Jack Bragen
Saturday July 13, 2019 - 11:21:00 AM

Self-Esteem is obtainable through thought processes. And obtaining it by that method is easier than by trying to meet impossible standards. Self-esteem and self-appreciation are the result of deciding that you are good enough. You could be a multimillionaire and still lack the ability to like yourself. You could have a four-figure income and be just fine with yourself. It is the thought processes that determine this. 

Human beings are limited. We do not choose all of the events in our lives. We have limited external freedom. On the other hand, obtaining internal freedom requires a great deal of time, focus, and effort. You can't safely say that any person can solve their problems or their emotions. Life doesn't guarantee anything, whether you're talking of the quest to have external success, or the quest to become attained in mindfulness. We might die of natural causes before being able to achieve either of these. 

No person is perfect. No person is unlimited. 

What am I getting at? Well, we should acknowledge our current limitations. Some of these limitations are externally imposed by circumstances beyond our control. Other limitations could have to do with the functioning of our minds and bodies. 

It is those times that we have some slack, or free time and energy, that we can make a difference in how we think and perceive. It doesn't have to be done with Buddhist meditation or through some other form of established mindfulness. Sometimes it works to just write down our thoughts and feelings. 

If we could always work miracles, then they would not be called miracles. 

If on heavy psychiatric medications, the brain is more limited than that of someone who doesn't need to take medication. I've been told that I have almost no tolerance for stress. And I have numerous other problems. I hope that I am writing this column without being an overbearing expert type. In some instances, I like to share knowledge and experience that I've gained from decades in which I've been immersed in the mental health treatment system. 

If we acknowledge our limits, then we can find ways to work around them or change them. To me, it was difficult to go to the Martinez marina and look at the water. Yet, once I got there, I began to calm down. Getting out of one's routine into the unusual, or even something recreational, can do wonders. 

Life is very finite. We experience a string of "now moments" and then it is over. On many things, we do not get a second chance. If we understand the basic nature of life, it becomes easier to get the enjoyment that is available. 

We do not have freedom of choice about many things. If we lack income, it means that we have even fewer choices. If the body or mind become ill, we have to deal with that. Too much worry can cause illnesses. An instructor who spoke when I went to traffic school (to get a speeding ticket excused) said, "Stress will kill you." He was emphasizing that when people are driving while they are under stress, it is an impairment. 

If we expect that we're going to get all of our problems fixed through effort, through changing things around, or through accomplishing something, we will be disappointed because we will continue to have problems. Accepting problems on an emotional level is the solution espoused by some. However, even this requires work--it is invisible work, on oneself, but nonetheless it is still work. It requires effort. Nothing is ever going to become perfect. Security is nonexistent. The only security we really have is the knowledge that we will not be here forever. 

"Where does mental illness, treatment, and so on fit into this?" you might ask. Mental illness is another illness. It is no different from the common cold, cancer, or heart disease. When people shun the mentally ill people, it is due to learned ignorance. Being shunned, disrespected, and picked on is yet another part of the human condition. I could continue to philosophize longer, but I don't have space for that here. The main point is that we must encounter life on its terms because it isn't going to conform to ours.