Thursday, June 28, 2018

Counselor's Corner: Is It Selfish to Take Some Time for Yourself?

People who are overworked, overwhelmed, or over-burdened need times where they can have a stress-free zone and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. God never intended for anyone to live under constant strain from the pressures of life. Living in a constant strain will break the strongest of people.

You may know you need some time to pull away from the pressures of life by the following signs:

·         Restlessness/mind-racing

·         Fatigue

·         Negative thinking

·         Anxiety

·         Discouragement

·         Headaches

·         Gastrointestinal problems

·         Forgetfulness

·         Lack of joy

·         Inability to laugh

·         Not able to enjoy the simple pleasures in life

·         Low or no libido

·         Little or no motivation

·         Productivity at work suffers

·         Difficulty getting up in the morning

·         Difficulty staying or falling asleep

·         Take life too seriously

·         Difficulty concentrating or staying focused

·         Aggravation/irritability

·         Anger

·         Desire to escape or go back to old habits/addictions

If you have (5) or more of the above signs, TAKE ACTION NOW! You may do irreversible damage to your physical and/or mental health if you do not begin to clear out the stress.

There are many ways to de-stress from the tensions in life. The first thing to do is make your physical and mental health #1 priority. If you are exhausted, do not take on anymore heavy or burdensome projects. Create a simple life and cut out the excess. While getting your body, mind and spirit back in balance, do not add more to your schedule, but instead keep your schedule very light and as calm as possible. Running around from one event or activity is not calming, and in fact will create more stress in your body. You will need to establish at least one place that you make into your calm place where stress is minimal. If your work environment is hectic, having a peaceful and quiet home will be upmost important. Everyone needs a safe and stress-free zone. Going on a vacation is a wonderful idea if you don’t have a place near you or rest, but if you are not able to go on vacation you can have a staycation. Staycations can be the best, this is where you can watch movies all day if you want and not pick up your phone because your on “vacation” right? Being around others who have loads of problems that they dump on you, will only increase your stress. You will need to back off from relationships that are emotionally draining until your body and mind are back in balance and harmony. You must say, “No,” to anyone who violates your space, energy and resources. Those that violate your times of rest lack in boundaries and are perfectly okay with invading your need of relaxation. Many people end-up giving into the demands of others even at their own expense because they do not want to disappoint anyone. The reality is disappointment is a part of life, and you will not always get everything you want in life.

Take the time to replenish your mind, body and spirit as often as needed without the guilt! Scan your body and listen to your thoughts, is there anything that seems out of balance (review the signs in this article)? These signs are indicators you are out of balance, and if you continue at the rate that you are going you can have serious complications now and in the future. Our bodies and minds are not built to endure high levels of stress. You must become vigilant in removing what is destroying your health, whether physical or mental. Getting back to the simplicity of life will restore your soul. We were created for times of rest, joy, play and work-not stress, work, and more stress.

So, is it selfish to take time for yourself and replenish when needed? Absolutely not! In fact, if you do not, you may suffer from depression, anxiety, an addiction, divorce, cardiovascular diseases and heart problems, hormonal imbalances (for women), gastrointestinal problems, headaches and/or fatigue.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Counselor's Corner: Getting Entagled in Other People's Problems

Should we ignore other people’s plights? Absolutely not! There are occasions that we should step-in and intervene when someone is having trouble whether financial, emotional or spiritual. When the Holy Spirit directs you to help a person in need you will have clear direction, clarity and peace. You will also have an inner knowing or a nudge deep down inside that lets you know it is okay to give your time, talent or treasures. You will not have to figure out how you are going to help or solve someone else’s dilemma because the Holy Spirit will show you their need and how you can go about meeting that need.

What happens when you are not lead by God to give or help someone, and is this even possible for a Christian not to help someone in need?

First, let’s define a true need versus those who do not want to take full responsibility for their lives. We all have needs from time to time, and as Christians there is a great joy to give to those in need. There are times when people get “down on their luck” and just need help for a time, but when that need becomes chronic and on-going, “there’s a problem Houston.” What kind of problem? Irresponsibility. These are the folks that want you to get in their tangled-up problems and have you solve how to fix their messes. When resources have been given to people who are in dire straights numerous times and they still need a helping hand, it is time to step out of the vortex of entanglement. You can not help someone who does not want help. Those that desire to be helped will transition to the next level after support has been given. You can support someone for life but that does not mean you are really helping him.

My grandmother supported my uncle for decades, if he had a need, she met it. My grandmother was also very exhausted and wiped out financially from all the years of bailing my uncle out. My grandmother was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimers in the last stage of her life. I wonder now if the dementia and Alzheimers was related to the years of chronic stress, worry and guilt she had for her son. When she passed away last December, my mother had found that my grandmother’s debt was largely a result of continuing to bail my uncle out of his poor choices. The bottom line is even after many years of giving my uncle a place to live for free, buying his groceries and giving him money he still ended-up on the streets. My uncle died last year with nothing but a beat-up old station wagon. His only surviving child was left nothing because he used his money for drugs and gambling. My grandmother and uncle did not have a symbiotic relationship but one where my uncle was the “emotional vampire” and my grandmother was the “insect” he preyed on draining the life out of her. When my grandmother was alive she suffered from depression and eventually began abusing pain medicine, and she always seemed so weighted down and lacking in joy. I now wonder was the depression and addiction to pain medicine a result of always being entangled in my uncle’s problems? At the end of her life and my uncle’s life, they had nothing-no home, no money. My grandmother’s biggest problem when it came to giving to my uncle was that she felt sorry for him. She never believed he could make it on his own, and she spoke her worst fears about him if she did not help him. My grandmother was motivated by fear, guilt, and worry over what may happen to my uncle if she did not help him, but in the end what she was trying to prevent in the decades of helping, still happened.

Just because something seems like the right thing to do, does not mean it is the right thing to do. There are times the enemy will use the people closest to you in hopes to engage you in their barrage of problems. Entanglement means to get caught in a trap with no way to escape. When God prompts you to help someone, you will feel energized, joyful and invigorated. My grandmother never felt energized or joyful helping my uncle, but instead felt guilty and often would say statements like, “If I don’t help who will, I don’t have a choice.” Pressure and guilt never comes from God, yet my grandmother felt pressure and guilt for helping her son because she believed she was the only one who could help. My grandmother’s home was always full of stress, tension and had an air of “heaviness.” I hated going to my grandmother’s house, especially if my uncle would be there because I knew he was around to get something. My uncle was selfish and never thought about the damage he did to his mother. My grandmother had a heart of compassion and deep mercy for her son, and he knew that and took advantage of that.

There is a time to help and there is a time to stop. When helping is chronic and the person you are assisting is behaving irresponsible and not learning from their mistakes, let God fully have them. Tough love, it that, tough! But if there is a chance for your loved one or the person who you are trying to help to stand on their own “two feet,” let them figure out how to manage their own lives. The harsh reality is there are some who never want to take ownership of their lives and will leech on the resources of others. Ask God to give you the discernment and wisdom when you need to say, “no more.” Saying “no” without guilt comes with knowing that you are trying to help them by forcing them to stand on their own and be responsible and productive citizens. You may feel grief and/or sadness for your loved one who cannot seem to manage their lives. This is normal and part of your healing process as you move forward in your life without the guilt and fulfill what plans and purposes God has for you. Write or talk out your grief and let God have your brokenness for them. Never stop interceding for them, and always believe that God can do in their lives what you cannot. Place your hope in God for them, not you. Let God be their Savior and Redeemer. Refresh your spirit with testimonies of people who have walked out of darkness and have been transformed by Jesus Christ, He can do it! God is no respecter of person’s. You cannot play Savior in someone’s life, that is a burden too big for anyone to carry. Do you not believe God sees the needs of the person you care about? God does send His assistance to those in need, but He will not allow others not to take responsibility for their lives. God is always moved with compassion to those in need, but His desire is to get you up and moving in your destiny.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Counselor's Corner: Freedoom from Being Manipulated by Your Loved Ones

Have you felt the pressure of guilt from your loved ones when they indirectly ask you to fulfill an unspoken request? You know that your loved one is hinting around for you to help them, but their language is twisted in confusion and half-truths so that you will be the one that has the “bright idea” how to solve their dilemma and they appear to be the helpless victim.

Codependent people can be easily manipulated and often times are, mainly because of their strong desire to recuse and fix other’s problems. Your loved ones that manipulate know your tender and merciful heart and will try and take advantage of that. Being a kind and generous person is great, but also being wise to when you are being taken advantage of is just as important. Jesus did not repeatedly help and rescue the same people, He helped once and then moved on to others. If your loved ones are needing repeated recusing, it is time to reevaluate your part.

Not sure if your loved one is manipulating you, these are some classic signs to look for:

1.      Speak in confusion, lies and/or a mix of half-truths.

2.      Have a history of lying and/or being dishonest.

3.      Have an addiction-drugs, alcohol, gambling, money.

4.      Live way above their means.

5.      Financially irresponsible. History of debt, not paying bills, evictions, and/or legal issues.

6.      Fired from previous jobs and it is always someone else’s fault.

7.      Speaks as a victim and tends to blame other people for their messes.

8.      Can never help enough, there is always a need or a crisis.

9.      Use flattery and gifts as tools to gain an advantage over you.

10.  Are repeat offenders, get themselves is the same destructive cycles and expect you to get them out one more time.

11.  Operate in ‘surprises” to catch you off guard, such as a surprise visit to your home.

12.  Feel overwhelmed with guilt if you say “no” or don’t offer to help.

13.  Do you leave your loved one’s presence and feel emotionally/mentally, physically, and spiritually drained?

14.  Do you feel confused when you loved one speaks to you?

15.  Is your emotional/mental, physical and spiritual health being affected in a negative way after years of being in a manipulating relationship?

16.  Have you bailed your loved one out finanically, mentally or spiritually many times and they keep coming back from more?

17.  Does your loved one recognize the damage caused by manipulation by repenting or do you get the notion they just don’t get it?

18.  Do you dread being around your loved one, or do you leave them feeling burdened?

19.  Do you stop your life to meet your loved one’s needs, or to be there for them, again?

20.  Do you lose sleep or feel restless because you are trying to figure out how you can help your loved one with their indirect need (the need they did not come out and ask you about, but you know you have the resources and so do they, so you can help one more time)? This kind of inner dialogue can keep you up at night.

21.  Your loved one has a history of harming themselves or has made threats to harm themselves. There is a sense of urgency and hypervigilance with your loved one when they have a crisis because you don’t want anything to happen to them. Unfortunately, there are those who know this and take advantage of your deep concern for them. God NEVER motivated by fear, worry, anxiety or guilt.

22.  You feel pressure to do something for them, but you don’t have clarity what you are supposed to do for them.

23.  At times you want to run away or escape to get away from all the constant barrage of problems.

Freedom from loved ones who manipulate starts with:

1.      Identify is there a problem with manipulation with your loved one?

2.      Recognize is there a repeated pattern of destructive and unstable ways in your loved one?

3.      After reviewing the signs of manipulation above, and you sense you are being manipulated never make a decision based because you feel pressured or it seems like the right thing to do. Take some time to step away and get before God and pray for His clarity. God speaks in peace; the enemy speaks in confusion. If you feel confused about agreeing to your loved one’s request, step back and go before God. Do not agree to anything until you have peace.  

4.      Know your limits! If you are tired or worn-out, that is NOT the time to agree to do something that you will drain you even more. Those that manipulate have poor limits and boundaries and feel perfectly okay with violating your limits. Those that manipulate will try and wear you down until you say “yes,” to one of their needs.

5.      Allow your loved one to grow-up and take full ownership of their lives. If your loved one is an adult, let them be fully an adult. If you are dealing with a child (yes, children can manipulate), you have authority to tell your child, “no,” to their request. Just because your child asks you for something, it does not mean you have to give it to them. Some children become spoiled and lazy when they get all their requests meet, and then grow up to become adults that continue to act like immature children.

6.      Understand how God operates. When God directs you to do something you will have peace, strength and grace. The Holy Spirit will also illuminate to you exactly what you should do. The Holy Spirit gives precise directions in clarity. When the enemy operates he operates in confusion, chaos, worry, fear, anxiety, guilt and pressure, When the enemy is trying to pressure you to do something you will “spin your wheels” trying to figure out what to do. There will not be a solution to the problem, and the problem appears massive and burdensome.

7.      Pray for your loved ones who are manipulating you to get their needs meet. Ask Holy Spirit to show your loved ones how to be responsible for their own lives.

8.      Set boundaries if your loved one repeatedly has violated your sense of well-being. It is okay to step back from the toxicity of being manipulated. You may need to step away from your phone, not answer the unexpected knock at the door, or not accept calls from your loved ones for a period of time. If your loved one continues to manipulate you, you may need a separation period to heal. Ask the Holy Spirit what type of separation He wants for you. If you are getting sick and/or exhausted, it is okay to separate until you gain strength. Being manipulated is taxing to your overall health.

9.      If your loved one has an issue with lying, it would be advisable not to blindly trust what they say and to keep your heart guarded from the lying, do not react or give responses to what they are saying. You are not able to trust someone that lies. I would advice binding the spirit of lying and deception in Jesus name if you plan on having a conversation with them, and that truth must be spoken from their lips.

Be aware if your loved one knows that you are gong to say “no” to their request, they may use manipulation to get what they want. Remember if you are being manipulated you most likely will not be asked directly for a need to be meet but will be told story after story of their “woe is me” life and how it is everyone else’s fault why they are in trouble. You will be able to sense deep down in your gut that their stories are off and they are “fishing” for you to step up and take care of their needs. People who are responsible for their lives, take full ownership of it and never make anyone else feel responsible for their decisions, including poor choices.

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