Category Archives: Relationships

When Life Spins Out of Control


Merry go round

Why does the negative energy from unhealthy attachments to unhealthy people and bad habits cause such a loss of balance and control in life?

When we are on the merry-go-round of life and events around us are spinning out of control, few people can maintain a grip and control their rational thinking process. As such, a person’s ability to act freely upon things they actually know well, falls prey to almost certain confusion and uncertainty.

The effect -> of spinning events out of our control, information overload, along with the stress that unhealthy and bad habits deliver to life experience -> cause some people to question everything that they know to be reasonable while the centrifugal force-the moments-weigh upon the exercise of reason. A favorite question of people to ask when life spins out of control is “Where is God?” and “Why doesn’t he rescue me from this dilemma?” What is missed in the dizzy effect is that God is always there in the dark moments of life and reachable within the activity presently surrounding the events of life.

We often are taken aback by life because what we are experiencing reveals some truth that we have not been fully prepared to face in this moment. That moment, the hard moment of life to face, is the decisive moment because the truth is hard to hear, feel, understand, and experience. In our humanity, we need to feel security and peace by having some sense of control, but at those times when God is not at the center of our filter for information, we struggle to find meaning and to understand why this is happening.

When life spins past our finite understandingpast a reasonable level of coping; then, we have to trust beyond what we are equipped to see, hear,  feel or know. The experience of trusting a sovereign God who has the scales and balances of life under his watchful eye and within the power of His hand is challenging when we have not centered life in the gospel. If we could understand that He is okay, even in the anomalies of the life that seems to be spinning out of control, because His knowledge is infinite and immutable.

God really does believe in Romans “All things work together for them that love God and are called according to hiss purpose” (8:28-29). In these moments, surrender yourself to the fact, which although life seems to be spinning past human understanding God has a purpose in our existence today. The smallest star does not fall from the sky that is not in God’s hand to protect and guide.

Therefore, by taking heart, God will make all of the mud pies of life somehow turn into Chocolate silk pies if we will trust him and be patient today.

The apostle Paul said, “be not weary in well doing for in due season you will reap if you think not”.

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Finding a Balance in Second Marriages and Family Relationships


finding balanceExploring the Myths and Mystery

Who would have ever believed that a family who had been seemingly successful in life would find it so difficult to adjust to the process of accepting the changes years after the death of a parent, triggered by marriage, and then that the coming years would be filled with such difficult challenges and filled with so many adjustments and surprises?

Honestly, no marriage is perfect and all families have their flaws, but who can reliably state that they are fully prepared in any way for the things on a personal level that they will encounter after marriage within family dynamics that will come to the surface? I think that people who get married young the first time do not expect death to end their marriage, way of living life, daily expectation of life, or attachment that provides security, identity and meaning to life.

Thinking about marriage, most people would say without hesitation that they want to be in a healthy relationship, but most people do not prepare for the chain of events that take place when the wagons circle and the system closes within the immediate family. Families have a way of making life very difficult for couples adjusting and the things that happen among the extended family put up relational walls outside, as well as, inside of a marriage. Looking back beyond marriage, I remember the moment when death suddenly ended the physical relationship with the wife that I had known for thirty-seven years, since I was eighteen years old. I understand now that even though there was a physical separation, it did end the thirty-seven years of history and family ties that we had experienced.

It would be a myth to believe that all of that suddenly ended and that death took with it the emotional ties that made everyday life feel safe and work, what it had been and the way life experienced shaped meaning. So, I wondered how could people have a second chance when they have been married all their life and now face such resistance.

Thinking Believing and Choosing

On a thinking level, when a person has been married and is now a single, the mind follows a natural rationale, reasoning that you have been married all of your life and you only have two choices: face life living alone or considering marriage all over again, even if you are not happy. On a believing level, people sometimes hold the belief that life is not complete without that other person, but in fact, the truth is that life is not complete until a person can fill the feeling of emptiness without a substance, compulsion, or another person.

Out of this emptiness and grief, people set out to find a partner to ease their pain and others set out to help you do one or the other. Unfortunately, in the confusion, many people think that they know the right thing to do in this situation and are quite willing to tell you what you should do when life has suddenly changed its course without your permission.

What is the right answer for second marriages with the grief, the possessive children, and family culture? Your friends and family think they have the answer and if you are more committed to them than to a marriage partner, you should not get married. Until a person has reached the point in life where they are willing to become one flesh, you are not committed to marriage.

Family, friends, and others have a multitude of advice, but they never really do know what the living realities of loss, adjustment, and recommitment means or what it will lead them to do because most people are not in any way ready to face this moment with a plan of action in hand.

Consequently for the widowed, the natural expectation is that through the process of grief some will find satisfaction and a way to negotiate a life of meaning. However, for others the transition from grief leads to seeking companionship and attachment through a different relationship complicating life with challenges in ways difficult to negotiate without understanding the dynamics of second marriages later in life.

Cursing or Blessing: The Deceptive Process

When a person has been alone, been through a major crisis, and misses the companionship of marriage; it is easy to be deceived by the belief that this is going to be a breeze and that it will happen easily. I remember hearing those words that echo the sentiments about a loving accepting family who would always be supportive.

I think that people are always surprised by the reactions of family members when a fifth element is thrown into the mix who is not part of the closed loop culture and someone begins to feel threatened. Again, for individuals who have experience the loss of a spouse and later decided to remarry, the decision can bring rewarding consequences, but also it can be a challenge because the decision brings with it many variables that most people have not thought about nor are prepared to face.

When two people decide to get married it results in two separate families and very individual cultures joining after two sets of tragic losses. At the time a marriage occurs, the immediacy of the moment and present needs cloaks many of the issues with the hope that a normal life will return and an existence can be achieved in the joy of the moment; that there will be a respite from the tragic events and prospects of being alone.

However, when a person takes the time is consider the loss, the impact, natural and unresolved pain that death leaves, and the way it will travel through the corridors of time to become a real part of the new couple and family’s second relationships, it is unavoidable that the past events will not affect the present. Realistically, the death of a spouse, mother, or father is an unnatural event occurring at a younger age than expected.

As a result, family members have not yet developed emotional maturity and social skills to enter into a new stage of life with the ability to bridge new relationships over the many differences will experience difficulties, crisis, and developmental pains to make relationships work.

Consequently, these times of marriage for couple can be times of curse or times of blessing depending on the variables in family dynamic, maturity levels, readiness, and the family system dynamics at work.

The Dynamics of Adjustment

People outside the immediate family, individuals who look on with concern, often have simplistic and personalized advice or solutions to these family issues of a natural desire of others want to fix your problems and to impose their values and expectations as fixed solutions to a complex situation.

Other people may have good intentions and think that they need to rescue people to their satisfaction, but unless someone is in danger, people should be a friend from a distance and quietly support families in adjustment. Unfortunately, until people have lived the experience of loss, loneliness and reconstructing life from the complexity of a lost existence, learning how to live in a new social framework is something others may not have a clue about, as well as, understanding the personal and family dynamics involved, even though they care about you and the family.

The dynamics of adjustment start when couples decide to marry and they make the decision to start a new life together. It seems that creating balance should focus upon the quality of the relationship between the two people getting married and not with the vast array of people important to both husband and wife. A marriage relationship begins with two people, not a community, the in-group, or extended people that make up the family, even though they are very important to the quality of life.

The Blending-Negotiating Challenge

Unfortunately, the adjustment experience of widowed couples faces the challenge of coming from two different life experiences and holding different expectations of life, producing potential struggles in adjustment. A commonly reported story line from older remarried couples tells a tale of their inability to focus on their own relationship and find balance because of the demands of adjusting to life in a blended family.

The sad story that is a major contributing reason for high occurrence of divorce in second marriages among the widowed stems from the constant tension between the marriage partners and family members along with difficulty adapting to change. One of the events readily illustrating this tension is family rituals during holiday season celebrations. Adjustment issues grow more intense because of charged emotions that are associated with memories from the past, the importance of traditions, and expectations about what should happen, or who should be in charge of baking the Turkey. There is little doubt that a great sense of security, as well as, well-being in relationships results from striking a balance between self-protection of things of importance to families, traditions, and extending common grace to others through acceptance and flexibility to others.

How is Your Mental Health?

An important matter for all families to consider stems from the fact that everyone struggles with mental health at times, especially when there is great stress put on life and family systems. A honest assessment and general truth serving as a disclaimer is that the mental health and state of persons involved, as well as, family systems functionality influences how all relationships take place– especially when stress exacerbates life in ways that distorts perception, mentalization, and meaning about what is happening in the context of family.

Distorted beliefs about reality and individual perspective is a central factor influencing toxic relationships and behaviors by individuals who express protecting behaviors, which are defense mechanisms demonstrating embedded beliefs of dislike about what has changed or threat. At the heart of strained relationships is a pronounced difference in belief about values i.e., what each person believes is most important. When people are defensive, anger is a typical response and the form it takes is aggression, but unfortunately, in many cases anger cannot express constructive outcome in family events or family systems and often presents passive aggressive attempts to manipulate, control, or punish others revealing deep seated psychopathology underlying the dysfunction of adaptability in family units.

Sources of Defense Mechanisms and Passive Anger

The Fear of Abandonment and Isolation: Unfortunately, people can be very intelligent and have an unrealistic, irrational fear that they will no longer hold a place of importance or be needed as much in a relationship. The fear that they will lose their sense of importance when a new person enters the family unit and people dynamics in relationships change. The fear-felt is that a new person’s role and importance may cause displacement of existing family members.

When there is the a death, family members become comfortable with blurred and overenmeshed boundaries and overenmeshed relationships, which contributes to ineffective relationships, the lack of autonomy, and the fear of loss and anger when faced with change. For the widow/widower the death of a spouse leaves them in a lonely place of uncertainty about where they fit in the world.

The sudden detachment from the primary relationship that defines an identity in the family, community, church contributes to the feelings of confusion when the overly dependent parent who has no autonomy suddenly gets married and suddenly is independent. It is confusing for everyone involved and people become defensive and angry because they just do not understand.

How Unhealthy Attachments Created Dysfunction

The complexity of grief, personal identity confusion, and social role clarification are factors in the behavior of widows and widowers who become such an enormous burden for everyone after the spouse dies, by clinging to existing relationships and things that provide salience and security in a time of such unknowable loss to others.

What others, even family do not understand is that while children go home to their spouse and family, they are left alone and have lost their spousal support system, which leaves them feeling detached socially, emotionally, and psychologically. A common phenomenon that occurs is the formation of unhealthy attachments and widows/widowers become overly dependent upon other significant family members for the basic support needed. Unfortunately, this is the building material for an unhealthy relationship dynamic dissolving existing role expectations, boundaries, and autonomy, which inhibits functional and productive relationships.

Families and Friends Who Become Surrogates

One thing that children and other family members may not understand is that no other person can meet the relationship need that a widow/widower has like a spouse. Remarriage is not replacement of a former spouse or other family; it is a transition away from an unhealthy attachment, which has occurred through a time of tragedy.

A fundamental truth is that relationships must be in balance and have healthy boundaries to be effective for all. The reason that remarriage is important to widowers/widows is that they are alone. While everyone else has the need-meeting source of relationship with a partner in life, the surviving spouse feels empty and alone. What others may not see is that even though family may love them very much, they cannot meet that spousal need. When life is out of balance, it does not work for anyone.

Unhealthy Attachments: When relationships are out of balance and boundaries are skewed by unhealthy attachment after a death occurs, parties on all sides have a fear of being abandoned. This often presents in unhealthy relationship dynamics that triggers a chain of toxic, and many times, destructive behaviors that can permanently alter or destroy life-long relationships.

Underneath this relationship pattern is a fear that family members who have become accustomed to having 100% of the Mother or Father’s attention, suddenly has to adjust to an unwanted change. What is not accepted is the social changes that death has brought into a system of relationships.

Resistance to change is a component of the grief process, which has not been accepted nor addressed nor accepted. It may be that family members accept that death has come to someone very important, but there has not been acceptance of what this means to the lived-experience of relationships, as well as future development as a family –a social unit.

Personal identity that defines the social world people live in is forever changed, as well as, all future developments when death occurs. A normal response from denial is to try to hang on to the past to try to control something we do not understand i.e., something that has not been fully accepted. When security in relationships faces the threat of change, a natural response is anxiety that creates a felt-need to control life in efforts to dispel a perceived feeling of loss of control.

Psychosocial Disruptions: There is no doubt by theorists that “abandonment” issues are at the heart of many mental health problems. Most parents learn the importance of proper attachment relationships when raising small children. However, that sad fact reveals it is not clearly understood about how attachment is related to perceived identity issues, as well as, adjusting to changing roles and expectations in a family system resulting from remarriage. Another fact not understood is that social identity and feelings of security are instantly impacted as life-developments like death, divorce, and remarriage occur. The developmental changes that are a natural part of the flow of life take place and should be expected.

Consequently, when there is a closed family system that includes mental health issues i.e., unresolved or mismanaged, a potential result that must be anticipated is psychosocial disruption of a family system resulting in relationship dysfunction. At the core of disruption is fear of rejection, isolation, and loss of emotional support connected to security felt from the comfortable ideas of what life was in the past. The critical issue to understand is how individuals negotiate change in the present and what a family does within a system, in response to changes in life, roles, identity, and relationship challenges in a family system determines the quality of life.

Unhealthy and Uninformed Choices Motivated by Fear of Loss: Life is about choices and when a behavior is chosen, the outcome is chosen. In families, more thought needs to be given to consequences, of even a solitary action in a process of change.

When fear drives insecurities in the direction of destructive choices, a good question to ponder is if people understand the broad effect that behaviors have upon family, friends, and children.

When a family member behaves badly after someone loses a spouse, experiences a divorced, or remarries; do others realize that there  the response to the fear of change, the loss of control, and unresolved grief is affecting every area and every relationships in life. The simple, truth is that selfish choices result in heartache for everyone. Something to consider about choices, behavior, and outcome is that if you are in this boat, you are creating the world you live in every day by the choices that you are making.

Some advice to consider is that if you are in a family that is disabled by the fear of changes, examine your fears to see if they are even rational; then face them. If a relationship is that important to you, the way to make it better is not to live captive to fear.

Obviously, staying angry is your choice and ultimately it will only widen the gap between you and the relationship you want. All you have to do is to make the right choice to get the right response. Relationships are not about winning or about control, they are about loving relationships with healthy boundaries that make life effective. When people can accept the fact that the dynamics of relationships have changed, through a divorce, death, or remarriage; then there is the potential that fear will be dispelled, change can be managed and relationships can develop into healthy outcomes.

There is a balance between self-protection and extending ourselves in developing relationships. If living in the grip of your fears is not working for you, then maybe you should try a different approach. You may be surprised that your fears are false and when you begin to build instead of tear down, felt-needs for relationship and security may be resolved very quickly.
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Finding Balance in Unbalanced Relationships: A Discussion about Conflicting Emotions.


GRL relationshipsThink about relationships that you have with significant people in your life, what is the first word that comes to mind when you think of the people involved?  Is the word a reaction to how you feel about relationship or a descriptor of how interaction occurs between people?  Something to consider is whether others, in your world of relationships, would see your relationships in the same way that your mental image picture them.  If we are honest at this point, the reality is that everyone has problems at certain times in relationships and all families experience a certain level of malfunction at times.  One of the reasons is that we are feeling/emotive people and, at times,  our feelings distort perception of things occurring which results responses to perception that are charged with emotion and misinformation.  The result is reaction, unreasonable behaviors, conflict, and relationships that are fracture by misinformation, feelings out of control, and inappropriate responses.

It is difficult to use sound reasoning when events are charged with distorted emotional thoughts. 

Consider this question: Is it reasonable to believe someone who tells you that they love you, while at the same time that person in hateful, vindictive, and spiteful ways at the same time.  Obviously, behavior that is inconsistent with what a person tells to you is a strong indicator that something is out of sync in the relationship.  Unbalanced relationships are plagued with behavioral cues that tells the informed observer that this behavior indicates that relationships are unbalanced and lack appropriate boundaries.  This is especially true when there is love espoused, while at the same time the person is demonstrating toxic, damaging, or abusive behaviors toward the person who is the object of their love-hate relationship.  Many instances of this can be seen among  couples who engage in extra-marital affairs, i.e., this is a commonly demonstrated behavior.  The conundrum is that there is a professed love professed for the spouse, while a toxic behavior occurs toward the spouse, as well as, the overall relationship.  I think that everyone would agree that this constitutes an unhealthy and unbalanced relationship.  The idea that a person can love one person and at the same time  engage in a clandestine relationship suggests that there is a conflict of how emotions are understood and what love really means within a relationship.  Consequently, the person who confesses love and fails to demonstrate values consistent with love is action on a faulty presumption of how love is characterized between two people in a relationship.   Another way of understanding the unbalanced conflict of rational thinking about love is in filial relationships.  A question comes to the surface here: Can I love someone while secretly harboring resentment toward them, holding on to unforgiveness while at the same time, acting out passive- aggressive anger toward a friend or relative?  Quite often, people communicate that they are angry without ever saying it. What it reveals is an unhealthy pattern of relating to other when emotional conflicts occur.  It is abundantly clear is that relationships do get unbalanced, but if individuals want to have reasonable ways in life to manage the conflicting emotions felt and and potential for unhealthy patterns of relating; it means having healthy boundaries and effective ways to manage the unmanageable problem of unbalanced emotional responses must become a priority.

Crisis should bring people together and not keep them apart.

During changes in life stages and the unexpected stressors that are a part of life change many feelings come to the surface and individuals are often exposed to the possibility of facing conflicting emotions.  While struggling with what to do and managing unbalanced relationship issues that result from very normal life issues, people are face with real life choices that are at times very difficult.  For example, many who have lost a loved one deal with emptiness, grief over the loss, as well as feelings of isolation, which bring to the surface unrealized emotional expectations for themselves and others  For others, the season of change brings issues to the surface, which has been placed, on hold in the file of unresolved issues and unanswered questions.  Others are facing reassignment from military duty, the effects of the economy, loss of jobs– homes, which bring to the surface the emotional pain that people are experiencing because of the conditions of life  being experienced.

An emotional crisis is an opportunity to add positive value and resolution to relationships.

I remember a story that my dad used to tell about two brothers who had become angry at one another early on in life and had avoided each other, through most of life—both being unwilling to take a step toward reconciliation.  As the story goes, one of the brothers became deathly ill, was placed in the hospital—the other brother went to see him and because of the grave nature of the illness and the possibility of the brother dying, they agreed to bury the hatchet.  After talking and renewing the relationship, it was time to leave.  The brother who was sick, the patient in the hospital, said to departing brother; “by the way, if I live the feud is still on.” Unfortunately, many people cannot break away from the self-defeating behavior that creates a no win situation and feeds off of the feud, the conflict, and an inability to ever reconcile life in a healthy way.

Balancing relationships is about making the right choices for you.

The lived experience for many people is one fueled by conflicts that are unresolved and in fact, may never be solved.  Divorce, broken families, a family member in prison, poverty, child abuse, homelessness, and sickness are all deeply felt issues –the source of painful experiences that are a source for emotional conflict during the seasons of life.  At a time in life when conflicting emotions are magnified by natural events, it is  a perfect time for imbalance to erupt or a time to balance something that feels out of balance by making a choice to act on the felt experience of hopelessness. If we can wrap our head around the fact that even though life is very difficult that there is still hope to balance unbalanced relationships and embrace life with a hope that elevates life and those around us.  I do not know what you are experiencing in life, but if we can focus our thoughts Christ, who is our hope ; then  the peace that He can bring to life can bring balance to seems so out of balance in our experience of life.  Unfortunately, many people’s attention will focus around unbalanced relationships, what has been lost, or what is wrong with others and life.  Fortunately, hope for balance in the midst of conflict is possible through trusting in Savior who is larger than life and greater than problems.  When Christ comes to our life, it is not to abandon us in the moment of conflict or to magnify our failures; it is a happens to magnify the power of Christ to  bring freedom from a life without a balanced hope in the experiences of life. A relationship with Christ is a reminder that He gives us the opportunity, motive, and place to a be peacemaker.

Indeed, people can have the language right, the ritual right, but the reality is that our audio needs to match our video.  However, the crisis that we experience is what reveals who we are going to trust when life gets out of kilter.  An important thing to consider is whether our relationship with Christ is having an impact on the way we handle unbalanced relationships and experiences.   Is what we are saying –experiencing on the inside having a significant impact upon the lived experience of life?  It is good sometimes to just be confessional and stop denying what we feel because pushing down emotions, conflicts, and unresolved pain only pushes issues to the surface when stress is placed upon life.  The act of denying the reality of an internal condition guarantees an undesirable future prospect of artificial existence that will be characterized by the appearance of functionality.  Unfortunately, life will be expressed and may look good on the outside, but the inner dialogue of pain, frustration, and unbalanced emotions will influence life and relationships.

Exercising your options to make good choices starts with individual choice.

What is a person to do about the conflicting emotions and unbalanced relationships in life?  First, understand that there is only one person that you can change—the person that you see in the mirror each day.  Next, realize that it is not your responsibility to fix other people, change them, and you are not responsible for what others do or life they create.  Also, recognize that much of what people feel about disappointments in life stems from faulty expectations and misplaced trust.  Then, allowing people the grace to be who they are and work it out individually, releases others into God’s care to be who they are while still loving them– even though you may not agree.  Accepting others disappointing acts is not ratifying what has been done in a passive form of acceptance, it is allowing others to be free to choose what they do– placing responsibility for behaviors on the person making the choice.  Finally,say it, “I am not responsible, and it is not my fault”.

Is it possible to love someone and hate what they do, be in love with one person and maintain loyalty and admiration for others?  The answer depends upon you and how life is balanced within boundaries to manage the unmanageable things in life.  Remember, we are not responsible for what others choose to do and it is not our fault.  One of the sources of balance comes in how a person thinks about life.  For linear, black and white, everything fits in the box—literal, concrete thinkers, this will not compute because it requires thinking about life outside  of the box:  “most of the time your brain is involved in just one of three activities: distraction, reaction, or following well-worn pattern” (Tim Hurson). In the Bible it says, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he”.  Are you following a well-worn pattern in life or are you interested in balancing how you feel about your relationships in life:  Change your thoughts and change your life.

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Finding Balance: Are My Feelings Giving A Correct Assessment of Life?


Process of perception conceptually

I was recently talking to someone who’s parent had died and the father remarried within a year. As we spoke, I heard the painful story describing the personal experience of a person who felt that remarriage changed the surviving parent and subsequently believed that the father no longer loved them. It reminds me that how a person feels about what happens may essentially be more important than what actually happens.  For example, the feeling of rejection coupled with loneliness  and isolation has a devastating effect upon the life of people who have lost the sense of belongingness and sense of love  in a family system. Equally important is a parent who has lost their meaning and purpose in life and  has found someone to have relationship, companionship,and some hope for a better life.  However while fulfilling a personal need, the message felt by family members is that they are not loved, you have changed, and we are being unfairly treated.  A good question to ask here is what is the real issue?  The answer is complicated, but simply put is a matter of where a person is standing and how we feel about where we are standing.  I honestly believe that all behavior is driven by need felt in and through life experience.

The challenge within finding balance in changing relationships connects to the fact of how we feel and not necessarily in what is really happening.  A truth is that life has changed and people’s behaviors appear different, but what needs to be asked is: Why do people see things as they do and behave as they do?

One obvious answer is that every person has their own perspective of events from where they are standing in a situation.  Another answer is theoretical, a Rogerian principle which echoes a perspective that, it is not the activating event– it is how we feel an about event that is important.  A relative truth is that, in conflict, feelings count about 90% and fact about 10%.  While feelings are important in a lived experience the unanswered question is, “are my feelings a true reflection of reality?”  This is difficult because when something is rooted in perceptions and feelings, it is what we believe to be true from our perspective that we respond to which may not be always accurate.  If we could tape the inner conversation of an individual in a situation and play it back, what would it say?   What might be heard is a story of how the world is understood/misunderstood and is fueling the feeling not being loved, not as important, or the feeling of replacement by someone new.

Feeling is what drives the behavior which in turn reinforces what is believed to be true; thus becoming, a self-fulfilling prophecy.  What is not understood is that the fear of loss and abandonment actually motivates self-protecting behavior which, in turn, causes our worst fear to become a reality.  When actions are in accordance with what is really believed– felt to be true; then what is really believed become the reality that we see, experience, and live out.

Some misunderstood facts may be missing that contribute to feeling wrongly and behaving badly. When someone dies or divorce occurs, one fact is that family dynamics change and relationships are redefined as a natural developmental process.  A normal response is that change is resisted as responses demonstrate the component of denial that says, “I know it happened but nothing has really changed–life will go on as it always has .”  The idealistic response given is an effort to hang on to the past in an attempt to avoid the crisis that has come.  Many changes present an unnatural development which individuals are not ready for and the harder that we resist it, the harder life is to live  in a healthy way.  At the core of idealism is a statement about how self-concept, self-esteem, and our social identity are defined.  Erickson described the life-stage developments and how at each stage of life, there is a crisis of identity— the life-stage faced  is the unnatural event and if we have not brought a scaffold with us–adaptability, experience, maturity, understanding, which provide skills to navigate into what is ahead, we will revisit the struggle over and over until the skills are developed.

Most everyone has heard of Helen Keubler Ross’s stages of grief that are so often talked about, but I do not know if we understand that denial in the grief process is very similar to  act of resistance that is experienced in change.  In one event, an unexpected development, i.e., death of a child, husband/wife, parent, or family member has married someone else an unnatural event has force circumstances to be faced that are not planned out ahead of time.  A common thread is found in all adjustment to life tragedies; an inability to accept change.  An important truth is that an inability to respond is motivated by unresolved grief  coupled with feelings which frames perception that we have of ourselves, as well as , what is happening.   An important question in moments like this is: Am I seeing this correctly, or is my response based upon a perception of life events that are distorted by the unresolved process of grief where denial is being acted out.  A  story that says, “I am afraid that I have been abandoned again so I cannot accept what has changed, so as long as I stay there, I won’t have to face the fear of not knowing who I really am.”  Obviously, the hardest person to be honest with is yourself and until you can be, the experience of life experience will supply what is believed to be true. Think about this: There is only one person that can change how you feel.  Unfortunately, people who are stuck in the feeling stage of perception that will not accept change, no amount of rational information, discussion, or evidence will phase them.  Change is a personal decision and until individuals are willing to look in the mirror of reality and gain a rational perspective of life events the struggle will go on having and feelings will shape perspective into  a picture of life that may feel real, but is it?

Looking Through an Abused Child’s Eyes


Cover of "Adult Children of Alcoholics"
Cover of Adult Children of Alcoholics

Intelligent people, through their ability to analyze, often realize things which are disconcerting, which others would not see. They also are often capable of feeling more deeply, both pain and joy.

This list is from the work of Janet Geringer Woititz. She did her original work on adult children of alcoholics, but I believe her findings can be generalized to people who were emotionally abused in general. Certainly all children of alcoholics were emotionally abused.

Perception is Altered and Internalized Abuse Produces Self-Defeating Behavior

  • Can only guess at what healthy behavior is.
  • Have trouble completing things
  • Lie when they don’t need to. Lying might have been a survival tactic in the home. (She explains that perhaps the child learned from parents who lied to cover up problems or avoid conflict. Or simply to avoid harsh punishment, or to get needed attention. But as an adult, that tactic is no longer appropriate.)
  • Judge themselves without mercy.
  • Have trouble accepting compliments.
  • Often take responsibility for problems, but not successes.
  • Or they go to the other extreme and refuse to take any responsibility for mistakes while trying to take credit for the work of others.
  • Have trouble having fun since their childhoods were lost, stolen, repressed.
  • Take themselves very seriously or not seriously at all.
  • Have difficulty with intimate relationships.
  • Expect others to just “know what they want.” (They can’t express it because they were so often disappointed as children that they learned to stop asking for things.)
  • Over-react to things beyond their control.
  • Constantly seek approval & affirmation.
  • Feel different from others.
  • Are extremely loyal, even when facing overwhelming evidence that their loyalty is undeserved.
  • Are either super responsible or super irresponsible.
  • Tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. (This impulsiveness leads to confusion, self-loathing, and loss of control over their environment. The result is they spend much energy blaming others, feeling victimized and cleaning up messes.)

Parroting The Behaviors of An Abuser

  • We perpetuate these parental messages by judging ourselves and others harshly. We try to cover up our poor opinions of ourselves by being perfectionistic, controlling, contemptuous and gossipy.
  • We tend to isolate ourselves out of fear and we feel often uneasy around other people, especially authority figures.
  • We are desperate for love and approval and will do anything to make people like us. Not wanting to hurt others, we remain “loyal” in situations and relationships even when evidence indicates our loyalty is undeserved. (I would say not wanting to lose them, having an extremely hard time “letting go.”)
  • We are intimidated by angry people and personal criticism. This causes us to feel inadequate and insecure. (I would say it further adds to our feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.)
  • We continue to attract emotionally unavailable people with addictive personalities.
  • We live life as victims, blaming others for our circumstances, and are attracted to other victims (and people with power) as friends and lovers. We confuse love with pity and tend to “love” people we can pity and rescue. (And we confuse love with need)
  • We are either super-responsible or super-irresponsible. We take responsibility for solving others’ problems or expect others to be responsible for solving ours. This enables us to avoid being responsible for our own lives and choices.
  • We feel guilty when we stand up for ourselves or act in our own best interests. We give in to others’ needs and opinions instead of taking care of ourselves.
  • We deny, minimize or repress our feelings as a result of our traumatic childhoods. We are unaware of the impact that our inability to identify and express our feelings has had on our adult lives.
  • We are dependent personalities who are so terrified of rejection or abandonment that we tend to stay in situations or relationships that are harmful to us. Our fears and dependency stop us form ending unfulfilling relationships and prevent us from entering into fulfilling ones. (I would add because we feel so unlovable it is difficult or impossible to believe anyone can really love us, and won’t eventually leave us once they see how “bad” we are.)
  • Denial, isolation, control, shame, and inappropriate guilt are legacies from our family of origin. As a result of these symptoms, we feel hopeless and helpless.
  • We have difficulty with intimacy, security, trust, and commitment in our relationships. Lacking clearly defined personal limits and boundaries, we become enmeshed in our partner’s needs and emotions. (i.e. become codependent)
  • We tend to procrastinate and have difficulty following project through from beginning to end.
  • We have a strong need to be in control. We overreact to change things over which we have no control.

http://www.eqi.org/eabuse

A Journey Toward Understanding Abusive Behavior


How Can Abuse Be Described

Abuse

Abuse is any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt, coercion, manipulation etc. Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as repeated disapproval or even the refusal to ever be pleased.

Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of “guidance,” “teaching”, or “advice,” the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value. Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be far deeper and more lasting that physical ones. In fact there is research to this effect. With emotional abuse, the insults, insinuations, criticism and accusations slowly eat away at the victim’s self-esteem until she is incapable of judging the situation realistically. She has become so beaten down emotionally that she blames herself for the abuse. Her self-esteem is so low that she clings to the abuser.

Emotional abuse victims can become so convinced that they are worthless that they believe that no one else could want them. They stay in abusive situations because they believe they have nowhere else to go. Their ultimate fear is being all alone.

Types of Emotional Abuse

Abusive Expectations

  • The other person places unreasonable demands on you and wants you to put everything else aside to tend to their needs.
  • It could be a demand for constant attention, or a requirement that you spend all your free time with the person.
  • But no matter how much you give, it’s never enough.
  • You are subjected to constant criticism, and you are constantly berated because you don’t fulfill all this person’s needs.

Aggressing

  • Aggressive forms of abuse include name-calling, accusing, blaming, threatening, and ordering. Aggressing behaviors are generally direct and obvious. The one-up position the abuser assumes by attempting to judge or invalidate the recipient undermines the equality and autonomy that are essential to healthy adult relationships. This parent-child pattern of communication (which is common to all forms of verbal abuse) is most obvious when the abuser takes an aggressive stance.
  • Aggressive abuse can also take a more indirect form and may even be disguised and “helping.” Criticizing, advising, offering solutions, analyzing, proving, and questioning another person may be a sincere attempt to help. In some instances however, these behaviors may be an attempt to belittle, control, or demean rather than help. The underlying judgmental “I know best” tone the abuser takes in these situations is inappropriate and creates unequal footing in peer relationships. This and other types of emotional abuse can lead to what is known as learned helplessness.

Constant Chaos

  • The other person may deliberately start arguments and be in constant conflict with others.
  • The person may be “addicted to drama” since it creates excitement.

Denying

  • Denying a person’s emotional needs, especially when they feel that need the most, and done with the intent of hurting, punishing or humiliating.
  • The other person may deny that certain events occurred or that certain things were said. confronts the abuser about an incident of name calling, the abuser may insist, “I never said that,” “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” etc. You know differently.
  • The other person may deny your perceptions, memory and very sanity.
  • Withholding is another form of denying. Withholding includes refusing to listen, refusing to communicate, and emotionally withdrawing as punishment. This is sometimes called the “silent treatment.”
  • When the abuser disallows and overrules any viewpoints, perceptions or feelings which differ from their own.
  • Denying can be particularly damaging. In addition to lowering self-esteem and creating conflict, the invalidation of reality, feelings, and experiences can eventually lead you to question and mistrust your own perceptions and emotional experience.
  • Denying and other forms of emotional abuse can cause you to lose confidence in your most valuable survival tool: your own mind.

Dominating

  • Someone wants to control your every action. They have to have their own way, and will resort to threats to get it.
  • When you allow someone else to dominate you, you can lose respect for yourself.

Emotional Blackmail

  • The other person plays on your fear, guilt, compassion, values, or other “hot buttons” to get what they want.
  • This could include threats to end the relationship, totally reject or abandon you, giving you the the “cold shoulder,” or using other fear tactics to control you.

Invalidation

  • The abuser seeks to distort or undermine the recipient’s perceptions of their world. Invalidating occurs when the abuser refuses or fails to acknowledge reality. For example, if the recipient tells the person they felt hurt by something the abuser did or said, the abuser might say “You are too sensitive. That shouldn’t hurt you.” Here is a much more complete description of invalidation

Minimizing

  • Minimizing is a less extreme form of denial. When minimizing, the abuser may not deny that a particular event occurred, but they question the recipient’s emotional experience or reaction to an event. Statements such as “You’re too sensitive,” “You’re exaggerating,” or “You’re blowing this out of proportion” all suggest that the recipient’s emotions and perceptions are faulty and not be trusted.
  • Trivializing, which occurs when the abuser suggests that what you have done or communicated is inconsequential or unimportant, is a more subtle form of minimizing.

Unpredictable Responses

  • Drastic mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts. Whenever someone in your life reacts very differently at different times to the same behavior from you, tells you one thing one day and the opposite the next, or likes something you do one day and hates it the next, you are being abused with unpredictable responses.
  • This behavior is damaging because it puts you always on edge. You’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and you can never know what’s expected of you. You must remain hyper vigilant, waiting for the other person’s next outburst or change of mood.
  • An alcoholic or drug abuser is likely to act this way. Living with someone like this is tremendously demanding and anxiety provoking, causing the abused person to feel constantly frightened, unsettled and off balance.

Verbal Assaults

  • Berating, belittling, criticizing, name calling, screaming, threatening
  • Excessive blaming, and using sarcasm and humiliation.
  • Blowing your flaws out of proportion and making fun of you in front of others. Over time, this type of abuse erodes your sense of self confidence and self-worth.

http://www.eqi.org/eabuse

Can Change Have a Negative Impact on Relationships?


Changing of the Guard, Inaugration Day, Washin...
Image by Beverly & Pack via Flickr

In Gary Collins book The Search for the Soul, quotes Mother Teresa who was asked: what is the greatest problem that people in the world face?  Her reply was “loneliness.” At the same time the culture of today has been described a time of emptiness and spiritual hunger. In the loneliness and spiritual emptiness that is explicit within our modern culture another term has been used to characterize the outlook of people in modern America; pessimism. Is the cynicism of our age, widespread dissatisfaction with a culture that has embraced rationalism, obsession with technology, only to see increased evidence of war, violence, poverty–environmental pollution–the decline of spiritual influence–things are not getting better with all our technology, an indicator of the absence of distinctives beliefs that can empower hope that transcends, mere, things and provide significance to existence?

The existentialism of the modern world that has put so much emphasis on me and I resulted in a generation of people who are together every day, but we have become solitary islands in the masses of humanity and technology.  I recently posted on Facebook, “The hardest thing about being an island is the solitary existence of being alone against the elements. The islands stand alone, solitary and are hardened by circumstances, weather, and time. When the sun goes away and the storms bring the pounding surf and the ravaging winds, the island must stand alone because that is what islands do until they are washed away” (2010).  It is a painful and isolated position that many people in the world have arrived at, but have no destination in mind.  With all the text-messaging, posting on social networks, and twittering; while people are connected to so many people, they may still be disconnected from healthy, meaningful relationships with others that will bring an efficacious way of living.

One of the great problems that characterize existence today is that life is replete with narcissism and self focused interests. If a person wants to deal with the problem of loneliness and find spiritual answers, then having a meaningful relationship with another person is something that requires integrity, honesty, and willingness to get off the island. Maybe, what is needed is realizing that what is best for others may not be what is best for me and being okay with that. This is the place where an attitude of servant-hood begins. The greatest of all spiritual gifts is the expression of love that is given in a way that sacrifices what benefits me and gives what someone else needs. (1 Corinthians 13.)   The great paradox of today is that we have evolved with a great amount of intelligence and technology at our finger tips, but the basic communication skills of people are deficient when it comes to relating to others in ways that foster healthy outcomes.

Has the individualism of the 70’s that spawned humanism, the “Me” generation, the “Now” generation been more than can be absorbed and processed? Alvin Toffler wrote about the stress that too much change to quick has upon culture, “Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in people by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time”.  It is implicit within the behavior cues that are demonstrated by the absence of effort to connect that there is the subtle deception that says, “everything is all right and that we have become an advanced people”, when the evidence suggests that we are broken and need intervention to address the spiritual emptiness and loneliness of people today.  It has been said that, “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions” (Leonardo da Vinci).  What can we learn from marriage and divorce statistics? One half of all first marriages failing in the first five years and  that sixty percent of all second marriage fail?  It is evident that the side effects of an evolving culture has rippling effects that can be seen in the lack of ability to function in relationships which is the thumbprint of the spiritual void in American culture.

One of the great challenges is to understand and not just to diagnose the problem.  To possess the ability make a meaningful contribution to life by being a change agent is the challenge.  We have the ability to understand, but will we? An imposing truth about what will be the answer to loneliness and the spiritual void may be characterized by a statement of truth, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn” (Alvin Toffler).  In the Garden of Eden, the first relationship problems were solved by a spiritual solution to the needs of humanity.  What is it that can be learned from that?  The people have changed, but the solution remains that when we do not have a right relationship to God, all other relationships disintegrate.

The Emptiness of a Life Without Meaning


Interstate 70 exit sign for Dayton Internation...
Where will the road go?

There is a preoccupation that people in America have with achieving happiness. Observing the economic downturn and the impact upon people’s lives every day drives home the message that many people today have the right to be unhappy. Everyone wants to know the sense of well-being known as happiness — feeling content, satisfied, and even joyful. Sometimes people feel they need to make a major life change to feel happy, but other times they might derive happiness from just appreciating everything they have and the people close to them. It may be that the path to happiness is to be found in being able to negotiate change in whatever happens to us in life. In the study of life-span development in psychology, there is a paradigm of truth that is taught that says that in each stage of life, we must be building the skills, abilities, and information base to effectively negotiate the changes in life. One of the factors of unhappiness in life is having unrealistic or false expectations of the future. In other words, if something that we believe and experience today is believed to be true for all of time and every season of life, we may be disappointed in the future.

Last week, I watched a special on television special that reported that, “on December 23, 2008, the General Motors assembly plant in Moraine, Ohio, shut its doors. It was the last plant in the Dayton, Ohio, area to do so … [a] new reality for Moraine—one defined by hardship, resilience, and the end of an era” (http://www.good.is/post/picture-show-the-last-days-of-general-motors-in-moraine-ohio/). This story is the stark reminder of how fragile the American economy is and the impact that the shift from being an industrial economy to a service is having upon the American worker. Gary Smalley (1998) writes that this generation of Americans is the first to not to have the expectation that there life will be better than their parents (The soul search: a spiritual journey to authentic intimacy with God). One of the ways that what is happening in our world may be described is by the emptiness that many are experiencing … troubled by moments of emptiness … that raises the question: Is this it—is this all there is? The answer may be described by getting perspective. Can experiences with such a radical change be peaceful, and even welcome, if viewed with a different mind-set?

It is very true that the way we view life can leave us thinking that life is unfair as suffering the consequences of changes engulfs the experience of life. You can start connecting life to a meaningful existence when you think in a new way about the meaning of life. One of the developmental deficits that is experienced by people is the deception that life will always be as it is today. George Kelley stated that the constructs of life are continually being renegotiated. It is disappointing and detrimental to what life can be to always look through the same binoculars. Tunnel vision in the hopes of life is a subtle form of self-deception. The problem that is faced in self deception is that it becomes a self-defeating behavior that has to be maintained: “Life is the art of being well deceived; and in order that the deception may succeed it must be habitual and uninterrupted” (William Hazlitt). Breaking free from self-deception is not an easy or painless task, it requires an awareness that how life is understood must be thought of in new terms to bring new meaning to existence.

The problem is that when we deceive ourselves, it is to maintain a sense of control that results from the anxiety of loss of control and feeling of helpless—hopeless, coupled with vulnerability. The results of the deception; the empty feeling left behind and the bad decisions that always births disappointment. Getting out of the trap is the secret and stop interpreting life in terms of disappointment and feeling like a victim. It has been well said that we all have problems: The question is what are you going to do about it? After a reasonable amount of time of experiencing and feeling the pain of the moment, we have to, sorta “suck it up” and figure out what is going to bring meaning to this thing that we call life?

Erickson, who was famous for the Life Stages Theory teaches, that there is a crisis of identity in every stage of life. When there are developmental occurrences, such as tragedy, stressful events, or death, it triggers a new search for identity, meaning, and purpose for existence. If the skills have not been developed in previous stages of life to make the transition, then skills must be built in the here and now to enable continuity and understanding of how to transition and continue to grow. When that does not happen, then life goes on, but there is not the ability to build a bridge to personal spiritual growth and maturity. So what are you going to do? You can wallow in the mud of life or develop yourself to move on.

Accepting and understanding the transitions in life is critical to a dynamic life that continues to grow and develop. Adjustment to new times, seasons, things, and people is necessary if we do not want to be stuck in the mud. Is it change that is the issue or that it forces one to think different, act different, and feel different? Let change be your friend not your foe …. Happiness is a moving target, but meaning is the arrow.

Choose Your Words Wisely


Angry Talk (Comic Style)

The Power of Words : When you speak, do your words build up or tear down?

I have found that one of the easiest ways to decide what a person is like to listen to what they say in a conversation. Words betray a person or instill confidence in the speaker.  People who are successful in life are people who choose the company they keep carefully. Words can be bad company if they are not chosen carefully. The Bible says that kind people speak kind words and the evil hearted people have words filled with harm. People who have learned this find that words spoken either can destroy people or can be used to build people up. If your words were a company, would it be a Company of Demolition or a Construction Firm?

Three Ways Our Words Can Tear Down

Speaking Untruthfully Are the words you speak true and honest? Or are you deceptive in your words and business practices? “The Lord hates every liar, but He is a friend of all who can be trusted.” Proverbs 12:22
Speaking with Anger You have heard it before, but often counting to ten before opening your mouth has helped many relationships. “A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up.” Proverbs 15:1

Speaking Gossip Would you say that about them if there were standing next to you? Would you want someone to say that about you “Gossip is no good! It causes hard feelings and comes between friends.” Proverbs 16:28

Ways Words Can Be Constructive

Speak Words of Encouragement . Any fool can tear something down, but it takes a wise man to build something or someone up. “Kind words are like honey they cheer you up and make you feel strong.” Proverbs 16:24

Speak About Others With Constructive Words. No matter how hard you have to look, find something good and talk about it! “If you can’t say anything good, then don’t say anything at all “Focus you attention on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worth of praise.” Philippians 4:8

Speak Words that Elevate Others Well placed words at the right moment brings wholeness to others. “Sharp words cut like a sword, but words of wisdom heal.” Proverbs 12:18

Words are the building blocks of success in life. Are you in the business of construction or demolition?

Are Your Unresolved Relationship Issues Affecting Spiritual Development?


Dispute of Jesus and the Pharisees over tribut...

Why do we have so much difficulty receiving from God in worship?  Here  is a good diagnostic question to begin with: Do we have broken relationships that need mending?  In worship we are we focused upon people and things– or are we focused upon God.  Before one comes to a time of worship, it is good to stop and take a moment and refocus our thoughts upon spiritual things. Refocusing in this way has a way of dissipating the concerns of life and reducing them to a manageable matter of faith. The psalmist said that God inhabits the praise of his people. The fact is that when we focus on God, everything that used to matter just becomes an infinitesimal issue.

Another question that  is important to worship is: unresolved ethical issues with those around us. One  central theme that shows an ignored truth that affects spiritual relationships–is the need for justice: the need for justice and fair play. Job said he needed an advocate to speak for him and plead his case before God. Amos said let justice roll down like a river. The unfortunate fact among contemporary Christians is an absence of justice–respect,  in how people relate to others.   Sadly, this is not an anomaly it is a regular occurrence. The truth is that when we fail to follow the teaching of Jesus about relationships, we cannot approach God with a clean heart nor have an effective relationship of worship with God.

Attitudes Are More Important Than Sacrifice or Actions

Jesus said except your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of God. The Pharisees had, the right religious actions, expressions, and ritual. But they had inner attitudes that precluded them from having intimacy with God. Like a lot of religious people and leaders, they were self-focused  in their religious activities. Self serving motives, when trying to relate to God do not move God. One question that is helpful to ask is: whose need is being met in what I do in relationship to God and my fellow man .  (e.g. who is the focus on?)

Attitude Must Precede Worship

Jesus said that before we bring our gift to the altar, which is worship, go reconcile yourself to your brother. If there was more of this going on before worship, we would not have to sing as long or preach as long.  Broken relationships equal broken worship that is ineffective.

What Is Really Important To You?

Jesus was asked one time what is the greatest command?  He said that we must love God with all of our being and love our fellow-man: the Ten Commandments in one statement. Unfortunately, you cannot have one without the other. The act of loving God equals loving others as ourselves. Why are we so concerned about whether people drink, dance, smoke, and all the other “Thou shall nots” when we do not address inner attitudes that are stunting our spiritual growth and which are so devastating to those under us and around us?

Worship is most effective when we look inward, look outward, then upward.

He That Hath An Ear Let Him Hear

I hope that you have come to life today with a desire to experience God in a real way. God has something to say to you that you need to hear.  The question is: are you ready to hear it?  Many people spend their life searching for the voice of God, but He has already spoken, many times we are just not hearing.  Hebrews chapter one says that God has spoken in many ways in the past, like prophets and by spiritual leaders.  Many people today are still looking for the voice of a prophet to speak to them.  The writer of Hebrews said that God has spoken to us by His Son Jesus in these last days… and His voice is ringing into the future.

What is there that anyone could say that would add to the words of Jesus? [Nothing.] Many people present themselves as God’s voice in the present and have enamored a following, but the only voice that we need to hear today is that of Jesus. There is nothing that can be said that is more important than what–He said  … Are you ready to hear?

The Most Important Activity of The Christian life

Worship is a spiritual activity. The success of that activity depends on our awareness of the Holy Spirit and our willingness to allow Him to lead us. I believe that the Holy Spirit wants to help us experience liberty when we worship. What must we do to have liberty? Evangelist D. L. Moody said, “ I am sorry to say that we must there must be a funeral in a good many churches before there is much work done. We shall have to bury the formalism so deep that it will never have any resurrection.” Moody makes a point that is good to be observed by all churches. Rituals and externalism can replace the power and dynamic of the Holy Spirit in worship.

One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to bring liberty to captives. Paul wrote, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. “ (2 Cor. 3:17)  When we have spent the week in the work-world, raising children, or dealing with the problems of life, our thoughts are taken captive by the drama that is played out in our life.  One of the things that we can to give us greater liberty to worship on Sunday is to make preparation throughout the week.  Every day we should take time to reflect upon our spiritual needs. We can do this by reading our Bible.  As we read the Bible, its words recall the story of God’s greatness and the need of all humanity has for help in the time of need. Also, we can do this by praying.  When we pray, there is the reminder of failures, the need for forgiveness, and the compassion which God–who loves us even when we are less than perfect provides. In addition, we can do this by praising. Every day we need to take some time and make note of  how we are blessed,  and thank God for the wonderful, abundant grace that he provides.

Have you taken time to prepare to meet God today? If you have not, right now is  a good time to stop and ask God to make you sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to speak to you today about the need that you are experiencing in your life. God is here today to meet your needs and to give you liberty to live for Him.