Skip to main content

Do You Stink?

Do You Stink?

Recently the power went out in the building where I work and I wound up having to do three counseling sessions via candlelight that night.  The candle lighting was subtle, however, the fumes from the five different candles were so overwhelming that they overpowered my sense of smell.  I was so overcome by the fumes to the point that I questioned whether I was high by the end of the evening.  One scent may have been tolerable over the course of three hours, but five different scents were toxic. I had that smell burned into my olfactory sense for days!

Since that evening, I have been thinking of the aroma that I and others emit.  We know we can be overpowered by someone’s bad breath or body odor, but we can also be overpowered by someone’s “emotional” smell.  Sometimes the emotional aroma is so powerful that it can affect those with whom we share life. How do we “emotionally smell” to others?  I tell my family when they are emitting unpleasant physical smells so that they have the opportunity to do something about their aroma.  The truth is that unless you are middle school boy who finds terrible smells amusing because you can annoy others, most people do not want to smell unpleasant to others.

I remember the days of my perfectionism when it came to entertaining people in our home.  Nobody in our home except our guests experienced the event with great joy because the aroma of tension, anger, and anxiety filled our house before our guests arrived. I needed things to be perfect!  My family was forced to take in my unresolved emotional issues of perfectionism and they had to experience the unpleasant aroma I was producing.  Fast forward twenty plus years, and I and my family are in a much different place. I have empowered them to tell me their feelings when my behavior aroma is negatively impacting them.

Here are the steps you need to take to create a more pleasing aroma in your relationships:

1. Talk about and use vulnerable feeling words within your home. This will enable your children to learn the language of feelings at a young age. Then, they can openly talk about the unpleasant things they are experiencing from you instead of acting out their emotions.

2. Permit your family and friends to let you know when you stink.

3. Take the feedback given to you and ask yourself if there is a way you can be a more pleasing aroma. You may need to work on your issues to eliminate those unpleasant emotional aromas!

4.  Don’t make excuses for the way you smell by blaming it on others or by focusing on someone else’s smell.  If you want to be a pleasing aroma, you need to work on your own scent.

5.  If someone else stinks, you have a choice of how much you allow their unpleasant aroma to affect you.  If you walk in relationship with them, you are responsible for telling them about their offensive aroma. However, it is not your job to convince them of their smell or tell them what to do with it. You only have to choose how close you sit to them.

God calls us to be a pleasing aroma.  He says in Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Summer: When the Kids are Home and Moms Go Crazy!

Help With The Feelings of Summer

School summer vacation has an immense undercurrent to it these days.  Below the surface of the joy that the children feel about summer vacation from school, there exists a hint of angst when parents think about children being home in summer.  It is rare though when a parent openly shares their negative feelings of shame and guilt associated with children being home. There is less structure, less mom time, and less money available because food, entertainment, camp, and vacation expenses go up. Moms, in particular, feel more guilt and shame over not being able to be the fantastic mom portrayed in social media. Therefore, they find it difficult to focus on the positive aspects of connecting with their children and find summer to be a struggle. Two conflicting emotions are colliding! However, God desires to empower us in all the losses and negative feelings we experience during this season.  We love our children; however, we may need some assistance in processing our feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and powerlessness that get stirred by the summer break. Join host Sharon Wegman and her guest host Jesukah Beachy (mom of four girls) as they discuss how to bring empowerment to the negative feelings tied to summer break.

Relationship Change is Exhausting and Invigorating – Just Like Moving.

Around this time last year I moved. It was exhausting and difficult, and every day I crawled in bed close to tears. Change is hard on so many levels and this is true in relationships as well as household changes. I was recently reflecting on how difficult it can be to change how you relate to your spouse when you have related in the same ways for so many years. Like moving, transition in relationships can be hard. You have to decide what you are going to keep and discard in your relationship transition. As people grow and change, what they need in the new relationship is not necessarily what was needed in the past. Many changes in the course of a marriage will impact what the marriage needs and what each person needs as time marches forward. Births, deaths, illness, the ages of your children, the work status of each person, spiritual crisis, emotional crisis, extended family issues, holidays and many other things will impact how your relationship needs to transition. The new relationship will require both parties to move around how they had positioned themselves toward one another. Rare is the occasion when how the furniture was positioned one house can be positioned in the same way in the new location. In all relationships moving, to the new way it is to exist will require some difficult conversations often filled with pain and hurt. The pain and hurt is usually so large that it is exhausting for the couple and yet they must push through the pain and exhaustion to get to the other side. One person cannot move the relationship alone. You just cannot carry the relationship to the new without both parties doing the heavy lifting and feeling the pain, but that is a hard task. Rare is the person who embraces emotional pain and allows themselves to sit in it until it can be moved and yet it is what is necessary to make the move together. Relationships cannot be moved to the new alone, but they require heavy lifting, pain and exhaustion close to tears. We cannot do it alone. We need the supernatural medicating power of God to assist us through all transitions as he has the power that we can lean into when we do not feel it in and of ourselves.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

 

Secret Garden

When I was a child, I loved to read and one of my favorite books (besides the Nancy Drew series) was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The story details all the discoveries of a girl when she moves in with distant relatives who she had never met. One of the main character’s discoveries is that of a secret garden that had been locked up and untended for many years due to the pain of loss tied to that garden for her family. I had a similar discovery of a secret garden recently when doing yard work at our new home. For whatever reason, the previous owners allowed the weeds of the wetlands that back up to our house to take over a rose garden that had been planted and landscaped; we did not realize the rose garden existed until things began to bloom and we began tending our flower beds. It was a small discovery that brought me joy on a number of levels because it reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books. It made me wonder to myself what else has yet to be discovered! The concept of secret gardens exists in people as well as gardens. There is so much beauty that has been locked up, hidden and undiscovered due to losses individuals have endured throughout the course of their life. I am constantly challenging individuals to pull away all the weeds and briars that they have allowed to cover up the beautiful aspects of their being. The painful briars that keep the beautiful things guarded are the same painful briars that keep us from enjoying the beauty. Most people will respond to my challenges by saying it’s just too painful or too hard to remove the walls, but when given assistance by those around them that also want to see the beautiful parts of the individual uncovered, they can allow the progress to occur. Finding discoveries of hidden beauty in people is not uncommon but finding assistance in helping to remove the painful briars of protection can be. When was the last time you complimented an individual on something emotionally, spiritually or physically beautiful about that person? We need people to pull the beauty out of us and with us; otherwise, the weeds of life that come with loss and trauma slowly choke out the beauty. God can help us, but we must also tend to our gardens, The Bible says it this way: 1 Corinthians 3:9 Amplified Bible (AMP) 9 “For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building.” Go pull some weeds today so that the beauty of who you were created to be can be visible to yourself and others. Stop keeping your beauty in a secret garden.

 

Do You Recognize Your Water Bottle?

Do You Recognize Your Water Bottle?

Do you Recognize your Water Bottle?

Most of us have perceived images of what a water bottle looks like; therefore, when water is presented in a different container we tend to not recognize it for what is in the container.
The same can be true for life giving people in our lives. We have an expectation/perception of what they will look like and fail to recognize what is contained within them. How many times do we keep people who are life giving out of our lives just because they do not meet our perceived expectation on the outside?
Perhaps we need to adjust our expectations when looking for emotional and spiritual water. It does not always come from the source we perceived it would come from.
” Like a cool drink of water when you’re worn out and weary
is a letter from a long-lost friend. ” Proverbs 25:25(MSG)

Five Phrases that will Bring You Greater Emotional Connection

In the world of counseling, we frequently discuss relationships and how to interact with people in positive ways. I regularly am directing people to learn new communication skills that promote positive emotional connections in their relationships. Learning a new way of how to speak to others is often like learning a foreign language. It takes a long time to learn how to connect with people on a more intimate level when you are learning a foreign language or when learning how to speak in an emotionally connecting manner. Most of the people I meet were raised in homes where neither languages were taught.
The following are five positive phrases we can use with friends, family members, and coworkers to connect with them in positive ways:
1. “You should be proud of yourself for __________________ (fill in a behavior or action).” When we focus on the fact that the individual should be proud of themselves, it causes the person to take ownership of their actions instead of just hearing the ways we are proud of them. Although we may state that we are proud of them, our main focus needs to be that the individual is encouraged to take ownership of their good choices.
2. “I am sorry that you have to deal with this______________ (fill in the blank).” “That must make you feel_________ (fill in the blank with an emotion).” People need to hear that we have empathy for their situation so that they do not question the validity of their own feelings. All humans need to feel understood in order to feel emotionally connected to another person.
3. “You are good at _________________ (fill in a skill or a behavior) and I benefit from your strength in this way_________________(list how their strength impacts you).” All of us need affirmation and to know how we are impacting our world in a positive way. Are you telling people how their strengths impact you?
4. “Everyone makes mistakes, myself included, and this is what I did that was similar __________ (share a similar mistake)”. We need to hear that our mistakes are part of the normal human condition because when we do make a mistake we tend to blanket ourselves with shame. We need other caring individuals to help remove that shame by letting us see that we are not defined by our mistakes.
5. “I notice you______________ (fill in a positive action or attribute).” All people need to be recognized for their positive contributions that they bring to the world and when you recognize another individual for their contributions, they will feel loved and valued.
I have no doubt that most people reading this post wish to be more loving individuals, but most people were not taught the language of emotional connectedness. Try to introduce one of these phrases each day this week.
8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love makes up for many of your faults.[a]

The Paradox to Vulnerability

I was rude to several people yesterday while attending church. During the official greeting time of the church service, I refused to shake their hands. My rudeness was a really a desire to protect people from the head cold I have had for the last week. As I was greeting each person, instead of shaking their hand, I would place my palms in front of me as if in the surrender position and declared to each person, “I do not want to give you my cold germs.” Each person I greeted me thanked me for not shaking their hand.

How many times do we do what is socially polite with people instead of doing what we really feel we need to say? How many times do you ache to say how you really feel or what you really struggle with inside of your head? We tend to worry how people will perceive us if we share the “sick” parts of ourselves and worry how our “stuff” will impact others so we do not share. We probably will not be able to change the longevity and strength of our physical illness by sharing our germs with others. However, we can significantly impact the longevity of our emotional suffering if we share our story with safe people. This is one of the most powerful aspects of the counseling room. Counseling is sharing our story with an individual who will extend grace and healing to those parts of our story that we share with them.

There is a paradox to the vulnerable sharing of our story with others. At the same moment our chance of being hurt increases is the same moment that fresh and new perspective can occur. If we never share our story, we are assured us that that part of our story will not receive further hurt, but it almost always assures us that new life will not be able to touch that part of our story. The benefits outweigh the risks on the balance scale. If we want new life to be the byproduct of two people sharing, then we must vulnerably share our story and hear new perspective with safe people and with God.

Who are the safe people from whom you are hiding your story today?

Pray with me today.

“God, I need to grow in my ability to share my story with others so that new life can occur. Please help me identify the people, the times, and the places I can share my story today and the rest of this week. My motivation is to receive new life into the parts of myself that need new life and to break the grip of shame that keeps me hidden and not moving. I choose to trust that my sharing with safe people and you God will produce new life in me.”

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8

Three Tools to Help You Begin to be More Vulnerable with People in Conversation

1. Do not allow yourself to give a pat answer to a friend who is asking you how you are doing. This would include responses such as “fine”, “good” and ” fine, how are you?” Many people have been taught that polite conversation is appropriate in all situations. Yes, it is good manners in general society, but when it comes to friendship, it sends the message that you are walled off.

2. Include some mention of how you are doing emotionally. ” Feeling words” will evoke a sense of opening up to the person on the receiving end of the response.

3. Answer in small paragraph form. For example, instead of replying with your standard ” fine, how are you? ” response you could respond by saying something like; ” I am really worn out emotionally and physically from staying up with sick children this week. The whole week has made me feel a bit POWERLESS.” A vulnerable word such as powerless will invite people who are safe into your vulnerable world.