Stinking Thinking: Special Guest Episode

Hey, ladies! It’s a surprise bonus episode! My three-year-old, Keegan chose the topic for this episode, and I thought you all may enjoy.

 

Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

 

What suggestions do you have for changing the stinking thinking? What stinking thinking invades your thoughts?

Come to the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group to discuss!

I Wish I Knew: Finding Confidence in Personality

Have you ever been tempted to compare yourself to others? Maybe there is a specific person you have always wanted to be just like. Maybe it’s more of a group of people that you have watched and silently wished, “if I could only be like them…”

I was always pretty shy when I was growing up. I felt easily intimidated by the “popular kids” at school and noticed every flaw about myself that kept me from being one of them. If I wasn’t among my group of friends, I generally stayed quiet. I often felt like an outsider.

I wish I could get a message to my younger self today, after gaining some life experience. There are things I know now that I wish I’d known then.

I wish my younger self would have realized that the ones who were most popular were popular largely because they acted most confidently. It wasn’t because of how fit, well-dressed, or pretty they were, though those things helped to give them confidence, or at least the appearance of confidence. I wish I knew how even “popular kids” have struggles. I wish I’d understood just how interesting our differences make us. I wish I knew to focus on what makes me feel confident and not on what makes me feel inadequate. I wish I realized that it’s okay to not be liked by EVERYONE – because nobody is. I also wish someone had told me about CLEP exams and how I could have saved time and money in undergrad, but that’s a whole other story…

We all have stories and unique perspectives on the world. We have different personality types that draw us in different directions. We truly are a mosaic of human life, in both visible attributes and those below the surface. I love telling stories of my experiences. I enjoy sharing about international travel, people I’ve been blessed to meet, and new things I’ve tried. As relational beings, we have the innate desire to share life with one another – to connect with and learn from one another. We don’t really enjoy sharing about our flaws, but they are part of us too. Each personality comes with both strengths and weaknesses. We each make mistakes and experience wins. It’s all part of what makes us uniquely us.

It’s easy to compare ourselves to our ideal image, especially in this world with social media bombarding us with the highlights reels of everyone around us while we sit and sift through our bloopers reel, critiquing each mistake and flaw.

When I was going into undergrad, I sat for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a personality assessment that identifies personality types. I was fascinated how well the resulting “ENFP” type and additional information described me and my personality. Though life experiences have somewhat shifted my personality since then, it still amazes me. I want to encourage each of you to visit www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test and find out what your personality type is. Come to the Every Day Incredible Ladies group to share your personality type. Does it fit you?

Allow yourself to set aside your bloopers reel and pull out your own highlights. Take some time to reflect on your own story. What experiences, traits, skills, and strengths make you unique and incredible?

The Bible verse I’d like to leave you with today is Isaiah 64:8:


Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  
We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

 

If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life and find your confidence, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-centered life balance. What areas of life do you find are most difficult to balance? I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!

Resist the Devil and He Will Flee From You (August Affirmations Series #5)

Throughout this month, we have focused on affirmations as positive, healthy, and helpful self-talk. However… affirmations are not limited to self-talk. We live in a society that is quick to point out the negative. Any time spent on social media will certainly highlight this! Check out any political post, any article on public breastfeeding, or …. Well… really, any article that goes viral and is seen by keyboard warriors who care nothing about the poster or person referenced. It is both frightening and discouraging how quick people can be to tear others down just because they can.

We talked last week about the spiritual influences around us, and this is no different! The spiritual battlefield is real, and finding balance means we have to learn to acknowledge it for what it is. With that said, I’d like to turn this post toward affirming those around us.

Negativity can be an easy habit to form and a hard one to break. How many of you have found yourself in a vicious cycle of “no, stop, don’t” with your children, or in pointing out the negative in situations you face with your spouse? Telling yourself it’ll never get better? Telling your friends only the “bad stuff” happening to you?

I know I have! It wears us all down if we get into that mode. Misery loves company, so the saying goes. BUT… I’d like to stop here and share the verse that has played over and over in my head lately.

 

James 4:7  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

I am realizing more and more what resisting the devil really looks like. It’s not only telling him to go away (but I totally do that too, in determined defiance), but it also looks like replacing those negative thoughts, criticisms, and hopeless statements with what we know is true and healthy. It looks like going against that sinful, selfish human nature when you are tempted to fire back a jab when your feelings are hurt. It looks like giving your child a hug when you feel like screaming. It looks like going to your spouse and saying, “I love you, how can we work on this together?” instead of slamming the door as you walk away.

 

“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

 

I’m being completely real with you when I tell you, I had really gotten myself pulled into that negativity cycle for a while. With God’s help, I’m really working to change that. This morning, my 6 year old dumped his entire bowl of cereal in his lap. I kept my cool. He helped clean it up, the morning went on, and there was a lot of giggling going on about various things that happened (such as letting my three year old brush MY teeth so he wouldn’t whine about me brushing his… THAT was entertaining). At one moment, I looked at my husband and commented on the difference. I realized THAT is what resisting the devil often looks like in practice.

In another recent situation, I said something through text that came across poorly. It nearly caused a big blow-up between my husband and me. I felt that nagging temptation to snap at the response (though I completely understood how it had come across and why he was upset). I hesitated. I responded with an apology and reminding him that I love him and I didn’t mean for the statement to come across like it had. The moment passed, and it didn’t escalate. I later realized again… THAT was is what resisting the devil often looks like in practice. I thanked God and thought, “Ha! you didn’t play me that time, satan!”

I’m learning how important it is to not only resist the devil for my own self, but also to build up those around me. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to give more frequent affirmations to my family and others I encounter. Have you heard something positive about someone you know? Tell them. Is your spouse having a tough time at work? Tell him how appreciated he is. Tell your kids how great they are. Be sure you are taking time to acknowledge what is true of those around you. You will often be able to see their strengths much more quickly than they will. Help them resist the devil’s tactics by affirming them every chance you get with what you know is true. I’d like to get you started with some examples, but I would love for you to share your own as well!

 

You are loved.

You are appreciated.

You are a great kid!

You are such a great worker.

You inspire me when you _______.

I’m so thankful you are my husband.

I’m so thankful for your friendship.

You are a great listener.

You are a blessing to me.

You brighten my day.

You bring me joy.

You did such a great job with that.

You rock!

I’m so thankful to be your mommy.

You make me smile!

You are doing fantastic, thank you!

 

 

Think about what affirmations you would love to hear from others. Can you think of someone else who needs to hear the same? Tell them!

I’d like to leave you with one more passage for the week.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

 

If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life through affirmations, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-centered life balance. What areas of life do find are most difficult to balance? I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!

15 Affirmations to Survive Parenthood (August Affirmation Series #4)

Parenting is tough.  Any of you out there who are parents, this post is especially for you, but even if you don’t have children, I think you can still gain something from it. Before we get to some helpful affirmations about parenting, I’d like to share a personal spiritual growth moment with you.

One night recently, I was reading the story of Balaam’s talking donkey to my children. As I read it to them, I felt God speaking to my heart. First, I want to back up though. Because of some life experiences this year, I’ve been paying more and more attention to the fact that there is a very real and active spiritual realm around us. While scripture makes frequent references to it, it seems we don’t often treat it as real, and even as I was writing out this post, I had that inner voice ask me if I was sure I wanted to talk about it because… well, people don’t talk about these things. It’s something that makes people look like fanatics, right? Well… to that, I say, hush, satan. Leave me alone. I’m going to share about it anyway because it’s very real.

I’ve been reading more about spiritual warfare over the past few months and coming to some major realizations. I believe some of satan’s biggest methods of attack are found in that inner voice. Self-doubt and criticism, resentment and anger, distraction, and the list goes on. My husband and I have three boys here on Earth. They are six, three, and a newborn. Yes, in response to the question I often get, I do have my hands full. But, I love my boys more than I could even say. Obviously, they are kids, and if anybody wonders about sinful, selfish nature, just watch kids for a little bit. Yes, we are all born with it. Before children learn to put themselves after others, the world revolves around them in their own minds. In today’s society especially, we see lots and lots of individuals who never really learn that. It creates a lack of compassion and a lack of happiness. As we discussed in the post about what we can learn from the world’s happiest man, it takes thinking outside ourselves to be truly happy.

Okay, now back to the Bible Storytime. I chose the story of Balaam and the talking donkey because I thought my boys would enjoy it. It turns out, there was a real lesson for me in it.

Balaam was not doing what God want him to do, and was trying to go in the opposite direction. If you remember the story, there was an angel of the Lord in the path in front of him with a sword, ready to do battle. The donkey could see him, but Balaam could not. The donkey veered off the path into a field, and Balaam struck him. When the angel moved further up the path, the donkey tried to avoid him by walking against the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot. Again, Balaam was angry and hit the donkey. A third time, the angel stood in the path where there were walls on both sides and there was no way to avoid him. So the donkey laid down. For a third time, Balaam became angry and hit the donkey.
At this point, the donkey spoke. It asked Balaam why he had hit him the three times. Balaam responded that he was angry that the donkey had made a fool of him. As I told my boys, if a donkey were talking to me, looking like a fool would be the least of my concerns at the moment. I would be more focused on the fact that a donkey was talking to me. But not Balaam.
He was so caught up in his anger and that underlying fear and belief that other people would think he looked like a fool. Then God open his eyes and allowed him to see the angel as well. The angel also asked him why he had hit his donkey, and told him that he was acting foolishly…. by not following God’s leading.
So I’ve read the story many times, but as I was reading it to my boys, it had a much different impact. Balaam had gotten so angry at his donkey that he hit him three times. The Donkey was responding to something the Balaam couldn’t see… Something in the spiritual realm.
I thought of my role as a mom. Sometimes it is so tough. When the kids are not listening, tearing up household items, dragging out a mess, Etc. It can all really try my patience sometimes- especially when I’m tired and overwhelmed because of other life stresses. I try to keep my cool, but I am definitely not perfect.
I know that kids often respond to being overtired, being over stimulated, having sensory needs that are not being met, if they’re sick or tired… Yet sometimes I still act like they are simply just being stubborn like donkeys. But that’s not even the truth. I think satan uses all of those things to try to keep us focused in the wrong directions. He tries to tear us down using all the distractions of life, whispering those lies into our ears about how we’re not good enough parents or how our children are simply trying to make us mad. It’s not true. Kids react to their environments and their bodies and any number of other influences. They are just figuring out this whole thing called life, and so are we.
Now I find myself praying that I will have my own eyes opened to the influences my kids have to face. I almost cried reading the story to my boys because I felt like it was really putting me in check. I always try to keep my cool, but I need to work on reminding myself of affirmations I need to hear most. My boys are not trying to work against me as much as it may feel like they are. When they are sick, tired, have too much sugar, have been over stimulated… Satan will use all of those things if we let him. But I know what scripture says, and I know that if we resist satan that he has to flee. In the name of Jesus. Because greater is He who lives in us than he who lives in the world.
So ladies, in this moment, I’m asking all of you to pray for me and my household, and I am praying for you and yours. I hope to hear from you in the Every Day Incredible ladies Facebook group where we can all keep one another accountable. We all need reminders, and that’s just what affirmations do. They help keep the truth fresh in our minds so we can resist satan’s attempts to bring us down and distract us from God’s will for us. He wants to disrupt our balance and steal our joy, we need to call him out in the name of Jesus and cling to our joy in Christ.
I’d like to end this post with some affirmations. Share with us which affirmation hits home for you, whether it is on this list or not.

 

 

My children rely on me to be a spiritual example.

I enter each day with my kids’ best interest at heart.

I am growing and learning as a parent.

I learn and grow from my mistakes.

My children bring me joy.

God gave me exactly what my children need from me.

My children were designed for me!

I was designed for my children.

God always gives me what I need just what I need it and I can trust Him to continue.

Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.

I focus on what is true and helpful for my family.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

My children respond to their environment and I can be a positive influence on them.

I have the strengths and resources I need to parent my children well.

My children are resilient and I can continue to help them grow and learn.

 

If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life through affirmations, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for our final post in the August Affirmations series. I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!

 

Where Affirmations Are Born: Finding Affirmations That Work for You (August Affirmations Series #3)

A few weeks ago, we talked about how to be happy by taking advice from a man considered to be the happiest man alive – to think positive thoughts, meditate on compassion, and focus on others instead of self. Week before last, my dear hubby shared his thoughts on using affirmations to release the juggernaut within. Last week, we talked about using affirmations to build on your grit and increase your success in life.

In fact, if you have been following this blog at all, you have already seen multiple references to the power of affirmations, or positive self-talk that is healthy and helpful. In this post I want to talk to you about finding affirmations that work for you. Affirmations will be different for every individual. It wouldn’t be very helpful if everyone had the same affirmation because not everyone has the same struggles.

When you are deciding what affirmations you would like to focus on each day, start by looking at the areas of the biggest struggle for you. We’ve talked about doing thought records and recording details about arguments or situations that cause distress for you, then looking more closely to explore what thoughts or beliefs may have influenced those situations. When you’re looking at what your underlying thoughts are, and working to challenge any unhelpful/unhealthy thoughts or beliefs by replacing them, that is where affirmations are born.

Affirmations need to be positively stated (try to avoid any “negative” words such as don’t, not, can’t, etc.), present tense, and true. Whether you find an affirmation that resonates with you from a list of affirmations, connect with a scripture passage that states a message you need to hear often and make into a habitual thought, or you come up with your affirmation by challenging an unhealthy belief, it’s important to make an effort to repeat the affirmation until it becomes more of a habit than the unhelpful self-talk was. Be creative in finding ways to keep your chosen affirmation fresh in your mind. I’ve given you lots of suggestions for this, but I’d love to hear YOUR ideas! Comment here or visit the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group to share your ideas (or ideas you find on pinterest of course).

In the meantime, I encourage you to find the affirmations that work best for you. Here are some examples:

 

I like myself.
I am enough.
I exist free of fear.
I can do it.
I achieve the goals I set for myself.
I am loved.
I’m a loved child of the Most High God.
I live and follow God’s perfect plan for my life each day.
Success is within my reach.
I have the right to feel how I feel.
I am proud of my progress.
I am proud of my success.
I am proud of myself.
I am secure in my identity as a child of God.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
I am likable.
I am lovable.
I am interesting.
I trust God and His plans for my life.
I have access to the resources I need.
My life has meaning and purpose.
I have a right to say no.
I have hope.
I am calm and confident.
I am responsible.

What affirmations do you need to hear most?

If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life through affirmations, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for more thoughts on how affirmations can help you find balance! I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!

The Grit that Leads to Success (August Affirmations Series #2)

Last week, we had a guest post from my dear hubby, Aaron, about Using Affirmations to Release the Juggernaut Within. Think for a moment of the most successful people you know. Think about their attitudes and their actions. What stands out about them compared to others? What characteristics do they have that set them apart from the rest? How are you like them or different than them?

I recently listened to a TED talk by Angela Duckworth about what makes people successful. She spoke about her research and how she discovered that the common factor in successful people is what she referred to as “grit.” Dr. Duckworth describes grit as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out. Not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

The successful people I know definitely have grit. They are the ones who are able to stay focused. They are the ones that are resilient and keep getting up every time they get knocked down in life.

Dr. Duckworth went on to reference “Growth Mindset,” an idea presented by Carol Dweck of Stanford University. She describes growth mindset as the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed; that it can change with your effort. Dr. Dweck has shown that when kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re much more likely to persevere when they fail because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition.”

What I take away from this TED talk is the power of positive affirmations. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy revolves largely around, as we’ve discussed before, “changing the stinking thinking.” As she noted, the ability to learn is not fixed; it can change with your effort. Thinking habits are not set in stone, they can be adapted to be more healthy and helpful. Practicing the mindset that you can be successful regardless of failure can dramatically shift the direction of your life.

It’s safe to say that if you indulge in thinking that you aren’t enough, that you are a failure, that you can’t be successful… you’ll be right. A growth mindset is what gives you the grit to hang on and keep pushing your way forward even through difficult times.

What about you? Are you gritty? Do you stick with your goals and plans because you believe you are capable, or do you let the fears and doubts knock you down and rob you of your grit like a city street mugging?

I agree with Dr. Duckworth that you can’t teach grit. But if someone is seeking to develop grit, it can be acquired. What unhelpful thoughts rob you of your grit? I wanted to give you some ideas of affirmations that may help you work toward a growth mindset. To gauge your own grit level, you can visit Dr. Duckworth’s site at https://angeladuckworth.com/grit-scale/. Be sure to visit the Every Day Incredible Ladies’ facebook group to share your grit score and offer encouragement to one another.

I’d like to leave you with our Bible verse for this week, and it is found in Philippians chapter 4, verse 13. “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” This verse is a great reminder and affirmation to help you practice your growth mindset and grow your grit. If you are focused on seeking God’s will for your life, you truly can do anything He puts in front of you. I want to encourage you to keep this verse in the front of your mind however you can. Add it to a post-it and put it on your mirror, above your coffee pot, on your computer screen – anywhere you will see it often. Set it as a reminder on your phone. Write it on a card and put it in your wallet so you see it every time you open it. Practice it. Exercise your thoughts like you would exercise your body to prepare for a marathon. It is, after all, a marathon, not a sprint.

If you would like some more personalized support as you develop your gritty worldview, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for more affirmations to help you develop a gritty worldview. I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!

The Happiest Man Alive: How to be Happy!

Are you happy? I mean really happy? What thoughts or situations stand in the way of you being happy more often? About a year or so ago, I came across an article about a Tibetan Buddhist monk named Matthieu Ricard. After taking part in a 12 year brain study that focused on meditation and compassion, Mr. Ricard has been referred to as the world’s happiest man. You can read more here.

Mr. Ricard’s primary advice is to stop thinking only about yourself. He says the key to happiness is altruism. The reason he gives is that “thinking about yourself and how to make things better for yourself all the time is exhausting and stressful, and it ultimately leads to unhappiness.” It makes sense to me!

Basically, your goal is to not be selfish. As human individuals, it is in our nature to be selfish. We see the world around us from our own unique, limited perspective and unless we make a conscious effort to try to see things from another person’s point of view and try to put the needs of others first, we will continue to be selfish.

Scripture talks a great deal about being more like Christ, and about how to have a healthy relationship with God. Scripture says that God is love (1 John 4:8), and it also says that love, among many other qualities, is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). If we are striving to be more Christlike, we need to be focusing on not being so self-involved. It was when I realized that sin is basically being selfish (putting selfish wants before God’s desire) that I had a more clear picture of a healthy relationship with God and what sin actually means. In fact, the first book I wrote was on this very topic… How love isn’t selfish, and what we can learn about God’s love through human relationships.

Going back to the advice from Mr. Ricard, He suggests to train your mind as if you were training for running a marathon. As a therapist, I completely agree. I frequently reference Philippians 4:8 because it backs up the premise of so much of what I discuss in therapy sessions. Where we choose to focus our thinking determines our emotions and behavior as well. We’ve talked in previous posts about changing the channel from stinking thinking and choosing to focus on truth and what is more helpful and healthy. That takes much practice, as would training for a marathon. Mr. Ricard does this through meditation. One specific thing he says to do is to spend 15 continuous minutes each day thinking happy thoughts.

Philippians 4:8 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Make positive thinking – specifically, thinking about helping others and being compassionate – a habit.

To create thinking habits, take the same approach you would take to change other habits too. Increase awareness of the habit, make efforts to stop and replace the habit as soon as you catch it (even if it is after the fact), and keep practicing. For more ideas on changing your thinking habits, revisit the post, 6 Barriers to Wellness (and how to overcome them).

Be sure to visit our Every Day Incredible Ladies Facebook group to share your ideas on making altruistic thinking a habit!

 

The Monster in the (Emotional) Closet

 A few weeks ago, we discussed the dangers of “stuffing,” or putting off dealing with emotional events because they seem like they would be too difficult to manage. The problem is that putting off dealing with difficult emotions doesn’t make them go away. The pent-up emotions keep building until you spring an emotional leak. We’ve all had them. They often come out in the forms of anxiety, depression, anger, health problems, or some combination. Simple point – it’s not healthy to let your emotions sit and simmer. We have to deal with them to find a healthy balance.
When we talk about “dealing with issues,” we’re generally talking about unpacking them so you can explore them, name them, and lay the back down so they’re not controlling you.
If you imagine being a kid and looking over to the closet at night because you thought you saw something move…. in the closet, you see something that seems to be peeking around the door, and it’s furry…. so your brain fills in the gaps…. and in your mind, it’s a huge, furry, mean monster with big teeth capable of eating you in just a few bites…. you tell yourself you should go check it out, but then convince yourself it’s just too big and you wouldn’t survive…. but then eventually, either you work up courage, or a parent comes in the room, opens the closet door, and turns on the light.
Then, you see it’s a pair of fuzzy house slippers. and you realize you can totally handle that.
If we stuff emotions in long enough, they grow and grow into these big monsters we tell ourselves we wouldn’t be able to handle if we were to release them from the closet.  In reality, what looked like it could devour us in childhood… maybe as an adult it looks a little different and we can handle it better than we’ve given ourselves credit for.
It’s time for a spring cleaning of your emotional closet.
1. Come up with a plan… what are you going to do with the items in the closet (how are you going to cope with the difficult emotions? What healthy coping skills can you use if you begin to feel overwhelmed?  How can you allow yourself to enjoy the positive in what you find buried under the difficult, etc.?)? As you get started, be sure to pray for wisdom and guidance.
2. Open the closet door and turn on the light. Allow yourself to acknowledge what is IN your emotional closet.
3. Take the items out of the closet, one at a time, taking time to name each item and allow yourself to experience it. Take coping breaks as needed. Use a journal to write about what you find, or talk to a trusted friend, spouse, therapist, or mentor.
4. When you come across something that is overwhelming, stick to your coping plan and recognize that you have the ability to get through it… then celebrate the progress when you do. If you are feeling overwhelmed (or even if you’re not), be sure to find a mental health professional to help you through the process.
5. Keep moving forward, one piece at a time, until you have worked through the piles.
As you do some spring cleaning, you’ll realize you are now looking at all those things piled in that emotional closet from an adult perspective, rather than the child perspective you had when you pushed them all in there. Even emotional baggage that was shoved in the closet as an adult will be a different experience when you look at it after taking a break from it. Give yourself some grace and remember that you can’t expect your past self to have dealt with those emotional piles from your present perspective.
You have the strengths it takes to tackle those monsters in the closet. Once you flip on the light, you may be pleasantly surprised to find a pair of fuzzy house slippers.
Come on over to the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group and talk to us about what strengths you think can help you and the other ladies like you as you work on cleaning out your emotional closets!

6 Barriers to Wellness (and how to overcome them)

We all want happiness and wellness, right? Who wouldn’t? I certainly can’t think of anyone. Even so, we all have areas of our wellness that could use some work.

So, if it’s something we all want, but something we all have to work at and even struggle to have, where is the problem?

In thinking of some of the common barriers to common wellness I’ve seen, and would love to take this opportunity to share them.

1. Stinking Thinking

Have you ever heard the phrase,  “Stinking thinking?” It’s pretty much just what it sounds like… thinking habits that.. well, stink. We all know about habits, and all have them. When you hear the word, habit, you probably think of behaviors like biting your nails or chewing on a pencil. What doesn’t usually come to mind, however, are the habits in THINKING that we develop. Again, we all do it. Based on life experience, input from others, etc., we develop patterns in the way we think, and they are often not helpful or healthy. We often get in the habit of looking at the negative side of situations, or see the glass as “half empty,” for example. It’s easy to get into the habit of ignoring the potential good in front of us, or the good qualities about ourselves or the world around us. Sometimes we make mountains out of molehills or assume we know what others are thinking. For a great list of examples of these, check out this page at www.getselfhelp.co.uk

The good thing is that, like other habits, thinking habits can be broken and replaced! If you are trying to break a habit, you have to bring your awareness to it when it happens, make a choice to replace the habit with something more desirable, and take action. To increase awareness, you just take action every time you catch yourself engaging in the behavior, even if it’s after the fact. When you realize you’ve done it (bitten your nails, chewed on a pencil,

focused on negativity, etc., you engage in the alternative behavior or at least acknowledge what you could have done differently. If you were trying to stop biting your nails, you might move a penny or pebble from one jar to a second, with the goal of ending a day without having to move any pennies/pebbles at all.

When it comes to unhelpful thinking habits, they tend to cause emotional and behavioral symptoms you can learn to catch.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, experience problematic symptoms, have an angry outburst, realize you are feeling more depressed/anxious than normal, etc., you can dig a little deeper into your thoughts to figure out what may be leading to those symptoms. 

To do this, keeping thought records can be very helpful. A Thought record basically takes note of what the situation is, what emotions are experienced (and how strongly they are felt, rated from 1-100%), what underlying thoughts are there (sometimes these thoughts may be more of an image or scene that may have never really been put into words before), and then an evaluation of those thoughts. Are they accurate? Are they helpful? Could there be another explanation? If a best friend were saying those same statements about her own situation, would you agree with them, or would you challenge her to adjust them? Ideally, as you break down your thoughts through these steps, you can begin to acknowledge which thoughts are helpful and healthy, and which ones are tearing you down and keeping you in your rut. The next step would be to come up with more accurate, helpful thoughts, or “affirmations,” which can be used to replace those unhelpful thoughts and change the thinking habit.

2. Stress

I have no doubt that we all have our times of stress – some more than others. While much of stress may be linked to unhealthy thinking habits, or “stinking thinking,” may situations are stressful and genuinely out of our control. Combining the thought record/habit changing approach outlined in the last section, other methods of stress management include exercising good self-care. Relaxation exercises (such as these free downloads provided at Dartmouth University’s website), utilizing a healthy support network, strengthening spiritual wellness through prayer and Bible reading, journaling and exercising your intellectual wellness through creative expression… basically, making sure that you are not entirely focused on the one area of your wellness where there is a current major conflict. Strive for balance.

3. Disorganization/chaos

This is a tricky one. This is both a cause and a symptom much of the time. Have you ever noticed that? The weaker your overall wellness is, the more disorganized and overwhelmed you will probably feel. If a person is feeling significantly depressed or anxious, she is much more likely to have a messy home, desk, or car. I personally found this to be especially true following a time period of some intense grief.

As both a cause and a symptom, you can address it from both ends. Working on addressing the stinking thinking, anxiety, depression, and grief can help you feel more like tackling the disorganization, but you can also tackle the disorganization to help address the other concerns.

Start with SMALL goals – something that will be an “easy win,” so to speak. If your car is a mess, for example, make it a goal for the week fill a grocery bag with trash or items that need to be taken in and put away properly. Schedule a time frame to do it, and stick with it. If you accomplish that and feel inspired to do more, by all means, do it! But if you do that much and feel satisfied, you’ve still met your goal. Set the next one. What specifically are you going to do, and when are you going to do it…. then follow through. Just keep it simple and you’ll feel more and more encouraged with each met goal. Feeling more encouraged in one area can easily translate to others as well!

4. Distraction

I would love to know – what are your biggest distractions? What sucks your time from you? Social Media? A favorite TV show? Books that aren’t helping you meet your wellness goals? Okay, let’s be real… my dear, sweet children are among my biggest distractions… can any of you relate??

Whatever your distractions are, they can really do a number on keeping balance in your overall wellness. Even your distractions generally have their place, though (for the most part). TV shows, social media, and books can be a great way to unwind, catch up on the world around you, feel a bit more connected or find an escape from stress. Your children obviously need your attention and can add tremendously to your overall wellness, sense of purpose, and so much more. Once again, we are looking for balance. There are times we need to close the facebook, twitter, instagram, or pinterest tab. There are times we need to turn off Netflix or put down the book. There are even times we need to call the grandparent squad, a friend, or a babysitter to keep the kids. We need to make a deliberate effort to focus on things that are going to improve our overall wellness. This easily brings us to number 5.

5. Lack of Goals/Vision.

In order to achieve wellness, we absolutely must have a vision for what achieving wellness will look like to us. In earlier posts, we talked about figuring out where we are going… visualizing where we are headed so we are able to set appropriate, effective goals. It’s very important! We’ve also talked about examining your areas of wellness to decide what area or areas need the most work right now. Don’t skip these steps! Get real with yourself and be honest. Where is your overall wellness off balance?

What is it really going to take to get there? Think of the big picture and work backward so you can start with the baby steps, or easy wins, like we just talked about with tackling disorganization. One step at a time, but you MUST have goals and a vision so you know where you are going!

6. Weak areas of overall wellness

Balance, Balance, Balance. It really is key. We’ve been talking a lot about the importance of finding a balance because having one area of wellness neglected can have a severely negative impact on all of the others. To help keep the balance, focus on where your boundaries are. This could largely refer to your boundaries with people around you, as a lack of firm social boundaries is very often a significant source of trouble. Whether family, friends, workplace, or even strangers, if you do not set clear boundaries in your life, you are most likely a person who is frequently taken advantage of by others.

If setting boundaries is not something you currently do well, just remember that it IS a skill that you can work to improve. Practice. Address any stinking thinking in which you tell yourself you don’t deserve better, or that you have to give in to others so you don’t have conflict, and recognize that you have the same basic human rights as any other person, and it’s not only okay to stand up for your rights, but it is healthy. As balance is the key to overall wellness, assertiveness is the key to healthy boundaries. Being assertive basically means standing up for your rights while respecting the rights of others. Do you treat yourself like you have the same rights as those around you? Or do you treat yourself like you don’t deserve better than what you currently have, while you are treated with a lack of respect by a person or people around you?

Setting boundaries can also apply internally. Some areas of wellness are just more enjoyable to give focus than others, right? Sometimes we have to set boundaries for ourselves to exercise self-control and find that balance we keep referencing. If physical wellness is a tough one for you, maybe use another area as a reward, such as being creative after a work-out session. Instead of spending all of your time occupied in a good book, set aside time to work on building your social network. Each individual will have her own favorite areas of wellness – those areas that come easy, and those that are more of a challenge. Strive for balance. Your balance may not look like the next person’s.

What areas of wellness are easiest or hardest for you? What have been your most challenging barriers to overall wellness? Come discuss with other ladies in the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group. If you are interested in a more direct approach to setting your personal goals and achieving balance in wellness, check out the next step, our “Digging Deeper” private facebook group.

 

Philippians 3:14 (NIV)
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

“I don’t need to talk about me.” Taking Time for Emotional Self-Care

In a recent conversation with a friend in a profession of helping others, the topic of her health and stressors arose. When I encouraged her to talk to me about how she was feeling, she responded, “I don’t need to talk about me.”

Have you ever said that to others?

“I don’t need to talk about me, but I’m concerned about (fill in the name).”
“I know I need to work on my own health… but I don’t need to talk about me.”
“Right now, I’m more concerned about getting help for my kids than talking about me.”
“I know my job is mentally draining, but I don’t need to talk about me.”
“I need to be strong for them right now.”
“I know I’m on the verge of a breakdown, but I don’t need to talk about me.”
“The grief affects me more than I let on, but I don’t need to talk about me.”

What is your version?

There’s a term for avoiding talking about what is bothering us. It’s often called “stuffing,” or “bottling up” emotions.

If you want a mental picture of what this may look like, imagine a water balloon. Balloons are flexible, resilient, relatively sturdy, and can hold more than they appear to be capable of holding at first sight. HOWEVER. You can’t just keep filling and keep filling and keep filling a balloon without expecting it to burst. You have to let a little (or a lot) out before fitting the lip back over the spout to add more water.

Likewise, the human mind and body were not designed for continual “stuffing.” We are relational beings. Telling our stories can be immensely beneficial to our mental and emotional processing, as well as beneficial to one another.

When we are among fellow believers, sharing our struggles gives us opportunity to help one another focus on God’s truth through prayer and Biblical focus. When we are struggling, the temptation to fall into negative thinking can have very destructive results. We develop habits in our thinking, whether positive or negative. The world tells us to focus on the worries and the sadness and loneliness, and thoughts that we are not enough. Scripture gives us a much different focus.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

When I first stepped into the world of blogging, the purpose was to provide updates to friends and family during a very dark, painful period of life. One of our unborn twins had been diagnosed with a fatal birth defect. I decided early on, in my grief, that I needed to be open and honest about what I was going through because I knew others could relate and I believed that if I could share how I saw God working through our painful experience, it could bring comfort to them.

What I found was that, as I got into the habit of ending each post with scripture and some truth about God, or some thought about how God was providing what we needed (even if it wasn’t what we wanted), it helped me move forward in the grieving process. It helped me grow

I always felt incredibly blessed when others would comment and let me know that our story was comforting to them… feeling that there was a purpose in our struggle, and that I had a mission because of our pain helped bring me healing. It kept me moving forward, even when I felt like giving up.

I realized that had I kept my emotions and thoughts to myself and distracted myself with other things, I would have missed out on not only the opportunity to comfort others with the comfort God was giving me, but I also would have missed out on so much of the growth and healing that I know God wanted for me.

Yes, God allows the struggles. Sometimes our choices create them, sometimes they just happen, but it’s how we handle them that makes all the difference. How we handle those struggles can make or break us. We will ALL have struggles… that’s a given.

Do you have a close, Christian friend or spouse? Whether you do or don’t, do you take those thoughts and emotions to God in prayer? Believe me, it makes a difference. “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” How can you train yourself to do that if you’re not even acknowledging what your thoughts are? If you’re not catching and addressing the negative, unhelpful thoughts that creep in? Tucking them away doesn’t make them disappear, it just means they are going to bubble to the surface at the most inopportune time. 

In our Every Day Incredible facebook group, you have an excellent opportunity to get to know other ladies like you. Ladies who want to find a balance in life, find a purpose, and learn to have the incredible in life. While that group is public and you may not want to share some of your deepest thoughts and feelings (whatever your personal preference is, knowing that it is not confidential), our paid membership group is a bit more private, only being open to those who are invested in their own growth and in building those strong relationships with other Christian women.

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Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items from this page, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. This does not change the price you would pay, but does help support this ministry. Thank you for your support! Additionally, please note that the information provided at Every Day Incredible is not intended to replace individual treatment with a professional mental health provider. If you are not currently working with a mental health provider, you are encouraged to find one that is a good fit for you.