When Fear Actually Hurts You

Uncategorized Oct 27, 2018

Just as there are smart and dumb risks, there are also helpful and useless fears. Like any emotion, fear serves as a signal to us. It alerts us to potentially dangerous situations and prepares us to take proactive action. That is why there are physiological component to fear: increased heart rate, adrenal surges, and muscle tension. These responses prepare us for flight from harm. So, fear is helpful when there is a truly dangerous situation ahead of us, and when we need to take evasive action.

At the same time, some fears are useless to us and keep us from the risks we need to take. These usual fears are not about reality, but more about misperceptions and distortions we have in our heads. We need to learn to pay attention to the one and get rid of the other.

For example, I love rock music, and used to play in a band when I was a student. When I grew up and started working, I figured that my playing days were over, and I resigned myself to being a listener, not a performer. One...

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How Grief is Different from Other Kinds of Suffering

Uncategorized Oct 25, 2018

Grief is the toughest pain we have to deal with. It is not the worst human experience, because it leads to resolution, but it is the most difficult for us to inter into voluntarily, which is the only way to get into it. The rest of our human experience just happens “to us.” Hurt, injury, anxiety, alienation, and failure all break through, and we suffer. Grief does not “break through.” It is something we enter into.

But its voluntary nature is not the only thing that sets grief apart from other kinds of suffering. The other difference is that grief is the one that heals all others. It is the most important pain there is. This is why we’re called to enter into it voluntarily. It heals. It restores. It changes things that have gone bad. Moreover, it is the only place where we get comforted when things have gone wrong.

Why is that? What is so special about grief? What is it the “pain that heals”? Because grief is the way of our getting finished...

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Don’t Keep Rescuing Someone — Let Them Face Consequences

Uncategorized Oct 24, 2018

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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Empower Someone by Letting Them Take Responsibility

Uncategorized Oct 23, 2018

Some people struggle with the fact that they are not always the cause of their problems. This often hinders them from taking full ownership.

No one would disagree that we aren’t the cause of all our problems. It is one of the truly tragic realities of living in a fallen world. The innocent are wounded. However, ultimately, in terms of solving the issue, fault is irrelevant. So here’s a much more helpful way to look at it: The person who cares about the problem owns the problem.

When we take responsibility for our lives in this way, we’re empowered to make changes. Ownership empowers us to act — to use our various skills to make plans, tackle a hurtful situation, or right a wrong. People who “own” their problems are people who can take initiative.

Ownership also gives us freedom. You are no longer a slave to the past, to false hope, to wishing someone would change, or to discouragement and passivity. You are free to try out answers, take risks, and...

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You Can Avoid Having Drama in Your Life

Uncategorized Oct 19, 2018

I can still remember what happened that day when I was eight years old. I made a big mistake, but I didn’t know it at the moment. I thought I was getting back at my sister, who was sixteen at the time. Opportunities for revenge were few and far between, and I was not about to let this one slip by. Sharon and her friend were goofing around in the den when one of them threw a pillow and broke the overhead light. They quickly figured out a way to arrange the light in such a way that you could not tell it was broken. They thought that they were off the hook. Little did my sister know that she had a sociopathic little brother with a plan.

When my father came home, I could not wait to tell him what they had done. I told him that they had broken the light, and he asked me to show him. I led him into the den, not knowing that Sharon and her friend were still in there. I was caught. Here he was, asking me about the broken light, and there they were, watching me seal my fate as a...

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Here’s What’s Yours to Own

Uncategorized Oct 19, 2018

You’re able to make your own way in life and reap the benefits of blessings when you own your own faults and weaknesses. Here’s a brief list of things for which you can begin to take responsibility.

Your own unhappiness. Begin to take ownership of whatever pain or discomfort you experience. Then take steps to ask for help for you to find relief.

Specific issues. Determine the root cause of your problem. Is it a relationship disconnect, a faith journey, a job issue, or a habit that won’t go away.

Needed resources. You must lead the way in finding the resources you need to solve your problem. Get help, support, comfort, and advice. Search until you find people who have answers and can give you encouragement.

Weaknesses and obstacles. Identify the areas in which you don’t have the strength you need to meet the challenge, and then begin to develop those areas.

Accountability. Submit yourself to a few people who will keep you on task with your project of resolving...

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When You Stop Playing the Blame Game, You Start to Find a Solution

Uncategorized Sep 11, 2018

Love is one of the greatest and most important experiences that anyone can have. It is a gift, and it can fill up our lives. We all possess a deep desire to have someone connected to our hearts in a safe and growing relationship.

You may be single and looking for the right person, or you may be married and wanting your connection to be happier, deeper and more intimate. In either situation, a healthy, safe, exciting and positive love relationship is an important part of life. Or at a more serious level, things may not be going well in your love life. Your dating life may be in trouble, or it may be nonexistent. Your marriage may be empty or struggling with a great deal of pain and conflict.

Avoid the blame game and ask, “What part have I played in this situation?” Here are some common answers.

(Please note that that these don’t necessary apply where abuse is present. If you’re in an abusive relationship, please seek the help of a counselor and/or law...

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Addressing the Fear of Confronting a Toxic Person

Uncategorized Sep 11, 2018

The following was written to address general unsafe behavior and may not be applicable for situations where abuse is/was present. If you have been in a relationship where abuse was present, please seek the help of a counselor and/or law enforcement.

As any psychologist will tell you, fear is stronger when we fear becoming afraid. This is called fear of fear. Suppose you need to confront a toxic person about their attitude, but you’re afraid they might retaliate. So you stay happy and positive on the outside but remain dissatisfied on the inside.

The longer you ignore the fear, the more you will activate it. And since the fear is associated with an uncomfortable outcome, having it burrow around in your mind naturally gives you an uncomfortable feeling. Eventually you learn to avoid thinking about the fearful situation so you won’t have to keep feeling the fear. And the more you avoid feeling that fear, the more afraid of it you become. It’s a vicious cycle, and it...

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Here's How you Say No to Drama in Your Life

Uncategorized Jul 20, 2018

Life is full of traps. Sometimes this fact is never more apparent than in our relationships with others. One of the biggest traps that we all fall into at one time or another is getting stuck in the whirlpool of unnecessary drama.

You know what I’m talking about: that friend who may have lots of good attributes, but always manages to trigger an argument whenever you’re together; that coworker who seems to only ever want to talk about your mutual colleagues and the zillion ways they’re doing everything wrong; that fragile friend whose feelings get hurt no matter what you do or say; or what about that person who you’re always having to save from the assorted troubles that seem to follow them around wherever they go?

Getting bogged down by these kinds of people and issues can be seriously demotivating. They zap you of your energy. Left alone, these relationships will end badly.

Most drama is avoidable by laying down solid boundaries.

Boundaries are an invisible...

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Connect with Others to Find Safe Relationships

Uncategorized Jul 20, 2018

I opened up this discussion in my boundaries group on facebook not long ago, and I said that bonding is the ability to establish an emotional attachment to another person. It’s the ability to relate to another on the deepest level. When two people have a bond with each other, they share their deepest thoughts, dreams, and feelings with each other with no fear that the other person will reject them.

Without a solid, bonded relationship, the human soul will become mired in psychological and emotional problems. We cannot prosper without being connected to others. We sometimes think, however, that we can supply all our needs without other people. We think that, in a state of emotional isolation, we can still grow. This grave violation of the basic nature of the universe can cause serious problems.

Learning to bond won’t happen overnight. Making human connections takes a good dose of grace, truth and time. Here are some skills that will start you on the long road to making...

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