Find Your Wings and Fly Little Bird

Find your wings and fly little bird. See what for most is impossible.

Be intentional about your life.

Feel the wind in your wings.

Hear the lullabies of the crickets at night.

See what most don’t see in the details of nature right in front of you like the mysterious needles on an evergreen that keep their color all year long.

SING! Touch hundreds of other lives with your song.

Explore the heavenly earth.

Admire who you become through your adventures and recognize your strengths.  Yet work to understand other creations knowing their instincts may be different than yours.

Be wary of the lurking hawks. When your wings need rest or your vision doesn’t allow you to see the light, return to your nest. Yet don’t let fear keep you from soaring to new heights. There are new days ahead.  You are important to others in your flock.

Look at how far you’ve come from being just a little egg. See the miracles of your life so far. Keep following your instincts and the best of what your devoted parents taught you when they sacrificed their life for your care.

When you are mended, stretch your wings once more and keep flying little bird.  Find your wings and keep flying.

Are You Considering A Life Change?

Every five to ten years most people go through a life examination. Through the lessons of counseling others, as well as seeing friends and family go through life, there comes a time where many people ask, is this all that life has to offer?

Maybe you think it is the job, your house, your lack of material things or your spouse that is the source of your disappointment. You think back at all your hopes and dreams and don’t see them happening for you.  You realize you are bored and find yourself desiring new excitement. As new experiences, things or people are introduced you experience FEELINGS similar to a drug’s high. Those are all fine unless you begin to rely on those external factors for joy and become reliant to a point of unhealthy addiction.

With anything, we can sometimes idealize other people’s lives and forget we aren’t seeing their whole picture. We aren’t seeing their challenges or sacrifices.  If it is a desire for a different spouse, we forget that everyone wakes up with bad breath, likes to get in comfortable clothes after work, has their bad days and the newness always wears off.   No job is perfect and all homes require work.

The changes you are considering also require sacrifices. New jobs require you to feel vulnerable again as you go through the learning curve. New houses require a TON of work for you to organize and it takes a while for it to feel like home.

The most severe and costliest change that can also have ripple effects is divorce.  Second marriages where children are involved can be even more work than first marriages.  You will find things that you don’t like about someone you live with no matter how perfect they may seem.  The good things you now take for granted in your current spouse may end up being the very things you miss in the new one.

Whether it is a house, job or person, everything NEW does lose its luster and excitement. Constantly jumping from job to job, house to house or spouse to a spouse is a possible sign of needed self-healing. If the reason for the change is caused by expecting the next thing to lead to greater happiness, it can lead to endless disappointment. It may be too hard to face the fact that the problem is really within yourself and that search externally can lead to continued spirals of emptiness.

The fact is, peace and joy are controlled internally by a reframing of the mind. I have met people who have very little and yet are full of joy. I have talked with someone whose spouse has battled life-threatening cancer for five years yet their faith keeps them holding onto peace. I have met people and heard stories of parents who have lost their children and were still able to forgive their child’s murderer.  On the other end of the perspective, I have met people who have all kinds of money and still feel the desire for more in order to be happy.

Alternatively, there are times you can outgrow a job, house or friends. There are also times where you may finally realize the need to leave an abusive spouse or boss. You may have gotten stuck into not changing.  You could be in a situation where you have let others take advantage of all of your adjusting on their behalf. You may be in a situation that is truly unhealthy for you.  Staying unhappy is also not the answer.

So how do you know whether a change in life is going to lead to a better life for you or not?

Start with self-discovery.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Why are you making this move?
  • When you go back to the reason’s why you chose that job, home, friend or spouse what was the reason’ for you making that choice originally?
  • How has that situation changed?
  • Are you chasing something or running away from the old?
  • Have you created a list of all the things you currently have to be grateful for?
  • If that choice you are contemplating does not make you happy, what will you do next?
  • What are all the pros and cons of the changes you are considering?
  • If you make this change, could you end up being in the same place you are in now?
  • If it is a spouse you are considering leaving and have children, what do you want as your legacy or what kind of life do you want for them?  Don’t they at least deserve your effort to first get marriage counseling?
  • How do you want to affect the lives of others around you that are forced to do all the adjusting if you do not heal in a healthy way?

Only you can truly answer these questions. If you are willing to hear your answers but are having a hard time finding them, you may need someone to help you self discover.

Find a counselor who will help you with that self-discovery process and that will not judge you.  Be sure you are NOT just looking for advice from people who will give you the answers you WANT to hear just so you don’t have guilt. What you NEED to hear is how YOU will feel about yourself after making the decision you choose.

Don’t expect anyone else to give you the answers. If are expecting to be given the advice for an easy way out, don’t.  You need to expect to be held accountable for whatever choices you make.  If you don’t make a healthy choice for yourself based on your values, it will lead to shame and guilt and more unhappiness for you to face.

Others have been through struggles and learned from mistakes. Those lessons have led to healthier more fulfilled lives.  Through counseling and spiritual practice, there is hope for you too!

Southbrook Christian Church has free counseling. There is help out there and within this website. If you are in an abusive relationship or need professional help search for sources near you. Also for further questions, you can email me at everythingforthesoul@gmail.com for a professional reference.

Create a Lasting Marriage

Favorite Sources on Marriage

Overcome Common Struggles

When to Make a Job Change

Cover photograph courtesy of Olivia Simon

How to Turn Anger into Inner Peace

Compassion is the road to forgiveness and turns anger into inner peace.

So often we get caught up in our own jealousies and anger of other people and forget what they may be feeling or facing. If you are someone who feels weight caused by others and wish everyone else would change, then start looking inside yourself. Realize the solution may be within you.

If you find yourself being quick to anger, think about why that situation made you blow up. In the psychology lessons I continue to study in order to counsel myself and others, I have learned anger comes from unexpressed communication, a hurt from our past or the lack of the ability to forgive either yourself or someone else.

What is it for you? Likely you deal with something that makes you quick to anger as it seems everyone does. For me, it is in the evil parts of perfectionism. As a perfectionist, I beat myself up and always try to do the right things. I work so hard at it that it can lead to harboring resentment for others who seem careless. I can grow bitter for the endless work and strict rules I have worked to try and follow, especially when I let myself be a pessimist. I can get swallowed by my self-pity when someone else is rewarded for their little effort.

However, in reality, no one else has put those rules on me. That is me putting those strict guidelines up thinking if I just follow all the rules nothing will go wrong. By recognizing my anger is coming from how I am viewing the situation and not because of the other person, I realize I can do something about dealing with the bitterness. I have no right to build up resentment or force change on those who are more carefree. What I need to be doing is learning from them. The more I strive for excellence, not perfection and more importantly remember to have fun, the happier I become. Also laughing at myself could do me some good!

For you, it could be something much worse. Many people have shared stories with me where I can’t help but get mad with them. If you have deep-rooted anger due to the cruelty of the unimaginable, please seek professional counseling. Get coaching on how you can write letters without sending them to express the hurt those people caused you. Just admitting the source of my anger in writing draws my attention to working on it. It will help you heal too. Begin to write out the anger directed toward the appropriate parties. Then work through a process of understanding the situation from their viewpoint. It helps you to be compassionate. Forgiveness is not excusing what was done. It is instead a way for you to find healing for yourself.

In most cases, when you identify who or what it is you are blaming or directing that anger towards, it brings an awareness that makes it easier to bring light to a solution for peace within yourself. There may be cases where it makes you realize the root cause for someone else being hurtful to you was the aftermath of someone else not dealing with their pain in a healthy way.

Maybe they are dealing with a trauma that is unfathomable to you. Doesn’t that change your perspective of your anger towards them? When you dig deeper and see that person’s hurt or your own struggle from other perspectives you can take ownership of controlling the anger and finding your peace.

If you are someone who experiences a lot of road rage, and a driver around you does something stupid, rather than cussing at them for their carelessness, ask “I wonder what is going through that person’s mind?”. That person could have just found out their parent passed away or received various other amounts of bad news. Or they could have made a mistake and maybe apologizing in their own car to you right now. It doesn’t excuse their bad driving. However, when we look at options rather than first assuming the worst, doesn’t that make for a healthier version of you? Also, Randy Creamer at Southbrook Church teaches counselors to ask those with road rage, what is it about others driving that makes you angry? Is it you putting your own expectations on them to be perfect? Is it their carelessness? Realize everyone is fighting their own battle. Mistakes happen.

If it is a person that makes you angry, instead of getting angry or frustrated Kyle Maynard a mixed martial arts athlete, Mountain Climber, Author, and Speaker who is quadruple amputee says to ask yourself to look deep within them as if you are looking into their soul and ask yourself what it is they need? What great inspiration to start YOUR compassionate journey to forgiveness.

When to Make a Job Change

All of us have heard the phrase, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Many times people have made changes for the wrong reasons and it has not ended well. Therefore when you are at a crossroads in your career how do you choose what path to take?

If you are making a change because of money, or because of too much change within an organization, then that is NOT a good reason alone. Also if you are in the valley of hard times within your job, that is not the time to make a career decision.

I once heard it is when you are on the mountaintop. When things are going well for you in terms of your performance is when you will have the most clarity to make decisions for the right reasons and not just to escape.

Ask yourself are you running away from something or towards something? If it is running away, what is it you are wanting to leave? Have you gotten in a rut? What do you see is needed to get out of your rut? When you no longer have the passion for what you are doing is it because of burnout or is it time for a new growth opportunity?

If you have lost your energy and feel you are not on the path to your life goals, that is a telltale sign you need to examine the path you are taking. What is your life purpose? Are you able to bring your purpose to your work? Does your work allow you to have time for your passions?

How do you know when you need to stick it out or truly need to change but have gotten too comfortable?

Start writing. Jot down your thoughts and see what answers you give yourself. When you listen closely to signs of emotion that stir within you, what is your heart telling you?

If you start seeing a trend and it prolongs for a consistently long period of time you may be stuck. You may need to realize that your energy is gone because you need new challenges. Have you given up on your dreams and your most important goals? If so ask, “Why are you staying stagnant?”

Change is very scary. Our self-talk can scare us to death of failure and keep us paralyzed. Think back regarding your changes in the past. What were you feeling before the change and what was the core reason you decided to change? How did it end up? Why did it end that way?

You have a choice. Either start bringing your life purpose to your job or search for a new opportunity based on what your gut is telling you.

Only you can make the decision. It may take digging deep, lots of self-discovery and listen closely to your inner self.

Photograph taken at Virginia City, Nevada

Shine Bright

Have you ever met someone who has such a spirit about them that it is like they are shining from deep within? It is as if they have never done something wrong and love everyone around them. They have such inner peace and love that they seem to feel weightless and you can’t stop admiring them.

It is like a child at Christmas time where the light and joy is expressed in their eyes and beams to all of those people around them. You see it in their smile and feel it in your heart.  They make you feel like the most important person in the world when you see them.  When you are feeling heavy they make you want to lift your burdens and grab on to their joy to feel inner peace.

Has your light gone out?  Have the burdens of the demanding life you have created taken over making it hard for you to feel happy? Sometimes I can feel alone in the darkness and think it is just me.  However, I know by the massive amount of people drawn to Oprah Winfrey, Rachel Hollis, Brene Brown, Christianity, and grateful children at Christmas that many of us are also drawn to people who “shine brightly.”  All the addictions people are facing also show much resort to unhealthy ways to find their happy.

It seems we have common core culprits for our darkness. For me it is usually one of the following:

-when I have no goal

-have given up on my dreams

-have let my mistakes make me feel like I was not worthy of joy

-let the financial burdens weigh me down

-feel physical pain and let myself feel sorry for me

-felt I had to focus so much on the never-ending pursuit to find the happiness that I became blind to all the beauty around me

-stopped exercising

-forgot to be grateful

Pause for a moment to recognize what it is that makes you feel heavy. If you are having trouble recognizing it, start a journal. Write what is on your mind daily.

If you have watched the movie  “Seven” you may think of the 7 deadly sins: greed, lust, gluttony, sloth/laziness, wrath, envy, pride. It graphically pronounces the seven deadly sins. It also portrays them in the most severe states that aren’t relatable to most people and also makes you feel worse if you have been guilty of any of them.

Rather than expand on them, let’s focus on what we can do about finding grace, hope, and joy.

First, think of a time in your life when you felt that love for life, hope, optimism.  Luckily for me, the most joyful time in my life was captured in a Christmas picture of my sister and me by the Christmas tree when I was about four years old and my little sister was around age two.  If you have a time in your life when you can grab a hold of a vision where you felt like you were shining from the inside out and beaming on to others, hold onto to that image and let’s focus on getting that back!

Second, recognize that you weren’t born as a dark cloud with a load weighing you down. Every one of us was meant to be a gift to the world. Every one of us has a purpose.  Every one of us has a choice to let our sins bring us to darkness or to overcome the battles and still choose to bring light. Every one of us has a choice to stop the negative chain.  Stop letting those deadly sins ruin your life.  The mistakes you have made don’t need to define you. Change can happen if you are willing to change. Start making positive statements to yourself and then do things based on who you want to become. Randy Creamer at Southbrook says, “Bring to the world what you are drawn to in others.”   It makes perfect sense!

The tough part is working on yourself. Which leads me to the third step. Think about what it is that is destroying that peaceful feeling for you.  Is it hurt? Anger? Anxiety? Fear? What have you done so far to heal?

At Southbrook Counseling I have learned about core interventions used spiritually and through professional psychology through Randy Creamer’s lessons that dig deep into working on you.  There are ways to work on each of the following areas of struggle.

  1. Unforgiveness: feelings of hurt and pain, resentment and bitternessHow to Turn Anger into Inner Peace
  2. Low Self Esteem: poor body image, self-rejection, no purpose or value click here: https://everythingforthesoulcom.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/c1d2d-trueprofiletemplate.pdf
  3. Communication Problems
  4. Critical: defensive, withdraws, difficult relationships
  5. Emotions and behavior out of control: confusion about why and how they behave
  6. High levels of stress: blames things on stress
  7. Can’t say no: overwhelmed, tired, anxious
  8. Conflicts (download app: Conflict Guide for Couples)
  9. High levels of anxiety, panic attacks
  10. Relationships are controlling and hurtful Find Freedom from Controlling Behaviors

If you are in the Dayton-Cincinnati area, email counseling@southbrook.org to schedule an appointment with someone who can help you through the interventions above at no charge.

If you don’t live in the area, find some spiritual guidance or call a professional counselor in your area.

 

Photograph Taken in Omena, Michigan

 

Coping with Technology Rage

What is it about operating new or slow software that can leave us so frazzled?!  As I started with a whole new set of processes and organization system and new computer hardware and software, new calendar syncing and internet access issues I ended my day yesterday with tightened muscles and a short fuse. I had a long list of things I wanted to complete and my computer was not cooperating.  I felt irritated, helpless, annoyed, technology handicapped and frustrated for not getting everything accomplished on the timetable I had in mind.

Wait! I have been there before! As I reflect back on my first days of every new job, I can recall tensing up over technology every time! Every memory, in the beginning, includes me losing patience with not learning the technology as fast as I would like. Blaming it for not allowing me to be as speedy and productive as I had in mind for the time I allotted. The more tension I built up each time, the worse I struggled to figure it out.

What is this all about? No matter how much faster the software is today compared to 30 years ago or how much faster the speed of the internet is compared to dial-up, I still get worked up that it isn’t fast enough. What an aha moment! It isn’t the technology that has the problem. It is me!  Can you identify with me?

I am typically someone who forgets to come up for air. I start down my to-do list like a blazing train that doesn’t have any brakes and then suddenly combust because the engine wants to shut down. I drive myself harder and harder to a point of wanting to beat it up for not doing what I want it to do. I need help.  Does this sound like you too?

If you have found yourself in similar situations go through some self-coaching questions (Based on InsideOut Coaching and counseling lessons):

-What issue do you want to work through?

-What is your SMART Goal:

(Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic, Time Phase)

– What are the consequences if you don’t take action?

Reality

– What’s been happening?

-What have you tried before?

-What were the results?

-What are your roadblocks?

-Is your goal attainable?

Options

-If a friend were experiencing this, what would you advise?

Next Steps

– How can you put a plan in place to ensure you don’t end up here again?

As an example of how to answer these main questions, my goal is to not allow myself to get all worked up and tense and destroy my own peace and productivity due to things out of my control. I want to keep my joy. If I don’t do something about this I could damage my relationships and work productivity.

In my reality, I have kept doing the same thing and tried harder and harder without taking a step back. I stop breathing and allowed tension to grow. By the time I call support, I have already lost my patience and start my deep breathing after someone else is involved.

To answer the question on whether or not my goal is attainable, I do see it is realistic given technology support people can maintain calmness and they deal with technology frustrations all day long.

If I were coaching a friend or family member through this problem I would say:

– Ask yourself, do you have time to take a break from this? Hit the pause button and do any of the following:

-Some deep relaxing breaths.

-Go to lunch away from your desk

-Take a quick walk

-Switch to a different task

All the above can give you time to refresh your mind and relax your muscles.

Like you would a friend, tell yourself:

-Stop pushing yourself so hard.

-Schedule in time for breaks throughout the day so you don’t burn out.

-Lighten your daily to-do list.

-It is okay to call for help before losing your patience.

-Stop your negative thinking by pausing to look at the big picture and read some positive messages to give yourself a better attitude to relieve some tension.

-Learn to laugh at yourself and the situation.

For so many of us, technology is hard to understand and therefore it puts us over the edge because we can’t control how it malfunctions. We also can’t try to influence our devices. All we can do is look at how we handle ourselves and manage our reactions as well as the habits that lead up to our tensions and explosions.

Go through the series of questions above when you find yourself facing a roadblock. This exercise can help you see solutions you weren’t originally able to see.

For me, this series of questions made me approach my next day differently.  By scheduling in breaks for breathers and stretching and making my daily to-do lists more realistic, I ended up accomplishing much more. It also helped to take time for lunch away from my desk. Everything went smoother!

When you hit a problem that starts to frustrate you, divert your attention to something easier that reduces tension for a short time. Then revert back to calling for help with the problem after you have tried again with a more relaxed mental state and where your muscles aren’t all tight.

We can choose to allow technology to help us become more efficient or let it take control of our lives. It is up to us to choose how we respond.

If you have other helpful tips to not letting technology take away your peace, please share.

 

Leadership for the Soul

 

Mindtools.com says “Leadership can be hard to define and it means different things to different people. In the transformational leadership model, leaders set direction and help themselves and others to do the right thing to move forward. To do this they create an inspiring vision, and then motivate and inspire others to reach that vision.”

How is that done?

You may have heard the quote, “no one cares about how much you know unless they know how much you care.”  Can you be defined as a leader if you don’t ever get followers?  It seems the best leaders show how much they care about their mission.  Then the ones who show they care about their people get the most people on board.

Think of the best leaders in ancient wars.  Those who you see in the movies that are charging ahead of their troops to fight a battle.  The ones who get out in front.  They are in the trenches with their people.  When you see that in a movie, doesn’t it ignite your passion internally to want to see their side win?

Besides leading the way, how else do those leaders get people on board?  We see characteristics as being comfortable in their own skin, confident in who they are, strong in their decision making, have integrity and base decisions on the betterment of all their people.  They make their team feel valued that someone else is willing to fight on their behalf.  It makes them all want to win together.

What kind of leader are you?  How do you show you care about your people? When your people are trying to voice what they are experiencing in the trenches, do you shut them down?  If so, instead:

  • Work to listen and understand if it is a legitimate concern.
  • Rephrase what you are hearing them feel.
  • Ask what have you tried?
  • What were the results?
  • Ask what are your recommended options?
  • Ask how do you want to be part of the solution?
  • Do you know any others that are feeling the same way and would you want to help come up with ideas to fix it?

This approach will help your people feel heard and opinions valued.  Also, it weeds out the negative thinkers.  Those who want to complain but not help fix the problem.

When you make them feel heard rather than force top-down thinking and respond in ways where they feel they can’t trust being honest, you risk not getting valuable information for an effective strategy.  Also if you don’t understand them and what they are going through, how are you going to provide the adequate tools for them to handle the battle.  Shutting them down before understanding them says to them, “your opinions don’t matter”.  “Your views are not valued enough.”

If you feel they don’t understand the big picture from their feedback, it also tells you they don’t understand the vision.  In that case, you may need to clarify it and get them on board with why what you are asking is important.

Most people want to feel they are doing the right thing and will work more passionately for those who care for them.   Care for your people by empathizing with them and coach them how to become their best and you will have an army helping you accomplish your vision.

Photo taken at Lake Tahoe