16/03/2021

Hellish Help

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:30 am by The Water Bearer

You know that feeling where you feel disconnected from those around you, when no one understands your heart or intentions, where you feel accused, misjudged, attacked, unsafe. When you feel that no one sees your value or allows you to be your worst self and let it be ok. When no one gives you the benefit of the doubt and every tiny thing you do is under a magnifying glass and scrutinized. You feel fragile and exposed but even when you seek God in that moment you can’t seem to truly connect to Him. It’s enough to make the best of us shut down, or crumble into a puddle of tears, or erupt in a cyclone of unpredictable emotions.

These feelings all bubble to the surface because deep down you feel you’re not good enough, no matter what you do, or how hard you try, there’s always a critic, waiting to pounce on you for pulling a facial expression you didn’t know you were pulling while a torrent of emotions overwhelm you… I’m mean it’s not like we can see our own face looking out at other people… right!

Most of the time you try to press those feelings down and say “I’m fine” to anyone who asks. This is a protection strategy, because during these dark times you are extremely vulnerable. You know you can’t trust yourself to be in that state around other people because all self-control and self-esteem has left the building. You know from past experience that you can’t trust others to get it, to give the validation, compassion and empathy you crave, and adding their misunderstanding to that level of vulnerability is like a Molotov Cocktail for your sanity!

This my lovelies is HELL… It’s a place filled by these fearful voices of the enemy deep inside us. I’ve be writing about Hell for a long time, about the sanctifying process it holds, bringing to light our fears from deep within so they can be seen and then cleared out, so they won’t unconsciously pollute our behaviour and our faith. But I’ve only just realised what others can do to help someone who is in Hell.

So this post is for me to learn and practice more than anyone, because I’m so sensitive to their hell I want to fix it. The closer you are to me, the more I want to stop your tears, but I now realise that these tears are precious, and necessary, and being “Happy” all the time is disingenuous and unable to bring growth. If we aren’t growing we are just dying, if our loved ones aren’t growing they are dying. So encourage the tears to fall, to water that authentic growth. God wants us to be authentic and healthy and free from the lie that we aren’t good enough. So we all must give our loved ones a safe place to unload their tears so they can get the relief and the lessons and eventually the blessings that Hell brings.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

How to Handle Hell

1.Never give Advice to someone in Hell. They can’t do shit in that moment… Nothing. If you understand what hell is like, then imagine someone giving you advice, you’ll probably understand why it made the top of my list. Wait until they ask “What should I do?”

2. Listen with eye contact if possible, and stay engaged with sympathy sounds, hmmm…Yeah… tutt… Oh.. geeze…

3. Ask them questions about their pain. Allow them to lean into the discomfort and have empathy (even if they are upset because of you). “Do you feel … Misunderstood? Attacked? Blamed? Like nothing you do is good enough? I hate that.. it sux to feel like that”. As I mentioned in a recent post…Validation is vital.

4. See their truth… This is so important… Look past your own fears, needs, desires, self talk, and try to truly see them, to feel their pain, to give them grace to pull faces and say nasty things and recognise they don’t mean anything by it, they aren’t to blame, they are just in hell. They are frantically battling demons and you are just getting hit with friendly fire.

5. Never talk about yourself or say “I understand” before they’ve unloaded. Saying ‘I understand’ or “I’ve been there” or “same” cuts them off so they can’t explain any more. They don’t get the freedom to ramble about it, to unload, to cry deeper and release more pain from within. We learn heaps about ourselves when we talk about ourselves. Wait until every question you can think to ask has been asked, and they begin to feel better, then say “I can’t tell you what to do but if you like, I can tell you what I did in a similar situation?”

6. Watch for your own fears. Often when we see someone we care for going through something difficult we get triggered too. Especially if it is our child or spouse, because we immediately take on some guilt that we were unable to protect them from such pain. When our emotions become fearful, we automatically go into control mode, we want to fix it. This is why we try to give advice like in lesson no.1. It’s also why we start talking about our own pain in no.5 and no.7, because we can so easily relate to theirs. But that makes the situation and conversation about us and that doesn’t help them.

7. Remind them that the enemy is up to his old tricks, lying to them in their thoughts and using their emotions of shame, telling them they aren’t safe, or aren’t good enough. Give them countering truths against these lies. Reassure them that they are more than good enough and loved even at their worst… Jesus made one hell of a journey just because he loves the worst of us most! Encourage them that the enemy has been defeated by the cross and this will pass and bring amazing interactions with God and huge growth of faith.

As I mentioned before in this blog and many others, there is a very important purpose to Hell, and there is no avoiding it, even if you’re “saved”. Hell is the furnace that purifies the flesh and soul. It reveals our worst selves so that we know where the enemy is getting in and that helps us know where to direct our attention as we grow in faith and towards the best version of ourselves. So the next time you or a loved one are going through a season of Hell, get out this blog, and use these tips to support each other through it. It just may help the Hellish phase pass far more quickly than resisting it, because in that moment you get to be the arms of Jesus, holding your loved one and helping them find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Every time I learn something cool about God or understand a little more how much the devil sucks, I write a blog so I can treasure the lesson. This lesson is huge! Its a game changer and it effects every single one of us. Thank you Lord for sharing your wisdom with us!

 

05/03/2021

Bitterly Blended

Posted in Family, General, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:44 am by The Water Bearer

 

Ever since the Boomers discovered divorce and gave themselves permission to break their marriage vows, there’s been a steady increase of single parents and blended families. I’m not telling you anything new, and we’ve all heard plenty about the negative consequences and scary statistics that befall the children who aren’t raised in a home with both of their loving biological parents.

However, in this post I plan to share some helpful tips for parents to mitigate some of the damage.

Relationships are complex in the most stable of circumstances, and parenting is a bloody hard enough job without doing it alone or bringing more outsiders into the mix. Especially at a time in history when emotional instability is at an all time high. There certainly are occasions where parents separate amicably and continue to nurture their children with love and respect for each other long after the romance has passed. But the more common theme is one of bitterness, tension and ill will.

Whether that bitterness is between Mum and Dad, or Step-Mum and Mum or Step-Dad and Dad etc. It’s extremely toxic to children… I’ll say that again.. IT’S PSYCHOLOGICALLY TOXIC TO CHILDREN!

“looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;”
Hebrews 12:15 NKJV

I have testified many times the dire psychological impact from my own experience with this toxic formula. It happens while the parents are all consumed with their own powerful emotions, and trying to navigate each turbulent situation, so no one is really interested in how the children feel.

I tried for decades to explain my traumatic feelings to my bitter parent and yet I never felt heard or respected, safe or even loved. In response to sharing my pain, I was met with defensive justifying excusing their actions, along with all the reasons for their feelings. I was reminded of All the “acts of care and effort” they had done, as some sort of evidence that I should not feel the way I did. The message was loud and clear… Their feelings mattered and mine did not.

Is it really so hard to ask a child in your care “How do you feel and why?” Or ask “Is there anything I can do to help ease your pain?” Or owning your humanity admitting you made a mistake and say “If I could go back in time I would have done things differently” Especially as the children grow into teens and start realising the unhealthy strategies they’ve adopted to cope with their traumatic feelings.

In relationship therapy there is a simple process called “Active Listening” It goes like this… Ask “How do you feel and why?” Then paraphrase back “so what I’m hearing is….. Is that correct?” If you were correct then validation is so important “That must have been awful for you, you must have felt…. (Add in 3 or 4 similar feelings that they might have felt)” then reassure “I reassure you that from now on I will… (Your plan of action to prevent repeat)

Don’t parents think we know it all! We can even assume to know our child better than they know themselves… so instead of being heard, understood, validated and reassured when I withdrew emotionally to protect myself, I was accused of being ‘cold hearted’. Instead of asking why I stopped playing happy families and avoided close contact, I was called “ungrateful”, and instead of considering if my feelings were valid I was told I had been “brainwashed” or “coerced” by my other parent.

If you are a parent, in any style of family and you catch yourself doing any of the things listed above, allow me to be the one to knock some sense into you! If you accepted the role to care for a young person and you can’t see past your own feelings to show empathy to theirs then you are headed for a future of loneliness and drama, likely cut off from those children and their children. And you will find yourself having to badmouth those poor kids to everyone who asks “how are your kids?” as you try to shirk any blame for them cutting you out of their lives. Trust me, no one may tell you to your face, they may all sympathize and tutt and say “you poor thing, how terrible!” but underneath that they are thinking “how horrible does someone have to be to badmouth their kids? No wonder the kids don’t call or visit”. It’s not a good look… Ever!

If their unhealthy coping strategies don’t destroy them, at best those kids will end up in years of therapy paying someone to listen to their feelings cause you couldn’t manage it!

If you’ve read this and know of someone who badmouths the young people they accepted care of, either through birth, adoption or marriage, please be brave and tell them what empathy is and how to actively listen. That it requires putting their own feelings aside for a moment to be able to show compassion and support for someone else’s pain. You may just save a family and a child from becoming another statistic of God-only-knows-what!

 

 

 

 

 

18/01/2021

To Be Adored

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:26 am by The Water Bearer

 

WARNING: Sexual Content

Recently I got to have an awesome long chat with a much loved seventeen year old girl. I’ve seen her grow from a tiny little thing into a stunning, hardworking, and smart young woman. I’m so blessed to be surrounded by many young women and one of my favourite things to do in this whole world is talk with them and find genuine common ground.

To put it bluntly, the thing I have most in common with these girls is a longing to be adored, with most I also share the self-love-deficit that a broken home and/or dysfunctional upbringing causes. I recall far too clearly the dignity I have given away throughout my life, in exchange for a compliment, or a crumb of affection and it breaks my heart to see so many precious young women repeating my mistakes. But it gives me such hope when they engage and can benefit from my experiences and the lessons that journey taught me.

The word “adore” initially means “to love and respect someone deeply”. Well who doesn’t want that?

However, it has taken me a lifetime to realise that it is impossible to convince someone to love and respect you, neither by your eloquence, or behaviour, or appearance, or success. In fact the very motive of “trying to convince”, is possibly the very thing that stops us getting the love and/or respect we crave. No, those who genuinely love and respect us only do so because of the state of their own heart, when they are in a position to give it to us willingly. Those who appreciate who you are and recognise your intrinsic worth despite all your flaws and foibles.

In an old post I touched on the Tsunami of sexual content being bombarded into the 21st Century. Thanks to my sensitivity of evil schemes, I see the secret and polluted motives which the enemy slips into the creativity of those who create apps like SnapChat, Instagram, Tinder and eventually Pornhub. It all started with talented dance videos and romantic comedies, but quickly became “Cuties” and “50 Shades of Grey”. These forms of ‘entertainment’ are insidiously targeting the specific and broken parts of humanity that are desperate to numb their bone-aching loneliness, and satisfy the hunger for adoration. Men and women, young and old are so easily sacrificing their self-respect on the alter of sexual exploits because it gives such a quick easy dose of the emotional drug we have become addicted to. But no one seems to be talking about the masses of shame that accompanies it.

Putting up a sexy photo of your sunkissed bikini body on your Instagram page is a simple way to get dozens of compliments from all your followers, “You’re so Hot” – “No you are!”… “My God you’re pretty” – “Says you stunner”. On and on it goes, while for hormonal young men; it is free for all! I doubt it ever crosses these young women’s minds that so many of their male “Mates” are at home happily whacking off over these same pics. While others are desperately trying to curb their secret addiction to pornography and masturbation and your cleavage pic just triggered them into a relapse.

The other meaning of “adore” is to “worship”.

These constant pleas for adoration simply lead to the warped, temporary and unfulfilling worship of each other. Its no coincidence that this same worship of someone other than our Heavenly Father, was the very reason the Devil was evicted from Heaven, along with all the fallen angels who worshiped him instead of our creator God.

Without the whole story it might seem unfair for God to have such a problem with all this mutually mortal worship. Yet when we understand the unwavering loving nature of God it is simply because He knows it will never satisfy you and He knows exactly where that road leads, just look around you and inside you. But also because He whole-heartedly ADORES YOU!

No matter how much worldly adoration I have received in my life, none of it satisfied me, because we need to understand that the Almighty All-knowing All-sufficient God of the Universe is the ONLY one who has profound trustworthy Love, Respect and Adoration to give you that is everlasting and completely satisfying. When will we drop this false worship and bask in the intimate adoration pouring down from above?

 

21/05/2020

Surrounded by Flawed Systems

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, General, Musings, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:38 am by The Water Bearer

Its not surprising that, during this time when our usual way of life is placed on hold, that many more of us are beginning to see that we are surrounded by flawed systems.

As I list them out, it can be scary to realise that the things we rely on most are unstable and untrustworthy! So, you’ll want to hang on until the end for the good news and the solution to this conundrum.

We only need to switch on free to air TV to find its a flawed system. What used to be a device to entertain and inform, has been tainted by hidden agendas. The news is politically biased and promotes fear, advertising is extremely manipulative, time slots are unreliable, plenty of the content is offensive and mindless, and most of it is misleading. Its no wonder everyone moved on to pay for streaming. $$$

Speaking of making money, have you noticed how many companies alter their products just slightly enough to inconvenience us, but not enough to be found guilty of extortion? Products we’ve paid good hard-earned money for become redundant after only a short use. One example is Apple changing the headphone jack and charging ports on iPhones, so all your old charging cables and headphones are now useless. Money thrown in the bin. Living in a throw-away society has led to us throwing away money and big business knows we have little to no choice but pay up.

Now that I’ve eased you in, how about we investigate something more serious, like education. I’ve spoken to several concerned parents recently who only through the introduction of mandatory home-schooling have they begun to worry about the subject matter being taught to our children. This is something I have been aware of for quite some years, but now many of you are seeing just how often political biases and teacher’s opinions are being taught as facts. And how many of us have complained that our teens weren’t taught how to understand their vote, or how to apply for a home loan, or complete a tax return, or the workings of insurance, or the basic principles of our rights and obligations under constitutional law? Important information that would help steer the course of their lives. And don’t get me started on how words are being misused and their meanings twisted or even abolished, for the sake of simplicity and political correctness. Could the system that is supposed to expand knowledge, really be dumbing down our children?

How about our health system? Its kind of at pinnacle importance currently! How many of us have conditions which doctors have masked with drugs without identifying the cause? How many of you have stopped to research the drugs your GP prescribes? With the global push towards private health, how can we rely on a system that makes a profit by keeping us unwell? Think about it, someone in a big corporation is getting richer simply by exploiting our reality and our natural fear of suffering illness, pain, and death. And let’s not even begin to point out the flaws in the scientific community and the recent pandemic!

And its not just for-profit corporations that have warped agendas, how about churches and charities? Purposed to be places of solace to bolster faith, stand in truth, support the disenfranchised and radiate hope…. yet many of us have found the integrity of such places to be a complete disappointment. Aside from all the revelations of pedophilia, condemnation, and corruption, or the guilt trips set to coax you out of your hard earned dollars, to line their pockets or earn brownie points and gain bragging rights. Most of them simply don’t mean what they say. When integrity has completely left the church, you gotta know Jesus has left the building!

Lets get back to you…

How many of you are concerned about what to feed your family? By now many of you understand that processed and fast foods, which we have all been consuming by the truck load, since the 80’s, are poisoning us. We see the increasing amount of illnesses and allergies, disorders and inflammation, auto-immune conditions and hormone imbalances, syndromes and diseases impacting our quality of life, all of which are exacerbated by GMO’s, sugar, preservatives, artificial additives, hormones, MSG, pesticides, antifungals and more. All of which saturate products we chomp down to survive. We are beginning to see the hypocrisy that an organic meal costs 3-4 times a meal that is filled with poison. Yet even with both parents working full-time (while missing out on knowing what their kids are learning at school or watching on TV), the average family still can’t afford to feed their children non-poisonous food, or afford the medical insurance for when they get sick.

Whilst I would love to go on a spiel about the government, law, and politics, especially with the current restrictions on our freedoms, not to mention mandatory vaccines, microchips, climate change, 5G or the Magna Carta, I feel that is a rabbit-hole we could get lost in for quite some time, and by now you’re probably ready to check out from this blog post and this world with all its flawed systems. So, I will leave all that to your own research and imagination.

It’s reasonable to feel overwhelmed and helpless when surrounded by countless flawed systems, but all is not lost.

We the people are waking up to the scams, the hoaxes, the corruption, we are learning about our rights and our freedoms that our ancestors fought for. We are seeking for spiritual truth over dogma. We are searching out alternative health services and growing our own food, we are challenging our children to think for themselves and avoid swallowing their teacher’s biases.

Just like any good blockbuster, there is good and evil influencing our systems. Most of the systems mentioned above are influenced by the flesh, by greed, selfishness, thirst for power and control. They are influenced by evil, which has always set about to counterfeit the original trustworthy design of the universe.

Its no coincidence that our planet is precisely located to facilitate life perfectly, where 1 degree closer or further away from the sun would result in our destruction. Its no coincidence that organic food is best for us or that natural remedies hold untold healing capabilities. Its no coincidence that families succeed and survive better when they are a solid unit. Its no coincidence that intelligence grows as we discover more opportunities to ask questions and think for ourselves. Its no coincidence that evil is being exposed and its systems are being revealed as flawed, for the scriptures have spoken of these things for millennia. But in the end it ALL works out perfectly!

Therefore, I encourage you to have hope, especially those who have avoided reading scripture. This is all exactly how God said it would go, He warned us through His sevants the Prophets, but we chose our own way, we allowed our unrighteous urges and indulgences to drive the systems of this world instead of submitting to God’s wisdom. But the good news is that He also put in a contingency plan, so that none should perish. A Saviour, an intercessor, someone who upended evil’s opportunity for success, someone who told us that a new system, one completely other-worldly, would come in place of all current systems. A new government with Christ in charge! He passed the test, He overcame the desires of the flesh to overpower us. Instead, Christ showed us that serving all, having faith and giving up His life, His rulership and His rights for His people is what a trustworthy ruler looks like. All there is left to do is come to Him and await His return as King!

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

21/11/2019

“I love you”…. Whatever that means!

Posted in Family, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:19 am by The Water Bearer

“I love you”

Three tiny, yet pretty loaded and confusing words aren’t they?

They’re the stuff Rom-coms and Spotify playlists are made of, but the word ‘love’ is a slippery thing.

So when someone says “I love you” it could quite literally mean anything..

  • 1. To one person it could mean “I can’t stop thinking about you, I long to be with you every minute of every day, I need you!” (or some varying intensity of that)
  • 2. To another person it means “I accept you as you are, I appreciate you, and cherish our time together.” (or I’m learning what that looks like at least)
  • 3. To the rest it could mean anything from “I own you”, to “I hate you” and through every shade of grey or rainbow in between. (Let’s leave that group of extremists for another post on another day)

I know which one I’d prefer.. How bout you?

There was once a girl who believed she had found love. She spent all her time imagining their future together. She created fantasies in her mind of how their love would become the stuff of legends. He was going to always be there, and hold her when she was scared or sad, he would kiss her intensely when she was bored or lonely, he would be playful and romantic and make her laugh, and he would help her find solutions to all of life’s problems. He would fill all her empty spaces and she would finally be happy.

You can imagine her despair when in reality he had lots of friendships and activities to keep him busy away from her, and he actually pulled away when she was sad because he believed she needed space. He couldn’t tell the difference between when she was scared and when she was mad, so he gave her space then as well. He would kiss her intensely but only when he felt like it, which was usually when she was tired, which annoyed her. He wasn’t really the romantic type, thinking all that was soppy crap! And problem solving wasn’t his strong suit. He let things figure themselves out, while she found problems in almost everything and demanded he try to fix them… Instead he saw past her wild changes in mood, and he accepted her extremely affectionate nature even though he didn’t really like PDA’s. He dedicated himself to appreciating just having her as his special person, no matter what.

So, do you think she loved him?

Did he love her?

Do you think their love became the stuff of legends?

You guessed it!

Of course not! She thought she had chosen the wrong guy, she thought her passionate love was being wasted on him and perhaps the next guy (who she couldn’t stop thinking about) would make all her dreams come true. SPOILER ALERT : That guy didn’t last either… and neither did the next.

The problem was “LOVE”.

What she thought was love was actually insecurity, sentimentality, obsession, expectations and control All of these depend on her emotions and how she viewed herself.

Don’t get me wrong here.. It’s not always the girls who have this co-dependent view of love, in fact many young men are now looking to this generation of confident, independent young women to become the very oxygen they breathe.

Its important to realise that our own emotions, identity and self-confidence have a huge impact on what those words “I love you” mean. They can change what we mean when we say it, but they can also change what we hear when someone says it to us. We can expect certain things that they never promised to give us. Or they may expect more from us than we signed up for.

If we are emotionally aware, meaning we know emotions are fickle and we don’t always trust them, and we have a good foundation of self-worth and a solid identity, then we are more likely to find love in the 2nd way.

However if we have some insecurities, and are not accepting of ourselves, or have a warped sense of identity, and our emotions take charge of us more than we take charge of them, we are more than likely to fall into category 1… or God forbid, category 3!

There is an ancient guide to what true love looks like. It can serve as a template to meditate on when we are dealing with matters of the heart and relationships of all kinds. So before we say those words “I love you” perhaps we can check this guide to see if we really mean it. Now granted this is a divine form of love which doesn’t come naturally, however it is possible with help from God to manage our emotions, gaining our sense of identity from being His much loved creation, and understanding the goal of what love should look like. Could you love anyone like this?

  1. Are you patient with your loved one and try to keep the peace?
  2. Do you treat them with kindness, are thoughtful and understanding of them?
  3. Do you resist the urge to feel jealous and possessive over them?
  4. Do you refuse to boast to your friends about your love, not showing off on social media to compete or compare against other’s relationships?
  5. Do you apologise when you take your frustrations or emotions out on them?
  6. Are you in the relationship for what you can get out of it, or do you simply want to give love to them?
  7. Do you try not to get angry or emotionally sensitive with them easily?
  8. Do you forgive and forget when they take responsibility for their mistakes?
  9. Do you encourage each other to do your best, tell the truth, never lie to them nor tempt them to do wrong?
  10. Do you refuse to give up on your love when times get tough?
  11. Do you trust them?
  12. Do you always look for the best in them?
  13. Does your love get weaker depending on your emotional state, or does it stay stable no matter your mood?

11/10/2019

Balancing Bipolar

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:21 am by The Water Bearer

Getting diagnosed with Bipolar can be a bittersweet experience. Part of you is relieved to finally have a reason for the strange cycles in your mood and behaviour that causes instability in your life, while another part feels broken, ashamed, angry and even helpless.

But having a mood disorder is a pretty common occurrence in today’s age, and it’s no wonder really. Our lifestyle is highly stimulated and reactive, self-regulation has decreased since the idea of indulgence became humanities priority, our culture’s lean away from family stability, and the impact of spiritual influences increases as time winds up. I’m surprised any of us are actually sane!

There are some simple things we can all do to manage our mood swings and balance out our behaviour. So let’s ditch the stigma and face the situation with hope and these helpful tips.

1. Get Informed

Your moods, your behaviour and your diagnoses are your responsibility, they are not the responsibility of your parents, or your Doctor, or your spouse or your friends. We can gain support from these sources but ultimately any issue that comes up in our lives is an opportunity for growth in our understanding. So educate yourself. We live in the Information Age, and if you’re suffering from any condition and haven’t armed yourself with knowledge about it, then you aren’t really participating in life, are you? You’ve checked out, feeling sorry for yourself, denying the struggles of life in the hope they will just magically disappear. That my friend is a recipe destined for Hell on Earth!

2. Seek Truth

There is a LOT of bullshit information out there, and lots of amazing genuine stuff too. Its your job to be realistic about this when gathering research about your conditions. If one article says to sleep more during a depressed episode, look for any articles that promote exercise during depression. Or if one article says you must take prescription medications, look for ones that explain the side-effects and offer natural options, and always use some good old fashioned common sense before doing anything radical. Opposing views aren’t the enemy, they are the way to see the whole picture of your condition without someone’s biased agenda misleading you and wasting your time. Get honest with yourself too, about how your condition impacts your life and the lives of your loved ones. Rather than getting overwhelmed by ALL the issues you’re facing, just pick the most important one to you, and focus on that until you feel you have a good grasp of what you’re dealing with before expanding to a new topic.

3. Self Care

Some simple daily practices can settle your focus and level out the reactivity of your moods. Having a routine filled with self care is vital if you want to take back control of your life and not be at the mercy of whatever ‘wobbly’ your condition throws your way. Things like a morning ritual of stretching, meditation, journaling, and prayer are wonderful ways to start the day inspired and balanced. Peaceful time out away from screens, errands, chores and work is imperitive to reset and restore your body and mind. A few hours on a blanket in the sun, a long slow walk, a massage, or an art project can bring a sense of control back to our minds. Preparing and eating healthy non-processed foods will make a huge difference to the spikes of sugar levels, while avoiding caffeine and alcohol will calm the nervous system and rejuvenate your natural motivation. Of course no self care practice would be complete without a regular sleep cycle. Going to bed and rising early every day has an amazing impact on our neurotransmitters (brain chemistry). If you struggle to fall asleep, use a screen filter on your phone to remove the blue light after 7pm, avoid screens all together 30 mins before sleep, and a simple cup of chamomile tea never goes astray.

4. Choose your influencers

Influencers are all the rage on social media, and what we read, listen to and engage with has a massive effect on our own patterns of mood and behaviour. If you pay close attention to what you’re feeding your soul with and who you spend your time with, you may realise where you need to trim back on what influences your life. Not just what you follow on social media or watch on Netflix, but also your friends, family and co-workers. Learning to set up some boundaries to protect yourself from impulsive, irresponsible or toxic influences can bring a whole new level of peace to your life than you ever thought possible!

5. Acceptance 

Pretending you don’t have Bipolar or any other condition is not going to help you achieve peace and victory in life, and neither is resisting it. Life would be dull and boring-as-bat-shit if we didn’t have struggles and challenges to test our resilience and strengthen our character. So its time to get over the self-pity and recognise that EVERYONE has their cross to bear, their battle to face, this just happens to be yours. There are plenty of things to be grateful for, at least you’re living in a time of compassion and understanding around these issues and not being burned at the stake for being weird. Acceptance and gratitude play a big part in how well you manage your condition, and that’s not to say you’ll never have a breakdown or a blow out pity-party from time to time, but your attitude of acceptance can be an anchor to come back to whenever the wheels do come off.

6. Keep the Faith

Despite the suckiness of your diagnoses, God is trustworthy, He can turn your trials into triumphs, and your tests into testimonies. But its important to remember that the spiritual realm has to be balanced too. So for all the curses you may be battling, there are blessings scattered amongst them, especially if you plant the seeds of faith during life’s storms. King David who wrote the Psalms, had some serious mood swings and behavioural disorders to contend with, and reading his stories can bring much comfort as he pours faith into each tumultuous circumstance. For all the good God can and will do in your life, the enemy is here to level the playing field, so keeping an eye on his schemes is vital to keep a clear perspective on what you deal with day-in and day-out, and where to channel your energy in fighting against him. If you want to read more on this, this blog is filled with heaps of ways to refocus your faith and defeat the enemy, victory is certain!

 

 

 

 

03/09/2018

Accepting All the Seasons of You

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:52 am by The Water Bearer

I tend to think of moods and emotions as patterns. Perhaps this comes from my Cyclothymia diagnosis (a mood disorder under the banner of Bipolar). Those cyclic patterns of highs and lows are something I’ve trained myself to understand and watch for. The hardest part was learning to accept them and not resist them or be ashamed of them. These emotional patterns remind me of the seasons.

Our Father Creator knew exactly what He was doing when He created the seasonal patterns that encompass our lives on this planet. The earth bursts with life in times of productivity, and growth, we might think of these seasons in our own lives as basking in sunshine, but just like the earth, parts of us at times die off, we lose hope, and retreat behind the doors of our souls.  

People often call me Claire-Bear, which is pretty funny around winter, cause just like a bear I tend to hibernate. I find it so hard to be my best self in Winter. I’m more irritable, less motivated, unsure of myself and feel sadness easily. So I withdraw, stay inside, have early nights, limited social calls and have to work harder on my self-care… I’m so glad that Winter here in Australia is over!

How about you? Everyone is different. Some of you get more irritable in the summer heat, looking for any escape. Thank God for air-conditioning right! We all accept our seasonal physical life, but why do we struggle so much to accept the seasonal patterns woven throughout our emotional landscape?

We are all guilty of trying to “Cheer up” a loved one or acquaintance who’s voicing unpleasant emotions. It seems no one likes to be around a misery-guts. Fair enough if they do nothing else but stay miserable and don’t want to recognise it or deal with it, yes that sux to be around! My Lord! But it seems ALL periods of negative emotion have become stigmatised.

I know this all too well. It happened to me just after my car accident, when I experienced my first of many severe depressive episodes. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone tried to change me, or took offense to my low mood. So few people recognise the value of our low times. We tend to avoid them, supress them, numb them and hide them behind a veil of unhealthy denial, just to save face. Although, I found tremendous value from those lowest moments. Now please understand me, I’m not suggesting the low times should be our aim, not at all, but they are a season that is there for good reason and we need to stop trying to avoid that reality. We need to change the way we speak around those who are going through a low mood. We need to stop jumping to conclusions that those experiencing periods of unhappiness are guilty of failing at life or faith!

Sure of course it’s so nice to see those we love happy and bursting with motivation, but usually the best motivation and long-lasting mature faith is born from the seasons of emotional winter in our lives. Its time to change this stigma. Its time we accepted these patterns of life as the nothing more than reality and stopped placing unnecessary expectations on ourselves and others. We don’t look at the winter months and decide its a sign that the earth is doomed, or is less of a planet than Mercury which is always in sunshine. Remember that nothing grows on Mercury! We know that the seasons all have their purpose and we accept each season for what it is, temporary.

The most severe episodes I have been through over the past decade or so were pretty clear cut transformations. The person who went into them was changed for the better on the way out. I’ve killed off things like co-dependence, emotional manipulation, low self-worth, toxic relationships, limiting beliefs, generational curses and so much more! Our God knows what parts of us are ready to die off, and these emotional winters are just the catalyst for that purging.

I hope you accept whichever season you are in and not allow what’s meant to be temporary to become a permanent condition. Learn to ride it out, to trust God with it, gleaning the lessons, and benefitting from the death of the unhealthiest parts of your soul so you can burst with life once again, even better and brighter than before!


28/08/2018

How Healthy is Your Mind?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:16 pm by The Water Bearer

I often wonder why some people aren’t as concerned about their mental health as others. It seems to me in this current age of high stress and constant busyness, more of us would be vigilant at ensuring the healthy condition of our minds.

I’ve seen too many people out there wondering why they are trapped in an unhealthy and unhappy life, who avoid assessing their mental health for fear of the stigma attached. I was one of those myself until my car accident forced me to take a closer look at the way my mind works and why.

That old saying comes to mind “Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness.” I actually believe the opposite is true. If we don’t ask ourselves questions we believe the first thing that comes to mind and stay the same without growth or reaching our potential.

Over the past decade or so I have noticed people tend to fall into one of the following three common categories when it comes to mind health. I wonder if you recognise these traits?

Group 1 – IGNORE their Mental Health

This category contains those who take no time to be curious about the motives of their hearts. They don’t ask “why did I do that or say that?” even if they are abusive and dysfunctional, because they seem to believe the first excuse that comes to mind. They choose not to investigate the condition of their emotional health. They never ask themselves “what is the universe or God trying to purge from the selfish core of my soul?” They ignore or deny the feedback they receive from the social cues of the world. Rather than wondering how they can change themselves to adapt to their world, they waste copious amounts of effort and emotion on fighting against it. I’ve come to notice the fear that controls this group. They are afraid of facing their flaws, everyone else is the problem, even God’s plan is wrong (in some way or another). They often hate silence and can’t stand to be still or alone. They are likely to fight against a sleepless night rather than accept the words of that still small voice within.

Category 2 – BLAME their Mental Health

This group are the ones who know that life is unfair and yet use it to their own reward. Having a diagnosis of mental health, physical pain or grief often becomes a label used to avoid getting healthy and happy. Its far easier to get sympathy and sidestep the difficult challenges and responsibility of getting back on track after each trial. This group self-sabotage, finding excuses to stay miserable, usually thriving on drama and stress and become addicted to contributing negativity to the world. Blaming the reality of life and God for their discontent comes naturally, rather than seeking to discover the hope, growth and fortitude that is born from trials. They may ask for help and yet follow none of the advice given. I’ve noticed the bitterness that drives this group. It is deep seated and poisonous to their souls and ours if we stay around them too long.

You may know someone who fits into one or both of the above categories, you may even be one yourself, I wouldn’t be surprised. I have been there too….. In fact they’re easy to waver in and out from time to time.

It takes wisdom to see that giving sympathy and attention as rewards is actually enabling these groups to stay miserable. Yet our culture has somehow forgotten how to voice the truth with tact and honesty, and so we choose not to say anything at all, while our loved ones stay trapped in their misery.

And yet let’s not lose all hope, for we still have the third group to go. These people are actually more common than we might think, they just don’t broadcast their self-care.

Category 3 – NURTURE their Mental Health

This group of people understand the difficulties of life, they take the hits, go through moments of weakness and low periods. Some have been diagnosed with a mental illness, some have not. The things they have in common are self-awareness, self-responsibility, and trust. They make no excuses for their mistakes and struggles, they focus on the lessons. They accept the dark times as opportunities to see the light again one day. Faith gives them hope and courage to push on. They direct their efforts to caring for and protecting their mental health by setting up certain guidelines to follow that won’t lead them into a pit of self-pity. They practice letting go of control and being grateful, they practice being still and appreciate silence. They aim for a good sleeping routine and have very few unhealthy indulgences. They choose wisely who they spend time with. They pay attention to their own emotional stability and listen to sound advice in order to arrange themselves in a way that steers their course closer to the person they hope to be. They are committed to learning the truth about themselves, and the impact they can have on those they come into contact with. They are humble enough to admit when they are wrong and assertive enough to stand up for their truth.

As I look out into the faces of Sanctuary Stretch clients I see these qualities being nurtured. Some have only just begun their journey and others are well and truly reaping the benefits after committing to the practice.

Perhaps like me, you realise you are ready to change groups? I did it, and you can too.

 

18/05/2018

To Heed or Ignore Advice

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness, 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

 

 

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!

 


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