|Posted on 14 March, 2016 at 15:10||comments (5)|
I often put quotes on sticky notes and put them in my day-planner when I’m reading. Today I was looking through last year’s planner for some information I needed and I found this one: ”All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.” –James Thurber.
What a great description of the process of personal growth and healing. In my counselling practice, I am usually trying to help people discover what effect the past has on their beliefs, choices, and behaviours. Without a good understanding of who we are, we cannot make changes. What are we running from? Identify this and you have taken the first step. What we are “running to” can also be connected to the past. You may be trying to recreate the very thing you are running from. Even if we don’t want to live in the past, it is comfortable and change is hard.
What we run to may be the method we use to dull the pain or cover up the past. It can be an addiction, a career, a relationship, or even our faith. With the exception of an addiction, those things look good, but when they cover something, keeping us so busy we don’t have time to think about it, they become addictions. We all use things to dull the pain of life. No one is exempt. In order to make positive changes in our lives, we need to discover the why. Why are we running? What are we running from? What do we want to hide and what do we want to hide from? As we discover the underlying problems (what we are running from) the thing we are running to, or the things we using to cover or numb our pain the truth can be exposed. These discoveries lead us to the why. Why are we running? Do we need to run, or can stop and face the why?
When I was a little girl, I was terrified of dogs. I always ran from them and they always chased me. It is their nature. I have learned that it is usually (within reason), much more effective to stop, turn, and face the dog. If I talk to the animal calmly, it will settle down. What most dogs want is attention unless they are trying to protect their territory. Obviously you need caution, but when dogs lost their ability to terrify me and I began to understand their nature, my relationship with them changed.
When our relationship with the past changes, our ability to change and grow increases. If the past has the power to determine your thoughts, beliefs, actions or behaviours, you are still controlled by it. It may be time to stop, turn, and face the “dog.” What are you running from? What are you running to? Why are you running? Dig it out, journal it out, talk it out. If you want change, it takes work and you may need help along the way, but don’t be afraid of the process. The end result is worth the journey. Running only makes the problem worse. Stop, gain understanding, then change the relationship. The past will lose its power and you can be free to grow and change apart from it.
For me, change has come through a number of sources. My faith has been an integral part of that process. Seeking God for understanding and wisdom, reading, journaling, talking to trusted friends, and professional counsel have all been tools in my personal journey to healing. No one comes through life unscathed, but those experiences do not have to be the factor that determines our future. What is holding you back and what do you need to do today to begin to face the problem?
|Posted on 24 February, 2016 at 17:55||comments (0)|
As a counselor, I often teach people tools to improve their relationships. We can all develop better ways of relating to the people we love, work with, play with, or go to church with. We are prone to misunderstanding or assuming what someone means instead of really listening to what they are saying. Learning to ask questions, stepping away from our own agenda, and not becoming defensive are all ways to improve a difficult conversation and avoid an argument.
How do we get started? We need to get to know the other person. What do they like? What don’t they like? What is their background? Are they defensive because they grew up in a critical environment or live in an abusive relationship? How can you make the conversation safe for them? If we can give people the benefit of the doubt, we can often diffuse a potential conflict. This is true for the sales clerk at the check out and it is true for your spouse.
If you are in relationship with God through Christ, you have a responsibility to love those you come in contact with. It is often harder to live Christ’s love out at home than it is to show that same love to people you meet elsewhere. At home forgiveness is key. No one is perfect. We expect others to accept us as we are; yet we most often do not give them the same honour or respect we wish to receive. That does not mean we accept abuse. What it does mean is that our love and acceptance is not dependent on the behavior of the person receiving it. It is the little things that cause us the most difficulty in relationship.
How many times have you been irritated because someone put an empty cereal box back in the cupboard (my personal pet peeve), did a poor job of shoveling the driveway, left dirty dishes in the living room, or some other little thing. Do you take it personally? Do you feel your child, spouse, or roommate is disrespecting you by doing or not doing something? In response, do you yell, disrespecting them as well? Worse yet, withdraw your love or put them down because of your own hurt or anger? We do one of three things in these situations: we react outwardly, we let it build up inside, or we release it and forgive. Forgiveness is always the best choice. Forgiveness does not mean we ignore issues that need to be addressed. If you asked your teenager to shovel the walk and he/she just made a little trail through the snow, you might need to have a discussion with them, but do it in love without condemnation. If we forgive instead of becoming defensive, we have a better chance of working together to find creative solutions.
It is not an easy thing to change the way we react or what we believe about why people do things that irritate us, but it is possible. Most often, it is not a conscious decision on their part to push your buttons. You’re just not that important! Stepping back from your own hurt or irritation is vital to living and walking in love and forgiveness.
Try this exercise: write down every time you are irritated, angry, or hurt today. Ask yourself if some questions:
Was that individual really trying to hurt me?
Was I reacting because I was being inconvenienced?
Were they reacting to something outside of my control?
Did I ask questions to clarify the situation or just get mad?
How did I treat them afterward: go silent, get huffy, slam stuff, tell them they were stupid?
The more aware you are of your own feelings and reactions, the easier it is to begin to make positive changes. There is so much we can learn about ourselves and about others that will improve our relationships and help us make better decisions, but awareness and understanding are a great place to start. Even a small change in your understanding of how you think and react to others can make a difference in how you relate to the important people in your life.
|Posted on 2 October, 2015 at 13:30||comments (0)|
I recently listened to a pod cast with Michael Hyatte. The theme was built around the now familiar statement Yoda made to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back: "Do or do not, there is no try." While this statement comes from of a popular movie it none-the-less rings true. Mr. Hyatte commented that it is all in the language we use. You can't really "try" to do anything, you either do it or you don't. What trying does for us is gives us an out, an excuse if we do something and it doesn't work. Using the word try allows us to avoid commitment and keeps us from searching for other creative solutions.
Our relationship with God is a “do or do not” commitment as well. We either confess our sins and receive forgiveness, or we do not. We spend time getting to know Him, or we do not. We spend time with God’s people, or we do not. God gives us the privilege of choice. He never pushes us.
We want to see personal growth in our lives, but are afraid to really commit to the effort it takes so we say, "I'll try," but it is a halfhearted effort. Make a choice, then go all out to accomplish the goal. What do you need to do today to get the results you want to see in your life? It is a day-by-day journey.
Some days I struggle with God's direction. I have begun to pray that God would give me the courage to search for answers and explore the options before me until my path becomes clear, to give me the wisdom to understand what He wants me to know and learn, and to know how and when to help and encourage the people around me (and when not to). God’s will is so much more than where I live or what job I chose to do. Location and job choices are just avenues through which God moves.
I often feel I have looked at life in a haphazard manner, jumping on the next exciting possibility, without really considering the consequences. I hope I've left that attitude behind as I’ve matured, but I still have to be aware of the tendency in my personality. Learning to walk in maturity and a spirit of growth is a lifelong pursuit. How will you do it? Will you just “try,” or will you make a choice to pursue God, pursue life, pursue growth?
Yoda may have nothing to do with living a godly life, but, like Luke, we still make the choice to “do or not do,” Do we choose to live life fully, or will we choose to simply exist. I want to live life fully, how about you? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below. If you would like help on your journey, leave me an email on the contact page.
|Posted on 23 April, 2015 at 11:20||comments (0)|
“That’s Not What I Meant!” is a helpful little book about the effects our words have on our relationships. The author, Tim Stafford says, “It is with words, principally, that we build or destroy relationships.” How we communicate and what we actually say, is as important as what we do. Our actions, of course, must back up our words, but words are the only way we can really get to know one another. No one can read another person’s mind. You must say what you mean.
Several things stood out to me in my reading: we speak many words in the day without really thinking about what we say, we are not intentional about our communication, and we don’t have a clear goal in mind when we speak. Stafford encourages the reader to take a deliberate inventory of the words he/she speaks in their important relationships throughout the day. Write them down as you go or reflect at the end of the day. Do this for several days. You will have two main results. One, you become more aware of the language you use. Two, you will have a clear record of your words. You may not like what you see, but it will definitely help you build new, more positive, words into your relationships.
Being intentional with our words, means that we think before we speak. Do the words you are about to say build up or tear down the person to whom you are speaking? Do you know that person well enough to understand how they may feel about what you say? When in doubt, ask, clarify, and restate until you come to a mutual understanding. Do you have goals for your relationships? Most of us would prefer a positive outcome to our interactions, but seldom think about what we want to achieve. I love what Stafford says about his goal for his relationship with his teen-aged daughter:
"I want very much to communicate my love and establish a climate of warmth and encouragement even while I am sometimes setting limits, correcting her behavior, and challenging her to make mature decisions for herself.”
Although most of us would agree with this goal, it just doesn’t seem to play a significant role in the heat of the moment. I remember many interactions with my growing children when my goal was more to keep them quiet or get them out of my hair for a few minutes than it was to build them up. Because we are inherently selfish beings, its difficult to consistently choose the good of the other over our own needs. If we are aware and intentional, it becomes easier. It can be helpful to write out your goals for each of your significant relationships. Ask yourself what it is you really want to achieve? What words and actions support those goals?
Change takes time and practice so stick with it. Remember, these are your goals! The other person may not share them. You may not get the desired response. You cannot be responsible for another’s emotions or responses, but you can improve the chances of building or repairing your relationships by being intentional and deliberate with your interactions.
|Posted on 30 March, 2015 at 16:15||comments (0)|
Over the last month, I have needed to wage war on my ability to focus. Starting a new private practice (that means –just me), adding new skills and tools to my business, and simply running a business have been part of a stretching experience. I’m one of those people who cannot learn enough fast enough. With such a high learning curve in a short space of time, I have found myself struggling to focus. I am learning to spread things out. I don’t have to know everything there is to know today. Some of it can wait until tomorrow.
This weekend, I realized I was beginning to lose the battle. I needed a break. I had to sit myself down and take my own advice! Not always an easy thing to do. I had lost focus. I was trying to do too many things at once. In times like these, I imagine myself in my office sitting in the client seat. What would I say to a client in the same situation?
1. Stop. Just stop, relax and refocus.
2. Do a reality check. What is realistic? Are you trying to do the impossible?
3. Evaluate where you are and where you need to be? Break that down into realistic, manageable segments of time and activity. What can you do today, this week, this month that will take you closer to the goal?
4. Go back to step one: Stop, relax, and refocus. Not on your goals, to do list, etc., but on yourself. Do some relaxation activities. Bring your mind back to the moment and keep bringing it back. Go for a walk, have some fun and give yourself a break, for the whole weekend!
5. Monday morning: do what needs to be done TODAY. Forward planning is only one task. Do it and then refocus on the task at hand. No rumination allowed.
So that’s where I am today. Doing what I can on this Monday. I had a wonderfully relaxing, work free weekend. I didn’t read any books or search the net for information. Once I refocused and planned the next week on Friday evening, I just focused on relaxation and fun. I feel good and am happily pursuing the task at hand. How about you?
|Posted on 23 March, 2015 at 17:35||comments (0)|
Back in the 60’s and 70’s, it was popular to say you needed to find yourself. It seemed rather ambiguous to me at the time. What does that really mean – to find yourself? It seemed like a good excuse to abdicate responsibility, leave a difficult relationship, or seek new adventure. However, there is some validity in asking the question. “Who am I?” can lead you in a number of healthier directions if you pursue personal growth in a more purposeful manner.
Start your journey by clarifying your core values (what is really important to you). You may want to explore areas such as spirituality, work, honest, integrity, relationships, personal discipline, and more. Make a pie chart and assign each area you identify a portion. This is what you want, or believe, not necessarily what you do right now. Take your time and explore. If life were perfect, how would you like to see your pie divided up? Be honest!
Now, take those same categories and divide your pie up as it really is. If you’re like most of us, you will have two very different charts. Your task now is to consider the discrepancies and work your way toward making them match. Consider what is realistic. If you work full time and also want to homeschool your kids, you will need to compromise somewhere. You will do that in your next pie! Some of those compromises will be big and some small. Ask yourself what is really important and why. Why is just as important as what.
Your third pie probably won’t resemble either one and if you do the exercise in a year from now it will be different than the one you do today. For example, my pie as a young mom would not resemble the pie I make today. For one thing, all I have to look after is myself (and aging parents). Life has changed and so has the amount of time I need to invest in my kids. In fact, if I invested the same amount of time in my adult sons now as I did 20 years ago, it would be inappropriate and unhealthy. That doesn’t negate my value of family; it just changes how my interaction with them looks.
There are many healthy ways we can explore self. The more you understand who you really are, the more you can live in compatibility with that. Remember, this is not a guilt exercise. You can’t do it all. Forgive yourself and compromise in appropriate ways. Leave the guilt behind.
|Posted on 11 March, 2015 at 15:45||comments (0)|
Welcome to my very first Blog! I'm excited to anounce that my website is up and running. Check it out and let me know what you think.
From time to time, I will be posting my thoughts relevant to personal growth, emotional healing, leadership, and spiritual growth. If you have question, feel free to ask. I look forward to sharing life with you all.
Naomi (Noni) Deutekom