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We gather together with others because we find some commonality with them. We have a human need to socialize and bond. The support we receive is more than just having fun or a sense of belonging. The people we hang out with over time become a statement, a reflection of who we are, our views, values, and beliefs.
Besides the relationships we form with others, the relationship we have with ourselves and God are essential. All three are important to living a life with purpose, integrity and meaning.
Develop Relationships with Others
The relationships we formulate have a deep impact on our lives. Because of that we need to ask ourselves whether we want to commit to or remain in certain relationships.
- Do I spend a lot of time with people who do things that go against my values?
- Have I taken time to formulate and define my values? Why do I believe what I do?
- Am I constantly making excuses for myself and others with whom I spend time?
The life we choose to live reflects who we are, our principles and values.
Values are things we believe have merit and worth and importance.
Principles are ways of conduct we believe are appropriate.
When our actions are in conflict with those core beliefs and values, we find ourselves uncomfortable, conflicted and stressed. If the friends we choose to hang out with do not share the same values, we are faced with choosing between those values or compromising them.
We can be in social settings with people who have different opinions or points of view and we can agree to disagree. But within our personal friendships, it is important to ask, who am I hanging around with and why? What do we have in common?
Develop a Relationship with Self
When asked who is in control of your life, most people automatically say, “Well, I am, of course.” Yet these same people complain about all the things that go wrong and how they are simply a victim to whatever is happening. “I can’t do this because. . . or If life had treated me differently. . . or I was born poor so there was no opportunity.”
Believing in yourself and in your ability to make goals and find ways to accomplish them requires a willingness and resolve to learn and try.
It requires personal honesty and a “Yes, I can” mindset. It doesn’t mean you won’t get discouraged or depressed. It does mean that you refuse to remain in that space.
A positive relationship with yourself accepts both your shortcomings and strengths, and takes responsibility for what you do.
- You refuse to be a victim even when life throws you hard curve balls.
- You don’t play the “blame game” where everything that goes wrong is somebody or something else’s fault.
- You focus on the facts involved and then on an appropriate response.
- You challenge your motives and rely on your ability to make tough choices.
Recognize when you make excuses. Recognize when you need to ask for assistance but fail to do so because of pride. Recognize when your lifestyle isn’t reflecting your values, beliefs and principles. Clarify them and make the choices and changes that mirror them.
Having a positive and productive relationship with yourself is reflected in your self-talk. There is an internal dialogue that goes on 24/7. When that is consistently and constantly negative, without reflection of the things you can do, the improvements you can make, the attitudes and mindsets that you can establish, you will not have a very positive relationship with yourself or others.
The association we establish with ourselves will be reflected in our relationships with others.
We can set boundaries.
We can apologize when we have hurt someone.
We can forgive the transgressions of others and offer them grace and offer grace to ourselves when we have done something offensive or wrong. Grace doesn’t dismiss our mistakes. It simply says, Ok, I screwed up. But I have learned something valuable that I will apply going forward.
Building a positive relationship with yourself means you are willing to examine your lifestyle, habits and ways of thinking and acting in order to grow and become responsible.
It stops and considers the values and principles you have chosen that identify who you are.
When beliefs and values are compromised, you compromise yourself and your worth.
Sometimes the choices you are confronted with are not easy. But if you want to live your life authentically and honestly, your choices will be based on the commitment you make to live those values.
We are a combination of many things, not just either/or. Our strengths can trip us up with pride just as weaknesses can trip us up with discouragement.
Cultivate Mentoring Relationships
Find mentors who will encourage but will also be honest with you. Good counsel will take you out of the ordinary and give you the opportunity to become extraordinary in your everyday life.
Seek out and cultivate relationships with people of good character and strength of conviction who are not just successful or accomplished, but who you respect for their integrity and measured wisdom. They have learned humility along with confidence. They are God-fearing and apply ethical principles in their business, work, and home life.
Develop a Relationship with God
Why do I need God in my life? Why do I need to establish a personal relationship with Him? As we recognize our vulnerabilities and weaknesses, we better understand our need for God, who loves us, embraces us, and gives us wisdom, strength, hope, and peace.
In the darkness of the night we struggle to believe and understand all the things that are happening to us. We do our best, but it never seems to be good enough. The losses in our life continue to mount up until we are left exhausted, curled in a fetal position, unable to move, without hope or motivation.
As we face truths about ourselves, our lifestyle, insecurities, and inabilities we may want to withdraw and isolate ourselves because we do not want others to see our vulnerabilities or our brokenness.
We build walls around our spirits and psyches to protect them from further hurt and disappointments. Yet when we do, we are walling in the acid of pain that gradually erodes our mental, physical, and emotional self.
It is there, in the darkness of our night, that we wrestle with ourselves and God. All the unwanted changes produce a darkness in our soul. And we question not only the decisions we have made, but our values and core beliefs about God and life in general. As the struggle intensifies, we try to put some perspective on what we are experiencing. It is not a comfortable place to be.
Yet it is there, in the darkness of our night — in the brokenness of our spirit — where God reaches out to us with a word, a symbol, a person, a long forgotten biblical truth, a remembrance of the many times He has shown us His face.
Surrender Brings About a New Perspective
And we find in that surrender to Him, not only peace, but a new energy, a new strength, a new perspective. We have wrestled and came through to the morning of new understanding, faith, and hope. In that surrender and acceptance, we are not only given peace and a new insurgence of energy, but joy.
It is in the scriptures where we discover more about our God. He is Holy, Almighty and all powerful. But He is approachable and never abandons us, even when we abandon Him. He loves and cares about us and meets us where we are – in the messiness of life.
He has a goal and plan for each of us as well as for the world. He gives us free will and forgives us many times. But He demands obedience and insists we put Him first.
In his intro to the Book of Joshua, Eugene Peterson writes in The Message:
“God’s great love and purposes for us are worked out in the messes, storms and sins, blue skies, daily work and dreams of our common lives, working with us as we are and not as we should be.”
And it is in the messiness of my life that I come to Him and ask for grace, forgiveness, strength, wisdom, and hope and receive so much more.
Do you want to turn your stress into a positive force?
My Make Stress Work for You bundle will help you:
- Identify the personal stressors that create high levels of distress in your life
- Learn how to identify problems and find ways to solve them
- Replace unhelpful thinking with constructive and practical ways to lower levels of fear, worry, and anxiety
The book bundle includes:
- audio recording of each chapter’
- companion Study Guide & Personal Application Workbook
- Four bonus guides