How to invite forgiveness to bless your life…
Forgiveness is both a decision and a process. Choose one of the ways listed in this infographic to implement in your life for one week. Assess how it has blessed you and then try a new way until you feel the weight of hurt and bitterness lessen.
Self-care is no longer a luxury for our busy, stressful lives. It is a necessity! Use this self-care self-assessment on how well you are taking care of yourself. The examples here can be used as ideas, but you are not limited to this list…work to be consistent with your self-care plan and/or add new ideas to keep things fresh.
Taking care of yourself better is not only important to you but also to everyone around you. When you aren’t practicing self-care daily, you are probably not as healthy as you could be. This means you aren’t at your best, and you aren’t able to help others much.
To help you optimize and/or increase your self-care, fill in each section of this self-care assessment sheet to give you an idea of what you need to work on to feel better yourself, and to be there for others.
For each of the following, rate how well you rate each item. Use the number system with 1 being poor and 5 being the best. Write your score in the line by the item. Then total up the numbers in each section and put it on the total score line by the section title.
Physical Self-Care – Total Score ________
___ I exercise 3-5 times a week.
___ I eat 3 healthy meals daily.
___ I eat healthy snacks.
___ I follow a healthy sleep routine.
___ I avoid eating at fast food restaurants.
___ I visit my family doctor regularly.
___ I visit my dentist regularly.
___ I drink water for better hydration.
___ I incorporate weights in my exercises.
___ I take medications as prescribed.
I want/need to build/enhance these qualities:
Mental Self-Care – Total Score ________
___ I write in a journal regularly.
___ I keep up with current news & events.
___ I play cognitive games that challenge me.
___ I engage in at least one hobby a week.
___ I listen to relaxing music.
___ I call or write to keep in touch with people I care for.
___ I volunteer regularly.
___ I visit places that I enjoy at least twice a week.
___ I learn to do something new each week.
___ I practice self-compassion and acceptance.
I want/need to build/enhance these qualities:
Emotional Self-Care – Total Score ________
___ I journal about things that bother/worry me.
___ I talk about troubling thoughts with a trusted friend.
___ I make it a point to be kind to others.
___ I don’t take hurtful things to heart.
___ I listen to upbeat or sad music as needed.
___ I watch inspiring or funny movies/shows to cheer up.
___ I don’t allow my anger or frustration to affect others.
___ I read the news or books to keep my thoughts in perspective.
___ I tell people what I really think, in appropriate ways.
___ I effectively limit the time I spend with toxic people.
I want/need to build/enhance these qualities:
Social Self-Care – Total Score ________
___ I schedule one-on-one time each person in my immediate family.
___ I participate in community events regularly.
___ I am part of several community groups.
___ I encourage my family and friends to try new things.
___ I check on my friends/family regularly.
___ I tell my friends and family why I appreciate them.
___ I effectively balance the time I need for myself and with others.
___ I ask for help when needed.
___ I offer help when I see another’s unfulfilled need.
___ I make new people feel welcome and valued.
I want/need to build/enhance these qualities:
___ I arrive/begin work on time.
___ I work with a peer-support group.
___ I work with others a team-player.
___ I compliment others on their work.
___ I follow the rules/instructions set for my job.
___ I read industry-related information regularly.
___ I regularly build and enhance my job skills.
___ I keep my desk/office clean and organized.
___ I take time off only when needed.
___ I take 15-minute breaks as needed.
I want/need to build/enhance these qualities:
Everyone has dreams, but not everyone makes their dreams into goals. You may have a few of these too. What are the reasons you tell yourself late at night to put the shutdown on making them a reality? These reasons are beliefs that you have, but that doesn’t mean they are valid reasons.
- Not Enough Time
Everyone is busy these days. When someone asks how you are doing, you probably respond with “Busy.” But that might not be the truth. Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in the day. For a week or maybe two, keep a time ladder of how you spent your time. This includes sleeping, preparing and eating meals, social media, getting ready for work, cleaning your house. Take a good look at how your time is spent, and you might realize you have more time than you realize.
- I Don’t Have ‘X’ Talent
It doesn’t matter if you want to write a book or paint a picture, you have as much talent as you are willing to work for. You may not have been born with the natural ability to paint, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn and practice.
- After ‘X’ I Will Do It
“Once I get through this (insert tough project at work), I will start training for that marathon.” “After I lose twenty pounds, I will take a salsa dancing class.” Why are you waiting? Maybe that marathon training will help you work through the stress of that project at work. Perhaps salsa dancing lessons will allow you realize that no matter your weight, your body is worthy of fun and sexy movement. If you have a goal, go for it now.
- I’m Not Good Enough
What ruler are you using to measure your “good enough”? You are always good enough to go after your own dreams and goals. If this is an internal dialogue, then you need to work on liking and loving yourself first. If this belief is coming from external sources, then consider those sources and if they are holding you back.
- ‘X’ Person Has it Easier
The grass is greener where you water it. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. There are many sayings that sum up that you really don’t know what someone else is going through. So do not assume that someone has it easier, and therefore can achieve their goals while you cannot. That person may think you have it easier or better.
Self-limiting beliefs can be a slippery slope. They can also keep you from even trying to reach your goals. Take time to examine your reasoning and come up with better beliefs to counter the negative ones.
Let Ron Huxley help you today. Schedule a session or take a free course at FamilyHealer.tv
- Focus on a safe, comforting image or memory of attachment. It could be your partner, child, or interaction with God.
- Close your eyes, focus on this image or memory, and breathe slowly and deeply.
- Let your breath be long, holding it for a second or two at the top of the inhale and bottom of the exhale.
- Allow whatever emotion to come up without judgment or interpretation.
- Open your eyes and do a “body scan” from the top of your head to your feet. Notice what is going on in your body. Place a hand in that area, adjust your position and repeat the steps above.
- Do this as many times as you need or want to…the more you practice this, the stronger your nervous system becomes. I call this NeuroResilience.
Co-parenting is a post-divorce parenting arrangement in which both parents agree to participate in their children’s upbringing. The keyword here is “agreement” about what is in the child’s best interest where there are significant hurts, personalities, and values between those parents. Raising children requires a lot, and I mean a lot, of interactions despite getting divorced.
Because of this challenge, many parents end up parallel parenting vs. co-parenting. Co-parenting is short for cooperative parenting. Sadly, this is often not the case. Parallel parents are both working to raise their children, but they agree that they don’t agree on much. Each home will have its own set of routines, entertainment values, discipline practices, and cultural influences. This agreement to a no agreement lifestyle is a disagreeable way to parent, but parents and children often have no control over it.
Learning how to negotiate becomes an important skill when this is the case. Here are seven steps to better negotiation in co-parenting relationships:
- Name the problem using an “I” statement as in “I feel…when you…and I would like to discuss how…” This format reduces defensiveness and retains a sense of power for the speaker.
- Use reflective listening to convey what is understood. A divorce may involve the decision not to share the intimate connection, but it still requires understanding and validation to maintain mutual respect. Say: “So, what you are saying or asking for is…”
- Brainstorm for solutions that will work for all parties. It may involve creative thinking about alternative solutions. There may be compromise from the original need.
- Choose a solution to try, even if it is not your solution or your first choice.
- Review who does what by putting it into writing or communicating before, during, and after the solution.
- Put the solution into action and try it out to see how it works. Stay objective and open-minded. If it doesn’t work, negotiate a new solution.
- Re-evaluate what is working overall, and be honest about what didn’t work and what needs to be changed. Keep the perspective that the other person is not the problem. The problem is the problem.
To complete these seven steps, parents will have to be self-aware and motivated to keep the children’s needs first. This is hard work and may involve humility that wasn’t present in the relationship before the divorce. Just because people were “terrible” partners in marriage doesn’t mean they cannot grow and be great co-parents after marriage.
Let Ron Huxley help you negotiate through your difficult situations. Schedule a session today!
Caring is an important quality in one’s life. What would the world be like if we didn’t have caring people? Too much caring can create problems, however. Overcaring can cause fatigue, burnout, or secondary trauma, enabling addictive behaviors, preventing healthy child independence, rejection and estrangement from loved ones, and so much more. Finding a healthy balance is essential to living a healthier, happier life. The first step in this process is learning WHY you care so much so that you can find that balance.
Here are four ways to help you get clear on why you care so much that you can use:
Sounds too simple, right? The truth is that it is that simple…mostly! There are a lot of books and devotionals for people who care too much. Melodie Beattie is one of my favorite authors. She wrote the books Codepency No More, The Language of Letting Go, and Codepence Guilt to the 12 steps. Another classic is Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. I regularly recommend this book to families. Of course, there are other great reads, such as Women Who Do Too Much, Raising Empowered Children, Keeping Your Love On, Caregivers Survival Guide, The Heart of the Caregiver, and so many more.
In addition to books, there are YouTube videos and online courses that you can take to learn healthier caregiving lifestyles. Try one now at FamilyHealer.tv
You can use your computer, buy a specialized journal, or you can simply use a notebook you have created to journal. It’s up to you what type of system you use and whether it’s modern or analog.
The important part is that you try to use your journal to express your thoughts, emotions, and stream of consciousness about a problem you’re trying to solve or a feeling you’re trying to explore without judgment or censoring.
Write in your journal every day when you’re trying to understand why you care so much. You may end up discovering your life purpose or a new reason for getting up each day that you had not realized before.
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Before you use your journal, it can help to clear your mind using meditation. Meditation practice is all about not thinking and not judging your thoughts or feelings even as they still happen during the meditation.
Each time you meditate, you can have a purpose of self-discovery or have a goal to clear your mind and relax. To practice this type of meditation, you’ll want to find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lay down. Then concentrate on your goals for the meditation, close your eyes, and start focusing on your breathing.
Think about the situation you’re trying to understand for a moment, then clear your mind. If any intrusive thoughts come in, brush them aside by refocusing on your breathing. You mustn’t allow any outside information or sensation to distract you during this time.
Try using an app, like Headspace, Calm, 10% Happier, Stop Breath Think, or Abide.
These days you’re so fortunate because you can get psychological therapy from the comfort of your home using your computer or smartphone. Numerous companies offer this service and varying price points, but you can expect to pay $60 or more per hour to get therapy. In addition, many insurance companies include several sessions as part of your benefits.
If you seek therapy, make sure you find someone experienced working with you on overcoming people-pleasing and putting yourself last in life. Remember, your wants and needs matter too. Most therapists can guide you through the self-discovery process to finally know what you want and feel good about it regardless of the reactions from other people.
Any or all three of these methods help you become crystal clear regarding your motivations to seek approval from others and even help you stop doing it. Remember, what you want from life is important too, and following someone else’s dreams will never get you what you want and need to feel successful and, more importantly, satisfied and content in your life.
Let Ron Huxley help you today by scheduling a therapy session online. Just click here to start!
The last two years have been one of daily uncertainty and fear, but a crisis is also a great revealer of the myths and idols we hold. It “knocks us off our thrones” and breaks our “assumptive worlds.” Our assumptions are the beliefs we hold about who we are and the world we live in…at times, like these, they don’t hold up. In fact, they can shatter into thousands of meaningless thoughts.
In social psychology, shattered assumptions theory proposes that traumatic events can change how victims and survivors view themselves and the world. We all have three inherent assumptions including “overall benevolence, the meaningfulness of the world, and self-worth.” They are the bedrock of our conceptual system, and as such, they are the ones we are least aware of and least likely to challenge. We become confident in our beliefs and use them to plan and act in daily living. If nothing challenges them they allow our lives to move along smoothly.
Sadly, traumatic life events shatter core assumptions, and coping with them requires a new effort to construct more realistic and viable assumptions. We have to rebuild our belief systems to fit the new world we live in.
The world is benevolent
The world is meaningful
The self is worthy
This can be painful for people of faith who end up questioning their faith. When our assumptive worlds shatter, it causes believers to questions the goodness of God. They might “assume” that God is silent or uncaring. The promises they believed must be wrong since things didn’t work out the way they “believed.” Trying to reconcile a good God to their adverse life situations may turn some to question themselves, wondering if they ever heard God speak into their lives or if some sin or trauma from the past has made them unworthy of mercy.
I mean, if God never changes, then the problem must be ourselves, right? Christians believe that when they become followers they are “new creations.” New creations have to have renewed minds to find new beliefs about God’s goodness and nature in their lives. Renewal is exactly what we need when our assumptions become shattered. Neurologists called this neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to restructure itself through training and practice, thereby creating new neuropathways in the human nervous system. Neuroplasticity, renewed minds, and rebuilt belief systems are about personal growth that is sometimes only possible after trauma.
The reason that believers feel peace after giving their lives to follow the Christian faith is that new neuropathways are being created. Transformation or growth is occurring. From a more secular viewpoint, life has a way of creating maturity in our thinking. The trick is how to not become bitter and negative afterwords.
There is a favorite verse of mine that goes: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV)” Prayer and meditation increase brain neuroplasticity and makes renewal possible. Allowing our minds to let go of distractions and slow down helps us focus on what we control and let go of what we cannot. In Alcoholics Anonymous, this is the path to serenity.
After a shattering event, people are able to discover strength they didn’t know that had in them. They also find new purposes and seek out deeper connections than before. Faith also grows in people after difficulty. They start to see deeper meaning and value in their life. This is called Post-Traumatic Growth in contrast to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Would you like assistance recovering from a shattering event or trauma? Need new tools for your organization or group? Contact Ron Huxley today!
Resentments are defined as the “bitter indignation at being mistreated.” It is a hard feeling that creates discontent, hostility, bitterness, and an inability to trust others.
It is destructive to relationships because it is a hook to the traumatic events of the past. When we are tied to our histories, we cannot fully enjoy the present, and the future feels like a painful rerun. We make vows that we will never let anyone hurt us like we were hurt before. Unfortunately, these vows isolate and insulate us from loving relationships.
Resentment is connected to our ego. Our ego needs to be correct, and it needs to be good. When we experience trauma, it can strip away our dignity, causing us to get needs met in unhealthy ways or won’t allow anyone else to help meet those needs. We believe that “I can do it all by myself” but it feels safer when we are alone. Unfortunately, cutting others out of our lives is a very lonely life.
Resentment can also keep us stuck in a victim role. Victims need abusers to maintain this position. Therefore, our ego will fault others, reinforce the belief that people “can’t be trusted”, and only see the negative in the circumstances. We will gravitate to rescuers to make us feel good and validate our victim-mindedness.
WRITE BRAIN/RIGHT BRAIN:
Write about ways resentment keeps you stuck in the past. What are the struggles you have experienced that make trusting others difficult? Have you chosen to be right over having a relationship? Journal about ways to select connections first. Visualize what the world of your ego looks like, who lives there, and what beliefs you take as truth in your ego world.
How can you imagine a new, different world where you feel safe and secure? How would you do it this time if you could do a situation over? Have a chat with your “ego” and offer it comfort and seek what it needs to care for it healthily?
Explore your resiliency. You didn’t want to go through tough times, but you got through them. What strengths did you discover about yourself? How did this challenging experience change your priorities? Celebrate how you have grown instead of feeding the monster of resentment.
If you feel anxious from time to time, that’s completely normal. When anxiety becomes overwhelming, you may be tempted to seek some peace using prescription medication, alcohol, or drugs. These methods, though, inherently bring problems of their own.
The good news is you can get through anxious moments on your own without mind-altering drugs. Your worries can be transformed into peace with simple, natural strategies. One of these techniques is using prayer and meditation.
What are Prayer and Meditation?
Prayer is “a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.” It is the heart of practices in all major religions. When we struggle, we call out to God for strength, direction, peace, and healing.
Mediation is a form of prayer. It is a practice of training the mind by focusing on an object, thought, or activity, enabling the busy mind to be still and the stressed body to find rest.
Inherent in both prayer and mediation is the act of letting go of control or accepting that control is an illusion. The practitioners of Alcoholics Anonymous called this “acceptance” that they are powerless over their addiction and in need of a higher power.
Prayer and meditation differ because prayer is a form of communication, asking for help. Meditation concentrates on quietness and focus, without any criticism or judgment of others or self.
Research supports the idea that prayer and reduces the effects of anxiety and depression. In a 2009 report, researchers reviewed 26 studies that identified the active involvement of medical patients in private or personal prayer. The focus was not on the effect of being prayed for or on the usefulness of attending religious meetings.
The authors of the research review stated: “There is no evidence that praying is likely to be beneficial in the absence of any kind of faith and some evidence that certain types of prayer based on desperate pleas for help in the absence of faith are associated with poorer wellbeing and function.”
While both prayer and meditation can calm anxiety, it appears that prayer is more beneficial when connected to faith.
Meditation has been widely researched and it has been demonstrated to reduce anxiety, chronic pain, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It is considered to be a mind-body intervention that “eliminates the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress.”
In addition, the emotional benefits of meditation can include:
- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Building skills to manage your stress
- Increasing self-awareness
- Focusing on the present
- Reducing negative emotions
- Increasing imagination and creativity
- Increasing patience and tolerance
There are various forms of meditation that involve guided meditation, mindfulness-based stress meditation, walking meditation, visualizations, and more. Technology is a big aid with various apps and online programs that can assist in meditative practices.
How to Get Started
You can start on your path to an anxiety-free life right away, and it all begins with a deep breath. Pull the air deep down into your diaphragm, and let it out slowly. Do this several times, and you’ll start to feel calmer.
Are you breathing effectively? When you take in air, if only the top part of your lungs expands, your chest rises and falls. When you live the right way – the calming way – your belly rises and falls, not your upper chest, because your entire lungs are filled with fresh air.
Avoid breathing from your upper chest only, and you’ll already be on the road to feeling calmer and less anxious. It’s a simple thing to do and a great way to get started. The more you do it, the more it’ll become automatic. Soon, you’ll feel calmer without even thinking about your breathing anymore.
Here are some other tips to help you feel calm while praying or meditating:
1. Use your breathing like a mantra. Inhale while you give yourself positive thoughts and feelings. Exhale anything negative you’re thinking or feeling. Breathing is the rhythm of life. Use it to your advantage. Use affirmative words or phrases, quoting scriptures or songs.
2. Pray or meditate at the same time each day. Spend a few minutes – it doesn’t have to be a long time – in quiet reflection. Say good things to yourself. You can focus on your health, finances, family, or anything you want to make stronger. Avoid negative thinking during this time.
3. Laugh. Try saying “ho, ho, ho, he, he, he, ha, ha, ha” and other silly phrases. When you do, you’ll start to smile, then grin, and then laugh for real! And when you’re laughing, you can’t frown or feel anxious! Laughter reduces the stress chemicals in your brain and increases the amount of oxygen flowing through your brain and body.
4. Find community. Join a church, take up yoga, or find a support group for anxiety. Many others share your struggle, and you can feel better about yourself and more in-tune with others when you share your feelings.
5. Savor positive experiences. You wouldn’t gobble up an expensive piece of chocolate you bought. You would savor it slowly, trying to get as much flavor and joy from it as possible before it is gone. When we do this with our positive experiences, no matter how small, our nervous system registers it and remembers it allowing greater capacity for calmness.
When you start your journey toward personal peace through prayer or meditation, don’t expect to conquer your anxiety in a day. It took time to get where you are, and it’ll take time to get back to where you want to be.
Every journey begins with that first step, and once you make it, you’ll be well on your way. Breathe. Laugh. Meditate or pray. Find time to think about and interact with others rather than concentrate on your worries. Rewire your nervous system through consistent practices of wellbeing.