01/08/2017

Please Excuse My Self-Care

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 12:54 pm by The Water Bearer

So often in my own life, and in the stories I’ve heard from loved ones, acquaintances and potential clients, self-care takes a back seat. Usually because we have somewhere along the way believed the stream of accusations of our selfishness, whenever we disappoint someone, either from critics around us, or our own internal voice. We find ourselves with no free time or energy, as we try to meet all the demands and responsibilities placed upon us.

We then transform into people pleasers, consumed by pedantic expectations, driving us to twist and mould into the cookie cutter shape someone else has decided we should fit. We tend to fall into the mindset that if we put everyone else’s needs before our own, then we must be right. Righteous even!

After this song and dance routine for a few years, it can be common to hit a wall. I don’t know about you, but I found it exhausting trying to keep appeasing each new unpredictable disappointment in those around me.

We are prickly creatures sometimes, us human beings, and we have a knack for taking our crap out on those closest to us. If we are lacking in self-awareness we fail to understand where the line is that allocates blame, and unable to own our own disappointments. Rather, we let fly on others, with only excuses and accusations for the outbursts.

For those of us who have commonly been on the receiving end of these outbursts, becoming a “People Pleaser” is almost second nature. Cleary accusations and guilt trips are obviously things we instinctively want to avoid, and it is often easier to change ourselves accordingly, especially when there is no apology in sight to release us from the blame.

The reason this constant shape shifting drives us into that wall, is because shape-shifting actually prevents us from knowing who we are, what our purpose is, and where we draw self-esteem from. Which is completely unsustainable long term. Plus the inner discomfort is toxic, and it usually manifests in our lives in self-destructive and unhealthy ways. Binge drinking, eating, smoking, promiscuity, and other addiction based behaviours.  Shape shifting consumes our self-compassion and our joy, leaving us with a tank emptier than an oily rag.

If we think about it logically, we only become more selfish when our tank is empty, we begin to put up walls so that we have fewer people to please. Often that empty tank leads to some form of physically illness and we suddenly realise that our illness is a wonderful way to shift the blame off our shoulders, a great excuse for failing to meet the demands of our relationships and our lives ….”I can’t keep you happy when I’m not 100% can I?”

Now be careful if this is starting to sound familiar, because it can become a viscous cycle!

This is a common reason why so many avoid regular therapy, or avoid any serious steps to develop their faith. They avoid making any positive changes in their diet, exercise regime or bad habits, and it’s why they remain stuck in a rut with staggering levels of low self-esteem, unhealthy relationships, and selfish misery.

However, setting aside time and effort, creativity and passion for your self care and the things that fill your soul, is actually going to benefit more people in the long run.

Hear me out on this.

It seems everyone now is talking about self-care vs selfishness, and the difference between having self-interest and being selfish. Is it more and more common for people to use ‘self care’ it as an excuse to get out of doing the things they don’t want to do? Which actually if you think about it, takes healthy self-care and turns it into selfishness. HOWEVER, if a little self-interest helps generate more self-awareness, less reactive behaviours, and increases joy, self-compassion and tolerance. The fall out it seems, is that self-tolerance leads to increased ability to tolerate others, self-care increases our ability to care for others in healthy ways, spreading joy and peace. Perhaps the only negative consequence is that we just might piss off a few high maintenance people along the way. Which we were probably already doing for the wrong reasons before, and I can tell you, that they will singing a different tune when you find your tank full enough to actually help them when they Really need it!

So go ahead, give yourself permission to take care of yourself! Attend that Sanctuary Stretch Class, take ten minutes to listen to that Scripture -Meditation, enjoy some quiet moments in that warm bubble bath. Start that project you’ve been pondering. Set in place some healthy practices and protect your need to honour them. You not only Deserve it.. you Need it!

www.sanctuarystretch.com 

Sanctuary Stretch on YouTube

26/04/2017

My Trigger Happy Moments

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 1:23 pm by The Water Bearer

I could see it happening to me, like being a distant observer of a tornado! You see clearly its destructive nature, you know there is a fall-out coming. You are aware of that voice of warning that calls from some silent place within. It cries with anguish “This is all about to go PEAR SHAPED!”

The beauty of self-awareness is that I now know what is happening to me when I begin to spiral. For those who haven’t experienced the spiralling emotions of mental illness or never felt the triggers that spark them, you may consider yourselves lucky. Yet there is something profound about the places that can be discovered when you learn not to trust yourself completely. When you refuse to give your emotions permission to become excuses for poor behaviour. After so many years developing self-awareness, I now understand that during these moments I am being forced to cling to my faith. I know that I must ride the wave of emotion with acceptance and awareness, and not make any sudden decisions. I must be prepared to repair any damage that is left in the wake of a triggered attack.

This recent episode came with familiar foes, second guessing and self-doubt, with a flood of tears and a self-critical scowl. I found a safe place to unload, my wonderful hubby, who knows how to listen without adding fuel to the fire. He leaves aside comments like “Pull yourself together”  & “Its not that bad” He knows I need validity, that my emotions are very real TO ME in that moment, and that refusing to accept them only makes matters so much worse!

Sure enough in the aftermath, I needed to debrief, and I soon came to recognise that it wasn’t quite as bad as all that. I found clarity in the long honest conversation that came afterwards, and then I received that wonderful, insightful epiphany, that nugget of understanding which made it all make sense. This spiralling episode taught me to understand yet another trigger of mine. Another inner enemy to be watchful of, I learned how to articulate something about myself which I could not give voice to before. This nugget of understanding also revealed an answer to a situation that I had been praying about, something that had been bothering me for a couple of years!

I’ve mentioned before that I despise deception! It is my biggest fear! But who else recognises the trigger of not knowing where you stand with others? A history of reactive guilt trips and emotional instability leaves us with a need for constant feedback, seeking for any thread of warning, any scrap of insight into the future mood of another person. That way you can be prepared for the attack, and place up that protective wall before the shock of rejection takes your feet from under you. And isn’t it funny that it always seems to come from those who are overly nice to your face! Full of gushing compliments and open armed invitations.

Here at Inner Angels & Enemies we recognise the tricks the enemy plays inside us, and inside others. When we have faith and self-awareness, we can use these revealing moments of insight to remind us of the weapons available to us, and once we know a little more about the battle, we can prepare our armour accordingly!

YEEEEEW!  God is so Good!!

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)


 

13/02/2017

The Lying Curse

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 7:24 am by The Water Bearer

lies-sk

 

It was so incredibly shocking to me when I first realised just how self-deceived I was. The emotional curse I inherited is not just common in me or my family, but within many people and families spread across the globe…. The lying curse. There is something sinister whispering lies to us, using our own voice, our own logic, our own feelings. Hiding deception within the very layers of our understanding of honesty!

The lying curse has been around as long as the human race. It began in the Garden of Paradise when Eve first believed the lie that our Heavenly Father could not be trusted. Her heart knew God was faithful, but her own voice said “How can I know for sure?” Her heart knew she was blessed in paradise with her Man and her Creator as companions, but her logic said “What if there is more that I am missing?”, and her heart knew she should not listen to the lies, but her emotions said “You deserve more!”

When emotions are so powerful, when desires are uncontrollable, our awareness of the lies we tell ourselves becomes woven into the opaque structures of our fallen humanity. YES WE BELIEVE OUR OWN LIES!

We become increasingly focused on our own self-preservation at the expense of others!

ignorance_is_bliss_wall_decal_singleThe saddest, scariest part about our humanity is that even when we are staring these lies right in the face, our automatic programming to self-defend clouds our willingness to see.   No matter how long I have been aware of this curse, no matter how long I have written this blog or tried to share it’s truths, I am unable to reveal awareness of this curse to others.

“A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still” – Benjamin Franklin

You see the only reason I know of this curse and all its toxicity, is because I wanted to know. Before then no one could have convinced me that I was lying to myself, I would have been stubborn and indignant in my own logic that their accusations were unfounded. I would have been offended and defensive.

However something shifted in my heart in my 20’s, something that shattered the false sense of innocence I had been seeing in the mirror up until then. I SAW MYSELF and I was HORRIFIED! I determined myself to do anything to break this curse, and so I began a long intensive journey of self-discovery, using God’s word as my new mirror. I was adamant that I would no longer believe another lie…. Ha who was I kidding! Once I began to pick away at the surface of lies I realised the true depth of them. In that awareness I am levelled at the foot of the cross, in a place where I am dependant on Grace more than BREATH!

It takes a very specific kind of experience to shock us into this kind of awareness, and the circumstances are different for each of us. It requires a place where our heart becomes exposed, where we see our life in the truth of its dysfunction, and how far removed it is from the purpose and blessed life God intended us to have. When we truly believe the promises in the Word, and that God wants ONLY GOOD for us. That He wants to lavish us in blessings! And finally we recognise that the role we have played is not as innocent as we have always believed.

That place becomes a dying experience of sorts, where we have come to the very end of our own strength, to the end of our self-reliance, to the end of our excuses, and ultimately the end of faith in ourselves and our abilities. When we say “I can’t keep living like this anymore. I am sick of the same toxic patterns repeating themselves over and over again! I can not take another step in this same direction!” Not just “something must change’, but rather “everything must change, especially ME! and I have no idea where to start!”

This concept of reaching the end of yourself I have written on before here, which explains the tipping point between self-reliance & self-deception, and COMPLETE SURRENDER!

Surrendering to truth and surrendering to the Almighty is where your true self can begin! It is the sharp turn around a blind corner, with no foresight to cushion the fear, and yet you make that turn because you have tried every other turn and didn’t like where it led. All of a sudden humility becomes an honour, and will-power becomes a farce. That is where miraculous transformations occur!

Everything in the world will try to prevent that turn, and everything inside us will deny it’s necessity, but we deserve to see the truth, for the TRUTH WILL SET US FREE!

resist-the-devil

25/02/2014

Who is Really in the Mirror?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:05 am by The Water Bearer

One thing I have found to be a true blessing, along with spiritual faith, is self-awareness. It is one of the most important things we need to achieve growth and inner peace in this life, and something I write about often.

I have lately been thinking about those who may not have as much self-awareness as others, about those people who haven’t changed much over the years, and are still stuck in the same old patterns they have always been.

I read a little something recently, it said:

“If you are the same person, with the same perspective you had a decade ago; then you have just wasted ten years of your life!”

Before I gained some Godly self-awareness, I thought I was self-aware. I thought I was a ‘good person’. I prided myself on having good intentions and wisdom. My heart was in the right place (or so I thought), I knew the difference between right and wrong (or so I thought), and I was a good friend and family member (or so I thought).

Back then I had no regrets, I had no lingering, self-conscious guilt, because I always had a very good explanation for my actions. It was usually something like, “I meant well”, “I felt ….”, “I’m only human”, or “I had no choice” (because of what someone else did first).

I had little or no remorse for my own actions, (unless of course I got hurt in the fallout). I never set out to hurt anyone,  and if I did hurt someone else, I found a way to believe I was right, and that made it ok with me. I saw no reason to change, I was onto it (or so I thought). I used my excuses, and understanding to stay in my own spiraling cycle.

When I became aware of how God saw things, it smacked me in the face and it hurt!

I was SELFISH! I saw things from my way and didn’t consider that perhaps there was a better way. Sure I was always rushing to help people, I was thoughtful and did kind deeds all the time. I tried to find ways to show my affection for others so that they would know how much I thought of them. But I didn’t realise that I was really only doing it to be seen as a good person, not because I was actually a good person. I couldn’t admit the truth to myself so I figured all the trials of life were not lessons I had to learn, just tests to see if I was strong enough and if I could keep my faith through them.

Life will do it’s best to help us become aware of ourselves, and if we stop avoiding it we will be amazed by the realisation. And while it is a challenge to work hard and break the cycles you have been stuck in your whole life, it is definately worth it.

In a recent therapy session we were discussing the downfalls of having no self-awareness. My therapist put it this way “If you don’t regret your actions that affected yourself or others in a negative way, then you avoid the reasoning to need to repair the situation, and refuse to take a realistic look at yourself and make necessary changes.” In other words, these people can’t apologise without explaining why they aren’t really to blame, and they don’t see the need to alter the way they handle things.

He also said that “People who excuse their own actions and don’t own up to the pain they caused another, will continue to hurt others and will usually end up very lonely, they will also wonder why”.

How sad is that! Out of a lack of self-awareness we can damage our relationships so badly, and some will never find the inner peace of growth, or a new perspective and the truth about themselves. It may leave them without a clue as to why they feel isolated from others. We can easily blame everyone else yet we refuse to accept blame ourselves, it would simply be more productive if we swallowed our pride and took a good look in the mirror. That is the only area of our lives that we can bring about a true transformation.

The serenity prayer is one commonly found in households all over the world. It aims to tackle this self-awareness problem. We need the courage to face ourselves head on, to see the truth about ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to bring about a change in our lives, one we will never regret.

“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

12/12/2012

Quietly Confident*

Posted in Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:19 am by The Water Bearer

Dad

The third anniversary of my Dad’s passing is here, He is missed enormously.

Has it really been 3 whole years since I looked into your eyes? Really!?!?…..

Many things stand out to me when I reflect on who my Dad was, numerous good things, many difficult ones, some sad.

Today I am thinking of something I feel a pull to dig deeper into and treasure up into my heart, so I may emulate it in my own life.  I am naturally a personality hungry for love and acceptance. Many of us are, yet not only hungry, starving even. I have tried to expect it, demand it, beg for it, manipulate it, wait for it and eventually … appreciate it.

This week I had an epiphany, I realised that for as long as I can remember I have felt a pressure upon me to compromise my own opinions and perspectives in order to avoid conflict. As if, to be loved and accepted, to enjoy the company of ‘everyone’, then I must alter my beliefs to keep the peace.

Please understand that I am pretty strong willed and rarely accommodate this change, I don’t back down or let people walk over me. However, I have let the feeling of this lack of acceptance seep deep into my convictions. I second guess myself often, or desperately try to justify and explain, and I search for ways to cope with forcefully opposing views. I find myself either giving in to the pressure over time, or putting up huge walls, or copying some behaviours of others, behaviours that are not ‘mine’, in order to feel I have something in common with them, something that might connect us.

When I was young, doing drugs, drinking and smoking eased the pressure off my reluctance to enter into a sexual relationship, because everyone else was doing ‘it’. I could still engage with my peers that way, without being rejected for being too different. Wanting to be a singer and actress, or a lawyer, was too far from what my peers envisioned for their lives, so I went into hospitality and became an expert at pouring a beer and carrying a tray. Being a Christian came with strange looks and the ‘Goody Two-shoes’ label, so I began dressing in an overly Gothic style and swearing like a sailor.

Do you see the pattern??

I was running around trying everything everyone else was doing, because I had no idea how to be strong and happy enough to just be me, and be different. I needed others to like me for being anything else, anything acceptable. Problem is…What is ‘acceptable’ can change with each new face you greet. It is an impossible bar to reach.

There is a need to be quietly confident in our beliefs, so that we don’t feel threatened when they are challenged.

I am not very good at this, because as the years have passed I have allowed this pressure to cause me to become very defensive of the person I am, the person closest to my ‘true’ self, without the influences of opposing opinions. Yet, I am on guard, certain that previous offenders will threaten my lines of certainty. It makes me anxious and I react badly, lose my composure, and therefore treat these offenders aggressively. The worst part is that these are people I care for, and also if I begin to fire off defensively, innocent people may get hit with friendly fire in the process or aftermath. I feel very far from quietly confident in these moments.

As far back as I can remember, my Dad didn’t compromise his beliefs for anyone except God. He held up his opinions against the word of God and against his relationship with God, and allowed God to challenge him and not the acceptance of people. He stood strong in his convictions against all who tried to manipulate him to change. This affected his family life and his social life to the extent where he spent many many years completely alone, with God. It wasn’t until the last decade of his life when he finally found a bunch of people who accepted him and his beliefs so that he could finally relax and enjoy the company of others.

So in order to still have people in our lives and achieve quiet confidence, we need to develop a loving way to protect our boundaries, without allowing the onslaught of attack and opposition to send us into a tizzy of defensiveness. Not everyone will fall into the category of peacefully agreeing to disagree. Some will always feel that an opposing view needs to be challenged and this can be extremely vexatious to the spirit.

Like Dad, I have begun avoiding spending time with people who can’t help but confront and try to move my boundaries. Lately there are much less times that I feel this pressure, than when I do. I have found my own bunch of people to be comfortable being myself with, who I can disagree with, without getting defensive, and not feel the slightest need to change in order to suit them, because I know they love and accept me regardless of our differing views. I don’t have to defend my boundaries, I don’t feel anxiety in their company. I can relax and be me and it’s all good.

I am going to keep working hard on being quietly confident, and lovingly protect my boundaries with those who I feel anxious around, without the overly defensive reactions. I will definitely need all of your prayers on this one, it’s a biggy!

bent in prayer

02/10/2012

At War with Inner Enemies**

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:34 pm by The Water Bearer

I started this blog for a number of reasons. I have a strong desire to share with others how to recognise and overcome our inner enemies. I hoped my experiences would prevent others from being captives of lies and destruction in their lives. Yet recently the Lord allowed me to come face-to-face with a new level of my own inner war.

I had known for a few weeks that a trial was coming in the form of a get-together. I knew that my forgiveness and trust would be challenged. I won’t lie and tell you I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t afraid of who may come at me, I was concerned about how I may react if my boundaries were challenged and the situation turned ugly. I still don’t trust myself or my reactions when faced with inner enemies from my past. I know I need to keep my boundaries strong when they are shot at and stomped upon, but strong boundaries are a relatively new practice for me and I have yet to test them properly against the ‘big guns’ in my life, not enough to feel secure in them anyway.

I decided to go on a 3 day fast, and to pray for God to hold me in His safe grip. I reminded myself that all is in God’s hands and to be prepared, rather than taken unaware, if the situation turned down an ugly path.

The shock factor is what sends me into an uncontrollable spiral, so I try to avoid being shocked if at all possible.

I sensed the spiritual pressure building a day or two before the test, my reactions were aggressive and volatile. I kept praying, and filling myself with the word of God, apologising to all around me for my prickly nature. The trial came and went without drama, but it was when I relaxed in the aftermath that my inner enemies saw fit to sink their claws into me and my old insecurities. This was an onslaught from left field and I was entirely shocked!

For the following 3days I was completely overwhelmed with spiritual attack, I believed the lies they were feeding me, and allowed them to control my reactions and emotions. No matter how much I prayed or read my Bible, I couldn’t lift my head out from the murkiness to see clearly. I truly believed every lying thought in my head. My attack opened the door, inviting itself into my home. Arguments and tears flooded the rooms, harsh words and discord became rampant. Love, joy, peace and truth were nowhere to be found!

On the fourth day the curse was broken and I saw….

My enemies had been telling me I was failing God, that I would never complete His request of me to write His novel. That my Husband didn’t really support my writing, or understand me, or love me for all my uniqueness, lies provoking thoughts that all my blessings were a moment from collapse. No matter how hard I tried to explain, hoping someone would convince me differently, I was left hanging over the abyss with only lies to keep me company.

In my usual analytical fashion I assessed myself trying figure out what had inspired this attack. Besides the fact that I am usually spiritually challenged around a full moon, and had the lingering residual pressure from the get-together. I was also facing strong emotions as I cleaned out old boxes, ones which had belonged to my Dad and had been sitting in my garage, since he passed.

As I sit here and reflect on it all, I feel so weak for allowing my old insecurities to rise up and cause dysfunction in my family. I’ve confessed, I’ve praised, I’ve sobbed for my Dad, wishing him to be here to pray for me, like he used to, when times like this arise and I am left exposed and vulnerable.

Yet I can’t help but understand that something huge happened in the spiritual realm as a result of all this. Plus of course my own massive realisations. New levels of self-awareness, humility and growth. Renewed faith and confidence in God’s strength to still pull me out of all the dark times, and all in His perfect timing and not mine.

I would love for all my posts to be filled with encouragement from my accomplished victories, rather than wallowing in despondent self-assessment. Yet I refuse to hide from the truth of my weakness, and will give glory for the only strength that gets me through. His!

19/06/2012

Who is really in the mirror?*

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:10 pm by The Water Bearer

I read a post recently by a fabulous writer who I have found in the blogosphere. Author Jodi Ambrose was talking about her recent birthday and reflected on her youth by listing her traits at 20 years old. You can read her excellent blog post ­here. I enjoyed Jodi’s blog so much that we began exchanging comments. One thing we have both found to be a true blessing, along with spiritual faith, is self-awareness. It is one of the most important things we need to achieve growth and inner peace in this life, and something I write about often.

After our little ‘comment swap’ I began to think about those who may not have as much self-awareness as others. It got me thinking about those people who haven’t changed much over the years, and are still stuck in the same old patterns they have always been.

I read a little something recently, it said:

“If you are the same person, with the same perspective you had a decade ago; then you have just wasted ten years of your life!”

Before I gained some Godly self-awareness, I thought I was self-aware. I thought I was a ‘good person’. I prided myself on having good intentions and wisdom. My heart was in the right place (or so I thought), I knew the difference between right and wrong (or so I thought), and I was a good friend and family member (or so I thought).

Back then I had no regrets, I had no lingering, self-conscious guilt, because I always had a very good explanation for my actions. It was usually something like, “I meant well”, “I felt ….”, “I’m only human”, or “I had no choice” (because of what someone else did first).

I had little or no remorse for my own actions, (unless of course I got hurt in the fallout). I never set out to hurt anyone,  and if I did hurt someone else, I found a way to believe I was right, and that made it ok with me. I saw no reason to change, I was onto it (or so I thought). I used my excuses, and understanding to stay in my own spiraling cycle.

When I became aware of how God saw things, it smacked me in the face and it hurt!

I was SELFISH! I saw things from my way and didn’t consider that perhaps there was a better way. Sure I was always rushing to help people, I was thoughtful and did kind deeds all the time. I tried to find ways to show my affection for others so that they would know how much I thought of them. But I didn’t realise that I was really only doing it to be seen as a good person, not because I was actually a good person. I couldn’t admit the truth to myself so I figured all the trials of life were not lessons I had to learn, just tests to see if I was strong enough and if I could keep my faith through them.

Life will do it’s best to help us become aware of ourselves, and if we stop avoiding it we will be amazed by the realisation. And while it is a challenge to work hard and break the cycles you have been stuck in your whole life, it is definately worth it.

In a recent therapy session we were discussing the downfalls of having no self-awareness. My therapist put it this way “If you don’t regret your actions that affected yourself or others in a negative way, then you avoid the reasoning to need to repair the situation, and refuse to take a realistic look at yourself and make necessary changes.” In other words, these people can’t apologise without explaining why they aren’t really to blame, and they don’t see the need to alter the way they handle things.

He also said that “People who excuse their own actions and don’t own up to the pain they caused another, will continue to hurt others and will usually end up very lonely, they will also wonder why”.

How sad is that! Out of a lack of self-awareness we can damage our relationships so badly, and some will never find the inner peace of growth, or a new perspective and the truth about themselves. It may leave them without a clue as to why they feel isolated from others. We can easily blame everyone else yet we refuse to accept blame ourselves, it would simply be more productive if we swallowed our pride and took a good look in the mirror. That is the only area of our lives that we can bring about a true transformation.

The serenity prayer is one commonly found in households all over the world. It aims to tackle this self-awareness problem. We need the courage to face ourselves head on, to see the truth about ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to bring about a change in our lives, one we will never regret.

“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

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