Archive for the ‘Responsibility’ Category

Quick To Listen – Slow to Anger   5 comments

 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; James 1:19

 QUICK to LISTEN

Listen without delay and sensitively in all interactions.

         SLOW to SPEAK

          Take your time to speak, Think first.

                SLOWER to ANGER

                    When we listen thoroughly and reply thoughtfully,

                    we will quite naturally not be so easily angered.

Slow to Anger

(PLEASE Click the image or HERE for Fullsize image)

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Posted October 20, 2011 by Hope in Recovery in Responsibility, Uncategorized

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Balance: So Basic that it is Easily Forgotten   2 comments


Before you even start reading, I want you to stop, take out a pen and piece of paper. Take you a minute to think and then write down every role that you play in your life, (Husband, child, father, supervisor, soccer coach, etc.)

 Once you are done, go back and write the number of hours that you devote to that role in a given week. Then add up the total number of hours for all listed roles. Here is a hint, there are 168 hours in a week. Most of us work somewhere in the neighbor hood of 40 hours per week, and recommended sleep is 6-8 hours per night so that is about another 40 hours. That leaves about half of our time to “juggle” are our other roles, responsibilities, needs and wants. I want to tell you all the truth, I for one have been doing a VERY poor job maintaining balance in my life and roles.  I don’t know about you, but maintaining balance sometimes feels like juggling a bunch of different sized and shaped items, and I am a BAD juggler.

 As I write these words, I am reminding myself of what I need to do to “get my house in order”

So where do we begin?

Just as you did earlier, with your roles, I encourage you to make a list of all of the things that you feel are important in no particular order. Once you have your list look back through the list, and put a number beside each one prioritizing them, one being the most important.

 You see what happens is we often get distracted by the urgent, we delay in proving the necessary attention to the important. Just because someone else thinks something is urgent and or even important to them, it does NOT have to be urgent or important to us. I recently read another professional’s blog and she talked about using that magic little two letter word effectively, “No.”

I know it sounds silly, but believe it our not, most of us like things simple and as straight forward as possible, even if we don’t want to admit it we like structure. That being said, sit down and schedule a routine for yourself and your family if needed. Remember to plan in time for taking care of yourself (Hobbies, bubble bath, reading, etc). Here again as you develop this routine and schedule, keep your priorities in mind, faith, family, work, friends, etc and insure that make time in your routine to properly nourish these areas.

 Above all remember, as I was recently told “Take time to smell the roses.” I will simply add, “but be careful of the thorns”.

So take a few deep breaths, practice saying “No” and honestly consider what is urgent versus what is important and balance your time talent and energy appropriately. I know I have a lot of self-examination to do, do you?

Until next time…

One Breath, On Step, One Day at a time!

Trauma   3 comments

PREFACE: Please be aware that some may find this article triggering. Read with caution and PLEASE stop reading and seek out support at any point that it becomes overwhelming. It WILL be emotion inducing and some what challenging. However, I believe that you will be glad that you did so.

                 This article is definitely more enlightening, but I do hope that by the end you are encouraged, inspired, instilled with hope and most importantly EMPOWERED to believe in yourself and the strength that resides within.

YOU are NOT a VICTIM!                     YOU are NOT a SURVIVOR!

YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER!

There can be absolutely no denying the impact that trauma has on mental illness and substance abuse. In fact, I would guess that a significant number of readers of this very article, have been touched by some kind of trauma or another. In fact, I would be bold enough to day, that if you personally have not been touched by trauma, every one of us has some one close to us that has.

Well, let’s start with a simple definition of trauma:

  • A serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.
  • An emotional wound or shock that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person, often leading to neurosis.
  • An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption.
  • Extreme stress that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope.

Trauma is also defined by DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as:

an event in which a person experiences, witnesses, or is confronted with actual or threatened death or serious injury or threat to physical integrity of oneself or others

Trauma can be the result of experiences that are private in nature such as:

  • sexual assault
  • domestic violence
  • Rejection / Abandonment
  • child abuse/neglect
  • witnessing interpersonal violence
  • Victim of Crime (assault, robbery, etc)

Trauma can also be the result of experiences that are more public in nature such as:

  • War
  • Natural Disasters
  • Terrorism
  • Automobile or other Accident

That being said we have ALL experienced some kind of trauma or another. However, it is the personal/private trauma that we think of most and typically has the most psychological effect.

 A Few Facts about Trauma

In mental health and substance abuse service settings

  • As many as 80% of men and women in psychiatric hospitals have experienced physical or sexual abuse, most of them as children.
  • The majority of adults diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (81%)or Dissociative Identity Disorder (90%) were abused as children.
  • Up to two-thirds of both men and women in substance abuse treatment report childhood abuse or neglect.
  • Nearly 90% of alcoholic women were sexually abused as children or suffered severe violence at the hands of a parent.

In childhood and adolescence

  • 82% of young people in inpatient and residential treatment programs have histories of trauma.
  • Violence is a significant causal factor in 10-25% of all developmental disabilities.

In the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems

  • 80% of women in prison and jail have been victims of sexual and physical abuse.
  • In one study, 92% of incarcerated girls reported sexual, physical or severe emotional abuse.
  • Boys who experience or witness violence are 1,000 times more likely to commit violence than those who do not.

From The Damaging Consequences of Violence and Trauma, 2004, compiled by Ann Jennings, PhD.

Trauma, especially when left untreated can have a severe and negative impact on a person’s physical and emotional well-being. Trauma has been linked to…

  • Hallucinations
  • Disassociation
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Tendencies
  • Chronic Anxiety
  • disturbances in mood/self-esteem,
  • Delusions
  • Self-Injury
  • Hostility
  • Flashbacks /Nightmares
  • Assaultiveness
  • Impaired interpersonal  Relationships
  • substance abuse

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

OK, enough of the textbook info. What about where the rubber hits the road. In the lives of REAL people not numbers and statistics.  The truth is, traumatic experiences can literally be devastating! A single experience can be disturbing enough on the functioning of an adult, how more injurious is repeated or multiple traumas to the psyche of a child. This is my personal theory, not supported by any research that I know of:

“Trauma is the number one leading cause of poor self-esteem.”

 It reaches in to the deepest places of the individual psyche, pulls it out, rips it to pieces, stomps on it and then hands it back. All that is left is mess and the individually is usually unable to even recognize her/him-self after the fact.  All one is left with is pain, anger, fear, and self-doubt. At this point it feels like there is absolutely no hope at all.

My friends, look around, this sounds paradoxical, but if you are at the bottom, then that is a GOOD thing.

It is a good thing, because if you are at the bottom then there is only one direction to go and that is UP!

My personal “traumatic” experiences are rather minimal, but I have known and helped many through very intense and overwhelming experiences.  I do NOT claim to be a trauma expert, but want to offer some encouragement and insights for helping those that have these experiences to fully overcome them; even it is a “baby step” at a time.

So, where to begin? The first step and most important step is recognizing that you do not have to be a “victim” of the trauma in your past. Simply having survived and come out of it at least somewhat functional, you have proven the strength of your character. Despite how powerless you feel now, you are stronger than you believe at this point in time.

YOU are NOT a VICTIM!                      YOU are NOT a SURVIVOR!

YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER!

I once heard it said something like this: “The mark of an individual is not what he/she has accomplished, who he/she was in the community, how much money he/she made, but what adversity had he/she overcame!

Let me say it a little differently:  “Your past has shaped your view of yourself and the world around, but it does not define who you are now, or your destiny.

The first and hardest part of coping with trauma is separating ourselves from it! We must find a way to start rebuilding our “self” from the inside out. Here are a few practical steps from my article on self-esteem. (Click the link to open the article – will not close this one).

  • List 5 positive things that other people have said about you.
  • List 5 positive things about yourself.(Attributes or accomplishments)
  •  Share a compliment with 5 other people.
  •  Do something unrepentantly kind for someone that you perceive to be “worse off” than you.

 As you complete each “step” take out a pen and journal about how completing the activity made you feel. Take note to how you feel about your self before and after each activity.

 Next and likely just as difficult and I know more painful…. We MUST get in touch with the depths of the emotions associated with our traumatic experiences.

 **WARNING**

Do NOT try this at home!

Do NOT attempt to do this ALONE!

As long as we continue to hide from, cover-up, stuff and self-medicate the feelings associated with our trauma, we will continue to suffer just like we were in the midst of the event over and over again. It is like a never ending flashback of pain and suffering. However, when we face them head and push our way through them, yes it is going to be VERY painful, and we want to quit and give-up. We say to ourselves and even to those around us, “It’s not worth it”. But hang in there. The pain is severe, but if you will endure, then you can break the power and control that those strong emotions have had on you leading to ongoing suffering. Now is the time to be totally honest with yourself and the PROFESSIONAL that is helping you. There is no such thing as wrong or inappropriate emotions. Every feeling that you feel related to your experiences is valid and need to be expressed, processed and released!

You will NEVER forget, but with time and work, those memories will not be painful and debilitating. You are on a long and treacherous journey, much like climbing a steep mountain with nothing but a cliff on one side and falling rocks on the other. But if you can hang on and keep pushing yourself, when you get to the top, the view is worth it. When you finally start feeling like you are getting “ahead” of your past, you will simply be amazed of how STRONG you will feel. The beauty and confidence that have been hidden by pain and fear.

Be patient with yourself, you did to get to this point in your life overnight and unfortunately overcoming it does not happen quickly nor easily either. But, celebrate and reward yourself for small victories and accomplishments along the way. Every obstacle that is overcome, makes you stronger and more prepared to overcome the next. Soon, instead of “making mountains out of mole hills”, you will be “making mole hills out of mountains!”

In closing let me close with one final recommendation

Each day wake up, believe and strive to demonstrate this simple affirmation:

 “I and I alone choose my destiny, I control whether I am happy or sad. I am responsible for me and me alone. I choose to live MY life; I choose to write my own story!”

We have to LIVE in the present looking forward with hope for the future. I urge you my friends star LIVING and take your life and destiny back from the traumatic events and perpetrators that have haunted you for TOO LONG!

 YOU ARE WORHT IT!

Your past may have set you going down a certain path, but you are still the one in the driver’s seat!

 The scars of yesterday are the badge of honor and strength of today and the proof of potential for tomorrow.

Write Your Own Story!   4 comments

Most of us have heard the old saying, “He who angers you, controls you.” I contend that anger is not the only emotion that we can let others to control us. These emotional ties come from many sources: past abuse or trauma, abandonment/rejection, unfaithfulness. Other sources include current disturbing behaviors such as substance abuse, violence run away, etc. They control us because we choose to have our lives driven by our emotional reactions to the behaviors of others. Lets discuss these two very different scenarios.

First lets look at control from the past. Please consider the following example;

A young man feels and believes he was abandoned and rejected by his birth mother. Despite being raised by a loving and caring step-mother, he never gets over the feelings of hurt, anger, resentment and bitterness. As a result of these feelings, he grows to believes that he is not worthy of being loved or wanted. So all of his relationships are either short lived because as soon as things start getting “too close”, whether consciously or not, he sabotages the relationship and pushes others away. This is not true just in romantic relationships, it can also be true in platonic relationships as well. If this is not what he does then he finds the “sickest” or neediest girl that he can and goes to work making her dependent on him. Why? If she need him to take care of her, she won’t leave, and thus abandon/reject him. (So he believes anyway).

 So what is the driving force behind these behaviors?

 His behavior is controlled by his unresolved issues from his mother. Thus, I would say that because he allows these beliefs and emotions to continue to shape and direct his life, he chooses to give the control of his life, the pen of his story, back to his mother, rather she wants it or not.

 When we continue to look back and let issues from the past control our emotions and behaviors then we are surrendering control over our destiny back to the person or persons that hurt us to begin with. I once said it like this: we had no control over the abuse in the past, but now we hand them the bat.

 Now, lets look at the other scenario, current disturbing behaviors of others that control our emotions and behaviors. As mentioned above, there are a number of behaviors that may contribute to this type of reaction: substance abuse, anger, violence, criminal behavior, run away, manipulation, etc. We have all been in this situation to some degree or another.

 Here again, lets look at another example:

 A young lady is in a relationship with an alcoholic/addict that disappears on binges for days at a time. She sits at home, crying and worrying that he is OK. When he does finally come home, she nurses him through coming down and withdrawal and then does everything that she can to clean up after him. If he misses work, she calls the boss and tells him he is sick. She keeps the secret hidden, yet she is miserable, lonely, depressed and hates every minute of it.

So here again, why? Similarly, she believes that is what a “good wife” does; “no one else would love me and want to be with me.” Whatever the case she continues to let his behaviors and her emotional response. This is especially difficult when the individual is not a spouse or even a parent, but your child.

To a degree, you feel responsible, you blame yourself, you ask yourself over and over, “What did I do wrong?” The truth is, for most of us, we did nothing wrong. Our loved ones/children have made their own choices. Despite all of our efforts now an in the past, we have no control over their choices and behaviors.

On the other hand, when we allow ourselves to be consumed by worry and attempts to “save them from themselves.” then we are giving them that exact control over our lives. We allow their behaviors and our emotional response to them to consume our very being.

We all know exactly what I am talking about; it is classic “codependency”. Sometimes we are aware of it and are even willing to acknowledge it, but we have been this way so long, we don’t know any other way to live. We have completely lost our identity as an individual because we are so enmeshed with our addicted loved one.

I hear you saying, “thanks for pointing out all that is wrong with me. That was really encouraging.” I truly understand, but what is the first step of solving a problem or fixing something is wrong? We have to recognize that what we have been doing to this point is number one not changing the other person, and number two and most importantly we are unhappy and in fact, miserable.

That brings me to the good news or bad news depending on your point of view, some recommendations on how to change this cycle and reclaim our emotions and behaviors. Here why I say it could be considered bad news: It is NOT going to be easy, and it WILL take a lot of work. So if you are ready to take the challenge and start living YOUR life again, then keep reading, if not good luck.

When we continue to look back and let issues from the past control our emotions and behaviors then we are surrendering control over our destiny back to the person or persons that hurt us to begin with. I once said it like this: we had no control over the abuse in the past, but now we hand them the bat.

Whether, it is the current or past, we must find a way, to do the hardest, but most important thing: “LET GO”.

 We must accept that there is nothing that we can do to change the events of the past. Holding on to the pain, anger, and any other related negative emotions only hinders our ability to move forward and meet our full potential. I know that this is a painful process and we can’t just let go and walk away that easy. Take your time, surround yourself with support. If possible being involved in some kind of counseling is also a good idea. This may be individual or a group of others with similar experiences.

 The same is true in regards to letting go of the expectation that we can change the dysfunctional and negative behaviors of our loved ones. Our worrying about them, nagging, yelling, threatening does not effect positive change, in fact many of these behaviors lead to exactly the opposite of the desired effect.

 The very best thing that we can do is express our love and concern for our loved one and then pray believing that the Heavenly Father will keep is eye and hand upon them. We can not go on protecting them from the consequences of their choices and behavior. When we do so, we simply enable the behavior to continue.

 Just like overcoming the past, and moving on, I know this is a difficult and painful process and we can’t just let go and walk away that easy. Take your time, surround yourself with support. If possible being involved in some kind of counseling is also a good idea. This may be individual or a group of others with similar experiences.

 The next step is probably just about as difficult, we must start reclaiming our own identity. For many of us we have been so entangled in the past or the behaviors of others that we have lost even the ability to recognize who we even are without that to define us.

 Start simply, set aside some time with just you, paper and pen or your computer.

  • List all the current roles that “define” you (mother, father,son, sister, teacher, friend, etc).

  • List your values? (What is important to you? – faith honesty, kindness, family, friends, etc.)

  • List the character traits that either define you now, or that you would like to do so. (strong, independent, hopeful, etc.)

  • List your strengths. (What are you good at?)

  • List your weaknesses. (What do you need to work on?)

  • What are your goals? (Where are you going, what do you want to do with your life?

  • Finally, write out a narrative that would describe you as person. Start with the list from above and describe your personality, your likes/dislikes, strengths weaknesses and most importantly where are YOU going in future?

Now, each day wake up, believe and strive to demonstrate this simple affirmation:

 “I and I alone choose my destiny, I control whether I am happy or sad. I am responsible for me and me alone. I can love and support others, but they must choose their own path. I choose to live MY life; I choose to write my own story!”

I feel like this article has been a little disjointed, but I hope and pray that it helps you to let go and start living your own life again.

Thanks for reading!

R2R

 

Be Still, Be Silent…   Leave a comment

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.Psalm 46:10-11 (KJV)

I grew up in what at the time was referred to as a “microwave” society, the 1980’s. Of course, at the  time computers were just coming on to the market and a “web” was still something that spiders made and you cleaned them out of the corners of your house.

We just thought that was a time of “instant gratification”. Compared to today with the internet, social media, text messaging, 24/7 cable news coverage. It is VERY easy to get pulled into information and activity OVERLOAD.

It seems that we are always GOING to do SOMETHING somewhere.  Community Meetings, school functions, sports activities, church, social gatherings, etc. We are so BUSY, we have minimal time to relate and interact with those living breathing souls that we live with, much less, setting a side to spend in relationship with our God and Father.

Because of this, we get more and more stressed, anxious, depressed and overwhelmed. For many of we are not “addicts”, but our lives have “become unmanageable”. We make decisions on the fly and react to situations rather than thinking them through completely. Then we are often faced with negative consequences as a result of these poor choices.

We appear to all those around us to be “super-human”, accomplishing so much and ALWAYS having a smile on our face. Yet, just below the surface, we are shattered to pieces and no one could ever imagine just how weak we feel and how much we are hurting. But, in the world we are strong and confident. Our world feels like it is literally falling apart around us, and we are drowning in the undertow of our circumstances.

This reminds me of a story that I heard many years ago about recognizing the hand and voice of God in our circumstances.

————————————————————————————————–

The Flood Story
A flood threatens a town, forcing everyone to evacuate, But Joe thinks,
“I’m a devout man, God will save me,” and stays put. As the waters rise, Joe’s neighbor comes by and says, “Joe come with me, we’ve got to go.” Joe declines,
“I’m a devout man; God will save me.”

The waters keeps rising, Joe scrambles to his second floor. A firefighter in a rowboat comes by. “Get in the boat or you’ll drown,” he says. Joe again declines, saying, “God will save me.”
Finally, the flood waters force Joe to his roof. A police helicopter comes by and throws down a rope. “Climb up or you’ll drown,” the policeman yells. “No, I’m a devout man, God will save me,” Joe replies.

Soon, Joe drowns.
He arrives in heaven and challenges God.
“Why didn’t you help me?”

“What do you mean?” God says.

“I did help. I sent a neighbor, a firefighter and a helicopter.”

———————————————————————————

“He has promised that He will not let us be tempted with more than we can handle. In the words of the story, He won’t let you drown.  Even in the midst of the storm, and there WILL be storms and trials, He will provide an escape. We just can not be like Joe and refuse his Hans when he stretches it out to us.” I Corinthians 10:13

But, how in the midst of the chaos that surrounds us day in and day out are we suppose to recognize His hand and voice? We learn to recognize His hand and voice just like we do anyone else’s. Spending time together. The instance we were born, we recognized our parents’ voices, why because even without seeing them we listened to them for the first 9 months of our existence. Despite not seeing Him if we WILL listen he speaks to us everyday.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, Romans 1:20

 

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.  So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.  1 Kings 19:11-13

Whether it be His hand at work in His creation, or the “Still small voice” of His spirit speaking to us from within, He IS speaking.

A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

And the LORD said to Samuel…..  I Samuel 3:8-11

He calls each of us by name, but we are to busy filling our ears with the things of this world or our minds with worries and fears.

STOP – LOOK – LISTEN

We all remember that simple reminder don’t we?

Stop – Don’t take another step

Look– Pay attention to situation around you.  Look at the BIG picture.

Listen – CLOSE your mouth… and open your ears and more               importantly your heart.

This brings me back to where we began; we must SLOW down, Be STILL, Be SILENT, and LISTEN!

We have long forgotten that prayer is not a one way street of communication. It is not just to tell him what we need and how “terrible” our life is”.

In the midst of ALL our crisis he is there is watching. He strengthens in our time of weakness.

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.   Isaiah 40: 28-31

Also remember when you feel your weakest remember, that HIS strength is made perfect/complete in our weakness.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  ‎2 Corinthians 12:9

 I know I have been a little all over the place but I hope that you have been able to follow, my frenetic thoughts. Summing up:

 STOP –

Much of our difficulties or stress is SELF-IMPOSED due to being over committed.

Insure that you have time to take care of yourself.

Finally and most importantly, MAKE time to sit and be quiet in prayer and meditation.

LOOK –

Look at the BIG picture, not just on the circumstances at this moment.

Look at your life and situations from God’s point of view.

Look for His hand at work in even the “small stuff”. He is JUST as interested in your “small tuff” as He is the “BIG.”

LISTEN –

Be quiet, open your heart and ears.

Be willing to listen to the advice of Godly counsel.

Listen with your eyes by reading His Word.

EVERY traveler has to stop at a rest stop ever now and then. We have to have time to “refuel” and get “the oil changed” sometimes.  If we don’t we will burn out and blow up the engine.

It is OK to take a break.  Just don’t stay in the pits!

Be blessed and may your eyes, ears and hearts be open as the Lord speaks to and guides you each and every day!

So You Think You Know Me….   4 comments

The Paradox of Masks

“Society is a masked ball, where every one hides his real character,and reveals it by hiding” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all wear a mask from time to time, many of us more than one and to tell the truth some of us live in them.  I consider the afore mentioned quote, “Society is a masked ball….” I envision people all standing around talking, but each is holding a masquerade mask covering his/her face. Then as someone leaves one group to visit with a different group, they change masks before they get to the next group.

 Even the great Apostle Paul said the following, “I have become all things to all people” in 1 Corinthians 9:22.

It is actually natural and healthy to adapt and conceal our parts personality to a degree when we are interacting in different situations or settings.  We all have different roles that we play. We  are a father/mother, a husband/wife, son/daughter,  supervisor/employee, teacher/student, a friend, etc. In each of these roles, we portray a little different version of ourselves than we do with the others. This adaption is normal and expected. I was recently discussing the concept of masks with some other travelers on the “Road” and the idea came to me that in these situations, it is more like having a veil that only partially hides the face; we partially conceal our true personality rather than covering it entirely.

However, many of have taken that next step and we wear a various masks, thus hiding our true personality entirely.

The question that must be asked is, “Why?” Why do we feel it is a necessity to wear masks and hide who we really are from others?

There are many different answers to this question; we will focus on the one that fits more than any other.

Life experiences have taught that others can not be trusted. If others are allowed “too close”, then they will disappoint and hurt us.

What kind of hurts have we experienced? These include: abuse, neglect, rejection, abandonment, just to name a few.

I know in my life personally, I felt abandoned and rejected by my mother. So in order to feel loved and accepted, I would enter a group and look around at the attitudes, behaviors and personalities of others in the group and I would proverbially, paint my mask to be similar to theirs.

The mask that I wore more than any other was the mask of caretaker and hero. Everyone of my “romantic” relationships up until I met my now wife of 15 years, were very co-dependent and dysfunctional. I figured that I wasn’t good enough for the “normal” girls. So I found subconsciously I sought out someone that needed to be “fixed” or “taken care of” as much as I needed to be needed.

Along my way on this journey, I have met MANY others that due to whatever reason, they have taken on the same types of behaviors. We have become people pleasers and co-dependent, seeking to insure that EVERYONE else is happy even when doing so makes us miserable on the inside.

This is no surprise to anyone, but if we live our lives hiding behind a mask, we will never be happy or find peace. We go from place to place and group to group always making sure that we are wearing the “right” mask for the occasion. Then we find ourselves in a crisis when we encounter people from different groups simultaneously. For example you out to dinner with your significant other, and “one of the guys” form the office comes up to you and tells you an off color joke that you know that your date is going to find offensive. What do you do? Which mask to you reveal?

Although I know it’s unfair I reveal myself one mask at a time” Stephen Dunn

 “It’s a terrible thing to be alone — yes it is — it is — but don’t lower your mask until you have another mask prepared beneath –as terrible as you like –but a mask.”Katherine Mansfield

There comes a point that as much as he hate it as unhappy as we are wearing masks, we get to the point that we no longer know how to live without them. We do not know how to interact and relate with others in any other way. We wear s certain mask for so long that we “become” the mask that we wear, yet we despise every moment of it, and start hating ourselves for getting to that point. We are miserable within our own skin and consciousness and have no idea what to do about it. This misery has led to many of the self-destructive habits and behaviors that led to us being on this journey; substance abuse, self-harming, eating disorders, suicide attempts and ideation, etc.

“Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem.”  William Somerset Maugham

 “He who wears a mask cannot see within himself.” Anonymous

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. …You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” Jim Morrison

We have gotten to the point that we have completely lost knowing who we really are because all we see is the mask. We have even tried to “look inside” and we don’t know “who we are” anymore. Our personality has become so enmeshed with our mask, we do not know which are which and what emotions are real and which are the result of wearing the mask. Eventually, we get to the point that we stop feeling completely.

So, no what? Seems like the picture that I have painted to this point looks pretty grey and dreary, BUT there is hope! One day at a time, one step at a time we can RECLAIM our emotions, our behavior and ultimately our personality!

First of all you MUST learn to believe in ourselves again, and that often entails rebuilding our self-esteem.  Here is an except from a previous post “Baby Steps – Self-Esteem”

Self-Esteem has to be built from the ground up and learning to walking in it really is a step by step process. Let me borrow from a life experience and lesson that we have ALL learned from.

When a child learns to walk, he/she does not turn 10-months old and just start walking independently. There are MANY smaller steps that have occurred over the months leading up to day.  He/she rolled over, scooted, crawled, pulled up to stand, etc. He/she took one “baby step” after another until he/she got to the point of taking those first steps. Even then, once he/she starts walking, there are going to be falls, bumps, and bruises.  Does the child give up? NO. He/she cries for a bit, but then gets up and tries again. Slowly but surely, he/she gets better and better, more stable, and ultimately more and more confident.

We must translate these same “baby steps” into our recovery. As we start out, we slowly put one foot in front of the other, a little wobbly at first and reaching out and relying on our support systems to a degree. We begin with simple say day to day challenges: getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating, going to support groups or meetings. If faced with more difficult decisions we seek counsel from among our peers and support. As we grow more confident and stable in making these simple day to day decisions and solving problems, we gradually start taking on more difficult ones. Again, we are becoming more and more confident in the process. Just as with the child learning to walk, we are learning that there is hope, we can be successful and it really is not as scary a place as we thought that it was. We have learned to be hopeful, seeing ourselves and our circumstances from a optimistic perspective, seeing the good that our lives can be and how we can be an asset to those around us.

I want to leave you with a few practical exercises to help as you begin “crawling” in your self-esteem:

  1.  List 5 positive things that other people have said about you.
  2.  List 5 positive things about yourself.(Attributes or accomplishments)
  3. Share a compliment with 5 other people.
  4. Do something unrepentantly kind for someone that you perceive to be  “worse off” than you.

As you complete each “step” take out a pen and journal about how completing the activity made you feel. Take note to how you feel about your self before and after each activity.

Of course that is just the FIRST step, and as we all know that is a definite chore in and of itself. The good news is that as we are working on our self esteem, we become more and aware of our aware, comfortably and happy with our REAL personality. As we do so, then how do we get out from behind the mask and start revealing this “new person”.

Similarly, to building our self-esteem, we MUST take BABY steps. We start by taking little risk in trusted and safe relationships.

You and a group of friends are going to the movies and they are discussing what to go see, SPEAK UP! Jump into the discussion and share your opinion. Very low risk, but you’re giving yourself and your wants/needs a voice.

Slowly, over time take bigger and bigger risks in your relationships.

I know this sounds paradoxically TOO simple, yet at the time very difficult. The techniques are rather simple, the application “not so much”. I know from experience that working through the emotions related to this issue can be very painful. But I ask you, would you rather suffer the pain of dealing with the issues that got you to where you are, or do you want to continue to suffer in the misery of nothingness hidden behind a mask.

I hope pray that you choose to BELIEVE in the good that is within and the good in others.

When you hide behind a mask, it is like taking a priceless jewel and hiding its beauty from those desiring to admire it. You steal a little piece of the beauty out of the world.

So as was so appropriately stated my Jim Morrison, “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are.”

Be Free,           Be Beautiful,                Be Happy!

Whom seek ye?   5 comments

Jesus … said unto them, “Whom seek ye?”John 18:4

Who or what are you seeking in your life?

Love?                                      Money?                          Power?                                Happiness?

                   Recovery?                               Peace?                              Friends?

Yeah, it sounds a little funny including Recovery with these. There is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring any or all of them to some degree or another, but even if you did have that one thing that you seek, there would still be a whole in your life waiting to be filled. So I ask you one more time what are you REALLY seeking? What are you the MOST passionate about?

I tell you it is my opinion that there is a BEST answer to the above question, and if we answer it correctly, then ANYTHING and EVERYTHING we need WILL BE taken care of. So what should be our Passion, what should we be seeking?

To draw closer to God.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:20-35

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19

When we serve Him and truly recognize Him as the Lord of our lives then we have NOTHING at all to worry about, if we will just believe and trust Him. There will be times of bounty and times of lack, but He will insure that at ALL TIMES our NEEDS are met.

In the event that you feel that you NEED something that has not yet been provided then ASK!

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

Remember who your DADDY is, THE God of Heaven and Earth. He owns the “Cattle on a thousand hills”, and for that measure, he owns the hills too! So no matter what your need: physical natural provision, healing, hope, peace, joy, etc, HE is not like a man that will give you a stone instead of bread or a snake when we ask for a fish. He is a GOOD God who loves us and only gives us GOOD gifts. He knows our needs even before we ask, and sometimes he just test our faith in Him by withholding that which is needed until we ASK.

…yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. James 4;2-3

11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:11

 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

I know you are thinking, OK that is a good study and makes sense to “normal” people. What about those of with some many issues. We can’t just abandon all control and our old beliefs and ways of doing things.

He asks that we have an open mind heart and simply seek after HIM. Fortunately, Faith is very much like our recovery. It is a process and a journey, He does not ask or expect us to be perfect automatically, However, the closer that we get to Him the more like Him we will desire to be. As we take one step at a time further done the road, He helps us to learn new ways, His ways, As we read and study His Word, and give lay our lives and our wills over to Him, we are transformed more and more into His image.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. I Timothy 2:15

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12-1-2

 …Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word Ephesians 5:25-26

My dear friends as we come to faith in God and truly accept what Christ death and resurrection accomplished for our lives, we will begin to realize that we are NOT the same person that we were in the past. We are being renewed and made more like Him from the inside out. As we peal one layer off from the outside, He renews the layers one at a time from the outside in. So step by step we become a little more and a little more the new CREATION that He as destined for us to be. Unfortunately, as each of these occur it can and WILL be painful at times. Even harder, some of us will have resentments, beliefs and “issues” of which we will NOT want to let go. However we MUST in order to be ALL that He wants us to be!

The closer we get to Him, the more of THE Truth that we know, and as John says, “the TRUTH shall set you free.” HE is the TRUTH.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:10

...“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32

So finally my friends , I conclude the same way that I started…

Whom seek ye?”

I pray that you will join me in seeking after He whom is seeking after you!

Blessing my friends,

See you on The Road….

R2R

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