Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Counselor's Corner: Are you in a Place of Unrest?

So many people are in a continually state of unrest. It is important that you take time to rest your mind, body, and spirit. Otherwise, your entire system will be out of balance. When your system gets out of balance you can be susceptible to illness, negative thinking, depression, anxiety and fatigue.

How does one get in a state of unrest? Being constantly geared-up, worried, anxious, and fearful, thinking the worst, and not allowing your mind to just rest. As well as not eating properly, not getting enough exercise and not spending time with God.

To take a rest in your mind would mean to stop all thoughts that would pose a threat to your state of peace. If you’re constantly thinking about worrisome thoughts your body will react to the stress. If you think negative thoughts and stressful thoughts your body will begin to react.

Reflect and ponder: Do you see God as your Papa or daddy? Chances are if you don’t see God this way you have trouble resting because you have difficulty trusting God. How you view God (a loving Papa or a punitive, judgmental God), will determine how well you rest.

It is important to balance your system back with prayer, spending alone time with God, eating right, exercising, letting go and letting God, and giving your mind a rest from anxious, worrisome and fearful thoughts.

If your mind is in a continually state of unrest you will eventually feel tired and worn-out and generally not feel well (malaise).  Your body will feel tense, you may have sore muscles, headaches, and possible TMJ.

Get to the “roots” of why you are in a chronic state of unrest. In other words, what are the underlying causes of your stress? What keeps you up at night? It is not God’s will for you to be under stress and unbalance. You might have to slip away from the hectic lifestyle you live or the busyness you are under and come into the presence of Jesus who can unmask why you in a state of unrest. Step away from the cares of this world long enough to hear God and how He wants you to handle your situations. Go to a quiet place and sit before the Lord. Get quiet and balance your emotions. There is a word God will breathe upon you and enlighten you with.

Take care of your body as well, begin to eat balanced nutritious meals as well as light exercising. Walking is a great way to relieve stress and unrest. Take a multi-vitamin as well as a good B-vitamin. This is a holistic approach to your unrest but you have to take care of not only your body but your mind and spirit as well. Balance every area of your life-but feed your spirit first!  All of your parts are interconnected, your mind, your body and your spirit. If one area is out of balance you will feel it in the other areas as well. Have you ever noticed when you are physically sick you’re not as spiritually strong? But have you noticed when you are physically, mentally and spiritually strong how good you feel? Always be guarded and aware when one or two areas are out of balance. Realign the ones that need to be rebalanced.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6:31
Where is your quiet place where you meet with God? Your backyard (in nature) or your prayer closet. Wherever you can hear God the most make that the place to sit with Abba.

The Lord gives strength to His people and blesses them with peace.
Psalm 29:11

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Counselor's Corner: Most of What We Worry About Never Happens

I read somewhere years ago that 85% of what we worry about never happens! And 15% of what does happen you will be able to handle better than expected.

When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened. Winston Churchill

Worry is feeling uneasy or being overly concerned about a situation.

Excessive worry puts your mind in overdrive and you constantly focus on what may happen. Excessive worriers react intensely to stressful triggers, and even thinking about the situation can lead to great anxiety. When we are worrying, we are in the midst of repetitive thinking that is non-productive. People who are analytical tend to worry more because they are trying to figure out a solution to their problem.

Everyone has normal stress and demands, but when worries and anxieties become chronic; the stress response can be triggered. The stress response is known as “flight or fight,” and causes the body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones can trigger health problems such as dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, irritability, headaches, shortness of breath, and muscle tension. The outpouring of stress hormones can lead to a suppressed immune system, short-term memory loss, and heart attack. When we worry our bodies respond the same way it would react to physical danger. Your body will tense up as you prepare for danger and this can turn into aches and pains such as headaches and back pain.

Worry is a waste of time, and it drains us of energy. Why do we worry then? We believe that all our worrying will help somehow. We believe that if we worry enough we might prevent bad things from happening.

Worry leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to fear. Worry can also make you more prone to depression. Worry disturbs your peace and it becomes more difficult to concentrate when worried.

You can rewire your brain to stop worrying by focusing on the following:

1.      When a worrisome thought enters your mind, immediately take that thought captive to Christ. Ask God to help you to stop repeatedly thinking about the problem and ask for His wisdom. Trust God and take your concerns to Him instead of worrying. It is okay to have concerns about things, but take them to God instead of mulling over them in your mind.
Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
2.      Become thankful. Be thankful for the things that you do have, and do not dwell on circumstances out of your control. Think on the good things in your life.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
3.      Focus on one day at a time. Stop projecting what may happen tomorrow. God’s grace is sufficient for the day, He does not give us grace for days and weeks ahead. Remember most of what we worry about never happens.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious or itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34
4.      Trust God with your life and with your loved ones, even when you do not understand all what has taken place in your life.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight before you. Proverbs 3:5-6

Worry in not productive and it can trigger many health ailments, including depression. There is always something to worry about, but worry does not change anything for the good. The energy that is expended on worrying could be used for more productive things. It is okay to be concerned over things in our lives, but when we begin to obsessively think about the issues; we are worrying-talk to God instead about your concerns and leave the worries with the One who can do something about them.

For an additional resource on how to discipline your mind to overcome worry, depression and anxiousness check out my latest book, “Disciplining Your Mind, 30 Days to a New You.”

Monday, December 18, 2017

Counselor's Corner: Freedom From Co-Dependency

With Christmas less than a week away, many will be around family that may trigger old patterns of co-dependent behavior. Know your triggers and how you can gain freedom from co-dependency.

►What is Co-Dependency?

Co-Dependency is a bondage to please other people. Co-Dependents allow another person’s behavior to affect them, and other people’s problems to become their problems. They look for ways to try and fix and solve other people’s problems. Co-dependents are by nature a helper and a “fixer.” They pick up the pieces in other people’s lives, and don’t allow them to suffer natural consequences of their decisions. Co-Dependents are plagued by false guilt and a false sense of responsibility for people. They get so enmeshed in other people’s problems that it exhausts them, and they often feel their “cup is empty.” They often feel used by others, and that their needs really don’t matter. Often the Co-Dependent feels alone and overwhelmed. Co-Dependents feel the “weight of the world” on their shoulders.

►Who is Likely to be Co-Dependent?

·        Family of origin (the family that you were born into) that placed you in the role as the “fixer” in the family. A fixer is responsible for solving family problems and issues. The fixer has the answers and the solution.
·        Being in a relationship or have a family member that has an addiction issue.
·        Having a rebellious child, a prodigal child, or mentally-ill child or family member.
·        Irresponsible family members who inadvertently make their problems your problems.
·        Inability to say, “No” to others and difficulty setting boundaries with others.
·        Being a people pleaser and having a fear of displeasing man. Fear of letting others down and others being angry at you.
·        History of childhood trauma-abuse, domestic violence in the home, divorce, ill parent (either physical or mental).
·        Being involved in a relationship with an abusive partner as an adult.

Co-dependents try to fix, rescue, and help, but no matter how much they try they always end-up feeling like a failure.

Co-dependents never feel they can do enough. Co-dependents can easily analyze other people’s problems, and give them a solution to their problems. Co-dependents feel responsible for making other people happy.

Saying, “No” to a person’s need is almost impossible for the co-dependent, and especially if the co-dependent is a Christian.

Co-dependent Christians fear they can’t measure up to the Christian responsibilities, and struggle with guilt when they don’t help others.

Co-dependents are often compassionate and tender-hearted people that carry the burdens of others. Instead of empathizing with you, the co-dependent will sympathize with you. They have a difficult time not taking on the hurt and pain of others. They often “feel” the pain of others. If you tell a co-dependent a problem they instinctively begin looking for how to solve your problem. They are by-nature problem-solvers, and many have been solving problems in their family since childhood. Co-dependents can be easily controlled by others and easily manipulated because of their tender nature and desire to help. Some people know this and will attempt to take advantage of the co-dependent’s good-nature.

Codependents do what they do to gain a sense of self-worth and to gain love and acceptance that many have been looking for since childhood. They are trying to fill a void and deep pain in their lives by helping others, than they will feel useful and important. If a co-dependent helps someone they feel elated, and if they fail to help someone, they will feel like a failure.

►Key Factors in Gaining Freedom From Co-Dependency:

Get a journal and begin to pray through each one of these questions. Take your time, and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the cause of your Codependency and specific steps for your healing.

1.      What is the root/origin of your co-dependency? If you don’t know ask the Holy Spirit to show you. What was your “role” in your family of origin? Fixer, etc. Did you experience role-reversal as a child? In other words did you play the role of parent and your parent (s) played the role of the child?
2.      What are your motives for co-dependency? Fear of rejection, fear of failure, avoidance of pain, gain approval by others, feel a sense of worth.
3.      Who fuels your co-dependency? Why? How do these people make you feel when you don’t do what they want? Do they withdraw from you, manipulate you, and reject you.
4.      Do you have an exaggerated perception of life? Things and people are all good or all bad. You tend to see people and situations in black and white?
5.      Do you feel valuable and worthy when you help or rescue someone? Do you feel guilty when you can’t help someone?
6.      Do you feel guilty when you say, “No” to others or when you take care of yourself?
7.      Are your emotions dependent on the responses of others? Ex., if she is sad, I must have done something to hurt her, it is my fault she is sad.
8.      Do you feel responsible for making other’s happy, not just in your family?
9.      Have you taken the place of God in other people’s lives? If someone has a need, your response is, “I’ll meet it.” Do you prevent others from developing responsibility in their own lives? Co-dependents should let other’s do things for themselves, but often they step in.
10.  Do you put on a fa├žade for other people to cover your pain? Do you have a hard time admitting your problems? Don’t feel like bothering anyone else with your needs?
11.  As a Christian, do you feel you can’t measure up to the high expectations of the Christian life?
12.  Do you feel you can gain worth by serving God? Do you plunge into activities and service to gain approval and to feel worthy?

►How to Start Healing From Co-Dependency:

1.      Recognize you didn’t get here overnight, and it will be a process of recovery. You may have set-backs, especially if you are around others that trigger these behaviors?
2.      Find healthy Christians to be around, just don’t surround yourself with users, drainers, toxic, needy people, or other co-dependent people.  
3.      Detach from relationships as needed. Detach and pray, then when you are strong enough and God has allowed you to enter in the relationship again, than do so. This applies to family relationships, but friendships may be detached longer or permantely through the leading of Holy Spirit. Detachment always has the hope of reconciliation with that person, but if you feel you are relapsing into co-dependency and you reservoirs are on empty, it is okay to detach from a relationship for a time.
4.      When needs and problems come your way, don’t react and come up with a solution immediately. You can say to that person, “I need time to pray about that” or “I need God to direct me first before I make a decision.” Then go and pray before offering solutions, advice, help, or rescuing. Oftentimes, God does not want us to intervene because He is trying to work something out in their lives.
5.      Don’t assume that God wants you to rescue, help, and fix every problem that comes into your path, this can be especially difficult for the Christian. We are taught about servant hood and self-sacrifice and to put other’s needs ahead of our own. But God does not expect us to give on “empty,” and Jesus did not heal every sick person nor help every single person that came into His contact. We have to have discernment to know when God says, “Step in,” and when He is leading us from not intervening.
6.      Don’t anticipate the needs of others. Listen to them and let them ask for help, but don’t offer up help that they are not asking for. A lot of the time people will tell you their woes hoping you will help, but it is better if they ask directly for the needs that they have. Even if they do ask for help, you can still say that you need to pray first and get back to them.
7.      Do not rescue compulsively. You will have to be on guard for this because you will be presented needs and you will want to rescue.
8.      Set limits in your life. Recognize and be aware what people in your life get you entangled in the trap of co-dependency.
9.      Start taking care of yourself. Do things that you enjoy. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and not on other people’s issues. This can be a challenge for the co-dependent if you have been surrounded by needs, so this is where detachment for a time is important.
10.  Read and research all you can about co-dependency, preferably from a Christian perspective. A good online Christian Co-Dependent recovery program can be found at:

*For additional information on this subject and more, check out my latest book release, Disciplining Your Mind, 30 Days to a New You.”

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