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Posts Tagged ‘self esteem’

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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Depression or feeling down and blue can often be countered with some everyday techniques that can lift the mood. The way we think about our lives and what we experience often has a tremendous impact on how we view the world around us. When this processing of information is put into a negative frame of mind then the world itself begins to look negative leading to negative emotions such as anxiety and depression.

So how does a person stop from being exposed to too much negativity? An effective was is to stop supplying the negative stimulus. When a person takes an active approach to stop negative input into the mind then the mind is no longer feeding itself with negativity. Sounds simple right? Here are some everyday changes that a person can do to reduce negative input leading to depressive symptoms.

1. Stop watching the news. Often nothing can be accomplished sitting in your living room listening to a clanging reporter dramatizing death, destruction and political discord. Much of our culture is based on news reporting and wanting the next fix on current events. Sometimes watching news can even turn into an addiction. Turn it off for a few days and stop feeding the mind with information that is rarely, if ever, good. Having trouble not watching the news? Next time you watch the news, sit down with pen and paper and make a list of the things that were reported. Look at the list and see what the topics were about. Chances are there are no shiny happy stories.

2. Stop worrying and take action. Sitting around and worrying about things beyond our control gets us nowhere. Worry is about trying to make something that is uncertain a certainty. This falls under the 90/10 rule where 90% of the things we worry about are beyond our control, therefore worry about the 10% that are within our control and do something about it. Practice self acceptance, if there is something that you want to change then change it.

3. Practice gratitude. Coming from a place of thanks instead of thinking about what you don’t have creates positive feelings. Take a look around and think of 3 things you have to be thankful for. Do this everyday picking 3 new things each day. Practice being thankful for doing your best instead of focusing on perfection or trying to achieve unrealistic goals. Sometimes practicing positive affirmations are difficult in the beginning when caught in a web of negative thinking, but with practice it gets better and easier with time.

 

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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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Hope“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison

Hope can be a powerful force. It drives the future with a sort of romanticized vision with excitement and enthusiasm. Whether it is with marriage, having children, an exciting career or a certain lifestyle, hope and dreams drive the motivation and inspiration to achieve that dream.

Sometimes, however, those dreams get crushed. Reality steps in and begins to paint a bleak picture of that future and over time the anticipation begins to fade. The vision gets lost, the hope disappears, motivation wanes and life can feel stuck. It’s almost as if the color gets washed out of the dream and it loses its luster appearance and develops that sense of hopelessness.

How does someone who is feeling in despair about their life bring hope back into the picture? Feeling like being in a hopeless situation does not necessarily mean they have to abandon hope itself. How a person chooses to view their situation can make a big difference. There is a quote from the Greek Philosopher Epictetus that says “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”  Pastor and author Max Lucado in one of his devotionals UpWords points out this example regarding someone who is optimistic in the midst of a hopeless situation…

On the wall of a concentration camp, are carved these words:

I believe in the sun, even though it doesn’t shine.

I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.

I believe in God, even when He doesn’t speak.

Whoever wrote these words may have been in a tough place, but they refused to surrender their heart. Viktor Frankl in his book “Mans Search for Meaning” talks about how after being held prisoner in a Jewish concentration camp during WWII he lost his wife, children and all his possessions. He explains how he developed the mindset that even though his captors have taken away everything from him they cannot take away “my ability to choose how I respond.”

So what is a person to do when they find themselves suffering, in despair and feeling hopeless? These are normal feelings, however uncomfortable as they may be there are some questions that a person can ask that may alleviate unnecessary suffering. Eric Thomas is a motivational speaker that often talks to college students who are failing or dropping out. He tells them to “get a reward for the pain they are enduring, to go through it, they are already in pain, get something for it.” Mr. Thomas was homeless and took 12 years to get a college degree. He suffered, he endured but when he decided to change his mind about his situation was when things began to change. He helps other students come to this reality.

The people and quotes mentioned have some things in common for not losing hope even though their situation seemed hopeless. They kept their dreams alive by changing the way they looked at their situation. Here are some of the common characteristics they share regarding resolve and keeping their hope.

  • They keep their vision alive by changing their tactics. They understand there are different paths to achieve goals.
  • They learn from life. The take what they learn and apply it to future situations. A setback is not defeat or failure, it’s a learning experience. They gain understanding from it and move on.
  • They keep negative self talk to a minimum. Negative self talk rarely helps achieve goals or inspires hope. Self talk is habit forming, monitor which language is being used.
  • They don’t worry about what others think. This is different than caring, worrying about what others are thinking requires time that could be put toward a goal or self improvement.
  • They understand that results may vary. Two people can do the same thing but they don’t let the results define or validate who they are.
  • They rarely let their emotions cloud up their reasoning. Emotions can tell a person a lot about what they are experiencing in life. Emotional reasoning is about “if it feels bad then it must be bad.” Staying objective and being reasonable is about taking another perspective, or to think of alternative viewpoints. What is another way of looking at the situation that contradicts the bad?

Life can be difficult and at times it can feel hopeless. Changing the view of a situation can go a long way in turning things around. Take some time to examine life, find the good, monitor the self talk, take a different path and look for renewed hope.

 

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C.S. Lewis

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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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