Self-Love: The Key to Setting Personal Boundaries and Minimizing the Impact of Negativity

In this phase of my journey, I’ve had to deal with my fair share of negativity and unfavorable behavior that, if not checked, impacts my wellbeing. And as I consider the best options for handling such situations, I am keenly aware that my response to such negativity will have to come from a place of love, more specifically from a place of self-love.

Self-love does not equate to being selfish, but rather is a balanced, healthy love and respect for one’s self. Self-love is the medium through which we’re able to establish and share boundaries that support our wellbeing and value system. It also clarifies what types of behavior we will – and will not – accept. With that said, each decision and choice that I make to address my negative encounters will need to produce a loving and kind resolve for my self.

There have been times in my life when I have made decisions that benefited other people but did not serve me well and weren’t sustainable longterm. The focus on others at the expense of my own wellbeing and peace of mind caused internal unrest, the likes of which resulted from dreading the forthcoming but necessary conflict, people-pleasing and/or trying not to hurt anyone’s feelings. And, from my experience, none of the latter leads to a right, authentic or lasting solution for anyone.

Although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to please and protect the feelings of others, we must be aware of when our desire to please and protect feelings interferes with our ability to do what’s right for ourselves and the situation.

And more importantly, we must be aware when we are dealing with people who may be unreasonable for whom nothing that we could possibly do will ever be enough to satisfy or change them or their behavior. And while we may not be able to change people’s minds or hearts, we may be able to influence their behavior.

Hence, when we focus on choices and decisions that support self-love, we empower ourselves and, at least, disable the impact of negativity and poor behavior in our presence. With every opportunity, I feel it so important to maintain a focus on solutions/decisions that best support a life and lifestyle that loves us back, strengthens us and, ideally, will be best for all concerned. Solutions that we can live with longterm and that give us the most peace of mind.

To this end, I pledge to love myself enough to say “no” to negativity, crazymakers and boundary-breakers who attempt to disrupt peace and positive energy in my life. And I hope it will be your pledge to yourself as well, affirming your self-worth and value as a unique individual.

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Las Vegas Mass Shootings Excite Both Fear and Courage in Our Life’s Journey

Horrific tragedies such as the Las Vegas mass shootings impact us all on some level and have the ability to change how we approach our life’s journey and perceive others.

Tragedies of this magnitude make us keenly aware of the presence of evil and people in this world, here and abroad, who do not value life — not their lives or ours, nor the lives of our children, parents or other loved ones.  And, this knowledge can excite fear within us, since we never know which people are safe or where something horrific could potentially happen to us or someone we love or care about.

And although some of the broken souls who commit such acts of violence may feel as if the power of life and death and the right to make choices for others lie within their hands, I’m glad that their flawed truth does not have to be my reality.  God is still Almighty; His creation is not.  However, the actions of people influenced by evil to kill, steal and destroy, in order to take away other’s personal power and right to choose — their right to choose life, to choose their path, to choose what is true and good for them — show just how far-reaching the impact one person’s faulty thinking and actions can have on so many lives.

Tragedy often prompts us to question God, especially in situations that are far beyond our control.  Some people are probably asking where was God during the Las Vegas shootings.  And in answering that question for myself, it brings me hope in believing that God was right there among the crowd in Las Vegas with His people, walking through the crowd and taking on bullets.  I wonder how many bullets God’s presence may have deflected and prevented more people from losing their lives.  And had He not been there, if the 59 dead could have been 500 or more.

Although God does not promise us that we’d never feel the affects of evil decisions made by unstable people, He does promise to never fail or forsake us, (Deu. 31:6, I Sam. 12:22, Ps. 23) and to be a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1).  So, I believe when we face trouble or danger, God is present to walk with us in our trouble and danger — even when the outcome means death or injury as it did in Las Vegas.  This is my comfort in a world with so much uncertainty.

While the actions of the Las Vegas gunman may have excited fear in Las Vegas and beyond, I believe the love of God, our passion to retain our freedom to move about freely, and to choose our path will empower and give us courage in the face of fear and danger.  And, I also believe this same passion and courage compelled some of those who died to lose their lives, and some of the wounded to sustain injuries to save the lives of loved ones and, in some cases, complete strangers.

Moreover, it will be this same passion (and compassion) and love that gives Las Vegas, the families affected by the shootings, and this country the courage to move through this valley of tragedy.  And for some, I’m confident it will become a part of their personal journey to advocate for gun control.

But, whatever path we take individually or as a country moving forward, it would be best done with prayer for each other, our country and the world, because ultimately, we are interdependent and in this together.  Pray for Las Vegas and the affected families — and even the family of the gunman.  The devastation is unimaginable on both sides of the fence.

Finding A Place of Peace Amid Difficulty

As my stress level began to rise last week, I had to ponder what I was doing wrong to be able to maintain this imbalance.  I was praying, venting and working to resolve the source of my stress with seemingly little success.  But, what I wasn’t doing was letting go of anything or releasing the outcome to God.  And, more importantly, I wasn’t trusting in the truth of who God is and what He brings to my life and any situation that I may face.

Hence, I realized that when we are overwhelmed, distressed and frustrated, it helps to place our problems in their proper perspective.  We often get ahead of ourselves, trying to predict the outcome of the situation and think through all the worse possible case scenarios.  And after all the catastrophizing, it’s no wonder that we tend to feel that the problem is larger than life.

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Anytime we give our problems/situations too much negative time and attention, they become distorted, and this distortion can place us in the depths of despair, not seeing any way out or through the problem or situation.  There is always a way through, not necessarily a quick way out of, our problems.  We simply must yield to the process and be willing to grasp the solution when it reveals itself to us.

No matter how the answer comes, let go of worrying; trust that your efforts are not in vain and that God will make it all work for good.  Therein we find a place of peace that will empower us to rise above our problems and still move forward in the midst of difficulty.  Not always easy but definitely possible.

Competitiveness In The Inner Courts Of Our Lives And Relationships

As I faced challenges this week in my caregiver journey with my siblings, I realized that life to some people is a contest, a constant competition and comparison of their performance against another’s performance.  And, a competitive spirit in a situation that definitely IS NOT a competition makes a tough situation tougher.

Life isn’t about who’s the best or who completes a task first.  It’s largely about finishing what we set out and purposed to do to the best of our ability.  An old spiritual song that was often sung in our hometown church summed it up this way: “the race is not given to the swift, neither is it given to the strong but to he that endureth to the end.  He that endureth shall be saved.”

Therefore, what’s important is that we fulfill our purpose and call, not necessarily that we finish #1 or even finish quickly, because matters involving people often take delicate handling in order to reap the best and most lasting outcome.  A competitive spirit and being #1 won’t help us to make and retain lasting and loving friendships.  It won’t make people love and stick by us or have faith in us.  It won’t make us love ourselves any more than we did before we placed another “win” under our proverbial belts.

A competitive spirit is out of place in matters of the heart.  Competition pits one against another and has its place, particularly, in the world of sports where we are free to get our game on.  However, competition wasn’t intended for the inner courts of our lives and relationships and causes a variety of unnecessary disturbances in our lives.

Life, and the things we do in honor of our Creator, ourselves and others, is about sharing and showing love, honor and respect for the people and principles that are important to us.  Hand’s down, no competition necessary.

Highlights From Oslo, Norway

I believe that travel can be an important part of one’s journey to wholeness and self-discovery.  So, I’ve  vowed to travel more and create more extraordinary experiences for myself that feed my soul.  One such experience was traveling to Norway recently to support my son and the USA team, as well as other soccer teams from various countries, who were playing on behalf of the Homeless World Cup Foundation.

Below is a selection of photos from my recent trip to Oslo, Norway.  I hope they inspire you to up your travel, if you haven’t done so already, and allow your travel experiences to nurture your soul and teach you things about yourself and the world, as  my adventures have for me.

 

 

The Evolution of Mom: Lessons for Life Learned as a Caregiver, Part IV

My mom often makes several attempts to get herself from a seated position to standing. And on most occasions, she has the most difficulty when attempting to rise to standing while holding something in one of her hands, whether a napkin, a lap tray or other trash debris.

Each time I’ve observed  her doing this, I’ll remind her that it will be harder for her to go from seated to standing without full use of both hands to assist and support her.  The last time she attempted this hand-half-full standing maneuver, I reminded her that she could more easily, safely and effectively rise to stand if she’d let go of what’s in her hands.

And suddenly, I had an ah-ha moment, realizing that before I can begin a new thing, go to the next level in my life, and experience the kind of results that I want and need, I must be willing to let go of what’s already in my hands (the old) so I can embrace something different.

Principle 4:  Letting go of what’s in your hands

The things in our hands that we hold on to usually can be easily recognizable since they represent things that have long since passed their usefulness in our lives.  Instead of helping us, these are things that now enable us, cause confusion and/or add another level of stress and anxiety to our lives and the situation.  They usually have no significant connection or impact on where we’re going but are more focused on where we’ve been.  These also are things that we do and/or hold on to that hinder us from doing, and doing well, the next thing in our lives.

If we hold on too tight to people/things and ways of being that no longer add value to our lives, these people/things begin to elicit unnecessary pressure and hardship, and become a hindrance and a stumbling-block not only to one’s self but to others as well.

Marriages have ended, and families and friends separated over the inability to let go of grudges, jealously, unforgiveness, disrespect, resentment, preconceived notions (and even problematic people) that we entertain for years without change.  And over time, these long-held negative emotions and behaviors begin to hurt and divide us from our dreams and those around us.

As adults with influence, responsibilities, goals and purpose, we will fall short in these areas if we attempt them with our hands full, potentially impeding our forward progression, limiting our options, jeopardizing our relationships and career, and keeping us stuck in a rut.

And you’ll find that when we release the negative clutter that we’ve been holding on to, it helps to open our hearts, minds and lives to life’s possibilities and options.

The Evolution of Mom: Lessons for Life Learned as a Caregiver, Part III

Concluding, for now, the last in the series of posts on lessons I’ve learned as a caregiver, it’s important to emphasize that a good, healthy and happy life is about balance, meaning not going about life with a lot of unnecessary baggage – emotional or otherwise.  While it may sound simple, it can be a challenge to consistently make it happen, but try we must!

Remaining in balance often requires us to let go of the things that aren’t working for us and that take far too much of our time without being one of our top priorities or providing a substantial enough positive benefit.  To further explain what I mean, I’ll jump into the next thing I learned as a caregiver.

Principle 3: Travel light

I realized that I had to unpack some old habits, ways of doing things and thought processes that did not benefit me or my journey with mom.  In a previous post, I mentioned the importance of knowing your audience and communicating so your audience gets your point. Well, my old way of communicating and interacting with my mom, a dementia patient, no longer worked.  And I was stuck because my mom had changed since being sick, but I had not changed my approach with her, which made things more difficult for me.

To fix this problem, I had to unpack some baggage in the form of old ways of being and relating to mom that were weighing me down, causing more conflict and preventing me from having positive interactions with her.  I had to learn to travel light without all the baggage, and it’s still a work in progress.

However, for me, letting go and traveling light is necessary for staying afloat and improving the situation with my mom and my quality of life.  It is possible to literally drown in our situation if we don’t learn to let go of baggage such as stress, negativity, worry, anxiety, self-doubt, procrastination, impatience, discontent, complaining or whatever our vice might be.  These things do not profit us but serve to hinder, distract, slow us down, and keep us stuck in a vicious cycle that goes nowhere and does a body no good.

Traveling light requires being selective, picking and choosing what’s working for us and what’s hurting us, what’s helping us accomplish our most important goals and priorities and what’s pulling us away from the things we want to do and the people we love.  Once we identify what’s what, then it’s time to clean house and get rid of some things so we can travel light, and be free to be our best selves without all the drama, emotional clutter and negativity.

Being a caregiver can be both daunting and a blessing, depending on how we travel with it. The same probably could be said of many situations in which we find ourselves, and traveling light can have a profound impact on how we experience those situations, and life in general, for the better.

Situations are temporary, and if we travel light, we can endure the temporary inconveniences of life with more joy, peace, contentment and purpose than every before.