Self Discovery Through Recovery

Easily nine years ago I wrote an article titled Self Discovery through Recovery for a mental health newspaper.

I’m reading the books Born for This and The Economy of You about how to create side gigs for yourself as  a soloist or in addition to a day job. I recommend you read these books too.

In the late 1980s when I first wanted to get a full-time job there was no practical career counseling or career assessment. I got a job as an Administrative Assistant because it was the option that presented itself to me as the best one from the limited choices I had.

My memoir Left of the Dial chronicles how after that early detour in a mental health system and rocky start in a failed gray flannel insurance career I was able to  find a creative job in a field I love.

Recovery gives us the chance to discover ourselves. I was always fond of saying you need to give yourself the gift of a lifetime to make positive changes.

Set a “lifeline” instead of an impossible-to-reach deadline. Read the books I’ve recommended in this blog entry.

Civil rights leader Howard Thurman is quoted:

“Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

This quote sums up a great model for recovery: discovering what gives you joy and going and doing that, like I’ve always advocated for.

The world does need more people who have come alive.

Recovery is the process of coming alive by reinventing yourself and living out your passions every day or as often as you can.

I’ll be 51 in two weeks. I’m living proof that you don’t have to make yourself miserable one minute in a job you don’t like just to pay the bills. You might not discover your dream job until later in life like I did when I was 35. That’s OK. Sometimes you do have to try one or two things or more to figure out the right thing.

The author of Born for This calls this “career shopping” instead of career hopping.

Finding what you were born to do is a great way to be Alive in the World.

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Getting Credentials

Years ago SZ magazine featured people who were interviewed about what to do if you have schizophrenia and might have negative symptoms and not be able to work.

The analogy was given that if you like music you could join a band. Flame are professional artists that perform throughout America. No kidding.

I wrote at HealthCentral a news article titled: “Recovery Strategies: Getting Credentials.” It riffed on the ideas in the magazine feature.

What I championed was that you can boost your mood and your confidence by getting credentials. Like anyone else who performs in a field you can claim that title.

A woman who played the piano identified as a pianist. I identified as an athlete because I’m a fitness buff and gym fan.

Really anything positive and healthy that a person does is a form of credentialing. This was an insight I had about how to boost self-esteem.

The moral of this story is that boosting your mood and getting confidence is possible. And it’s not ever too late to try something new.

It wasn’t until I turned 46 that I started to cook from recipes all sorts of delicious food. I even created a lobster roll on my own. I was 46 too when I started to train at the gym.

Thus I make the case for getting credentials.

Christina Bruni’s Future TED Talk

Giving an 18-minute TED Talk has become a phenomenon in recent years. I would talk about something specific if I had the opportunity to give a TED Talk.

Here goes:

What I write springs from my premise that people can recover from mental illnesses. So I write things as if recovery is possible. I’m confident my readers have the capability of trying to create a better life for themselves. This blueprint for living is going to be different for each of us.

I have strong views because I’m stubborn: I refused to believe I couldn’t achieve my goals. I knew that as long as I took action I would achieve what I set out to.

How come I was able to think I could do these things? I didn’t know whether I could: I decided I had to try, because as long as I tried my best, there would be no shame if I failed.

You have to fail: failure is often necessary in order to arrive at a better place in your life. A person should not be afraid to fail big and fail often.

Perfection isn’t the goal. Being certain you’ve done the right things all the time is a false security–and being certain at all times is not the goal either.

Taking action is the goal. Have you heard the 1980s term “paralysis by analysis?” Taking risks is the goal. The more risks you take, the more confidence you get.

You don’t get confident doing nothing. You don’t get confident watching TV all the time. You get confident by taking action even when you don’t have the faith that things will work out. The Zen saying tells us: “Leap, and the net will appear.”

A university professor told his class: “Everyone has an agenda.” Your purpose for being here on earth in this lifetime is your agenda. What is your vision for what you want to do in your life? What is it you want to champion for yourself and others?

Find that purpose–the spark that gives you energy to wake up in the morning. Go do and advance that and you won’t need to be certain of anything. You’ll take action regardless of the result because you believe in your vision.

You won’t always win. It might take you years and years to be successful. That’s okay.

Do what you believe in. Passion is the goal.