Self-Sabotage: How unforgiveness and bitterness lead to anxiety

Ephesians 4:25-32
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your 

neighbor, for we are all members of one body.“In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

 

Forgiveness is a topic I have discussed with many clients. It’s a difficult topic to discuss. It comes attached to so many different emotions and past hurts. Something I realized over the years is that forgiveness is so commonly misunderstood and it is perpetuated by those misunderstandings.

Most commonly, people tend to believe that forgiving someone means that
A. It’s letting them off the hook,
B. It means you think whatever they did is “okay” or you condone it,
C. It’s a single-time choice that once you make, you forget whatever happened.

 

 

There are many other misconceptions as well, but these seem to be the top 3. To respond to the first one, forgiving doesn’t mean letting them off the hook necessarily. Forgiveness of a debt may mean that the person no longer has to pay the debt, but it doesn’t mean removing all of the consequences of an action.I can forgive my children and not hold their actions against them in the sense that I withhold love, but still stand firm in issuing a time out or removing privileges. I’m still going to show them love while I do that.

Regarding the idea that forgiveness would mean we are condoning what they did or telling them it’s okay, or maybe even inviting them to continue to treat us in the same way – Nope. It’s still important to set healthy boundaries, which is a whole other topic. Again, there are consequences to actions, whether positive or negative. If you have been betrayed by a friend, you can forgive them and continue to show godly love as He has commanded us to do. That doesn’t mean the nature of the relationship goes right back to the way it was before. You may need healthier boundaries with that friend. Forgiving them is saying, “I choose to not let your actions dictate how I respond to you or cause me to withhold God’s love from you. I’m not going to stop treating you like a fellow human being…. but I’m still going to need my house key back.”

Third, it’s really not always just a one-time choice. We may think we have let go, and then when something else has us worn down (think “foothold”), one little thought may pop up. If we dwell on it, we can get that unforgiveness stirred back up again. Think of a Newton’s cradle. If you pick up the ball on the end and drop it to hit the others…. it gets the cycle going again. Back and forth and back and forth. At some point, you have to the ball in place. The enemy is going to be watching those footholds. If we give in to that selfish, hateful thought. If we give in to those self-defeating, self-critical, Moses-at-the-burning-bush thoughts… those become footholds and can let all kinds of other spirits in. A spirit of unforgiveness, a spirit of hatred, a spirit of anger and bitterness….Spirits of anxiety and depression. If those spirits find a way in, they WILL torment you, and they WILL lie to you. Often. Resist them and use the authority given to you by your Heavenly Father to evict them.

Part of the process of finding peace and forgiveness also involves confession and speaking out against the sin of unforgiveness.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Ladies. There is so much power in the spoken word. I will continue to remind you that God SPOKE the world into existence. Our enemy wants to keep us silent… to move and work like an evil ninja, undetected and unchallenged. Bring attention to the evil ninja!

Is there someone that you have a difficult time forgiving from your past? Or your present for that matter? Maybe it’s not just one person, but a pattern of unforgiveness. What that might look like could be a scowl when you hear someone’s name, or a snarky comment when they are mentioned or you see them.

When I think of unforgiveness, I immediately think of one of my all-time favorite books. The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. I highly recommend it. In The Hiding Place, Corrie tells the story of how her Dutch family worked with an underground system to protect Jewish people from the Nazis during the Holocaust of World War II.

In the book, she describes how long after the war, she was approached by one of the very guard that was most cruel to her and her sister, who died under his cruel treatment. The man told her that he had become a Christian and asked her for her forgiveness. She said that her initial response was no, and she felt hatred toward him. However, she quickly realized that if she was not willing to forgive him, she did not have forgiveness from God herself.

In scripture, we read a parable about a man on whom his King had pity because he could not repay a huge debt. The man was overjoyed that his debt was gone, but when he encountered another man who owed him a small sum of money, he had him thrown in jail because he couldn’t repay it. When the king heard about it, he was furious. Scripture says he turned the man over to be tormented until he paid back what he owed. It says the Kingdom of Heaven is like this too. Not forgiving others keeps us from being able to accept God’s forgiveness of us. When we are handed over to be tormented, we are giving legal rights to spirits of evil to taunt, manipulate, and otherwise make us miserable. We allow them to plant seeds of doubt, insecurity, fear, anger, depression, and bitterness, among others. We open the floodgates.

Have you ever noticed how when one person is in a bad mood, it can be contagious? Or if you start complaining about one thing, how it can be very easy to get sucked into complaining about everything and get in the habit of being negative? Floodgates. If you dwell on the thought that what that one person did was so horrible and inexcusable to you, human nature’s natural tendency is to find every bit of evidence to support that as possible. Sometimes, we even stretch the facts in our minds to fit our beliefs. We may not even realize we’re doing it. We may not realize just how much we are influenced by those evil spirits … those sneaky evil ninjas tormenting us. We may not realize how much of a habit bitterness and resentment have become.

As one negative thought leads to another, we get puffed up in our pride, continually finding reasons to justify our unforgiveness. But, along with pride, comes insecurity. Along with pride comes fear of what other people think. The bitterness and resentment strengthen yet we cling to our right to be upset because… ‘How dare they.’ We stop treating them like part of the body of Christ. We start acting like they are the only ones who struggle with humanity at times. We forget that there is a spiritual battle happening and they are being used and manipulated as pawns. We forget that we are too if we’re not careful.

It’s easy to get blinded by our unhelpful thinking habits and the influence of evil spirits. Going back to Corrie Ten Boom, when Corrie realized she had that hatred still in her heart and she realized that she could not have forgiveness until she was able to let it go, she allowed the Holy Spirit to do a great work in her. Like the rest of us, she did not have the power of her own volition, but when she made the choice to forgive and let it go, the Holy Spirit filled her with the love she needed in that moment. It wasn’t all on her shoulders. God provides what we need, we just have to take the first step.

I have always heard it said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It truly is self-sabotage. It can have a severely detrimental effect on every area of your wellness.

To review, my challenge to you is to:
1. Understand what forgiveness means and what it doesn’t.
2. ‎Ask God to reveal to you any hate or unforgiveness you may be harboring in your heart.
3. ‎Humble yourself. Just because you have a right to feel insulted or offended,. doesn’t mean you have to exercise that right and dwell there. Sometimes we are offended because of our own pride and not an actual transgression against us. Confess it and lay it down. Close that door.

 

I look forward to hearing from you in the group. Don’t forget to sign up for the Every Day Incredible Mailing list at EveryDayIncredible.net for freebies, updates, and offers. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-Centered life balance. I also want to remind you that there are opportunities every day, so make every day incredible!

Spiritual Influences on Mental Health

We all form unhealthy thinking habits.

I have recited that line as I begin the spiel to explain where unhealthy thinking originates so many times I can almost say it in my sleep. Client after client, I have explained the general concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy and how our thinking habits affect how we feel and therefore how we behave or react to situations. It’s such important information, yet so infrequently taught.

I used to wonder, though, how we could tell when presentation of mental health illness was a result of spiritual oppression, possession, or simply Mental Health. I’m realizing now that is not that cut and dry.

From a mental health perspective, we really do form thinking habits, whether positive or negative. We form core beliefs that shape how we view the world and interpret every situation we face. Like looking through colored glasses, they impact how we see and process our experiences.

Where do your core beliefs originate?

Did you grow up surrounded by criticism and anxiety? Anger? Depression? What are you surrounding yourself with now? Do you watch television shows that dwell on those themes? Do you spend time with people who respond in those ways?Sometimes core beliefs form as a result of abuse or traumatic experiences. Is that true for you?

Scripture says that the devil roams around the earth, looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

We know from scripture that satan is not omnipresent. As a created being, he can’t be everywhere at once. God is omnipresent and can take care of everyone at the same time. Satan’s following is limited. The demons that fell with him are limited. He works against us in different ways, but here, he and his demons commonly interfere by planting those seeds of thought. Fears, doubts, insecurities, thoughts of injustice… they begin to grow. He may whisper in our ear, “come on, you don’t really think they could love someone like you, do you?” “You have a right to be angry. How dare they do that to you.”

He stirs the pot.

“You have made too many mistakes for anyone to love you.”
“You’ll never be enough.”

These statements are such a stark contrast from last month’s affirmations, aren’t they?? Because they are lies!

He pokes and prods. He pours salt in wounds. He gets the water churning. He plants weeds among the healthy plants.

If we’re not alert, we fall for it. We take the bait and start chewing on those thoughts. They’re a bit like poorly prepared squid that seems to become more and more rubbery the more you chew.

While you’re busy chewing, and really working those thoughts over in your head, he’s free to move on to the next individual and wreak havoc there too.

The thinking habit takes shape.

If we start to realize it and make changes, around he comes again to fight a little harder. He wants to keep us distracted, and defeated. He doesn’t want us to replace that unhelpful self talk with truth because then he can’t win. He wants us to keep the “stinking thinking.”

So, as we say about the stinking thinking, we have to change it. If you’ve followed Every Day Incredible at all, I’m sure you’ve heard a few ideas by now about how to catch and challenge the negative thoughts that come.

Some tips are:

1. Keep a record of how often you have the negative thoughts. Use a journal, use a thought record smartphone app. Use your phone. Just keep track, whatever you do. As you become more aware, it becomes easier and easier to resist.
2. Surround yourself with people who are in the habit of focusing on the truth rather than the lies of satan.
3. Replace the negative thoughts with affirmations, scripture, and prayer.

The more you recognize those unhelpful thoughts, the stronger you become in the war against any evil forces of this world. Like Jesus as He was tempted in the desert by satan, challenge those temptations and lies with what you know to be truth – what can be backed by Scripture.

What truths can become part of your defense against evil forces? Come discuss this and your own wellness goals in the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group. Be sure to check out the Victory Wall and share when you are able to successfully resist the negative thinking habits. 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!

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 (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 (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 (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 (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!

Using Affirmations to Release the Juggernaut Within (Affirmations Series #1)

  1. Brian Tracy once stated, “Using affirmations… our potential is literally unlimited.” I would certainly agree with his assessment. Affirmations are without a doubt one of the most powerful personal development tools I have come across in not only my quest to realize my full occupational potential, but also in dealing with fear and anxiety. In addition to being an incredibly powerful stand-alone tool, I have also experienced that they work quite effectively when paired with goal setting and visualization as part of a daily personal and professional development routine.

For example: Each morning, I pour my favorite donut shop blend coffee in my giant Captain America mug, grab the day by the invisible horns, and say “Alright day. The stage awaits, so let’s rock!”

My rhythm section, if you like, consists of goals and affirmations. The work I do in my goals journal acts as my in-the-pocket beat commander. For those of you unskilled in the art of being a wannabe rock star – I’m referring to my imaginary personal development drummer. Along with goals, affirmations add some attitude and flavor to the established focus areas by laying down some beastly low end and supplying an abundance of drive and determination. This rock n’ roll party (think Paul Stanley) all gets kicked off within the first hour of being awake. How do you think this sets the tone for the remaining 23 hours? Since establishing this routine, I have personally experienced a dramatic increase in my willingness to get into the work day and immediately take on tasks that might normally frustrate or discourage me.

It is very possible at this point you could be asking yourself “what is an affirmation?” That’s actually a great question. An affirmation is simply a positive and assertive statement that can be repeated out loud, as self talk, for many different purposes.

You might develop affirmations for personal growth, professional development, achievement, success, or any number of topics.

In my case, I personally relied on affirmations for dealing with fear and anxiety prior to ever using them in the context of achievement or any similar topics. For example, one of my favorite affirmations for anxiety reads “I exist free of fear.”

Compared to the effect that goal setting has had in getting me laser-focused like the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair going after a figure-four leg lock, affirmations have been wildly successful in pairing that focus with a fired-up attitude towards success and achievement.

Here are a few additional examples of affirmations I use regularly:

– “I can do it.”
– “I am responsible.”
– “I feel incredible.”
– “I earn $________ per year, as an exceptional _________.”
– “I achieve the goals I set for myself.”
– “I am unstoppable.”

I should also mention that in my experience, there is no more powerful mental quality to be equipped with in life than resilience. When it comes to affirmations, one of the most important side effects I have noticed is that I am able to rebound far more quickly from rejections, disappointments, and outright failures at any time they may occur. Prior to my current routine this was definitely not the case for me. Affirmations have also provided me with the mental clarity to recognize and be reminded that failure does not exist in and of itself. Failure, in my opinion, is a very important stepping stone to success. Failure is to success as Peter Parker’s spider bite is to swinging from buildings via self-generated web.

What kind of experience have you had with affirmations? Are you in need of a tool in your daily routine that may have the ability to drown out negativity while increasing the level of optimism, resilience, drive, and excitement in your life? No matter where you are in your personal development journey it’s never a bad idea to begin incorporating affirmations into your daily routine. Don’t wait until a better time to begin learning more about the amazing resources that are available at your fingertips. Make a decision to unleash your inner juggernaut today and feel the positive effect that affirmations can make for you!

Are you ready to learn more about the unbelievably positive effect that affirmations could have in your life? Visit http://www.EveryDayIncredible.net and pick up some tips, tricks, motivation, and entertainment for your personal development journey!

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!

 

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