Keeping Your Word Is Important

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


If you give your word to another, then stay true to it.
If you give your promise to someone, then hold tightly to it.
If you say you are going to do something, then follow through and do it.
If you say that you are reliable, then go ahead and prove it.

 

The Bands Dilemma

Warren was a really fun guy, everybody loved him. No matter where he was the “life of the party.” As I got to know more people in his circle of friends I noticed something interesting. People would laugh and joke around with Warren, but when he wasn’t present in the group, it was like they didn’t even know him.

I had gone to one of the larger coffee shops in the area to hear a local band. I sat at a table close to the band to get the full effect of the music. On break, I overheard the lead singer and the band leader talking.

“We really need someone to fill in for Frank when he’s out of town,” the leader said.

“I’ve talked to a couple of guys who play rhythm guitar, but they’re booked during those weeks. I’m not sure who else to ask. I even checked musicianspage.com, but I couldn’t find anyone,” the lead singer replied.

I just couldn’t help it. I had to speak up, “Hey, guys. Sorry, but I overheard your conversation. I know a guitarist who is really good. I know him personally and I know he would love to play.”

Both guys came and sat at my table, “Who would that be,” one of them asked.

“Warren. You know him. He’s usually here. He’s a really good guitarist and singer. I know he’d love to play,” I said.

“Warren?” They both laughed.

“What’s so funny? He’s always handing out cards and playing his music for people. I’ve seen him even give away free CDs,” I said.

“Warren’s a joke.”

“Why do you say that? He’s a really nice guy,” I said with an attitude of defending him.

“Then you must not know him very well.”

I wrinkled my brow in question, “I don’t understand.”

“Oh yes, he’s always passing out cards and CDs. His music is good and he’s a great guitar player, but he’s a little, no, a lot, weak in integrity.  Where is he tonight? I haven’t seen him.”

I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know.”

“Right. He said he’d be here with his guitar to give it a try, but he’s not here. He’s always saying he’ll be here or do this or that, but he never shows up. We both learned a long time ago that his word isn’t worth two cents. It’s really sad because he’s really talented. We all learned to say, ‘We’ll see you there,” knowing he’ll never show. How do you know him?”

I hung my head, “Well, I guess I’m a slow learner. We were supposed to meet here, for a date, but he’s not here. I’ll wait a little longer.”

“Good luck. He pops in now and then. He’s always the “life of the party,” but he never keeps his word. I’m really sorry.  This is a hard way to learn,” the bandleader said.

 

Principle

In days past, a man’s word and a handshake were his bond. No forms, no lawyers, no contracts were required. A man’s word was his contract. It was a known and followed fact that a man’s words matched his actions.

Like Horton said in Dr. Seuss, “I said what I meant and I meant what I said.”

In today’s culture, though, it seems to be different. We’ve all had experiences where someone says they’ll call, but they don’t. Someone says they’ll be at a meeting, but they don’t show. Someone says they’ll finish a project, but they don’t. They always have some excuse.

In our modern culture, we have not prioritized or put much value in keeping one’s word. We rationalize and justify it: Things happen – it’s no big deal. Yet, we don’t realize that it is a serious character issue to NOT keep your word.

 

Why People Do Not Keep Their Word

There are a variety of reasons why a person doesn’t keep their word. Some people say yes because they are afraid or haven’t learned how to use their “No.” Some are afraid the other person will get upset or angry with them if they say “No.” Let’s look at that for a second. If you say yes, but don’t follow through or even call how do you think they are going to feel? Do you think they might be even angrier? Could it affect your relationship?

Do you say yes, planning on doing it, but then have a change of heart and not follow through? Do you go into rebellion or resistance – I’m not going to be told what to do? Is it more important to feel like you’re in control than to keep your word?

You say you will do something, but circumstances change and it’s not as convenient as you thought. Perhaps, it will take more time or there is a monetary cost involved, so you decide it isn’t worth it. In the long run, what is it going to cost? Will it cost your friendship? What will it cost your reputation?

Do you say you will do something then go into rebellion and make excuses like, “I forgot,” “I haven’t had time,” “I’m afraid I won’t do it right.”

Wouldn’t it be better to either say “no” upfront or talk to the person later and say you can’t do it? Why leave a person hanging? Even if you come back later you may have already damaged your reputation and your credibility.

 

What Does God Think?

Numbers 23:19 “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

When God says He will do something, He does it. When He gives a promise, He keeps it. We can count on God to keep His word every time. Not one jot or tittle of God’s Word will pass away before all of it is fulfilled (Matthew 5:18)

“In the Old Testament are laws saying that if you make a vow, you’d better keep it (Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21-23). They tell us that it’s better not to say something than to say it and not do it. When you think about it, breaking your word is actually breaking the Ninth Commandment, which forbids bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16). When you give your word, failing to follow through makes you a LIAR.” – Joel Hilliker

 

Reasons To Keep Your Word

Integrity

Integrity by definition is adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. Keeping my word means something to me. I don’t take it lightly.

Warren, through his life, had been lax, careless and negligent, in keeping his word. It began to bother him when a few weeks before he had told the band leader that he would show up to fill in for Frank. As he walked away he heard the bandleader and the lead singer laughing, “He won’t show. He never does, so who else can we get.”

It had been a week since Warren, promised to be at the coffee shop today. The minister’s sermon on Sunday and everything he heard online seemed to be pointing at his integrity.

He left early to be at the coffee shop on time. He noticed the traffic ahead was stopped, dead still. He veered off the interstate to a side road, but he knew he’d be late.

For the first time ever he was concerned about being late. He knew it was going to take time to reestablish his reputation.

 

Trust and Reliability

Do you trust people who don’t keep their word? Most of us don’t. It usually limits our desire to spend time with that person.

Warren had begun to notice that people didn’t want to spend time with him. When he’d suggest a meeting to “jam” or go out and hear music, he couldn’t get anyone to go with him.

Ginny, the woman he was supposed to meet tonight was the only one who’s agreed to go out with him in months. He finally realized that people didn’t trust him. He hoped Ginny was still at the coffee shop when he arrived.

 

Respect

As Warren was hustling to get to the coffee shop as soon as possible, he remembered the pastor’s sermon from last Sunday. He was saying how we lose respect when we aren’t trustworthy.

He really wanted to be respected as a musician and a man. The pastor termed respect as esteem and a sense of worth of a person. He also said that respect had to be earned by keeping your word.

Warren knew he had a lot of work to do and being late to the coffee shop wasn’t going to help.

 

Self-Worth

The pastor also stated that we can’t feel a sense of self-worth when we let others down. He said that people who renege on their word do not value themselves enough to act with integrity. His final statement kept echoing in his mind, “Self-worth is the result of treating yourself and others with care and respect.” He had never even considered treating himself with care and respect.

If he didn’t treat himself with respect why should others treat him with respect?

 

Personal Power

The pastor told a story about a man in history who chose to die rather than lose his integrity and respect. He was a man of great personal power who was greatly loved by his family and others.

Warren really wanted to be that type of person. He wanted to be loved and respected by others. He also wanted to be recognized and valued as a musician.

Warren pulled into the parking lot. Often, if he was late he’d turn around and leave, but not tonight. He looked at his phone, 45 minutes late. He grabbed his guitar and rushed into the coffee shop.

He saw Ginny and the band members sitting at the table closest to the stage.

He took a deep breath and proceeded to the table

“Hi,” Warren said. “I’m so sorry I’m late. There was a really bad accident on the interstate. I had to take side roads, but so did everybody else. I’m ready to play.”

He reached over and kissed Ginny on the top of the head, “I’m so glad you’re still here.”

How To Gain Control After You Blow It

Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay

Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay

Develop the mindset that says, “I cannot fail.” Move away from past failures. This is a new day and there is a fresh mindset.

My Test

I was downtown Knoxville stopping at a restaurant for a commercial pickup. The streets were packed with cars, scooters, and people walking from store to store taking advantage of the cooler days. The weather had been so hot and humid people seemed to stay indoors instead of venturing outside. But not today!

A gentle breeze wafted the sounds of music coming from the stage on Market Square. Most of the outside tables at the restaurant were filled with people sipping their drinks or nibbling on what remained of their lunch. It was a laid back day for everyone, including the chef where I was picking up food. It seemed like he was taking forever to get the To-Go order finished.

Sitting in the restaurant, waiting for the order to be completed, I happened to look up from my phone where I was winning the last hand of solitaire, to see a police officer walking casually down the sidewalk checking the parking meters. I had a parking permit in my window, as instructed, and the meters where I parked were designated “commercial parking,” or so I thought.

I thought I had everything covered and didn’t see any need to rush out as he approached my car. I went on with my game. At my next look, I jumped up out of my seat and was through the door in seconds. I’ve had so many tickets I can’t afford another one.

The officer walked to the back of my car and flashed a picture of my license plate. As I rushed toward my car and the officer I could feel the anger inside rising. How dare he give me a ticket, I did everything I’ve been told to do.

With each step, my attitude became more intense saying over and over in my mind, “How Dare You Give Me A Ticket.” As I approached, the officer didn’t bother to look up. He continued clicking on his hand-held electronic ticket issuing device.

As I approached I said, “Sir.”

I did manage to say, “Sir.”

“Sir, why are you giving me a ticket? My parking permit is on the dashboard as instructed. It allows me to park in commercial loading zones. See, it says right there, Commercial Loading Zone.” As I pointed to the permit.

It was all I could do to be half-way civil. I kept moving closer and closer. At this point, I could feel my anger rising to epic proportions.

The officer continued typing as he turned to look at me, now eye to eye, my tone echoed through my mind, not a tone of respect or even civility, but a harsh demanding tone, a fighting tone, perhaps.

“Lady,” the officer said. “This isn’t a commercial zone. They are specifically for the dialysis office upstairs. See the permit number of the Parking Meter Bags. It doesn’t match the number on your permit.”

I looked the permit on my dashboard then at the number on the Parking Meter Bags. I was so embarrassed.

A thought hit me like a brick wall of bad odors. My attitude stunk. I had made a vow to regulating my emotions instead of allowing them to run wild and the first time my commitment was tested, I failed!!

I backed up and turned to the officer.

“Thank you for explaining it. I did not understand,” I said as I took the ticket.

 

Regulate Your Emotions

Typically, we get angry because of a feeling of powerlessness when we are faced with something that seems unfair. Your anger, then, is an attempt to quickly bring things back into balance. It’s like raising your fist to injustice. This quick flash of anger rarely resolves the issue. If anything it makes it worse, causing the other person to respond in like manner – angry.

God had been telling me to control my emotions, especially my anger. But, in the heat of the moment, I felt unjustly accused. I was tested and I failed. I did catch myself before I went off on the officer and embarrassed myself, but it wasn’t soon enough. I still felt the anger, stress, and tension rising, when I took the time to feel it.

“Emotional self-regulation or emotion regulation is the ability to respond to emotionally intense situations in a manner that is socially acceptable, yet, still remain flexible enough to be spontaneous in your reactions and maintain the ability to delay spontaneous reactions when needed.” – How To Regulate Your Emotions

Does God test us?

I looked up the word “test” in the bible. There were 276 references for just the word “test.” The first reference (Genesis 22:1) was about God testing Abraham to see if he was willing to leave home and follow God to establish a new land and new people. Hebrews chapter 11 tells of all the people in the Old Testament who lived by faith. Their faith was tested.

God had a special time and place for Joseph. Yet, he went through 13 years of testing before he became the second in command in Egypt. Joseph passed the test.

In today’s culture we test everything:

  • Did we make the right decision?
  • Scientifically, we do split tests to test new medication to see which performs the best.
  • When a person wants to change a behavior, they can test the implementation of the new behavior – behavior profiling.
  • Tests are conducted continuously in marketing.

Yes, if you make a commitment, a sincere commitment to change, it will be tested, whether you are looking at it from a spiritual perceptive or not.

 

Gain Control After Failing The Test

Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

Become Aware

I began my change by paying attention to my emotional triggers. For example, I became more aware of the tension and stress in my body. I had been doing well until I saw the police officer starting to write me a ticket.

It happened so fast that I didn’t pay any attention to the tension and stress rising in my body. I was more intent on getting to the office before he put my information into his ticket machine.

In becoming aware of your anger, you must also become aware of the benefits. There is always a pay-off.

Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

Benefits of Anger

  • Anger gives an instant “reward’ of feeling morally superior.
  • Gives a “justified” sense of self-righteousness.
  • Bolsters a shaky self-worth.
  • Defends against anxiety and vulnerability.
  • Adrenaline rush gives a sense of empowerment.
  • Protects against experiencing depression and embarrassment.
  • Restores a sense of control.
  • Allows you to get your way through intimidation.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay (2)

Relax – STOP!!!

Think before you speak. Discharge the “fight or flight” energy before you do anything.

Anger is a reaction to a perceived threat which causes every muscle in your body to tense up, ready to do battle. In today’s world it’s unlikely, but not totally out of the question in light of all the recent mass shootings that you will go in for the kill, like in days past. As anger readies your body and your mind for the kill it is likely that you will verbally attack the other person.

In this readiness state you are thinking, “Me right, you wrong!” Or “Me good, you bad!” Your mind is rehearsing that you have been disregarded, falsely accused, disrespected, distrusted, devalued, cheated, discriminated against and so on. You are then looking for revenge.

In order to not attack, you must calm your body and your mind before doing anything or saying anything.

Photo by Amy Skyer on Unsplash

Photo by Amy Skyer on Unsplash – Touchstone

To begin calming yourself at the moment begin deep, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing. Also, create a “touchstone” as a
codeword or an image that you can quickly focus your attention on that calms you.

After you have calmed substantially, you can work more on calming your mind and body by doing one or more of the following:

  • some form of meditation.
  • listening to tranquilizing music.
  • visualization or guided imagery.
  • vigorous exercise to relieve the tension.

If you don’t already have a means of relaxing find one. Look up one of these methods on the internet and practice it so when anger raises its ugly head you can deal with it immediately. It’s essential.

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Identify the Real Problem

Anger comes from your negative appraisal of the situation and negative core beliefs. If you are a person who gravitates to the negative you may assume the situation is meant for your harm.

As a child, I learned to assume that I was being made fun of, excluded, or intended to hurt. So, as an adult, it was a natural reaction to assume the negative position and launch into “Fight or Flight.”

I am learning that I must alter my negative outlook, belief, which then will change the emotion that is tied to my belief.

Here are some questions to help with identifying the real problem:

  • Did he/she really mean what I think I heard?
  • Do I need to verify my assumption?
  • Am I taking this situation more seriously than I should?
  • Is he/she trying to take advantage of me or is this my assumption?
  • How does he/she feel about this situation? Are his/her feelings important also?
  • Am I just being self-righteous?
  • Can I stop focusing on the negative aspects of this situation?
  • What are his/her good qualities, instead of their bad qualities?
  • What are the facts in this situation?
  • Can I prove he/she tried intentionally to hurt or embarrass me?
  • See this situation from the other person’s point of view. How does it change how I think and feel?

 

Image by ThuyHaBich from Pixabay

Image by ThuyHaBich from Pixabay

Choose Rest and Peace

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

 Don’t allow yourself to be subject to your old way of thinking, to your negative beliefs about yourself. Move away from your past failures. This is a new day. Develop a new, fresh mindset with renewed hope.

Peace is the capacity to live free from any disturbance, your failures, your past. The world, in general, has no peace, it is disturbing by its very nature, watch the evening news for confirmation. It interferes with your ability to find rest and peace by promoting anger, fear, anxiety, worry, stress, and negativity.

Jesus has given us peace. Real peace is tranquility, an inner calm that moves out of your inner being to your conscious mind.

To those who have committed their lives to Jesus as their savior, peace comes from God’s presence within their spirit. You can call up God’s peace from inside at any time.

Peace is a choice. You can choose to move away from the negative. With God’s strength, you can say “no” to the negative beliefs, thoughts, and the accompanying emotions.

When you commit your life to Jesus, you commit to rest and peace as a way of life. It is a way of seeing, thinking, believing, speaking, and acting which comes from a response to God and not a reaction to life situations. It is learned and developed with practice.

 

 

How To Deal With The Adult Silent Temper Tantrum

Image by gregkorg from Pixabay

Image by gregkorg from Pixabay

“Few realize how loud their expressions really are. Be kind with what you wordlessly say.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes

The Silent Treatment

Franklin was a special kind of guy. He did have a good heart until he didn’t. If he got into one of his moods, watch out, the silence was deafening.

I can see some of you tilting your heads trying to figure out what I’m saying.

Franklin came from a little hole in the road in southeast Kansas during the dust bowl days. He told how millions of acres of native grassland had been plowed up for planting with the rising need for wheat during World War I. Then a four-year drought-hit and everything shriveled up and died leaving the topsoil to the mercy of the wind.

His favorite story to tell was about Black Sunday, the year he turned 21. A massive windstorm with black billowing clouds of dirt hundreds of feet high blew through where they lived.  People hurried home so they wouldn’t be caught in the cloud of dirt, which meant sure suffocation.  All transportation came to a standstill. All the doors and windows were shut with blanked over as many cracks as possible, But, the fine dust still found its way through minute cracks in every building.

Franklin and most of the people in southeast Kansas packed up their belongings and moved west. Franklin and his family settled in Washington where it rains. They had had enough dust and dirt for a lifetime. They wanted green.

Franklin had had very little education or schooling as he called it, but he was good with money. Or should we say he was a penny pincher? He wasn’t much for spending money or giving much away, but he always had time to help someone else.

Without much education and very little family life, he developed his own ways of dealing with situations.

He had a bad temper, but he tried very hard to control it, especially since he married a woman preacher. A temper tantrum was not something that would have gone over well. It wouldn’t have passed muster.

He developed his own silent temper tantrum, a quiet way of expressing unhappiness, sadness, anger, hurt, pain, disappointment or whatever emotion he was feeling at the moment.

You knew when he was upset. You would see him at the dinner table or pass him in the hallway and all you would hear was his silence screaming at you. He would keep his face as expressionless as possible, but you knew. You always knew. He was not happy with something.

He didn’t disappear in the flesh, but he disappeared in spirit. It might have been easier to deal with if he’d just yelled or cussed and got it out of his system, but he didn’t. He would churn on whatever it was for days on end because he couldn’t get it out of his mind.

As the only kid in the household, I would go to any lengths to avoid him during those “silent temper tantrums.”

“The silent treatment grants useless power, but solves nothing.”

 Adult Temper Tantrums

Franklin is not the only person who throws silent temper tantrums.

Roberta Satow, Ph.D. states that “being able to calm and console yourself is a central part of being a resilient adult, yet many people are unable to do it.”

Franklin, was the owner and operator, of a nursing home and eventually became the Justice of the Peace in his town. He was well respected among the patients, the help, and citizens in the town. Yet, every time he was frustrated or disappointed or didn’t like what someone said or did, he’d throw an adult “silent temper tantrum.” He’d retreat as much as possible from everyone around him telling himself, “I don’t care, it doesn’t matter,” which Roberta Satow, Ph.D. states is an adult version of kicking down a sandcastle. Franklin never learned how to tolerate deal with his emotions or how communication his feelings.

Temper tantrums in children are disruptive behaviors or emotional outbursts that usually involve physical acts or yelling. Children throw temper tantrums in response to unmet needs or desires. Also, very often, they don’t know how to express their needs in words or know how to control what they feel.

Adult temper tantrums usually aren’t physical. They may involve yelling nasty comments or cursing, abruptly ending the conversation and leaving the room, disappearing or going silent. During temper tantrums, adults often do or say things that they later regret, like threatening to quit a job or end a relationship.

Roberta Satow, Ph.D. states that adult temper tantrums aren’t just a lack of necessary skills to deal with emotions, but they indicate a hole, a missing part, of their sense of self.

 

Dealing With Adult Temper Tantrums

When children don’t learn good coping skills their temper tantrums are continued on into adulthood.

  1. Stay Calm. It’s impossible to reason with an adult who is having a temper tantrum. It’s very easy to get sucked into their temper tantrum if you do try to reason with them. Also, it’s often difficult to get away from them if you allow yourself to get sucked in. Then it’s not only a temper tantrum, but it becomes a confrontation. If you sense things are escalating pull out before it’s too late. 

 

  1. Realize that you can’t control the other person. It is very difficult to acknowledge that you can’t control what the other person does or says. You can offer help, but you can’t control them.

 

  1. Ask what is upsetting the other person. Adults who do throw temper tantrum are usually not good communicators. Calmly and patiently, yet, persistently ask he/she to explain. You may say, “I know you said there was nothing wrong, but your actions and tone say that you are upset.” If you’re dealing with a silent temper tantrum, ask if they are upset and what can you do to help. You may or may not get a response, especially if you have to leave a phone message. But, it’s worth a try.

 

  1. Assess Potential Danger. If the person having a temper tantrum is on drugs or alcohol or threatens physical violence. Leave the premises while you can and call 911. In some situations, it becomes difficult to leave because the person throwing the temper tantrum won’t allow you to leave or call 91. In that situation, you must do everything within your power to calm the situation, which means make sure you are completely calm.

 

  1. Validate the other person’s emotions to show you understand. “I understand that you feel I was criticizing you unjustly.” “I understand that you feel you are right and justified in what you are saying and doing.” It is very important that they feel heard and understood. Many times when they feel heard and really understood their emotions will calm. In showing understanding you have to be sincere. You can’t say this with any kind of attitude or it will make the situation instantly worse. You must be sincere.

 

  1. Apologize for any wrongdoing on your part. If you had a part in how they feel apologize. If you do not feel that you did anything wrong you can still apologize that they have been hurt. Use the words “we” and “us” instead of “you” and “your”. In the silent temper tantrum. If you leave a voice mail, apologize for anything you did wrong.

 

  1. Stick to the facts. Don’t go wandering off into blame or he said, she said. Stick to the facts.

 

  1. Set Boundaries. After you express your understanding in a very calm voice and attitude you must set boundaries for their behavior. For Example, “I understand that you feel you are right and justified in what you are saying and doing, BUT YOU CANNOT THROW THINGS AND CURSE AT ME.”

If the person continues with his/her temper tantrum then: 

  1. Give them space. Adult temper tantrums are or can be very interactive. As mentioned above, it’s very easy to get sucked into the tantrum until it becomes a confrontation. If the tantrum doesn’t subside, tell them you will be happy to discuss the issue with them at a later time when he/she has calmed down, but at the moment you will be leaving. Usually, leaving the room will facilitate the tantrum ending quicker. If he/she follows you to a different room, then leave the house.

Conclusion

Adult temper tantrums are difficult to deal with. The silent tantrums are even more difficult because there is often no communication. He/she has never learned to express or be comfortable with his/her emotions when angry or upset. Consequently, when they have a problem they run from the problem and all persons involved because they don’t know what to say or how to handle their feelings.

The silent temper tantrum is often a very passive-aggressive way of punishing you to satisfy their anger. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of the silent tantrum, especially when you have to idea what you did wrong, you know just how ruthlessly effective this form of emotional manipulation can be. It leaves you feeling guilty. The longer it goes on, all you want to do is find out what you did wrong and make it right, even if you didn’t do anything wrong in the first place. The silence becomes difficult to deal with.

5 Steps To Exchange Your Bad Habits For Good Ones

Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay

Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” Sigmund Freud

 

Developing Bad Habits

Amy grew up in a very abusive home with five kids. All of the siblings were about a year or two apart. The parents were very overwhelmed with all the kids and responsibilities.

Dad wasn’t much of a homebody, but when he was home you could find him on the couch with the TV on and a stack of beer bottles on the floor.

Mom worked nights and slept in the daytime while the kids were in school. During the summer it was up to the older kids to take care of the younger ones keeping them outside so mom could sleep.

Basically, they had kids raising kids.

Amy, the middle child, had the middle child syndrome which is the feeling of exclusion. She wasn’t the baby and not one of the older children who were in control. She felt “left out” most of the time.

She developed very negative beliefs about herself which were carried into adulthood. Her negative beliefs kept her from even trying to go to college and achieve her dream of being a doctor.

She did go to school and became a lab technician in the local hospital. The hospital had a counselor/clergy on staff for the patients, families, and staff. Amy became friends with the counselor who encouraged her to take steps to change her negative thoughts and feelings about herself.

After following the steps, similar to those below, she was able to change her negative beliefs and feelings about herself and gained the courage to go back to school to fulfill her dream of being a medical doctor.

If Amy can do it, you can do it.

 

Preparing For Changing

In order to make changes in your life, you have to take responsibility for your life. Nobody else can do it for you. So, do you really want to change? Like I’ve said many times before, it’s a choice. It’s Your Choice!!! You can do this!!!

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

Journaling plays a large part in taking control of your habits and successfully making changes in your life. Journaling will help you become aware of your habits and create an action plan to exchange your bad habits for good ones.

Aristotle once postulated “horror vacui” (Nature Abhors a Vacuum). It turns out nature really can’t stand a perfect vacuum. Therefore, it is very difficult, perhaps, impossible to just stop doing something. You need to replace it.

Get a notebook or open a page on your computer, tablet or phone. You will receive specific instructions on what to write in your journal as we go through the steps.

 

Focus On One Habit To Change

You can only change one (1) habit at a time.

A habit is actually made up of three (3) components:

  • Trigger
  • Action
  • Reward

All habits have a reward or they wouldn’t have become habits. We rarely, if ever, do something just because.

Step #1 Identify Your Habit Loop

The Habit Loop – Name your habit:

For example smoking, drinking, procrastinating, cursing, worrying, feeling insecure in certain environments causing you to sit in the back quietly, etc. When determining a habit to change, first ask yourself the question: does this habit serve me well or does it hurt me? Seriously look at the habit.

 

Identify The Trigger:

  • What happens right before you get the urge?
  • What were you thinking about just before or when you got the urge?
  • What were you feeling?
  • What did you do?

 

Identify The Reward:

  • Describe how you feel during the habit?
  • Immediately after?
  • Describe the psychological reward you get from the habit?

 

Image by William Iven from Pixabay

Image by William Iven from Pixabay

Monitoring Progress – Answer the following questions

  • How I’ll prepare and set myself up for success?
  • How I will track days when I succeeded?
  • How I’ll be firm but fair with myself on days I do not succeed?
  • Who I can ask to support me in the process?

 

We all have automatic thinking, like when you drive a car. You can go from home to work without really thinking about what you are doing, the trip, and everything you pass along the way, unless, something happens that is unusual.

We also have habit thinking similar to automatic thinking. Basically, they are habits that you have developed, usually as a child, that go unattended, rolling along willy-nilly throughout your life, doing their damage, because they are never questioned. Some habits don’t really cause damage, where others do. But in both cases, they are based on habitual thinking.

For example, I watched my husband at the dinner table the other day. He arranges his plate of food in a certain order to get the most out of the flavors. He had the pancakes cut and stacked with the eggs in a clockwise position to the pancakes, then the ham clockwise to the eggs. As he ate, he cut perfect squares from the pancakes. He developed this habit as a child and still does it to this day without any prior thought – habitual thinking.

 

Step #2: Identify Your Weaknesses (All habits are resistant to change)

Habits like to be in control. By that I mean, they don’t give up control easily. When you start looking at your designated habit it will throw reasons at you of why it should stay. Look for these Expressions of Control:

  • Yes, buts
  • Have-tos
  • Worrying or what-iffing
  • Can’ts
  • Guilts
  • Black-and-white-thinking
  • Doubts
  • Shoulds
  • Name-calling
  • Not caring or apathy
  • Hostility
  • Lying
  • Manipulating
  • Mountain-out-of-molehill generalizing
  • Fatalistic thinking/doom and gloom

 

Journal Entry:

In your journal list any Expressions of Control thoughts that enter your mind. Remember, you are in control. Don’t allow any of these control thoughts to stay in your mind. Kick them out. Tell them to leave. Evict them.

 

Step #3: Identify Fact Or Fiction

Does it ever feel like there are two people living inside your head, both trying to talk at the same time and convince you to go their way (healthy, spontaneous, trusting self vs. insecure, distrusting controlling self)?

Or perhaps the Angel-Devil Thoughts:

  • Yes, I can. No I can’t.
  • Maybe I could try…but what if I fail?

 

Journal Entry:

Write down all the similar thoughts that go through your mind. After each though, write whether it is Fact or Fiction.

 

For example (check the right one):

  • I can’t handle this job. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • At fifty-four years old, I’ll never find a boyfriend. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • If she spoke to me like that, obviously, she doesn’t like me. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • One can’t be totally happy as there is always something that goes wrong. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • Life is tough. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • Showing emotions is for weak people. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • Opportunity only knocks once. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • I’m too old, I’ll never be able to achieve my dreams. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • I’m helpless and have no control over my life. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • I don’t deserve it. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • Nobody loves me. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • I can’t. ___ Fact ___ Fiction
  • It’s impossible. ___ Fact ___ Fiction

 

Step #4 Stop Listening To The Noise

It’s time to stop listening to all the negative noise in your head. It’s time to stop thinking like a failure. Healthy positive thinking is a choice.

Use Your Imagination

Visualize in your mind doing something to stop the noise. Here are some examples that you can choose from or come up with your own:

  • Shutting the watertight doors.
  • Turning a drippy faucet off.
  • Kicking the soccer ball – kick your negative thoughts out of bounds.
  • Body Punching – every time you say no to negative thoughts you are inflicting a body punch to your opponent.
  • Disciplining the child in your head – With an out-of-control, manipulative child you need to be strong; consistent; and, most important, clear, “I said no!”
  • Letting go of the balloons – Imagine your negative thoughts as balloons that you are setting free. Watch them grow smaller and smaller until they finally vanish.

 

Step #5 Change The Channel (THINK THE OPPOSITE – SAY THE OPPOSITE)

You have a list of thoughts that go through your mind from Step #3 Identify Fact Or Fiction. Take each negative thought and flip it to the positive. For example:

 

  • I can’t handle this job. I’m not going to think that, I can handle this job.
  • At fifty-four years old, I’ll never find a boyfriend. I’m not going to think that, I will find the perfect boyfriend.
  • If she spoke to me like that, obviously, she doesn’t like me. I’m not going to assume she doesn’t like me. We’re going to be good friends.
  • One can’t be totally happy as there is always something that goes wrong. I’m not going to think that. I can be totally happy. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. 2 Tim 1:7
  • Life is tough. I’m not going to think that. In quietness and in trusting confidence I find strength. Isaiah 30:15
  • Showing emotions is for weak people. Jesus wept and sometimes chastised in anger.
  • Opportunity only knocks once. I’m not going to think that, because the hand of the diligent rules. Proverbs 23:24
  • I’m too old I’ll never be able to achieve my dreams. I’m not going to think that because age is just a number. With God’s help, I will achieve my dreams.
  • I’m helpless and have no control over my life. I’m not going to think that because I am not helpless. I have the power of choice.
  • I don’t deserve it. I’m not going to think that because I do deserve it.
  • Nobody loves me. I’m not going to think that because I am loved.
  • I can’t. I’m not going to think that because I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
  • It’s impossible. I’m not going to think that because with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

 

Conclusion

REPEAT STEP #1 THROUGH STEP #5

Continue repeating the steps, one habit at a time, until each negative habit is changed. If sometime the old habit sticks its head up, go through the steps again. It may try to come back, but don’t allow it.

You are in control now!!!

Dealing With A Shame Story

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Shame is always easier to handle if you have someone to share it with.- Craig Thompson

Suzanne’s Story

Suzanne sat on a bench in the New York City subway waiting for her train after work. She had a 45-minute wait. She found a bench out of the main traffic isles thinking it would be a little quieter.

It reminded her of a different day about a year before when she sat on a similar bench in Paddington Train Station in London. As she thought about that day she was overcome with shame. Her eyes moistened. How quickly life had changed. She wished she could have a redo.

That day a year ago, she had pre-ordered a book and was notified that it was in. She stopped by the bookstore on her way to Paddington.

She had read several pages when an older gentleman sat down beside her and tried several times to strike up a conversation.

After a few brief exchanges of pleasantries, she began to respond more tersely. With a gentle smile, he got up walking away.

Thinking back she could still see his face. He had a pleasant smile, but his eyes looked lonely. She saw a glimmer of sadness go across his eyes as he got up.

On that fateful day, she met another man on the train, a man about her age maybe a year or two older. The train was full. He approached the seat beside her where she had piled her things trying to avoid a repeat of earlier. She wanted to read.

As he motioned to the seat, she picked up her backpack putting her book inside. They talked as the train sped to her destination. As fate would have it, they got off at the same stop.

He invited her to dinner at a local diner. Her book now totally forgotten as the hours passed.

He was in London for three months on a business trip from New York. He had subleased a flat just a few doors from hers. Soon, they spent most of their off-hours together.

She thought back to the day when he asked her to move to New York where they could continue their relationship. It was the day before he was due to fly back to New York. They made plans to meet in a month. He gave her is apartment address, company name, and address, everything she thought was necessary.

They said their goodbyes that night because his flight left early the next morning, with the promise to call or text every day.

The calls came the first week then began to fall off.  At first, she was very disappointed and questions went through her mind. Her calls weren’t returned. He didn’t call. When they did connect he explained that he had to work late and it would have been too late or some such excuse.

She sent emails and text messages about her arrival plans. He called saying he would meet her at the airport. He had arranged a sublet for her sending her all the pertinent information. He said the refrigerator would be full and he’d be in the airport when she arrived.

Her friends and family warned her not to move, but she was so sure about this relationship, she brushed their concerns aside.

Shortly after arriving at the airport, he called saying he wouldn’t be able to make it and told her to get a cab to the apartment.

She found a temporary job, but she never heard from him again. His phone had been disconnected. The apartment address he gave didn’t exist. The company where he supposedly worked had never heard of him.

Now, she sat on a different bench waiting for the subway. She felt the loneliness that she had seen in the older man’s eyes just a year before.  She didn’t know a soul in New York other than the few people she worked with.

The loneliness felt like such a shameful experience, especially because of the way she had treated the older gentleman. She felt invisible, miles away from anyone she knew. At the same time, she felt exposed, like everyone was looking at her. She dressed differently. She talked differently.  She felt like she stuck out like a sore thumb.

It seemed to get worse. She withdrew from talking to anyone unless she had to. She avoided calls from family and friends in London, ashamed to admit she was wrong. She was all alone.

 

Facts About Shame and Embarrassment

In today’s culture, we hear a lot about shame and shaming. Exactly what are we talking about? And how does shame relate to embarrassment?

Embarrassment is a response to something that threatens to change our projected image. It results from a socially unacceptable act, which may not be morally wrong. It is the result of a public act that others know about. It does involve a degree of loss of dignity, depending on the situation. Embarrassment may or may not be self-caused.

Shame is morally wrong and maybe accentuated if it is exposed. It is also attached to a thought or action that remains hidden and undiscoverable to others. Embarrassment can be intense, but shame is a more substantial feeling because it is connected to our character not just our image.

Shame comes from measuring our actions against moral standards and discovering that they fall short. Shaming comes when our actions are noticed or made public.

Shame comes from “to cover.” It is often accompanied by a gesture to cover the brow or eyes, a downcast gaze and a slack posture, which convey remorse and contrition.

People with low self-esteem are more prone to shame because they are harder on themselves. They may also try to defend against the shame by blaming someone else. Unfortunately, this often leads to deeper shame.

 

Caring Stranger

It had been months since Suzanne had arrived in New York. She seemed to sink lower and lower into loneliness and shame. She couldn’t bring herself to call anyone in London. When she’d get a call she’d text back that life was amazing and she’d call later, but never managed to make that call.

Suzanne sat on the same bench waiting for the subway. A lady slid in beside her.

“Hi, my name is Mandy. I’ve seen you sitting on this same bench for a couple of weeks. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come over.”

Suzanne raised her head and gave Mandy a semi-smile then continued watching the bug on the floor.

“I’ve been attending a woman’s group for women who are lonely. I noticed you sitting here. I’d like to invite you to go with me. Please.”

Suzanne raised her head again and looked at Mandy, “How do I know you’re telling me the truth?”

Mandy pulled a printed brochure out of her purse and handed it to Suzanne. She continued talking about the group and the ladies in the group while Suzanne looked at the information.

“When is the group?”

“In a couple of hours,” Mandy replied. “It’s the next stop on the subway. I’d like to buy you lunch while we wait. We meet next door to the best pizza shop in New York. I really would like to do this. Do you have something else to do tonight? It is a Friday night.”

“Okay,” Suzanne said, “Will I have to say anything during the meeting?”

“No, not unless you want to.”

 

The Group

Suzanne found a chair near the back. As the meeting began to start, she was surprised when Mandy took the chair next to her. During lunch, Mandy talked about her arrival in New York and how she found herself alone. Suzanne listened intently but didn’t divulge any information about her arrival. She was still feeling intense shame.

The leader began to talk about taking off the armor and exposing our hearts and how our egos want to keep our hearts encased in armor, no matter the cost, to avoid feeling “less than” or unworthy of love or belonging. She continued to state how shutting down doesn’t protect us from shame, disconnection, and isolation. In fact, it guarantees them.

Suzanne hung on every word. Mandy reached over and took Suzanne’s hand, “It’s okay. I’ve been there also,” she said when Suzanne looked at her. “We can help.”

The leader continued. Shame is referred to as the “never good enough” emotion. It has the power to make us feel that we’re not worthy of connection, belonging or even love. She went on to state that we need to “speak shame,” identifying and telling the shame story. Then, deal with it in an appropriate way.

The leader told her story how she’d play the incident over and over in her head while trying to forget it happened. She said this strategy doesn’t work well because it only causes emotional and physical reactions like facial flushes, stomach tightening, which led to further disconnecting.

She stated that she formed the support group because she found it was more effective to tell her shame story to someone who understood instead of holding it inside. She gave the metaphor of shame being like a culture being grown in a petri dish, the more she kept it silent and in the dark, the more it grew. Exposing it to the light of day by telling someone else, it seems to lose its power and begin to shrink.

As we learn to tell our stories, we learn to be more empathetic, to listen and not judge others. She continued, “Most of us in this room realize what is at stake when someone chooses to share their shame stories with us. We know the damage that can be done by greeting such a story with judgment instead of empathy. So, if there is anyone who needs to share your story to start your journey of healing, find someone. They will listen with empathy.”

Mandy squeezed Suzanne’s hand but didn’t push.

“Mandy, can I tell you my story,” Suzanne asked with tears running down her cheeks. “I’ve carried it for way too long.”

 

Conclusion

Shame causes the disconnect between people and between a person and God. The disconnect is where we get the statements, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not_____________ enough.” Shame is the result of an act that is socially or morally unacceptable. It does not depend on someone’s personality traits. It is usually the result of an individual act that is unknown to others. It is an act and the emotion behind that act that the person carries with them down deep inside.

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Remember, connecting is a choice. You don’t have to remain stuck in the shame situation. Find someone to talk to.

God loves you right where you are and exactly as you are. When feeling shame or regret, forgiveness could seem out of reach, but God wants to give you forgiveness, and all you have to do is ask. He wants to be a place of rest and understanding in your time of need.

 As we learn to connect more with God that feeling of shame goes away. God takes the shame and replaces it with His love. The disconnect comes when we don’t feel loved and accepted when we feel ridiculed and made fun of, but when you are relying on and depending on God’s love it allows you to overlook and move beyond the shame.