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Keeping the Pieces Together

 

You are so busy. You struggle to keep all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of your life together- home, church, family, kids afterschool activities, work, and the list goes on.

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You must plan ahead and determine what pieces of the puzzle (a.k.a your life) will get a ‘yes’ response from you and which will get a ‘no’ response.

Before the holiday season becomes hectic for you, take a look at your situation. Where will you focus your energy? What will be your priorities? Plan now so you can enjoy the holidays instead of dreading them.

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Place your priorities in this puzzle and determine to keep yourself pieced together. Just like putting together a manufactured jigsaw puzzle, there are boundaries. Set your boundaries and build the beautiful picture that is you within them.

Living within Healthy Boundaries

I did it again.  She called with a last minute cancellation asking me to please take over the project. Through gritted teeth with a forced smile I said it would be no problem.

Afterward I slammed a few cabinet doors, spoke some words I wouldn’t want my daughter to hear, and then started to readjust my plans for the day to complete the project and submit it on time to our client.

Everyone has emergencies come up, I get it. But this person seemed to always have one excuse or another. Everything was an emergency. The stories are such that I don’t even listen to them any more. I simple say ‘sure, I will take care of it’. Then I lash out.

Why can’t I confront her? Why should my family take the brunt of this?

This is just one of many scenarios I live with. Can you relate? What would your story be?

Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend address this and similar issues in their book “Boundaries”.

I will be using this text and correlating video lessons in an 8 week online course.

Some of the questions to be addressed include:

How can I say no and not feel guilty?

Are boundaries biblical?

What if setting boundaries will upset or hurt someone?

For more information, go to the Boundaries page (CLICK HERE) and sign up to join us.  This online course is for women only and class size will be limited to allow everyone a chance to participate.

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My Checklist

‘Oh that my steps may be steady, keeping the course you have set’ – Psalm 119:5 msg

I have tossed my daily TO DO list and now work on an I WILL list.  Simply thinking about ‘what I should do’ verses ‘what I will do’ is a perspective shift that has helped me to move forward.

Alongside my I WILL list I now have checklists.  Many activities require a number of steps, as if putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  Once I determine what I will do, I look at what must be done to complete that task.

An example would be writing this post. I work it out like thischecklist_md_clr:

  • determine the topic
  • open the software so I may type as phrases or particular words come to mind
  • type, delete, type, repeat
  • proof read for spelling/grammar
  • set categories
  • set tags
  • schedule the post

To you, this may be excessive. Perhaps for you it all comes naturally and impulsively. I used to be able to do that as well. I don’t know if it is aging, time of life, or just a cluttered mind Smile 

By breaking it down, I stay on course, feel a sense of accomplishment and realize that I am closer to my goal with each step.

What works best for you? How do you stay on top of your TO DO lists and accomplishments?

Abstract Absolutes

 

A young man was called into the boss’s office. He working as an artist for a Missouri newspaper. He was informed that he was not creative enough and was no longer employed.

 

If you’ve ever lost a job you cherished you understand what this young man thought and felt.  

 

In our minds, each of us looks at the life around us, at the actions and words – real or perceived – and draw conclusions of our own self worth.

 

Those thoughts create our emotions and determine our actions. They help us to move forward, work around an obstacle, and accomplish our goals. It’s a wonderful system……..unless our thoughts are wrong.

 

In the book, ‘As a Man Thinketh,’ James Allen wrote:

“All that you accomplish or fail to accomplish with your life is the direct result of your thoughts. You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

 

As a child I learned “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.  Yet those words sometimes are more harmful than than the broken bone.

 

Or should I say ‘my thoughts about those words’ are more harmful.

 

Many of us, myself included, find the prevalent thoughts are self-defeating.  This young man, after studying art and working for several years was faced with self-defeating thoughts.

 

He didn’t allow those thoughts to take hold.

 

I call the self-defeating voices we play in our minds:  Abstract Absolutes. 

 

Abstract is defined as ‘existing in thoughts or as an idea, but not having a physical or concrete existence.’

 

Absolute refers to truth.

 

A general example would be this young man who could have said “I’ve lost my job, I am a failure, I have nothing, I am nothing”.

 

What abstract absolutes have you or a loved one created? How about ‘I just ruined dinner, I can’t cook, who am I fooling?’  or  ‘I would try that recreational sport with the guys, but I am just no good and we would lose if I were on the team.’

 

I bet you can think of someone in your life who thinks along these lines.

 

There are a number of negative effects to abstract absolute thinking, such as:

 

·      Anxiety

·      Nervousness

·      Worry

·      Sadness

·      Discouragement

·      Low self-esteem

·      Feeling inadequate or worthless

·      No pleasure in life

 

What we think leads to how we feel and how we act; or as an ancient Hebrew proverb states:    “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.”

 

It’s true. It’s not what we do, or who we are, it’s what we think that counts.

 

There is good news!!  Our self-defeating, abstract absolute thinking patterns can be changed.

 

So, where do we begin?



There are only 3 steps to begin changing your life today.

 

·      Recognize

·      Replace

·      Rehearse

 

This young man knew what to do.

 

Let’s briefly touch on each one.

 

First step:  Recognize

 

I think the hardest part of this process is to recognize the faulty thinking. How do you recognize, admit, and accept that your thoughts are not healthy, they are not accurate?

 

Sometimes we are challenged by others around us. Other times we may find dissatisfaction in our lives.

 

No matter what triggers the process, once recognized it is time to face it.

 

Consider this experiment:

 

On a sheet of paper draw a line down the middle.

 

Now on the left side, at the top write COST OF HOLDING ON TO THE FAULTY BELIEF.

 

Write out the faulty belief you have recognized.

 

 

Once you Recognize the negative thinking and faced it, step 2 is to Replace it.

 

On the right side of the same paper: COST OF REPLACING THE FAULTY BELIEF    


 

 

 

Cost of Holding On to the

Faulty Belief

______________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of Replacing the

Faulty Belief

_______________________

 

 

Honestly look at the situation. Write out your more truthful thoughts. Ask someone you trust to help you.

 

What could I say instead of “I lost my job, I am nothing”.  Perhaps

I could remind myself:

 

The company is downsizing, my work results were good.

I have lost jobs before and always found another.

 

 

Another replacement technique is “Treat Yourself as You Treat Others”.

I would not look you in the eye and say “you are worthless” so why would I talk to myself that way. 

 

It is time to replace my thoughts with words that are true, that are encouraging, that will help me.

 

Now that you have RECOGNIZED and REPLACED the Abstract Absolute Thinking in your life, the 3rd step of the recovery process is REHEARSE

 

 

Henry Ford once said,

“If you think you can, if you think you can’t – either way, you are right.”

 

It would be wonderful if once we recognized and replaced a thought process, everything was fine.  But life doesn’t work that way.

 

Rehearse regularly by doing these simple steps:

·      Repeat your new thoughts to yourself as often as possible

·      Hang up post it notes around to remind you of your new thoughts

·      Have a friend, coach, or partner hold you accountable

·      Feed your mind with success stories

·      Surround yourself with people who think positive thoughts

·      Teach others what you are learning

 

This young man didn’t take his ‘failure’ as an abstract absolute. He used it to start a creative company with a friend of his. After a few years that company went bankrupt.  He still would not allow the abstract absolute thinking to take hold of his life.

 

Did I mention this man went on to create Mickey Mouse? Yes, he was Walt Disney.

 

Are you willing to look at your abstract absolutes honestly and take control of your thoughts.

 


You can change your Abstract Absolutes into Honest Absolute Truths with 3 steps:

 

·      Recognize

·      Replace

·      Rehearse

 

 

It wont happen over night.

Changing the habits of a lifetime takes time.

Give yourself grace. 

 

The only thing you can really change is yourself.

 

And that is an honest absolute truth.

Committed to the Task

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters…Col 3:23

After doing a short bible study and focusing on this verse I went to make my bed and clean the bedroom.  Earlier in the week I had leaned down to pick up something and noticed the dust bunnies. My husband and I joke about them and the dust bunnies remained.

The dust bunnies crossed my mind and I tried to walk out of the room when this verse came back to me. I thought for a few moments then got out the vacuum and decided to evict the dust bunnies.

It is easy to ignore them as they are under the bed, I don’t store things under the bed, therefore I don’t make it a habit of looking under the bed. Out of sight, out of mind.

Then I started to think about the blessings God has given me. I have a lovely family. I have a beautiful home. In doing this small task of caring for the blessing given me, I am honoring God.

The job didn’t take long, I wondered why I put it off. I didn’t do it for my husband, he had already forgotten about them and didn’t plan to look under the bed anytime soon. I didn’t do it for me, I had ignored it this long. So I changed my focus. I did it as if I were working for the Lord. I thanked Him for the blessing of His love and provisions.

We all have choices to make. Ignoring dust bunnies was one of my mine. What choices are you making?

Even though no one notices a clean floor free of dust bunnies under the bed, I felt a sense of satisfaction when the job was finally done.

Whatever you do, do with all your heart as if you are working for the Lord.

Who are you working for? Who are you working to please?

Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser–Stuck in the Muck

Forgiveness.  The Bible tells me to forgive others. The Bible promises God has and will forgive me.  Psychologists and medical doctors say unforgiveness causes many physical and emotional problems. 

I understand all this. I can accept the premise of all these. Over time I have learned to forgive others for the wrongs done against me.

There is one I have the most trouble forgiving.  ME. This keeps me stuck and I am unable to move forward.  Everytime I try to step away it pulls me back in.

I have accepted the fact that harboring anger against another doesn’t hurt them one bit – it hurts me. I can be wary that I not allow you to hurt me again, but I forgive you.

What I have trouble forgiving is my part. Whether it is something I did that caused the other to hurt me OR my reaction to the hurt, I hold onto that pain I inflicted on myself. I feel such shame I cannot get past it. This guilt and shame keep me stuck and I am unable to move forward.  Every time I try to step away it pulls me back in.

Recent devotional and Scripture studies have led me to discovering the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is that feeling when I have done something wrong – shame focuses on who I am.  It has caused me to step back and look deeply at what I am holding on to.

I have had to look closely at what it is I am facing: guilt or shame.  I realize much of it is shame. Why? Because of the effect it has on me.  Shame tells me ‘I am not good enough”, that “no one could love me because of this” and “I am a failure”. 

These are LIES!!! I have to choose to ignore these lies. I must fight to remind myself of the truth. I am valued. My Savior died and defeated death for me. This would not be done for one who is ‘worthless’.

For what I am guilty of, I repent. Shame has no place in my life.  I CHOOSE to turn away from the negative thoughts and lies. I CHOOSE to focus on what is pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (see Philipians 4:8 )

I choose what I put into my physical body when I eat, I also choose what I allow in my mind.  I choose to take control of these thoughts and focus on truth.

What do you do to keep shame at bay in your life?

Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser–Making My Own Decision

You probably don’t have to think extra hard to think of someone in your life that always knows what you should do.  One person in particular has an overwhelming personality and insists you do what they say is right you. Because you don’t like conflict or perhaps the other’s fierce determination they know what is best, you question your own judgment and do as they advised.

Can you relate? Or is it just me?

Part of people pleasing is doing things to make other people happy. Some people (speaking of myself here) will set aside their own decision making abilities and do as others insist, hoping the other person will like or even love them.  But it doesn’t work. Three things I realize in giving up my best judgment and doing what someone else has suggested.

  • Using the ‘doing what so and so told me to do’ takes the blame off you and you can now be a victim.
  • If things go well, the other person often enjoys taking the credit, reminding you how they knew best and often causing you to go deeper into questioning your own self worth.
  • If things don’t go well, the other person usually doesn’t take any responsibility toward it, opting out by saying something like “I was just giving you a suggestion, you are the one who made the decision” now adding frustration, guilt, and discouragement to your continuing self doubt.

I must stand firm in my beliefs and in my self worth.  This does not mean I cannot or will not change my mind. But changing my mind should come from considering valid information received, not pressure.

In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve are in the garden. Satan speaks to Eve and asks her a question. Not sticking to full truth in her reply satan asked her more questions and she followed his persuasion towards a decision that changed everything.  How often do we (speaking of myself here) allow others to persuade us toward something we are not fully comfortable with yet feel – at the time – it is the right thing to do, because while I am unsure that other person appears to be quite sure.

I am making an effort to slow down all conversations leading me toward another’s decision. In order to do this I have to remain focused: on my beliefs, on my desires and goals, on the direction each conversation is going.  I have to commit to MYSELF first. This isn’t easy, but it is worth it.

This is my life.  God gave me a brain and the ability to think for myself. I have the strength and ability to do what is right for me, even if someone else doesn’t agree.  This also means I have the strength and ability to deal with whatever consequences that come from my decision. 

I run the risk of not being like by someone, or being shunned by them. This fear of rejection is strong. What if they don’t like me anymore?  What if they tell other people how stupid they think I am?  In my heart, it hurts, but I have to remind myself, this isn’t a real ‘friend’ if they have to control me like this.

It also means I have to be careful in how I speak with others so I don’t lead them down the same path.

Look out world! A stronger me is emerging. You may not always get your way, and you just might be surprised by the results of me following my own path instead of the ones created for you.

Confessions of a Former People Pleaser – Ridiculous

Changing the way I respond to others means changing my view of things. Sometimes I find the world around me is filled with negativity.  Some people seem to thrive on bringing everyone around them into their negative world.  Once I get into that frame of mind, it is hard to break out.

One thing I enjoy to bring back some light heartedness into my life is listening to humorists speak. There are several, and  one in particular I enjoy is Jeanne Robertson.  I listen via Pandora radio and watch on You Tube. I enjoy hearing her stories and about things that happen to us everyday and finding the humor in it. Sometimes I get so caught up in the mundane of life and get stuck in the mire.  I need the reassurance and reminder to ‘look for the humor’.  I need to put on my ‘new perspective glasses’ and see things differently.

I am currently listening to the Harry Potter books.  I have just started on book 3. One scene I enjoy is when Harry and the other students learn the Riddikulus spell. With this spell the person faces a strong fear and with the spell they imagine the fear as something amusing; like a feared teacher dressed in a ridiculous hat and dress. You can’t help but laugh, and it is hard to be filled with anxiousness and worry while laughing.

When I got to this part I wondered what if I used this imagery when I face anxiety and fears.  God tells us to trust in Him. We are not to worry or be fearful.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes the weight of the fear and anxiety is so heavy I lose sight of God.  So, how could I make an overwhelming fear into something RIDICULOUS. Just like a humorist will show an activity in a funny light, changing the perception of the event, I must get control of my mind and change the way I view what is overwhelming me.

Maybe that stack of bills could become the bill of large bird and it would fly away.  Perhaps the physical pain could become something sitting on a dunking machine that I throw God’s Word at and watch it fall – SPLASH – into the well. 

I don’t’ know. I am still working on it.  But I have to admit, thinking about that did make me smile. Smiling opens up the mind to possibilities.

During a discussion of what we are reading right now a friend asked me if, as a Christian, I had a problem reading Harry Potter.  My answer was ‘no’.  I went on to explain it along the lines of a movie trailer I saw when I went to see the new Star Wars movie. The movie trailer was for one with Batman and Superman in it.  One of the lines in there was about this being a battle of light versus dark.  I see the Harry Potter (and Star Wars, etc) as a battle of light versus dark.  We live in a world where this battle does exist.  No, I am not going to grab a wand and cry “Riddikulus” in a fearful situation.  But if I take my focus off that and do whatever it takes to remind myself God is in control, then I am letting the Light into my darkness. Light will overcome.

God has given His peace, and there nothing ridiculous about that.

What Riddikulus spell would you like to cast?

Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser–What If

I hate to admit it, but people pleasing is an addiction. The truth is, when people call me, depend on me, seek me out to do something my ego is fed and my image is enhanced.  It provides a temporary high. And just like the temporary high from a batch of brownies or a chemical enhancement, this temporary high ends with a crash leaving me craving even more.

For years I convinced myself it was an element of servanthood – I was putting others before myself. That’s what Scripture says so I had to say ‘yes’ to every call. Right?

As I committed to a closer relationship with Christ and dug deeper into His Word I found that was slightly out of context.

Jesus was always in demand, everyone wanted His attention. Jesus did not always say ‘yes’ to everyone. While there are many stories, let’s look at one in John 5, verses 1-9.  Many are waiting by the Pool of Bethesda to be healed. Jesus certainly could have healed every single person there with just a word. But, instead, he healed one.

Jesus also taught being busy was not more important than time with the Lord. Look at the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10. Martha busies herself with preparations while Mary sits at Jesus feet, listening to all he has to say. Martha asks Jesus to get on to Mary and tell her to get up and help. Jesus reminds her Mary is doing what is most important, that at that moment, all of Martha’s busy work is less important than the one thing Mary is doing. 

Ouch!  While there times I need to be busy, I must accept there are times I am slow down.  I can’t hear God’s still small voice if I am busy doing a dozen other things.

Scripture also tells a story of our own preparedness and that we each have responsibilities. Take a look at Matthew 25. There are 10 virgins, waiting for the bridgegroom to call. The time has come to go out to meet him. Five of the 10 are prepared with lamps full of oil, five did not fill their lamps and as they were walking needed them filled.  When the asked the 5 who were prepared to give them oil, these responded with ‘no, then I may not have enough for myself’.  The 5 unprepared had to seek their own oil and missed the banquet.  Yes, the 5 could have given up their oil, but why?  All had the same opportunity to prepare. Five chose not to make the meeting of the bridegroom a priority, and missed out. You could also look at this in another light: stewardship. Each was given the responsibility of their own lamp – five took care of the chore assigned them, five did not.

Setting priorities like stopping all the activity to sit at Jesus feet, or choosing to provide for my family by not sharing my oil is hard!!!  These are tough choices.  And many times we allow ‘circumstances’ to occur so we can declare “I had no choice”…and there may be times that is true.  But if you look seriously at you daily actions you will find many choices you made, even if unconsciously.

Setting priorities leads to a lot of “what if” questions. 

  • What if I turn down this big project at work? I will be spending more time at home but I may lose out on the next promotion.
  • What if I limit my children’s sports activities to a couple nights a week instead of 5? What if they are then not as good as the other kids on the team?
  • What if I don’t accept that committee appointment?
  • What if?

Life is filled with what ifs. We must each decide what is most important.  By saying YES to one thing, we are saying NO something else.  OR perhaps by saying NO to one thing, we are saying YES to something else.

No, I will not serve as head of the HOA this year – Yes, I will spend those evenings of heated discussed instead with my family

Yes, I will teach that Sunday School class – No, I cannot sit in the sanctuary with my husband at that time

Choices. We have to make them. Some are not life changers: chocolate or vanilla cupcake, coke or pepsi, hamburger or hot dog.  We make choices all day long. Do I open my eyes now? Do I get out of bed? Do I go to work? What do I wear?

What if

  • you chose not to go to work
  • you decided not to put gas in the car when it was so near empty
  • you didn’t pay the electric bill

And on and on it goes. I try not to answer right away when asked to do something, responding, “may I check my calendar and family, then get back with you”.   What if I miss out on that big event? What if I miss out on the little events God has provided for me? 

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser – The Voices In My Head

I hear voices. Sometimes my mind is like the hard drive on my computer. It is filled with lots of information, much of it obsolete, some of it inaccurate like many posts on facebook, a bit of it incomplete; some are lies, some the truth. 

There are days it seems like I put the lies on an audio loop and turn the volume up to a deafening level.  I cannot think beyond the sounds, I cannot see clearly, I cannot function. “I am a failure” and “you really screwed that up” and “who do you think you are that anyone would listen to you”. The loop runs continuously with no escape.  It’s like the instructions on the shampoo bottle: lather, rinse, repeat.  The last instruction is repeat. There is no exit from the loop.

LatherRinseRepeat

Eventually the shampoo bottle is empty. By the same token, listening to the wrong words empties me of strength: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Phillipians 4:8 tells us to “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.”  Dwell on these, not the negative, defeating voices.

I like that word “fix”. There is a lot in my life I cannot fix, but what I allow myself to think on is something I can fix. I know not to keep repeating the shampoo  loop until the bottle is empty so I stop the process.  I must do the same with the voices in my head. But how????

Maybe I need to do like the woman in the War Room movie did, go outside and yell ‘NO’ to the voices. Sometimes I put on encouraging music and turn its volume up to drown them out. Other times I find a quiet spot with God’s Word. That quiet can be very powerful against the loud attacks if I will allow it and ‘fix my thoughts on what is true and good and right’.  If I think of the many good things about the person I was hurt by, I will drown out the yelling sound resonating in my head of the one thing that hurt me.  ‘Dwell on the fine, good things in others” we are reminded.

I love 4 part harmony in a song. The 4 parts some together so smoothly.  I like to try to tune my ear to one part – usually the bass, I love the sound of the bass line in the harmony. As I struggle in the loud roar of my mind to hear God’s still, small voice I am reminded He is with me, He never leaves me.  I need to turn down the voices of the world and turn up His voice. I need to tune my ear to that one part and hear what He is saying.

(edited to add the following which I remembered after publishing)

Something else I am doing I learned from a lesson by Theresa Ingram (see my previous post about her series “Precious in His Sight“).
I have some 3×5 index cards.  On one side I write at the top LIE/MISBELIEF.  Below that I write an untruth that haunts me.  In big letters below that I have written STOP, That’s not true.
Then I turn the card over and at the top have the word TURTH. Below that I write God’s truth.
I keep these in front of me at my desk and add cards whenever another lie attacks me.

What do you do to ‘tune out’ the negative, defeating voices from your world? Comment below. I’d love to hear how you face this.