The Blessing of Being Vulnerable

Don’t keep your heart safe... be vulnerable John Mayer

Be sure to keep yourself vulnerable…

Make sure you expose yourself emotionally…

Place yourself in situations in which you can make sure that you can be hurt…

Do people tell you these things often? Of course not! You’ve probably never had those conversations because we live in a world of minimizing hurt, damage, and exposure.

I believe that our ability to expose our hearts is an important component of being emotionally and spiritually healthy. Let me tell you why.

First, let’s do a test of opposites. I will list a word and you fill in the blank with the opposite:

  • Black     __________
  • Dark      __________
  • Day        __________
  • Love      __________

What did you fill in for the opposite of Love? Did you use the word hate? Hate is not the right answer…the right answer is apathy.

There was a time in my life when I would have said that hate was the opposite of love too. But that was before I personally witnessed my two adopted children protect themselves at the cost of everything I believe to be most important.

My youngest two children were adopted from Russia when they were 4 and 9 years old. They were not orphans – they had been removed from their birth family due to neglect and abandonment. As you might imagine, they have experienced some difficulties in their lives.

They, of course, are not the only ones who have ever been through difficult life circumstances. However, their choices and behaviors strongly reflect what they experienced in those years prior to our adoption of them.

Our adopted children spent more time in our home with our love and influence than they spent in their birth country of Russia. However, I can assure you that the influence of those initial years has heavily outweighed the influence we have been able to have. As family and friends have watched our family struggle to help our adoptive children the frequent suggestion has been that we just need to give them more love.

I was once blessed with the experience of re-visiting heaven. I saw there the preparations that were being made for each of us to come to earth. I also saw that even there where our perfect Father in Heaven reigns and where His perfect love infuses everything present there – that God and His perfect plan for this earth was rejected by a large number of his spirit children. So even where perfect love dwells – love was not enough.

My adopted children have found that guarding themselves against hurt, rejection and vulnerability is the easiest way to make sure they never are hurt, rejected or vulnerable again. What that means is that they shut out family, loving relationships, and even passions and interests they might have.

Imagine what your life would be life if you made sure, at all costs, that you were not vulnerable. There would be no truly loving relationships – only manipulative ones. You couldn’t have any goals because you might fail in reaching those goals. Excitement and passion would be taboo because those emotions would make you too open to failure or disappointment.

I am not suggesting that we deliberately set ourselves up to be hurt but I understand now how wonderful and amazing it is to be vulnerable!

By being vulnerable I can love (even when I might get hurt), I can get excited about goals and future events that I want to happen in my life and I can embrace the talents and passions that I have – even when it might mean I will experience failure and disappointment. I can imagine and what I imagine can become a reality – all because I am willing to expose myself to whatever outcome may result.

Everything that I hold dear is a result of my willingness to allow myself to be accessible, susceptible and vulnerable – my marriage, my family, my friends and everything that I am passionate about!

So while I would never suggest that we intentionally seek hurt and pain – I hope you will join me in recognizing what a gift having an open heart and being vulnerable is!

 

 

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Our Savior Knows our Pains

I belong to a special Facebook group for mothers of adopted and foster children. The children of these mothers come from traumatized backgrounds. As a result, these mothers experience more than their fair share of pain and agony – it is very difficult to raise angry, traumatized children. On an almost daily basis, they seek to deliberately hurt (both physically and emotionally) their mothers or primary caregivers. One of these mother’s, in an attempt to help those in our group, shared this recently. It is a quote by Chieko N. Okazaki and it is profound! We all have our burdens to bear and our difficulties to endure. I hope it will provide you with comfort as it has me!:

“It’s our faith that He experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually.

That means He knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer — how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced … that He does not also know and recognize. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten when a bully picks on your fifth-grader when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down Syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.” Chieko N. Okazaki

Today’s image was shared from the gospel library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (lds.org)

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7 Ways to Deal with Challenges

Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path Unknown

We are all faced with challenges constantly in every area of our lives. Most people have a hard time accepting and dealing with these challenges that arise. The truth is that you will have to deal with difficult problems throughout your life, whether it is in your personal life or career. Most of us get really afraid and run away from problems because we don’t want to accept reality the way it is. Running away from your problems is the worst thing you can do to deal with the challenges you are faced with. I have some tips for you below on learning how to deal with everyday challenges. Start now and develop the self-discipline to practice the below points.

1. Don’t overreact- Overreacting to a problem will cause you to make bad decisions. When we are not in control of our emotions, we will make decisions that we will regret later. Next time you are faced with a challenge, become the watcher of your thoughts and stay calm so you can make smarter decisions.

2. Accept present moment reality- Accept the way things are and the way people are. You have to understand that not everything is going to be the way you want it to be. If you cannot accept reality you will feel very frustrated with your life. Many people will try to change someone or something that they cannot control, and when it doesn’t work out for them they feel miserable. Once you can accept reality (including the challenges that you are faced with), you will be able to be more calm and think more clearly about how to get a step further towards your goals every day.

3. Don’t blame others- Many people make a habit of blaming others for all their problems. They fail to take full responsibility for the decisions they have made in life. The more you blame others with the challenges you are faced with, the more you will make people dislike you and not want to be around you. The first thing you want to do when faced with a personal challenge is not to start pointing fingers at others.

4. Practice detachment- Make a habit of detaching yourself from any outcome. Detachment means that you are not attached to any given result in life.  I remember in the past when I did public speaking and got really nervous. The reason I was fearful of public speaking was because I was too caught up thinking about what the audience was thinking of me. The fact is that there are some people that are not going to like what you say and others who may like what you have to say, therefore your job is to accept the way people are and not get worked up emotionally and mentally over someone not liking you. When you start practicing detachment, many of your fears and insecurities will disappear.

5. Don’t overanalyze- When you think too much about a situation or event that occurred, you will start to judge everything and everyone. When you think too much you will have a very tough time accepting reality and you will think that something is not right. Overanalyzing can also cause you to not take action on your goal, which can make you really frustrated in the long run.

6. Accept “changes’ in your life- You will have to deal with changes in life all the time. Many people don’t like change and they resist it because it gets them outside of their comfort zone.  You may be unhappy or happy at certain times; however, you have to realize that those two states are not permanent. You have to train your mind to be at peace at all times regardless of the emotional state you experiencing.

7. Don’t compare your lifestyle with others- I know it is really difficult not to compare ourselves with other people, however, the more often we do that, the more frustrated we will feel. There will be people that may have accomplished more than you. The key thing to remember is that you create your own story and success in life.

Today’s article was written by Nabil Gulamani and is shared from the following website: https://www.lifeoptimizer.org/2011/10/24/ways-to-deal-with-challenges/

 

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Exercise and Happiness

Physical Health – Exercise

The part can never be well unless the whole is well. –Plato

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. -World Health Organization

The top line: abundant scientific research demonstrates the close connection of the mind and body. Positive lifestyle factors including exercise, nutrition, sunlight, and sleep are associated with improved mental well-being and lower incidence of depression and anxiety.

Have you ever noticed that you feel great after going for a run? Do you love working out or playing sports on a regular basis? The vast majority of studies addressing this subject have shown that there is a significant association between exercise and improved mood and mental well-being. However, it has proven difficult to show that exercise directly causes these improvements. Are “happier people” simply more inclined to exercise or does exercise result in a more positive mood and greater mental well-being?

Researchers studying exercise have consistently found that it has a positive impact on mood. It has been proven that physical activity stimulates the release of “feel-good” chemicals in the brain, called endorphins (Fox, 1999). Some researchers argue that exercise acts as a diversion from negative thoughts (Smith, 2006). Others argue that exercise improves mood by virtue of the personal growth and goal attainment that results from efforts to master a physical skill (Ströhle, 2009). Furthermore, research evidence indicates that the social interaction involved in certain kinds of exercise (such as team sports) contributes to personal satisfaction and consequently, mood enhancement (Stubbe, 2007)

Exercise has also been studied as an alternative treatment to the traditional antidepressant medications and cognitive-behavioral therapies used for depression. The Cochrane Review (the most world-renowned review of its kind) has produced a landmark meta-analysis of studies on exercise and depression. Twenty-three studies were rigorously selected amongst a pool of over 100 studies. Based on collective evidence, it was concluded that exercise has a “large clinical impact” on depression.

Blumenthal et al. studied the effect of exercise on older adults experiencing clinical depression. They compared exercise to a commonly prescribed anti-depressant medication (Zoloft), and found that both treatments were equally effective in reducing depressive symptoms.

The jury still seems to be out in terms of whether or not exercise causes happiness and to what degree it has a positive impact on well-being compared to other factors. While we think the evidence supports exercise as being beneficial, we look forward to seeing new studies in this area in the upcoming years.


Practical Tips for Exercise

  • If possible, engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intense physical activity on a daily basis.
  • Vary the type of exercise you do, and choose activities that use your strengths and that you enjoy.
  • For those who cannot do high impact workouts, try low impact activities like walking, swimming, or biking.

Here’s an infographic about 16 reasons why exercise makes us happy, contributed by one of our readers (source).

Today’s article was shared from the following website:http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/exercise/

 

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This is how gossip destroys relationships! (and 7 ways to put a FULL STOP to it)

Gossip: A weed watered by words Soul Dancer

“We are not gossiping, we are just networking!” – If you are discussing the negative information about others in their absence, you are already gossiping.

Gossip brings serious irreversible damages to relationships! We all might have been involved in ‘gossip’, in one way or the other, and we all have once been a victim of it. In this post, I would like to share with you what I learned about how gossip adversely affects personal relationships and how to put a full stop when someone starts gossip!

I have observed families being broken, relationships getting affected, and communities being destroyed, all because of  ‘few words’, which were conveyed by someone, which were not completely true.

Before proceeding, let me give you the proper definition of gossip so that you can check for yourself whether you are involved in any type of gossip or had been a victim of it.

Gossip is the casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true. [Oxford Dictionary]

Here is a simple definition, (restructured into simple words)

If you have ever involved in a conversation, where the topic is about some information about another person, in his/her absence, which are not confirmed as truth, then you have already taken part in gossiping.

I will give you a scenario:

There were three people, lets say, Person A, Person B and Person C. A and B are good frienABCds. B and C were good friends, but now they were not in good terms. A doesn’t know C personally.

A and B started a conversation in the absence of C. A and B started talking, and after some time they started to speak about C. Even though, they started discussing the positive things of Person C, B unintentionally shared some of the ‘negative things’ of C, to his friend A. Person A believed this report. Person A was curious to know more and the conversation became intense and both of them started to discuss more about C. Most of the things B shared about C were not fully true, as B had a grudge towards C.

Suddenly Person C comes and joins A and B. A and B started to act as if they were discussing something else.  

Now just imagine, how would the conversation proceed? A had already got a negative impression about C, from his friend B. Even if C tries to build a good relationship with A, as long as A has the ‘wrong information about C’ in his mind, it would be very difficult for the relationship to be genuine and strong. Isn’t it?

This is how relationships are adversely affected.

So, what is gossip? With regard to personal relationships, it is a conversation about any information, about a third person, which is mostly not confirmed to be true.

Gossip is like a ‘forest fire’

Once affected, it is impossible to revert the damage caused by it.

There is a story that is often told about the dangers of gossip. One version tells that a woman spreads untruths about a neighbor in her village. When she wants to make amends, she approaches an elder in the community, tells him how sorry she is, and asks what she can do to apologize. He brings her to the top of a hill on a windy day with a pillowcase full of feathers. He instructs her to open the pillowcase, and the feathers fly everywhere. He then asks her to collect the far-flung feathers. She protests, saying that it is impossible to track down each feather. He responds that so too is it impossible to undo the damage that gossip causes, for each piece of gossip told catches the wind and travels far, just like the feathers.

Let us see what the Bible tells about the power of the tongue

the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3: 5-8 [NIV]

  • The tongue is a small part of the body but it can greatly boast
  • The tongue is a fire, and it can cause great damage like a forest fire
  • It is very difficult to tame the tongue
  • It is full of deadly poison

Therefore, we need to be careful about using our ‘tongue’. If you can control your tongue, you can control your whole life.

Now is YOUR turn – You can either quench the fire!! or pour fuel into it and spread the fire!!

Your choice!

7 simple ways to put a FULL STOP to gossip.

Nobody ever starts the gossip intentionally. It mostly happens in the daily conversations even without we being aware of it. Here, are some simple things to consider, to escape from the deadly poison of gossip. (Mostly to be applied in personal relationships)

1. Never ‘believe’ the facts about a third person without proper evidence

Even, if the facts that were given to you, is by a trustworthy person, make it a habit not to quickly believe it, without considering the evidence/facts. If you clearly set this principle in your mind, then you can be sure that you will not be easily pulled into gossiping.

2. Never believe ‘half-truths’

Some facts may seem to be true but are half-truths. Half-truths are whole lies!

Example: Jack and Bobby are brothers. Jack tells his mother, “Bobby hit me”. Mother immediately punishes Bobby. Bobby starts to cry. The truth was that Jack hit Bobby first, and they both fought among each other. But, in order to escape the punishment of his mother, Jack ran towards his mother and complained to her about Bobby, before Bobby could ever tell her. 

Here, what Jack told is ‘truth’, but was a ‘half-truth’. The mother took the wrong action, because she didn’t take time to inquire from Bobby on what happened.

Therefore, never take action on hearing half-truths. Listen to all the parties involved, before jumping to a conclusion.

3. Learn to stop a conversation when it turns into gossip

Listening eagerly to a gossip is also equivalent to gossiping. Therefore, if you observe that, the conversation you are involved with, is shifting to ‘gossip’, gently and politely decline or change the topic. This is how you put a full stop to gossip.

Gossip kills three people: the one who speaks it, the one who listens, and the one about whom it is spoken – unknown

4. If a person gossips about another person to you, remember he/she will gossip about you TOO

This is a simple check to test whether a person is trustworthy. The one who gossips to you cannot be trusted. Therefore refuse to share your secrets or confidential matters with such a person.

5. Never ever spread a negative information about another person

Even if you know that it is the truth, you need not share it with others. It will spoil his/her reputation. Spreading negative information about others will make yourself a less trustworthy person. (Refer the previous point). Speaking evil about others is a negative personality trait.

6. Try to find the positive in others

The next importing thing is to train yourself to find the good in others. Even though someone told wrong about that person, still he has some good in him. Find those and appreciate it. Therefore, whenever someone gossips to you about that person, you can change the conversation by discussing the good about him. Isn’t a good idea?

7. Always remember this warning – You are responsible for your words

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matt 12:36, 37

Therefore, if you have already fallen into this great sin of gossip, it is high time to feel sorry about it, and request God to forgive. God is merciful and will forgive your mistakes. Also, only God can heal the damages caused by gossip.

Here is a self-checklist

  1. Am I quick to believe the negative reports of someone I do not know?
  2. Did I ever spread a wrong information?
  3. Will I be curious to know the personal private facts of others?
  4. Will I encourage someone who gossips to me?
  5. Am I quick to judge others based on the information I received?
  6. Do I seek information from all parties before believing the report?

These are some of the questions you can ask yourselves. If you have ever been involved in gossip, you will never know how much damage it may cause to the various relationships you are involved with.

Here is a simple prayer

Father, knowingly or unknowingly I have believed the wrong reports about others. I am sorry for it. I chose not to believe it. Help me not to be interested in the negative things of others. Help me to put a stop to gossip next time someone starts it. Give me the boldness to discourage such conversations. Help me to build relationships and not to destroy it. Help me to recognize the traps set by people to pull me into unwanted conversations. Please help me to bring glory to you, by properly taming my ears and tongue. Help me to bring glory to you. Thank you, Jesus, for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Today’s article was written by Donny Thomas Kurien and is shared from the following website: http://hisvoiceonline.com/gossip-destroys-relationships/

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