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Become the Director of Your Life Story

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Important people from our childhood have a huge influence on who we become. We are part of a family and culture and we don’t want to lose that.

Sometimes, however, we are faced with tough decisions that go outside those early expectations. Sometimes we feel we cannot follow our own dream or develop the talents we were given without hurting someone.

It is never easy to become the director of your life story.

Become the Director of Your Life Story | FocusWithMarlene.comYet we need to be truthful and honest with who we are. To do that we need to know and accept ourselves, know what we want and why it is important so we can live honest and meaningful lives.

It isn’t just enough to know what we want and why, but what it will take to achieve that. Anything worthwhile takes time, careful consideration, planning, effort and persistence.

Make a list of the important people in your life as you grew up.

Add to that list all the people who are important to you right now.

  • What makes them important?
  • How do they encourage a belief in yourself?

List all the specific ways in which their influence has facilitated your growth and development. How can you thank them or let them know how much their interest and positive reinforcement has meant to you and helped you become the person you were designed to be?

Sometimes, in order to be the director of our life story, we are required to make some drastic changes in how we think and the associations we keep.

  • How do we build positive and nurturing relationships?
  • How do we maintain and respect the differences of those we love?

To make good choices we need to know what is important and valuable and how we can put that into action. It means examining our inner strengths and using it to help us clarify and attain important goals.

As you listen to today’s podcast episode, I share a story of someone who faced some difficult life circumstances, made some tough choices, and became the director of her life story. She was able to grow and become genuine and heal old wounds and rebuild important relationships.

Marlene Anderson


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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.

Gaining a Positive Return in the Relationships You Invest In

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“A friend is a gift you give yourself.”

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Perhaps you have experienced misplaced loyalty, broken commitments and trampled expectations from those you considered friends, colleagues and spouses.

If you have been hurt in relationships, you may ask: relationships – who needs them? Wouldn’t it just be easier to stay out of any serious relationship all together?

And yet, we are social animals and require social interaction to survive. As we learn more about the human brain the research reveals that we are hardwired to connect with each other.

Creating secure bonds is important for our health.

  • Socially isolated people are two to three times more likely to die prematurely than those with strong social ties.
  • Divorced men before the age of 70 are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer and strokes as married men.
  • The rate of all types of cancer is about five times higher for divorced men and women.
  • Poor communication and the ability to resolve conflicts within our relationships contributes to coronary disease.

Investing

When you want your money to grow, you check out investment options. What amount needs to be invested to bring a good return over time?

As I was growing up, I was taught to save 10% of everything I earned. From the berry fields to my first job after high school, there was little left to put into savings after expenses. But it was a principle I took seriously, abided by and was always amazed at how those little deposits added up over time.

When my husband and I got married, we started out barely able to make ends meet and pay the bills. But over the years, we continued with that principle of putting away whatever we could and investing it for later years. It required discipline, self-regulation, sacrifice and commitment. But it was a diligence that more than paid off in dividends.

Investing wisely took a while to learn. Some stocks were too risky, others gave hardly any return; but over a short period of time we learned how to invest wisely and prudently, maximizing our return while minimizing the risks.

Relationships are like investments

“Many people will walk in and out of your life,

but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Just like we use a dollar amount to invest for financial growth, so investing in relationships require a commitment of time and energy. To gain a positive return on our relationships, we need to invest time, energy and dedication.

Gaining a Positive Return in the Relationships You Invest In | FocusWithMarlene.com

Early childhood relationships meant playing with anyone who was near. Over time, friendships became more complicated. The kids we hung around with gave us social identity and status and we shared a commonality in our doubts and fears. Our camaraderie made us loyal. When that loyalty was betrayed, we experienced the sting of rejection.

As we entered adulthood, we began to choose more wisely. Our circle of friends gradually extended from party times to who shared the same goals and values as we did. We began to make a different investment in our choice of friends. Over time, we realized that important and valued relationships required commitment, loyalty and sacrifice; being willing to endure those tough times as well as enjoying the good times.

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, then walk alone in the light.”

-Helen Keller

The friendships where we have invested the most time, energy, love, commitment and loyalty will be those that give us the greatest return, which cannot be measured in monetary means. Some friendships last a lifetime – others go by the wayside – others we drop because those early moments of compatibility were really shallow and had no roots to grow.

What relationships have you invested in?

  1. How do you choose your friends? What are the most important criteria for you?
  2. What kind of friend are you? What qualities do you believe make for a dependable and long-term relationship?
  3. Are there friendships you continue to invest in for the wrong reasons such as status, popularity, inclusion, someone to party with, use as a bargaining chip, etc.?
  4. Are you able to be yourself in your relationships, feeling the safety to disclose and be genuine and real?

We need each other. Can you find ways to invest in the relationships that mirror your beliefs and values making them the best ever with the greatest return?

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.

That’s Not What I Meant! 12 Ways to Become a Better Communicator

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We communicate every day in some way: texting, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc.

But that is not the same as talking to a person face-to-face, where we can see facial expression, have a discussion about difficult issues, and ask for clarification.

What are you saying and what is being heard?

“But you said. . . .”

“No, I didn’t. . . .”

“Yes, I heard you say. . . . .”

“Well, that’s not what I meant!”

Sound familiar?

Communication travels both ways. It is both what is said and what is received.

Because each of us has a different outlook on life, the words we use are often perceived differently by both speaker and listener. They are often colored, distorted and sometimes misleading based on our perspective. Add to the mix anything that is happening in the moment that impedes our ability to listen and discern and we are headed for trouble.

12 ways to become a better communicator

  1. Check your emotional state.

Are you feeling stressed, anxious, fearful, tired, depressed, etc.? Your feelings will affect or influence what you are saying. Your approach to solving problems will be reflected in your words, facial expression and body posture.

  1. Body Language.

All communication is both verbal and non-verbal. Does your body posture and facial expression match what you are saying?

We pay attention to body language first and words second.

  1. Think before you speak.

Know specifically what you want to convey before you start talking. What is your intention? Keep focused on what you want to get across and ask for feedback. Think, ask questions and verify.

  1. Check your perceptual filters.

We each see the world differently.

When emotions run high, we rarely stop to consider how what we are saying is affecting someone else.

Are you being honest and upfront? Do you have a hidden agenda? Be aware of the responses you are getting. What is said often triggers impulsive and offhand replies.

  1. Ask for wants and needs – don’t just hint at them.

Don’t assume others will know what you need or want. Don’t assume you will always get what you want either.

That’s Not What I Meant! | FocusWithMarlene.com

  1. Respect the rights of others.

Respect their space, their feelings, their integrity and their intelligence. Are you attentive and show an interest in the person you are speaking to? Can you reinforce that attention by eye contact, smiling, nodding and other appropriate gestures?

  1. Ask for feedback.

Don’t assume the other person heard everything and automatically understands what you are trying to say.

  1. Use reflective language – validate feelings.

People who are emotionally upset, angry or conflicted may feel they shouldn’t feel this way and become defensive. Validation says it is okay to have those feelings.

  1. Let people know you are listening.

Use “uh-huh,” “I see,” and other verbal and physical ways to let others know you are paying attention.

Really listen – don’t just pretend.

Turn off the response mechanisms for a short while and focus on what the other person is saying, both verbally and physically.

  1. Use “I” statements.

An “I” statement tells others how you feel, what you are thinking and what bothers you and what you want. It accepts responsibility for how you feel.

Example:  “I get upset when I hear words that tell me I shouldn’t be doing this or that.”

  1. Eliminate “You” statements.

“You” statements hold the other person responsible for what you are feeling. “You” statements blame, accuse, label, judge and evaluate. They are meant to intimidate and create defensiveness and are used to manipulate. For example:  “You are always telling me what to do.”

  1. Eliminate powerless talk.

If you have something to say – say it. But say it politely, specifically and firmly.

Powerless talk is tentative and hesitant. It hedges or qualifies what you say with statements such as, “I guess, or you know.”  Powerless talk adds disclaimers to their statements such as “don’t get me wrong, but…”

Take some time out this week to spend with your friends, face to face. Have a conversation. Listen and validate and share.

Marlene Anderson


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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.

Conflict – “He Said – She Said”

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“That’s not what I said.”

“Yes, it is, I heard you.”

“You always try to pin the blame on me. If you were here instead of out golfing, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Oh, and how about you – out shopping again….”

And round and round and round it goes, ending with two angry people who continue to find ways to attack, defend and destroy each other.

Many of the problems we face are interpersonal conflicts of some kind. They are usually laced with anger and blame and persistence that I am right, and you are wrong.

How do we get into these conflicts in the first place? And how do we get out of them?

Everybody wants their needs met. Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to be liked and appreciated and respected.

When we find ourselves in constant ongoing conflict, we believe that if only the other person would see my point of view, we wouldn’t have to have such discussions. If you cared, wouldn’t you understand my needs?

The only problem with that is the other person is saying the same thing. And since neither person at this point is listening to the other, the conflict simply intensifies.

Conflicts are problems that will not be resolved until we are able to see the opinions of others that are different than ours.

We make assumptions that everyone sees the world in the same way. We don’t. But as we face our disagreements and work to resolve them, we will grow as individuals. We begin to see more of the world than just our own view. We learn to take responsibility for our responses when in disputes. And we learn to respect differences.

Here are 5 ways people deal with conflict:

Conflict – “He Said – She Said” | FocusWithMarlene.com

1. Denial or withdrawal.

The benefits to this are that we gain time, defuse the tension or rethink the importance of it. The dilemma is the conflict often gets worse because of avoidance until there is an emotional explosion.

2. Suppress or smooth over.

While this might keep the peace for a short time and avoid confrontation, the conflict will arise again in a different way.

3. Power or dominance.

When we inject power into the conflict there is no room for negotiation or compromise. It becomes a win-lose position. Power is used through threats, rewards, money or intimidation of status or position.

When decisions need to be made quickly, such as in life-threatening situations, power can be an important means to an immediate solution. The problem with power and dominance is that it breeds resentment and defensiveness and people stop trying to cooperate.

4. Compromise/negotiation.

With this approach both people give and take so each person gets something. Nobody actually loses. A word of caution. Don’t accept the first solution you agree upon without exploring other potential ones.

5. Collaboration/integration.

This is brainstorming to create as many solutions as possible. It combines the abilities and resources of everyone involved to work for common solutions and includes everyone’s input, thoughts and expertise.

Before we work on disagreements and discords

Here are some questions that are often hidden within our conflicts that need to be addressed before we can be successful in working through them.

  • What do I really want?
  • What do I need from the other person?
  • What does the other person need from me?
  • What will be different – what will remain the same?
  • What is the most important priority in this conflict?
  • And am I willing to work towards a win-win?

When you have gone through these questions, you will be prepared to work on the disagreements you find yourself involved in. These will help identify your patterns of denial or withdrawal, power or dominance or just trying to keep peace without resolution.

Conflicts may be divisive, but they can be great teachers

We enter relationships because we need people. We want to be loved and accepted for who we are in spite of our limitations and faults. We want to be heard and understood. It is where we discover who we are.

We want what only a relationship can bring us: inclusion, respect and being heard. But we aren’t always prepared or willing to work on making it happen.

Relationships are never perfect. But it is where we learn we are not the end all – the greatest thing on God’s green earth, and we don’t always get what we want. It is where we learn about ourselves and learn to appreciate our differences.

Compromise and negotiation and sacrifice of personal wants is part of the package. It is here we learn our need for one another and understand the concepts of love and grace. And it is where we learn to sacrifice, give and receive.

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.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (Problem Solving)

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“You think you’ve got problems – you should hear what happened to me last week…”

…And on and on it goes – we cannot wait to get together and share our stories of what new disaster we faced.

Life is ongoing problem solving.

And as much as we hate to have yet another unexpected intrusion in our well-laid plans, life would be pretty dull without them.

Problems of any kind demand some kind of resolution.

Most decisions we make are so insignificant we rarely think about them, such as, what will I wear to work today? or, what shall I plan for dinner?

But others are more complicated and demand more thoughtful consideration. While symptoms keep us edgy and anxious, it may take a while to actually identify the problem that is creating those symptoms.

Emotions are always an integral part of the problems we face.

They can be as small as frustrations or annoyance. Or they can be heavy with worry, concern and anxiety, knowing that the decision we make will have a long-lasting impact on those involved.

For example, an aging spouse with health issues may require additional care.

  • Should they be put into a long-term care facility?
  • Can you afford it?
  •  Should you try to take care of him or her or hire home care?

To deal adequately with any major life challenge, we need to know ourselves, recognize our strengths and weaknesses, imperfections and shortcomings and how they can intensify our emotional responses.

So, where do we start?

To begin resolving problems, we need to first step out of the emotional arena and put on our rational thinking cap. One way to reduce emotional reactions is by repeating some calming statements, such as “I can do this” or “There are answers to all problems” or “I can ask for assistance and input” along with slow, even breathing. It is hard to think when our fear and anxiety levels are high.

Next, identify specifically what the actual problem is. Sometimes it is obvious, other times it may be difficult to separate the problem from the symptoms.

If others are involved, include them in this process. How does each person perceive the problem? This is especially important for couples and requires listening skills and clearly communicating your wants, needs and goals.

Once the problem is defined, sit down and make a list of all the options that might resolve it. Ask others to help brainstorm. Then evaluate each, prioritize and choose one to try. When other people are involved in the outcomes, their concerns, time, and association need to be considered as well. Even simple decisions like family times or family vacations require a willingness to work together and negotiate.

Many problems can be avoided by planning ahead.

Parents who have periodic family meetings listen to their kids concerns to resolve issues and put in place household rules, responsibility for chores and duties, play time, etc. While kids are included in the discussion, the parents maintain the last word on resolutions.

Problems connected to aging can be reduced by putting in place end of life wishes, thinking through a retirement financial plan, etc. Even with pre-planning, however, problems will arise that you had not anticipated.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (Problem Solving) | FocusWithMarlene.com

5 basic components of problem-solving

  1. Identify and define the problem. Separate it from the symptoms. Is this an ongoing problem or a recent development? Gather and analyze as many facts as possible to determine the underlying problem.
  2. What and who is involved? Separate individuals from behaviors. The focus is not on people but what is happening. Work together with others who are directly involved to seek acceptable resolutions. This requires active listening and communication, taking responsibility for your emotions, expressing your needs and preferences and a willingness to work together to find solutions instead of blaming.
  3. Brainstorm. Generate as many possible solutions as you can think of. List whatever comes to mind even if they seem far-fetched. In reviewing your list these can often stimulate further options that might be important.
  4. Evaluate and implement. What are the pros and cons, positive and negatives of each? Select one, create a plan of action and implement it. If several people are involved, be sure everyone understands their part.
  5. Make an assessment. Is the problem being resolved? If not, try another one. Don’t feel as though you have failed. We won’t know if it will work until we have tried. Some solutions create additional problems we hadn’t anticipated. Don’t hesitate to keep searching. It isn’t how quick you find the right solution, but that you methodically and consistently worked through it to find one that will work.

Exercise your problem-solving skills

Here are some typical life problems that you might be facing. Using the example above, how would you look for solutions?

  1. My teen is having difficulties in school. What do I do?
  2. My parents are aging and having difficulties. How do I assist.
  3. I have been offered a job that requires me and my family to make a major move. Should I accept?
  4. I am having difficulty with my in-laws. How do bridge that gap?
  5. My spouse and I keep fighting and blaming each other for the problems. How do we resolve it?

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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.

Self-Correcting When Life Takes You Off Course

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My husband and I loved to sail. We moved to Washington so we would have more opportunity to cruise the beautiful San Juan Islands.

If you plan on doing serious sailing or cruising, you need to learn the “rules of the road,” must be able to read charts and navigate the waters to avoid hidden reefs and shipping lanes. What is the significance of the different sizes and shapes of buoys? How do we chart a course from here to there while taking advantage of prevailing winds, tides and currents? Without these basics it is easy to get into trouble.

Sailing requires adjusting your sails to the weather and water conditions. The wind is the energy source that propels you through the water and as the wind shifts, your sails need adjusting to maximize power. Sometimes that means zig-zagging a course in order to move forward. When the weather and wind is steady and consistent, you can set your sails and relax. But you need to be alert to changes and be ready to take the helm.

When we cruised using the engine, we would chart a course and activate the automatic pilot. While the automatic pilot could self-correct within a limited predetermined set path, it couldn’t anticipate the unexpected. Although you could relax, you never left the cockpit. You continued to monitor the water and where you were and were ready to take control of the helm when necessary.

Cruising Through Life

Self-Correcting When Life Takes You Off Course | FocusWithMarlene.comWhile there are times when we can put our lives on automatic pilot, we need to take control of the helm to navigate through waters of personal development, careers, raising our families and planning for the future. We need to know where the rip tides are and be able to avoid submerged rocks to find safe passages.

As with boating, life requires knowing where we want to go and how to get there. But it also involves how to prepare ourselves for the journey. We can make our goals and develop a course of action. But if we don’t chart a manageable course, we won’t make it. When the winds of life whip of waves of adversity, we need to know what to do and how to do it.

Life is a series of ongoing problem-solving. Problems are like the wind changing direction or increasing in velocity. We need to slow down, identify difficulties so we can adjust, resolve, move through and beyond.

Anticipating the Unexpected

In boating you learn what to do in anticipation of the unexpected. Unless you are in immediate danger of running aground, crashing into a barrier reef, or being run over by a large ship, correcting the boat’s course usually takes only a small action.

Do the situations in your life require drastic action or some minor adjustments?

If you have panicked in the past when faced with unexpected changes, your first response to any perceived or real danger in the present will be the same. While fear and panic can motivate us to take immediate emergency action, if the situation doesn’t warrant such action you will overcorrect and overcompensate. You become reactive to anything you are not prepared for. Becoming proactive requires changing that first reactive response into a thoughtful evaluation and resolution of the problem.

5 ways to change impulsive reaction to proactive assessment and evaluation

  1. First, know yourself. How have you handled catastrophes in the past? What is your typical first reaction? What worked? What didn’t work? What made it more difficult to take charge of your situation?
  2. Our first response to catastrophes is panic and fear. Resist the impulse to think about how bad it is. Instead, take a slow deep breath and tell yourself, “I am capable of meeting this demand. I will be okay. I will remain calm as I think through options.”
  3. Put in place some basic, simple strategies to use the next time you are faced with a challenge or unexpected tragedy, such as affirming you can handle it no matter what. Reminding yourself, Yes, I can. Who can you call to get some non-emotional feedback and clarification? Will he/she brainstorm options or possible solutions with you?
  4. Look at uninvited challenges as a way to grow and develop your reasoning skills. Refuse to remain in a reactive mode. Focus on the details of the problem. Write down all the parts or characteristics of it. Does this involve a minor correction in your life or potentially a whole new change of direction?
  5. Do whatever is necessary to stabilize your position while you work on finding a long-term solution. After evaluating your options, decide on a course of action and try it out. Remember if it doesn’t work, you can try another approach.

There will be times when you can run on automatic pilot. Just be prepared to take back the helm and correct or change directions when needed.

Marlene Anderson


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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.

When Everything Goes Wrong

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Everything was going wrong that could go wrong that morning.

First, I dropped a contact lens and spent 10 minutes looking for it.

Then I received a warning about an unpaid cell phone bill. After my attempt to pay online failed, I hurried into town to pay in person. But the office was closed.

I returned home and tried again to pay online and finally after a lot of resets the bill was paid. The morning had been spent frantically trying to resolve problems that seemed to come out of nowhere.

As I fixed myself a late breakfast, I found myself in a funk, frustrated for not being more careful putting in my contacts, angry with technology that seemed to make the simplest things more difficult and at myself for forgetting to pay my bills on time. I had planned on completing some writing projects that morning and instead my time was spent taking care of unexpected emergencies.

As I grumbled about my lost time, I started to question the significance of writing. Why was I bothering? It took a while before it dawned on me that I was allowing myself to fall into a go-nowhere trap that was holding me hostage to anything negative.

Why was I allowing those unexpected problems to sabotage my thinking?

Yes, it was frustrating given what I had planned to accomplish. Yes, I do make mistakes. But I can learn from them. I can accept there will be frustrating times. I don’t have to let it ruin my day.

When everything seems to be going wrong, it is easy to get ambushed by ongoing negative thoughts and feelings. It’s normal and natural to be upset, criticize and complain about this and that, finding fault with anything we think may be making life difficult for us. But remaining in that space is counterproductive.

Grumbling, blaming and complaining can quickly become a habit.

It is easier to be a victim and find reasons why we should be excused from the rough and tumble demands of life. But we miss out on so much when we do.

I remember watching a program that highlighted a remarkable person. Nick Vujicic was born without arms and legs, but he was not sad, depressed, disheartened or discouraged.

Instead, what you saw was a confident adult who was comfortable with himself. He had an enthusiasm for life that was infectious. Happiness and contentment radiated from his face – something difficult to fake.

He has authored many books, keeps an exhausting worldwide speaking schedule, swims and even plays golf. He is married and has a family. I may have had difficult times in my life but whatever was required of me I did with use of my arms and legs.

In my last podcast, I talked about how reframing our circumstances can change the outcome. At any moment in time we can choose to look at things differently. In my example, I reframed my frustrating morning into acknowledging that life isn’t always what we want, but it doesn’t have to ruin the rest of my day.

Nick Vujicic reframed his life from, “how will I ever survive without arms and legs” to a world-wide ministry.

Yes, I Can!

When Everything Goes Wrong | FocusWithMarlene.com

When things go wrong, we get angry and forget to change our focus. We can accept and start looking for solutions. We can remind ourselves that we don’t have to stay depressed, angry or down.

I have made some personal rules that I use on a regular basis. One is “Yes, I can,” that reminds me not to give up. And the other I use in conjunction with it and is, “I refuse.”

I refuse…

  • To give up
  • To think badly of myself or others or feel sorry for myself
  • To allow hatred or resentment govern my life
  • To judge myself or others harshly
  • To believe there are no solutions
  • To allow myself to sink into a depression
  • To isolate myself instead of reaching out for help and feedback

This complements my “Yes, I can” mantra.

I can choose…

  • To be happy and to make happiness a priority in my life no matter what happens
  • To be nonjudgmental – I can evaluate without judging
  • To not dwell on the past
  • To go back and heal old wounds when it is necessary
  • To be open and genuine and honest
  • To accept both the good sides of me and the not so good
  • To refuse to put labels on myself or anybody else
  • To be compassionate and caring
  • To respect the opinions of others even if I adamantly disagree
  • To develop my values and live them without expecting others to follow them
  • To forgive

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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.

Adjust Your Focus: Reframe Your Circumstances

Life is full of challenges. Some challenges will be fairly straightforward while others will require major adjustment and reframing to meet the demands within them.

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Years ago, when I was helping design and write a class on Chronic Illness, we reviewed a book by Arnold Beisser titled, Flying without Wings: Personal Reflections on Loss, Disability and Healing. Arnold was a young man ready to conquer the world. He was an athlete and tennis champion and had just completed medical school when polio struck. He found himself in an iron lung instead of in an office taking on new clients.

As he lay there unable to move, paralyzed from head to foot, he asked himself, Now what? His life seemed over. But he decided to take it back and gradually began to reframe his situation.

What can I engage in while I lay here?

He wanted to be more than just a helpless victim – he wanted to take charge of his life and have a part in determining what happened moving forward.

He began to use his imagination to creatively look at things in a new way. He writes in his book, that he began to experience “moments of great pleasure and satisfaction” when he became “absorbed” in whatever was going on around him. He became an “active observer, rather than a passive one.” He noticed small details of whatever he could see and how they would change.

Over time, with the help of physical therapy, he was able to get out of the iron lung and into a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. He did not allow his tragedy to disable him. He went on to become a psychiatrist, an administrator, an author and fell in love and married a woman he met while still in the hospital.

Arnold reframed his circumstances – he took what was given to him and began to look at it differently.

He expanded his interpretation and vision and then began taking those tiny steps to reclaim his life.

Reclaiming Life

Whether you are going through a marriage that is crumbling, knowing your job is being outsourced, coming to grips with health problems or ending up missing some limbs, reframing is seeing alternatives when you didn’t think there were any – options that were hidden in the background beyond your field of vision.

If our frames of reference are small, our lives will be restrictive, limiting, negative and inflexible.

If we enlarge our frames of reference, we see a bigger picture, learn to roll with the punches and develop an inner strength and resiliency.

How Reframing Begins

Adjust Your Focus: Reframe Your Circumstances | FocusWithMarlene.com

Reframing is a skill we can apply every day to every situation. It begins with changing our attitude and mindset. It is stepping back from the problem and gathering more information. When our nose is pressed against the trunk of a tree, we only see tree bark. But when we step away from it, we are able to see the rest of the forest around it.

Reframing allows us to step back from the impossibility of the situation and look for possibilities. It not only allows us to transcend difficult or traumatic life situations, but we can discover humor and gratitude in the process.

Advantages of Reframing

When faced with difficult or traumatic events, our perceptions of what we believe the world should or ought to be are challenged. Reframing allows us to review and evaluate our expectations and assumptions and accommodate for change.

If you have been out of work for a while and can’t find a job within your field, reframing allows you to look at alternatives; temporary jobs or ways to survive within this time period. When my husband and I were first married, major transitions and loss of income resulted in the need to live with parents until we could get back on our feet.

Reframing challenges a rigid and inflexible mindset that wants to see things only one way and gives us the opportunity to actively look for creative ways to resolve problems. It expands our perception of life to see how any downturn or setback can be an opportunity to grow and become so much more. We can create new meaning and purpose for life. There are blessings and things to be grateful for. And life can be meaningful and rewarding if we are willing to change our focus from what we can’t do to what we can.

Marlene Anderson


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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.

Take Advantage of Life’s Opportunities

We collect a lot of unnecessary and unhelpful “stuff” over time – old habits, old lifestyles and ways of doing things that are counterproductive.

To explore new options and look for new opportunities, you need to let go of what isn’t working and open yourself up to new ideas and discoveries.

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Listen to my podcast episode #2, Life’s Opportunities, to hear how my husband and I took advantage of opportunities when they occurred.

For us, it involved ways to travel and meet new people and make new friendships within our time frame and financial budget. It meant being willing to sacrifice when necessary to capture some of those moments.

Within all our travels and opportunities, we met new people, made new friends and experienced the history and cultures of the world. We entertained people from other countries in our home. And we didn’t sacrifice our jobs, families or a lot of finances to do it. But we gained a wealth of experiences that enriched our lives in so many ways.

You can be prepared to look for and take advantage of opportunities, as well. It doesn’t always mean you have a lot of money waiting to be spent, but you do know how to budget and set funds aside for opportune moments.

When you know what you like and what you would enjoy doing more of, you can prepare in many different ways – taking online courses, developing special skills if needed, and just being open to possibilities.

Life never needs to be static or boring.


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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.

A New Focus

“God does not give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind.”

– 2 Timothy 1:7

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Before I returned to school to get my master’s degree in psychology and counseling, I had the privilege to work for a company that provided two-week training workshops to injured workers in chronic pain. The participants were mandated to attend before their workman’s compensation expired.

When they arrived, they were angry and combative. Yet over the two weeks, we saw a profound change in individuals – they had hope again. They began to focus on what they could possibly do rather than what they no longer were able to do. It was an amazing transformation I witnessed many times.

However, some participants refused to consider such an option, and remained locked in bitterness over their injuries. When we believe we are limited or have no choices, we experience hopelessness, helplessness, resentment, anxiety and fear.

A New Focus | FocusWithMarlene.com

But when we shift our focus to possibilities and options, our energy can be directed toward finding solutions and setting new meaningful goals. That requires a new faith – a new belief – a new dialogue or self-talk.

A New Beginning – A new dialogue

The greatest obstacle we may ever have to face is ourselves. It’s what we say to ourselves when faced with losses, conflicts or unexpected tragedies. The first thing that pops into our head is “Oh no. Not again. How will I ever survive?”

Life is not fair. It is unpredictable. And life might take everything away from us that we thought we could never live without. But we can. We can not only survive, but rebuild, creating a new promising tomorrow.

When we struggle and struggle and it seems we aren’t going anywhere, it is easy to get discouraged and give up. Yet it is within the struggles that we get stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Just as physical exercise is needed to keep our bodies fit and functioning, wrestling with life’s challenges using effective logical and reasoned approaches will develop a more proactive and productive life. We begin to realize that setbacks are opportunities to grow, develop, and find new ways to think and frame our circumstances and future.

Determining how you will respond to life may be the biggest and most important lifestyle challenge you ever have. Do a quick inventory of how you handled difficulties in the past. Check on whether that internal critic has slipped in again. Using your new understanding about affirmations, what statements of faith and belief in yourself and God can you put into the driver’s seat? Start repeating, “Yes, I can,” along with its twin, “I refuse to let this get me down.”

A New Focus

When I stopped teaching professionally, I decided to share my training and life experiences with others outside the college classroom. I chose the name FOCUS for my company’s name because it personified what I believed and what is needed to survive and thrive – a focus that establishes reasonable and attainable goals and helps us navigate through the battles of life.

Whatever you focus on you will become.

Focus:

  • On what you can do – not what you can’t
  • On God – let Him lead
  • On becoming genuine
  • On choices and possibilities
  • On solutions, not problems

Our focus in life defines who we are and what we believe in. It helps to establish our boundaries, set goals and define priorities.

We cannot choose what life is going to throw at us, but we can choose how we will respond to it. It is in our choices where we grow. We choose what we want to focus on.

Marlene Anderson


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

Sign up today to receive the entire series: http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

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.