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‪reck·less /rekləs/ adj. without thinking about the consequences. rash, heedless, impetuous, impulsive, daredevil, audacious, madcap‬

Category: Self-Worth (page 1 of 2)

Fear is a Liar

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Fear is a Liar.

I believe this to be the most appropriate location to begin a conversation on how to limit fear. In order to limit fear in our lives, we have to recognize it for what it is. A Lie. Fear lies to us on a regular basis. Fear attempt to convince us of things that likely will never come true. Fear attempts to thwart our efforts of success by getting us to short-circuit ourselves before we even try something.

I am not an expert in mastering fear. I often feel like the apostle Paul who said, ‘not that i have attained it’ because I have not attained it. Not even close on many subjects. Or any subject for that matter. But I have learned to control fear in my life to some degree. I have learned to overcome it and press on through the darkness and coldness of fear. Here are some things I keep in mind to assist me in pressing on through the fear.

  • Failure is ALWAYS and option – Always. It is ok to fail. There is no need to fear failing because it is inevitable. I will fail. And I will fail again. And again. Failure is an opportunity to learn. Learn both what I did well and what I did poorly in that given scenario. There are times when failing is the only way to learn. It is the process of trial and error leading to a better way to get things done. I have overcome fear by learning that it is ok to fail. It is ok to fall flat on my face. It is to make mistakes. The critical part is learning from the mistakes so as not to make them again.
  • ‘What if’ is worse – In my experience, wondering ‘what if’ is worse than anything, even failing. Looking back across the landscape of my life and realizing I tried nothing for fear that it work out the way I hoped. Second guessing my life and decisions I have made, has consumed more hours of my life than I care to admit. Constantly consumed with ‘what if’ because I was unwilling to try something is significantly worse than trying something and having any outcome. Because at least I tried and now I know.
  • Nothing is gained by doing Nothing – my brother had children’s book as we were growing up, whose title or premise I can’t recall. The only thing I do recall is a mouse who consistently said he can’t do this or that. Finally at the end, another wiser character told him ‘Can’t never could’. This phrase has stuck with me ever since. Because can’t never could. If you never try anything then you will never know your limits and you never gain anything, even if the only gained is self-awareness of what you are capable of.

Fear does not tell the truth. Fear uses lies to limit us and give us a false sense of we who are and what we are capable of. These are some things I keep in mind when facing a situation I fear. They have helped me. Maybe they can help you.

The Ordeal

strategic therapyOne of my favorite classes in my counseling program was the Brief Strategic Therapy class I took while we lived in Jacksonville. One of the things which made this class so enjoyable for me was the professor. Had I not taken the class at a Jacksonville campus, it would not hold such a high place in my heart. The professor was a straightforward, no BS, cuss like a sailor professor who told you how it was. On the first day of class, she shattered the strongly-held precept of mental health counseling – the client must have insight into the struggle before real, lasting change can be made. The first day of class she comes in and tells us we don’t care if the client understand the why or gains any kind of insight at all… all we want is for their behaviors to change. We don’t care if they understand why they act the way they do or if they understand why they need to change or why the changes work. All we want is for the client to change.

This literally, was a slap in the face to everything I had learned in my program prior to this and it was exactly what I had been screaming in my head as I sat in class. What I didn’t understand at the time, is that you want change first to allow time for the understanding to come. In a brief, strategic scenario you are time-limited and need to change to occur quickly allowing the client time to reflect later. This approach was refreshing and laid some solid groundwork for me as I began to formulate and design my own approach to counseling. Since then, I have become more convinced that real, long, and enduring change can only come when you take time to reflect and understand what the root cause of your anguish is. Having said that, there is also a time and a place for a brief, strategic approach which doesn’t waste precious time assisting the client in gaining insight, but rather forces a quick, necessary change immediately.

This morning, I arrived to work and found one of the youth in our Residential Group Care (RGC) home refusing to go to school. I walked into his room, woke him up and said, “You have two options – 1. Come sit at the conference room table in my office and let me get all the tasks on my list for today done that require me to sit in front of a computer. For this to happen, you don’t have to tell me anything… I don’t care what’s going on, I don’t care why you don’t want to go to school, I will leave you alone to sit at the table and do nothing all day long. 2. Come with me to run some errands, a different set of tasks on list for today. For this to happen, you have to give me something… you have to help me understand what is going on inside your head and heart which explains why you don’t want to go to school. Help me to understand there is something churning inside you and that you just aren’t choosing to be a turd this morning.” He replies, “I’d rather go to school!” And I say, “And there is option 3, get up and get dressed so I can take you to school.” He got up, got dressed and I took him to school.

This is a Directive technique called the Ordeal. The rationale here is to give the client something to do which is harder to fulfill than following through with the symptom you wish to alleviate. I wanted him to go to school, so I gave him options that were less desirable to him (i.e. harder) than going to school. Additionally, I utilized several Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) techniques in the process. First, I empowered him to have a choice… have a voice in the process. He was given the freedom to choose any of the options and I would have been ok with whatever he chose. This also employs the compromise technique. He doesn’t get what he wants, but he can choose from two alternatives and we roll with what he chose. It was a win-win for everyone this morning. He was empowered to choose and we did what he chose and I got him to go to school and didn’t have to have shadow all day long because he refused to attend school.

When working with the youth in our RGC, it isn’t always this easy. There are times when it goes much less smoothly. However, the key ingredient in each interaction which continues to prove successful is authentic engagement. Many times, the youth we work with haven’t been given a choice, they are shown respect, they are lead to believe their voice doesn’t matter and that no one cares for them. But we do. I do. By authentically engaging in the life of this youth, we establish a relationship where we can accomplish much simply because we take the time to engage in their lives in an authentic way which demonstrates that unlike so many others in their lives, we care about them and they matter to us.

A Certain Point of View

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Luke: You told me Darth Vader betrayed and miurdered my father.

Obi Wan: What I told you was true, from a certain point of view.

Luke: A certain point of view?

Obi Wan: Luke, you will find many of the truthes we hold are from a certain point of view.

We have all heard the cliché, possession is 9/10 of the law. I think it is equally true, if not more true, to say perception is 10/10 of reality. Our reality is shaped by our perspective – our interpretation and understanding of the events and external stimuli we encounter. How we perceive the world around us becomes our reality. We approach life, situations and problems based on the way we interpret the external influences on us.

What’s the big deal about this? So what? This is critical because it sets the framework for how we react to life. I have been told I’m a ‘the glass is half empty’ kind of guy. I tend to have what some call a pessimistic, defeatist outlook. I would argue, it’s a practical, reality-bases outlook but whatever.

Many circumstances we face can swallowed much easier if we have a proper perspective. As I got up and got ready for work, ate breakfast, drove to work and arrives do late what was the cause? Did my alarm clock purposefully not go off at the appropriated time? Did my boys refuse to get dressed solely to irritate me? Was every other driver on the road setting out to get in my way? Is the world just avainst me today? Or did I have a unique set of circumstances which led to me arriving to work later than I planned? Did these circumstances allow me a few more minutes with my family this morning? As annoying as it is to catch every redlight, I can’t help but wondering what I may have avoided on the road by being stopped at those lights.

Our perspective sets the tone for our attitude and outlook on life. Here are three ways to keep perspective in perspective:

  1. Remember we aren’t alone – We barely are facing a situation which has never been faced before. We aren’t the only ones who have suffered in the way we are suffering and likely not the only ones suffering in this way currently. Remembering we aren’t alone is powerful in dealing with whatever life is throwing at us, because we know we don’t have to do it alone, all by ourselves.
  2. Remember there is a lesson in this – I have come realize even the difficult times of my life have taught me something… especially, he difficult times in my life have taught me. It is through the fire that the core of my being has been forged and made me into the man I am today. I am who I am because of what I have learned in the midst of the chaos that has been difficult times in my life.
  3. Remember someone may need our help –  It is possible there are others around us who are also suffering who need us to be there for them in the difficult times. If we can look around us and see those around us who are suffering, we could be in a position to help those who need it. Maybe we are both on the same journey and we are farther down and have words of encouragement to share. Maybe we have already conquered what they are struggling with. Maybe they can find strength and the ability to carry on because of what they see in us.

Life isn’t always easy. We don’t have the ability to control life, but we can control how we approach it and we can control our response to it. Are we going to assume we have to accept the garbage we face in life or are we going to try to look at life in such a way that we can make the most of it?

Which Star Wars character are you?

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I have generally always fancied myself a Han Solo kind of dude. Even though, when I was a young boy I refused to answer my parents unless they called me Luke Skywalker.

But Han Solo is the shiz. His carefree cavalier attitude, his quick wittedness, his ability to think on his feet and get himself out of trouble. Not to mention his dopey, lopsided grin. These are qualities I see in myself. At least in my mind.

The last two nights we have watched Episodes 1 & 2 with our boys. We have played lego Star Wars for months, they’ve watched the clone wars and now we have begun the saga at the beginning to bring them I to the fold.

But this got me to thinking about which Star Wars character am I really? Is Han the best choice for me?

I think if I am honest with myself, I am Darth Vader. Or at least Anakin Skywalker as he turned into Darth Vader. Anakin struggled with anger and controlling his fears and emotions. Anakin was reckless and often didn’t think before he acted. He regularly threw caution to the wind.

These all sound strikingly similar to me.

What do I do with this newfound knowledge?

Nothing really.

But it is an interesting note that Anakin was touted as the prophesied one who would bring balance to the force. He goes crazy and murders everyone he could get his light saber on, but ultimately is redeemed and saves his son while destroying the emperor who was the pinnacle of evil.

He was redeemed.

He became know. For something other than his struggles and missteps. He became known for something beyond his mistakes.

This is what I want also. I want to be know. For something other than my mistakes, my sins.

In the end, Darth Vader didn’t win and Anakin prevailed in the battle for his mind and soul. Anger didn’t win. Hate didn’t win.

Redemption won the day.

I Like to Live Alone, but it’s Crowded Inside

In 1995 the movie Se7en was released.

On the soundtrack was a track by an unknown band at the time named Gravity Kills, that song was titled Guilty.

The band’s first album was self-titled and featured Guilty as the leadoff song on the album (after the intro track). Seven tracks later was Never, which started with the lines: “I like to live alone, but it’s crowded inside sometimes.”

When I first heard the song at 17/18 it blew my mind. I was like, wow… for some reason it just seemed to fit. This was years before I became acquainted with mental illness. I’m not suggesting that I have more than one person living inside. But maybe I am.

Let me explain.

I am almost a month into an counseling internship. The clients that I see are homeless or the next best thing to it. They are single mothers, single dads, and families whose lives have taken a drastic turn in a direction they did not expect or want. As I have been counseling these clients, I have been reminded of something I realized sometime ago. Whether we suffer from mental illness or not, we all have multiple persons that live inside us.

We all live daily with at least 3 persons inside us:

We live with the person that we want to be. This is the DREAMER. This is the embodiment of our dreams, hopes, passions, aspirations… everything that excites us, gives us reason to get out of bed in the morning. This is the person that we want to be. This is the person that we want others to view us as being. This is who we define ourselves to be. This is the person that thrives in our dream world. This is the person who wants us to succeed more than anything else in life. Unfortunately, this person often doesn’t get to be the primary reflection we see in the mirror. This person often gets drowned under the other persons.

We also live with the person that the voices in our minds tell us we are. No, we don’t all hear voices, but we do hear lies that we tell ourselves about ourselves. This is the LIAR, because they rarely tell us the truth about who we are. This is the person who wants us to fail. This is the person who is actively trying to make us fail. This is the person who never has anything good to say about us. This is the person who constantly beats us down, only focuses on our failures and weaknesses. This person has a very loud voice.

The third person that lives inside is the person who is just making it through the day. This is the PRESENT. This is the person who has succumbed to the weight of the world and everyday life, this is the person who just wants to survive. This is the person who has almost given up on dreaming… because they can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel… they don’t even realize they are in a tunnel, they believe they are in an endless cave. This person lives with the constant stress and pressure of life. They feel the weight of it every moment of every day. They are almost defeated… many times they are outright defeated.

Therein lives the struggle. Deciding which person is going to be our reality. It is possible to hear the voice of the person we want to be and not be the person we want to be, yet let their voice be the loudest calling us, urging us, forcing us to move forward, to make difference to change our circumstances to be the person we want to be. Too often, we settle to hear the vice of the liar or of the present and we don’t listen to the voice of the dreamer.

We don’t let the dreamer excite our passions.

We have settled.

We don’t dream.

We don’t get excited.

This can be a sad, depressing way to amble through life.

There is another way out…

Christ.

This may not solve all the dilemmas of our life, but Christ does provide peace.

He does provide a truth.

He does provide acceptance and LOVE.

He allows us to dreams and encourages us to dream big. He shows us that the voice of the liar and the present don’t have to be our reality. He holds us close until we realize we were meant for more.

We are WORTH more. We have infinite value to a God who loved us enough to die for us.

It is difficult to drown out the voices of the liar and the present by ourselves. It is much easier to do when we are wrapped in a passionate embrace by Christ our Savior and God.

Who are you going to listen to? Are you going to let the liar and the present keep you from being the dreamer that God designed you to be?

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