Who’s Your Listener?

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

“Who you are, what you are, and where your life is going are all choices”

Introduction 

In my previous posts I’ve talked about change, how to change for success. Many including, myself, have thought that counseling or psychotherapy is the answer. Yes, it helps to have someone to talk to, but too many times, people who go to long term counseling fall into the trap of wanting to be rescued. After a few sessions, the counselor or psychologists becomes the one you off-load to and they “fix the problem,” or that’s what you expect. You totally expect the counselor to have all the answers. It never occurs to you that they don’t.

So, what are you paying a therapist for – “to listen?”

Many spend years in therapy and don’t see much progress. Why? They unload all their problems onto the therapist, but they don’t take responsibility for making any changes. So years and hundreds of dollars later, they are basically the same as when they started. Oh yes, there maybe a few noticable changes, but nothing significant. 

After a while you become addicted – addicted to being rescued.

***

Connie in the Coaches Office

You feel what you believe. Your actions (behavior) are also determined by how you feel. Furthermore, the way you act can have a positive or negative effect on your feelings. Consequently, you may be acting in ways that perpetuate your bad feelings.

My husband “Rejoices by Choice.” When he feels bad he does a little “Happy Dance.” It’s silly and funny but afterwards he always feels better.

Remember Connie, We Feel What We Believe, who went to see the life coach and psychologist, Gary. She had left a message with the receptionist, “Can I change or is this all there is?”

When Gary walked out into the waiting room, he saw Connie sitting slumped over with her head down, this was her second visit.

“Connie,” he said.

She looked up.

“Come on back,” he said as he waited in the doorway to usher her into his office. 

He showed her to a comfortable chair in front of his desk and got her a cold bottle of water from the small refrigerator. He then handed her a tablet and stylus.

Please mark the questions either True or False, however it applies to you. Please fill in any blanks.

***

Core Belief Inventory Sample

Full Inventory

T   F My job just stresses me out.

T   F   You hurt my feelings.

T   F   Be cause of …………… I can never get ahead. (fill in the blank)

T   F   You make me feel so …………….. (fill in the blank)

T   F   I am sad because nobody likes me.

T   F   I feel really bad because I was abused as a child.

T   F   I’m really down because I lost my job.

T   F   I’ve had a bad life because my dad was mentally ill.

T   F   I’m having a tough time and it’s always been that way.

T   F   I am more often negative than positive.

T   F   I usually dread waking up in the morning.

T   F   I am a fearful person.

T   F   I seem to have a lot of bad luck with everything.

T   F   I waste a lot of time.

T   F   I do a lot of what-iffying.

 

Mirror Check – Security Inventory

  • Are you happy?
  • Are you content?
  • Are you where you want to be in life, job, career, personali life?
  • Do you feel unhappy, downtrodden, a failure?
  • Are you bored with your life?
  • Are you restless and what a change, but don’t know what to do?

***

Do you want to change? 

Do you really, really want to change?

If your answer is yes, then let’s go. If not, you can stop reading now.

Starting Point

Becoming aware of where you are in life is the first step to change. Look at your life as you would look into a mirror. When you look in a mirror you check your hair, you check your clothes, in some cases, did you put your teeth in, do your shoes match, do your shirt or blouse match your slacks, are you color coordinated?

Life is a choice. You are where you are at this moment because of choices you have made in life. You may say, “Yeah, but what about my core beliefs?” It’s still a choice. You choose each time a thought or feeling presents itself, whether to believe it and act on it or change it. Yes, you do have to become aware of your thoughts, beliefs, and that, in itself, is a choice. It’s a choice to stay the same or a choice to change.

***

Bad News

Statements like the above indicate that you feel what you believe is because of what has happened to you. With this belief there is no room for change. Until you fully embrace this truth, that you feel what you believe, you will continue to live as a victim. In the victim state or mindset, the world and circumstances have to change for you to get better. Is that going to happen? I doubt it.

The solution then is knowing the truth rather than trying to stop the pain or trying to change situations, like quitting your job. 

  • Circumtances do not dictate your emotional response. 
  • Your emotional response is an interpretation (belief) of what has happened to you. 
  • Therefore, your emotions are always a result of what you believe, whether the belief is the truth or a lie, it doesn’t matter.

***

Good News!!!

You can change your beliefs, which, in turn, change your perception of the situation. It also changes how you feel (emotions): your low self-esteem, frustration, insecurity, victim mentality, self-image, etc. 

You can change the direction of your life toward happiness and success. 

The power to change doesn’t rest in a counselor or therapist or coach. The power to change is within you. You have the power to choose what you think. If you have a relationship with God, you actually have more power than those without the relationship.

***

Connie Begins Her Journey

Gary looked at Connie’s answer sheet, “Like I told you last week, you can make changes in who you are, what you are, and where you are going.”

Connie looked at him, like she didn’t really believe him. Finally, she said, “Are you really serious that I can change and I can actually have the life I want?”

“Yes, you can Connie. Are you ready to start?”

“Yes, I am,” she said. 

“Life is a choice. Where you are today is a result of the choices you’ve made to this point. I know it may be hard to believe. It’s like a building made with individual bricks, each life choice you’ve made has contributed to the person you are today – choice, on top of choice, just like the bricks in the building.”

Connie began to bristle just a little, “But, I didn’t have a choice. If I wouldn’t have gone to work at 15 we wouldn’t have had anything to eat. It’s not my fault. I had to do it.”

“So you’re saying that everything is because you went to work at 15?”

“Had to go to work,” she corrected.

“So you’re saying that everything, your life the way it is right now is because you had to go to work at age 15?”

“Yes!”

“Where are you working today?”

“Well, I work at a store on Market Square.”

“The one you live above?”

Connie nodded.

“Do you own the store?”

“Oh, heaven’s no. They couldn’t pay me enough for me to get an apartment so they let me stay upstairs rent free.”

“I got your work record from the factory in Cinncinati. You had worked your way up to a supervisor. You were making good money. So, why are you here? Why did you quit your job?”

Connie squirmed in her seat for a few minutes before answering. Gary sat quietly looking into her face while he waited for an answer.

“Well, it was like this.” 

She cleared her throat before continuing.

“There was a guy there that asked me out several times.”

“Was he inappropriate with you? Or make demands on you that you didn’t want?”

“No.”

“Did you ever go out with him?”

“Oh, heavens no.”

“I don’t understand. Please fill me in.”

“Well, my mother used to tell me that men were no good. All they wanted to do was hurt me. They would use me then throw me away.”

“Where was your dad?”

“He left before my little brother was born. I was 18 months old.”

“So you moved down here from Cinncinati to get away from, what was his name?”

“James.”

“Because you believed what your mother has been telling you all these years. Why did you take a job in a boutique shop instead of another production job?”

Connie squirmed in her seat again.

“Well…ah…I was afraid he’d find me.”


“James? So, basically you’re hiding out in a boutique shop to avoid James who has never given you any problems. He just ask you out on a date, one date?”

Connie nodded.

“Because you believed what your mother said, with no other information. Is that correct?”

Connie nodded, “I told my mother and she about came unglued. Then I was really scared.”

“Do you want to live alone for the rest of your life?”

“No, I don’t. But every time I think about it the same fear comes over me.”

“Where does the fear come from?”

“My belief that my mother was right?”

***

Conclusion

To summarize, our minds are limited in how they perceive what is happening now and in the past by what we believe. Yes, what happened to you may have been wrong, unjust, unfair, evil, hurtful. I’m not saying it wasn’t. Many of us have had horrible things happen to us.

Still, our response emotionally to the event is still our interpretation of the event. It is what we believe about the event.

You are saying, “But what happened to me was evil.” Yes, it may well have been evil. Yes, it was very hurtful. Yes, it is normal to feel bad about what happened. 

Our minds may say, “What s/he did to me was evil (possibly true) therefore, I feel worthless.” (not true).

Yes, we need to take ownership of what we believe. Yes, we need to take ownership of how we feel. 

***

Here’s where it changes. 

What happened does NOT have to define who you are. What happened does NOT have to define what you do. What happened does NOT have to define your success. 

You can choose to detach from the belief that what happened defines or causes you to be a certain way. Detach from the belief that the person or situation makes you feel a certain way. 

Choose to change what you think about the situation. Choose not to react or respond. Choose to re-frame it as an opportunity to renew your mind – change what you believe.

Romans 12:2 “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern … what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Choose to resist the negative, bad, hurtful thoughts that pop into your mind. Resist by saying the opposite.

“No, I’m not going to think that, what happened to me does not dictate who I am or what I can do.”

I saw a news article recently that reaffirms this statement. It was a story about a high school football coach who was born without any arms and legs. He could very well have said, “I can’t do anything.” But instead he was motivated to show that he could do whatever he wanted to do in life – a football coach. 

What are you motivated to do? 

Are you really ready to change?

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We Feel What We Believe

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay
Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. —William Jennings Bryan”

Introduction 

In my last post “I Confess” I stated that your core beliefs dictate your expectations. Your core beliefs also dictate your feelings.

Many people don’t make the connection between their feelings and their beliefs. Typically they view bad feelings as being connected situations or circumstance. They are feeling bad because something bad happened to them. They also feel that the pain they experience in life is because of something that happened to them in their past.

If a person is asked about how they feel they usually blame it on a situation or a person. For example: 

  • My job really stresses me out.
  • You make me feel so_______.
  • You hurt my feelings.
  • I am sad because nobody likes me.
  • I feel really bad because I was abused as a child.
  • I’m really down because I lost my job.
  • I’ve had a bad life because my dad was mentally ill.
  • I’m having a tough time and it’s always been that way.

You almost never hear someone say, “I’m feeling really sad because I believe I can’t get a better job or have a better life.” People almost always blame their feelings on a specific situation or person.

Because you believe what you do, you do and say what you do. Everything you do, everything you think, and everythink you say is a result of a core belief. If you want to identify your core beliefs listen to what you say and think.

The core beliefs that you learn during your life experiences, carrie much more influence in your moment-by-moment decision-making process than you might expect. Consequently, when your core belief is changed your choices change.

For example, when you firmly place your core belief in God as your protector, you no longer react to fearful events:

  • I AM changing the situation with God’s help. Even though thousands around me might be affected, God’s promise to me is that no plague, no destruction, no evil thing – can even come near my house.
  • I AM a child of God. Fear has no place in me – not in the morning, at noon, or at night.
  • I AM not afraid. I will fear no evil, because His perfect love casts out all fear.

Connie 

Gary, a life coach and psychologist, has a new client, Connie, coming in for help. He looks at the paperwork on his desk. His receptionist had taken the call and made a few notes. Connie said she had one question that she wanted answered, “Can I change or is this all there is?”

Gary heard the bell ring as someone came into the waiting room. He walked out. He knew his receptionist wasn’t in yet. As he stepped into the doorway of the waiting room he saw Connie with her head down, wiping tears from her eyes.

“Connie,” he said.

She looked up as she wiped her face one more time.

“Come on back,” he said as he waited in the doorway to usher her into his office. 

He showed her to a comfortable chair in front of his desk and got her a cold bottle of water from the small refrigerator in his office.

 

Difference Between Experiential and Intellectual Belief

“Many seem to think the personality is fixed at birth: “He’s been a control freak all his life. I don’t expect him to change.” Or, “Sure I’m anxious. My mother was anxious, and so was her mother. It runs in the family.” Some seem unsure: “Ever since my surgery I’ve gone downhill. I wasn’t always such a worrier. I just can’t seem to get back to feeling secure again.” And yet for others, it’s not a matter of personality, it’s a matter of fate: “Some people are blessed with good fortune. Me, I’ve had nothing but bad luck all my life.” The questions remain: Do people change? Can an unhappy life be exchanged for one of happiness and success?” Joseph Luciani, Ph.D.,The Power of Self Coaching.

Unfortunately, people don’t realize or refuse to accept that they are responsible for their situation or, at least, responsible to make the necessary changes. Some think there is an easy fix: if I could win the lotto; if only she’d say yes; if I could get the promotion; if only…; if only… “If only” is a tactic for avoiding responsibility. It’s similar to the “Yes, but,” “Yes, I want to change, but it’s too hard.”

“Core belief is what we experientially believe to be the truth, but not necessarily what we believe intellectually to be true.  It is our core belief that produces the bad feelings we tend to run from, suppress and deny.” – Ed Smith, Transformational Prayer

Experiential belief is what expresses itself through our feelings. We can study coaching, psychology, self-help, or the Bible. We can know all the principles and all the steps to change, but if we don’t do, if we don’t experience the change we will always revert back to our original beliefs – “I AM a failure,” “I AM bad.”

I have a post on Medium, “Regulate Your Emotions Before They Regulate You.” How do you regulate or control your emotions? By changing your core beliefs. You can use as much will power as you can muster to regulate your emotions, but sooner or later, what you believe will be demonstrated in your feelings and your behavior.

 

Do You Really Want To Change?

Remember, words are cheap. It’s what you do, not what you say that counts.

Your “I AM…” statements that represent your feelings are a “smoke trail” that lead back to your experiential core beliefs.

You can begin the process of change right now by looking for your limiting terms such as:

  • I AM tired of this job.
  • I AM ________.
  • I Feel _______.
  • If only ______.
  • Yes, but ____.

In my previous post, it states that the first step to change is Becoming Aware of what you are saying, Becoming Aware of what you are feeling which lead you back to your core beliefs.

In order to change your life and accomplish what it is you want to accomplish in life you must first change your negative core beliefs about yourself, others and the world around your.

Yes, there are a lot of bad, negative things going on in the world today. So??? It’s not about what others believe or are doing, it’s about what you believe deep down inside. If you believe that the bad things in the world today are going to keep you from being a success, keep you from fulfilling your dream, guess what, it will. 

If you say things to yourself like, “I’ll never get that job,” you won’t. If you believe that ‘the powers that be’ will never accept your “art,” “music,” “book,” “writing,” “etc.,” they won’t.

You have to take responsibility for your own life, your own beliefs, which then dictate your feelings. 

Choose the Life You Want. In subsequent posts we will be:

  • Instructing you on what to change
  • Showing you how to change

Most of all, you can do this, if you design your mindset and your intentions to make the necessary change. You Can Do This.

 

Can I Really Change or Is This All There Is?

“Can I get you anything else,” he asked.

Connie shook her head.

“I see you came in with a question,” he read it off her intake sheet. “First, of all, you can change. Don’t lose hope. Tell me about your life, where you are now and where you want to go.”

Connie nodded, took a drink, and cleared her throat. She looked up at Gary a couple of times, then looked back down at her hands.

“Well, I don’t know where to start.”

“Start any where. Start by telling me where you work, where you live, what you do when you aren’t working, things like that so I get an idea of who you are.”

“Well, as I told your receptionist, I just turned 40 last week. I am single, never been married. I can’t say I’ve ever had a date. Guys have always made fun of me. I work on an assembly line building cars. I’ve worked there since before I graduated from high school. My dad passed away when I was a freshman in high school and my mom had trouble supporting us three kids. I was the oldest so I went to work at the factory when I was 15. Between school and work I never had much time for a social life.”

“Sounds like a hard life for a teenager,” Gary said.

“It was okay,” she said pausing. “But, I don’t want to finish the rest of my days the same way.”

“Tell me about your life now. Where do you live? What do you do in your spare time?”

Her eyes started leaking again. She wiped them and continued, “I live in a two room apartment over a store that overlooks Market Square, downtown. When I’m not working I sit at the window with a glass of wine and snacks watching people on the Square. It looks like so much fun. I drink and eat snacks until I can’t see any more then I go to bed. I get up the next morning and do it all over again – work, drink, eat, sleep. Is that all there is to life? If this is all there is, why?”

 

Conclusion

People, in general, struggle with the concept that we feel what we believe. It’s natural to want to blame our feelings on our circumstances or someone else. Our feelings are never caused by what is happening to us or what has happened to us in the past, no matter how mean or cruel the act was. We always feel what we believe.

The act that was perpetrated against us in the past created an experiential belief which said to us – “I’m unloved,” “I’m not good,” “I’ll never amount to anything,” “etc.” Remember, it’s the belief that was created from our experience that creates the feeling.

Many are in the same situation as Connie, above. You wonder if this is all there is to life. There is much more!!! 

John 14:27Peace 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.”

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace…”

Many times we forget that God knows who we are and were we are. He always sees the end from the beginning. He knows all things! The God who knows our journey better than we do has strategically placed a provision next to every problem, obstacle, and opposition. 

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

When life happens to us we interpret what is happening through our core beliefs, which then create our feelings. Only the truth can set you free from victim mentality. 

Psalm 27:13-14 “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Key Point: what is happening does not dictate or create your emotional response. Your physical response, which creates your emotional response, is interpreted by your mind and is reflected in your feelings. Your feelings then are a response to what you believe as a result of your physical and emotional response. Yes, you have to change your core beliefs. Nobody, including God, can do it for you. But, when you have a relationship with God He is there is help you through. He is there to give you strength. To show you that, “that’s not all there is.” He gives us hope. 

Psalm 39:7 “And now, O Lord… My hope is in you.”

Psalm 10:17 “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear.”

 

 

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My Confession

Photo by Ivan Obolensky from Pexels

Photo by Ivan Obolensky from Pexels

Photo by Ivan Obolensky from Pexels

“The quality of your life is the direct result of the quality of your beliefs”

Introduction 

Your core beliefs dictate your expectations. They are what you think is true about yourself and the world around you. God created you with a design in mind. Your experiences may have changed your core beliefs so they don’t line-up with God’s design causing you to feel like you just don’t fit, you don’t feel right about life.

Core beliefs are the experiencial beliefs about yourself, your family, other people, the world, and your capabilities. On a physical level, they cause you to think and behavior in specific ways. They are rooted in your subconscious mind, but,  contrary to popular belief, you don’t need psychotherapy to change them.

You think that your core beliefs are rigid and unchangeable, but research shows that they are changeable. Actually, your core beliefs are a habit. They have been with you since childhood. You have repeated them over and over to yourself, possibly with the help of others, such as your parents, until they become automatic – a habit.  Habits, for the most part, are automatic thoughts and behaviors.

At some point in your childhood you accepted them as describing your reality, who you thought you were and what you thought you were capable of doing. These core beliefs can be changed. Yes, you will have to work at it, but by setting your intention to change, it can be done. It’s just like changing any other habit. And remember, nature abhors a vacuum, so you can’t just get rid of the core belief. You have to replace it.

“Core belief is what we experientially believe to be the truth, but not necessarily what we believe intellectually to be true.  It is our core belief that produces the bad feelings we tend to run from, suppress and deny.” – Ed Smith, Transformational Prayer

 

“I Am Too Tired”

I, a single mother in my mid-40s, sit on the edge of my bed. I can’t seem to muster up the energy to get up. The clock says one hour until time to be at work. My son is with his dad, so I don’t have to worry about getting him to school. All I want to do is stay in bed and forget the world.

“I’m so tired of my job, actually, I’m so tired of my life. Nothing ever seems to go right. Maybe I can just sleep the rest of it away,” I said outloud as my phone rang. “My ex. Now, what does he want?”

“Hello.”

“Are you on your way to work?” he asked.

“No.”

“You’re going to be late.”

“I’m not going.”

“Why not?”

“I’m tired of my job.” 

“But, you love your job. I don’t understand,” he said. After a short pause, “I’ll pick you up in 30 minutes. I know somebody who can help you.”

“But, I don’t…” I started to say as I heard the phone go dead. “I don’t want help. I want to be left alone.”

 

First Step 

The first step is AWARENESS. You can not change anything you are not aware of or don’t acknowledge. Are you really ready for a change? If so, here is where you start. In my post, Find A Positive Light in a Negative Space, you will find questions to begin your journey to self-awareness and change.

Another way of becoming AWARE of your core beliefs is to pay attention to what you think or say about yourself. Look for your I AMs. Your I AMs point directly to your core beliefs. What happens in your subconsious mind is revealed moment by moment in your conscious mind by joining your I AMs to situations, as in the examples below.

The following thoughts show that you are not getting what you want or need:

  • I AM (or I’m) tired of being poor.
  • I AM tired of arguing.
  • I Am tired of putting up with…
  • I Am tired of being abused.
  • I AM tired of drinking.
  • I AM tired of my job.
  • I AM tired of being alone.
  • ETC.

The way our mind works, when you make statements like those above, you are actually rehearsing and reaffirming and claiming the negative situation. You are creating a life based on your negative core beliefs that you don’t deserve an easier, more abundant life. For you, then, life is about struggling and suffering. You are resisting who you really are, the positive you, and accepting the negative. It’s that simple.

For example, when you say, “I AM tired of being alone,” what you are actually saying to your mind is that nobody would want to be with me. I don’t have what it takes to be in a good relationship. 

When you say, “I AM tired of my job,” you are actually saying to your mind that it’s a very bad position for you to be in. The job is not good for you. And, you end up finding fault with everything about the job until you either get fired or you quit.

The questions/answers in the last post can also be viewed from the I AM perspective. What negativity am I actually feeding my brain?

 

Second Step

The second step is Do or Say The Opposite. “That’s too simple.” Did I hear you right, you said, “That’s too simple it can’t possibly work?” Try it!!! Use the Word, passages from the Bible, and turn it into proclamations.

  • I AM (or I’m) blessed because God is my Shepherd, I lack no good thing.
  • I AM a peacemaker. No matter the situation, God is my Strength and Help.
  • I AM changing my situation with God’s help. Even though thousands around me might be affected, God’s promise to me is that no plague, no destruction, no evil thing – can even come near my house.
  • I AM a child of God. Fear has no place in me – not in the morning, at noon, or at night.
  • I AM not afraid. I will fear no evil, because His perfect love casts out all fear.
  • I AM satisfied with my job. Even before my needs are known, my Good Shepherd has made a way for provision to be supplied to me.
  • I AM not alone. God provides a place of rest for me no matter the circumstances surrounding me. He is always there and He never leaves me.

Even if you don’t see how this can change anything, do it anyway. The statements above were taken from Psalm 23 and Psalm 91. Take the scripture, make it personal, make it a proclamations of who you are, your identify, and who you are to God.

 

I Confess

Right on time, as usual, my ex, Henry, uses his key and walks on in. How many times have I told him to knock first?  What if I have a friend, a date here and he comes bursting in? Besides, how can he have so much energy? What is his problem.

“Come on. We have to be there in a few minutes,” he said.

“Okay, okay. I’ll go, but I don’t see the point in it. I just want to be left alone.”

“You never listen. Never have and I guess never will,” I said to him.

A short drive and we were walking into a office building.

“Whose office is this? A coach?” I said looking at the sign on the door as we walked in and took a seat in the waiting room. “I don’t need a coach. I’m not running a marathon. I just want the world to go away.” 

Henry didn’t say a word.

The door opened, “AnnMarie, I’m Gary, would you please come on back to my office,” he said holding the door open.

I slowly got up and walked to the door and into his office. Gary showed me to a comfortable chair and asked if I would like a nice, cold bottle of water. I nodded.

“Is there anything else I can get you?” he said as he handed me the water.

I shook my head.

Gary sat behind his desk, “Henry said, when he called, that you were having some problems. Can you tell me what’s going on?”

“I don’t know. Nothing seems to be going right. I’ve had trouble just getting out of bed this week. I just can’t seem to make myself go in to work or do much of anything else. I’m tired. I’m tired of arguing with everybody at work. I’m tired of putting up with all the BS. I’m tired of my job…”

Gary sat and listened as I rambled on and on about what I didn’t like and what I was tired of.

Finally, he said, “You’re tired of your job. Did I hear you correctly?”

“Yes, I am, so tired of my job.”

“What exactly is the problem with your job?”

“Nobody will listen to me. I don’t know why I thought I could do this anyway. I never seem to be any good at things I start. Things go okay for awhile then it all falls apart, like my marriage. Here we go again. Everything is falling apart. I really don’t have the energy to start over again…”

“Let me ask you a question,“ he interrupted.

“Sure, go ahead.”

“You’re the boss right? The owner of the company.”

“Well, yes, I confess, I am the boss, but that doesn’t seem to matter.”

“How long have you been having this problem?”

“It’s been getting worse over the last couple of months.”

“I’m a coach. As I listened to you I heard a lot of negativity in what you are saying. Can we try a little exercise? It’s very easy. I’ve found in the past with similar situations that when a person’s attitude changes they have a different outlook. Can you try this with me?”

“Sure, okay.”

“It’s very simple. I want you to turn all the negative statements you’ve mentioned into positive ones. Okay? I’ll help you. You said, ‘I’m tired of my job,’ can you change it and make it positive. Find something positive about it.”

I laughed, “I don’t see how that’s going to help.”

“Humor me, okay? Just try it.”

“Well, I really like the creative side of my job. I love sitting down and sketching out the new designs. I can just get lost and sit for hours sketching. But…”

“No, no, keep it positive. Talk on about the positive, the good.”

“Okay. I have an assistant that is so talented. I’ll start a sketch. She comes in and gives me a little idea which makes the sketch fabulous. She is so creative. She’s there to help me at every turn. She also takes care of all the phone calls and the paper work, the customers, and the other employees. I just couldn’t do it with out her. You know we have had the best two months financial since we started…”

I kept talking. About the employees, the customers, and the progress we have made since opening the company. I rambled on and on for about a half hour. I began to relax. I sat up taller in my chair. The heaviness began to lift. I felt a smile take over my face. Energy began to come back into my being.

I stopped and looked at Gary, “That’s all it takes?”

“That’s a start. Some times it takes a little more work. Every time you catch yourself thinking, saying, or doing something negative, Do The Opposite, Say The Opposite. If you will do this you’ll begin to see a consistent change, but you have to do it all the time. You can’t stop. I have another questions for you.”

“Okay.”

“How much rest are you getting?”

“I try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night,” I said.

“I didn’t say sleep. I said rest.”

I looked at him with a frown on my face, “There’s a difference?”

“Rest means you do something different. From my understanding, you’re working every minute you’re awake, either at home or at the office. How much time do you do something different, watch TV or a movie, read a book, go sit by the lake and do nothing?”

I thought about it for a few minutes, “I guess I get almost no rest. I’m always working.”

“You need to give your body and your mind time to rejuvenate.”

“That actually sounds like a great idea. I love to sit by the lake. I’ll do that today. My assistant can handle things. Thank you.” 

 

Conclusion

As you go through your day, what are you saying to yourself? Are you speaking encouragement or defeat? Positive or negative?

What you say to yourself and others sets the course for your life. You can set your course for success or failure with the words you speak outloud and to yourself. 

Above we used words from Psalm 23 and Psalm 91 to show how to combine the Proclamations of God with your confession to create a language that overcomes all obstacles and all oppositions. It also leads you into an indepth relationship with God. As we make the scriptures personal and proclaim it out loud you are declaring his promisses over you and your situation.

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Stumbling In The Dark

Photo by willsantt from Pexels

“Allowing yourself to see the good in the world almost magically creates clear spaces where you can begin to grow again!” – Joshua Moore

Photo by willsantt from Pexels

Photo by willsantt from Pexels

Introduction 

If you’ve been reading my posts, you will remember that I’m always saying, “Do the Opposite.” If you find yourself in a position where things seem to be going wrong or negative thoughts keep going through your mind, “Do the Opposite,” shine a positive light in a negative space.

How many times do we have something negative happen to us and we focus all of our energy on that negative experience. The negative seems to grow. 

 

Fredrick, the cat

I have a year old cat named Fredrick – Freddy. Freddy is my baby. He follows me around the house all day long. He’s like a one-year old that cries if I leave the room for a second or two and he can’t see me.

Freddy uses his claws like fingers. I’ve had cats all my life and I’ve never seen a cat do quite what he does with his claws.

He was laying on the top of a book case. The top edge is just about eye level for me. I stepped up close to pet him. He attempted to bring me in closer and he reached out to grab my face with his claws. One claw hit my eye ball.

I went to the mirror to look at the damage. Blood was starting to ooze in the white part of my eye. It hurt. I ended up with a bad headache. The lower part of my eye was totally red – blood filled.

So, now, I have a choice. I now have negative space – a bloody eye. What am I going to focus my attention on? My bloody eye? At the moment my husband and I had lots of “stuff” going on. 

We’ve been listening to and focusing on “Jesus as our healer.” I had a choice – fill this negative space with more negitivity or fill it with positive light. I had the choice of what I was going to focus on, my eye, the pain or on Jesus my healer? My choice.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Positive Input 

Why do we become hyper-focused on the negative instead of the positive when something happens? We have a choice.

“A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that we have much more control over our minds, personalities and personal illnesses than was ever believed to exist before… The ability to change the structure and functioning of the brain through experiences and the conscious use of directed thoughts is referred to as neuroplasticity.” – Nicole Force M.A. 

The latest research in neuroplasticity shows that the adult brain is capable of repairing damaged areas and growing new neurons. Thus, we are able to shape our brain by choosing to focus on the positive rather than the negative. “Doing the opposite” is a major step in changing the focus of our brain.

Research also indicates that humor and other positive stimuli do have profound effect on people with disorders such as depression and anxiety. Scientists are stating that it is possible, through positive input, to change the brain chemistry in people with disorders. Is laughter the best medicine after all?

If that is true, then using positive input for a “normal” brain can reverse the negative influences and can enhance the potential for positive brain activity.

Unfortunately, the negative information seems to have a greater impact on our minds and our lives than the positive. Why is that?

Choices

I struggled all day with the pain in my eye and the resulting headache. Every time I’d consciously thought about it I’d say something positive like, “Jesus is King,” “Jesus is my healer,” yet, it was easier to focus on the negative because of the pain.

It’s easy to remain positive on the good days. But, how do we change what we do on the bad ones? It’s easy to allow our emotions to rule, whether they are negative or positive and react with whatever behavior comes automatically without any thought. When we intentionally change our core beliefs to create a positive “mindset”, we change the trigger to give us a different response.

I’ve been writing about changing our “mindset”, choosing to have a positive “mindset” instead of a negative “mindset.” It is as simple and as difficult as setting our “will.”

Negativity Bias

Researchers have named our tendency to lean more to the negative than the positive: the “negativity bias.” The negativity bias is the result of our natural fight-or-flight response to negative situations. It appears that the brain gives more attention to negative situations because of the danger factor. 

According to the Bible we are to become aware of our thoughts instead of allowing negative thoughts to rule. We are to take our thoughts captive and change our thoughts from the negative to the positive.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (Amp) We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Our Will

Our will is being exercised all the times. Even when we “knee jerk” react because we haven’t chosen to carefully consider a response, it is a choice. When we don’t put forth the effort to change a destructive thought which results in a destructive behavior, by default, we choose to be “lazy” and just react. Our desire is where we say we want to be or what we want to do. Our will is revealed by the actions we take. Our will is driven and determined by what we believe, back to our core beliefs or mindset.

Our will is our “chooser.” Our will is revealed by the choices we make and our choices are based on our core beliefs or our mindset, if we have updated our core beliefs. 

“My will is not what I want to do, but what I actually do.” 

 

Core Beliefs

It’s common for a person to hang on to core beliefs from the past that do not serve them well in the present. For example, a person might say, “my anger keeps me safe,” “not feeling keeps me from being overwhelmed by my emotions,” “if I don’t remember, it keeps it from being true.” These types of beliefs that a person hangs on to keep them locked into the core beliefs of their childhood. 

Core beliefs are the experiencial beliefs about yourself, your family, other people, the world, and your capabilities. According to current research, these begin one week after conception and continue through childhood. They include your family values and that of the community you grew up in. They are often very deeply rooted and become rigid and inflexible, which then lead you to dismiss any evidence that does not support your core belief.

When your core beliefs are so deeply rooted you are not aware of them or the mindset they create. Many of your core beliefs do not serve you well as an adult. They can keep you from being successful or reaching your goals or dreams.

Sometimes, you need to update your core beliefs, uncover the beliefs that no longer serve you well, and change them to reflect your current “mindset.”

 

Difference between an experiential or intellectual core belief

An intellectual core belief is something you have studied, but have not experienced. For example, you many have memorized Bible verses about taking the Good News to others. You want to talk to your neighbor about Jesus, but when you think about talking to him you freeze up. You have the desire to talk to him, but your will is expressed by your being silent and not talking.

“Core belief is what we experientially believe to be the truth, but not necessarily what we believe intellectually to be true.  It is our core belief that produces the bad feelings we tend to run from, suppress and deny.” – Ed Smith, Transformational Prayer

 

Identify Negative Core Beliefs.

The first step is AWARENESS. You can not change anything you are not aware of. Are you really ready for a change? If so, here is where you start:

  • What are the words that come out of your mouth? 
  • What are the unspoken thoughts that go through your mind?
  • Are you always complaining?
  • Are you quick to blame?
  • Pay attention to all the negative things you think and say.
  • What are the emotions and feelings behind the words or thoughts?
  • Why do you feel that way? List any events.
  • Differentiate between your will (your chooser) and your desire?

 

Remember, emotions and feelings are key to discovering what it is you really believe and why. This will help identify why we feel stuck, why we can’t seem to move forward. The problem is the difference between our core belief and our chooser.

My Story Conclusion

My mother was a nurse and my parents owned and managed a nursing home. We lived in an apartment in the basement. My earliest memories were of doctors, nurses, and seeing the sick, the injured and the elderly.

I, like most of us in United States, grew up with the core belief -”if I’m hurt or sick I go to the doctor.” In the last seven years I’ve had nine surgeries and 30+ procedures where I’ve been put under anesthesia. Because of all the surgeries I have scar tissue in my esophagus. I have had my throat physically stretched every 3 to 6 months.Yet, I say I believe in a God who heals. Do I?

It’s easy when we’re sick or hurt to look on the negative side, to speak negatively, to be down, as with other negative events.

If I look at the questions above:

  • What words came out of my mouth? – “It hurts.”
  • What are the thoughts that went through my mind? – “Maybe I need to go to the doctor.”
  • Did I complain? – I tried not to, but I’m sure I did.
  • Did I blame? – If I blamed I had to blame myself. I know how he uses his claws.
  • Did I pay attention to the negative things that I thought and said. – I did try to pay attention more than usual.
  • My desire was to go to bed, baby my eye, and perhaps be babied a little myself. 
  • My chooser chose to do something different, to speak the positive instead of the negative. I chose to speak that “Jesus is my healer.” I chose to do all the running around and “stuff” I needed to do. 

Was it easy? No. The blood is starting to dissipate in my eye. It’s still uncomfortable, but it’s getting better.

I also made the decision not to have my throat stretched any more. The more they stretch it the more scar tissue grows. 

I’ve decided to walk what I talk, not just talk.

 

Conclusion

Many of us have problems that we deal with, physical, emotions, disorders, self-esteem, most of which, comes from experiences in childhood when our core beliefs were formed and established as our mindset. We have gone to counseling or coaching to make changes. The first thing we have to change is our core beliefs, which create our mindset.

Your choices are based on what your beliefs. If your beliefs are contrary to change you will find yourself stuck and unable to move forward to success, to fulfill your dreams or goals.

It’s not because you are a victim or because that’s just the way you are or just the “hand you’ve been dealt.” It’s because your beliefs and your choices are contrary.

You can change your beliefs so that your beliefs and choices line up in perfect harmony. Start with the questions above. 

Will it take work? Yes!!! But, it will be worth it.

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Too Low, Too High, or Just Right?

Photo by Jhonis Martins from Pexels
Photo by Jhonis Martins from Pexels

Photo by Jhonis Martins from Pexels

Self-esteem is shaped by your thoughts, relationships and experiences. Understand the range of self-esteem and the benefits of having a healthy opinion of yourself.” – Mayo Clinic

Introduction 

Self-esteem is your overall opinion of yourself. I’m sure you’ve heard the terms “self-image,” “self-perception,” “self-concept”. They all refer to how you feel about yourself, how you see yourself. We were all created with the ability to place a value on ourselves as a person.  

In talking about self-esteem, we need to look at whether our self-value is too low, too high or just right?

Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

Too Low 

If you self-esteem is too low, you put little value on your opinions and ideas. You often think about whether you are weak, stupid, or just plain not good enough. You are often dissatisfied or unhappy with the way you handled a situation or about yourself in general. 

We all experience these types of thoughts if we are faced with a stressful situation or challenge, but we don’t stay there.

“Low self-esteem is having a generally negative overall opinion of oneself, judging or evaluating oneself negatively, and placing a general negative value on oneself as a person” – Centre for Clinical Intervention.

 

Harvey

Harvey’s self-esteem appeared to be getting lower and lower as he watched other engineers being called into the boss’s office discussing the new position that had been posted.

In fact, he had already taken a few of his things home. He was absolutely convinced that he would be gone by the end of the month. 

“Hopefully, I’ll get a severance pay until I can find another job,” he said to himself.

 

Too High 

Some, especially those with low self-esteem, may think that a high self-esteem would be benefical, but think again. A person with too high self-esteem tends to be boastful about their accomplishments. They are often smug and appear like they feel superior to others. They tend to abuse relationships, assuming that their needs come first in any and all situations. If they don’t come first they often become angry and bully others. They are usually blind to their own faults – “faults, no I don’t have any.” They also often have impulse control issues.

The high self-esteem person sounds very narcissistic, but measurements for high self-esteem and those for narcissism don’t correlate. Many narcissists actually have low self-esteem, they just don’t allow others to see it. Those with high self-esteem don’t score high on the measures for narcissism.

Narcissists feel superior to others and are constantly comparing themselves to others. If another person shows abilities to the narcissist, the narcissist feels the need to denigrate the other person.

If a narcissist is boastful and acts like they are superior to others it’s usually a sign that they feel insecure and have low self-esteem. In conclusion, a person with a too high self-esteem is not a narcissist. 

We are cautioned in the Bible not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. 

Romans 12:3 “…you are not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…”

Again in Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”

 

Just Right

A healthy, balanced self-estem is where you have an accurate view of yourself and your abilities. You have a good realistic opinion of your abilities but you also recognize your flaws. It’s hard to have too much healthy, balanced self-esteem as long as it is grounded in reality.

Jesus was ask in Matthew 22:36-39, Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If you do not have a healthy, balanced self-esteem you will not be able to fulfill the second part of the great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

Perhaps that is a big problem in the world today. Perhaps that is why we have so much violence. Perhaps that is why we have kids shooting kids. They are loving their neighbor as they love themself – low self-esteem.

When you have healthy, balanced self-esteem you feel secure and worthwhile. You, generally have positive relationships with others and feel confident about your abilities.

With healthy, balanced self-esteem you don’t fear feedback from others. Instead, you actually welcome it because it helps you grow and acquire new skills. You are assertive in expressing your needs and opinions. You are confident in your abilities. You are not afraid to make decisions. You are not afraid of forming new honest relationships and are more likely to end unhealthy ones. Because you are secure in yourself you are less likely to be overcritical of others. You are able to weather stress and setbacks with more resiliency than those with a low or high self-esteem.

 

Harvey

If you’ve been following Harvey, you know he had been having problems getting ahead in his personal  and profession life. He was an environemtnal engineer and had been with the company for about 10 years. 

He had been seeing a counselor because he had gotten a bad yearly review. He was having low self-esteem issues and wanted to change it so he had a chance at getting a promotion which had been posted on the job board.

Harvey watched as others in his department were called in to the boss’s office. Every one reported being asked questions about the new position and how they saw the new department being structured.

The company was adding a new department to allow them to deal with nuclear waste. The engineers were questioned about their knowledge of dealing with nuclear waste and how they would setup the department and the safety protocols they would put in place.

Harvey’s already low self-esteem was taking a nose-dive because he wasn’t called into the boss’s office, even though it was clearly marked in his file that he had done a special internship in nuclear waste.

As he walked toward Joan’s office he began to drag his feet. He didn’t want to talk about it any more. He knew he would not get the promotion. Why was he even going through all this? Talk, talk, talk it didn’t appear to be helping. He was going to be out the door soon. He just knew it.

He walked into Joan’s office. She was standing behind the counter and looked at her watch as he walked in, “You’re late.”

“Sorry. I don’t see any point in this. It isn’t helping. I’m the last one to be interviewed and now the boss is going to be gone for two days. I might as well pack up my desk,” he said.

“Harvey, what is going on with you? We were making such good progress,” Joan said as they walked into her office.

She handed him a piece of paper and a pen. “Please answer the questions on this paper honestly and to the best of your ability,” she said. “It’s important.”

Write a thorough describion of how your see yourself?  

He wrote a few sentences and handed it back. Joan looked at the paper and made a few side notes, speaking them as she wrote. “Good. It shows that you do have a healthy, but some what low self-esteem.”

She handed him the next paper. “Please answer these questions. You can take as long as you need.”

“What is this?” Harvey asked.

“Please just answer the questions to the best of your ability.”

“I’ll need more paper.”

Joan handed him a small laptop. “Please type you answers into the laptop. Take all the time you need. Why don’t you sit over at the table so you can make yourself comfortable.”

Harvey began answering the questions.

  • Briefly describe the life-cycle environmental impacts and implementation scenarios for potential nuclear fuel cycles.
  • Briefly, describe how you would set up a safety and environmental risk assessment for a nuclear waste system.
  • Briefly describe how you would structure a storage facility for nuclear waste.
  • Briefly describe how you see a nuclear waste disposal system for this company.

He wrote for hours. Finally, a little before quitting time he stopped.

“I think I’m finished,” he said as he took the laptop to her desk.

“Let me see.” 

She started going through the document he had typed, “Fifty pages? Did you see the instructions, briefly?”

“That’s as brief as I could make it and still be thorough.”

“It doesn’t make much sense to me, but I’m sure it will to the boss. It’s quitting time. You can go.”

Harvey hesitated, took a few steps toward the door then turned and walked back to Joan’s desk and took a seat in front. 

“What’s this all about?” he asked with a very quizzical look on his face.

Joan paused like she was trying to make a decision.

“Well, I do have the authorization to tell you that the job is yours.”

“What?”

“You were hired because of your expertise with nuclear waste. You were passed over for other promotions because you were hired to manage this department. It just took longer to establish the it than intended.”

“What?”

“Let me put it this way. When you seemed to get depressed, we had to make sure you were the right person for the job. We can’t have a supervisor who would put everyone at risk. The others have been called into the boss’s office to determine the possible candidates to work with you.”

“I almost blew it, didn’t I?”

“Yes, you did. I gave you the writing assignment to see if your attitude would change when you started writing about nuclear waste and it did. I am pleased to be able to give you the supervisor’s position. But, I expect you to be in my office every week for awhile. There are still issues we need to work on.”

“Thank you. I do understand and agree.”

“We need a person to run this department who has a balanced, healthy self-esteem because of the nature of the job. We can’t have someone who feels they “know it all – a high and mighty” person. But, we also can’t have someone with really low self-esteem. You are on the lower end, but I think you will be just fine. Now, enjoy your weekend.”

 

Conclusion

Harvey walked back to his desk in deep thought. The last few weeks had been difficult, but good. He had reconnected with his dad, which he didn’t think would ever happen. His dad had apologized to him about the words he used to describe Harvey that fateful night. He told Harvey it was not how he felt. He was very angry with Harvey’s mother for tricking him into marriage.

Harvey learned that his low self-esteem was the result of his parent’s deeds but that he was his own person, not responsible for his parent’s actions. He played over in his mind how his dad was very harsh, but his mother seemed to smooth things out with a more loving attitude. In talking to his dad, he sensed that the critical, harsh edge was gone. Maybe his dad was in a better place also. 

He thought back to some of the sermon’s he’d heard and scriptures he’d read, Proverbs 23:7 “…For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” and Jesus himself taught that the state of one’s mind is the fountain of his activity. “For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed” (Mark 7:21). Harvey tried to keep his heart right before God. Even though it had been challenging and his self-esteem was on the lower end of the spectrum he leaned on God to help him not become depressed or develop a critical spirit. Even though it would have been very easy, especially over the last few weeks.

One thing that Harvey always held onto in his mind was that he was made in the image of God and God didn’t make junk. He knew that even if his earthly father didn’t love him, his heavenly father did. 

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).

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Who? Me Worry?

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo F. Buscaglia

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Introduction 

We all worry from time to time. We experience a general feeling of nervousness or anxiety, a sense that something might be wrong or could go wrong, disturbing thoughts – worry. Statistics show that almost 2 in every 5 people worry about something at least once per day.

Others suffer from chronic anxiety, a more intense form of worry, which seems to take over the person’s life. For this post, though, we’re discussing ways of minimizing the everyday worry. 

I’m usually not a worrier, but there was one event that I remember worrying over. My husband and children, who were at that time five and seven, rode a Greyhound Bus from Oregon to Southern California for a wedding. If I remember correctly, they were gone for about two weeks.

During that time, my mind conjured up ever possible accident that could happen and everything that could go wrong, where I’d never see them again or they’d be hurt or they just didn’t come home.

It was probably the worst two weeks of my life. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I had problems at work. At that point, I decided I was not going to worry any more so I started going to the Bible and prayer for help.

Philippians 4:6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

 

Harvey Begins To Worry

Harvey, a man in his mid to late thirties, couldn’t seem to get ahead in his personal life or his professional life. He had a degree in environmental engineering and had worked at the same company for about 10 years, working with soil testing and waste disposal systems. Every time a promotion became available, he was passed over.

He had been to see Joan, the company counselor, twice. Together they were working on dismantling his negative core beliefs planted in him by his dad who called him a “good for nothing kid,” saying he never wanted a kid or a family.

 

Negative Self-Talk

Worry is another self-talk activity, where you repetitively talk to yourself about negative things that could happen in the future or things that you are afraid could happen. You repeat this negative self-talk over and over and over. You rehearse what you would do if this event did happen. 

As with any other self-talk, you rehearse it so much it, again, takes on a life of its own. You become convinced that it has a high likelihood of happening. Because your subconscious mind is designed to execute the instructions it is given, the possibility of it actually happening is increased, if it’s in your sphere of influence.

For example, my worry over my husband and children being in a bus accident was remote and I had no influence over the bus. But, in Harvey’s case, above, his worrying over not getting the promotion affected his work performance creating the likelihood of it becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, one more time.

 

Worry vs. Problem Solving

Worry is different than problem-solving in that the worrier takes the worst-case scenario and all possible things that could happen or go wrong and tries to work out the solution for the problem before it becomes a problem. In doing this, you have no facts to work with.

Different scenarios are rehearsed deciding which one would be the best solution for when the problem becomes a problem. Instead of finding a real solution, the worrier often becomes so anxious over the possibility that they can’t think clearly or have actual facts to work with.

 

Problem Solving

The interesting thing, though, is that actual problem solving is different. 

According to the Centre for Clinical Interventions, “Problem-solving is a constructive thought process focused on how we can flexibly and effectively deal with a problem at hand.  It involves identifying what the problem is and thinking of possible ways of dealing with the problem. We then choose which of these suggestions seem the best solutions and examine the pros and cons of each. Based on our evaluation of the solutions, we can then develop a plan of how best to deal with the situation by using one or more of the strategies we have thought of.”  

Worry isn’t problem-solving because there is no real problem to solve. Any possible solutions usually don’t work because it’s an imaginary problem. If the problem became real it would probably have a different set of circumstances and facts. 

Where there is a real problem, actual problem solving is a practical and helpful planning strategy to solve it.

Bottom line, worry is just repetitive negative thinking where you get stuck analyzing bad events that could, maybe, happen in the future – things that will probably never happen. You use all your energy on imaginary problems or situations and don’t have the energy to deal with real life.

For example, in my case, the chances of a bus accident were very remote and didn’t happen. In Harvey’s case, he had worried over the promotion several times before and every time it had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. He didn’t get the promotion because the worrying affected his work performance.

This negative thinking, worry, has a circular, spiral or snowball-like quality to it because the same negative stuff keeps getting rehashed over and over in your mind, and you have trouble disengaging from the repetitive negative thoughts. 

The repetitive negative thinking then fuels the anxious thinking until it’s blown way out of proportion consuming all your energy for real life.

 

Triggers

The cause of generalized anxiety or worry is not clearly understood. But, there are a number of things that can incease or trigger worry:

  • Possible biological dispositions in how you experience negative emotions.
  • Certain images from the television, newspaper, or magazines.
  • Hearing information, like, newscasts from the radio or on your phone.
  • Certain videos from the internet (YouTube).
  • Being put in difficult situations such as being called on for a report, or to address a meeting at work or school, etc.
  • Prolonged stress.
  • Traumatic events.

 

What if’s

What if questions that circle in your mind perpetuates worry. Questions could sound something like this:

  • What if I lose my job?
  • What if I miss my appointment?
  • What if I fail the exam?
  • What if my car won’t start and I’m late for work?
  • What if my spouse or kids are in an accident?
  • What if I don’t get the promotion?
  • What if the boss doesn’t like me?
  • What if the boss doesn’t like my work?
  • What if….   What if…. What if….

 

What Maintains Worry

Interestingly, both positive and negative thoughts about worry form a vicious cycle that keeps them going. 

For example, as in Harvey’s case, he ruminated on his not getting the promotion, thinking of all the reasons why he wouldn’t get it. Then his thoughts would go to why he should get the promotion and what he would do if he got it. Then his negative thoughts would kick back in and he’d think of problems he’s had with a project or mistakes he made and he’d flip back to the negative side.

Imagine with me how this circular thinking would wear you out until you couldn’t do your job or even had to call in sick.

I’ve been there. How about you?

 

Negative Beliefs About Worry

Some people worry about worrying. They worry about why they can’t stop worrying. They worry about worry being uncontrollable and whether it will totally take over their life. They also worry about it being dangerous and causing mental illness. These concerns can become very distressful which, in turn, perpetuate the worrying and, once again, turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Positive Beliefs About Worry

Many worriers hold false-positive thoughts that worrying is actually good and beneficial for them. Some say worry is a motivator to get them moving. Others say it helps them to prepare solutions in case events happen because they have trouble dealing with uncertainty. Still, others say it helps them prepare and avoid bad things from happening to them.

They are holding onto these worry thoughts, assuming they are good because it prepares them for the actual event, when in reality they are not good – they are only false positives.

 

Avoidance and Thought Control

Some people try to avoid worry or ignore a worry thought when it enters their mind. They also avoid triggers like watching TV or news reports. Avoidance can work a certain percentage of the time. But, it also limits the opportunity to experience events that disaffirm the worry, showing them that worry doesn’t work.

Thought control has limited success. Have you ever tried to tell yourself that you weren’t going to think about something, like chocolate? What happens? Usually, that’s all you think about. That’s all you see around you. Chocolate appears to be everywhere. 

When you tell yourself you aren’t going to worry, you often worry more, which leads you to the belief that worry is uncontrollable – not true. You can control worry.

 

Challenging Your Beliefs About Worry

Image by GraphicMama-team from Pixabay

Image by GraphicMama-team from Pixabay

It’s time to play detective again, like in the last post.  

Pick either past or present worry to challenge. Write about it. 

Sidebar: why am I always saying write about it? When you write about a thought, feeling, situation, worry, you process it in outside of your mind, if you will. When you process it in your mind it can become more elusive. Putting it on paper allows you to analyze it more fully. 

If it’s on paper and you are seeking help, it’s a more complete evaluation of the problem than just telling the counselor in words. When we talk to someone we don’t always give all the details. 

 

 

 

Write with as much detail as possible:

  • Write everything you can think of about this situation. List all the details, everything you worried about. List all the different scenarios that you thought about. The facts, please.
  • Did the situation turn out the way you saw it in your head?
  • How did the situation end?
  • Was your prediction accurate or inaccurate?
  • If what you worried about was inaccurate and unrealistic, how could it possibly be helpful, valuable or beneficial?
  • Dissect your belief about worry by listing the evidence that supports your belief and evidence against for your belief.

“If you are able to do things that show your beliefs are not true, that in fact your worrying has no benefits or can get in the way at times, it is going to be hard to hold on to your beliefs.”

 

Biblical Perspective

During the 40 days of Jesus temptation, “The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Luke 4:3

There is no record of satan actually appearing to Jesus in a physical form. He spoke to Jesus’ mind, just like he communicates with us – in our mind. I will venture to say that many of the negatives worry thoughts, are from satan, our enemy.

Psalm 112:7 “I am not afraid of bad news; my heart is firm, trusting in the Lord..”

Psalms 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalms 33:20-22 “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Philippians 4:6 “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Isaiah 35:4 “…Be strong; fear not!”

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,”

Graham Cooke states,Instead of giving in to our soul—our mind, will and emotions — we must lean on His (Gods) everlasting arms. The first place we should go when we’re in trouble is the heart of God. When we live under that umbrella of His keeping power, we no longer have to pray for His presence to come. It’s already with us.”

Worry is a sign that we are not completely trusting in God, but God is the source for everything we need. When we live under his protection we can rest because He doesn’t sleep. He’s never going to let us fall. He never loses focus. He’s always paying attention. He’s always watching. He’s always with us.

Psalms 17:8 says that He “Keeps me as the apple of His eye, and He hides me in the shadow of His wings.”

Can we be in a safer, more protected place?

Harvey’s Third Session

Harvey entered Joan’s office and sat in the chair in front of her desk. He was very quiet compared to the week before.

“What’s up?” Joan asked. “You seem very quiet and maybe a little down this week.”

Harvey nodded.

“Tell me about it.”

“Remember you told me there was a promotion coming up. Well, they posted the job notice on the board. It’s a great job. I’d love to have it, but…” his voice trailed off.

“But, what?” Joan asked.

“All the guys are talking about it. Several of the guys have been called into the boss’s office to discuss the job. I haven’t been called in. I had really gotten my hopes up after talking to you the last couple of weeks. But, one more time I’m going to get passed over.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just know it,” he said. “I feel it. I haven’t been sleeping. I toss and turn all night. I’m tired when I go to work. I made a big mistake the other day. I know it’s going to kill my chances.”

“Did you fix the mistake?” 

“Yeah, I fixed it, but I still screwed up,” he said.

“So you’re worrying about it.”

“Yeah, it’s going to turn out just like all the other times,” he said as he lowered his head to look at the floor.

“What if you challenged every worry thought about the promotion just like you challenged the thoughts from your dad? What if every time you think about the promotion you say, 

‘I’m not going to think negatively, that promotion is mine.’ Once again change your thought to the opposite. How do you think you would feel?”

“I never thought about doing that. When I did it regarding my dad, I started feeling much better. In fact, I found his number and called him the other day. We talked for a few minutes. Nothing very important. But we talked,” he said with a smile.

“Good for you,” Joan said. “How did you feel after talking to your dad?”

“I felt good. Actually, I felt a load lift off my shoulders. I was relieved. We agree to talk every week and set up a day and time to talk.”

“That is awesome,” Joan said looking at Harvey’s face. The stress seemed to be lifting. He seemed more relaxed, maybe, even happy.

“Now, do the same about the promotion.”

Conclusion 

I have found, from personal experience, that when I am worried or in pain (I am recovering from numerous physical problems and surgeries) or negative thought comes into my mind I do the opposite.

Whether it’s worry, fear, a new thought, or a negative core belief that you’ve had from childhood, you can begin to change it by doing, saying, and thinking the opposite. Don’t allow yourself to think, say or do the negative.

After doing the exercises above you have begun to identify and become aware of your negative core beliefs, the negative and positive worry thoughts, that are not productive.

Take the first step to dismantling and changing your worry thoughts.

In changing your negative core beliefs and dismantling worry, you are taking the first steps to grow a new “mindset.” A mindset that is positive and works for your good, not for your destruction.

It is a choice. You can choose to be the victim and focus on the negative, worry thoughts. Or, you can choose to change your mindset and attitude for a better happier life.

The first step is to do the opposite. You have listed some of your negative and positive worry thoughts above. When a worry thought pops into your mind, change it to the opposite thought. You can also change worry thoughts to positive by using the Word from the list above. For example:

“No, I am not thinking that, I am not afraid of bad news; my heart is firm, trusting in the Lord..” Ps 112:7

“No, I am not thinking that, I cast all my worries and burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain me; he will never permit me to be moved.” Ps 55:22

“No, I am not thinking that, I am waiting on the Lord, he is my help and my shield. My heart is glad in him. I trust in His holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon me, even as I hope in you.” Ps 33: 20-22

“No, I am not thinking that, I am not anxious or worried about anything, but in everything I let my requests be made known to God.” Phil 4:6

“No, I am not thinking that, I am strong and not afraid.” Is 35:4

“No, I am not thinking that, The Lord heals all my diseases.” Ps 103:3

“No, I am not thinking that, He sent His word and healed me.” Ps 107:20

“No, I am not thinking that, I shall not die but live, and shall declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord.” Ps 118:17

“No, I am not thinking that, He heals my broken heart and binds up my wounds.” Ps 147:3

Get the point!!!  You can do this.

 

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Planting Your New Mindset

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay
Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

You’ve been ridding your garden plot of weeds and garbage. Have you started planting yet?

Introduction 

In the last post Harvey started looking at his negative core beliefs and how to change them into a postive ‘mindset.’ The roots of  negative core beliefs go very deep into the soil. If we don’t pull get all of the root, while weeding, it will send a sprig back to the surface and start growing again.

According to the Centre for Clinical Interventions, “Your negative core beliefs reflect the negative, broad, and generalised judgements you have made about yourself, based on some negative experiences you might have had during your earlier years (eg. “I am a failure,” or “ I am no good”).”

As you are weeding your garden, you need to identify specific weeds. You will need to examine these weeds closely to make sure you get all of the root. To identify them you will need to look for specific information that you have about yourself. With your magnifying glass look for these specific clues:

  • Carefully examine all negative experiences you’ve had.Image by GraphicMama-team from Pixabay
  • Identify any negative self-evaluations .
  • Problems identifying or looking at positive qualities about yourself.
  • Identify any and all fears that pop up when you think about doing something different.
  • Identify any negative biases or tendencies or feelings you have.                                                        

Questions to answer about the the information you’ve uncovered.   

  • What does the it say about me as a person?
  • What does it say about who I am?

Harvey Pulling Weeds

In the counselor’s office Harvey was ask to identify 5 Things He Tells Himself. The counselor sent him home with the above assignment to work on at home. She also sent a list of steps for him to follow in adjusting the negative core beliefs to create a positive mindset.

Remember, he overheard a conversation between his parents when he was about 10 years old. His dad said he felt trapped. He didn’t really want a wife and a “good for nothing” kid. 

Harvey entered the counselor’s office. Joan met him at the front counter as before. They walked into Joan’s office.

“You seemed more relaxed than you did last week,” she said.

“I feel much better. It’s amazing how working on the assignment you gave me made such a difference in how I feel.”

He walked over to the fish tank pointing out a couple of unusual fish in the tank. He lingered for sometime watching the fish. Not like the week before.

“Are you ready to get started?” Joan asked.

“Sure thing,” he said. “Sorry, it seems like I’m seeing more colors today. You’ve got some beautiful fish in your tank.

Joan smiled as he walked to the chair in front of her desk.

Analyzing Negative Core Beliefs

“Let’s go to the sheet I gave you to work on. The first item was to select a negative core belief. Which one did you choose?”

“The statement that my dad made to my mother, ‘good for nothing kid,’” Harvey said.

“Tell me what you’ve discovered about that statement.”

“Well, I discovered that I really took that comment to heart, that he really thought I was a ‘good for nothing kid’, which made me a good for nothing person, period. It made me feel like I couldn’t do anything and I really shouldn’t even be on this earth. When he said I should have been aborted, I took it to mean that my existence on this earth was a big mistake and I shouldn’t even be alive.”

“The second question was, ‘identify when it’s least convincing.’ Ever since that day it’s always there. It has never left. Last week when you said it wasn’t about me, it was my parent’s problem, it was like you opened the door and allowed some fresh air into my room. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. We do have more work to do.”

Harvey nodded.

New Core Belief

“We need to start growing a new balanced core belief, a “mindset”, one that is positive and realistic. It’s not realistic that you’re a big mistake. Has your mother ever told you how she feels about you being on this earth?”

“She has always told me that I was the best thing that ever happened to her, but it seems like what my dad, wait.  He’s not my dad. He’s only a sperm donor. So, I’m going to call him by his name, Paul. What Paul said, all those years ago, just covered up what my mom said. It didn’t matter how many times she said it. After that day, I didn’t seem to hear it.”

“That’s not uncommon,” Joan said. “What is a more accurate reflection of yourself? You don’t want to just squash the negative belief, you need to plant a new belief so it can grow into a new ‘mindset.’”

Harvey paused, looking down at the floor. Joan sat quietly listening.

“It’s almost embarrassing for me to say this. I guess, because I’ve had such a negative opinion of myself for so long.”

He hesitated again.

Harvey Looks At Himself

“I don’t think I’m such a bad person. After reading what my boss said about me, I am pretty smart. I am a caring person. I’m always helping others here at work and people I meet outside of work.”

He paused with a little laugh, “Once, this old lady on my block was standing at the foot of a big old tree calling her cat. Now, really, do cats actually come when they’re called? Anyway, I climbed up to get the cat. It was way up in the top of the tree. The branches began to bend under my weight. Everytime I got close, it would move up farther. And, I’m afraid of heights.”

He laughed as he thought about it.

“Did you get the cat?”

“I did and I got really scratched, also. That cat was not happy, but the little ol’ lady was. She took me into her apartment and bandaged up my wounds. We became really good friends.”

Balance Your Core Beliefs

“Those are all positive. We need balanced thoughts so give me something negative,” Joan said.

He smiled with a little sheepish grin, “Well, I’m not so good with the ladies. I really would like to be married, but I’ve never even had a real date. I’ve gone for coffee or dinner with co-workers when we’ve been working on an assignment, but never a real date. I’m also not good at relating to old men. I have problems with my boss. Because he appears so much like my da… Paul. I really need to work on that.”

“And we will. Let’s examine the evidence for and against this core belief, ‘good for nothing kid.’ What are your thoughts about it now? Is there another explanation other than he, Paul, was right? How can you interpret or make sense of the statement without condemning Paul?”

“Well, you were right. It wasn’t about me. It was about my parents, mainly my mom. I called her and talked to her about it. She explained that she did trick him into marriage by getting pregnant. She said that was the worst thing she could have done. He resented her and still does. She said a girlfriend of hers did the same thing, they had actually talked about it, and her marriage worked out just fine, but my mom’s didn’t. She said they fought continually. She was so glad she had me, but was so sorry she forced him into marriage. She also said, that if she hadn’t pushed him so hard, he might have actually wanted to be married or, at least, had a relationship with me. It was all their problem. Not mine.”

He paused and looked at the floor again before continuing, “She said he called a few months after the divorce was final and wanted to talk to me. He really wanted a relationship with me. She said she was so angry that she wouldn’t allow him to talk to me. She never said anything to me.”

“What about now? Does he still want a relationship with you?”

“She said he does. But, he has honored her wishes and not made any contact. She also said that he has followed my career and has watched me from a distance.”

“Physically watched?”

“She said he has. She said she saw him at my graduation with my Masters. I had no idea he was there.”

“So, what do you want? Do you want a relationship with him?”

Harvey sat for a long time in silence before answering, “Actually, I don’t know. This is such a switch from my normal thought process that I don’t know.”

“Okay, work on that question this week. Same time next week?”

“I’ll be here,” he said with a smile. “This isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it’s not bad at all.”

 

Conclusion

If you have gone through this process with Harvey, find evidence to support your new core belief. Like Harvey, after talking to his mom, he discovered that it really wasn’t about him. This was between his parents. 

Look at evidence from the past and in the present. How can you interpret the evidence differently so it will support your new core belief? Look at the future. Does the new evidence hold true for the future.

Test drive your new core belief. Harvey’s new belief said, “I am smart. I am a caring person.” What is your new core belief? Try it on for size? Intentionally act in ways that are consistent with your new core belief. Ask yourself, how would somebody with this kind of belief act? What would they do? What new experiences would they have? Write them down. Test drive them – behave in a manner consisten with your new belief. Now,how does it feel?

Reflect on the impact your new core belief has had on your life, as compared to your old core belief. Now, rate how much you believe your old negative core belief and compare it to your new positive core belief. Write it down. Write down your new positive thought so every time the old thought begins to creep back into your mind you have a defense – an opposite thought.

Are you ready to plant the new core belief as a “New Mindset?”

“No, I’m not thinking that, I am smart. I am a caring person. My boss likes me. I am worthy of that promotion.” (Harvey’s thoughts)

The old thought will try to sneak back into your mind. Don’t allow it.

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 “We are destroying speculations (worries, fears, Distorted Thoughts)… and we are taking every thought captive (Thought Restructuring)… and we are ready to punish all disobedience (old thoughts that try to sneak back into our mind)…”

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Growing Your Mindset

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Photo by Bruce Mars from Pexels

Growing your “mindset” is like growing a garden. The first thing you have to do is prepare the soil by ridding it of weeds. You also need to clear out any rocks and other garbage you might find in you garden plot, then enrich the soil for optimum seed growth. 

Introduction

“Mindset” is a term that is being tossed around today. 

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, states that “mindset” refers to the set of core beliefs we have about ourselves, our attitude, disposition, mood, intentions and inclinations. 

Dr. Dweck developed the premise that we either have a “fixed” or “growth” mindset. If we have a “fixed” mindset we believe our potential is limited or fixed. With a “growth” mindset, we don’t limit ourselves  we believe that our potential, skills, choices, and intelligence are dynamic, changeable, and can be cultivated.”

Dr. Dweck spent years studying children in schools. She would take children around the age of ten individually into a separate classroom and give them two puzzles to work. The first one was easy. The second very difficult. 

She watched their strategies and probed with questions about what they were thinking and feeling as they struggled with the second puzzle. She discovered something she didn’t expect.

“Confronted with the hard puzzles, one ten year old boy pulled up his chair, rubbed his hands together, smacked his lips, and cried out, “I love a challenge!” Another, sweating away on these puzzles, looked up with a pleased expression and said with authority, “You know, I was hoping this would be informative!”

The original study was to see how children dealt with failure. She was surprised to find that some children were motivated and charged by failure. She discovered that these children knew that “intellectual skills” could be cultivated. They could learn from the challenge.

Dr. Dweck had been under the assumption that people were either smart or they weren’t and if they failured it meant they weren’t. She assumed that struggles, mistakes, perserverance did not play a part. The old premise stated that human qualities, like intelligence, were carved in stone and could not be changed.

Her studies showed that intelligence, personality and core beliefs could be developed and changed, rather than being fixed. 

Core Beliefs vs. Mindset

According to the research performed by Hart Research for ZERO TO THREE , core beliefs begin a week after conception and develop over time.

We all operate, make choices, and behave according to our core beliefs, whatever they are.Your experiences create your core beliefs which create your automatic thoughts, which are continually playing in the background of your mind. They direct how you evaluate new events and situations, continuously shaping who you are and what you are capable of. They control how you feel, what you say to yourself and others, and dictate how you will behave. 

To many of us, we rarely think about our mindset because our core beliefs and automatic thoughts control the way we handle situations. We’ve lived with our core beliefs so long that they have become unconscious and automatic.

Dr. Dweck’s research has shown us that we don’t have to operate on our old core beliefs. We can intentionally change them and determine how we are going to belief and respond to different situations by intentionally setting our mindset, very much like setting our intentions.

Story Intro

Harvey, a man in his mid to late thirties, couldn’t seem to get ahead in his personal life or his professional life. He had a degree in environmental engineering and had worked at the same company for about 10 years, working with soil testing and waste disposal systems. Every time a promotion became available, he was passed over.

His work started slipping. He missed several days per month. He grew a beard and let his hair grow, which was strictly against company policy because of the contaminates they worked around in the waste disposal system.

During his annual review, Harvey was put on probation because of work performance. Mandatory counseling with their company counselor was included as part of his probation.

Preparing To Plant

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Photo by Bruce Mars from Pexels

Preparing your garden for change and success requires the same preparation whether it’s for business, personal or spiritual success. 

You have your garden plot which containes your perceived identity, perceived skill sets and talents, perceived limitations and perceived social rank which are filled with weeds, garbage, toxins, and some nutrients. The first thing you need to do is weed your garden. 

Weeding: 

The weeds are your core beliefs that no longer apply or serve you well. The first thing is to notice the weeds. You can’t pull them up if you don’t see them. 

To notice the weeds you have to pay attention to the words that come out of your mouth and the unspoken thoughts that go through your mind. Now, you are becoming aware of the weeds. 

Ask yourself these questions about what you say to yourself and others and the emotions that accompany the thoughts.

Start weeding your garden plot:

  • Are your thoughts negative or positive? 
  • Do they build you up or tear you down?
  • Are you complaining and finding fault or encouraging and finding solutions?

Identify the emotions and feelings behind these thoughts or statements?

Grab Your Phone

In an emotional moment, grab your phone, take a picture of your face. Allow yourself to feel the emotion. Write about it.

  • Describe the physical sensations you experienced (tense, knot in your stomach, rapid breathing, sweaty palms, etc). 
  • What were you thinking? 
  • What did you do, your behavior or what did you want to do? 
  • Are you surprised by what you saw when you looked at the picture of your face? 
  • Do your thoughts and feelings change when you see your face? 
  • Is this how you want others to see you? 

You’ve noticed the weeds. Now, it’s time to get rid of the weeds that you have become aware of by looking at your automatic thoughts and accompanying emotions. Automatic thoughts can bring up emotions and emotional responses can trigger automatic thoughts.  Some changes are easy to make just by changing your automatic thoughts. 

  • I’m going to be positive instead of negative. Be aware. Catch every negative statement.

Others are more difficult because the core beliefs are multifaceted and require more work. We will start by making the easier changes. 

Read these thoughts and identify any that you have thought. Add any different but similiar thoughts that have gone through your mind.

  • I can’t do this. I’ll never get it right. 
  • She’s really going to be upset with me (when there really isn’t a good reason). 
  • I know I shouldn’t eat that piece of cake, but I’m fat any way, what difference is it going to make? 
  • I can’t stop drinking. The last time I tried I got really sick. 
  • I know he’s having an affair. 
  • The boss said there was a possibility of a layoff. I know I’m going to get fired and I’ll never find another job. My family will leave me. I’ll end up living under a bridge, homeless. 
  • I’m not smart enough. I can’t do anything right. 
  • I’m too slow. I can’t keep up. I know I’m going to get fired. 
  • Things never work out for me. 
  • I’m not pretty enough. 
  • It’s his fault we’re in debt. Because of him we’re going to lose everything. 
  • It’s not fair. I sit at home alone just so he can go jam with his buddies. It’s just not fair. 
  • Why should I try? Life is hopeless. I couldn’t do it anyway. 
  • I’ll never find a good job. I’ll never be able to take care of my family. 
  • If I didn’t have to work so much, I’d be happier. 
  • If I got more sex I’d be more loving. It’s all her fault. 
  • We’ve always done it this way, so you should listen to me. 
  • If she’d just be nice to me I’d love her more. 
  • I’ve given up everything for my kids and now they never come to see me.  
  • If I don’t eat with the family, they’ll check to see if I’m okay. 
  • She will do this or else. 
  • I’ll never get that promotion. I see she’s sleeping her way to the top.
  • If he loved me he’d know what I needed. I shouldn’t have to say anything. 
  • They don’t treat me right. I’ll teach them, I’ll leave. 

If you have become aware of other thoughts, add them to the list. Create your own list of negative automatic thoughts. 

Add the emotion you feel to the thought. Don’t spend a lot of time identifying the emotion at this time. We’ll deal with emotions later.

Now, select the one automatic thought that causes you the most problems or comes up the most often. It may be from the list above or one of your own. Answer these questions for that thought. Write as many details as possible. 

  • Describe the event, situation, or memory. 
  • What goes through your mind when you read or think about it.? 
  • If you remember when it first started, write about it. 
  • Describe any feelings you get when you read the statement or recall the memory (now work more on your feelings)?
  • If you have an emotional responses, like sweaty palms, rapid heart rate, list them.
  • List any other thoughts or feelings that go through your mind when you recall the event. 

The questions above are just a place to start. Remember, you can’t change anything you are not aware of or acknowledge. There maybe other questions you need to ask and answer. Write as much about yourself and your automatic thoughts and feelings as possible.

Starting Point

Know where you are starting from. It doesn’t matter whether your want to change your core beliefs and set your mindset for personal happiness, business/career success or spiritual growth. You need an accurate assessment of where you are starting.

Identify your positive points and characteristics, also. Don’t just forcus on your negative core beliefs/feelings.

Make sure you ennumerate both your strengths and your weaknesses.

Write down where you see your relationship, your business/career, and youself spirituality in the future. This may include goals that you want to achieve. What changes you need to make to achieve those goals? Set realistic time frames. 

Remember, you have lived with these core beliefs and feelings since childhood. They are habits. It takes time to create new habits and dismantle old ones. Extend love and patience to yourself.

1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

It’s time to change your childish ways!

God is available to help with the necessary changes. Ask Him.

Psalms 138: 8 “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting;”

Harvey Goes To The Counselor

Harvey reluctantly went to his assigned appointment with the counselor.

“I don’t know what good this is going to do,” he muttered to himself as he walked through the counselor’s door.

Joan, the counselor, met him at the front counter as he walked in. He noticed the office was neat with several magazines to be perused if he had to wait. Harvey filled out the necessary paper work then followed Joan back to her office. He noticed a fish tank in the corner containing some very usual fish. He looked at the tank.

“You can go look at the fish, if you’d like, while I look over the information,” Joan said as she began paging through the papers she had been given.

When she looked up, Harvey had just taken a seat in front of her desk.

“Before we go any further I want to let you know that “what’s said between these walls, stays between these walls” except in four situations: children are being neglected or abused, a supoena, where I have to report to the court, if the client is leaving with the intent to commit violence against another person, or if the client is leaving with the intent to commit suicide.”

Joan looked at Harvey who nodded his head, “I understand.”

Joan continued, “If items #3 or #4 were a concern I would try to get you help before calling the authorities. Do you understand?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“So, I see that you have been ordered to see me as part of your work probation. You’ve been here for close to 10 years and always had exemplary reviews until now. Can you tell me what’s going on? Do you have home problems?

“No, ma’am. It’s just me,” he paused and twisted in his seat like he was very nervous. “I really don’t know where to start.”

“Start anywhere.”

“I have really liked my job and the company, but I’m always getting passed over for promotions. I just don’t understand. I’m to the place I don’t think I care any more. Some mornings I don’t want to get out of bed.”

Harvey paused looking at the floor.

“Okay, I’m going to give you a little exercise called 5 Things I Tell Myself.” 

Joan handed Harvey a handout for him to write on. It took only a few minutes for Him to finish and hand it back.

“That was easy,” he said.

  1. My boss doesn’t like me.
  2. My dad was right, I’ll never be good enough.
  3. I’ll never be able to support a family.
  4. I’m not smart enough.
  5. I’m not good at my job. I’ll never get it right.

Joan looks at the sheet, then riffles through the papers on her desk and pulls out a couple of pieces of paper.

“Okay, why do you say your boss doesn’t like you?” Joan asked.

“Well, every time I go to ask him a question he seems irritated with me, like I’m bothering him.”

“This is what you boss says about you. Harvey is one of the best employees I’ve ever had. He’s very knowledgable. He’s really my go to guy whenever I have a problem. He seems to be more than able to solve any problem. I wish I had more like Harvey.”

“Really, you’re kidding?” 

Joan handed him the paper so he could read it. He handed the paper back with a very confused look on his face.

“Why do you say you’ll never be able to support a family?”

“If I lose this job, I’ll never get another one. I can’t support a family on unemployment, if I even get that. I’ll end up working at a gas station or something.”

“The boss does not want to lose you,” she emphasized. “That’s why you’re here so we can figure this out. Okay?”

Harvey shook his head.

“Why do you say you aren’t smart enough?”

Joan noticed tears starting to form in Harvey’s eyes. She scooted a kleenex box to the edge of the desk and waited for a response. He started to speak a couple of times, but couldn’t find his voice. Joan continued to sit quietly looking at the front edge of her desk so he didn’t feel like she was staring at him. 

Finally, he said, “I was probably 9 or 10 when I overheard my parents fighting. My dad said, ‘You know I didn’t want him. I wanted you to get an abortion, but noooo you wouldn’t go for that. I had to marry you and make a ‘family.’ You know that was the last thing I wanted in life. I didn’t want to be stuck with a wife and a ‘good for nothing kid.’ Now, look where we are.”

“My mother told him to leave. He packed his bags right then and moved out. My mother was served divorce papers a couple weeks later. We haven’t heard from or seen him since. The words, ‘good for nothing kid’ sometimes echoes through my mind almost continuously.”

“Why? You finished engineering school. Look what you’ve accomplished,” she said with a wrinkled brow in disbelief.

“Yeah, I guess. I barely graduated. Towards the end of school his voice echoed over and over and over in my mind. I started having problems focusing on school. I guess, I felt sort of like I do now.”

“Like now?”

“Yeah. Every time I walk into the bosses office I see my dad. They’re about the same age and build and I hear his voice again.”

“Usually, these little things we tell ourselves aren’t true. They’re lies. They could have come from a parent, like your dad, a classmate, a sibling. It doesn’t matter where. But, before we know it, these little lies become self-fulfilling prophecies because we repeat them to ourselves.”

“You’ve been rehearsing this lie over and over and over. He was angry. We often say things we don’t mean when we’re angry”

“I know. But he never paid any attention to me. It was like he wasn’t there, but he was,” Harvey said.

“You do know that sometimes women trick guys into marriage by getting pregnant. They think the guy will change his mind once the baby comes and they settle down as a family.”

“My mother did say something like that one time.”

“The way it sounds, it’s not about you. This was between your parents. It has nothing to do with your abilities or your potential.”

The expression on Harvey’s face and his body language began to relax, “That’s crazy.”

“No, not crazy. Often, when we endure a hurt, like you did, and it’s never resolved, we rehearse those thoughts until they take on a life of their own. We blow them way out of proportion and accept them as reality. They then become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

“But what about the promotions? How does what I say to myself effect me getting a promotion?” he asked.

Joan was quiet for a few minutes looking at a paper on her desk. 

“I was going to tell you this later, but I think this is a good time,” she said, pausing again. “You boss gave me another report that states there is a really good promotion coming up in a few months. He really wants you to have it, but there’s one problem. He says when a promotions comes up you seems to shrink back into a shell instead of put yourself up front like you are interested. He wanted me to work with you to change that before the promotion officially comes up.” 

Harvey sat looking at her in almost disbelief, “You’re kidding, aren’t you?”

“No, Harvey. I’m assuming that when a promotion comes up you start hearing your dad’s voice even stronger. Is that right?”

He nodded.

“Then, let’s get rid of his voice in your head, okay?”

“Yes, how do we do that?” he said a little more excited.

“That’s what we’re going to do next. On this paper I want you to write the opposite for each statement, so every time the thought comes into your mind you say the opposite, like this: 

“No, I’m not thinking that, my boss really likes me and I’m going to do a great job for him.”

“Turn that negative thought into a positive thought. Repeat the positive thought until it begins to take over. Practice it over and over. Repeat the positive more times than you’ve repeated the negative.”

“I think I can do that,” he said.

“Good, I’ll see you the same time next week. We’ll get through this. Trust me,” Joan said.

Conclusions

Follow Harvey and take the necessary steps to dismantle your negative core beliefs and automatic thoughts (weeds) that you’ve had since childhood. You have now identified them. Identifying and becoming self-aware of them are the first steps to dismantling and changing them.

What we will be doing in the next few posts is learning to grow a new “mindset.” For example, if you were a complainer, your new “mindset” could be one that compliments others. If you are one who finds fault and argues, your new “mindset” could be finding the good in others and being encouraging.

First step to growing our “New Mindset,” do the opposite. Above in your core belief inventory, ADD THE OPPOSITE THOUGHT. So, when the old core belief’s and automatic thoughts pop into your mind, you change it to the opposite thought. For example:

“No, I am not thinking that, I am thinking about my spouse and how much I love them and about God’s grace to me.”

“No, I am not thinking that, I am thinking about how God is my supply. We have more than enough.

“No, I am not thinking that, I am so blessed to have this job.”

“No, I am not thinking that, I know, with God’s help, that I can make this business successful.”

“No, I am not thinking that, I am so blessed to have the family I have.”

Get the point!!!  You can do this.

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Give Up The Need To Be Right

Photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash
Photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash

Photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash

“Do you want to be right or happy?” – Dr. Phil

Introduction 

Some people seem to have the need to be right or at least convince others that their views are ‘right’ and the other person’s are wrong. If you enter into a discussion with them it quickly turns to a debate or an argument. If you do not agreed with them they will often spin the situation so it appears they are right.  If they are proven wrong they feel defeated, humiliated, and their ego take’s a hard hit.

In a conversation with a right-fighter it turns crazy real fast and you find yourself pulled into a competition where someone, usually you, are going to lose. For the right-fighter to be good with themself they must win and the other person must lose at any cost.

The right-fighter may actually use terms like, “In my humble opinion…” or “I may be wrong, but…”, yet if it appears like their position could actually be wrong the claws come out. It’s now a full on fight. They seem to relish the fight as much as being right. They actually believe they are right without any doubt. Pride seems to be the fuel they run on.

If they are proven wrong  embarrassment and inner frustration surface, then intense anger is triggered, which often leads to a full-blown explosion.

 

Mark Had All The Answers

Diane had gone home after the accident because of a very bad headache. The nurse at work advised her to rest with an ice pack on her head. She heard Mark come in the house yelling at her. She wanted to bury her head under the pillow and ignore his voice, but it got closer and closer as he walked toward the bedroom.

“There’s no way to avoid this,” she told herself as she slowly got up and walked toward the kitchen.

 

Differing Opinions

Eckhart Tolle, in The Power of Now, defines the need to be right as a form of violence. At its mildest, it’s inflexibility. At its height, it manifests as dominance.

The primary emotion that drives the need to be right is fear. The opposite primary emotion is confidence. Tolle states that when a person functions in the opposite of “right-fighting” they will display humility and compassion with confidence.

When they are in right-fighter mode they will deflect any and everything that does not agree with them. If something gets through their defenses it is then flipped and blamed on the other person.

The Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 states,  “…whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…”

People who have had to deal with “right-fighters” know it’s excruciating to be hammered until they give in and concide the right-fighter’s point of view, but we all know, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” 

They’re often blamed for causing an argument, for not agreeing when they must know the right-fighter is right, or any other number of accusations.

It seems like the “right-fighter” believes that accepting a differing view or even accepting that someone else has a different opinion is weakness. Instead, acknowledging differing views can be a powerful act of understanding,compassion, and self-confidence.

 

Right-Fighter Definition

A right-fighter is someone who struggles to win arguments, even if they doubt their own view. A right-fighter is someone who gets overly emotional or angry when people do not agree with them and their opinions or beliefs. A right-fighter is someone who insists on having the last word in an argument or refuses to back down no matter what.Dr. Shawn Byler, Ph.R.D. in Psychology*

Hopefully, most people will (1) use active listening to really understand what the other person is saying, (2) consider the facts that s/he are putting forth, and (3) acknowledge that the speaker may have a point. That’s not saying that they agree or disagree, but that the opposing argument has given value enough to be considered.

On the other hand, the right-fighter will challenge any argument or idea, because his or her personal value is tied to the outcome of being right. Often, the subject doesn’t really matter. For the right-fighter to feel lovable and worthy, s/he must be right. It all comes down to a matter of low self-worth or low self-esteem.

Since s/he must be right, the others around are alienated, creating in them the feelings of not being heard or valued or appreciated or even liked.

According to Dr. Shawn Byler, “right-fighting is an acceptable form of violence or aggression. Because the right-fighting pattern usually ends up one sided and includes a winner and a loser, the effects are similar to those of physical abuse.”

 

The Recipient

Valjean in Les Miserables found himself on the wrong side of the right-fighter Javert who said, You are wrong. And always have been wrong. I am just a man, no worse than any man.”

Many of us, like Valjean, suffer the weight of the right-fighter’s unfair and unjustified  inditment. 

Any of us, who find ourselves going head to head with a right-fighter, must own our responsibility, like Valijean did in the beginning of the story. Many of us learn to be submissive in order to keep the peace. Still others fight back, which intensifies the confrontation. But, like Valjean, we need to learn how to forgive and walk away.

Toward the end of the story, Valjean learns that challenging Javert was not the answer. He set Javert free by showing him mercy, “You are free. There are no conditions, no bargains or petitions. There is nothing that I blame you for. You’ve done your duty, nothing more.” He required nothing from Javert, no apology, no setting the record straight, no need to show other his wrongs. He just gives him freedom.

 

Right-Fighting In:

Marriage

Dr. Gray points out that “winning” at the other person’s expense is always a net loss for the relationship. Dr. Gray works with married couples, but this principle is true for any relationship. 

Business

I just listened to Dr. Joel Parker with Veterinary Practice Solutions on YouTube. He talks about new hires that are right-fighters. He listed two things to help get the person in line with company policy. He said to give them two weeks to see beyond their argument. If it doesn’t change, cut them loose.

Friends or Family

A friend and I talked on the phone on a weekly basis. We had been friends for years. Several times she launched into right-fighting. One time she asked me for some information, which I gave to her. She became indignant that I would give her information that didn’t agree with her view point. We still talk occasionally, but not as often. 

Parent

When the right-fighter is a parent, the child is the victim of emotional abuse. It can be particularly harmful to the child because s/he always feels like the “loser” and his or her opinions are never valid or important. Hence, they do not feel loved or accepted.

 

Don’t Get Sucked In

  • When the right-fighter attempts to suck you into the encounter. Stop. Excuse yourself and walk away. If you continue it will only become and argument or a fight.
  • Exercise active listen. Be aware of where the conversation is leading.
  • Stay neutral.
  • Everyone sees situations differently. There are no two people on this earth with exactly the same perspective. Respect it. 
  • Respect the person. That does not mean you have to agree or disagree.
  • Take a serious look at your own perspective.
  • Don’t give the right-fighter the right or opportunity to affect your identity or invalidate you as a person.
  • Don’t get suckered into trying to show them where they are right or wrong.
  • The most important factor is to follow Valjean’s example and forgive, admit when you are wrong, help to heal any and all wounds, give grace and mercy. 

 

Scripture encourages us to abandon the need to win or be right, and identifies the qualifity of confidence that is involved.

Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

 

How to Break The Habit

Acknowledgement

The first step to change is to become aware and acknowledge the tendency of being a right-fighter. You cannot change what you do not acknowledge. Does this sound like you?

If you learn to recognize the defensive feeling that starts to rise internally when you get into a discussion, you can exercise a new behavior and do the opposite. At this point it isn’t an argument to win, but you are beginning to feel challenged. Defensiveness is a habit that you can break. As with any other habit, whether overeating, drinking, drugs, etc, you need to recognize that first desire to defend.

Accept the fact that right-fighting is not a healthy way of relating to others. Right-fighters demonstrate their low self-esteem. In other words, they fear rejection. Yet, when they are in the throes of the argument, and their defensiveness is rising, they do not see that they are actually pushing the other person away which leads to rejection.

Like other habits, you are able to release it. Right-fighting does not need to define who you are. 

 

Hooked on Being Right

  • Acknowledge that right-fighting is a destructive habit. 
  • Don’t beat yourself up over it – eliminate the shame.
  • Accept that right-fighting doesn’t work – for you or the other person. It will never bring you the value, lovability and worth that you so earnestly desire.
  • Accept that, like any other habit, right-fighting does not have to define you.
  • Find safe people who sincerely love you that can help you separated being corrected from being wrong and help you see that you are valued and loved.
  • Build up your own self-esteem by talking to and encouraging yourself. When you feel worthless or devalued tell yourself the opposite.
  • When you feel the emotional charge of defensiveness starting to rise on the inside walk away. Don’t engage the other person.
  • Remind yourself and act like you believe you are valued and are worthy. Talk to yourself.
  • Allow others to hold a differing opinion than yours. Don’t allow yourself to get defensive over it. Talk to yourself. Tell yourself it’s okay. 

Psalm 34:14 “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

 

Mark Had To Be Right

After Diane’s car accident on Cumberland Blvd earlier that day, Mark, her husband, drove her car home from the office, where the Motor Pool had left it after repairs. Diane drove his car. From the time he walked in the door after getting her car, he did not stop talking.

“You know I don’t like the work they do at the Motor Pool. Why did you let them take it there?” Mark asked.

Before Diane could say a word he started in again.

“The guys that work in the Motor Pool are students. They don’t even know how to work on a car correctly. They’re just students. Now, we’re going to have problems with the car. I just know it. Why didn’t you call me?”

“I did call you, but you didn’t answer your phone, as usual.”

“No you didn’t,” Mark said as he pulled out his cell phone and started going through it, with a strange look on his face. “No, no calls.”

“I called your office phone. Remember, you said you never answer your cell phone at work,” Diane replied.

“That’s not true. I have never said that to you. You know I’m in and out and not always at my desk. You know that,” he said. “Plus, I didn’t get a message that you called from the operator either. You’re lying. You’re just trying not to take any responsibility for allowing our car, our personal car, to be taken to the Motor Pool. Maybe you have a thing for Ted who works over there. Is that it?”

Mark walked over to her and lifted her chin so he could look right into her eyes, with noses almost touching, “Is that it? You and Ted? I knew it. I’ve suspected it for a long time. You’re always talking about Ted. Now, our car is whacked and we can’t collect the insurance on it because you let TED fix the car. I can’t sue because you took it to TED. How dare you?”

“You are making all this up. You’re talking crazy,” Diane said with the pitch in her voice raised significantly. “I don’t have a thing going with Ted. I barely even know him and “no” I don’t talk about him. The car is fine. They fixed it.”

“No, it’s not. You didn’t drive it. Did the nurse send you home? Have you been laying in bed all day? I suppose you’ve used all your sick pay also, just laying in bed. I’m going to find a way to sue the city and the university.”

“You are talking crazy. I’m not talking to you any more. I’m learning to not get suckered into your right-fighting. Good night.”

“Where’s dinner? You didn’t fix anything for dinner. I’m starved,” he said.

“Fix it yourself. I’m going to bed.”

He followed her down the hallway to the door of the bedroom. She went in, shut and locked the door. He pounded on the door several times, yelling threats and profanities through the door. Diane went to bed and put the pillow over her head to muffle some of the noise. He finally left and she went to sleep. He had to leave earlier in the morning so she hoped to avoid him. His right-fighting seemed to be getting worse rather than better.

“I wish I could get him to go see a counselor, but I’d just get another argument.”

 

Conclusion

We often learn from childhood to “fight for our piece of the pie.” As we grow older we learn to defend ourselves and convince others that we are right. Unfortunately, we all come equiped to fall into the mindset that we are “always right.” We all possess the ability to breed disagreement, conflict, anger, and resentment. It is a choice we have to make.

At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, hopefully, we learn that right-fighting is not a healthy form of conflict resolution. In fact, it never resolves a situation. It only creates more hard feelings.

We can learn and practice active listening which tells the other person that we are interested and trying to understand what they are saying. Arguments often escalate because one or both parties refuse to look at the other person’s point of view or ideas. Listening is a good first step to resolving an issue and avoiding conflict.

Ask questions to understand. Many of us don’t know how to listen to understand. But, occasionally, even when we do ask questions, the discussion can still end in conflict and argument. 

If your conversation is heading in the direction of an argument pull out before it gets to that point. Ask for a time out. If you just walk away, it may cause more damage, so agree to continue at a different time.

I think we can all learn a lesson from Valjean in Les Miserables.  He required nothing from Javert, no apology, no setting the record straight, no need to show others his wrongs. Just give freedom with forgiveness.

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It’s Okay, Dad Always Picks Up The Tab

Photo by Luis Fernandes from Pexels
Photo by Luis Fernandes from Pexels

Photo by Luis Fernandes from Pexels

Robin hears a knock at the door.

Who’s knocking at the door. I’m not expecting anyone. I’m not ready for company. I’m not dressed. Look at my hair. Maybe, it’s just a salesman,” she said as she walked to the door trying to straighten her hair as she went.

“Just a minute,” she yells.

You remember Robin, right?

“Jerry, Hazel?” Robin said. “What…what can I help you with?”

“You gave us your card. We need your help so we thought we’d just come over,” Jerry said as they pushed past Robin to enter her house.

“Yes, I gave you my card. It has my contact info, but how did you get my address?”

“Oh, I cross referenced it online,” Jerry said.

“I wasn’t expecting you. Actually, I have to be in class in a little while and as you can see I’m not ready to go to class. Can we make this another time?” Robin said.

“This won’t take long, trust me,” Jerry said as he and Hazel found a seat on her couch after moving stuff to the floor.

Jerry started telling about how he got started gambling. On his 21st birthday his dad took him to a casino and taught him how to play poker with the “big boys.” Dad had taught him the game at home. They played all the time and Dad said he was ready.”

“That was the best birthday present ever. An expensive dinner out with just the two of us at the casino. We watch several of the games then dad said it was time to play. He got me setup with chips and picked the table for me and he went to a different table. I was on my own. I was so excited. My first big game. I did well for awhile then I started to lose. Dad had told me I was good so I just knew I could turn it around. I kept playing.”

“Why did they let you keep playing?” Robin asked. “I’m sure it was obvious you were ja beginner.”

“I didn’t even think about it. Later I discovered my Dad had set a $15,000 limit for each of us.”

“Wow. Is your Dad a millionaire or something?” Robin asked.

“No, but even when he loses, he wins enough to cover everything. He’s rarely in the hole.”

Jerry kept talking. Robin looked at her watch several times, but didn’t say anything. She told herself that Jerry and Hazel really needed her help. She hoped the professor would understand, even though, he had said the only reasons you could miss this class were if you were in the hospital or the morgue. She squirmed in her chair, but neither of them seemed to notice. I’ll tell him the circumstances, that I was helping someone. He’ll understand. Robin managed to focus on Jerry’s story, again.

“Jerry, let me interrupt for a moment. How many times has he bailed you out of gambling debts?” Robin asked.

“I don’t know. I’ve lost track at this point. But, it’s been several years.”

“And he’s still bailing you out?”

Hazel spoke up, “We’ve been married now for a little over a year and I know he’s bailed Jerry out probably 8 to 10 times. Dad said this was the last. If he cuts Jerry off and Jerry keeps gambling we’re up a creek without a paddle. We won’t make it.”

Robin studied Hazel’s body language for a few minutes. She had been wringing her hands all the time she was talking. Tears started rolling down her face. She brushed them away with the back of her hand.

Boundaries? Why Do They Matter?

Photo by Jacob Morch from Pexels

According to Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend in Boundaries, “boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for, gives me freedom.”

Prov 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

Having clear boundaries is essential for having a healthy, balanced life and relationships. But many people think that setting firm boundaries is being selfish and unloving.

When you know who you are, your values, needs and wants, you are protecting yourself both physically and mentally.

Boundaries also enables you to communicate with others about who you are, how you would and would not like to be treated. They also protect things that are valuable and important to you.

In essence, when you set your boundaries you are respecting yourself and believing that you are worth defending.

Boundary enforcement behaviors include, refusing to answer questions that make you feel uncomfortable, avoiding life threatening situations, moving away from sketchy situations, abiding by your personal values and beliefs, knowing that others don’t know what you want or need without you speaking up.

 

Setting Healthy Boundaries

  • Appropriate trust. Move step by step into intimacy – emotionally and physically. Make people earn your trust. Don’t give it away. Don’t try to purchase affection or trade intimacy for commitment.
  • Stay focused on your own personal growth.
  • Maintain personal values despite what others want, say, or do.
  • Notice and speak up when someone invades your boundaries.
  • Trust your own decisions and don’t allow yourself to be talked out of them.
  • Know who you are and what you want. Stick to it.
  • Respect yourself – Do not put too much hope in someone else to behave in your best interest.
  • Recognize that friends and family are not mindreaders. You have to speak up.
  • Do not allow someone to take advantage of you and your generosity.
  • Say “No” to food, gifts, touch, and sex that you do not want or are not in your best interest.

 The first step in setting good boundaries is to identify your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limitations in all work and personal relationships. Being self-aware identifies your limitations, what you are comfortable with and what you are not. Write them down. Make sure you limitations are firmly set in your mind before trying to relay your boundaries to someone else.

 

Speaking Up Assertively

Step two is assertively telling others about your boundaries. Assertiveness is not negative, as it is so often viewed. Assertive communication means you are expressing your message in a clear and direct manner, while still respecting yourself and others.

Assertive communication helps minimize conflicts, control anger, meet your needs in a healthier manner, and have more positive relationships.

People often confuse assertiveness with aggression, but they are different.

Aggressive_Assertive Chart

Tips for Speaking Up Assertively:

 

Jerry Learns About Boundaries

As Robin listened to both Jerry and Hazel she recognized one problem. A problem she too was having at that very moment – no boundaries. She looked at her watch again. She still had time to make class on time. Jerry kept talking as if these were just the most amazing stories, stories about how much he’d lost in gambling, how many times his Dad had bailed him out.

Jenny held up her hand for silence.

“Jerry, it sounds to me like we all have a particular problem here – boundaries. You come into my house without calling first or even asking if I have time to talk to you. If I allow this to continue I have a problem with setting boundaries.”

“Hazel, you said Jerry’s Dad said this was the last time. Is that correct?”

“Yes”

“But…” Jerry tried to interrupt.

Jenny held up her hand for silence. Jerry slumped back into his chair with a pout on his face as he pulled his jacket collar up around his face.

“Hazel, I want you to talk to his Dad and make sure he does what he says. The reason he’s out so much money is because he keeps relaxing the boundaries. Boundaries must be firm.”

“But…” Jerry tried again.

“No, Jerry,” Hazel said. “I like what I’m hearing. I’m so tired of the gambling and all the mess that goes with it.”

“Good,” Robin said. “Now, Hazel, what boundaries are you going to set?”

Everyone was quiet, so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

“Well, actually, I’ve been thinking about it. I want a family, but I don’t want to bring a baby into this mess. I don’t want to be in this mess either.”

She turned to Jerry, “I love you very much, but I, honestly, can’t take this any more. I’m glad we came to see Robin. I now know what I need to do. You must adhere to all of the requirements your Dad has set forth – Gambler’s Anonymous, Counseling, Pay your Dad back. If you don’t I’m going to go stay with my parents until you get your act together. I’m also going to talk to your Dad. He won’t back down this time. If he does back down and/or if you don’t follow through, I’m gone for good.”

“But…”

“No buts about it,” Hazel said. “One more thing…she paused…I’m pregnant and I’m not bringing a baby into this mess. Now, it’s time for us to get out of here so Robin can get to class.”

Hazel stood up and pulled Jerry up by his jacket collar.

“Thank you, Robin. I really needed the moral support. You really helped.”

“Thank you. You are welcome, Hazel and you have my card. Call me and leave a message if I’m not available to answer. And, Jerry, next time call first.”

Jerry didn’t respond. He walked out the door like a little kid who’d got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

 

Conclusion

Setting healthy boundaries and assertively communicating them to others shows respect for yourself. Not enforcing boundaries is like trying to protect and care for your yard when you don’t know where the property lines are.

When we bought our house seven years ago we were sure where the property line was. There were two sheds in the back yard, one was painted the same color as our deck, so we assumed it was our shed.

Within the last year we discovered that the shed belonged to the neighbor and 90% of the side yard also belonged to the neighbor. It’s very confusing. If we didn’t get along well with our neighbors it could be potentially dangerous.

It’s important to know where your boundaries are. It helps you develop more self-worth and be confident and secure.

God designed us to be responsible for everything that makes up “us.” God created us to be responsible for what is in our soul. Boundaries help us define what we are responsible for. Too many times, our family, life, or circumstances confuse us about where our boundaries, parameters, are. We don’t know where our property lines are. Therefore, don’t maintain our property.

Remember, boundaries also show us what is not ours, what we are not responsible for. We are not responsible for others. Everybody is responsible for their own property, their own soul.

Boundaries also protect you from being unfairly burdened with responsibilities that others should be handling for themselves.

When our life is over here on this earth, we will have to give an accounting for how we maintained our property – our soul and our life.

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