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Archive for the ‘Peace of Mind’ Category

We all need to be good at whatever it is that we are. Think with compassion. When people are trained from the formative years, to fear hell fire and all that would lead to the said fire, you just can’t expect them to let go of that so easily. And if anything at all, only compassion and love is going to set people free from that type of a fear. You can’t argue them out of it; you can only love them out of it. – C. Joybell C.

When you think of the word love, what comes to mind? What gives it meaning? In the mental health world I have noticed that this word does not come up very often and especially in the context of offering a healing intervention. I think the reason for this is people seem to experience love when they feel happy when their problem gets resolved. I have never read a treatment plan that involved “love thyself.”

I have discovered that there are two common roots to most people’s issues; fear and worry. This is a common thread especially for anxiety and is responsible for producing the feeling of fight or flight. If a bear chases us in the woods, this is appropriate. But when we fear the world and worry about situational outcomes it can become exhausting and manifest into long term stress. The body is not built for long term stress and anxiety. The fight or flight response is meant to be short term. It signals us to get out of our predicament and do it quickly by running and if we can’t run then we have to stand our ground.

So what does love have to do with fighting or fleeing imaginary bears? Well, for clarification, the imaginary bears are a metaphor for things in our lives that cause problems and discomfort. There are two ways to deal with this and it has to do with how love is observed, either as a noun or a verb. Love can be an object of desire and/or an action of desire. For example: I am in love with you…and/or… I love you.

If we practice self love then as a person I can say that I love myself. A word of caution: this form of love is very different from malignant narcissistic self love. Narcissists play a game of manipulation to turn attention to themselves, both positive and negative, and get very jealous when your attention is not on them. This is about self esteem. Narcissists can appear to have high self esteem but this often their grandiosity at work, “look at how wonderful I am.” Self esteem is a foreign concept to them and if you have a fair amount of it yourself the narc will often get jealous and try to manipulate your attention from yourself back to them.

This is about seeing yourself as someone of value, honor, dignity and respect. This is healthy self love, and because of this healthy self love your actions produce positive outcomes. It involves practicing self compassion and doing the things necessary that indicate recognition of the intrinsic value you hold of yourself. A narcissist does not understand this, rarely recognizes it in other people (lack of empathy is a symptom) and begins to scheme up another way to get the attention back on them (drama).

I was listening to a story once about a young man talking to a guru ( I think it was Stephen Covey but cannot confirm) who was struggling to make a decision to leave his wife. He was talking about how he did not understand how to tell his wife how much he truly loved her and no matter how hard he tried he felt that she was not reciprocating. He felt defeated and invalidated and so he tried more and more to express his love. As a result, he felt she was not part of the relationship and after a few years of heartbreak he was contemplating on getting out, he was feeling tired and defeated.

The man was asked by the guru to explain his love for her. He said he was in love with her. The guru responded “then LOVE her.” Huh? It’s an action, it’s a verb. We can say it all we want, but then what?

It’s like this, we cannot ask of love from others, it must be shown, thus reciprocated. It is an action. To love ourselves requires action and this is how we get out of our problems. We can’t sit and worry. To overcome our fears and worries is paramount to being our true selves and when we give ourselves permission to be that person it frees the heart of the burdens that keep it caged up. When we love life, it loves us back and our own personal light shines forth.

So how does a person overcome worry and fear? It requires us to have the courage and allow ourselves to be vulnerable to others and the world around us. Do not be afraid to go out and jump into life’s playground. With it comes a whole host of things that most people worry about. Suffering, pain, defeat, the what if’s, etc. and on it goes. But without entering life’s playground, we miss out on the good stuff too, the good stuff is found in the same places as the bad stuff. It basically depends on where the focus is, on the negative stuff or the positive stuff, or is there a healthy balance between the two? This is why love can be joyous and love can be difficult when we love enough to allow ourselves to just be ourselves.

A few quotes for the road:

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

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Work DisputeWatch out!

When a codependent has a break through and they find their voice and how to make a stand in their life things can get a little rough. It follows the old cliche that things might get worse before they get better.

Underneath all of the self sacrifice that has been stuffed down and stacked up inside resurfaces going in the opposite direction. Instead of self sacrifice in order to get love from another person, this new found sense of freedom and independence turns into tough love. The codependent understands that it is okay to express themselves, their opinions and not worry any longer about what others think about them. It’s not that they don’t care, they just no longer worry about it.

Now comes the good and the not so good.

The good is personal freedom is often being experience for the first time in a very long time and quite possibly for the first time in their lives. This is not a move toward self-centeredness but a move toward self care taking and exercising some personal independence. It’s moving the self out from the subjection of others and into being objective in relationships and the environment in which they work and live.

Being objective in any situation means that the opinions, thoughts and feelings formed are unique to the individual who is experiencing them. These thoughts, feelings and opinions are viewed by the person who is holding them as just as worthy as anyone else, so there is a bit of self esteem that comes with this new freedom. It goes like this “my thoughts, feelings and opinions are just as valid as anyone else.”

Now the not so good, but it often gets better. Just like any new skill learned it takes practice to get the hang of it. Here is another cliche; “it’s not what we say, it’s how we say it. ” Here comes the stuffing. Like an overstuffed pillow, when the zipper first gets cracked open all the stuffing comes flying out all over the place. The idea is to treat it like a balloon, let out more air than is coming in bit by bit.

Usually the first few attempt come across as angry and brash. By validating and accepting themselves they struggle with the concept that they are doing harm or wronging another person by not putting the other person’s needs first. The codependent is finding their voice often for the first time and is learning how to communicate it. This takes time and practice. In this phase, learning self forgiveness goes a long way. Arguments may erupt, especially with family members who may not understand and only see a shift in behavior. Family and loved ones, not fully understanding what is going on, have to make adjustments as well since the dynamics of the relationship have changed.

One of the most common reasons why codependency happens is that somewhere along the road of the life the codependent learned to allow others to validate them. When they feel this validation is when they feel accepted, loved and liked as a person. When they move into this new sense of freedom they have learned how to accept themselves and not seek this validation from others. This can be a difficult behavior and habit for the codependent to detach from and learn new ones.

Learning how to live up to other people’s expectations is a tall order to fill. The codependent struggles to fit in with changing scenarios and compromises their true self in order to feel accepted or loved by others. People in healthy relationships have a genuine respect for each others thoughts, feelings and opinions, not because they match theirs, but because they are comfortable in their own skin, and their own right. It kinda follows one last cliche, “We can agree to disagree and still be friends. ” How is this possible? Because dropping codependency is about someone who accepts themselves for who they are, not who they think they ought to be in the eyes of another.

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Earlier today I was confronted by a thought. What can be accomplished with pessimistic thinking? Hmm…the short answer is nothing. When a person changes their thinking they can change the outcome regardless of what it is. So I focused on worry. Like the Eagles song “Long Run” the lyrics say “I used to worry a lot, I used to hurry a lot, I used to stay up till the break of day.” Sounds like a very restless mind.

So what do you worry about? What keeps you awake at night? What thoughts are gripping you so tight that it is robbing precious energy? Worry is often rooted in fear, the unknown, and a future that can seem out of control. Jesus asked a very simple question regarding this very thing: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”(Mt.6:27). He was trying to point out that worrying was useless, and for good reason.

Worry causes a lot of problems such as anxiety and depression. It wears holes in stomachs, creates tension headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia and so on. I guess Sigmund Freud wasn’t too far off the mark when he said the body betrays the mind. I have heard the expression that worry and anxiety is fear of the loss of control over the future. Perhaps this was a message Jesus was trying to convey, “don’t worry, I got this.” Let it go.

Here is a final question if you find yourself struggling with worry, and it’s related to the pessimistic thinking. “What purpose does my worry serve?” Suggestion: journal out the answer, or journal about the cause of the worry. Sometimes journaling is all that is needed to relieve the mind of it’s burden.

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pararescue impFamous author and inspirational leader John Eldredge takes a minute to talk to the nature of a man’s heart. John often writes demonstrating the overlooked masculine side of Christ that men so fondly resonate with. While Eldredge is famous for his book Wild at Heart, this excerpt is taken from another one of his books “Waking the Dead.” John asks a very important question and the expectation of where someone might think of where they should be in life. Where is yours, do you quest to fulfill unmet expectations or are you sleepwalking through life?-BM

From Waking the Dead

John Spillane is a para-rescue jumper sent into the North Atlantic, into the worst storm of the twentieth century, the perfect storm, as the book and film called it, to rescue a fisherman lost at sea. When his helicopter goes down, he is forced to jump into pitch blackness from an unknown height, and when he hits the water, he’s going so fast it’s like hitting the pavement from eighty feet above. He is dazed and confused—just as we are when it comes to the story of our lives. It’s the perfect analogy. We have no idea who we really are, why we’re here, what’s happened to us, or why. Honestly, most days we are alert and oriented times zero. Dazed. Sleepwalking through life.

Has God abandoned us? Did we not pray enough? Is this just something we accept as “part of life,” suck it up, even though it breaks our hearts? After a while, the accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand and good, and reduces us to a survivalist mind-set. I know, I know—we’ve been told that we matter to God. And part of us partly believes it. But life has a way of chipping away at that conviction, undermining our settled belief that he means us well. I mean, if that’s true, then why didn’t he _______? Fill in the blank. Heal your mom. Save your marriage. Get you married. Help you out more.

Either (a) we’re blowing it, or (b) God is holding out on us. Or some combination of both, which is where most people land. Think about it. Isn’t this where you land, with all the things that haven’t gone the way you’d hoped and wanted?

An excerpt from

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decisional balance

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” ― Steve Maraboli

Deciding to take that first step to call a mental health professional to discuss personal problems can be an intimidating experience. It is normal to feel anxious or afraid when a person begins the process of opening up to discuss their issues especially if the pain has been stuffed or packed away for years. So, if going to therapy is about healing then what makes it so difficult? What causes people to avoid it? Why is it so hard to sort out problems and getting to the bottom of depression, relieving anxiety, or finally grieving the loss of something or someone held dearly? Or, perhaps what is going to take to finally kick that addiction habit that has become a routine part of life?

Often the answer to these questions are multifaceted for many reasons. A famous quote attributed to many famous people goes something like this, “people will only seek changing their situation in life when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than going through the pain of changing it.” Like this quote suggests, when does enough become enough? Emotions are strong and powerful motivators and often people seek counseling when they can no longer tolerate the pain. Emotions are there for a good reason, they say something about what a person is experiencing. Too often people become familiar with their pain, they don’t want to deal with it and results in a dysfunctional comfort zone or a type of distorted truth .

There is only so much emotional stuffing and distorting thinking the mind can hold. It has limitations. Like our dear old psychology friend Sigmund Freud once said “our bodies betray our minds.” In other words, the psychological suffering manifests itself somewhere else in the body. The worry wears holes in the stomach, leads to loss of sleep, stress creates body aches, anxiety can increase heart rate, blood pressure and sweating and in severe cases it can manifest into a panic attack.

A metaphoric way of looking at this is like that drawer at home that has been stuffed so full of junk it comes off the tracks because it won’t open. The drawer is opened and another miscellaneous object is tossed in there never to be seen or thought about again. Out of sight out of mind, right? But it is still there. Over time the junk drawer gets to be too much, it’s overwhelming, it needs to get cleaned out, organized and put back together. Following this is a sense of accomplishment , feeling better about the situation and it becomes more easily managed and maintained.

Where to Begin?

Recognizing that there is unwanted or unmerited pain in life is the first step. While this is good awareness, how does it lead to healing? Therapy now becomes a question of motivation and it might begin to get a little personal. A common reason for the uneasiness has to do with not wanting to roll out of the dysfunctional comfort zone and start breaking it all down. In assessing motivation this is referred to as being either ambivalent or contemplative. It is not action yet. The language of being ambivalent or contemplative says, “I don’t have/or want a problem, I’m okay right where I am” and all the while the person knows deep down inside the problem is there and unsure whether to take action.

A useful tool to help muster up the courage to go to counseling is something called a decisional balance. This process looks at, and weighs the balance of the benefits versus costs of counseling, and the benefits and costs of not going to counseling. For example:

Counseling Benefits:

  • Increased control over life
  • Better marriage/relationships
  • Better work performance
  • Improved health

Counseling Costs:

  • Experiencing emotional pain
  • Increased anxiety
  • Financial commitment

Not Counseling Benefits:

  • Don’t have to deal with problems
  • Easier to keep stuffing emotions
  • Don’t have to think about it

Not Counseling Costs:

  • Job loss
  • Relationship/Marriage loss
  • Increased health risk

These are only examples of how to measure and weight out the decision of whether or not counseling is needed. What side is the balance tipping toward, going or not going? In the long run, seeking out therapy is often a question of motivation. If still contemplating therapy ask and evaluate the answers to these very simple questions; what would be achieved as a result of going, what is the worst that could happen, what is the best that could happen?

Hebrews 12:11 New International Version (NIV) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

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To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity- Søren Kierkegaard

forgivenessForgiveness of past hurts, pains and the injustice of past events in our lives can be difficult to process through. This can be especially true if we are feeling guilty or perhaps shameful of something we did in our past where we recognize the pain and suffering we inflicted on others.

One of the most difficult parts of forgiveness is forgiving ourselves. It is typically much easier for people to forgive others for past offenses. They let it go and move on.  When it comes to self forgiveness it has to be approached from a different mindset. For comparison sake, when we forgive others we can let the problem remain with the other person. When it comes to ourselves we carry it with us everywhere we go, that is until we choose to let it go.

Letting go as a choice is easy in theory, actually doing it is another story. If the guilt of not letting go is carried long term it can manifest and turn into resentment, depression and anger. Finding the right tool to facilitate letting go is the key. Adopting a different mindset is a good technique. Adopting this technique is to challenge yourself by saying something such as “what am I benefiting from by hanging on to this?” Or, “What purpose does it serve to keep beating myself up with this guilt?”

The idea is to stop beating ourselves up. Give ourselves some slack and drop the resentment and guilt of past deeds. One last thing to try, if you were the one who was wronged by another person, what would you say to that person if they asked you for forgiveness? Would you grant it? If the answer is yes then ask yourself the same question of you. Grant yourself forgiveness, let it go, leave it in the past and move on. When we practice self forgiveness the end result is often peace, freedom and learning some self love and appreciation.

Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

More about Brian M. Murray

http://www.lifeworksgroup.org/Page.brian.html

 

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arguing coupleArguing, who likes it? Some people might say that they like to argue and will do so over some of the most trivial things. I suppose this could be a maturity issue if the topic of argumentation is somewhat meaningless. But that is all subjective and based on interpretation of the content being argued. At the beginning of an argument is can be difficult to stop for a second and weigh the purpose and possible outcome of entering an argument to begin with. Arguing with some people can be like trying to deal with a 3 year old who is whining and screaming to get their way. Other times the argument is valid and calls for us to do a little self examination before more damage occurs. Sometimes it is best to walk away and let them work it out on their own.

Being approached by argumentative others can elicit defensive emotions primarily anger. This can cause a person to want to say a few things back in defense, but hold on a minute. Before striking back there are a few things a person can do to self dialogue their way out of an argument. The idea is to respond to other person and not react.

This is about self control and anger management. Anger is often the culprit when two people are arguing and each person feels they have to defend themselves. It is like each person’s ego has entered into a wrestling match with the other. There is a way out and a way to defeat the other person’s attacks when their ego is attempting a hostile takeover of a conversation. Simply put it is about self management and here are 5 ways to do that.

  1. Stay Objective! This is the hard part by taking a step back and listening and not letting the emotions take charge. Emotions can be good counsel and provide information about what we are experiencing but they make poor leaders. Letting feelings take charge of us can lead to a highly volatile situation. Understanding this about others can go a long way toward de-escalating a situation by remaining calm.
  2. Take Ownership of Thyself! Often arguments are grounded in fear of something and so there is an element of control and power involved. The first person to get control of is thyself. This can be accomplished by knowing that the thoughts and feelings being experienced in the moment belong to the one who is experiencing them. Others are not responsible for how we feel any more than they are responsible for what we say. This is not an excuse to go around kicking others and then saying “it’s your pain, deal with it.” If you have made hurtful comments to others take appropriate ownership of them. Statements such as “you make me etc…” are projecting the displeasure being experienced onto others. Feelings and thoughts are property, manage them.
  3. Eliminate the use of “You”! The use of the word “you” in an argument creates a defensive posture in the other person. The underlying message insinuates that the other person is the cause or fault for what is happening. Self empowerment is through the use of “I” statements. Stating something un-pleasurable or an injustice from a personal position is about communication and not verbal assaults. A word of caution when learning how to use “I” statements, many people start by saying “I don’t like it when you…” and begin to use “you” again and enter right back into the power and control paradigm. Something more helpful might sound like “I don’t like it when I am criticized, belittled or yelled at.”
  4. Walk Away! Having a sound internal dialogue helps by drawing a boundary with someone who is angry or being argumentative over something trivial and has absolutely nothing to do with you. Whatever the other person is experiencing let them own it and simply walk on. Remember, it’s their property to manage. Helpful internal dialogue may sound something like “It’s their anger, it’s their stuff, and they own it.”
  5. The Kill Shot! The kill shot (not physically) is about not letting the argument go anywhere with you in the first place, period! It kills the argument. Let the other person say what they have to say and respond in an unemotional way by saying something along the lines of “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “wow, I had no idea you felt that way” and say nothing else. If the person persists then go back to item #4. Sometimes a person looking to argue or pick a fight tries to throw out, in a metaphorical sense, a baited hook. It draws another person into the argument and if the other person goes for it then they got hooked. In a sense it validates the angry person’s anger by giving it worth or value when it is responded to. Responding to the person’s comment, or baited hook, but not buying into it leaves it squarely with the other person. They own it, let them manage it.

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