Building a healthy relationship with yourself and with others


I’ve met people who are drifting through life just trying to get from one payday to the next or just trying to make it from one day to the next. Their purpose in life is summed up with one word, “survival!”

I heard this question asked once, “If you were a plant, would you be growing, flourishing, and resilient in a drought or would you wither and barely get by when nature’s circumstances stray from the ideal?” Surviving means, “to continue to live or exist,” while thrive can be defined as “to grow or develop well, to prosper or to flourish.”

Many people say they want to thrive in life, but they are often just surviving. Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown that prevents them from truly moving forward in life.  I read somewhere that surviving is the cousin of PTSD. “Survival Mode is a like a cousin of PTSD in that it results from trauma –likely long-term trauma or sometimes traumas that happened consistently for a short amount of time. It can also be from traumas that happened in a pattern, so they created a sense of a new confirmed reality in your person. In other words, traumatic experience/s that changed the way you defined your world.”

Here are some signs you’re living in survival mode

  • You are more reactive than proactive
  • You blame circumstances or others or find excuses when things go wrong.
  • You feel there is never enough to go around.
  • You see failure as the end-result of things gone wrong.
  • Change scares you.
  • Everything is urgent. The deadline is now. Your back is up against the wall.
  • The stress is overwhelming.
  • Your sleep is disrupted.
  • There’s no joy. Your goal is to avoid having a terrible day. Having a great day isn’t an option.
  • You don’t eat properly.
  • You rush around like crazy but never get caught up.
  • You can’t remember the last time you laughed and enjoyed a day.

12 ways to move from surviving to thriving

  • Take time in the morning to find your center and set intentions for the day
  • Consistently let go of expectations
  • Be mindful of complaining too much
  • Occasionally detox from TV, social media, and technology
  • Show your appreciation for the people who support you
  • Practice gratitude
  • Do something you’ve never done before
  • Set goals and take daily action to make them happen
  • Create a personal mantra
  • Embrace alone time
  • Seek out the good in the situation
  • Find your purpose

To thrive is a choice. It’s an attitude, and your ability to thrive is deeply connected to the actions you take on a daily basis and the belief system you embrace. It’s time to move from a survival mindset to a thriving mindset.

 

 

You missed the sacrifice


Sacrifice is defined as something given up. Often when people hear the word sacrifice, they see it as a negative connotation. But sacrifice really means to give up something to gain something greater or better. Ask yourself two questions: (1) What is it I really want in my life and (2) What am I willing to sacrifice to get it? I read somewhere, “That valuable item you seek will cost you dearly. You’ll have to let go of something you already value in order to pursue it.”

Most of us get stuck on “You’ll have to let go of something you already value in order to pursue.” You want to lose weight, well, you have to give up those cookies you value.  You want to be more financially stable, well, you have to give up your love for shopping. You want to start a side business, well, you must give up sitting in front of the TV for hours at a time watching your favorite TV shows. You want a job that is better aligned with what you are passionate about, well, you have to give up that nice commute or great schedule. You want the love of your life, well, you have to give up what you’ve told yourself a great love relationship looks like.

I saw a quote on Instagram that said, “A rich man buying you something doesn’t mean anything, but a busy man giving you his time means everything.” A rich man buying you a gift is not a sacrifice – in his mind, he can always make more money, or he has plenty of it, so to spend it on you is no big deal, but a man who is busy who makes the sacrifice in his schedule to spend time with you means something. Time is non-refundable.  For a busy person, time is probably that thing he or she values the most, so to give up something they value says something.

“Give Up to Go Up” when I first heard that expression, I didn’t fully understand it, but I get it now. I have to give up some things to go to the next level.  I have to give up those fears I’ve held on to forever because they were like Linus’s blanket (Charlie Brown). My fears are my comfort zone. I was not comfortable with being uncomfortable.  The lies I told myself…I needed to give up.  The “wisdom” that was passed on to me from people who were not wise in the areas in which they spoke, but I took it as “The Gospel” because of the position they held in my life, I had to give up.  The plan I had for my life, I had to give up. I had to learn to be led instead of leading. I had to give up the belief that when something bad happened in a relationship that I thought was my last relationship, but it didn’t turn out that way, that my purpose was to teach them something about themselves and realize that in some instances, it was for the relationship to teach me something about me, something that will make me better as an individual as a mate.

Back to the two questions I asked you in the beginning. Ask yourself, (1) What is it I really want in my life and (2) What am I willing to sacrifice to get it?  “One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.” ~ Sidney Howard


When I woke up this morning, the subject expectations entered my mind, so I knew I wanted to write about it.  Ironically, I just heard a sermon that talked about expectations, which was confirmation that this should be my topic for today’s blog.

What are you EXPECTING in your life? Have you ever heard the expression that we call things into our life? Mark 12: 22-24, says, “And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Allow me to give you examples to paint the picture for you. Have you ever been in a situation where things were going great, but you were waiting for a shoe to drop? You convinced yourself that things can’t really be this good, so you start to expect the bad to happen. You may have even started to do things that resulted in your expectation becoming reality.  You “called” it into your life and when it happened, you told yourself, “I knew this was too good to be true.” The reality is, sometimes it really was that good, but your expectation of bad, your past pains, your past disappointment, past hurts, feeling like you don’t deserve, questioning how did you get so lucky for it to be happening to you…you REQUESTED it and you got what YOU expected.

Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying, “You don’t get in life what you want, you get what you believe.” I believe I’m going to get a bad boss. I believe he/she is going to be just like everybody else I dated. I believe that if I move forward with this before I THINK I am ready, I am going to mess it up. The company is going through layoffs, I know I am going to lose my job. Some people are so used to being disappointed, angry, dysfunctional, unhappy or so used to losing until it has become their comfort zone.  They even find people who are like them – miserable, bad things always seem to happen, always picking the wrong men/women, always got some drama going on in their life.  Your expectations are drawing you closer to people with similar expectations.

I heard a preacher say once, “Your faith will never have anything to do until you break your routine.”  Faith is the substance of things you hope for. What are you hoping for? Have you ever gotten what you hoped for and your actions or your expectations caused you to push it away? Some people are hard to encourage because they don’t want to breakup their routine that they have created around low expectations.  They are so afraid of failure that they will not try.

I read somewhere, “I will make it a habit to consciously speak LIFE, watch my words at all times and believe in God & what He has for me shall come to pass. I will be intentional in every area of my life. Focus on the things you want/desire. Give no energy to the things you do not want.  Watch how things start to shift.”  Your expectations determine your future. Before you start reaching out to me saying that expectations alone cannot determine your future, expectations set the wheels in motion that lead to actions that are aligned with what you expect.  One more thing about expectations. Don’t set low expectations – AIM HIGHER!

 

 


Someone I follow on Instagram posted this on yesterday, “I cried out to the Lord and said, “I have no reason to believe this promise any longer, except Your word, no sign supports what You told me. He replied to my spirit and said, “Have you ever seen my word fail? My word is the only sign you need.”  This spoke to me.  I don’t know about you, but God has spoken to me about some things in my life, but the reality I was living did not match His word. The human side to me started to question whether it was God who actually said it. To be honest, I have even found myself (at times) rationalizing it in my head as, “well the devil will tell you things too and convince you that God was the one who said it.”

The Bible says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Initially, I was going to give my perspective, but I read an article, “7 Ways to Distinguish God’s Voice from the Circumstances of Life”, so I am going to share with you ways to know if it really is God speaking to you, and if it is really God speaking to you, BELIEVE in the promise – no matter what the CURRENT situation looks like. Yes, this does mean practicing FAITH, which is difficult for many of us.

Seven ways to distinguish God’s voice from the circumstances of life…

Mirror your circumstances with the truth of God’s Word

God will never contradict Himself. He will never speak to us — even through our circumstances — in a way that will contradict His written word. I hear people at times claim God is telling them to do something that is in violation with what God has already said. That’s never God.

God uses people to confirm His voice

Even in circumstances, in my experience, God often sends people into our path to confirm His will for our life. People who attempt to follow God with their life can help us to hear from God.

Every time God has called me to something there have been others to confirm they are hearing the same calling. I’ve often had to cycle through the naysayers to hear them, but they are there. I seek out wisdom of others.

When we went to plant a church — I thought that’s what God was doing — the doors certainly kept opening, but one loud voice of God were the number of people who kept bringing it to my attention unsolicited — including one prophetic pastor (who claimed to not be a prophet) who spoke directly to a 10 year old vision of the plant exactly as God had originally shared it with me. That was my burning bush, but they don’t come along often. Probably only when you’re as stubborn as I am.

Recognize that God operates from a plan

Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Rick Warren has sold millions of books telling us that we should live our life with a purpose. God’s purpose.

Looking back over my life, I could never have scripted it, but I see how God has used me according to an overall plan. He’s used my life experiences to shape me for where I am today.in church planting He used my business entrepreneurial experience. In church revitalization, He’s used my business transition experience. God knows how to use a past for His good.

Examine your circumstances in light of God’s overall plan

When trying to hear from God through the circumstances of life, we should not try to make a decision on one event or set of circumstances. Circumstances may or may not be God speaking to us. We should look at our life over a span of months or years.

Jeremiah 29:11 indicates that God has a definite plan to proper us and give us hope, but it would take the people 70 years to get there. (We often miss that part when celebrating that verse.)

When we look at our life over time we will be able to see what God has been doing. When the circumstances of life consistently line up over time with God’s overall plan it is possible that God is trying to speak through those circumstances.

How many times do we have to hear the same thing — or experience the same circumstances — before we recognize and obey the voice of God?

Before God called me into ministry the voices speaking into my life were many. I was available at the time — in between business careers, there were tons of confirmations and signs, and I had to view my life in the context of God’s master plan — of what He had been shaping for years.

Don’t allow circumstances to keep you from hearing or obeying God

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 (NIV) “But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” The common sense thing to do when everyone opposes you would be to leave, but Paul knew the circumstances were not indicative of God’s will for his life.

Sometimes our circumstances may look gloomy, but we haven’t heard the truth of our circumstances until we have heard from God. God has typically spoken to me clearest during my darkest days — when He has my closest attention.

Fear is a great tool of the enemy. The devil can use circumstances also to lead us away from God. This is where the Scripture and other people you trust can help you discern.

Ask God to show you His perspective on the circumstances

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)

As followers of God we will spend our whole life trying to discern the will of God for our life; listening for His voice. If we desire to hear from God through our circumstances, we must intently listen for the voice of God.

Hearing from God is not always easy. When life is coming at us we cannot seem to understand what is going on, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for clarification. We should feel free to ask, “God what did you mean by that?”

Many times I think I know what God is saying, but it’s in the seasons of questioning that I am more intentional to go back to Him for clarification. I’ve even taken days away to intentionally listen during the confusing times.

Remember: God’s primary desire in speaking is for eternal purposes

We limit God to this finite world when we fail to remember He is an infinite God. When we are trying to discern God’s voice through the circumstances of life we should consider how what is happening around us fits into God’s eternal plan to save a lost world from destruction and to mold His children into the image of His Son.

God’s primary activity will be in these areas of our life. I’ve always been able to see how God’s specific plan for me lined up with His desire to invite a world to know Him. If what I sense He is asking me to do would help people know Him or know Him better, it is much easier to recognize and affirm the voice of God in my circumstances.

 

 

We all want easy breezy


During my drive in to work this morning, I was talking to one of my guy friends who is like a brother to me and he was sharing about the woman he is dating. They started dating about a month and a half ago, and it is more evident that he is smitten by her. That made me smile. We all want our friends to find that person who gives them butterflies. He said some things that stood out to me. He said:

  • Being with her is easy.
  • She makes my life better.
  • I miss her when she leaves me.
  • I know she is the one, that’s why I am courting her. I even asked her to be my girlfriend.
  • She’s stern about some things, but I like that about her.

As I am listening to him, it literally made me smile. There’s something beautiful about when two people feel the same way about each other at the same time. It’s not about how long they have known each other. It’s about living in the moments as they occur and being open to what’s happening to you and for you. He said there are some things about her personality that other men may think she’s hard to love, but I see them as attributes. Attributes…it’s amazingly beautiful how the things some people may have complained about, another person sees as an attribute to who you are and how having that trait/characteristic/whatever you call it, is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Relationships don’t have to be complicated. We make them that way. We over think things. We have timetables. We try to control them. We allow our fears of “this is too good to be true” or “this person can’t really be this way” or expecting some shoe to drop to override what is happening in the now. And sometimes, we also allow our past to impact our future. By that I mean, we are so busy trying not to make the same mistake we made before that we push a good person away.

There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship, but when you are blessed to “link up” with the right one, don’t allow easy breezy to scare you. Embrace it and thank whatever Higher Power you serve for allowing you to be blessed to experience it and just enjoy it, nurture it, appreciate it, and keep on smiling. 🙂

And for those of you who desire a love like that, don’t lose hope. Don’t let the negativity you see on social media, hear from your family and friends, etc., cause you to believe that you will never get it. If you want it, focus on that. Start making room in your life for it to enter. Ask God to prepare YOU for it. You really can have what you seek.

Delayed Disappointment


This morning a girlfriend and I were having our morning chat, and the subject of delayed disappointment came up. Delayed means, “the act of postponing, hindering, or causing something to occur more slowly than normal.” Disappointment means, “the state or emotion of being disappointed” and disappointed means, “defeated in expectation or hope.”

I saw a quote that said, “hope is delayed disappointment.” I don’t completely agree with that. We should be hopeful for things in life. I do; however, have a certain perspective on the subject.  Have you ever been in a situation with a family member, co-worker, friend, mate, etc., and you didn’t give them an honest answer or communicate at all because you didn’t want to disappoint them with the truth? Most of us have done that at least once in our life.  But what we fail to realize is that by leaving things open to other people’s interpretation or the other person’s expectations or the other person’s hope, we create an environment for disappointment to occur.

I’m going to using an example shared by my friend. She asked her boyfriend if they were going out later that evening/night.  He said, that should work or be fine (something like that). He knew all along that he was going out with his friends, and the chances of him being back in time for them to go out was slim to none, but instead of saying, “Can we pick another day because I am going out with the fellas and I’m not sure if I will be back in time for us to go out”, he left it open to her interpretation with “That should work”. So, you can imagine what happened when she was expecting and waiting, and he was a no-show. She was not a happy camper.  He wasn’t honest with her upfront because he didn’t want to disappoint her, but what he ended up doing was disappointing her even more.

The same holds true in the workplace.  Your boss leads you to believe you are going to get the promotion, but in fact, someone else gets the promotion. Your boss knew all along that you probably were not going to get it, but he/she didn’t want to disappoint you or want you to stop putting in the effort you were putting in to get the job done. When you don’t get the job, you may feel betrayed, deceived, or lied to, which leads to you being disappointed and no longer going the extra mile and it creates an environment of distrust. He/she made the situation worse by not being forthcoming/honest/upfront/communicating.

You can’t control how other people communicate with you, but what you can do is control how you communicate with other people.  If you are someone who is guilty of not being upfront or not communicating because you don’t want to disappoint the other person, consider the fact that you just might end up disappointing them even more. Even if you are unsure, say so. It makes the other person aware.

 

 


Why are we so quick to rush from A to B in many areas of our lives (e.g., career, love life, healthy lifestyle/well-being, financial goals, etc.)? What if the best parts of the journey are happening right in front of us, right now? There’s a popular quote that says, “Focus on the journey, not the destination.” Many have quoted Buddha to explain this as well. Buddha’s quote says, ” Happiness is a journey and not a destination”. It’s the journey, that moment-by-moment, that’s more important than the actual destination. We (myself included) miss so much by being too focused on the future, and not living in the present.

Don’t let the end goal be your thing/driver. Let the process be your “thing”. In the long run, it (the process) makes you better. More times than not, you know the way, but it’s the practice that gets you there. We have to learn to enjoy the practice and make the journey the goal as oppose to the end goal being the goal.

I once read something that said, “This life moves quickly, but the best parts of any trip and any experience surely are the moments between all the organization. The getting there. The in-transit moments. The times you don’t even realize are passing you by before your very eyes. These are the moments to live for, and it’s about time we started realizing it.

Here are six tips to help you focus more on the journey than the destination.

  1. Remind yourself to be present in the moment. It’s human nature to focus on the future. We are often “trained” to do so, but when you become so consumed with the future, you miss out on the beauty that is before you in the present. Focus on what is happening for you in the present.
  2. Go with the flow. Things don’t always happen the way you want them to. Sometimes things work out better than you planned! Go with the flow and make the best of every situation. When you go with the flow, you are simply trusting that the universe may have a bigger and better plan for you.
  3. Smell the flowers along the way. You’ve heard the expression, “Stop and smell the roses.” This basically means to live your life with a deeper appreciation of the world around you – slow down and notice the little things that makes your life worthwhile.
  4. Focus on the process rather than the end result. There will be times when you get impatient and feel like you aren’t reaching your goals fast enough. But here’s the thing: progress is always way more important than perfection. After all, the journey – rather than the destination – is what shapes you and builds your character.
  5. Celebrate every victory, however small they may seem. Every small step leads you to the bigger picture. It’s worth celebrating the small victories because the small victories add up, and by celebrating the mini victories along the way, you’ll have a more enjoyable journey.
  6. Get out of your own way. Sometimes you are unable to enjoy the journey because you are getting in your own way. Do you get caught up in habitual ways of thinking? Do you have certain feelings that dominate your everyday life? Is your mind consumed with judgments, expectations, worries, resentments, and stories about what should and shouldn’t happen? If so, you are getting in your own way.