Setting SMART Goals to Stay Motivated

How long has it been since you took the time to revisit your goals. We’ve been talking about figuring out where you’re going, what your personal mission is, and more, so today I wanted to dig a bit deeper into goal setting.

In the grand scheme of things, where do you want to be in 6 months? 6 years? What are the big goals you want to achieve?

If you could really nail it down, looking into your future, what are your top priority goals that, when you reach them, you can look around and think, “This. This is what I wanted to do. I have succeeded.” Obviously, we always have goals, but what big goals are next?

When you are setting goals and finding motivation to move forward, it is very helpful to be very clear, and use “SMART” Goal-setting.  SMART goals are goals that are:

S- Specific  M- Measurable  A- Attainable  R- Realistic  T- Time-based

When your goals are SMART, it gives you more of a road map with a clear path highlighted.

Let’s apply it.

Goal(s) – What is the dream, vision, hope, or desired change? What will it look like when you have reached the goal? What will be different than your current situation? For example, maybe you have a goal to be able to rate your anxiety as a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10 and it’s currently staying around a 7. Or maybe you want to meet a goal of improving your physical health, “as evidenced by” weight loss, loss of inches, improvement in bloodwork from your doctor, your self-rating of your energy level, or any other measurable goal. Do you have a professional goal, such as completing a certification? What goal or goals do you want to give focus right now?

Barriers What specific challenges stand between you and your goal(s)? Include challenges resulting from mental illness or addiction. Do you engage in negative self-talk? Hear a lot of criticism from others? Maybe you have a physical condition that keeps you drained and makes it difficult to focus. Everyone’s barriers will be unique in some way. What are yours?

Strengths  – What individual/family abilities, attributes, attitudes, past accomplishments, motivations, etc. can help you overcome barriers and reach your goal(s)? Be generous! Give yourself credit for your strengths! This is not the time to be modest, it’s a time to be real with yourself and acknowledge those strengths. What do you have going for you that is going to help you in your success?

Objectives – Specifically describe how you will be able to measure progress. Include action words and target date to complete your goals.         S- Simple M- Measurable A- Attainable R- Relevant/Realistic T- Time-based

What are the small steps you could take that lead up to the bigger steps? For example, if you want to complete the professional certification,  you may need to obtain a study guide, schedule time for review, complete necessary coursework, take practice exams, or organize a study group. Keep the steps doable so they aren’t overwhelming, and set a reasonable time-frame for each objective.

Interventions How can your support network help you? What specific things can others do help keep you on track and motivated?

 

Be sure to visit the Every Day Incredible Ladies Facebook group to find other ladies like you who are interested in supporting each other in their own goals. For a more personalized, private membership, check out “Take the Next Step” from the top menu at everydayincredible.net. I look forward to hearing about your goals!

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.

What’s Your Excuse? From Making Excuses to Finding Motivation

 

Excuses.

Let’s face it. We all have them. What’s your excuse for continuing in the same path you’ve been traveling?

“I’m too stressed.”

“It’s the only thing that helps me relax.”

“I deserve it because what they did hurt me.”

“I’m just in a bad mood.”

“I’ve been in a funk since……. ”

“It’s just my personality, I can’t help it.”

“It’s just how I was brought up.”

“It’s just….”

“I’m just….”

Enough.

While some excuses may be true, why do we let them dictate our actions? Why do they have to determine whether or not we are going to get out of our ruts?

What if, instead of focusing on excuses that are holding you back, you shifted your thinking to all of the reasons to move forward?

What if you challenged each of those excuses you’ve used. Are they accurate? Would you tell your best friend the same things about her? For example, would you tell your best friend she deserves to be mistreated? Would you tell your best friend that she just doesn’t have what it takes to improve and move forward? Do you tell yourself those things?

What purpose do your excuses serve? Excuses have a way of masking our fears and insecurity. If we don’t try, we can’t fail, right? That may be true, but if we don’t try, we also can’t succeed.

Sometimes, when looking for motivation and clearing your head so you can make a decision to move forward, it can be very helpful to weigh the pros and cons. The process works best when you list every “pro,” or positive consequence of making whatever the change or decision is, as well as every pro of NOT making the change or decision. Follow that with every “con,” or undesireable consequence of making that change/decision vs. not making that change or decision.

When you can see that the pros of working toward your goals and cons of staying where you are outweigh the opposite… THAT is how you find motivation. Combine that with a good, solid plan of action, and you have momentum.

Below is a chart taken from an ebook I wrote on how to beat anxiety (check out the ecourse here). This specific pros and cons chart is a sample based on the decision to make the necessary changes to address and defeat anxiety. We could look at it now as a decision to make a change or cling to past excuses that mask our fear and insecurity.

What are your excuses? What fears lie beneath them?

Proverbs 15:22

Without counsel, plans fail; but with many advisors, they succeed.

When you’re making any decision and you’re weighing out the pros and cons, it can be very helpful to talk to those you love and trust, and those you know are going to give you honest opinions and not just go along with whatever you think. Above all, don’t forget to pray about your decisions and ask God for His guidance.

Be sure to head over to the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group and discuss your own pros and cons lists. What are your reasons for making the changes you need to make so you can move forward and make every day incredible?

Finding Your Mission

 

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
– Maya Angelou

I once had a job that I began as a temp. I was shown to a desk, given a key, and provided very little information beyond that. It’s interesting how overwhelming it can be to not have structure in a job…. to not have clear expectations or direction. What sounds like freedom becomes a hindrance.

Thankfully, as I began to see various needs that presented themselves, I was given and created projects to work on that were enjoyable to me. I found mini missions along the way, to keep me moving forward.

If you’ve ever been in a job where you felt like you had no purpose – where there was no attainable goal in mind, or it seemed like your input was of no real value, you understand what I mean when I say it can be detrimental. Feeling stagnant in a job makes showing up a real challenge.

Going a step further, have you ever felt stagnant in life? Like you are just wandering aimlessly, without any real purpose or mission?

It’s not healthy. You have so much potential, and it’s a shame to let it go unchallenged and unapplied.

In the last post, we asked, where are we going, and how are we going to get there?

Let’s get more specific. How ARE you going to get there?

The first step of making a change is to know what you’re changing and what your goals are. If you have been feeling lost and aimless, it’s important to find your mission.

For those in business, a mission statement is a standard part of a business’ focus. It helps guide and direct decisions to make sure the business as a whole stays on track to reach goals. It’s brilliant, really. You have to have a clear idea of what you want or you’re not going to know where to go to find it.

In the free membership area, you’ll find a mission statement generator.  It is a form that will get you started. When you complete it, it will be sent to your email, where you can then tweak and further customize as much as you’d like until you have a mission statement that works for you, personally.

Don’t forget to share your personal mission statement in the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group!

 

How did I get here?

 

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I once watched a movie that, in all fairness, didn’t really impress me much.

That seems to be a very strange way to begin a post, but there is a reason I have referenced this movie often, in group therapy sessions, individual therapy sessions, discussions with friends, and now here, with you. While I wouldn’t particularly want to watch the movie again, one conversation between the main characters made an impact.

One character asked, seemingly discouraged, “Have you ever just looked around and wondered how in the world you got here?”

I think we’ve all been in circumstances where it is tempting to ask such a question. Life rarely flows exactly the way we expect it to as our younger, doe-eyed selves looking forward. At least, not from what I’ve seen.

Back to the movie. The response is what I loved.

“No. I ask myself, ‘where am I going, and how am I going to get there?'”

If the character had been holding a mic, he could have dropped it.

Have you been asking yourself how in the world you got to this point? How you have arrived in the midst of the relationship struggles, the anxieties, the insecurities… the lack of progress or the battle scars from fighting as hard as you could just to keep moving forward?

Just stop. It doesn’t matter. The experience matters, of course, because it is all part of what has developed you into who you are now, but generally when we ask, “how in the world did I get here? It’s not really a way of reflecting on character growth, but, instead, an overwhelming feeling of despair and frustration.

Dwelling on despair will never get you where you want to be. You must find your direction.

Life is full of waterfalls. When you’re rowing along and the bottom unexpectedly drops out from under you. Maybe you see it coming and you paddle as hard as you can in an attempt to avoid the inevitable…. or maybe you’re busy enjoying the beauty around you and aren’t paying attention to what’s ahead. Either way, it happens. It can be devastating. The death of a loved one. Failed dreams. Pregnancy/infant loss or infertility. The loss of a job. A debilitating injury. A medical crisis. There are many, many waterfalls, and they can be disorienting.

Where are you going, and how are you going to get there?

At some point, you have to:

  • Stop to take a breath
  • Acknowledge how you feel and what you think about it
  • Accept the fact that it did, in fact, happen and that you can’t change it, and
  • Buckle down and decide what you are going to do with what you just experienced

The river keeps flowing after the waterfall. Life doesn’t stop just because our world goes into a tailspin for a while- as difficult as that can be to acknowledge and accept (believe me, I’ve been there).

Where are you going, and how are you going to get there?

I’m here to help you pick yourself up, grab your oars, and get back in that boat.

How has life derailed you? Where did you expect to be and what did you expect to be doing by now? Join us in the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group to discuss!

 

Get Healthy, Find a Balance!

 

What is the first thought that comes to mind if I say, “Get healthy”? My guess is that the majority of you (though maybe not all) immediately associated the phrase with physical fitness and dieting. Did you have another association?
Physical wellness is only one dimension of many to take into consideration when you think of your overall wellness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) promotes a national wellness initiative focusing on the 8 dimensions of wellness. Those dimensions are: emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual, and environmental. That’s a lot more than just exercise and dieting!

Ultimately, it comes down to giving each area of wellness adequate attention and keeping life balanced. Neglecting any of these areas can have a negative impact on overall wellness.
8 dimensions of wellness, SAMHSA.gov
SAMHSA describes each area as follows:
EMOTIONAL- Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships.
FINANCIAL – Satisfaction with current and future financial situations.
SOCIAL – Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system.
SPIRITUAL – Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life.
OCCUPATIONAL – Personal satisfaction and enrichment derived from one’s work.
PHYSICAL – Recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, sleep, and nutrition.
INTELLECTUAL – Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills.
ENVIRONMENTAL – Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being.

We’re supposed to dedicate time and energy to each of those areas??
If you’re like me, stopping there would feel pretty overwhelming. Sometimes it’s just HARD to keep life balanced, am I right?? Sometimes it can be pretty tough to find time to do just the healthy eating and exercise alone, then adding in nurturing a social support system, dedicating time to your occupation, trying to balance the finances, fitting in time to focus on spiritual health… and we’re not even to the bottom of the list yet!
BUT… we are NOT stopping there. Instead, as you continue taking part here at Every Day Incredible, we’re going to explore the problem areas. We’re going to put our fingers on those barriers that stand between us and meeting our wellness goals. Like with any overwhelming problem in life, it is helpful to take a controlled breath, step back, gather our thoughts, and come up with a plan.

If we don’t have a plan to achieve whatever goals we set (wellness or otherwise), the big picture looks jumbled and discouraging. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” There’s something to that! We need to clarify our vision so we know where we are headed. Then we can figure out how we’re going to get there!
The first challenge I have for you is to examine your level of wellness. When you read through the list, you may have had an area or areas seem to jump out at you. I’d like you to go a step further and really assess each area. In our free membership area, you can find a worksheet to help you do just that, titled “Wellness Self-Evaluation.” If you have not yet joined the free membership group to gain access, click here.

 

 

 

 

Resource:

https://www.samhsa.gov/wellness-initiative/eight-dimensions-wellness

 

 

What Every Christian Needs to Know About a Fellow Believer Who Struggles with Anxiety


20160128_082117_20160128150214272 (1)Have you ever been going through a difficult time, only to have a fellow Christian give you poor advice with good intentions? It can be pretty insulting sometimes!

In one of my darkest times, when I was buried in my grief fog, I was given the advice to, “just give it to God.” At the time, I sent a friend a very frustrated, venting text, exclaiming, “It’s already His! I have nothing left to hold!” For me, at that time, it had nothing to do with trusting God with the situation – I already DID trust God with it. The fact remained that I was hurting. Deeply. I know the advice was given with good intentions, but it wasn’t helpful. At all.

We’ve also all had times when, because we didn’t understand what someone else was going through, we have said or done something unhelpful or even hurtful. It happens.

As individuals,  it can be very difficult to try to understand what someone else is facing.  Even if we have experienced something similar,  we’re not going to be able to fully understand the layers of their unique experiences. Every person’s story is different, and that how it is designed to be.

With all of that said, for Christians who struggle with anxiety, feedback from others within the Church can be defeating, to say the least.

Advice from fellow believers may be propelled by good intentions, but come across as dismissive, destructive, and discouraging.

When I asked a dear Christian friend who struggles with anxiety what she thought should be included in a post with the title, “What every Christian needs to know about Fellow Believers who Struggle with Anxiety,” her input reinforced my thoughts as I worked on my outline for this article. So, feeling validated in what I want to share with you, I’d like to share what, from my professional experience, personal experience, and experiences of loved ones,  Christians who struggle with anxiety wish fellow believers would understand.

 

1.  Anxiety is a physical response to a perceived threat.Pixlr_20160129131411269_20160130003232215

While anxiety is also a descriptive word for emotions related to fear and worry, there are physical symptoms as well. Sometimes, our bodies have difficulty determining whether or not something is a legitimate threat, so they respond as if the threats are immediate and physical, even when they are not.

If you’re familiar with the concept of “fight or flight,” you probably already understand this. When our bodies sense danger (real or perceived), there is a series of physical reactions which take place that naturally prepare us to either fight or run away.

If you look at the physical symptoms of the body’s natural “threat system,” you’ll notice that they are basically an anxiety symptoms list – you’ll find the same symptoms experienced by someone struggling with significant anxiety.

It’s also important to note that there are many physical conditions that can prompt anxiety-like symptoms.

 

 

 Threat_System

2. Anxiety isn’t always a lack of faith.

 

True, sometimes anxiety could be due to a lack of faith, but often it comes more from an ambush of fearful thoughts that may have become habit over time, through life experiences. Controlling relationships, multiple failures or losses, learned behavioral habits from parents or other loved ones, or other complicated life struggles all work together to form what are known as “core beliefs” in our subconscious. We ALL form core beliefs, whether positive or negative. Even if we don’t recognize that the beliefs are there, they tend to form the basis of our reactions when there is a new experience that serves as a trigger.

For example, if someone from your past told you repeatedly that you’re worthless, that thought can be strongly rooted in your mind. Even if you don’t believe it’s true, it becomes easier to ACT like it’s true when facing new challenges. It’s how our brains work. (On the flip side, if we continually input good messages, it’s easier to act like they are true. Think Philippians 4:8!)

There is a reason that phrases such as, “Fear not!” are repeated so many times throughout scripture.

We’re human and see things from our own, limited point of view. The temptation to worry is common and can sometimes be overwhelming. For some, it can be debilitating.

 

3. You’re not going to say something that will miraculously “fix” the anxiety, and you’re not expected to try.

You’re off the hook! If a fellow believer is telling you about feeling anxious, it’s not your job to fix the problem by sharing quips such as, “Just give it to God,” “If you just had more faith…,” Maybe you shouldn’t have ______,”* or, “Don’t you have faith that God can take care of you?”

Generally, we know we need to give our struggles to God, right? It takes a constant effort.

Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Daily. Pick up the cross- the symbol of self-sacrifice in favor of the will of God… daily. As I read that, it indicates to me that it is a constant, conscious effort. It’s only natural that some days may be more difficult than others. Knowing we need to do something doesn’t always make it easy.

*While anxiety is not a divine punishment, if God is convicting, anxiety can be a very real result. That is always something to give attention. As we pray, we need to listen if God is speaking correction to our hearts.

 

4. Nobody wants to be treated like a very-real struggle is “all in my head,” but we all want to feel validated!

True, anxiety is rooted in our thinking habits (among other factors, as discussed above), but just because a struggle is rooted in our thinking doesn’t make it not real. To be told something is all in our heads gives the impression that it’s not a legitimate struggle, or it doesn’t count as an affliction of some kind.

Again, nobody wants to be treated like that. We all want to be validated- reassured that what we’re going through is understandable and we haven’t lost touch with reality.

Even if you don’t understand what someone is experiencing, you can still be sympathetic and acknowledge how she is telling you she feels.

 

5. What really IS helpful is prayer, encouragement, and support.

Pray for peace, pray for comfort, pray for wisdom and discernment to be able to make good decisions about whatever struggle is ahead.

A Christian with anxiety is experiencing a constant struggle with believing that God loves them and will take care of them, while feeling afraid about day-to-day stressors, interpersonal interactions, self-doubt, and more. While quips that seem dismissive aren’t helpful, encouraging scripture and prayers can be. If you want to help, try it!

 

So, a recap of what CAN be helpful includes:

1. Don’t dismiss anxiety. It’s a real struggle, with real symptoms.

2. Validate. Even if you don’t personally understand the symptoms of anxiety, or the impact they can have, acknowledge the symptoms someone is telling you, and believe they are significant to that person. It’s a personal experience, and only the individual knows what his experience is.

3. Don’t accuse an anxiety-sufferer of not having faith, etc. Instead, encourage with prayer and scripture. (And please, don’t refer to problems by saying anything that begins with, “Well, at least….”)

4. Keep your negativity to yourself. Someone already struggling with anxiety needs to be surrounded with positivity.

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.
What would YOU add to this list?

 

Most of all, be loving; and when in doubt about what may be most helpful… ask!

 


For those of you who are struggling with anxiety, please check out our new eCourse,
How to beat anxiety in 5 steps!”
For less than the average price of an outpatient therapy session,
you can have a 6-week course delivered to your inbox!

Also, don’t forget to add your name to our mailing list to gain access to our free special report,
“7 Natural Methods to Reduce Anxiety”
and other freebies as they come available!

Remember, there are new opportunities every day, so make every day incredible!

What Stars and Pirates can Teach Us

20160122_143541_20160131155515202     Recently, I surprised my son by putting up glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of his room. As we discussed our observations about the stars, I would ask questions such as, “what do you notice about which stars are brighter?” I explained to him that the stars absorb the light so they can shine in the darkness. I quickly realized that the stars are an excellent analogy.

     When we are doing well, life is going along smoothly, and we have time on our hands, that is when focusing on caring for our emotional health is very, very important things to do. If we wait until times are dark, and we’re feeling overwhelmed with depression, grief, anxiety, or anger, we won’t have anything left in our emotional coping storehouse if we haven’t been working to build our supply. It is when we are doing well, that we need to be sure to address the painful or dark emotional experiences. It’s when we are doing well that it’s important to bring those dark emotions to the surface. We need to acknowledge them, name them, cope with them, and send them on their way.

     If we don’t address them, painful, unpleasant emotions have a way of simmering under the surface until the world around us gets dark, and then become terrifyingly suffocating as we sink into the darkness.

     Imagine, for a moment, being in a large body of water. In the daytime, you can see everything around you because the water is clear and everything is illuminated. When it gets dark or the water becomes murky, however, and you can’t see what may be lurking under the surface, it could be quite terrifying. It can be very tempting to make an effort to avoid  unpleasant emotions by “bottling them up,” or “stuffing them in.” Regardless of the phrase you use, the concept is the same. We basically drop those emotions under the surface, out of sight, only to haunt us later when our world once again becomes dark and we’re treading water.

     To give another analogy using my lovable four-year-old, after discussing the stars, we discussed a little stuffed Ty Monstaz creature he has had for a very long time. Patch, the Pirate Monstaz, had
been on a shelf and hadn’t been touched for quite some time. My little guy had not heard Patch’s voice for probably a year or more. What he remembered about the plushie pirate, though, was that when he was smaller, it scared him.

     Even though he was older, and knew the toy probably wouldn’t scare him like it once did, he was still acting like he was scared of it. Granted, it may have simply been an attempt to elicit a sympathetic reaction from mom, but that’s okay too. So, we had a discussion about how things may change as we get older, and it’s important to listen to it again, to see if it was maybe not as scary as he once thought it was. Eventually he agreed, and we did. 

     Once he heard it again, he decided that it wasn’t so scary after all, and has actually been fascinated by it once we googled it to try to figure out the gibberish he spoke before saying, “walk the
plank, mate!” (Hint: to create the gibberish, it seems the company flipped audio recordings backward…. fun!) 

It’s the same way with our emotions. What may seem scary to us at one time may actually not be as bad as we think once we lay it out to examine and deal with it. It’s interesting to note that avoiding anxiety-producing triggers actually serves to strengthen the anxiety rather than helping us cope with it. The more we put off doing something that scares us, the more we actually feel scared of whatever it is we are avoiding. Have you found that to be true? 

     Going back to the glow-in-the-dark stars, they are also a significant analogy of our spiritual health. We need to be soaking in the light when we can so when times are dark, we can still shine. As my son and I looked at the ceiling, it was obvious that the brightest star was the one that had been closest to the light source. It stood apart from all the other stars because it soaked up as much light as possible. Staying close to the light gave it the unique ability to shine brightly into the darkness and make a difference by bringing a smile to the face of a sweet little boy- and his momma.

Matthew 5:13-16

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a n hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

 

 

What do you Value, and Where are you Headed?

Where are you, and where do you want to be?

 

20160125_080304_20160131183552833Hello! My name is Keri. I’m a work-from-home wife and mom of 2 adorable little boys on earth and their well-loved sister in Heaven. I’m also a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Executive Director of The Carys Rainn Foundation, Independent Consultant for Lilla Rose, author, artist, and entrepreneur.  I have many hats to wear and many tasks to juggle, but I’m right where I want to be (all things considered), headed in the direction I want to go. Don’t get me wrong, I have my struggles like anyone else, but I’m thankful for where I’ve been. I’ve had a lot to learn and I’m excited for this new opportunity to share what I’ve learned so far in my journey with others.

As I’ve given thought to what I want to share as a first article here at Every Day Incredible, the question above is a question that stands out to me. Our overall goal here is to support good health and wellness and encourage ongoing personal development.

As with any new venture, it’s always a good idea to begin with self-evaluation. So I’d like to begin by asking you, to help you determine where you are,  what in your life is most important to you? What are your top values?

Look over the list below and select 4-6 values you believe are absolutely most important to you. How would you define them, and what makes them most important to you? I encourage you to write out your answers! In fact, it would be a great idea to keep this exercise in a personal development journal if you’d like. I’ll have to admit, when I did a similar exercise years ago, I was slightly surprised when I actually put into words what values were most important to me!

 

VALUES

Admiration
Accomplishment
Acceptance
Adventure
Activity
Artistic Expression
Attention
Beauty
Being well-liked
Being ethical
Bravery
Challenge
Calm
Children
Control
Cleanliness
Courage
Consistency
Compromise
Communication
Creativity
Contentment
Companionship
Dependence
Discipline
Diplomacy
Dreaming
Entertainment
Energy
Enthusiasm
Faith
Faithfulness
Fairness
Family
Friends
Fitness
Fact
Free Time
Giving
Having enough money
Humor
Home
Honesty
Health
Independence
Justice
Kindness
Love
Legacy
Logic
Loyalty
Memory/Memories
Openness
Peace
Popularity
Punctuality
Patience
Prosperity
Playfulness
Praise
Presentation
Predictability
Quiet
Relationship with God
Relationship with Others
Religion
Routine
Romance
Responsibility
Respect
Resiliency Reason
Spirituality
Serving Others
Sobriety
Self-Sacrifice
Social Status
Success
Self-Care
Satisfaction
Spontaneity
Tradition
Trust
Time Alone
Understanding
Vitality
Wisdom
Winning
Work Ethic
Wealth
Youth

Now, ask yourself… what values are you living? If your spouse or children were asked what is most important to you, what would they say? On what do you spend your time and money? What are you teaching your children to value?

If what you claim to be your top values isn’t matching up with what you’re living… what needs to be adjusted in your life? 

 

We want to help you grow and develop your own goals in life. Comment below by sharing your top 4-6 values (giving your definitions too would be even better). We look forward to hearing your feedback!

 

Just remember, life gives us opportunities every day, so make every day incredible!

 

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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.