Thursday, February 14, 2019

Counselor's Corner: How Do I Become More Resilient?

Developing resilience is key for maintaining and keeping good mental, physical and spiritual health. Without resilience, one breaks under pressure instead of just gently bending.

→What is resilience? The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. You can bounce back swiftly after stress or difficulty in your life.

Research shows that the amount of resilience a person possesses is a greater factor for determining success in life rather than your IQ.

Some people have a natural tendency towards resilience, while others are bent more towards emotional reactions including being overwhelmed by difficulties in life. I believe some resilience is part of our DNA, but I also believe some resilience is learned by your environment or by the people who raised you. Take for instance, if you were raised with an overly emotional mother whose first reaction to problems was to show negative emotions and you never saw how she overcame her difficulties; chances are a part of what you perceived became ingrained in you. The good news is you can learn how to become resilient. Learning to become resilient starts with your thoughts, and renewing your mind to believe what God says in His word about you. If your thoughts are negative, it is probable you are not a resilient person.

Reflect: Would you consider yourself a resilient person? Why or why not? What traits did your caretakers show you that helped or hindered your resiliency?

Resilient people…

Resilient people are able to cope with problems and setbacks. Those that lack resilience become overwhelmed when distressing situations occur, tend to focus on the problem, use unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with life’s challenges, and are slower to recover from setbacks.

→Resilient people don’t live life in denial, but they understand that setbacks occur and that life can be painful sometimes.

→Resilient people do not remain focused on the negative, and disengage rapidly from problems that appear unsolvable. A key to resilience is to know when to “cut your losses,” and move on to problems that are solvable.

→Resilient people still mourn losses and experience grief, but they can find redeeming potential in most situations. When non-resilient people face difficulties all of their emotions turn negative. If things are good, the non-resilient person is good, but if things are bad, they feel bad.

→Resilient people can find the silver lining in almost any adverse circumstance. Resilient people will find, seek, and search for the good in their challenges.

→Resilient people are grateful people and are always counting their blessings. They might say, “I am sad that this happened but I am blessed about this.”

Resilient people are not victims and don’t wallow in self-pity.

→Resilient people are overcomers, whether it is their childhood wounds or current painful situations.

→Resilient people are hopeful. They are hopeful brighter days are ahead and they trust God will use their pain for His purposes.

→Resilient people take good care of themselves such as with exercise, eating healthy, and maintaining a healthy support system.

→Resilient people do not focus on their problems, but focus on what is right in their lives.

Resilient people are not whiners and complainers. They don’t tell their problems repeatedly to others to gain pity.

→Resilient people are fighters, they don’t back down and they never give up! When they get temporarily knocked down, they come back up stronger.

→Resilient people move forward, they don’t keep looking back in the past in regret and they don’t project what may happen in the future.

How to become a more resilient person:

1.      Wait to respond to an upsetting situation. Develop impulse control by stopping first to consider whether reacting negatively will benefit you in the long-run.

2.      Learn to tolerate discomfort. Think each time something occurs negatively or troubling if your response would have been different if you would have waited an hour to respond. This response is about sitting with an emotion without taking any actions.

3.      You can feel your emotions but don’t let your emotions spiral out of control. Your emotions will bounce back quicker when you don’t allow yourself to stew for days over a situation. Deal with those raw emotions and feel them fully but don’t allow yourself to stay in a negative state.

4.      Be okay with not having everything figured out. Move on to things that are solvable.

5.      Focus on what’s right, not what’s wrong. Where your attention goes, your energy flows.

6.      Believe that you are in control not people or circumstances. You have the choice to respond or react.

7.      See the positives in your situations that are difficult. Choose to look for the silver lining in troubling circumstances.

8.      Laugh at your difficulties. This can shift your perspective from seeing things as a threat to seeing them as a challenge, this can alter the way your body reacts to stress.

9.      Learn from your mistakes. See your obstacles as challenges, and allow the adversity to make you stronger.

10.  Realize that pain and grief are temporary states of affairs and that bad times are also temporary. Don’t get stuck believing pain, grief and hardships will go on continually.

11.  Prepare yourself ahead of time for emotional difficulties. Adept quickly to what comes your way, with acceptance and the ability to feel the raw emotions but not allowing yourself to remain stuck.

12.  Surround yourself with other resilient people. If your associates play the victim or wallows in self-pity, seek out strong, resilient people supportive people.

13.  Don’t waste time in a negative state. If your stuck in traffic, take advantage of the longer commute instead of engaging in a tyrant of negative reactions. You recognize your temper, anger or bad mood, won’t change the situation; instead it may increase your blood pressure, increase your heartrate or give you a headache.

14.  Don’t dwell. You don’t dwell about past decisions or worry about your future.

15.  Tragedies and traumas don’t mark you for life. You are able to overcome the sadness and become stronger because of the hard times.

16.  Setbacks are seen as minor interruptions. You never give up when setbacks occur and lose your determination.

17.  Reduce hurt by not taking things personally. The way people choose to respond to you is about them. Don’t let other people control you.

Let’s Discuss:

What tip(s) can you use to start becoming more resilient?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Counselor's Corner: Why Waking-Up Early Gives You an Advatage Spiritually

I have discovered becoming an early riser is one of the best things that I have ever done. Maybe you’re not a morning person, I know I was not; but you can discipline yourself to become an early riser. Waking-up early gives you an edge spiritually, and through this article I will uncover the benefits of the early riser.

Perhaps you want to get up early but need some help knowing how. Listed below are techniques that I have used and that work.

►Practical Tips to Help you Start Getting Up Earlier:

1.      Set a time that you want to awaken. A good time to aim for is between 5-6am. Set your alarm and do not hit the snooze button when your alarm goes off. You most likely will need to go to bed earlier, most people need at least 7 hours of sleep nightly.

2.      Go to bed and get up at the same time every morning. Consistency is the key. It only takes 4-5 days of waking-up and going to bed at the same time to adjust to your new schedule. You most likely will feel sluggish and sleepy upon awakening and possibly the first few hours of the morning, that’s normal. Your body needs the time to adjust, so start slowly waking-up early. Adjust your awaken time by 30 minutes the first week and 60 minutes the next week.

3.      Do something that you love first thing in the morning like sipping a cup of hot coffee or tea or listening to your favorite sermon/message.

4.      Allow yourself an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep if needed on the weekends and of course if you are not feeling well, extra sleep will be needed.

5.      Drink a full glass of water to hydrate your body and as a way of getting your body moving.

6.      Reward yourself at the end of the week if you have maintained getting up early. Getting up early is not easy for many and you should reward your discipline.

►Why Waking-Up Early Gives you an Edge Spiritually:

1.      It’s quiet, no noise and no distractions from people, phones, texts or emails. Who do you know is up at 5:30am texting or sending emails? You can have uninterrupted time praying, reading your Bible and talking with God.

2.      Starts your day off in the right direction. Starting your day first thing in the morning with God increases your chances of a better day and one that filled with peace as you place your cares and concerns first thing in the morning with God and not carrying them around with you all day.

3.      You can follow Christ’s example. Christ Himself liked to wake-up early. “Rising very early before dawn, He went off to a deserted place, where He prayed.” Mark 1:35

4.      Scriptures speak of early rising.

For direction for the day: “Let me hear you in the morning of your steadfast love, for in You I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

To get a head start before the watches of the night: “My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” Psalm 119:148

To hear the Lord’s voice before the distractions of the day drown out His voice: “In the morning, O Lord, you will hear My voice; in the morning I will order my prayers to you and eagerly watch.” Psalm 5:3

5.      You can command your morning and cancel and frustrate the plans of the enemy. “Lord, you visit me every morning.” Job 7:18.

“I will have dominion over the devil in the morning.” Psalm 49:14

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and wicked shaken out of it.” Job 28:12-13

One purpose of early morning prayer is to take hold of the ends of the earth and shake the wicked out of it. You can pray the wicked will be shaken from your neighborhood, city and church. Commanding your morning sets the day against the powers of hell and against the powers of darkness. Instead of the day being set against you, you set the anointing of God against every curse, spell, jinx, hex, vex, and all other wickedness that would come your way.

“Let the judgements come upon the enemy morning by morning.” Isaiah 28:19

In the morning you can declare God brings judgement and justice to the earth.

Early Morning Prayer You Can Use When Arising Early:

            Father, I thank you that I am assured that when I seek you early, I shall find you. I purpose in my heart to get under the anointing of the early riser and the first fruit of my morning shall be holy; therefore, my entire day shall be holy. As I command the morning and capture the day, time is being redeemed. I decree and declare a new day, a new season and a fresh anointing. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Counselor's Corner: Benefits of Establishing Routine

Usually you associate being routine as boring. How can doing the same things consistently in your life be exciting? Keep reading as you will find surprising benefits of establishing routine in your life.

Reflect: Do you want to be more productive, more efficient, complete your goals, and stay on task? Do you find yourself making your to-do list or your weekly schedule, but not sticking to it?

Routine can be defined as doing the same task/activity, in the same manne until the task/activity becomes a part of your daily schedule.

Establishing routines takes time and consistently. Being disorganized, unstructured, and lacking in good planning will result in wasting valuable time that you could have been using to accomplish goals and overall be more productive in every area of your life.

►Practical Ways to Establish Routine in Your Life:

1.      Go to bed and get up the same time every morning. Getting up early will help jump-start your day to getting those things you want to get accomplished, however, this means you may need to go to bed earlier to get up earlier. “The early bird gets the worm.” You can increase your sleep 30-60 minutes on the weekend if needed.

2.      Set a morning routine. Do the same things every morning, such as spending time with God, exercising, drink a glass of water, and eating a healthy breakfast or power smoothie.

3.      Set a night routine. Do the same things every night before bed, such as reading, praying or brushing your teeth.

4.      Make your bed daily! That’s right, making your bed daily creates a simple routine that can be mastered and helps you in establishing more difficult routines.

5.      Make a daily gratitude list. This simple act done daily can increase your overall sense of well-being, contentment and boost your mood.

6.      Have a chore day or specific times that you will do your chores, otherwise you will most likely have a disorganized, messy home. Don’t wait until you feel like cleaning your home or doing laundry, most likely you will not feel like doing these daunting chores.

7.      Make a daily, weekly and monthly calendar. Write out your overall schedule for the month and daily make a list of your top priorities that you want to get accomplished. Make sure to schedule time with friends/family, your Sabbath, enjoyable activities for yourself, and any interests that you have-otherwise people/events will devour your time because of your lack of planning. Keep in mind, things do come up that alter your schedule, and you should make necessary adjustments in your routine when needed, however, this should not be the norm. If you make adjusting your schedule to meet the needs of others, you will not get accomplished what God may have for you or even what you would like to achieve. Don’t let others dictate your schedule, because they will, but be proactive and plan ahead.

8.      Reward yourself weekly when you stick to your routines.

►Benefits to Establishing Routines:

1.      Good habits will form such as exercise and bad habits will break.

2.      You will get more accomplished professionally and personally.

3.      Provides you with structure, and a way of organizing your life so it makes sense to you. Those that lack structure in their lives tend to be undisciplined. An undisciplined life can lead to a chaotic life.

4.      You feel like you have a sense of ownership in your life and order, and helps create boundaries with those who would encroach on your time.

5.      Provides you with direction, you will know where you are going so you don’t remain stuck or idle.

6.      Increases efficiency. Routines form habits, and once habits are formed the act of automation increases efficiency in your life, by enabling you to do things without consciously thinking about them.

7.      Routines decrease stress and anxiety. Knowing what you are to be doing a daily basis creates comfort and predictability.

8.      Builds momentum. “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” For instance, running a mile a day, means in a year you will have ran 365 miles.

9.      Helps you become faster and more adept to what you do each and every day. If you are a writer and write daily, inevitably you will become a better writer.

10.  Routine actually saves you time! You’re not wasting your time making decisions, preparation or figuring out what you should be doing each day.

11.  Helps you to prioritize what is most important to you, so that you are not expending yourself doing things that will consume your time.

12.  Reduces procrastination. When you have a routine, you will get things done because you know what you need to be doing and those things become automatic.

You can have a tighter routine on the weekdays and a lighter routine on the weekend to create times for fun, leisure and relaxation. Many successful people have established routines in their lives. If you want to be successful in any area of your life, maintaining a routine will be important. The certainty of routine can help you to mange the uncertainty that life can throw at you. Coping with unpredictable periods in your life is more doable when there is a predictability of a structured routine. Routine is essential for those with depression, anxiety, and who get overwhelmed from stressful situations.

Let’s Discuss:

What can you begin to do today to establish a routine in your life?

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Counselor's Corner: When people Violate Your Boundaries

Counselor’s Corner: When People Violate Your Boundaries

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.

We have all had people in our lives that have violated our boundaries, whether it’s a family member who expects you do whatever they want, a neighbor who believes they are the only one’s living on your street, or a friend who just drops in without giving you notice.

Reflect: Has anyone crossed your personal boundaries with you? How did it make you feel? Violated, angry, or powerless.

►Personal boundaries are important and here are 4 major reason why:

1.      Protects you from being manipulated.

2.      Protects you from being used.

3.      Protects you from being violated.

4.      Separates who you are and what you think and feel from the thoughts and feelings of others.

Emotional boundaries protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings or problems or taking comments personally.

►Having healthy emotional boundaries you are able to do the following:

1.      Say no to tasks you don’t want to do or have time to do.

2.      Protect your time-don’t overcommit.

3.      Ask for space because we all need time.

►Traits that people have who do not respect your boundaries:

1.      Lie regularly.

2.      Take advantage of your kindness.

3.      Manipulate to get what they want.

4.      Don’t consider your feelings, are inconsiderate and selfish.

5.      Feel entitled to do and behave as they please.

6.      Can be narcissistic.

7.      Socially immature or awkward.

►Traits of people who respect your boundaries:

1.      There is a mutual respect. Both parties are considerate and thoughtful.

2.      Physical and emotional boundaries are respected.

3.      Open and honest communication without defensiveness, withdrawal, or pouting.

Unfortunately, you can’t force people to respect your personal boundaries, unless something they are doing is against the law. You do however more control than you think.

Boundaries need to be clear and consistent with those that don’t respect you. Such people look for holes in your boundaries, and will try and try to cause a breach in your boundaries-STAY CLEAR AND CONSISTENT, what you will and will not tolerate. Follow through with consequences when the violator breaks a boundary with you. If you don’t force consequences, rest assured the violator will continue their behavior.

Narcissistic people intentionally will violate boundaries to hurt you, get a reaction out of you, and to exert control. If you confront a narcissistic violator, they will come across prideful, unaware of your feelings, and may even laugh at your request for them to stop a certain action or behavior. Narcissistic people are looking to argue with you, and enjoy when you become upset by one of their tactics.

If you have gotten frustrated or even angry at the repeated violators in your life, cut yourself some slack; it is difficult to deal with those who clearly don’t respect you or care about your feelings.

►What can you do when others violate your boundaries:

1.      Know your limits (physical, emotional and social). Set firm and clear consequences when those boundaries are violated.

2.      If you are getting angry, frustrated and/or exhausted dealing with someone, step back from the relationship/situation until you can regain your peace and composure.

3.      Recognize you do have needs, and that you should voice those needs to others. If they don’t listen or care, that is not your problem (if you are dealing with a narcissistic person, they will not care to change their behaviors and very likely will continue).

4.      Contact authorities if the violation against you is illegal.

5.      Have a 3rd party meditate if you are not getting through to your violator.

6.      Maintain a healthy distance from those who repeatedly violate you with no course correction for their actions, or who are indifferent to your needs (if the person you need to distance yourself from lives in close proximity to you or is a family member, you will need to distance yourself emotionally until there is mutual respect). Emotional distance means keeping your heart guarded, choosing to respond verses react when they violate you in some way, and maintaining your inner peace by the strength of the Holy Spirit.

7.      Ask God for His assistance in dealing with those who repeatedly harm you in some manner. Our God is just and He is our help in time of need.

8.      Keep your cool, when your boundary is violated. Walk away, breath, and pray. When you respond in anger your judgment gets clouded. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have the authority to bind the enemy. Use your authority and bind the spirits that are causing you trouble.

Setting boundaries is healthy, and having good boundaries means clearly what is OK and not OK and letting others know it. If you don’t set boundaries, you allow people to get away with behaviors that are not OK, and you in the end will end-up stressed, anxious, frustrated and angry.

Let’s Discuss:

What about you, have others violated your boundaries? How did you respond and how would you like to respond now after reading this article?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Counselor's Corner: How Not to Overreact to Problems

Do problems seem to control your moods, behaviors or actions? Do you react verses respond to problems?

Everyone overreacts from time to time, give yourself grace if you have overreacted to a situation. If you are overreacting more than keeping your composure there may be some underlying issues to be addressed.

No one can control you beyond what you give them.

Reflect: Did someone or something cause you to feel that you had no control or did someone repeatedly violate your boundaries and you feel you have no power? Do you truly trust God in all things?

Some Reasons Why You May Overreact to Problems:

1.      When the same people continue to do the same annoying or bothersome things to you; you feel disrespected and powerless. Get to the root of why you may feel disrespected by certain people. Perhaps you don’t feel validated or that others are selfish and inconsiderate and you are not. You may want others to act the way that you would and it ticks you off when they behave in rude, inconsiderate and selfish ways.

2.      Emotionally stuff your problems. You don’t deal with your issues head on and instead bury your problems. The problem with stuffing is that one day the stuffing will spill out over a minor problem, hence you overreact to the small stuff.

3.      You learned helplessness and mental weaknesses from a parent or caregiver and you have modeled perhaps unconsciously what you observed your parent or caregiver doing when problems arose in their lives.

4.      Lack self-care and don’t take time that you need to balance your life. Everyone else’s needs and wants are placed above yours.

5.      Lack of sleep, hormonal changes/fluctuations, not feeling your best, and/or stressful situations that you are dealing with.

6.      Feel others take advantage of you, use you or try and control you.

7.      Any type of trauma that you may have experienced can cause an overreaction to situations that may not bother most people. Trauma causes a heightened reaction to perceived threats, such as fireworks popping can create tension and a surge of high amounts adrenaline for someone who may have experienced or witnessed an act of violence.

Practical Ways Not to Overreact to Your Problems:

1.      Identify what triggers you to overreact. Is it the same people or situations that cause you to lose your cool? Are you frustrated with dealing with people who believe they are the only ones on the planet? Do selfish people rub you in the wrong way, why? Is it because deep down you are very caring and considerate and expect others to be as well? Maybe rude, disrespectful people get under your skin. Maybe you overreact when you feel mistreated, misunderstood or rejected in some manner. Take some time and write out your known triggers, what causes you to overreact. Ask God to help you maintain self-control during times that you would want to lash out. Pray over your list daily until you believe you can handle the situations calmly and peacefully.

2.      When you feel your body becoming tense (before you start to yell and lash out), stop, breath and take a time-out. Give some space between your first response of lasing out and remaining composed. If you cannot get a handle on your emotions even after stepping away, ask God to give you peace and to help you not to respond in anger.

3.      Recognize there are some people who are ignorant, selfish, inconsiderate and disrespectful. Rise above their immaturity and never give someone else control over your emotions. You may not can control what others do to you, but you can control your response.

4.      Get in-tune with your emotions and don’t bottle-up issues. Deal with problems as they arise. Find a godly, trusted friend or counselor and discuss what has been bothering you. If there is no one like that in your area, journal and talk to God.

5.      Develop mental toughness or resiliency as a way to keep your focus and determination when problems arise. Don’t set yourself up for believing people or circumstances will go the way you would like. Learn to “roll with the punches.” Deal with the issue immediately and let it go and move on quickly. You cannot control what comes your way but you can control your response. Do not give someone or something control over your joy, your peace, and your sanity.

6.      Take care of your spiritual, emotional and physical needs. If you are already overloaded and overwhelmed it is likely that you will lash out when a problem occurs. Take the needed time for balance in your life, honor the Sabbath, and say, “no,” when you need to rest. If you are tired there is a good chance that you will overreact to problems. What you need may not look like what someone else may need. I tend to need a little extra time of rest after being with people because I am an introvert and do not get energized after being with people. I try not to schedule visits with people back-to-back because I know I will not do as well maintaining peace. I thrive on times of reflection, quietness and solitude not running and going. Know what keeps you out-of-balance. Are you an introvert trying to keep pace with an extrovert?

7.      Be aware that the enemy will use people and situations to get you upset, with the hopes you will respond in anger. As a believer in Jesus Christ you have authority to bind the enemy in whatever manner he is bothering you. If you believe the enemy is using certain people to disturb you, take your authority that you have in Jesus and disallow that person from being able to be used by the enemy to cause you problems.

►Meditate: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and SELF-CONTROL. Galatians 5:22-23

►Let’s Discuss:

Do you tend to overreact to problems? What is one thing that you can do to help you not to overreact to situations or people?

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