It’s No Secret…

This week, I had someone comment on my postpartum weight loss and ask me, “how did you do it?”For me, there’s no secret – when I was pregnant, I couldn’t eat much of anything without throwing up. Not a recommended weight loss method at all. However, it reminded me of a post I’d written as a contributor for another blog a few years ago, called Elevate Your Marriage. While I hesitate to share something I’ve shared elsewhere, I’d like to share this post with you here.THE SECRET TO WEIGHT LOSS…

For the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been making an effort to be healthier. Walking more, eating less, drinking more water… the standard method. It seems to never fail that when others notice any kind of weight loss, the same question is uttered.

It’s usually almost said in a hushed tone, as if preparing to take in some monumental secret for a magical solution to taking off those extra pounds. The speaker may lean in and turn an ear more in your direction, just to make sure they don’t miss anything.

“How are you doing it?”

Is there a secret to it? Exercise. Watch what you eat. Drink plenty of water. Repeat tomorrow.

As I drove home from work today, I thought of my work as a therapist. I’ve worked with so many families who are dealing with their children’s behavioral problems, or with the aftermath of years of abuse, or even just years of poor communication that have wreaked havoc on a marriage.

When we begin to “let things slide,” problems pile up. When you decide to give in to your child’s demanding tone, rewarding the behavior, you’ll see it again. When you begin to take the elevator when you know you need to take the stairs, you’re more likely to do it again next time. When you allow hurt feelings to fester and avoid discussing an incident with your spouse, the bitterness and resentment will grow. If you tell yourself, “oh, I’ll clean up that mess tomorrow,” you may find yourself soon overwhelmed by the chaos around you.

I know all too well that sometimes life seems to beat us up and get us down. We all feel exhausted from time to time. We all need a vacation sometimes. It’s easy to get bored with the routine.

Look around you. What are you letting slide?

Do you need to have a good, long, heart to heart talk with your spouse or children? Do you need to start addressing your child’s unacceptable behavior? Do you need to start counting calories and getting more exercise? Do you need to regain control over the clutter in your home? Do you need to start saving for your retirement?

Here’s the big secret to getting it ALL done…

Ready for it?

There is no secret.

You didn’t arrive where you are now in just one day

 

It takes hard work. You didn’t arrive where you are now in just one day, and you’re not likely to be where you want to be in just one day either. It takes time and work. Break it down into manageable tasks and dig in. You can’t fund a retirement plan in one day, but you can skip the meal out and tuck that money away. You may not be able to clean the whole house in that hour you have, but maybe you can tackle one corner of the living room, or that sink full of dishes. You’re not going to lose all the extra pounds in one week, but you can lose a pound or two and still be healthy. You’re not likely to repair all the hurts in your marriage in one conversation or have a miracle 30 minute transformation of your child’s behavior, but you have to start somewhere.

There is no quick fix. It all takes work; but if you’re willing… oh, what a change you could have.

Philippians 4:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

What change is God asking you to make?

If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life through diving in to a wellness plan, 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!

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!

“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 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.”

 

 

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