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Habits

Habits – they can work for you or against you. They can either be an asset or a deterrent. Over time,  whatever we do on a continuous basis becomes a habit.

Our habits become a lifestyle.

But are you achieving your goals?  And if not, why not? Have you considered how you currently spend your time and energy? Do you have good intentions, but fail to follow through?

 

So, how do we move from good intentions to productive habits?

We continue doing the things we do because we get some kind of reward.  If our rewards are immediate and pleasurable they soon dominate our life and we don’t bother with long-term goals. We grab a bite to eat at the deli instead of fixing dinner at home.  We are tired after work and spend time on social media or mindlessly play video games. We convince ourselves we deserve this downtime. However, it is easy to become addicted to doing whatever feels good at the moment.

 

How would you rate your habits

Habits are not just our actions, but also include our patterns of thinking. When life gets tough and we get discouraged, we often begin making excuses, blaming others, and seeing everything in the world through the lens of everybody else getting all the breaks while we have to struggle.

When our habits continue to be based on how we feel at the moment, we stop considering all the things we can accomplish and do if we put our mind to it. It requires honest reflection in what is not working today and a commitment to making the changes necessary to replace the old with new, well-defined goals and plans of actions.

Do you find yourself in some of the following examples?

  • Always thinking of reasons why I can’t do something
  • Relaxation times are conditioned by how I am feeling at the moment
  • Time with family is hit and miss depending on when everyone can get together
  • Chores are done only when I can’t stand the mess any longer
  • I would rather do something fun than what needs to be done
  • I’ll do it tomorrow – today I want to play
  • I continue to spend time with others who don’t self-regulate or self-discipline
  • I operate on a feel-good moment rather than a scheduled timeframe

Constructive habits look at long-term rewards and benefits. It takes into consideration what I am currently doing, what I would like to accomplish, and puts in place schedules and time management strategies that will help me achieve those goals.

To replace a habit we first need to become aware of what we are currently doing. Keep a record of your time and observe your typical daily patterns. Become aware of your patterns of thinking and how your attitude may be influencing you in a negative manner.

Self-regulation helps you do more of the things you want and still take care of daily necessities and chores. Time management enables you to make better decisions based on your long-term goals and helps you discover what is keeping you from accomplishing them now.

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

 

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A New Focus

Sometimes it seems no matter what we do there are lingering doubts, fears or anxieties that won’t go away.  How should we respond?

Emotions give us valuable information. It is important to pay attention to them. They tell us to stop and think before acting. They warn of danger, reminding us to be careful and tread lightly.  We may experience a gut feeling that is telling us something isn’t quite right. Before dismissing your feelings, take time to assess the facts surrounding them.

What is your brain telling you

Our brain is wired to keep us safe and prepares us to fight, run or stay frozen in a matter of seconds when it senses danger. We need to pay attention to authentic doubts, fears, and anxieties. Stop and question. What is happening? Why am I concerned? Am I over-reacting, or should I investigate further?

Past experiences teach us to be cautious.  What did I learn before that can help me make a better decision today? Is this an appropriate response to what I am currently facing?  Unless we stop and consider thoughtfully, we can become so reactive that we turn every little thing into something bigger than what it is.

Critical thinking

While emotions give us defining information, critical thinking helps determine what to do. Emotions are connected to how we think and believe and interpret life.

Critical thinking is described as making an “objective analysis and evaluation” of what you are experiencing so you can form an opinion based on fact rather than just emotion. It is a mindset that allows you to take any subject or problem and analyze, assess and consider it thoughtfully and carefully.  It is a skill we develop over time.

Seek additional information not immediately visible.  Critical thinking questions “inferences and assumptions”.  It checks for “relevance, significance, and logic.” Develop theoretical concepts that reveal a deeper meaning.

When we apply critical thinking to how we perceive ourselves, we will question outmoded but consistent thinking that views us as never good enough.  This kind of thinking produces anxiety, lingering doubts, and fears and will look something like this:

  • I can’t – I’m not capable
  • I wasn’t able to do it in my past, so I can’t do it today
  • Why should I try – it is never appreciated anyway
  • I won’t measure up
  • I feel like a fraud – I’ve never done this before
  • They told me I couldn’t – I guess they were right

Critical thinking enables us to question those deeper more persistent fears that we struggle with. It helps us replace old disapproving thinking with new rational thinking.

  • I don’t know, but I can try – I can learn
  • Failure only happens when I stop looking for solutions
  • There is a way to accomplish my goals – If I can dream it, it is possible
  • My past doesn’t determine my future
  • I can do this – I can find a way
  • I have faith in God and I have faith in myself

A New Focus

A new focus affirms your abilities. You are a person of worth and value.  Focus on God and let Him lead. He gives us faith and hope and strength and wisdom to take whatever life has handed us and turn it into something positive and valuable. Accept both your strengths and weaknesses.

Develop the skill of critical thinking.  Focus on solutions rather than unsolvable problems.  Look for choices and possibilities rather than unrecoverable losses.  When we focus on what we can do instead of what we can’t do, we can evaluate situations and search for appropriate responses.

Your focus defines who you are, what you believe in, and how you have chosen to live your life.  Within that focus, you become genuine and real.

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

 

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Your Internal Critic

We are constantly communicating, whether on our cell phones, facebook page, twitter or socializing over a glass of wine. But are you aware that you are also constantly communicating with yourself?

From the time we wake up in the morning to when we go to sleep at night, there is an internal dialogue going on inside of us.

What are you saying to yourself? Are you hearing affirming words that encourage and motivate you? Or do you hear words that constantly sow seeds of doubt, misgivings, and fears?

Your Internal Critic

Each of us has an internal critic, some more aggressive than others. It tells us how bad we are, how incompetent and unreliable.  You might hear things like, “you can’t win, you are not good enough, blah, blah, blah.”  The critic’s job is to remind you of all the reasons why you can’t succeed, so don’t waste your time trying. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

An internal critic has been around a long time and simply keeps repeating messages it has taken from our past and put onto a continuous tape. The messages are always negative, pessimistic, demeaning and discouraging.  This internal critic has been around a long time and it has nothing of value to tell you.

Doubts and Fears

It is normal to have doubts and fears. Like all emotions, they have a purpose and it is important to pay attention to them.  They warn us to stop and investigate before going on. They keep us from making knee-jerk reactions.We need to be able to assess and evaluate the information they are giving us.

 

When doubts and fears continue to overshadow our attempts to find appropriate solutions, it’s time to challenge their authenticity.

 

Internal Critic or Constructive Criticism

While an internal critic never has anything positive to say, constructive criticism is important.  The first gives you no options – the second enables you to review incoming information, evaluate its messages and make an assessment on how to proceed.  Using critical analysis, we can look for the best solutions available to us at the time.

Challenge the Validity of Your Negative Critic

Stop and pay attention to your self-talk for awhile.  If you are constantly hearing over and over some of the following typical messages, it is probably coming from an internal critic. Here are some typical statements:

  • Why do you always screw up?
  • You’re so stupid.
  • Won’t you ever learn?
  • What’s wrong with you?
  • If others knew how incompetent you were, they would have nothing to do with you
  • Why can’t you be like your sister/brother?
  • You’ll never amount to anything.

Statements such as these that are constantly triggered whenever anything goes wrong are not helpful to anyone. While we all might bemoan the fact that we have made stupid mistakes or scold ourselves for making bad choices, the internal critic offers nothing that can be viewed as constructive.

Some ways to silence a negative critic

It may be difficult to stop an ongoing critic that has nothing positive to say.  Give your critic a name.  Remember, it’s not you – it’s a tape recording of messages accumulated from your past.  Give it a name and when it is activated, tell it to sit down and be quiet – you are tired of hearing demeaning and self-destructing messages.

Or, imagine these messages on a tape recorder that is constantly activated. Imagine holding a remote control with a huge STOP and PLAY button on it.  Whenever the PLAY button has been activated, see yourself push the STOP button.  Remember, the tape and its voice, the Internal Critic, has been around a long time.  You will have to be very demanding and consistent.  If you are alone, say out loud STOP – I do not intend to listen to worthless garbage.

Replace

It’s not enough to simply stop a reaction that has become habitual.  We need to replace it with something else.  Replace the critical words you hear with words of affirmation.  Here are some important ones:

 

I am capable, competent and discerning

I may not have all the answers, but I can learn

I accept myself unconditionally – both my strengths and weaknesses

I am not my past – I may have made mistakes, but I can learn from them

 

These are just a sample of positive affirmations.  Affirmations affirm your worth, abilities, beliefs and values.  They draw you towards a self-fulfilling prophecy of possibility and choice. Repeat them every day to establish a new dialogue and establish confidence.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

What’s Your Roadblock?

Not everyone will like what you do.  Not everything you say will be received the way you intended it to.  You will not get all the breaks – in fact, you may think you have been short-changed. Others get all the breaks – you get all the leftovers.

Success isn’t about what others think about you.  It’s not about what you have or have not been given. It’s about what you do with what you have been given.

Too often, we blame everything or everyone, including ourselves for our perceived lack of success.  When this becomes a solidified mindset, we become our own worst enemy.

 

The greatest roadblock to success in life is often ourselves.

 

When we play the blame game, we remain stuck.  We dimish our capabilities to succeed.  We focus on the reasons why we can’t, and then, give up as soon as the road gets tough.

 

History is full of roadblocks conquered

 

Looking back throughout history, we find example after example of people who have accomplished amazing things with little money, severe handicaps of poverty, education disadvantages, harsh childhoods, physical anomalies or difficult environments.  They did not consider them unassailable or impregnable.  They worked with the tools they were given or acquired them along the way.

For example, early settlers in America crossed enormous mountain ranges and roaring rivers with heavily loaded wagons and teams of horses. They did not have rich bank accounts or GPS’s. We romanticize their journeys and create exciting movies.  But they were ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

But they were full of grit and determination.  They experienced depressive setbacks and towering obstacles, seemingly impossible barriers, discouragement, death, losses of people and worldly possessions important enough to load on wagons and cart for thousands of miles. They endured extreme weather conditions.  They had to think on their feet, be incredibly creative and ingenious.  They had to fight for their lives, not only from the elements of nature but from inhabitants of the land.  They were not Rhodes scholars, but ordinary men and women like us.

 

If they could accomplish such amazing feats why can’t we?  Why do we give up so easily?

 

Although they had to make detours to bypass treacherous terrain to find that passage through the mountains or over rivers; while plans may have been altered to accommodate conditions, their goal remained the same: to cross the country to make a new life for ourselves.

 

What journey are you on – what’s your goal?

What are you doing with your natural abilities and talents? What do you want to accomplish but have been fearful to try? What holds you back from even making an attempt to set a target objective?  What roadblocks do you see that are absolutely impossible to go over, around or under?

 

Focus on what you can do – not what you can’t

Instead of focusing on all the things that would make it difficult for you to reach your goals, stop and consider all the things that enable you to reach your goals.

 

Get a piece of paper and start making a list of all your skills and aptitudes. On this sheet, write down all the things you have already accomplished.

 

How did you achieve them?  What were the first steps you took to get there?  What skills or training were required?  What would it take to begin making and working towards your goals today?

 

It might feel scary to focus only on positive possibilities. After all, we haven’t always been successful.  You might find yourself saying, “Yes, but….”

 

We tend to blow out of proportion all the reasons why we can’t do something and give little credence to all the reasons why we can.

 

Consider people such as Stephen Hawking, physicist, Hellen Keller, blind and deaf, Tammi Grey-Thompson who had Spina Bifida but became a wheelchair racer and winner.

There are thousands of individuals who took what we might consider impossible disabilities and accomplished incredible things.

Is it easy?  Of course not.  Can we do it without the help, support, and encouragement of others? No.  But we can do it.

 

Important Lessons from your past

On your list write about the things you have overcome in the past. What benefits still motivate and inspire you today?   We all want a good education, but we also have natural born talents that can be developed. Maybe you are good at mechanics or fixing things.  Maybe you are creative in cooking or entertaining.  Perhaps you are good with children and enjoy being a stay at home Mom. They are all important even though we don’t hear people talk about them.

We tend to compare our gifts negatively with others, considering them insignificant or unimportant. Don’t discount any of your talents and abilities. We need everyone’s skills, gifts, and abilities. Nurture them and use them.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

Love

Love

is giving – forgiving – sacrificing – living – expressing

People sing songs about it, create movies with love as its theme, and try to find words to express it in books. But can we ever define love?

“For God so loved the world….”        John 3:16

What greater love can anyone have than sacrifice something of great importance for another who really isn’t worthy of it.

Can there be a greater expression of love?

Love. It is a gift – we can’t earn it, we don’t deserve it and yet we find it so hard to receive.

Last Easter I published a blog post featuring a poem written by my friend, Darlene Dubay. I am republishing it again because of its great insight and depth. Thank you, Darlene, for your gift.

 

Tree of Hope

 

I remember being a seed, full of hope, dreaming.

 I would be the tallest tree, and proud.

Then, thrust into the ground, I shuddered.

Darkness overcame me and I broke.

No longer latent, I began to search for light.

Yet wanting to be anchored, I thrust my fingers deeper into ground.

They laughed at me as I broke free.

“A twig,” they said: Insignificant nothing.

Yet I dreamed of becoming—magnificent I’d stand, towering above—mighty.

When finally ready I would be mercifully cut to become

A pillar, strong and straight to hold the weight of majesty aloft.

Or maybe I would be fashioned as a cradle,

Holding precious life, or toy or tureen—useful—

bringing pleasure by being used.

I did not fear the saw; it was a long way off.

But when it finally came. I cried,

“No, let me grow a little more. I want to be the biggest and the best.

I want my glorious form to be admired.”

I lay there on the ground, helpless—

My fate in the hands of those who ripped me from my roots.

It did no good to protest. My voice could not be heard.

Lying prostrate, I imagined what I would become.

It was not good. Their evil tones were hinting shame and disgrace.

“No!” I cried. “I did not grow for this.”

My limbs were ripped and nailed into a form

So horrible—degrading—a mockery of what was meant to be.

Bitter nails drove into my flesh,

But worse was yet to come.

Dragged and carried in my ugly form, I tried my best to help the struggling one,

But felt my weight grow heavier with each step.

Then on the top of that ignominious hill,

They laid me prostrate to accept my fate.

I felt his flesh caress the roughness of my bark.

I groaned in shame that I would be the one

To lift His whipped and trampled body far aloft for all to see.

I felt the spikes drive precious flesh and blood into my wood.

Helpless, there I stood, as I was lifted with my treasure.

Oh, the shame! The agony! The jeering crowds saying,

“It’s the end. His suffering has no meaning. ”

All is lost. What victory lies in death?

What justice shines through bitter clouds of hate?

I felt his spirit leave and fear of being discarded racked my being.

The coldness of his absence permeated me

And I wished for burning fires of purification.

Better to be cleansed than to lie rotting in the dirt.

The emptiness of my ugly form was wretched. I watched them haul him off—just another lifeless piece of flesh.

And me? I only hoped that I could fade to nothing.

On the third day, though, he returned.

He held me close and promised—what?

I could not comprehend.

“I live,” he said. “I am alive forever.”

“How can it be?” I cried. “I felt your soul’s anguish

And despair. I know the emptiness of your departing.

I never want to be the one who displays

Your trampled, lifeless body up for all to see.”

He held me closer then and I knew it had to be this way.

My gift of self will be forever a symbol of great love.

My collaboration in his plan will always be

The means to life eternal.

I’m honored. I am cherished.

And every day and moment

Someone remembers by my sign—

True life awaits those who hold me closest to their heart.

Darlene 

4-5-2010

I wish each of you a blessed Easter, knowing that it was the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, his death, and resurrection, that brings us this blessed holiday as well as the love, hope and grace we all desire.

Marlene Anderson

To read more about Darlene’s writing talent, visit her website at https://dmdubay.com/

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

Building Bridges

Bridges. They are incredible feats of engineering and ingenuity.  I am fascinated by how lofty and expansive they can be – rising above deep gorges and over wide rivers or bodies of water.

In our early days of cruising the San Juan Islands, my husband and I took our sailboat under one of those amazing bridges that spanned Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island. The beauty of the area had competition from the grandeur of the bridge that rose high above us. How were they able to build such a structure?

Later, visiting the area by car, we stopped at a lookout at the entrance to the bridge and read the history associated with it. Early settlers would take a small ferry boat to get from one island to the other until the 1930’s when construction began to build a permanent bridge.  It remains a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of men and women able to construct something of such stature that could withstand extreme weather and support heavy loads.

 

Building Bridges

 

We typically think of bridges as those physically constructed with steel or wood or hanging cables that we walk or drive across.

But we are also building bridges in our personal lives: from the past to present; between friends, spouses, family or members of a team. These bridges are constructed of tolerance, grace, and understanding held together not with nails or cables but patience and long-suffering.  They are built to withstand the ravages of time; yet flexible enough to move with the winds of assailing storms.  We carry across those bridges not the cargo of people, lumber or logs, but the treasured nuggets of wisdom and information gleaned from working through the rocks and quagmires of our past that will empower our lives today.

 

The loads we take with us include the skills of problem-solving, negotiation and the building blocks of good communication, listening, encouragement and motivational comments needed to build better relationships.  Tucked in here and there are grace, understanding, and forgiveness.

As I continue to share excerpts from my new program, “Yes I Can! Three Steps to Empower your Life” building bridges was the ending of Step one. Understanding our roots and beginnings enables us to build that positive bridge from what was to what we can do today, applying what we learned about ourselves to build a more positive tomorrow.

Marlene Anderson

 

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working through our Losses

Losses come in all sizes, shapes, and forms.

You may have lost your spouse, your child or other beloved family member or friend. Sometimes, it happens with the normal progression of age.

Sometimes it is with the unexpected telephone call bearing bad news, or a spouse’s request for a divorce. It might be the loss of your job or the discovery that the symptoms of discomfort you have been having is due to cancer or other degenerative diseases.

Even though each loss is different in some way, there is a commonality between them; something of great importance has been taken away that had purpose and meaning to you.

Losses

How do we move past them?  How do we rise above them? How do we grieve them?

 

There are many books on the market that talk about grief and loss.  But grieving is more than just walking through the pain of sorrow in those early days and months.  It is more than coming to terms with the unexpected and uncertainty about the future.  It involves a transition from what was to what is now.  It is answering the question, I knew who I was before, but who am I today?

 

People want to live again with purpose and meaning.  They want to love again. They want to feel whole and complete. They don’t just want to survive, they want to thrive once more.

 

When losses begin early in life and remain unresolved and ungrieved, the troubled thoughts and emotions locked in our memories are triggered again and again until we address them.  These losses can be the result of abuse, bullying, unfair comparisons, being ignored, rejected, or not seen.  A child can feel okay and know they are loved even within strict rules and boundaries if they get the attention that says, I don’t approve of your behaviors, but I love you. Children need words of encouragement even if those words come from a caring teacher or coach.  

Moving Forward

 

Healing our past requires defining that loss, working through the issues associated with it so we can move beyond it. Grieving past losses allows us to integrate them into the fabric of our life that promotes strength, appreciation, and confidence in who we are and who we can become.

Here are some ways to address losses, whether from our past or those you are currently experiencing.

 

  • It takes courage to grieve, and a willingness to be honest as we work through our sorrow, uncertainty, and vulnerability. Losses will continue to exact their toll on us until we work through them and put them to rest. That means working through the fears, pain, emotions, and anxieties associated with them. Building walls or running away may be expedient at the moment but only delays the healing process.

 

  • No matter how independent we may think we are, we need the support of others. Reach out and accept the love and support of those who want to help in some way. Get counseling by a qualified therapist to work through old losses.

 

  • Tragedies demand answers. At some point, however, we need to come to terms with what has happened, the “whys” and “what ifs” and let go of unanswered questions, injustice or bad choices.

 

  • Writing letters of goodbye can articulate what is in our heart and spirits and help resolve and integrate our losses. Much like journaling but more direct, writing to our losses creates a way to speak to subjective things such as loss of dreams, lifestyle, and expectations. Writing takes it out of the head, further illuminating both our thoughts and feelings. Write as you would any letter.  Dear (dream, career, health, etc.) I remember how important this was, what I wanted, etc.

 

  • Write a letter to your loved one who died. Tell them what they meant to you, the good times you spent together, how you are keeping your memories alive, what is the hardest part for you now, or what you wished you had time to do.

 

  • Sometimes words cannot express what we are feeling. Art gives us the opportunity to say through fabric or clay or wood or paints what cannot otherwise be expressed adequately. Make a wall hanging or quilt or mold clay into a memorial of some kind.  There are many art therapy classes available.

 

  • Create a new narrative that focuses on who you are now. “I will be okay – I can make it. I miss what I had but the love we shared will go with me as I move forward. I am not the pain, shame or abused child of my past. I’m discovering new ways to live life fully and meaningful every day.

 

  • Focus on what you can do today instead of what was taken away. See yourself as a capable person instead of a victim, able to create a new life of purpose and meaning.

 

  • Establish new social groups who share a commonality with you. Include laughter and fun as you encourage and support and enjoy each other’s company.

 

  • Grieving losses is a spiritual journey. As a Christian, God was as much a part of my grief and loss journeys as anything I might have done on my own.  I have found that when all is at its darkest, I look up and find the outstretched hand of God reaching down, giving comfort, love, and peace.

 

It is never too late to work through old losses. Until we grieve and work through them, they will remain in the background ready to sabotage our lives. They are usually loaded with anger, shame or guilt that needs to be worked through and emotions released. They can then be put into our memories.

 

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

 

The Unwanted Package

Once upon a time, a package was delivered to a young woman. When she opened it, her eyes blazed and she became very angry.  Although she was infuriated over receiving this parcel, nevertheless she picked it up and took it with her.

Soon other packages arrived and she had to get a larger bag to put them in so she could carry them.

 

Every morning she dutifully picked up her bag and took it with her; on the bus to work and when she met the girls for coffee or a glass of wine.  It went along to family gatherings and remained on her back as she fixed meals, cleaned house and did the laundry.  Every once in awhile, she would receive another unwelcome and unwanted package which she stuffed in the bag with the others. Her bag began to get heavier and heavier.

 

There were moments when she laid her bag down – times when she went for a walk outdoors and enjoyed the beauty of trees and flowers or walked the beach where water gently lapped around her ankles.  At such moments, she felt free and alive. She could enjoy the sun and the sweet pungent smells of earth or clean air.

 

She felt weightless and at peace and was tempted to leave the bag behind when she left. But it called to her and she would pick her load up once more, the moments enjoyed becoming burning coals of sadness, regret, and despair.

 

One day as she walked down the path of life, oblivious to the beauty that was around her, an old man stopped her and said,

Every day you carry that big bag.  I can tell it is heavy by the way your body sags under the weight and the strain of effort can be seen on your face. You must have something very valuable in that bag.”

 

The woman set the bag down and reflected on what he said. She had been carrying her load so long that it seemed the natural thing to do.

 

“Sir, the things in my bag are things I do not want, have never wanted, and carry them with me so that I never forget how much they have injured me.  If I lay them down, then I might forget.  For you see, in this bag are all the betrayals, rejections, insults, lies and humiliations I have received – things that have cut and wounded my spirit and soul.”

 

The man responded with deep concern. “Why would you want to keep carrying them?  Why don’t you put them down and leave them behind?”

With tears in her eyes, she replied, “Because I don’t want to forget what was done to me.  I don’t want them to get away with what they did to me.  I want them to remember the pain and suffering they inflicted on me.”

With tenderness the old man gently replied,

“But they don’t know you are carrying this bag of grievances and resentment.  They are not around.  Whatever was done to you, you continue to do to yourself. You are not exacting any punishment on them but on you.  Others may have injured you, but you continue to inflict pain on yourself.“

 

Amazed, she said, “But if I put it down, won’t I be saying, that what they did was okay?  That they got away with it.  As long as I carry this bag I can remember and maybe get even someday.”

 

The man kindly and compassionately said, “Is it worth letting a lifetime of joy and happiness pass you by?”

 

She looked into his eyes full of wisdom and grace and realized for the first time that by carrying her bag full of resentment and grievances, she was unable to enjoy doing those things that deep down she yearned to do. When our focus is on bitterness, there is no room left for joy.

 

She thanked the man and went home, put down her bag and pondered the things he said. What would she do with all the “rocks” of injustices she had been carrying around for so long?  It wasn’t just the wrongs done to her, but the anger that was continually fanned into a deep simmering rage.  She no longer wanted to carry them. But what would she do with them?

She looked out the window and gazed at her garden  It seemed so ordinary and common.  Instantly she knew what she would do.

 

Filled with an energy that bubbled up from deep within, she took the “rocks” out of her bag and went to work.  She built a monument in her garden, filling in places with fresh new dirt, planting graceful trees and fragrant blooming plants and flowers.

 

Water ponds held the tears she shed and pathways wound around carefully placed objects that no longer were stumbling blocks but sculptures of beauty.

 

Her garden no longer was mundane, but extraordinary and she would invite friends and family over to enjoy conversation, peace, and happy thoughts in her expansive garden.

Forgiveness is for you…

The story above is just that – a story.  But in its simplicity, illustrates how we carry huge loads of injuries with us as we travel through life.  Forgiveness allows us to put our bag of “rocks” down.  Forgiveness allows us to build something positive from the hurts of the past.  When we focus on how badly someone has treated us, we become a victim of our own story.

Forgiveness allows you to make peace with any bitterness that may be in your past.  It allows you to let go of the pain and experience peace.

Don’t you want to set your heavy burden down and choose to forgive?  Forgiveness, after all, is for us. Jesus said, forgive 70+ times.  Science tells us the same thing.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

Coming to terms

Writing about our stories helps us not only to see what happened from a new perspective but our role in the outcome.  It also gives us the opportunity to take away nuggets of learning and wisdom.

Yet, there were things that happened that you might find difficult to let go of – that continue to spark your anger. You still feel betrayed and taken advantage of.  Forgiveness is out of the question as far as you are concerned and you are not ready to acknowledge any participation on your part in events gone awry.

Resentments continue to burn deep within your soul and spirit and an internal dialogue repeats “I have a right to feel angry and bitter. I was taken advantage of and made to feel stupid.  If I simply accept and let it go, won’t I be admitting that I really am a fool?  How can I come to terms with all that?

Life Experiences will be both good and bad

We will experience events in life that take advantage of our goodwill, our desire to get along and be a good neighbor. There will be tragedies associated with someone else’s hate or lack of responsibility or careless actions that leave us crippled or disabled in some way.  There will be achievements thwarted; losses too deep to speak about. There will be many things that cannot be changed: the death of a spouse, the loss of your marriage, addiction, loss of health or finances; and the loss of support and care in your declining years.

Discover a new way to move forward

Coming to terms with injustice, tragedies and losses of any kind, whether in our past or present, first requires acceptance. Hanging on to our losses and injustices is like carrying around a huge suitcase full of rocks and stones.  It robs you of your ability to move forward.

Coming to terms requires acceptance

Acceptance doesn’t mean everything will suddenly be back to normal or okay. It simply means you stop fighting and arguing about how cruel the world is or how badly you have been treated.  Life is not fair.  We can grumble and moan and rant and rave, but we can’t change history; we can’t change what others have done or what we have done. Instead, by making a conscious and deliberate choice to let go of anger, hate, resentment, and lingering frustration you can have a different outcome.

Coming to terms is for you

Coming to terms means that after we stop denying, fighting or struggling we make a decision to leave what can’t be changed behind and decide to bring forward what is good.  There is some good that can come out of the worst atrocity.  We can reach out our hand to someone who is hurting.  We can develop a compassion for others who are struggling.  We can see the pain of a neighbor and offer a word of understanding and comfort.

In any moment in time, we choose how we will respond to life.

Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist, Jew, and survivor of the concentration camps of WWII wrote, “to live is to suffer; to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”  In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, he shares that even in the horrendous conditions of Auschwitz, “What alone is the last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.”

We will be challenged to live our values in the face of discarded principles and standards.  We will be challenged to choose how we want to respond to life – both in our past and in the future.  We will be challenged to make decisions that go counter to our desire to get payback or get even or follow the crowd.

But it is in those challenges that we grow and become more of who we are – a child of God, a person who endeavors to make a difference and that no matter the struggle, we will continue in that endeavor.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

The Stories of Your Life

Last week I suggested going back to your roots to complete old stories, heal old wounds and bring a new understanding to your life today.

While it can be painful, it is also very therapeutic.

Within your story of life there are many little stories, hidden like gems in the wall of your memory. They often get overlooked because we only see the vastness of boring, mediocre or unpleasant experiences.

Sit back in your easy chair and reflect for a moment on all the experiences you have had.  Which ones were exciting?  Which ones were humdrum or monotonous?  Which ones would you flee from without a moment’s hesitation?  Which ones would you love to go back, dig deeper and learn more?

Within the raw stories of our lives are life-altering moments; things that affected us profoundly but have been forgotten.  There might have been “Ah-ha” moments or some “Ouch” moments when you learned a deeper truth about yourself, but then simply stashed it away in the closet of your mind. There are treasures waiting to be uncovered, dusted off and enjoyed.

As you dig deep and uncover the events and people who made your life unique to you, think about those times as valuable nuggets of wealth.  Whether you had a difficult childhood, either from neglect, abuse or never being able to measure up, or you were the darling who never did anything wrong, you will have sustained both negative and positive consequences.

You might have become stronger, able to sustain the hard trials of life today.  You might have learned wisdom in that within each of us lies the ability to hurt or harm others as well as the capacity to develop compassion, grace and understanding.  You might have learned you weren’t as perfect as you thought. You might have learned that no matter how hard things were there was still hope – hope that enabled you to keep trying, keep going.

Take that list of events and people that you have been making.  Put each one on a 3 x 5 card.  On the front write the situation.  On the back, put down bits and pieces of information: words spoken, smells remembered, emotions felt, etc.What was happening?  How did you feel?   Who was there? What important insight did you receive?

Now take one of those cards and write a story.  Write it as if someone reading it could put themselves in that situatioin. Put down details vividly so anyone could experience the same sights, smells and sounds.As you write you will remember details long forgotten, some that may be very important. This is your story.  It is how you perceived the world you were living in.  Write as much or as little as you want.

Then read it out loud.  What greater truth was revealed? What did you learn about yourself?  What new strengths have been discovered?  What uncomfortable flaws or faults have been revealed?  We are a combination of both our strengths and triumphs and our weaknesses and shortcomings.  When we recognize all of them we become human, relatable and genuine.

You have just written a memoir.  Each of us has many memoirs within the overall arc of our life.  If written honestly you won’t be writing to seek revenge or get even. You won’t fabricate or embellish, exaggerate or bend the truth.  But your take away will be that gem of understanding of what it means to be human, to survive and overcome.

Marlene Anderson

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.