What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do  

Uncategorized Jul 03, 2020

Whenever I have heard someone say “I don’t know what to do,” it usually means much more than that. The words imply that the dilemma is just one of information, as if knowing the “what to do” would make it all different. But the truth is that these words are rarely said in a situation where one little tip will make it all better. Instead, they are usually said at a moment when someone has literally reached the end of themselves and feel as if there are no more options. In sum, they are at the end of hope. 

Whether the circumstance has to do with a relationship that is not getting better, a person who is won’t change no matter how hard you try to help them, a business problem that seems unsolvable, or even changing a pattern of behavior that has overcome you, the feeling is the same: “I have tried all I know to do, and done all that I know to do. And, nothing is helping.” At...

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The Wrong Reason to Say Yes

Uncategorized Jul 02, 2020

If anyone had it together, it was Jason. He had a good job, beautiful wife and two children whom he loved. He exercised regularly and looked it, and he was always one to keep in touch with friends and family members.

But one day out of the blue, a deep depression hit Jason so heavily, he could hardly get out of bed. It made no sense to him. He came to see me.

We talked for awhile about Jason’s snug and untroubled life before his breakdown. We gradually uncovered that Jason’s structured lifestyle was basically a way to send off a lifelong depression. He had grown up in an alcoholic and abusive family, where he’d lived through all sorts of chaos and crises.

His activity and responsibility saved Jason. Because no one else in the house washed his clothes, prepared meals and budgeted money, Jason learned to. He became a 30-year-old at the age of 9.

Jason did the right thing, not because he was selfless and loving, but to stay alive. The depression inevitably caught up...

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The Most Difficult Person to Set Boundaries With

Uncategorized Jul 02, 2020

Learning to be mature in self-boundaries is not easy. Many obstacles hinder our progress; however, God desires our maturity and self-control even more than we do. He’s on our team as an exhorter, encourager, and implorer.

One way to begin developing limits on out-of-control behavior is to apply a boundary checklist:

1. What are the symptoms?

Look at the destructive fruit you may be exhibiting by not being able to say no to yourself. You may be experiencing depression, anxiety, panic, phobias, rage, relationship struggles, isolation, work problems, or psychosomatic problems. All of these symptoms can be related to a difficulty in setting limits on your own behavior. Use them as a road map to begin identifying the particular boundary problem you’re having.

2. What are the roots?

Identifying the causes of your self-boundary problems will assist you in understanding your own contribution to the problem (how you have sinned), your developmental injuries (how you have been...

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Don’t Keep Rescuing Someone — Let Them Face Consequences

Uncategorized Jul 01, 2020

Allowing someone to suffer logical consequences is another way of getting them to realize their need for grace. Ideally, we can do that by confronting them, have a difficult conversation and hope they have a willingness to face reality. But sometimes people cannot (or do not) hear the truth of confrontation, and they remain stuck. At those times we often have to allow reality to touch their lives.

Too often in our lives, we protect people from the harsh realities of logical consequences that would force them to see their need for grace and what it can provide. Either we feel sorry for them and bail them out, or we fear them and try to appease them. No matter what the person’s plight, we must help him face the truth. And sometimes that means letting him deal with harsh realities.

This isn’t necessarily about discipline and correction, but how it’s important to see that sometimes our “helping” may keep others from experiencing the tough realities that...

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Increase Fruitfulness in Your Life by Eliminating What's Dead

Uncategorized Jun 30, 2020

In order for a rose bush to achieve its full growth potential, every good gardener knows that it must be carefully pruned. There are three circumstances in which a gardener prunes a rose bush: 1) when the bush produces more buds than it can sustain, 2) in order to remove parts of the bush that are diseased, and 3) to remove dead branches in order to make way for new growth.

First, when the bush produces more buds than it can sustain, the overgrowth drains essential resources from the bush, and the gardener must choose which of the “good” buds are “best.” He then prunes the good buds so that all of the bush’s resources can be focused on helping the best buds thrive.

Our lives are just like the rose bush. We may have a lot of really good activities, relationships, or ideas that we’ve poured our resources into. But if we pruned some of the good stuff back, we would enable the best parts to get all that they need to thrive, making our relationships...

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Don’t Be So Quick to Reject Relationships with Others

Uncategorized Jun 30, 2020

What is resistance? Resistance is our tendency to avoid growth. It’s our drive to keep the spiritual and emotional status quo. It’s our inclination to move away from provisions for our growth. And we all have it.

Many of the dynamics, which drive us to choose unsafe people or no people at all, are resistances. We’re loaded with ways to keep our hearts from encountering loving, supportive people. As crazy as it sounds, we often build entire lifestyles around avoiding those who would help fill us up.

So, how do I deal with resistances?

1. Identify your resistances. The more aware you are of your specific resistances to love, the more power you have over them. Denial is your worst enemy here. With the feedback of friends, make a list of the ways you shrink from safe people, and become a student of these dynamics. They are a “road map” to understanding yourself and your real needs.

2. Bring them into relationship. It takes humility to ask people...

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Boundaries: What You Prefer vs. What is Wrong

Uncategorized Jun 30, 2020

When setting boundaries with someone, it’s important to differentiate between what you prefer and what’s actually wrong. Before you talk to someone about changing his behavior, figure out if what he is doing is really a “bad” thing or just something you don’t like.

I refer to this distinction as a test I like to call “Would God and the Beverly Hillbillies Agree?” Here’s what I mean: Some things are just things you don’t like and want someone to change, but that person is not really doing anything wrong. Depending on where you come from, it may be acceptable or not.

For example, what is fine to Jed Clampett, the funny patriarch on the old Beverly Hillbillies television show, might be very distasteful to you. He was the kind of person who would keep a raccoon inside his house and stock his swimming pool with catfish. If your spouse did that, it would really bug you. It is all a matter of taste.

In contrast, mistreating people or...

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The Reason You Feel Like Nothing Helps and Nothing Works

Uncategorized Jun 29, 2020

Today I want to tell you about two supremely essential things you need for change to improve your life. Let’s start at the beginning.

One of the things that we tend to do, is we will tend to do things in the way we've always done them. I always say to people, "You know what, we don't need new ways to fail. The old ones are working just fine." What we've got to do is, we've got to get above those patterns and begin to do things in a new way.

First of all, we all need the wake-up call that tells us, "I don't have problems. What I have is, I have patterns that cause problems." If I can see that, and I can identify the pattern, and then we're on our way to making fruitful change.

There are about 10 patterns that end up causing most of our problems. If I can see that and I can observe them, then I can move forward with change. For example, I can identify that I may need to strive for progress and not perfection. Everything we know about growth is that growth is incremental, and...

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The Medical and Psychological Aspects of Anxiety Attacks

Uncategorized Jun 28, 2020

When we talk about panic attacks, we examine the medical and psychological aspects of the disorder.

The medical aspects:

Panic disorder is a problem that has a lot to do with the body. Certainly in terms of emotional problems, anxiety disorders are some of the most strongly physiologically- experienced struggles. Most of the symptoms you describe are felt in the body. While we do not know all the reasons why, we do now know there seem to be some very strong biological components in panic disorder.

There are basically two ways to attack them from the medical side. The first is simple tranquilizers, usually referred to as “minor tranquilizers.” They are very effective in giving immediate relief to the feelings. If the anxiety is keeping a person from functioning day to day, sometimes they are a good idea. But there are two problems with this approach.

Number one, the real reasons and problems causing the attacks are not being dealt with but are just being covered up by...

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Where to Start if You Struggle to End Something

Uncategorized Jun 25, 2020

Years ago, our family moved to a new home. My two daugh­ters were five and seven at the time and loved the previous house. They had good friends in the old neighborhood, lots of great ex­periences, and loved their school; moving was the last thing they wanted to do. But it was a necessary ending that we needed to make, as we needed more space.

Consulting with the psychologist parent in me, I decided to begin the conversation with them when the idea first came up. “So, would you guys ever want to change houses? Maybe get one where you had your own playroom, or a flat yard where you could do a lot more fun stuff?” I asked, trying to sell a few of the benefits.

“No!” they said in unison. “Never! We love living here.” I was truly taken aback at the passion that they came at me with. I was glad that they loved their home, but this did not bode well for our moving plans. I knew that it was not going to be an easy sell or an easy ending.

But...

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