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Posts Categorized: Problem Solving

Legitimate Fears vs Paper Dragons

paper dragon

Fear is a critical survival warning system.

It triggers our fight/flight response system to meet any threat by fleeing, fighting, or remaining frozen in place.

Fear can be our friend, or it can be our enemy. It can prepare, instruct, and keep us safe; or it can become a huge threatening shadow that keeps us locked in doubt, worry, uncertainty, and helplessness.

In this article (with accompanying audio), I’ll help you recognize the differences between unhealthy fear and healthy fear, and I’ll share preventive measures you can put in place when you sense the fear dragon breathing down your back.

How to Turn Challenges Into Advantages

At a women’s retreat, I asked, “Who has experienced stress in the past week?”

All hands went up. I then asked how they knew they were stressed. Their comments ranged from “constantly feeling overwhelmed” to “exhausted.”

They were unable to get everything done that was expected of them and there was little time left for pleasure or relaxation. They felt there was never enough time, there was too much to do, and they were constantly required to learn something new.

As I jotted their responses on the white board, I was reminded again of just how many demands are placed on us every day and the heavy toll it can have on our lives.

The Difficult Choices I Need to Make

There are days I don’t want to get out of bed or go to work or face another day of caregiving.

I don’t feel like being kind to my neighbors or overlooking minor irritations.

I don’t want to know I can choose to forgive or be responsible for how I react to others. It is much easier to blame.

I’m tired of working through all my problems. I don’t want to make the tough choices required of me.

And yet, would I really want to give up the freedom I have to make those difficult choices of getting up, forgiving, and working through tough problems?

Reach Out and Keep Going

Life can change in the blink of an eye; one minute you are living life to the fullest and the next you are faced with some catastrophe. Whether it is the loss of a job or a loved one who has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you hear yourself cry out, “Please God, No.”

Whatever the situation, whether you have just received some earth-shattering news or you have simply reached a point where everything in life lacks purpose or meaning, it is a place where you recognize as never before your shortcomings and reach out to God for guidance and strength, and friends for support and encouragement.

Yes, I Can – Three Powerful Little Words

Yes, I can.

Just three little words – Yes. I. Can.

Within them, they hold the energy and power to make monumental changes, overcome the largest of obstacles, stay on course, and never give up. We can take time out to evaluate and make appropriate corrections, but we don’t give up. We continue with reflection, purpose, and intention.

I first discovered how powerful those three little words were years ago when my husband and I listened to doctors tell us that our ten-month old son was “A-mi-tonic quadriplegic,” a term I never heard before or since, but it basically told us that our son would have little to no control over his muscles. Oh, and they didn’t think he had much intellect, either.

The Cost of Resentment: Becoming a Victim

woman looking resentful with man in background

When we have suffered injustices, especially in our personal relationships, it is hard to let go and forgive. We struggle with our desire to get retribution or justice versus letting go. Retribution or payback seems so necessary.

Therapists often hear about egregious events that people have endured. Some started early in their childhood. Unprocessed, they keep injecting themselves into our lives and color our attempts at happiness.

In this article, I share one more story from a therapy session that might help you understand the cost of hanging onto resentment.

7 ways to Make Forgiveness a Gift, Rather Than an Obligation

7 ways we can make forgiveness a gift rather than an obligation

Jesus said, “Forgive seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). We take it as a moral imperative.

But it isn’t just Jesus who tells us how important forgiveness is; science confirms it as well. In fact, not to forgive is putting a slow death sentence on ourselves,as the theologian Frederick Buechner so aptly describes.

Most of us deal with the sins and transgressions of others in the moment. We get mad, pull away, and then make up and go on. When we are the transgressors, we do the same. With minor goofs and slip-ups, we feel bad in the moment, apologize, and then continue with life.

“Mind the Gap”: Overcoming Obstacles and Distorted Beliefs

In London’s underground stations you hear a mechanized voice say, “Mind the Gap,” as you prepare to board a tube train.

That “gap” between platform and train is usually quite small and as a tourist, after the novelty wears off, you take for granted the need to watch your step and the recording simply becomes one of those endearing facets of the London experience.

Neil Gaiman, in his book, Neverwhere, artfully creates a more sinister reason for “minding the gap” in his fantasy story about London above ground and the London below.

A New Perspective: How One Woman Reframed Her Circumstances

A New Perspective | focuswithmarlene.com

Years ago, I worked for a company contracted to help injured workers in chronic pain recover and re-enter the workplace. Most had been injured on the job, even with all the safety precautions.

As part of their rehabilitation and recovery program, they attended a two-week all-day class. Most were not happy to be there; in fact, some were downright hostile. Yet after one week, we began to see a transformation of attitudes, mindset, and way of thinking.

It was always amazing to watch this metamorphous from hopelessness, despondency, and despair to one of possibility, expectation, and motivation.

Path? What Path?

Path? What Path? | focuswithmarlene.com

Difficult times compel us to stop and make an assessment of where we are in life.

  • Are we achieving the ambitions and aspirations we had?
  • Are our goals and plans to achieve stated in such a way that even when faced with unexpected obstacles, we have a clear direction on how to get there?

Such an evaluation can enlarge our vision. We may need to abandon unclear goals and replace them with new, more coherent, or articulate ones.

At these crossroads, we are given the opportunity to clarify what is really important to us so we can step out with a new purpose and ending in mind.