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Beliefs Vs. Reality

Each of us has our own unique set of beliefs. We believe that life has a certain meaning and for each of us, it may be very different. Many have chosen to believe that life has no meaning, that things happen at random and we have no control over our destiny. Some believe in pre-destiny. 

All of man's existence, he/she has pondered the universe in search of answers to the meaning of life.

The beliefs that we hold about life, play a major role in our happiness and our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others.

For those of us who have a mental health disorder and are working at some level of recovery, it is vital that we examine our belief system.

For example, it has been shown statistically that those who hold strong spiritual beliefs recovery more easily from grief and loss.

I would imagine that those who believe perhaps that there is meaning in suffering, that there is a plan for them, that they will get better, etc. might have a better chance of recovery compared to those that don't.

Let's examine where some of our beliefs come from and how accurate they are.

My brother, born a year and a half before me, died in 1974 at the age of 20. 

I had one counselor tell me that everyone can "get over" the loss of someone. You know - go through each stage of grief… The first is shock/denial. Then you move on later to anger and depression. You can move back and forth with these two and later to acceptance. Actually you can break these stages down further if you want, but basically those are the stages.

I have reached the stage of acceptance with the loss of my brother a long time ago. However the emotional pain does not stop. The pictures in my head of what the accident may have looked like or what he may have looked like come but rarely. I still ache for his presence. 

He was killed in an automobile accident and I suspect drugs so I am still angry at him for his carelessness and for hurting so many other people. 

I was young when this happened and many say this permanently changed me. Why do you suppose? What have the losses in your life done to you? What statements do you say about life as a result of your losses?

There are many kinds of losses - loss of jobs, loss of relationships, loss of a lifestyle, etc. These losses teach us about life. What life is for us, depends upon our experiences, our personality and how we were raised in my opinion.

My neighbor does not believe in God because her mother died at a young age due to severe diabetes and did not take care of herself. Apparently her mother suffered miserably and my neighbor felt that if there was a God, He/She would not allow that kind of suffering. You see, if my neighbor would have had a radically different childhood experience, her core beliefs might be very different.

Be careful about what you "learn" due to your experiences.

I learned that I was mortal and that life was not very important. My brother spent all his life in school for nothing. He may as well have stayed home and played because going to school amounted to nothing as he died at age 20. So why was anything I was doing important? What a fool I was to think that I was important and that my life was. 

I began as a fresh person with an air of innocence. Each strand of my hair was made by God and was important and had a purpose. 

After my brother's death, really nothing, including myself was important anymore. I was permanently stained with my brother's death on me so life began to be about emotional pain and I remember wondering why everyone wasn't an alcoholic. How could anyone stand life otherwise? I have an additive personality but not chemically.

The joke I had heard actually made some sense. "What is the definition of reality? An illusion brought on by the lack of alcohol."

I remember envying alcoholics because they had a place to escape to and I didn't. 

In fact I remember my dad taking his adopted daughter years later to an orthodontist 8 hours out of their area as he was highly recommended. I could not comprehend this. It made no sense to me as a person had no importance and to think of someone traveling 8 hours for orthodontic work was like saying they were highly valuable as if it mattered about their teeth. 

It is much easier to learn something than it is to UNlearn something. I had to UNlearn all the incorrect absolute nonsense that I told myself about me, other people and life after my brother died. Why? Because it was toxic. It was making me ill and keeping me there. 

I had to learn how to love myself and discover that indeed I am a wondrous and precious human being.

Part of learning to love myself included forgiving myself for all my behavior related to my illness. That was a lot!

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