Love & Relationships

Love, Closer Than It Seems

frog-prince

It is possible to be looking so hard for something that you actually look right past it, right through it, and don’t recognize when it is right in front of you.  This happens sometimes in the world of dating and when seeking a partner.  You may have criteria that your “ideal” partner is supposed to meet; when sometimes there is a person that has been a part of your life before, a “friend” that you feel is best to remain in that zone, or someone in your environment who you simply do not consider a potential mate.  It is possible that the most unlikely person is the one that deserves a chance.

                I’m not saying that this is always the case.  But I’m sure you can recall times in your own life when you didn’t give much attention to someone at the time, then wondered later if you should have put more effort into exploring the relationship.  At the moment, it was easy to overlook the possibility of a relationship – but looking back, you can more clearly see there were missed opportunities.  Luckily, as we experience such things, we gain wisdom.  We can be inspired to be aware of opportunities that are around us now that deserve more attention.  This does not simply apply to dating and relationships, but several situations that we breeze by without giving more energy to it – never knowing what things could have become.

                It is important to know your own core values, have clear boundaries, and know that you deserve the best – however, you don’t want to have a checklist of requirements so stringent that only a fantasy character from a comic book could meet them.  God brings people into our lives that are somehow who we need and not always exactly what we think we want.  By keeping your heart and mind open enough to explore the meaning of the connection, and allowing it to evolve without short-circuiting it with preconceived notions and unrealistic expectations, you may find that your most suitable match is closer than you think.

 

Heart & Spiritual Wellness, Inner Renovations

Engaging the 5 Senses to Overcome Eyewitness Overload

photo credit: mikedaledesign
photo credit: mikedaledesign

More is going on in the world than our brains can process in a sensible manner.  Opinions fill our minds, comparisons, contrasts, attempts to decipher the truth and other mental phenomena that have us dealing with fatigue just from a segment of the non-stop 24-hour sensationalized news.  And we won’t even get into the accompanying emotions – if they can even be called that anymore.  At this point, the emotions we are experiencing have become so consistent in their state that they can probably now be classified as full on conditions.  An extended state of worry is no longer just worry, but has progressed into being considered anxiety.  And prolonged anxiety eventually leads to those dreaded panic attacks. I’ll stop referring to it now because the very thought of those emotions sometimes evokes them and we have been triggered enough.

ENOUGH.  This is the keyword. The thought around which we build our next course of action.  ENOUGH.  It is time to create safer spaces within ourselves and to improve our own mental environments.  You have had ENOUGH accounts of negativity in the world – far and near – and have a general idea of what is going on around you and that is ENOUGH.  What deserves more of your attention at this time, is how are feeling?  How is your family feeling?  If you all are experiencing the stress and emotional fatigue that I suspect (because I myself have had to check in to make sure that I too am okay), then it is probably time to discover ways to RESTORE, BALANCE, and CONSERVE your precious energy.

                In this article, we will engage the 5 senses as a way of reconnecting with ourselves and bringing our attention away from the storms around us to connect with the peace and quiet that lives within us.  Using our senses as little guideposts to draw our attention gently back in is an easy mindfulness exercise that you can use right smack dab in the middle of anything and anywhere.  Choose whichever is easiest for you to accomplish at the time, or involve all of them in the same moment of You-Time that you create for yourself.

  • SIGHT: Find something beautiful to look at.  Nature is always a shoe in, but if that’s not possible at the moment – make sure you’re carrying a visually engaging photo, book, postcard or something that positively sparks your imagination or draws you into a serene scene
  • SOUND: Earbuds can be your bestfriend sometimes. With so many apps and mp3s of guided meditations or relaxing sounds, you can transport yourself into a calming space by closing your eyes and drifting into sonic bliss.
  • TOUCH: You know how good it feels when you put a warm blanket fresh out the dryer over you.  Or how good it feels to rub against something soft because touch is kind of a big deal.  Snuggle with a favorite blanket, wear a cozy sweater, get a little stuffed animal to rub – your brain will appreciate being to change the channel to a comforting sensation (even if someone does wonder why you’re rubbing a little furry keychain – don’t worry about that, it’s for your mental health!)
  • SMELL: Scents are powerful. So maybe you’re not ready to go full aroma-therapy yet, you can still find an oil, perfume, incense – or even a box of dryer sheets – that you decide to smell to shift your attention onto something pleasant. Our brains respond powerfully to smell, and if you inhale a scent while engaging in self-soothing thoughts, “I am relaxed, I am blessed today, these are the things I am grateful for,” while inhaling, eventually you’ll associate that scent with your peaceful moments.
  • TASTE: Ok so, we’re usually pretty good at this one. Especially us stress eaters.  So practicing this in a healthy way improves our responses to stress and emotional overwhelm in 2 ways.  To bring your attention to the present moment and give yourself something that you enjoy, feel free to taste the goodness of life.  Is that ice cream?  Is that a flavor of gum that you chew while having self-encouraging thoughts?  Is that a cup of tea that you sip as you read the promises of God?  Treat yourself when you need to, in a healthy way.

Remembering that the goal is to RESTORE, BALANCE, and CONSERVE our precious energy, we engage in these practices in a mindful way so that the effects we experience are positive, life-giving, and healthful.  Don’t overdo anything.  Do just enough to draw your attention back in to what is important, what deserves love, and what is the most meaningful in this moment.

~ CCB

Heart & Spiritual Wellness, Inner Renovations

Re-Establish Yourself in Love

reestablished in love


Over the years, you may have noticed that many changes have occurred in the way that you see things, do things, and the way that you feel. This could be attributed to maturity, or the natural changes that occur with time. However, if we look carefully enough, we may see that some of the changes that have come about are of a more protective nature – defenses that have been created in order to keep from being hurt again.

Have you noticed that you’ve become less trusting? Or maybe a bit more standoffish? And what about your sense of security, been feeling more insecure lately? It is interesting because there was a notion when we were children that we would organically become stronger in those areas as adults. But fact of the matter is, due to the pain and disappointments we’ve endured, it is possible that we have become even lower functioning in certain areas. So what do you do when you find that’s the case?

After becoming emotionally distant, distrusting, guarded, jaded (and all of the other defensive responses that occur as a result of our heartbreaks, setbacks, and letdowns) it is important to take a few rejuvenating steps to get back on track and work towards positive mental health.


Be willing to admit the areas you’re struggling in.

                If you’re anything like me, you’ve done a great job at convincing yourself that, sure you have a few things to work on but you’re not doing that bad, right? It is one of the grandest tricks that we play on ourselves – ignoring what we need to be working on by making claims that we could be worse. This is true, we could always be worse, but that does not give us permission to downplay the areas that need improvement. We have to be willing to admit where we are falling short, notice the areas that give us the most trouble, and acknowledge that we could stand more development to be happier, healthier, mature individuals.

Ask for feedback, accept it graciously.

                It is not always obvious to us where we are the most vulnerable. In fact, if our defense mechanisms are doing their jobs effectively, then we may actually believe that we are doing just fine and it’s everyone else with the problem. So don’t be afraid to ask those that care about you, where they perceive you are the most vulnerable. Say, “What are my hotspots, what subjects do you tiptoe around when talking to me, what have you noticed sets me off?” Trust me, they will jump at the opportunity to tell you what they’ve been thinking but needed your permission to say. It is up to you to be prepared to receive the information in a healthy way.

Ask for help, build supports.

                Now that you’ve had some heart-to-hearts with yourself and others, you at least know a few things about yourself that have been holding you back. Maybe you’ve heard that you’ve started being difficult to talk to or make a connection with. Maybe you’re now aware that you’ve become paranoid about others’ intentions towards you. Perhaps you took an honest look at your need to be perceived as perfect and have decided that is a lie way too hard to live up to. Whatever it is that you’ve discovered, the next step is to ask for help with the matter. Go to God in prayer and ask for these character defects to be removed, and ask to be shown how you should go about making changes in those areas. Yes, we’re intellectuals with amazing resources and cool technology but let us not underestimate the power of prayer when we’re trying to make real change. Also, look for professional and self-help resources in the areas that you are working on so that you have an arsenal of material to feed your mind while you are on the journey overcoming those ways about yourself that you’ve decided just aren’t working anymore. Build good supports with friends and family. Just let them know what you’re targeting and give them permission to draw your attention to old patterns so that you have an accountability team with you along the way.

Step outside your comfort zone to get unstuck.

                If there was a way that we could change with very little effort, I’d be taking that way. There isn’t one. In fact, it is grueling work rewiring our brains that are used to following the same circuits for years and years. So the only way that we are going to create new patterns, more constructive roads towards success, is to take the uncomfortable way. You can’t work on your problem of being closed off until you’re willing to risk opening up to someone. You won’t be able to resolve that social awkwardness without putting yourself into more social situations. You aren’t going to be able to overcome the tendency to distrust others until you give someone else a chance. Steps like these are outside of our comfort zone, but until we are willing to get back in there and create new experiences, we are stuck in our pseudo-safe little boxes that have stunted our growth. To get unstuck requires courage and risk.

Re-establish yourself in love.

                What is your default setting? In various circumstances do you default to fear? Anger? Frustration? Complaining? Take some time for self-examination and determine what your default mode is. Then think about how it would feel if your most common inner experiences involved: love, peace, contentment, acceptance, appreciation, and other life-giving states like these. You can create that atmosphere in your life. By putting everything back into its proper perspective, where God is the center of it all; and having an accurate perspective of who God is (Love), you can re-establish yourself in something that transcends your shortcomings and the problems of this world.

Re-establish yourself in love, and operate from that space. No longer allowing ourselves to crystallize in our defenses, we remain open to the experiences that are brought into our lives and accept that all will work together for the good of those that love the Lord. We do not wallow in our past or allow the behaviors of others to influence our state of mind, but instead consistently affirm that we are borne of love, protected by, and here to share love.

We trade our fears for the greatest thing of all, Love. We keep our feet firmly rooted like trees planted by the water, continuously re-establishing ourselves in love until we are like those described in the Psalms – bearing fruit in our season, prospering in all we do.

~ CCB

Inner Renovations, Poetry & Musings

Question for Thought: What’s Your Motivation?

question mark

Finding out what drives us is a very important step in being able to keep ourselves going. Sometimes we are propelled by sheer passion for our purpose and during those spells, productivity is a piece of cake. Then there are other times, when we’re not sure if we should bother. And if we do want to bother we struggle with the energy to follow through with what we know needs to be done. It is in those moments that we have to reconnect with our original purpose, the motivating factor behind our life’s work, and allow our devotion to our cause to push us to the finish line even when our legs feel like they won’t take another step. The big question is, What IS your motivation?

Christ-Centered Cognitions, Inner Renovations

Tapping Into Your Energy Reserve

“Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty;

Open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.”

~Proverbs 20:13

Running Uphill

The day drags on and it seems as if you don’t have another ounce of energy to give. Even breathing seems to take too much of an effort. Every blink burns with the desire to keep the eyes closed. Sleep is the most attractive thing on Earth to you right now. But you know sleep is the last thing you’ll get. With more work to do than hours in the day, and without the luxury of handmaids, manservants, and assistants – the success or failure of your projects are all… on… you.

The smartest thing we can do is stay connected to a power greater than ourselves. We are people of great faith, but sometimes even that falters. We need to be understood and forgiven in our times of weakness, and for doors to still be opened to us even when we experience a period of doubt. Our minds and bodies are incredible systems that have accomplished tremendous psychological and physical feats, but sometimes it feels like it can’t go another step without some rejuvenation. This is when we need something more powerful than us to energize our spirits and help us see things through in miraculous ways. Skill, talent, and ability mean little if there is no sense of direction or motivation; and until we understand that all things should be used for the glory of God, we are aimless.

Remaining on track, remembering all of the things that need to be done to stay ahead, and keeping the faith can be exhausting. But we must keep going. We must love our destiny more than we love sleep. We must love opportunities in our children’s futures more than we love rest. We must believe in the power and favor of our Lord more than we believe in the possibility of our failure. Living by the P.U.S.H. philosophy, we Pray Until Something Happens. This way of life is not an easy one and is not for the faint at heart. It is for those who somehow find that extra bit of energy when they thought they had nothing left to give, who ran a couple of more miles after they considered stopping after mile one, and who know that if they just keep putting one foot in front of the other God will make a way to reach their destination.

Being too tired to fulfill our dreams and God’s intended purpose for us leaves us poor in spirit and poor in life. But opening our hearts and eyes to His unlimited power propels us forward from within, feeding our spirits with the bread of life, and turning His highest vision for us into our reality.

~ CCB

Inner Renovations, Love & Relationships

How Do You Let Go of Someone You Want?

Walking Away From Love

There seems to be a misconception that relationships are only supposed to end if interest is lost or the love is gone. It is obvious it’s over in those cases and breaking up is a no-brainer. But what about those times when the love is still there? The desire is still strong, but the person keeps hurting you or overstepping their boundaries? You don’t really want them to go away, you’d prefer they just change for the better… but they won’t. This is a dilemma.

When the pain outweighs the happiness, there is more disappointment than joy, and the negative feelings surface more than the positive; one finds themselves having to ask whether or not the relationship should continue. Your Spirit screams NO this should not continue! Then the little voice of the heart and mind says “But I love him/her… “

How many people have been in relationships that they knew undoubtedly needed to be over a long time ago, but remain in it under the pretense of being “so in love” with someone they know isn’t good for them? ME! I’ve had my share. That’s one hand raised. Any others?

I’m not referring to the standard relationships that have their ups and downs, but to those that have become predominantly draining, negative and maybe even abusive (including physical, mental, verbal or emotional abuse).

We have to stop using our watered-down and skewed perceptions of what love is as the excuse to remain in unhealthy relationships. Once a connection with someone begins to take more from your life than it adds to it, its time to let go. And if you’ve stayed in an unfulfilling situation for too long because you LOVE THE OTHER PERSON so much; try something new and remove yourself from the situation because you’ve decided its time to LOVE YOURSELF even more.

From the outside looking in, it’s easier to spot someone who is in a relationship with someone who is sucking the life out of them. But when it is us that is in the situation, we tend to rationalize our reasons for remaining in a relationship that is not enhancing our lives.

Learn how to recognize energetic/emotional vampires. They don’t always do it on purpose, but these type of people will suck the life right out of you under the guise of being in a relationship and loving you. If loving someone exhausts you, or hurts more than enhances you – its healthier to love yourself enough to let it go.

~ CCB