One of the most frustrating forms of attack that we’ve all seen far too often, is when our Inner Enemies use our thoughts to keep us stuck at the doorway of our potential.
When life gets tough it is giving us a nudge to want to leave our situation. Some of us even head for the door, towards a change, towards healing, towards growth. Yet that pivotal step across the threshold gets harder and harder the longer we have been stuck there.
The lack of comfort in our current circumstances becomes at least a discomfort that we know, we are familiar with its curves and edges. Sometimes we can even see around its corners and prepare ourselves for any foreseeable issues that lie in wait. But that vital step across the threshold, through the doorway into change, has nothing familiar to it, nothing to smooth out the knots of the unknown that cripple us from within.
We then become victims trapped by our own choice, and those choices are governed by our thoughts and our fear. Fear that reminds us of previous pains, and regrets, which we are now avidly on the look out for, in order to avoid repetition.
Statistics show that there are 3 common traits found in those who experience successful steps across that threshold… Steps towards recovery and wellness. Recovery from addiction, from injury, from illness both physical and psychological, from trauma and tragedy. These traits are grounded in Faith.
Trait 1 – A DESIRE to be WELL.
As previously noted, once we have become so used to our struggle, our inner enemies convince us to choose it, rather than the effort needed to pursue wellness. Our desire shifts in favour of the sympathy generated by our sad stories. We have all met that person who, no matter how many different pieces of good advice you give, to help them out of their troubles, they have talked themselves out of each suggestion before even considering it. This particular inner enemy enjoys any attention it receives, the pity, and the seductive quality of unloading emotional baggage onto anyone who will give an ear. It is a trap that so many of us fall prey to and we owe it to ourselves and also our loved ones to ask ourselves ‘whether or not we actually desire to be well? And are we willing to go make the changes needed to get it?’. We must accept that suffering is supposed to prompt that urge to head for the doorway of change. By faith we understand this process, we recognise that suffering is par for the course and was even experienced by our own Precious Saviour. Faith gives us the desire to trust this divine process.
Trait 2 – DETERMINATION to get WELL
Faith gives us access to Godly ammunition, and the weapons of Heaven. We must remember that every time we are faced with a choice that takes us to the doorway, we come under attack of fear. We fear the choice required to take that leap into the unknown, we fear the outcome. This is the intention of our inner enemies to keep us from stepping out in Trust. However when we apply and rely upon those weapons of Heaven that are available to us through God’s Word, our determination becomes empowered. We recognise the war, and refuse to allow these enemies to win out. For those unable to accept this war, they forever remain caught in that place of defeat, and a defeatist attitude is toxic to growth and blessings. God has promised to give us His tenacity, when we lean on Him and His strength, and not on ourselves.
Trait 3 – EXPECTATION to be WELL
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for; and the evidence of things unseen” Hebrews 11:1. As we make each step towards each new doorway, it is vital that we recognise where our focus is placed. If we keep our focus on the past and our disappointments, on our regrets and our shame, on our pain and betrayals, then we begin to lose sight of the abundant blessings God has promised us. Our inner enemies know that if we stay stressed, distracted and disconnected, we will never engage in the fight against them. We will expect defeat and there they have us trapped. Yet when we meditate on the Promises in God’s Word to bless us, to help us and to give us peace, our expectations change and we become hopeful, encouraged to put on our Godly armour and keep stepping towards the door to wellness, and eventually through it!
The doorway is waiting, we are well aware that it is there. Will we choose the easier option and wallow in our despair? Will we avoid that threshold into potential? Or will we make a decision today to see the war clearly, to accept the journey towards wellness and to put all our expectations on God? To give Him the power to turn our Tests into Testimonies! And our Trials into Triumphs!
“Now the Serpent was the most cunning than any beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1-9 NKJV)
Inner Enemies certainly impact us all, and those called of God even more-so. Who else can testify, that once God’s calling is put on your heart, the whispers follow quickly? … We become bombarded by LIES that Jump from one end of the spectrum to the other, making them hard to identify and navigate.
The first wave of lies are overly positive and full of compliments, trying to encourage us to take credit for everything that God generously provides. Attempting to develop behaviours and responses rooted in pride, and trying to build our worth by our works.
The next wave of lies are overwhelmingly negative and brutal, full of put downs and pointing out every little mistake. Trying to encourage us to doubt our worth, and our ability to get anything right. Pushing us to give up completely and ruining our testimony along the way.
The first wave of lies are easy to fall for, for we have become a culture saturated in “congratulations” for every achievement, insignificant or otherwise. We have been forced to take credit and gain worth for doing anything good, and for reaching each and every ordinary milestone.
Yet these are lies, subtle and supported with evidence, but lies to be sure. For GOD is responsible for ALL the good in us and ALL our abilities!
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” (James 1:17)
The second wave of lies are also easy to fall for, for many of us are well aware of our numerous failings, our mistakes are obvious, our weaknesses abundant. Our judgemental culture has forced us to second guess our worth and our ability to be useful, even by God!
Yet these are also lies, powerful and toxic, but lies to be sure. For we know that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!”
But then He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
See the point of the lies, both positive and negative is to prevent the progression and development of the calling. If the positive lies succeed in their goal to root our responses and actions in pride, then the calling becomes tainted, and loses humility and integrity. We try to fulfill the calling ourselves, rather than being completely dependent upon God.
If the negative lies succeed in their goal to convince us of our uselessness and defeat, then the calling loses flavour and never reaches the potential God has in mind, (if it ever even gets off the ground). We try to fulfill the calling ourselves and allow our failings and weaknesses to dispute the promise of the calling, rather than being completely reliant upon God.
Somehow we must navigate these waters with some anchors in place for when the lying waves begin to hit. So let’s call on His Mighty Name and our Inner Angels to not be swayed by the lies.
Some ways to counteract both of these waves is to accept that the calling is God’s!
His Promises are His not ours. We must recognise when we are trying to do for God, what He has promised to do for us, and through us.
We must resist doing it in our own steam, with our own skills and our own abilities. Every compliment we receive, we can give God two in return! Every opportunity to rely on ourselves, we can turn on our heel and TRUST HIM instead! Every step made in weakness, we can trust in His strength, and Every doubt in ourselves, big or small, is an opportunity to BELIEVE IN HIM!
We do serve the One True God Almighty! Capable of miracles beyond our wildest dreams, and it is an honour to serve Him. For those who have a heart that longs only to please God, to bring Him Glory and do His will, these waves are a certainty. Through His word we can watch our hearts and guard our thoughts, keep our intentions pure, focused only on the faithfulness of God’s promises, and centered on helping those who are lost or struggling and need an introduction to the Mighty Saviour.
We pray for discernment to see through these lies, and that our ministries gain increase for God’s Kingdom and God’s Glory! In Yeshua’s Name! Amen!!
Sometimes when it comes up in conversation that I write a blog on faith and mental illness, or when I share my experience with learning to manage mental illness, the subject of medication is brought up. I am not a Doctor and am not qualified to give any medical advice, I am simply here to share my thoughts, and my experiences, and to ask you to consider these theories logically for yourselves.
Certainly there are many arguments for use of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers etc, (though I have become distrusting of how many are actually valid). If we experience long-term sadness, or episodes of extreme fear, if our children’s behaviour is unsettlingly out of hand, if we find it hard to concentrate or sleep, then it seems the first response from the medical world is a prescription. Yet the Scriptures are filled with guidance on all these issues. These are all classic attacks from Inner Enemies, and God has provided the way to overcome. This doesn’t mean I am opposed to all prescriptions, far from it, I have used them as my first port of call for many years, and still would if my investigation supports it, however it is only now that I am aware of the bigger picture and hope you are also…..
While I believe it is up to each of us to decide if medication is an option for us, we must do so with prayer and wisdom. We must consider the side effects, the risks verses the benefits, especially consider the cost of long term use, decide how long we are willing to be dependant on them, and to also research alternative options. We must take our health seriously and begin to make hard but necessary changes when are bodies begin to warn us. It has become far too common practice to seek out a prescription to bypass our symptomatic struggles, and accept the easiest option, rather than taking the symptoms as warnings that something else is going on that must be addressed.
Prescriptions offered in a mind-altering context are done so without any scientific diagnosis, no blood tests, minimal follow-up and the results are not as reassuring as you or I may like to believe, just check out this link to discover the hidden evils within this drug fuelled money making system.
That being said….Pharmaceuticals have certainly come a long way in recent decades, and some amazing benefits are being discovered. My concern is simply that as a society we have come to rely on medication to help us manage a countless amount of health concerns. We have become accustomed to numbing our pain, and bandaid-ing any underlying issues. Many long-term side effects have begun to surface after extended use of many pills and potions. The consequences of pharmaceuticals are reaping havoc on our bodies, and our minds, as I will share on personal level a bit later in this post. I am not suggesting anyone ignore medical advice or to neglect to take responsible steps towards managing any issues, mental, health or otherwise. I am saying that much more evidence has come to light recently that support natural therapies, diet, and dedication to non-pharmaceutical treatments. All of which are impacting countless conditions that we have become reliant on using medication to try to control.
By hiding our symptoms beneath a mask of medication, are we trying to take our health out of God’s control and put all our faith in Medicine?
Our beautifully wonderfully made bodies are a gift we need to take responsibility for, and ultimate responsibility comes when we put our trust in God. God intends his children to be taken care of and every need supplied.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Here is the point to understand in regard to illnesses………
He uses our suffering to change us for the better, to help us come into close unity with the scriptures.
We need to keep an understanding of faith systems in order to make the most from every situation as God will us to. Otherwise isn’t all suffering just a waste of time, and feels like punishment instead of opportunity for miraculous transformations?
Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Throughout my life I have leaned heavily on any type of pill or potion that claimed to help my various conditions. I have self-medicated in order to tame my symptoms. I too felt unable to cope with the health issues and mental issues I have had to go through. Yet somewhere beneath my desire to avoid illness and pain, I knew I didn’t want to be ignorant to the true underlying cause.
Through my most severe episodes, after my car accident, my lawyers encouraged me into therapy. I saw a psychiatrist for my mood instability and a psychologist for my car-phobia issues. The psychiatrist was quite inept at managing my state of mind, his only course of action was to prescribe mood stabilizing medication. I took the medication to help narrow the peaks and troughs of my emotional reactions, hoping it would give me temporary support and confidence until I could work to find the deeper causes with my psychologist. Yet I felt little relief while taking the pills, at one point I even had suicidal thoughts, thoughts that had never ever crossed my mind in my depressed state before being medicated.
Along with my regular psychology sessions, I invested my time and energy on inviting God to move me towards the type of healing He could give me, towards the hidden truth inside me. I began to gain a clear understanding of myself and how to face up to and deal with my deepest issues. Issues I had no awareness of prior to therapy. I slowly reduced my medications until I came off them completely. This was in no way the EASY option. Medication offers a ‘quick fix’ yet none of the healing, while God’s healing is permanent and has all our best interests at heart, even if it is more laborious.
God showed me that He was using these situations to develop my trust in His plan, to show me His amazing might in my weakest moments, and to guide my steps towards the healing that He wanted for me. He used these situations to teach me priceless lessons about myself in each stage of the process.
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” (Psalm 119:67)
I also had a physical condition a couple of years ago that resulted in numerous hospital visits, and many weeks spent bed ridden. Of course the first suggestion was strong medication, which I willingly took for many months, until surgery could resolve the symptoms more permanently. Yet the underlying issue was not discovered in a Doctors surgery or a hospital. The medication and the surgery only managed the symptoms, yet just like with my mental health, I felt the urge to discover what caused the issue in the first place.
Sadly many medical doctors seem to have issue sharing information with natural therapists, both trying to deny the value of the other, and we are the ones who get caught in the middle, unsure of who we can trust. After much research and dedication to my illness both inside and outside the Doctors office, I began to discover some answers. With the help of a Naturopath and Nutritionist I began to understand that taking antibiotics for sinus infections and a dependence on the convenience of junk food since my teen years, both led to an imbalance of my digestive bacteria, this threw my hormonal balance out of whack and I became seriously unwell. Since then I have refused antibiotics, using amazing colloidal silver to keep infections at bay, and changed my diet to a much healthier organic one. For a period of time I detoxed and used supplements to repopulate the lost natural enzymes and re-boot my immune system. Not only have my symptoms ceased almost entirely and my health improved dramatically, but also I received understanding on a new level about how my choices and my actions affect my life.
I guess my point here is this…. You are responsible for your own health, and cannot rely on one Dr or Specialist or Guru to take that responsibility, for they are not the ones who must live with the consequences.
We have been placed on this planet for a temporary period of time. Given a lifetime of issues purposed to draw out our hidden curses and develop character in the process. If we simply mask the inner enemies and smother our understanding in ignorance, we fail to receive the abundant blessings and miraculous transformations that God intended for our GOOD! All the things God has placed at our disposal to help us through this life are to be used in moderation, with wisdom and prayer, while God’s love and faithfulness can be indulged upon to the full extent that we can muster.
It is easy to take credit for all the talents we pass onto our children, however it is often much harder to admit that we pass on our curses also. This valuable piece of understanding has been the main motivator for me to accept my faults, identify my curses, and work towards change within myself and my life. For the sake of my children, my two precious girls, I wanted more for them than the dysfunction I have lived with.
The main breakthrough at the beginning of my self-journey was discovering that my filter was broken.
You may be asking what on earth is your Filter?
The filter, as my psychologist titled it, is the part of our brain that tells us what to let out and what to keep back, what to let in and what to block out. For one example, it is the part of our mind that determines what is important, what is worth getting upset about and alternatively what is not worth getting upset about. I am not simply talking about the experience of internal emotions, I am also talking about the external voicing of our emotions, the times we show our anger, the times we lose our cool, the times we raise our voice, or force another to hear our unpleasant thoughts and feelings. I am talking about our considered self-talk, the conversations we have with ourselves that analyses our reactions and our paradigm.
This filter also helps us read others accurately. It determines when a situation calls for hostile opinions to be voiced or when discretion is required. It helps us determine if someone has actually wronged us and to what degree of intent, or if we have assumed the worst due to our insecurities or previous experiences. Our filter helps us decide whether being aggressively assertive is required, or if a more subdued form of confrontation would have more beneficial results, or if deflecting the situation and letting it go is best. It helps us discern if someone’s feedback is valid and worth application, or considering if it is merely an outburst without the use of their own filter.
There are numerous causes for a broken filter, only individual, psychological investigation can help determine the cause, and along with an honest relationship with God, it is also the only way to fix a damaged filter. There are countless issues that reverberate throughout the life of one with a damaged filter. It will effect all relationships, possibly career opportunities, and disrupt our sense of inner peace. And of course, sadly, it can cause these issues to transfer into the lives of our children, especially if we have not address it and passed the damage down the line.
I understand how difficult it can be to step back and take inventory of our reactions and responses, it can be daunting to re-evaluate yourself, your life and why you do what you do. Inner enemies encourage us to stay broken, they empower our resistance, preventing us from accepting our broken filter, which can impede us from pursuing the healing we require. A healthy filter prevents so much of the drama that seems to flood our lives, it helps us keep a safe healthy barrier from those who create problems and helps us understand how to best navigate the waters of relationships to bring more contentment and fulfillment.
If after reading this post you too wonder if your filter is broken, I thoroughly recommend praying for God to help you find the right therapist to address it. Be prepared to get very honest with yourself and after some tough work, look forward to the benefits of a healthier mindset. When we realize that our filter is broken, it can be tempting to use its damage as an excuse to deflect responsibility for our outbursts, bad reactions and the chaos that is usually partnered with this issue, rather than something we must take accountability for. But if we think it may be broken then we may be effecting others negatively, and it is unfair to all parties to leave it untreated. We must take ownership and accept the filter is part of us, we need to sincerely apologize to others whenever it misfires and make steps towards healing.
I have seen the fall out of this issue so often in myself and many around me, and I pray with my whole heart that the Lord reaches in and encourages our Inner Angels to fight against the enemy and the curse that is a broken filter. Not only for our sake, but the sake of those we love and the next generation.
There is no denying it, strong emotions easily influence our decisions, and not usually in a good way.
We’ve all experienced overwhelming emotions in varying degrees in our lives. Times when clarity evades us under a dark cloud of confusing heartache, desperation, anguish, guilt, fear….
Even enjoyable emotions can negatively influence our decisions, especially in relationships. We feel so strongly, emotionally excited, that we let our pursuit of those feelings misguide our ability to be logical and rational regarding the pace we let the relationship develop and how deeply or quickly we invest our trust. Not just in romantic relationships but friendships as well. Our desire to be loved and accepted can smother the logic that recognizes a red flag and should deter us from believing flattery and false promises.
Negative emotions can cause us to make rash reactive decisions, without evaluating at the time, we may not like the long term consequences. We have all made a decision in the heat of the moment only to realize we would have done things differently had we had control of the emotions effecting us at the time.
I suffer from a few psychological issues, mainly anxiety and a manic/depressive mood disorder. Unstable emotions play a huge role in my daily life. I am extremely guilty of letting emotions control my decisions in the past, and truth be told, they still haunt me sometimes.
So what has changed? …. Lots!
We may not be able to stop our emotions, but we can prevent them from poisoning our choices. Oh and don’t be confused here: Reactions are not choices. However, using our emotions to excuse our reactions is a choice.
Through many years of therapy and self-awareness I have learned not to trust my emotions. I have learned to accept them as a reactive response but I know if I act too quickly while experiencing the emotion I will regret it later. So I had to set myself some rules.
It is important to develop your own set of rules, by looking back over your life and seeing the patterns. If you know you always find yourself in the same predicaments over and over, seek a Councillor/Psychologist to help you establish some rules that are healthy for you and the decisions you want to make in future.
Look carefully at the people you spend time with. Are they empowering your emotions and encouraging impulsive choices? Or do they display self-control and rational choices? We are all influenced by the people we associate with on a regular basis, but the beauty is we get to choose not to spend time with those who negatively impact us.
A stable confidant is vital to this transition, to detoxing our decision making.
When dealing with volatile situations and strong emotions, get some distance from the immediate situation and speak to someone who you know has a calm, unemotional sense of reason before doing anything else.
Remember: A little prayer goes a long way. If you resonate with this post but doubt your ability to overcome your overpowering emotions, ask your Heavenly Father for some help, read His Word. Through Christ’s strength ALL things are possible!
I never thought it could happen…… Not to me!
The first time it happened, I found I simply had nothing nice to say, everything seemed bleak and I didn’t want to drag down those around me. All my jokes, extended stories, quick comebacks, deep philosophies and laughter had left me. So rather than forcing out anything, just for the sake of speaking, I became quiet. Needless to say, everyone could tell something was wrong and hassled me relentlessly about my melancholy reservedness.
It has been many years since my deep depression, and with a lot of therapy and some big life changes, those faithful old friends ‘words’ came back with a vengeance. I sang them, I spoke them, I thought them, I wrote them, I kept them, I shared them….
“Welcome back wonderful words, how I missed you!” – I felt like ME again.
However, recently I have noticed moments of wordlessness appearing here and there.
I’ve forced out a few drafts of posts, but they simply don’t have that genuine passion resonating through them, so I have not been content enough to hit publish.
I haven’t touched my novel in months.
I have even found myself sitting in company, quietly, actually thinking to myself “come on, you must have something to say, think!”.
Have you guessed? I am not a fan of uncomfortable silences!
So I ask questions, to break the silence. I hear their stories, however long or short…
Am I becoming a listener?
It is something I have prayed for many years to become better at. It’s not that I don’t listen, I hear what is being said, but perhaps I don’t let others know, or feel, that I am truly listening. Maybe I am not patient enough to allow others get it all off their chest. I always have some response to share during their stories.
Some have complained that I talk too much, I admit that much of the time I do, and in the past I have become self-condemning about it. At times I have prayed, begged, pleaded for God to SHUT MY MOUTH! Even if a change came, it did not last for long, as soon as the darkness lifted, I felt like myself again and so did my overactive mouth. I dearly hope to find the ability to be in a really good mood and yet stay quiet..but it has eluded me for all my life.
What a strange change…
Perhaps this is just another episode? The low after many weeks of manic moods and excessive mind wandering? In any case I intend to use the quiet to my advantage. To pursue growth.
Has the Lord has opened up a space for meditation while in the company of others? Something I have not often felt able to practice in the past. Really being there and not lost in a sea of my own thoughts and words.
My therapist gave me some great pointers on how to experience deep listening. He based these tips around the mantra “to be present but without self“.
The first time we practiced this, I was surprised how much I had to concentrate on what was being said while shutting down my own thought reactions, reactions that related their story back to me and my feelings about it. To only try to understand their feelings and leave mine out of it.
This is pretty tough for me, my ego is quite a self-centred bully at times. However, I found this whole thing much easier once I understood what I needed to do in order to achieve deep listening skills. It will take effort, awareness and practice, but you know me, I am always up for a challenge of self (or lack of self as the case may be) 😉
So if things have been a little quiet around here lately, now you know why…
I’m here…. I’m listening….I’m growing…
As a parent there are a lot of tough jobs. They come in waves, ganging up on us, after a while a different range of jobs becomes the focus…… or the torment! 😉
Lately the wave of ‘decision making’ has tumbled me over and over, and then pummeled me into the hard sand below.
I only work part-time, so I am there to pick my girls up from school everyday and share as much of their time as I can. I am with them a lot, so of course they ask me the most questions. I am sure most Mum’s can relate.
Young Girl : Can I have Tuckshop today Please??? I haven’t had it for weeks….
Young Girl: Can my friend sleepover? We promise not to be noisy……
Old Girl: Can I go to this party?
Young Girl : Can I ride my bike on the road? I promise to watch out for cars, My sister used to be allowed….
Young Girl : Can I play on the Wii before bed?? I will sleep straight after, I promise……
Old Girl: Can I go for a drive with my friends?
Young Girl : Can I watch this movie?….It’s only got some mild course language. I will not listen to it or think its funny….
Old Girl: Can I stay out past curfew just this once?
Young Girl : Can I save the rest of my dinner for lunch tomorrow? I am not that hungry and it will be so nice for lunch…..
Young and Old Girl : Can you straighten my hair before school?
Young Girl: Can I have $2 for an ice block?
Old Girl: Can you drive me to the shops?
Young Girl: Can I come in to pay for the fuel? (And ask for half the store while I’m in there)
Old Girl: Can I have $50 for a new skirt and shoes?
And on and on it goes…..
OH.. GOD HELP ME!!!
Coming up with reasonable answers when put on the spot is hard enough, but when those answers are challenged with convincing and logical replies, aimed to change my decision, it can, at times, become unbearable.
I think I am a pretty tough Mum, I stick to my guns more often than not. I give my explanations so they understand why I made that decision.
Now I am wondering if those explanations are the flaw in my plan…
As my children are growing, their voice of reasoning and negotiations skills are developing, and I think perhaps I have taught them too well. They know exactly what to say to make me question if my decision is fair, or right, or reasonable. They know how important I take my role as their Mum, and that I want to make as many right decisions as possible.
With my current condition and medication aggravating my mood disorder, over these past few months I have experienced a few old familiar “episodes”, these are my inner enemies. Some episodes are manic, some depressed and anxious, some irritable and reactive. When the enemy of anxiety rises up, making decisions is almost impossible to do with any certainty. Second guessing yourself is a constant companion. Then again, so is third guessing and fourth guessing and so on….
Unfortunately, the questions don’t stop just because I am mid-episode. Young girl doesn’t read the warning signs and demands more from me when I am fragile, and old girl (who was always the most compliant child) has found her challenging teenage voice. After 3 months on the medication that stirs up inner enemies, I was at breaking point!
Family meeting time!
After taking the time to explain my condition in more detail to my family, I asked for some extra grace through this trying time, and for them to ask themselves if their questions are really that important or urgent. I also explained that when you share a house with anyone, whether it is family, friends, strangers, borders etc, a major part of making it a healthy household is being considerate of each other. If you can tell that someone is having a hard time, a bad day or asking for some space, then the polite and respectful thing to do, is do your best to accommodate them. That way they might return the same grace to you when you need it.
I ended our family meeting with a gentle warning:
If you poke and rabid dog with a stick, no matter how much it loves you, it will eventually turn and bite. And if you ask an anxious Mum too many questions at the wrong time, the answer you get may be unfair, unreasonable and wrong. Yet that is the chance you take when you ignore the signs of your poor worn out Mum, who loves you more than words can say, but won’t like you very much if you wake her from her self-prescribed recovery nap to ask if you can finish the rest of the jelly!
I have come across many people who hide from themselves, they resist the pursuit of finding themselves, and miss out on growing into the happiest possible version of themselves.
Have you learned how to be happy and accept who you are, and ignore the opinions of those who set out to change or criticise you? Have you stopped the force of influence from people who you do not aspire to be like?
Are you authentically true to yourself?
Does your life and character reflect who YOU really want to be?
There are some important steps to pursuing the authentic, untainted version of you! Steps towards learning how to become the You, that YOU really want to be.
I have found these steps to be the foundation of what I have gained during over 6years of honest therapy, with a few different psychologists.
Sometimes, often even, a stigma can follow an announcement of seeing a psychologist. Those who have not had therapy, or not understood the need for it, may vastly misjudge those of us who go regularly, and wonder what is ‘wrong’ with us. Some may avoid therapy even if they think they need it, because this stigma covers them with shame. Sure, the most extreme cases of ‘crazy’ are treated in therapy, and so are a variety of mild to severe mental illnesses, mood disorders and psychological conditions. However I don’t feel you have to have a severe problem to benefit from regular therapy. In fact I think everyone would benefit from seeing a good therapist, even just once in a while.
I have found that a good therapist is a sounding board, a place to express your own thoughts, feelings, desires and concerns about who you are and how your life is going. It is place to escape the onslaught of voices from those who have taught us their own rules of good & bad, right & wrong, should & should not. It can become a place where you get to investigate and choose which rules YOU agree with, which ones you want to alter, and which to delete entirely.
A good therapist will not tell you what they think you should or should not do, but will empower you to eliminate those toxic, unhealthy influences and rules you are not benefited by. Those you have adopted through exposure during your lives, which do not improve your sense of fulfillment and self-acceptance.
Have you spent time digging through your beliefs, choices, actions and habits and figured out what makes you tick? I recommend we question everything we were ever taught and test it against what we have learned in our own experiences. What was true for our parents and teachers may not be true for us. What we teach our children is based on our own perceptions and may not be true for them as they grow into their true selves.
Once you have figured out which rules you want to keep and apply, establishing some boundaries will protect your belief system. Developing your own boundaries in a healthy productive way, gives strength and stability to your choices. Good therapists will help with this. The instability from past attempts at boundaries, I have found, resulted because they were actually walls put up reactively, out of anger and resentment etc. These unhealthy walls will probably crumble at the first sign of challenge, or cause even more of the bitterness and anger that first created them.
A healthy proactive boundary will bring a sense of peace, it does not need to be pushed onto anyone else, but when challenged can be gently, or firmly, reinforced exactly where you have comfortably placed it. It gives assurance of the ‘You’ who you want to be, because when challenged, you won’t allow someone you did not permit to influence your beliefs and your sense of the authentic YOU!
A lot is changing in my neck of the woods of late. Much of it I knew was coming in advance and it grew like storm clouds in the distance, looming and grey, with the possibility to bring either destruction or renewed freshness of life.
It has been a strange couple of months adjusting to each change as it tacked itself onto the growing cloud, and the upheaval of emotions brought with each new turn. Even though I am aware of the effect these changes are having on me, I have been trying my best to stay balanced. Trying to be aware of my sensitivity to the friction and fear that are close acquaintances of the unknown. Trying to hold myself in, keeping tight grip on the emotions that are brimming up inside me, but to be honest I have been failing much of the time.
As I read my older posts, I know I have had a true sense of peace at various points over recent months. Yet at the moment, the concept that I can get back there anytime soon is not tangible enough to calm me. I accept that so many changes are bound to cause unpleasant reactions to slip out and I have been endeavoring to demonstrate some self-compassion. Not very successfully, but still, I am trying.
When life gets many bursts of change all at once it can take on a manic appearance, and mania is an old foe of mine. I have had too many encounters with manic episodes to trust myself in its presence. I have a true deep affection for people in general, I love engaging and connection, but even so, I have come to learn over the years that I am not good at being around other manic people. Not for long anyway. I am too easily influenced by the emotions expressed by others, they add onto my own dysfunction. It is unhealthy for me to spend too much time with someone else’s mania, which I have no ability to calm or control.
So, as changes come thick and fast, the faster time seems to pass, not enough time to regroup my thoughts and get a grip, and it’s nearly impossible to slow my thoughts enough to seek God before I act upon them.
I have been hit with a condition that has had me bed ridden for almost 2 weeks. My Iron levels dropped so low that I could barely stand for more than a few seconds. I have had to watch and cope with all the pending changes from a horizontal position. You would think resting in bed for two weeks would encourage time to slow down, but feeling useless only added to the upheaval I have been battling with. Those enemies of friction and fear were not appeased in the slightest. The weight is still building on my shoulders.
So I guess this is my prayer request, in Yeshua’s Name:- That I stop trying to maintain control over things God is obviously trying to change, because they may be the keys to changes I have been asking Him to bring about within me. To have a subconscious level of trust in His plan. To recognise the stirring of mania as an opportunity to faithfully hand all my cares into His capable hands.
Your prayers are greatly appreciated…..
Like many others, I always thought meditation required sitting in the lotus position or lying down, eyes closed, taking time to relax every muscle in your body, imagine your breath is like a river cleaning out your stress, stopping all thoughts, finding that illusive place of calm etc … Honestly, I find this quite difficult.
I have practiced and benefited from relaxation though. Before bed, when I am having trouble sleeping, or when I am really anxious about an upcoming event. But who are we kidding? If we had enough time to do this regularly, we wouldn’t be half as stressed in the first place. Most of the time I am too tired to try to focus for that long. Frustrating more than relaxing, right?
However, after a bit of research, and some great posts from fellow bloggers, I have discovered other concepts regarding meditation.
Simply put, meditation is practicing being present in the moment. That sounds easier said than done, so I will share a couple of my own tips.
The quickest way I find to center myself, is to imagine (in detail) the view God has looking down on me right now. I see what I am doing, where I am, what is around me, what face I am pulling, and how I am holding myself and so forth.
Then I go internal, I pay attention to what my body feels like, what I can hear, what thoughts and emotions I have in the forefront of my mind, what is the pace of my breathing, and then see if I can really slow it down.
I don’t deny or push away thoughts, I just accept them and look at them without judgement, which makes it easier to just let them go and go back to being present. Allowing myself a break from mind-wandering into the past or future.
As some may recall, I made a new years resolution and prayer in my post A Focused Mind. To attempt to become skilled in meditation in order to focus and reach my goals, to be inspired and more present, to relax and make room for my mind to process the changes I am working on as a mother. True to the Lords word He has already begun answering my prayer, I am definitely getting better at this. Showing my children how to learn to enjoy the present moment is becoming increasingly important to me. I believe a more ‘present’ relaxed Mum, means secure, happier children.
I have watched a few TED talks and Youtube Videos on meditation recently and learned more amazing benefits. “Meditating, it is like taking a magic pill that will lower anxiety, pain, depression and anger and will improve attention, immune system, self-control and well-being.”
I want my children to experience these benefits too. Couldn’t we all do with this in our lives? Yet I bet, you can come up with a hundred excuses not to try this, starting with, “I don’t have enough spare time” or “I would forget to do it because I have too many other things to think about” (which is kind of the whole point).
There was a terrific idea on one of these videos. The “Don’t wait… Meditate!” pledge.
Pretty simple really…
We all hate waiting because we are wasting precious time, but we all have to wait, on hold, in lines, at traffic lights, before appointments etc.
The pledge is to be present, to meditate while you are forced to wait. No extra time is required.
I meditate while driving to and from work, I do it when I am waiting to pick my girls up from school, or while someone I’m talking with has to take a phone call. I am learning to do it while I engage with people who I feel most sensitive around, I am noticing that this helps slow my defensive reactions so I can ease them somewhat.
Depending on Christ, along with analyzing and understanding my own behaviour, has been hugely responsible for why things are changing for the better around here. I am excited at the changes on the horizon.
The clip below was extremely valuable in helping me understand the why and how of meditation in more detail and I hope it blesses you all.