7 Wise Sayings That Serve Us Well in Managing Our Bipolar

John McManamy | Dec 4th 2015

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"Know thyself." – Socrates

Recovery is a non-starter without self-knowledge. This involves a lot of ruthless introspection, of having the courage to gaze unflinchingly at the darkest parts of ourself, as well as embracing the light.

It’s about owning up to our illness, and – often for the first time – to our true nature.

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”Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." – Einstein

What we think is real is the result of our delusional thoughts and fears and desires. Objective reality tends to elude us – until it makes its unwelcome presence felt. Our world comes crashing down. We pick up the pieces and rebuild – hopefully a better version of reality.

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"To thine own self be true." – Shakespeare

Even the well-meaning in our midst have ways of filling us with self-doubt. Our illness constantly places us on the back foot, puts us on the defensive. But at some point we need to stand our ground and dare to lead our own lives, not someone else’s.

It simply doesn’t work being true to someone who has no clue.

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The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one fate befalls them both. – Ecclesiastes 2:14

A Taoist twist to this would be that surrender is the key to victory. By acknowledging our limitations, we become stronger. By letting go, we accomplish more. By accepting our fate, we transcend it.

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Mind precedes its objects. They are mind-governed and mind-made. To speak or act with a defiled mind is to draw pain after oneself, like a wheel behind the feet of the animal drawing it. – Dhammapda, v 1.

Mindfulness – the mind watching the mind – is the key to managing our illness over the long haul. Through dispassionate observation of our thoughts and feelings, we are better able to spot trouble before it happens and nip potential disasters in the bud. Or at least mitigate their worst effects.

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“You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’” – GB Shaw

Can we dare imagine a better life for ourselves? Screw the naysayers. Of course we can.

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"I can resist everything but temptation." – Oscar Wilde

Finally, let’s not take ourselves too seriously. Our lives may take tragic turns, but we are also the central characters in our own comedy. Enjoy the show.