Prescribing words

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A few years ago, my psychiatrist recommended a list of books that may help me to develop some necessary tools for mental well-being. This is known as bibliotherapy and can be very helpful for people, especially with mild and moderate anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Although my symptoms of bipolar were more pronounced, I thought it would be a good idea to follow the doc’s advice and to see what happens.

It got me thinking on the importance of spiritual guidance in my life. It struck me that a parallel can be drawn between my psychiatrist prescribing medication for balancing moods and my spiritual guide ‘prescribing’ inspirational reading to promote fullness of life.

Stillness of mind

For example, one of my favourite verses is the following: “In grassy meadows he lets me lie, by tranquil streams he leads me to restore my spirit” (Psalm 23 – the Good Shepherd). When I repeat it like a mantra, I am suddenly transported to a different time and place.

Yet, at the same time these words make me more present with those around me – mindfully returning to the meadows and streams of my mind, mindfully returning to stillness, mindfully returning to the wonderful ordinary, mindfully returning to fullness of life.

Steps to serenity

It turned out that the prescription of words from my psychiatrist was very useful too. After reading a book on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – a school of thought that deals with helpful and unhelpful ways of reacting to situations – I adopted six steps toward wellness when experiencing an anxious or worrying thought.

Anxious or worrying thought: For example, “Oh no, I did a terrible job with editing my article. People will think I’m a phony”.

1.   Evidence for: I missed out on a couple of grammatical rules. I didn’t express myself clearly. People will think I’m not genuine in my recovery.

2.   Evidence against: A couple of people actually said they thought my article was of very good quality. Being phony has nothing to do with editing anyway.

3.   Worst case scenario: Nobody will read my writing, and I will be exposed as someone without authority.

4.   How will I cope with this?: Well, I will go back to the basics and learn how to write again. It may be an opportunity to be more grounded in my lived experience.

5.   How likely is this to happen (worst case scenario)?: Very unlikely. There will always be one or two readers when I publicise it. It’s not realistic to think I have no authority.

6.   A helpful way of reacting: I did a very good job with editing my article. I worked on a few drafts, revising it and changing details. I am far from being a phony. I have taken all the major steps toward mental well-being and my life speaks for itself. I am confident that my article will be well-received.

You may notice that there is a vast difference between my anxious or worrying thought in the beginning and my helpful way of reacting to the situation in the end. That is why bibliotherapy can be so powerful. If we read relevant books or material and apply it to our lives, we can develop much mental strength. Enjoy reading, friends!

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