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“She really knows how to play the victim!”, I’ve heard some people say.  “He has such a victim mentality!” others have commented.  Does this sound like something you have heard before?  Have you ever had these thoughts, or maybe even voiced them?  I know I have. 

When I was thinking about this today, my thoughts immediately drifted to how I myself have gone down the victim mentality path on occasion.  Have you been down that path too?  It is quite the dark and lonely path and if anyone is traveling with you, they sure don’t have any incentive to make you feel better!  In fact, they are only traveling that path with you so they have some company in their own misery.  And some just really like to top your complaints.  Now isn’t that just frustrating!  All you really want to do is feel better!

What I have to remember, and maybe you do too, is how to recognize that path before I walk down it.  The number one thing I’ve learned over the years is to recognize my thoughts and the chatter going on between my ears.   A helpful little mind tool I’ve heard about and use quite often is to say to myself….. “Stop the whining, complaining and blaming!”

Sounds pretty harsh right?  I know for me when I’ve got that mentality going on, I need a little slap in the face (so to speak… no one really slaps me).  That quick and easy-to-remember statement, especially since it rhymes, really helps to avoid going down the lonely path to misery.  Whining, complaining, and blaming is your immediate clue that you are starting down the “victim mentality path”.  Do you recognize this in yourself?

There’s no need to beat yourself up over it when you recognize its presence, (that would be more of the same!).  Just plain and simple, look at what is really going on.  Take a little time to offer yourself some compassion for all that you have gone through or are going through.  But don’t stay there forever.  Move on to asking yourself if there is something you need to change in your life,  something you need to do,  someone you need to forgive or to support, or maybe even some fear you need to let go of.  More on that here… Perseverance in the Midst of Fear.  

What can you control about the things you are going through?  What can you let go of and what can you give to God?  See thoughts on that here… 3 steps to boot anxiety.   So take some time and be your own therapist.  Don’t pay the big bucks when you can just ask yourself some questions like any counselor would.  Remember to ask questions – not blame, wag a finger or berate yourself.  That is not helpful, that’s just mean.  So please don’t be mean to yourself!  Treat yourself like you would a good friend.

As I wrap this up now,  I want to simply share from my own beliefs just how thankful I am for my one and only counselor that I always turn to when I need help, insight, guidance, forgiveness, or to just stop being a victim!  He is found in God’s Word… The Bible.  I love this Bible passage found in Isaiah 9:6, which refers to Him as a “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.  His name is Jesus.  Can you think of anyone better to bring your problems to?  I can’t.  

God bless you today as you travel through life not as a victim, but as a Victor! 

Comments or future blog ideas are always welcome!

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3 Steps To Boot Anxiety

It’s a big challenge these days not to feel anxious. There seems to be problems everywhere. An unstable economy, high unemployment, job losses, corporate downsizing, war and unrest in so many parts of the world just to name a few.

We struggle so hard to make a living, nurture good friendships, connect with family, thrive in our significant relationships, and grow in our personal and spiritual lives. But often we just want to throw up our hands and say “Enough, I can’t take it anymore; get me off this treadmill”. And so we go looking for a way to ease our pain, our stress, and our nagging sense of anxiety.

Does any of this sound familiar? I know it can be so discouraging and overwhelming to be in that place of constant internal struggle with fear, anxiety and stress. We all deal with it and we are all faced with the same question, “How do I handle this or get over it and come to a place of peace, love, joy and forgiveness”. You may question if that is even possible but I believe it is very possible, even in the middle of your storms.

What I would like to suggest today is just a couple of simple things to help turn those fears down, let go of that anxiety and ease the stress away. By following these simple mind sets, you too can enjoy greater peace and less stress each and every day.

1. Handle It:  Ask yourself, “is this within my control?” If it is within your control, then do something about it as soon as possible.  It’s easy to procrastinate on things, especially when it’s outside of your normal routine or it’s going to take a bit more thought on your part.  Maybe you’re even just a bit on the timid side when faced with something that need to be done, especially if it causes some stress.  But when you stop procrastinating, and start taking action, it is the best cure for this type of stress.  The sooner you can get it done, and put it behind you, the better you’ll feel.  In fact, I’ve heard some people say they simply do the things that are most difficult, or anxiety producing first thing in the morning.  A good plan to get the anxiety behind you and move on with your day!    

2. Boot It:  If it is something that is out of your control, then give it the boot (out of your mind).   So what am I referring to?  Things like the weather, the government, war, economy, other people’s actions, or opinions, are all things that you really can’t control.  When you feel fear, stress or anxiety over things you can’t control, then take a deep breath and simply tell the thought that you cannot control it, and so you will not be holding on to it anymore today.  It is really above your pay grade to worry about something you can’t control anyway.  So what I suggest is quite simple I realize, yet it works well if you really do it – and that is to consciously (and audibly if you like) tell the thoughts, worries, or whatever, to take a hike, go away, and metaphorically give those anxieties a good swift kick out the door.  

3. Pray for it:  If you are a person of faith, you can consciously cast your worries on to God (or whatever name you attach to your Higher Power).  If there are anxieties in your life that you realize you cannot control but they are not things you can just boot out of your mind, then you need to have another way of handling it.  This could be people in your life that you love but have no control over;  a health issue that is out of your control;  some life or work issue that is also out of your control but is definitely a part of your life.  These things are probably the most challenging because they are on our minds and in our lives on a regular basis.  That is when you need to flex your faith muscles.   This may take some practice, or you may be an old hat at it, but quite simply it’s just a matter of giving away the worry to God in prayer. You may also be asking Him to effect the situation as He sees fit or ask specifically for an outcome.  You are then handling it, but not taking it on personally.  Simply pray for the issue to be solved, healed, blessed, etc., and just watch as God takes care of it.  Prayer is an essential part of a healthy life, and a practice that not only keeps our own minds stayed on peace (or as some call “centered”), but also affects others through it’s awesome power.

I know many people who struggle with fear and anxiety (yes, including myself) and I’d like to just say that it’s totally normal, especially when we are stepping into something new. If you are changing jobs, moving to a new area, starting a new business or even just beginning a new class, it’s easy to feel out of your comfort zone.

When we’re out of that comfort zone, we obviously get a bit… well, you know, uncomfortable.  This is just the way our brain is wired to help keep us safe.  But it’s in these uncomfortable moments that we have the opportunity to grow, stretch and dare I say, even change.

If there is one thing I’ve learned lately, it is that we must simply put one foot in front of the other when it comes to facing our fears.  We cannot go from 0 – 60 mph in 2 seconds, nor should we, but if you always walk forward, even if it’s slow, then you are doing just fine.  Fear is conquered when you simply push through it until it’s gone. 

I’ve heard perseverance can be summed up by saying that our greatest glory lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.  I like to keep that little quote in my back pocket because Lord knows, I’ve fallen and had to get back up more times than I care to count.  If you are anything like me, just remember that if you rose up from the ashes once already in life, then you can do it again, and again, and again.

You are probably stronger that you think.  Give yourself some credit, trust yourself to persevere in the midst of fear, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Lessons from a Mud Puddle

As I was babysitting my 3-year-old grand-daughter, she just had to make a mud puddle with the small watering can I gave her to play with. She found the perfect spot, applied a lot of water, with the help of grandma of course, and made a nice little mud puddle perfect for her size feet to stomp in.

As she stomped away, splashing the muddy water everywhere and squealing with joy, I realized she loved what she was doing so much because she had made it happen – all by herself! She made the mud puddle, she made the splashes, she made the foot prints in the mud, and she was making it all happen!

As I encouraged her by saying, “Good job Ellie, you are doing it…. you are making mud”, she stomped even harder, giggled even louder and agreed how great it was to make mud! My encouragement of her accomplishment made her want to do it more, and gave her confidence to stomp harder and splash longer in her lovely little mud puddle.

It occurred to me that this was a lesson in how a little encouragement can go a long way. We all need some encouragement every now and then, and when we get it, we are able to go farther, rise higher, stomp harder, splash better, and do it all with more confidence than we had before. 

Let’s encourage one another today.  In this way, we will help others make their puddles in life with more vigor and confidence than before.

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