I’ve been thinking a lot of the allegory of physical pain and emotional pain, and how you treat both as I go through extensive physical therapy for my physical pain. My physical pain requires me to focus on stretching out my muscles multiple times a day so that I am in less pain each day. It’s a challenge to choose to do painful exercises that take away time from other portions of my day, but my physical pain increases when I decide not to do the stretching exercises. Likewise, it is this way in the therapy process. Clients ask me, “How long will this take? How many months or how many sessions will this take to get better?” My response is always the same: to whatever level you put into practice the things that I tell you to do outside of the sessions is to what degree you will recover faster. Last time I was going through physical therapy, I had a severe achilles injury that required doing daily stretches. The problem was that I was in the midst of a move to another house and forcing myself to stop packing up my house and do the necessary stretching was very difficult. I wound up requesting that my doctor sign off on doing more physical therapy so that the therapist would force me to do the work I needed to do to get my leg back. The process of physical therapy took longer because I was putting many other things ahead of my recovery. Moving towards emotional pain and the work we need to do to recover ourselves to psychological health is a painful process. We are forced to stare down the things that we avoid dealing with in life, and we are forced to deal with the feelings that we would medicate by keeping our minds occupied. However, I have noticed that the higher my physical pain levels are, the more I self-medicate and the less I reach out to others. My mind is so preoccupied with my pain that I am unable to focus on giving proper care to those close to me. I realize that I must force myself to do the exercises that cost me time and pain in order to get better for both myself and others. My life is happier when I am pain free. I am not hindered in my daily life and the activities that I can choose to do when I my pain is lessened. The same is true for my loved ones. I give them better care when I am not focused on my pain. I am much more pleasant and amiable when my pain levels are down. How about you? How are you dealing with the emotionally painful things in your life? Are you facing them down daily or are you avoiding them at all cost? Each decision has its own payoff. Avoidance of the pain feels as if it lessens the pain in the short term, but the less we deal with it, the more the pain grows, the slower the process of recovery, and the less I give those whom I love the quality of care they need.
Posts in category growth
Sometimes the forgiveness that releases me comes from me choosing to forgive myself. I remember many years ago struggling to get over a boyfriend in college, and finding myself stuck in obsessing over what I wished I had done differently. Shame has a creepy way of continuing to torment you over what you should have done differently by keeping you mired in ways that cause self-hate. You wish you could move on, but the fact of the matter is you keep ruminating over what happened in the past as opposed to moving forward. When my boyfriend and I in college broke up, it was a mutual decision; he moved on to date other women, and I stayed stuck unable to move forward and focused on all the mistakes I allowed in the relationship. I spent a good portion of my junior year focusing on all my errors in judgment and overly aware of all my imperfections in interactions with the opposite sex. Even though I had long ago forgiven him for his part in our relationship failure, I could not stop focusing on the mistakes I had made. One day as I sat in a mall food court with a friend and I shared how I was still stuck, she asked me, “well, when are you going to forgive yourself?” A light bulb turned on at that moment, and I realized I was still walking and shame and unable to forgive myself for my lack of wisdom in my relationship. As it turns out, this conversation was a powerful life lesson about making mistakes. I came to see that to move forward in anything I had to extend the same level of forgiveness to myself that I was extending to other people. It was at that moment that I began to understand how much shame about imperfections, failures, and mistakes impacted my forward movement. What errors of the past are you still focusing on in your thoughts? Are there areas of your life that you are stuck in as a result of focusing on your failings? How do those unforgiving thoughts about yourself affect your self-hate and other sabotaging behaviors? It’s time to start forgiving yourself. It’s time to start giving yourself grace for mistakes because that’s what they are…mistakes.
He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him
Do you have Cinderella Step Sister Syndrome (C.S.S.S.)? “What in the world is that?” you ask. It is the attempt to live someone else’s dream that doesn’t fit who we are, such as Cinderella’s stepsisters did in Grimm’s famous fairy tale. In the original story of Cinderella, written by Grimm, the stepsisters did physical harm to their feet by cutting off toes and heels to attempt to wear the glass slipper designed for Cinderella. Many times, our effort to live someone else’s dream can cause physical, emotional and, spiritual harm to us, but because we are living out a dream, we don’t see the cost to us, but we certainly will feel it. Sometimes when we are not living our best life, we find ourselves daydreaming of what life could be like if things were different or trying to shove our feet in shoes that we cannot walk in. Alas, neither of these options produce little more than frustration in our life. In my line of work, I meet many people who are living the lives that others have created for them instead of writing their story. Many people still live the lives their parents set up in work, finances, and relationships. They have assimilated the beliefs of their parents into how they live, and in turn, they live someone else’s life; a life that of their parent’s design. Be it parents, teachers, pastors, partners or friends who influence the choices that you make; you need to have a clear image of who you are so that you start making decisions that will move you toward your passion. Once you have located your passion, you will find it easier to make choices because you will understand what options or people to embrace and what choices not to embrace. Your truth about yourself will bring your peace and energy and will cause you to set boundaries for anyone or anything that negative encroaches on that which you hold dear. The Cinderella Stepsister Syndrome recovery challenge is to find your passion in life and move toward it because it is when we move toward who we were created to be in life that we start finding our fulfillment. The psalmist David understood this about God and was able to recover from many challenges in life because he understood this concept of God. Today, I challenge you to search the internet for passion finder assessments that will help point you in the right direction (my personal favorites are the DISC Career assessment, COPSystem, and the Destiny Finder profile), and to search out people who see the same things in you that the assessments provide. We need people in our lives who will embrace us for who we have been called to be, not who they need us to be for their purposes. I often relate this to my life when I think about the mentors in my life who had supported my passions even when they did not benefit from those passions. I know that I would still be living the life somebody else had created for me and being confused and powerless, had someone not stepped forward and said to me, “ I see who you are in this area and you need to do much more of it!” Cinderella’s stepsisters never received what they wanted out of life because they were living the life their mother had created for them. It’s time to create a life that brings you passion, not one that crushes your dreams because you live for others.
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Did you ever wonder why it is hard for you to maintain new habits once you have started them? Be it an exercise routine, an eating plan or a cleaning plan, it can be hard to maintain new and we wind up cycling back to old. I have a very bad habit of not putting away my clothing when I change out of clothing, and quickly amass large piles of assorted clean clothing. It’s a habit I am capable of changing; however, the problem is my belief system. I believe I am messy with my clothing and, while organized in most other areas of my life, this one belief has been hard to change. How about you? What are the beliefs that cause you to resume old habits because the belief systems are what keeps us stuck? If we want to change our circumstances, we are going to have to change our beliefs. Maybe we were verbally abused by our parents so our belief may be that people can say disrespectful things to us and we just have to allow it. Perhaps people in your developmental years were constantly living in lies, and you were taught not to question your gut experience of things. Or maybe you were sexually abused as a child and learned to treat your body with shame by mistreating it in some way. Our worldview is formed by age 12, and many of still allow the child inside of us decide how we will behave and how we will allow others to treat us. It’s time for the adult to start deciding what they believe about themselves and acting out of that truth instead of allowing the child to drive your life. In my life, my spiritual beliefs of how God views me have caused me to change my beliefs about myself and how things can change in my life. However, there are many people who were taught God is a punishing and vindictive God, and they still live out of that belief system which keeps them stuck in a cycle of perfectionism or shame with God. There is no easy math equation regarding beliefs in life when trauma and loss enter into our lives. However, it is possible to begin to understand what your beliefs are that keep you stuck and begin to change the way you think. Unhealthy beliefs will result in unhealthy choices and circumstances. Healthy beliefs will result in healthy choices and circumstances. Choose today whom you will let drive the car of your life; the child or the adult will drive the car. The adult in my life has a clean closet more days than not because I force myself to own the belief that I am capable of putting away my clothes. Each time I do this simple habit change, I think to myself, “You are an adult who likes a clean and environment and this habit brings you peace and joy. You can put away your clothing each day.” While, you, the reader may be irritated with my analogy of cleaning up clothing, it’s a simple analogy to underscore that even small habit changes can bring life to areas that once held shame.
Romans 12:2 (MSG)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Recently, a rare bird has been spotted in my neighborhood and neighbors have spent the last weeks hosting hundreds of bird watchers from all over the United States and Canada. Over 900 visitors have visited and signed the guestbook, and neighbors are all a little confused over the fascination that would cause someone to travel thousands of miles to view a bird. I have to admire their passion that drives them to spend time and money to seek out that which fulfills their dreams. How are you at investing in your dreams for your future? Do you spend time and energy on moving toward your dreams or do you just wish you could move toward your dreams? For most people, they know what their dreams are, but they don’t know what keeps them powerless and unmoving. Powerlessness can be likened to an invisible chasm in which you don’t know where it starts and you don’t know where it stops. Therefore, you wait until the fog clears to get a better view only to realize that the only way you are going to get a clearer view is to change your perspective. You need to go higher above the fog line by inviting the higher power of God into your sight line, or go deeper below the surface you are standing on and get below the fog line. Sometimes the most powerful thing we can do for ourselves is to understand what is the below the fog line; the aspects of our past and that of our parents that keep us from walking forward. I usually do a family genogram with people during our first information gathering session where I draw out the family tree on the whiteboard for people to see the feeds from their past that get into their sight line. Rare is the person that doesn’t see something that they never saw before as their history it is now in their sight line on the whiteboard. Rare is the person that does not have fog removed from their eyes when they seek to understand their past from a different perspective. Sometimes one just needs to see things below the fog line to get clarity on how to move forward. In my case, one of my empowerments came from understanding how repeated patterns of treatment from my abusive grandmother caused me to interact with my world, bond with my world, share in my world,etc. When I came to see that much of my perfectionism was tied to the beatings and verbal abuse I received for mistakes I made as a child, I could finally learn to take the fog of perfectionism out of my sight line. Before digging deeper and going below the fog line, I knew I was a people pleaser, and I knew God did not want me to live there, but there was trauma tied to mistakes that needed to be rooted out so that trauma responses were not fogging up my sight line. God wants us to achieve our dreams. He desires to us to flourish and grow because he is the one who created us. He is cheering us on to walk in power and authority and move toward our dreams, but we may have to look at some things from our past that are hidden below the surface so that we can clearly see how to walk forward.
Psalm 20:4 “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
Psalm 33:11 “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
Psalm 37:4-5 “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
I admit it. I am about to sound like a cranky old lady, who rants about the younger generation, but I am not that person. I have a problem that people do not require their children to learn the art of writing thank you notes and showing gratitude to people. I see these attitudes invading marriages and families, and it disturbs me that the art of gratitude is being lost amidst the growing entitlement I see in marriages and families. Here is the rule by which I try to live: I will not use the money or item someone has given me until I first write a note of thanks honoring the sacrifice and gift that was given to me. That same rule applies for my children. One of my children follows the rule very easily and the other needs to have some motivation applied to make sure it occurs. I have a personal mission in life that they will not be entitled children who become entitled adults because it will cut off the flow of favor they will receive as adults; people honor people who honor them. I am seeing a whole new generation of people who expect behaviors from people with whom they are in a relationship because “that is what they are supposed to do.” I have men who tell me that their wife needs to give them sex because that’s what they need, but they fail to give the nurture their wives needs to be cherished. I have wives with husbands who fail to engage them as they are supposed to because they are constantly criticizing their husband. I have children telling me what their parents should be doing but failing to honor it when they do it for them because it is the expected behavior they have of their parents. I have employees telling me what they deserve, yet fail to put into the job what they expect out of a job. Do you want your children to be less entitled? Do you want to be less entitled and more gracious? Start writing thank you notes. When someone does you favor, gives to you, or does something for you out of the ordinary, write a thank you note to honor what they have given. In the grand scheme of life, people who honor will receive more and people who do not honor might or might not be honored in return. Thank you for listening to my old person rant. I appreciate and honor your support of me and my desire to blog.
There are days when you navigate life with tremendous skills and days when you have Ultimate Fail days. Sometimes I have days that I unintentionally let people down and the one who feels the worst about it is usually me. Today was one of those Ultimate Fail days. I forgot to call someone, I missed an appointment, and I forgot to email someone something – all within the course of few short hours. I had a choice as to how I was going to navigate those failures. My past was littered with pity parties and self-hate sessions that would last a whole day; however, I am trying to look at failures differently these days because I am learning that there are benefits to failing. Most successes are usually built upon previous failures and failure usually comes before success. Failures show me where I need improvement and failures are packed full of lessons on how to do life differently, but there is a catch; how do I do different if I do not know how to do something different? This is the question that can be addressed with others through therapy, your job, church, school, friends and sometimes your family. It seems we all know what we need to do, but we don’t necessary know how to achieve it because we need someone to teach us how to do that new way of living. Many times how we learned to navigate life is through the patterns our parents and grandparents taught us to deal with life. Alas, many of us enter adulthood lacking the essential skills necessary to be successful in multiple areas: having friends, pursuing education, pursuing purpose, making financial decisions, intimately relating to those close to us in our lives, etc, etc, etc.. Where are you lacking skills? Who do you see who is successful in those areas you are lacking? These are the people we need to learn from because we are never going to be able to teach ourselves something that was never modeled to us unless, of course, the person who is teaching us happens to be named God.