18/05/2018

To Heed or Ignore Advice

Posted in Self-Awareness, Encouragement, Musings, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , at 8:10 am by The Water Bearer

 

I can bet there’s not a day that goes by without someone giving you their input. Online, in person, strangers, family, teachers, neighbours, bloggers, Doctors and YouTubers. It seems almost everyone has ideas about how you should live your life.

Other people’s input can range from emotionally charged manipulation, to simply an opinion or perspective. It could even be prophetic insight, or plain profound guidance.

With so much rubbish chatter out there, we tend to ignore most stuff without much thought. But for those who value personal development and growth, how can you tell which advice needs to be ignored or what is wisdom that you don’t want to miss?

The other day I was driving home from school-pick-up with my daughter. We were discussing the feedback teenage girls tend to give each other. Now if you’ve ever been a teenage girl or spent any time with them, you will know that they are never shy about voicing their observations and issuing critical assessments of each other. My daughter was in the process of deciding how she felt about the most recent piece of feedback. She was just about ready to dismiss the comments as rubbish when I felt a wave of understanding come over me.

I asked her, are these comments only going to effect you temporarily, or could they have a long term impact?

She gave me a strange look, trying to figure out what I was getting at.

So, I reworded it.

#1. Will you care about this feedback in a year or five years time?

Then THAT look came over her face, you know the one, when a penny drops.

If someone says, “You’re too skinny, eat a cheeseburger”(teenage girl talk remember), Or even something nice such as “I like your hair like that” it’s a good chance that you are not going to care about this feedback in a years time. You definitely don’t want to wear your hair the same way everyday for the next year just because some girl at school likes it. You’re not going to start pigging out on cheeseburgers and be glad about it in a years time.

But if someone says, you haven’t practiced enough for our group assignment and we will fail, or you talk too much in class. Then in a years time when your grades are suffering and your teachers aren’t impressed, you may actually regret it. This is feedback that’s worthwhile considering and perhaps even doing something about.

I could give a thousand examples of how adults face similar feedback every day! You must breastfeed, but not in public. Take these supplements and that medication. Wear this, don’t wear that. Eat this, don’t eat that, and do these exercises but not those. Donate to this charity, join that group. Ask yourself, a year from now is there any chance I’m going to wish I considered this advice?

It’s actually a pretty easy question to ask and answer. Acting out how to apply the changes is the tough part, but the realisation that you actually care or don’t care is HUGELY significant to making positive changes.

Remember to give yourselves the freedom to change your mind even if you tried to apply some advice and found it wasn’t right for you. Just because you care about the result doesn’t mean the advice is exactly right for you. Consideration and self-awareness is vital, and a little confidence that you can make changes and steer your course in new ways.

And if that’s still not enough to help guide your decision, some other valid questions to ask yourself are…

#2. Is this going to benefit them at my expense or is this going to actually help me achieve my goals?

In other words, are they getting more out of this advice than me?

If you can assess that there is no hidden agenda and the advice is valid to you, you may have just earned a valuable piece of wisdom and understanding.

And how about this…..

#3. Are the risks worth the rewards?

Every new venture, and every decision leads to consequences, some choices are obviously riskier than others. Before making any drastic changes, weigh up the potential risks and the possible rewards clearly before you proceed. There is great value in simply pondering advice not just reacting to it (usually defensively). Get it straight in your mind before you decide if you should ignore it or if perhaps its right for you.

And finally…

#4. Does it allign with God’s will for me?

No-one else knows the secret conversations you have with God in the dead of a sleepless night. Nor do they know which scriptures God has brought into focus during your search for His will. Only you and God alone know these guideposts to your hearts purpose and path. So checking in with your position of faith is vital before swallowing any advice whole. Seek truth and it will set you FREE! 

So, as you go through life, wading through the deep waters of other peoples ideas and opinions, now you have a simple way to separate the rubbish from the gold.

These gems can reduce suffering, improve living conditions, encourage progress, increase inner peace, develop character, create a legacy and get you a little further along on your crusade towards Serenity!

We don’t want to go through life only ever valuing our own opinions. I’ve had so much terrific advice throughout my life that I’d hate to imagine how my life would be now without it. We always have more to learn and more to purge from the depths of our unconscious soul. To become complacent about needing sound advice could be the riskiest thing you ever do.

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.  The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:6-7 NIV

 

 

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15/04/2018

Are YOU Getting in the Way of Your Own Serenity?

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:44 am by The Water Bearer

Why is it that some people are able to take their suffering and turn it into something positive and amazing, while others go backwards towards a more negative and unhappy life?

I think it all has something to do with the level of respect each of us has for our thoughts.

Respecting your thoughts might be a strange concept, especially in our current ‘mindless’ culture, simply because many of us are still not aware of just how powerful the thought life is. Just ask Dr Leaf.

Yet if we fail to respect our thoughts, we fail to see how they can steer our lives towards more good and fulfilment, or towards more dysfunction and disappointment. Just as we understand that we must have a foundation of respect before we can negotiate with a hostile person, we must use this principle in order to negotiate our hostile thoughts.

RESPECTING YOUR THOUGHTS

In the last post we talked about renewing the mind, and how the first step is to dig deeply into understanding the fear and selfishness beneath our survival instincts, and beneath our unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviours. It really isn’t a one off practice, more like a life-long journey in search of truth.

This journey takes a certain type of awareness, an awareness that overrides our naïve thinking that our subtle negative self-talk is trivial, and has little to no effect on the course of our personal lives, let alone the world.

On the contrary, the power of one small thought can create a whole actual physical mechanism in your brain! Each mechanism dictates your goals and influences how you respond to various aspects of life. Every word, every decision has a significant ripple effect on your own happiness and peace. Which in turn effects those in your family, your workplace, and the world!

The awareness of this has to have enough seriousness to not be taken lightly, and enough humility to cut through the ‘good only’ persona we try to present to the world, but end up believing ourselves. Its time to take inventory of our thoughts, to assess them and recognise how much damage we are actually capable of. Then we must take responsibility for that!

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ― C.G. Jung

GETTING OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!

Perhaps its time to ask yourself, Am I unconsciously or subconsciously sabotaging my own serenity?

Because those who are willing to excavate their thoughts and alter them towards increased serenity, will have a far better outcome than those who choose ignorance, or stubborn naivety. 

Are you ready to choose determination instead of defeat, to choose betterment over bitterness, to choose self-worth over self-condemnation, to choose to be a victor rather than a victim? Are you ready to turn your struggles into the very platform from which to build your purpose? Because in order to find serenity you must discover your purpose, and all that fuel that once empowered your pain, can now become the passion to drive you in a completely opposite direction.

Only then can you get out of your own way and chose to aim for serenity with far more success!

DON’T BE FOOLED

As a final point, if you are one of those who is convinced that you have no evil motives within, or that they are all behind you, then think again. Even Christ spent time listening to the evil within. In the wilderness we hear of how He became aware of the evil thoughts that offered him satisfaction for a selfish hunger that fed only His own body. He struggled with His identity in submission to God the Father, had to fight against the desire to take his own life. And He had to hold fast to His purpose despite the urges within to gain an easier tyrannical position over the universe instead of a painfully humble one.

Christ knew that before He could fulfil His purpose He must first spend time with His Inner Enemies, and learn how to transform them into fuel to push forward with the most precious and most unbearable purpose. So that, even at the very end when He wanted desperately to give up, HE SUCCEEDED! YEEEEEW! And aren’t we extremely grateful He did!! AMEN!!! 

 

 

09/04/2018

Renewing the Mind

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:59 am by The Water Bearer

In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us to “Be not conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind.”

So what exactly is the pattern of this world that lures you into conformity?

You don’t have to look far to find a number of behavioural patterns to avoid. Things like violence, manipulation, bitterness, abuse, deception, control, addiction, greed, and unpleasant emotions like loneliness, nervousness, disappointment and depression.

Yet when we strip back all these superficial traits, get curious about their origins, and delve a little deeper into the caverns of the human heart, two very prominent patterns are revealed.

Fear & Selfishness

Foolishly we have convinced ourselves that if we were actually selfish and afraid, then we would be running around screaming in terror and telling people we don’t care what they think or what they want (probably with our hands on our hips!). But that’s merely evidence of fear and selfishness in it’s most immature state. All of us have seen children behave like this. Yet, despite our assumption, we don’t actually outgrow these traits as we age, we just learn to hide them better. We hide them beneath other “grown up” characteristics, like those mentioned above, and we convince ourselves that our ‘good deeds’ are proof that we aren’t selfish at heart.

Fear and selfishness in their most comprehensive form, are attributes of “SURVIVAL” – The instinct to protect ones self at all costs. This is the way the human brain was designed, to ensure the survival of our species. When we understand that the most prominent dangers of our current society are loneliness, criticism and rejection, it can be easy to see why we develop such drastic ways to control others, build and defend our reputation, and avoid scrutiny of any kind.

Here’s a little exercise to try for yourself. Think of a behavior that you would like to change within yourself. It could be anything. Name it. (e.g. Yelling)

Now ask yourself what situations tend to spark that trait in you. Get really specific. (e.g When blamed, misunderstood or ignored)

Then identify the most obvious emotion that those situations evoke within you and any physical sensations you may experience. (Anger and desperation/clenched jaw, flared nostrils and shallow breathing)

Once you spend a moment pondering the sensation and the emotion, lean into it rather than avoiding it. Now its time to ask the most important question. What am I afraid of here (worst case scenario) and is there a self orientated motive? (e.g Afraid of not being good enough, of being rejected and not being loved / demanding that I deserve to be loved!)

Sadly these patterns are all too common and can escalate to far more serious outcomes. Seeing as we have become a species that is comfort orientated, we avoid any discomfort like the plague. This includes emotional discomfort. When we experience the usual fight, flight or freeze response to normal unpleasant emotions we fail to learn what they are teaching us. So let’s not waste the opportunity to purge some of these unhealthy patterns.

Now that we have identified the patterns of this world, lets look at how to renew your mind.

Our brains may be designed with survival mode deeply ingrained, and neural patterns as the default for many of our behaviours, but thankfully they are also malleable, which means they can change!! YEEEEW!

Now I’m no neuroscientist, but even the most prominent in their field will agree that we know very little about how amazing our brains actually are. There are new discoveries all the time which drive this exciting conversation. That being said, there are some interesting breakthroughs within neuro-psychology that recognise mindfulness and meditation as accessing the brains malleability.

So this time, when doing the exercise above, try adding another element to it. Scripture Meditation.

Locate a suitable scripture or two, by either searching online or reading your Bible. Find one that re-frames the fear and survival urge and gives an alternate, Christ-like way of responding to the situation.

(E.g. Behold  what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1 & Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.)

Using usual relaxation techniques like slow breathing, being present in the moment and focusing the mind on simple stimulants such as noise, taste, smell, feel etc, allow your thoughts to settle and become quiet. Once you feel calmer, begin the exercise above again. Picture the usual situation that triggers the default pattern you wish to address and recognise the physical and emotional responses. Then ponder your scripture for a few moments, if your mind wanders just guide it gently back to the scripture, over time, the more you do this, the more chance that you will remember this scripture in those trigger situations.

The pattern has been slowed down and re-framed so that you have a moment to choose a new response.

Isn’t that amazing!

It doesn’t demand anything you can’t afford to give, it just takes the urge to be transformed, diligence, and conviction to trust the promises of God.

For those who have trouble settling their mind more than they like, adding the element of conscious slow movement helps override the wound up patterns, and increases the chance to develop self-awareness. This is why Sanctuary Stretch Classes are so multi-layered with benefits.

The trick is to understand that you can’t change anything in yourself without self-awareness. You can’t alter something you can’t admit. You can’t overcome something you can’t recognise and name.

So, what are you waiting for?

Your renewed mind is waiting for you to step up and claim it! Yeeeeew!

 

 

 

01/04/2018

Media Madness & Tips to protect your children from it

Posted in Family, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:18 pm by The Water Bearer

 

 

 

Warning: This post contains some explicit content.

I must admit straight out the gate that this is a topic I can get pretty passionate about. If you too find yourself throwing your hands in the air as a result of the current Media frenzy impacting our homes and our children, then this is the post for you!

CYBER-BULLYING, GET SERIOUS!

Today I saw yet another video of the horribly cruel things children have been exposed to over social media. Honestly, I say this with love and compassion that we know not what we do more than half the time. But some of the children bullied in this video were as young as 10 years old and all of them were under 16.

 

Please understand that I trust my teenage daughter as much as a trustworthy adolescent can be trusted, but I recognise she is not merely a small adult. She has not yet had chance to develop the maturity and sense of self-confidence required to withstand the impact such horrible comments can have on her mental health. She is still figuring out who she is and what place she holds in this world, and the negative effect of no privacy and constant peer pressure is not a risk I am willing to place on her shoulders.

 

For over 8 years I have held the stance that my children are not permitted on social media until they finish high school. Sure, I’ve heard the usual retorts that I’m too overprotective, that I don’t trust my child, that I’m preventing them learning life skills. These comments don’t sway me, because I’ve done the research. I’ve looked into the developing adolescent brain, and the stunted behavioural development that stems from online relationships replacing face-to-face ones. The reality is that I don’t usually go looking for trouble online either, but it sure as hell still finds me and impacts my soul. I’m very concerned about how many children need to suffer depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, self-mutilation, or become suicidal before we admit that Social Media is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18?

 

I’ve come to realise that the parents who get really opinionated with me, are usually the ones who have little to no control or knowledge of their child’s online life. It’s hard to keep on top of, especially if you work full time, it’s far easier to give in, and to justify it. Trust me I understand.

 

I agree, it would be nice to live in a utopian society where people don’t treat each other in these heinous ways, but the reality is that verbal abuse is all too common. And yet its not illegal.. Probably should be, but sadly that’s not the case. We must accept the true condition of our world as it is, and protect our children until this kind of behaviour is but a distant memory…

 

Thankfully I am now hearing parents changing their tune and wishing they could protect their children from it, and yet have no practical ways to combat the tidal wave of pressure to comply. Keep reading cause those practical tips are coming…

 

ADULTS GET CAUGHT AS WELL

Even adults struggle with the more serious impact of social media, let alone the less violent concerns like wasting their precious time, creating a temporary false sense of joy, and replacing personal interaction with impersonal clicks and comments. So why would we expect our children to know how to cope? Even the simple addictive nature of opening the app, click click, scroll scroll, is causing actual physical damage to our nervous system, our brains, and our bodies. It’s so mindless!

 

Another point to consider is all the photographs of children plastered all over their parents Facebook pages. Does anyone else feel this is seriously lacking in self-awareness and self-discipline? My sympathy if you fall into that category, which the numbers show you probably do. But ask yourself, were these children asked permission? Were they informed enough to understand that their entire lives would be on display for all to see and judge? That some of those in their parents “friends” list are people they don’t even know, yet they’re able to see images of their personal intimate moments? Could this be more detrimental than the paparazzi? Because at least the law forces them to stay outside our homes.

 

The line in the sand has blurred so much that children are now sending unsolicited images of themselves all over Snapchat without being aware of the consequences to their reputations, privacy and self-esteem.

 

Why am I the one left feeling awkward when I ask people to please take down photo’s of my kids, that have been put up without my permission or theirs? It is ridiculously hard to monitor! So why is this even legal?

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Neanderthal, I understand there are some precious memories that warrant photo evidence, and the cultural call to share triumphs, and world travel, weddings and so forth. Inspiring stuff right! An occasional pic (with permission) is not completely without merit. But WOW, it has gotten seriously out of hand. Can we stop it? Is it too late to hit the brakes? Rewind? Delete?

 

EYES ARE THE DOORWAYS TO THE SOUL

Its not just social media causing all the trouble either. Other forms of media have a lot to answer for!

Want a couple of mind-boggling examples?

 

During a NEWS program at dinner time, an advert for the trailer of the new 50 shades movie came on. I was sitting next to my young teenage daughter when all of a sudden, we are watching two people, mostly naked, in the throes of some pretty intense sexual activity. It’s honestly no wonder the line between consensual flirting and sexual harassment has become so hard to define.

 

I recognise that we have allowed the lines of morality to slur closer and closer to the abyss of ‘FREE EXPRESSION’, but when will we actually stop and look at ourselves and realise that we are watching people have SEX for our entertainment?! Not hidden behind closed doors, with the saddest, depraved, and sexually warped individuals, but out in the open! With our children!!

 

Many years ago, I used to watch the TV show Law & Order, I love the law and detective work, but then Special Victims Unit came along and all of a sudden we were watching children getting molested and calling it entertainment! Actual real life children are being given scripts to read, and roles to play where this is the story! Am I the only one who sees something very, very wrong with this? And don’t even get me started on some of the twisted content available on YouTube and similar formats.

 

Yeah, you say perhaps I’m just too sensitive. But I wonder if we know what exactly it was that our Saviour came to save us from? And do we even see the value of it?

 

My tears fall for all those who can’t see what’s going on! For the children exposed to images and abuse that corrupts their innocence and depletes their self-worth. I’m not sure how much longer we can sit by and watch this happen! So in the meantime, while we wait for the world to change, here are a few practical ways you can protect your family.

 

TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN FROM MEDIA

Tip 1:

Be their parent not their ‘easy going friend’. It is perfectly normal for them to get moody and upset with you, you may feel fear at losing your ‘friendliness’ with them. But their tears won’t hurt them as much as certain forms of media can. When done right, you’ll end up all the closer for it.

 

Tip 2:

Exception not the rule. Set clear boundaries that Social Media is a unique privilege only for special circumstances, such as an overseas trip with school or sporting team or church. Refuse it if you can until last few weeks of high school.

 

Tip 3:

Prevention is better than the cure. It may be hard to hold your stance and you may want to cave under the pressure, but remember they never miss what they never have. Taking it away could be a far more difficult task. It’s much easier to stand your ground beforehand.

 

Tip 4:

Communicate. Explain your reasons and show them evidence of its toxic nature (they will also see the unwanted drama their friends experience). Regular communication is vital, listen to their side, and try to be compassionate. Yet stay the course.

 

Tip 5:

Consequences. If they do have social media and you see their behaviour, grades, or communication with you begin to suffer, use an app blocker to block certain apps as a consequence. Or confiscate their device for periods of time.

 

Tip 6:

Respect their Privacy. Create a private album for your Facebook photos of your children and only allow people they know and trust to see them. Remove any photo’s of them that they may not appreciate once they grow up.

 

Tip 7:

Value & Permission. Respect your child’s image by asking permission before you share photos of them online. Empower them to value images of themselves and not spread them mindlessly.

 

Tip 8:

Monitor & Follow Up. Monitor and put up firm parameters around your child’s use of internet and YouTube (Check the history regularly).

 

Tip 9:

Get Informed & Guide them. Use sites like IMDB to view the parents guide of all TV shows and Movies BEFORE your child has permission to watch them, and when something is rate PG or higher, (Parental Guidance is Recommended) Which means Parents watch with their child and guide them on how to think faithfully and healthily about any parts that are of concern.

 

Tip 10:

Fill Their Time. Find lots of good media content to fill the spaces so they still have the chance to enjoy a good movie, and the benefit of knowledge and research online, don’t go into cult mode. Have lots of physical activities planned for their spare time. Team sports, extracurricular subjects, and youth groups etc.

 

Tip 11:

Assess Your Child’s Growth. Be willing and open to discuss exceptions and pray for guidance on when the child is mature enough for the next stage, not just because “everyone else is allowed”.

 

Tip 12:

Outside the Home. Ask other parents to restrict their child’s access to social media and internet when your child is under their care. Inform your child’s friends that they are not permitted to share photo’s or information about your child online. Back this up with those awkward conversations. “Please remove that post and please don’t do it again”.

 

Tip 13:

Develop Trust. Teach your child to be able to monitor media content themselves and check in with you about it, and teach them to have the courage to say “I’m not comfortable watching this” or “Could you not put that photo of me online?”.

 

Tip 14:

Pray! Pray for the strength to hold to your stance! In spite of the possible hostility from your child, in spite of the looks of condemnation from other parents, in spite of the awkward conversations. Stand Strong!

Your child may not completely understand or agree right now, but they will learn to trust you more and more the longer you stick to your convictions, and they will thank you for it one day. I promise!

 


12/03/2018

Identifying & Overcoming Emotional Abuse

Posted in Family, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:42 pm by The Water Bearer

Most of us can recall a time in our life when we felt scared, threatened, yelled at, picked on, blamed, criticised, belittled, controlled and so on. Whether it was a rare event, maybe from a school bully, a grumpy teacher, a boss, or a family member having a bad day, or perhaps an ongoing occurrence for many years, at some point it has happened to us all…. Throughout this article I’ll share some of my own personal experience on this topic (which I have never actually verbalised publicly). But for now it’s important to understand that the actions listed above are all classified as emotional or psychological abuse.

When we’re exposed to any form of abuse it can have severe long term effects on self-worth and mental stability. I can testify to this truth. The psychological abuse Ive experienced is still a contributing factor of the deep Inner Enemies I face on a regular basis. So when do the behaviours above transition from a normal part of life, into life altering abuse that needs to be identified and treated?

This article has some definitions of emotionally abusive behaviours, and states…

“Beverly Engels defines emotional abuse “as any nonphysical behavior that is designed to control, intimidate, subjugate, demean, punish, or isolate another person through the use of degradation, humiliation, or fear.” The purpose or attitude behind emotional abuse can be conscious, subconscious or unconscious.”

It is important to recognise your own feelings when determining if someone is possibly abusive toward you. If, while in their company, you commonly feel unsure, afraid, stressed, like walking on eggshells, or an unhealthy need to prove yourself, it may be due to some form of abuse. The tricky thing about being abused by someone you love or look up to, is that you constantly look to them for approval. You may get momentary praise, attention, and even affection, but it is never stable enough to stand on, because before long they are blowing up, yelling, name calling, or criticising once again. You begin to believe that if you could only be ‘good enough’ they would have no reason to be angry at you, no reason to yell, no reason to find fault in you. Apologies may or may not come after the abuse, however if the behaviour doesn’t change, and you feel unable to sever contact, you may be stuck in a cycle of abuse.

Cycle_of_Abuse

 

 

In order to break the cycle of abuse, it is vital to realise that their abusive conduct has absolutely nothing to do with our ‘bad’ behaviour. No matter how ‘well-behaved’ we are, they will always find a ‘reason’ to become critical and abusive. If you notice closely, often when you do really well and succeed in anything, they actually pull you back down, saying things like “You think you’re so much better than the rest of us don’t you” Its a toxic cycle. Make a mistake and you feel you are worth less than dirt, do well and succeed and you are labelled self-righteous and arrogant. It’s an vicious unhealthy mindset to try to function in, trust me! But you CAN BREAK FREE FROM IT!

The difficult part is, that even once you have come to this understanding, old patterns are hard to break, especially in a relationship with a spouse, a family member, parent or sibling etc. It’s almost impossible to relax around someone who is abusive, you can learn to control your reactions, set good boundaries, and keep your distance, but sure enough when the time comes to interact with them once again, the subconscious nervous system goes haywire, you watch what you say, hold your breath, waiting for it….

As mentioned above, sometimes the abuser is completely unaware that their behaviour is actually abuse, especially in the case of psychological abuse as there are no bruises or external scars to prove it. Often without proper therapy, someone who has been emotionally abused themselves isn’t able to identify it as abuse, and therefore can’t recognise when their own behaviour becomes abusive. Developing self-awareness and recognising if our emotions are uncontrollable, manipulative or used as excuses for any of the behaviours mentioned early, is vital if we are to identify our own possibly abusive behaviour.

I recently read this excellent post just to gain more understanding of abuse, and abusers who are unaware of their abusive behaviour. I just had to share a portion of this article with you….

When coming to the understanding of where the roots of her abuse began the blogger writes…

“It isn’t so much about blame as it is about the truth. Blame was like a stepping stone on the journey; it was necessary for me to go there. There was blame that had been misapplied to me and I had to put it back where it belonged. Once I saw the truth I was able to heal. I no longer have the anger and resentments that I had for most of my life. I also no longer have the pain of living with such broken self esteem and low self worth that I mistakenly believed was there because there was something “wrong” with me”.

I’ve been researching this subject for many years, fascinated by the power emotions can have over us. Determined to put a stop to my own manipulative emotions and ensure the legacy of emotional anarchy was not passed onto my children. It was the main reason for beginning my journey of faith and self-awareness.

It took a long time to understand the powerful effect this abuse had on my insecurities. Many years of therapy unraveled how each painful memory had affected me, and uncovered some memories I hadn’t realised were damaging my mental health long term. At some point I had an epiphany, I identified the abuse for what it was and realised that there was no way I could stop it, but knew I had to choose to defy it. I had to stop validating the compliments, I had to stop seeking approval, I had to dismiss my urge for affection. I had to allow abusive people to have as many issues with me as they liked and learn to ignore it. I had to stop trying to adapt to others expectations and adapt to my own instead. I had to trust God to defend me and hand it all over to Him. All these strategies are easier said than done, but they are possible. With a healthy dose of self-awareness, development of good boundaries, and trust in the promises of God to love you, heal you and deal with those who do you wrong.  The Psalms are filled with prayers, hymns and praise about God’s deliverance from thine enemies.

Yep, I’ve been working hard for decades and now I am at a new challenging stage…. Forgiveness  (OUCH)

Funnily enough I always thought I was forgiving, because I put myself back in that firing line over and over again. Plus I tried so hard not to use the abuse as a reason to in turn become abusive. I kept civil and polite as much as possible. I took the hit (so to speak), recoiled in pain, put some distance between us and then once the dust had settled and I believed I had moved into forgiveness, off I went back in. I realise now that forgiveness isn’t about staying in contact with my abuser. I can keep my distance and still forgive. They may not feel forgiven, or accept my choice, and I guess that was always my problem, I wanted them to understand my reasons for distancing myself. I wanted desperately to explain how much it hurt. I wanted them to admit it and stop it. But that never came.

It was freeing to accept that forgiving them is not about them, its about me. Its about giving myself permission to step out of the firing line, while forgiving the misunderstanding, and the false-accusations. However, the voices in my head need forgiveness too, and all the strangers whom I now fear abuse from even before they have inflicted it. I need to forgive myself for allowing it to go on SO LONG!

I’m actually really excited by this new level of understanding. I’m eager to practice forgiveness, even if it hurts, because at least now I know I’m almost at the end of a very long journey towards healing! And then only God knows what I’ll be capable of when the fear of abuse, and the fear of criticism is no longer a constant voice in my head that needs silencing, but has become a long and distant memory.

Psalm 138:7  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.

 

 

 

 

 

21/01/2018

Therapy & An Unexpected Result

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:22 am by The Water Bearer

One of my clients asked me the other day, “What was the most valuable thing you gained from going to therapy?”

For those of you who don’t know my story, let me just say that I never thought I needed therapy. I thought I could trust my instinctive reactions and emotions, I valued my knowledge and principles. It was only when I had the car accident that my lawyers suggested I go to therapy, to help me regain my confidence on the road as panic attacks had begun to consume my time in the car.

That initial, seemingly isolated prompt, unearthed a deep curiosity, which led to over a decade of therapy. I found so many different perspectives to myself that I had never considered previously, and gained something new from each of a few different therapists.

So when my client asked me this question, in an attempt to better understand her own journey of self-discovery, I didn’t want to be rash, taking a moment to ponder. I have gained so many valuable things from therapy, if you break it all down into each break-through and each level of growth. But the stand out for me personally was so surprising!

Over time, therapy gave me the ability to value my own truth, regardless of how others see it. It gave me sense of belonging to myself that I never expected.. Something Dr Brene Brown talks about often in her research.

Before therapy I had very little tolerance for my own flaws, or the flaws in others. I had developed a system of manipulating myself and my surroundings, to protect myself from a world I had deemed unsafe since childhood. This meant, I not only manipulated others, but I had also managed to deceived myself in the process. The dangers of the world that I wrestled to avoid, were grounded in criticisms and rejections of people who I thought loved each other. I somehow managed to become a chameleon, adapting myself to whoever I was hoping to impress, as a way to protect myself from all possible and painful rejection.

Fear, hidden fear, can pollute our behaviour in so many ways that we are often, completely unaware of. It can cause us to not even know ourselves at all. We’ve all heard that we ‘can not truly love others until we love ourselves’, but how can we love ourselves if we don’t even know ourselves?

I was completely unaware that all these toxic fears and behaviours were hiding inside myself.

Therapy helped me ask myself some tough but honest questions. I began to build a relationship with my true self.

Therapy helped me figure out what was most important to me, which turned out to be, the ability to depend upon the unpolluted Love of my Saviour.  Also, to give more value to how God sees me, than how the world sees me. If it wasn’t for this epiphany, I would not be able to handle the constant stream of misunderstanding and rejection that goes hand in hand with creating anything, presenting it to the world, and realising how little some people actually care about the things that matter most to me.

Sadly attending therapy still carries a stigma, perhaps in my former uneducated days I too thought only “crazy” people needed therapy. But thankfully my understanding has grown, actually so much to the point that I believe therapy should be mandatory for everyone. At least once or twice per year to check-in with yourself. It is far too easy to convince ourselves that we must remain where we are, that needing help of any kind is weakness. My friend, be assured there was nothing weak about my therapy sessions. They were ballsy, vulnerable, courageous, honest, challenging and above all healing! Doing nothing to change an unhealthy or unfulfilled life, looks far more like weakness to me. 

The painful criticisms and disappointments, that come from all human relationships, never lost their sting, but they certainly lost their ability to steer my life towards more dysfunction and self-condemnation. Best of all , when we understand our fears we can overcome them, so that they no longer hold us back from fulfilling our dreams!

 

30/11/2017

Teary Confessions – The Wilderness

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:51 am by The Water Bearer

Do you ever feel as if you just can’t be yourself? Investigating your truth, may threaten to segregate you from society. It can feel like entering the wilderness. And yet sometimes God challenges us to that very place. A place where we must stand in discomfort, with no foreseeable support from the world. Being misunderstood and persecuted, though awfully painful, can have a hugely beneficial result if you learn to trust God completely during these wilderness experiences. Let’s talk about this more in the vid linked below.

 

Please Enjoy!!! … xx

 

 

19/11/2017

But Did You Become Bitter or Better?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:13 pm by The Water Bearer


“Sometimes your best motivation comes wrapped in sandpaper” – Lisa Nichols

This amazing quote beautifully captures the possibility of turning adversity into the fuel that drives us to become new creations.

When you suffer any form of physical or emotional tribulation it can be far too easy to become bitter and self-destructive, and fall into the trap of a victim mindset.

We can get stuck in a cycle of blaming others for our bitterness, rather than taking accountability for our own choices, and behaviour. This leads to a rut where relationships and lives remain unfulfilled.

Taking accountability means having the guts to look in the mirror and say “I am Bitter, I Am bitter, I AM BITTER and it is toxic, and its no one else’s fault! The actions of others are not excuses for me to continue in my bitterness, for then I am spreading poison to everyone I encounter! I have become part of the problem!”

See by owning up to your bitterness, you earn your license to drive it. Rather than saying “Someone else put me in this car of bitterness and I’ve had no other choice but to crash my bitterness into everyone I meet” which causes you to stay trapped on the road to more unhappiness.

When you gain your license, you can change the course of your destiny, by taking ownership of the direction of your life. You can’t avoid or escape all embittering situations, but you can learn and grow from every trial. Rather than sitting around praying that your life will change and hoping for joy and successful relationships, take Christ at His promise to resurrect and restore you!

Begin to stand and walk in that promise! Because no matter how bad things get here on earth it is only temporary, and no matter what the physical evidence appears to be right now, trust that God has a wonderful plan for your life, if you step into it.

Recognise the way your own bitterness has steered your life towards that pit, and use the promises of God to earn your license to avoid the pitfalls which Inner Enemies set before you. You can use whatever destruction you find yourself in to be the canvas you intend to wipe clean, using self-awareness you can begin to reconstruct the best, happiest version of you!

So how do you wipe your canvas clean through self-awareness?

Firstly stop holding up your ‘innocence’ against the faults you find in others, or comparing your life to the lives of those you assume have had it easier or who you think are ‘luckier’ than you.

Instead at every opportunity ask yourself “what is in my control?” Discovering that only your own actions, your words, your reactions, your choices are in your control. You wipe a section of your canvas clean every time you come face-to-face with your own toxic emotions and excuses, and refuse to let them control you any longer.

When you have the courage and the character to raise your hand and say “That was me, I did that, my bad. I own that poor choice or that bitter reaction.” When we do this without excuses, God can fill our hearts and our lives with His mercy and grace, and set us free from the unhealthy patterns those reactions have trapped us in. It then transforms our reality that being in any relationship is no longer about ‘getting incompetent love’ from others, but in giving love to others. And nothing creates fulfilment like it!

Then we can stop spreading our bitter poison and begin instead to spread Hope, Love, Faith, Truth and Joy!

 

05/11/2017

Defaults & Detours from our Best Self

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 10:21 am by The Water Bearer

You know when you have those days where the idea of your best-self feels like an impossible dream?

So many ideals about success, happiness and having things “all together” drive the force of our lives,  but there are often so many frustrating obstacles and unexpected detours along that journey.

Let’s dig a little into two desired defaults, wired into us, that, unless we recognise their influence, we may never reach our potential!

The first is Control, defined as “The power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events.”

Hmmm, how good does that sound? Honestly? It is the setting for every great hero/villain action movie going, the highest demonstration of power and might. A brief scan of how many of our actions are “control based” reveals how prolific this default is. Even hidden beneath the simple action of watching the news or getting insurance. Those of us with faith understand Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Yet it doesn’t prevent us from making plans and having an emotional response when they go awry.

No matter how often we surrender control over to God, this beastly default is our constant Inner Enemy. I’ve written before here about our culture of excess control, so check that post out for more factors to consider, but this is where I believe the most violent war is taking place. Inside our own minds!

The second default setting is Indulgence, defined as “To give into a desire.”

I can see us all drooling as the desires of our hearts spring to mind. It’s too easy to be feeling good and ready to celebrate, or bored and lacking motivation, or feeling lousy and need cheering up, when indulgence becomes our default.

We naturally resist and avoid suffering, despite knowing how many profound lessons we learn from discomfort. We crave enlightenment, but do everything in our power to build stability and risk free surroundings. When we break under the reality that we have very little actual control, once our angry reactions pass, indulgence is often our companion of choice. Retail therapy, binge drinking, eating junk, Netflix marathons, gadgets and gatherings, and unrestrained scrolling through social media. Or whatever your particular compulsion dictates.

So many of our frustrations and unhealthy reactions are triggered when our sense of control is threatened, yet through a deep relationship with God and access to the tools found in scripture, we can begin to see amazing changes in ourselves. We begin to attain a new kind of strength, like that of Proverbs 16:32 “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Perhaps even the idea of our best-self begins to appear closer?

This level of surrender and self-discipline is not something we can force out of our own determined devotion to changing our outsides to appear as we aren’t. Nor it is about never having plans and never having any fun! It is more like a seed planted in the souls of our hearts that begins to bloom and grown from within. It is watered by our close connection and trust in God’s plans, and is pruned by our heartfelt repentance when we know we have gone too far. Our potential becomes unlocked when we develop self-awareness through the graceful lens of the cross, and trust God with the manifestation of our Best-Selves!

 

 

07/10/2017

A Culture Dependant on Pills and Potions (part 2 )

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 7:40 am by The Water Bearer

drugs

Our world has fallen under an onslaught of drugs…. Both illegal and legal we are drowning in them!

The reason we have become such a drug focused planet is because Inner Enemies are out to prevent us from gaining the permanent healthy mind, body and spirit that God has in store for us. Creating ‘easier’ ways to imitate the types of unity, contentment, confidence, joy, purpose, intimacy, that God offers through trials and growth in faith.

See we take Cocaine to give temporary carefree confidence, Ecstasy to imitate unity and euphoria, Heroin to numb emotions and concerns. We take Prozac to try to control our minds and our moods. We take Methamphetamine to give bursts of energy and purpose. We take Ritalin and lithium to quieten and dumb down the busyness of a creative mind. We indulge in alcohol and marijuana to drown out our sorrows and stresses, and to hide from our weaknesses.

Can’t we see how this is all an attempt at emotional crisis control!!!???

In a previous post, I focused on the medical and pharmaceutical industry, and in this post I want to talk more about recreational drugs. This is a very tough post to write because perspectives can come under much scrutiny, when discussing such a controversial topic. I only hope to offer a guide to self-awareness and shine a light on all things that Inner Enemies use to pollute truth.

As I mentioned in that last post, Big Pharma claim to have all the answers to our mental health crisis, watch this link to see how they are cashing in on the truth that the basic human experience is filled with unwanted emotions. They claim it is unhealthy to feel any negative emotions or any pain, rather than looking at life and health through God’s eyes. They have taught us to Band-aid our pain and hide our secret emotional trauma, while skipping the work to discover its origin and lesson.

While the money hungry are cashing in on our desire to avoid suffering. The true path to healing comes from investigating, understanding, and addressing all issues with Godly guidance through personal development and scripture. 

God knew in His wisdom when creating the earth that our bodies would require assistance from external sources to aid us in our earthly walk, and He provided for our every need.

 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

He cause the grass to grow for the cattle and herb for the service of man:  that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that make glad the heart of man and oil to make his face to shine. (Psalm 104:14-15)

Yet recognising the weaknesses in our flesh, the problem is that we tend to abuse the things God gave us to use. The key is to use all things with guidance from His spirit…..

Due to the indulgence of drug use in our current culture, it can be easy to label drugs and alcohol as ‘evil’, and for those who have been held in captivity with drug and alcohol abuse, for them the thing is in fact an access point of evil. But for those who have managed to gain and execute self-control will testify that the thing itself is not the evil, it is a test.

Heroine was originally a legal pain reliever, ‘Meth’ was prescribed to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Alcohol has wide spread uses and benefits, and we are only just beginning to discover the amazing beneficial properties of organic cannabis.

Just as with food or medicine, if indulged upon outside of moderate and reasonable use, the thing that was intended for good and health can actually cause countless issues and become an emotional crutch. 

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of Itself: but to him that esteem anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Paul: Romans 14:2,3,13,14,17)

Identify an Emotional Crutch

Those who don’t have moderate control over each tonic/food/medicine/addiction may try to deny its hold, but deep down they know.

  • They know if it is the cause of financial strain.
  • They know if it is the cause of relational issues.
  • They know if it the cause of health problems.
  • They know if it is the thing they turn to instead of God in times of distress or trial.
  • Most importantly they know if they are using it with Godly guidance, or if it is an indulgent way to silence the hidden Enemies within.

It has become so easy to blame anything else, rather than accepting the weakness of our own flesh.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

God does not encourage us to live in fear of things, He has tasked us with development of character, by overcoming all that temps us, all that attempts to draw us away from relationship with Him.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38)

I heard an intriguing quote recently, when one character refused an alcoholic drink offered by the man playing the role of Pastor. The Pastor said:

“Its noble to not drink for sure, but then I never did trust a man who couldn’t trust himself with a drink in his hand.”

This quote beautifully identifies the weakness of the human condition and the power temptation has over us.

If we refuse pain relief during a genuine emergency, because we can not trust ourselves to stop taking the pain relief when we no longer need it, does that mean that the medicine is the problem?

If we refuse to attend a wedding or celebration because we know alcohol will be drank and we can’t trust ourselves not to get plastered, is alcohol the problem?

I am not found in the camp supporting our cultures relationship with alcohol, nor am I found opposing and condemning all alcohol use…. I am saying USE is not always ABUSE.

It is, at the core, a show of the weaknesses in our character when we can’t be trusted to gain relief from tonics in appropriate times. It is a show of weakness in character if we refuse all tonics because we blame them for our lack of control.

Lets look at some of the places where drinking wine and spirits in merriment and for medical reasons is supported in the scriptures….. Id like to think we can do so without losing context..

“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7)

Once again I reiterate, self-awareness lets us know if we use anything in accordance with God’s guidance, or if we are not trustworthy. Keeping in mind how easily we can deceive ourselves. 

Paul guided Timothy to ease his stomach issues and I can testify that God has given me the same instructions and the same relief. Now this is not suggesting to go drink two bottles and get plastered, but a little certainly helped. Praise Him He knows!

“Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:23)

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:4)

And as you can see they are not only given as guidance for medicine…..

This following scripture relates to a time of celebration after bringing tithe and offering to God, after obeying Him and being blessed abundantly……

“Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.” (Deuteronomy 14:26)

This might be tough, but ask yourself… Are your celebrations are about rejoicing under the righteous gaze of God’s presence? Ask… Are there are parts of your celebrations that may offend Him?

Suffer Along Side Your Brother in Christ

Any abuse is toxic and has toxic results. We must learn to identify where using is not the same as abusing. We must seek Strength from our Saviour and not allow ourselves to be deceived by our inner enemies excuses. 

For those with the faith to understand these things, it is vital when in the company of those who feel it is a sin, to support them. It would be irresponsible to partake in anything in the company of someone who finds it as a personal weakness. Evidence of your strength of faith in that area may cause them to become relaxed about their weakness.

In other words- If you are spending time with someone who has an eating disorder, common sense would advise not to order the double choc cream doughnut and a can of coke and proceed to consume it in front of them. Just because the law dictates that genetically modified foods, saturated in sugar, and other toxic chemicals are permitted, doesn’t mean that these are in alignment with the nourishment God intended.

Therefore we can abstain from these things if they are to cause a sibling to stumble and sin….. 

If refusing tonics helps a companion avoid behaviours they are attempting to overcome, then in support we too avoid tonics while in their company. In the hope that they may find faith and develop character. For our freedom over addiction and freedom above the weakness of the tonic, is not reason to encourage another to feel free in this before they have developed the level of faith to overcome these things.

Be careful, however, that your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)

 It is extremely precarious to manage these issues in context, making sure that nothing else may take His rightful place on the thrones of our hearts.

God gave us the intelligence and awareness to work out how these things effect us for good and bad, and Inner Enemies have used this knowledge to hide the true purpose of all things. Its vital to dig deeply into the painful depths within us and ask ourselves what am I running from? What character flaw can I face and overcome? What promises am I not living in? Let us not be deceived, the evil is not in the ‘things’ of this world… the evil is in us.

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