read a book where the author stated you need to have an “ace in the hole.”

An ace in the hole is a steady income stream apart from your day job or regular job. Having this kind of job puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to being in charge of the direction of your life.

Why spend 2 or 3 hours each night watching TV when you could be doing something that earns you income? What if having a second job were like earning money while you sleep?

Wouldn’t this be much better than watching TV all the time?

I recommend people diagnosed with mental illnesses have an ace in the hole so that it doesn’t matter what happens in the workforce: be your own boss and the stigma is irrelevant.

The goal is first of all to find the work you love so that it’s more like passion not drudgery.

I recommend the book The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine for “Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One.” An illuminating guide about how to do what you love without having your soul sucked out of you at any old “day job.”

This is a radical idea: that individuals with MIs should not only get a job if they want to work: we should find the job we love and have more than one job to secure our future if we’d like.

It comes down to this:

We’re in the driver’s seat. We can go down a road of our own choosing. We don’t have to take a backseat to others in society.

Capisce?