Is Your Lover Lying To You: How To Know And 9 Things To Do Right Away
Be honest – how often do you fib or exaggerate details to get out of something, impress someone, or avoid negative consequences? If you’re like most people, you lie one to two times per day on average! Lies range from generally harmless to quite manipulative, but the reality is that all lies create mistrust. This …
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The Secret to (LASTING) Change: Quote of the Day by Socrates
Quote Graphic About Change What better time to focus our thoughts and energy on change than New Years Eve?! The thing I always try to tell myself is that I’m looking for “lasting” change instead of just change. I mean, I can MAKE myself drink more water for a day… possibly even a week, but…
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Has Your Boyfriend Lost Interest In You Sexually? 9 Reasons Why And What To Do About It
When a relationship is new, there is no shortage of passion and sexual tension. Over time, as the initial excitement fades, you might notice you are having sex with your boyfriend less often. This change is normal and to be expected. However, there is likely a problem if you frequently find yourself thinking, “He doesn’t …
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Don’t Stress on What Was (Regret is a COMPLETE Time Waster!)
Quote About Not Stressing Over What WAS This quote about regret (not looking back, but looking ahead) is a great eye-opener. I thought it was also ideal for right about now, as we ready ourselves for the New Year and look forward to achieving goals and resolutions. It’s just such an exciting time, isn’t it?!…
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9 Moral Monsters That Creep in the Night
“I’m terrified at the moral apathy, the death of the heart, which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long …. And this means that they have become, in themselves, moral monsters.”
–James Baldwin (American Novelist)
It’s that time of year when winds howl and creatures creep and movies of monsters and dark and loathsome things proliferate. It’s a month of fright nights and haunted houses, when scary things decorate porches and dangle from neighborhood trees.
When I was a kid, I loved vampire and werewolf movies, Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I watched movies about aliens attacking earth and giant ants, psycho birds, and The Blob oozing and destroying life as we knew it.
I loved the scare and spine-tingling rush of it all.
But all that Halloween-ness of the month doesn’t scare me anymore because, well, I know it’s fake—so much stage blood, costumes and special effects.
Still, I have to confess that there are creeping creatures in the darkened shadows of life that still scare me. And this is the month that seems appropriate to share them with you.
The following are 9 Moral Monsters that still scare me…
1. I Fear the Zombie-like State of Spiritual Apathy
When we set no spiritual goals and aim at no moral improvement, working on no Christ-like qualities, we have surrendered to inertia.
When we just go through the motion of discipleship without the heart and soul of discipleship, we turn into something resembling the walking dead, shells of who we could become, half-filled vessels of unmet potential.
When we walk without sincerity, act without purpose, and do without caring, we forfeit the life that a sincere walk produces.
We then become the living-lifeless, the almost-alive, not really living, but not yet dead, stumbling through our days instead of running toward what’s good and beautiful, worthy, inspiring and meaningful.
We risk becoming numb to the Spirit, feeling hallow in our worship and stagnated along the covenant path.
Then resentment and disaffection creep in like so many spiders spinning webs of discontent in what could otherwise be the vibrancy of a Spirit-led life.
So let’s cast off our zombie-ness and put on the whole armor of God.
Stand up and stand tall and move decidedly toward our Savior, along the gospel path, purposefully, intentionally, faithfully, imperfectly for sure, but resolutely nonetheless.
Aim at the next step in our discipleship and move a foot forward toward it. Set a goal and take action.
Read and ponder eternal truths that have eternal ramifications with spiritually igniting effect. Expand and deepen your prayer life. Seek inspiration and personal revelation.
Awaken the spiritual giant within as you fill your life with the Living Waters of Christ and His gospel.
Do this and watch apathy transform into spiritual anticipation, into faith and joy as the Light of Christ returns life and light to the soul.
2. I Fear the Vampire of Perfectionism
This pernicious fiend sucks the lifeblood from the soul as our inevitable lack and failure to live up to the impossibly precise and unwavering standard of Christ-like perfection.
Ironically, the pursuit of perfect prevents us from enjoying what falls short of that ideal. The very attitude that elevates our aim moves the target to the realm of unattainability.
Perfectionism impedes progress by constantly moving the target further out of reach and often out of sight, not as an incentive to keep going or to try harder, but as an indictment for not reaching the unreachable and a sentence of self-contempt for not being what’s currently impossible to be.
It can produce nothing but discouragement and disillusion. It is a weight that oppresses as we inevitably fall self-condemnably short.
This ever-thirsty vampire sucks the life out of worship as we hear all the things we’re not doing and watch all the people we think are so much better than us.
As the fangs of perfectionism sink deeper into the jugular of our discipleship, every talk, lesson, and sermon becomes a condemnation and every testimony a judgment of shame.
Inspiration becomes the sun we cannot bear; scripture becomes the cross we cannot tolerate; church becomes the mirror in whose image we can no longer see ourselves.
Perfectionism demands the undemandable and expects the impossible.
Perfectionism mistakes the commandments as a verdict and misinterprets the gospel as an anvil against which the hammer of eternal Truth pounds us to pieces.
We read about love, but experience contempt. We participate in lessons about forgiveness, but condemn ourselves for needing to use it.
As perfection is the standard against which we judge others and ourselves, satisfaction and joy, peace of mind and the joy of gospel living are never fully experienced.
We then risk sinking into the caverns of self-contempt and burying ourselves in the coffins of our self-assessed worthlessness.
Or we retaliate with angry contempt against the church for the pain we experience at the hands of our perfectionism, not realizing it was never the gospel or the Lord or His church doing the pounding that caused the pain.
The only cure, like in all vampire movies, is to drive a stake right through the heart of perfectionism. The beast must be killed to free us from it’s vampiric clutches.
So accept the reality of human nature in a fallen world. Accept our fallibility as an inherent characteristic of our humanness.
Accept the reality of our divine potential but also the reality that our potential will never be fully met in this life.
Realize that the only path forward is one step at a time.
Remember that the gospel of Jesus Christ is an incremental process of discipleship, that our Savior was presented before the foundations of the world precisely because our perfect God knew our imperfection would require it.
And let’s apply ALL the principles of the gospel to ourselves.
Obedience is one of those principles, but so is patience. Righteousness is one, but so is repentance. Discipleship is one, but so is compassion. Enduring to the end is one, but so is the injunction to not run faster than you have strength to.
Do what you can without condemning yourself for what you can’t. Strive forward even while accepting yourself and others where you and they currently are.
3. I Worry about the Plight of the Invisible Man
I worry about the invisibility of those who sit alone, who feel unseen, who walk in the shadows of life.
These invisible men and women, youth and children stand in plain view and are missed, veiled glimmers of people we sort of remember but haven’t embraced. They blend into the background, sitting quietly unnoticed.
I’m afraid of what that might mean about the sighted, the faithful, and the ordained whose eyes overlook the unseen.
The elixir that brings the ignored and forgotten into focus, that gives substance to their invisibility is love.
As we grow in our capacity to love, as we learn to reach out more authentically with love, as we trust that love is more important than routines, preferences and comfort zones, we will begin to see the unseen with a clarity that invites them out of the shadows and into the light.
That’s when we will finally be moved to seek out those living in the shadows of their faith, where we can help them turn on the lights of the gospel, where they will no longer be secrets and shadows, but living disciples in the Living Church of Jesus Christ.
4. I Fear the Witchery of Judgmentalism
When possessed by this peculiar witchcraft, we tend to look down the long and crooked noses of contempt at others’ imperfections.
The warts of our intolerance and moles of our lack of compassion disfigures our relationships and renders us obstacles to our neighbors’ progress.
The spells of criticism that boil and bubble from the cauldron of judgment, like so many rats, bats and black cats, creeps and crawls through families and congregations and neighborhoods infecting the culture with detachment, distrust and disunity.
Contention is its Frankenstein Monster.
Humility is the only counter-spell to the brooding witchery of judgmentalism. To be meek in the face of others’ weaknesses is to accept their fundamental humanity and to connect ours to theirs.
To judge another is to ride the broom of self-righteousness to absurd heights, levitating our judgment above Christ who suffered for our brokenness and doesn’t need our help adjudicating the worthiness of those for whom He already paid the dreadful price.
Christ’s payment in blood does not need the usury tax of our criticism, as though His sacrifice did not quite go far enough and our added self-righteousness is the final push Christ’s atonement was lacking.
No, our debt has been paid in full. His atonement was complete and needs no prison guards of contempt whipping stragglers at the back of the repentance line.
In fact, our judgmentalism means that we’re likely right behind them (perhaps very far behind them) in that same line anyway!
Judgmentalism fuels the oozing wounds of hate that cut the jagged scars of intolerance into the fleshy walls of our critical hearts.
It is the path of personal destruction that corrupts the soul and moves us closer to the cliff’s edge.
The way back to spiritual safety is to stop focusing so much on everyone else’s warts, moles and crooked noses and to focus on the good and positive in people instead. Replace judgment with honest praise for qualities we train ourselves to see.
Replace complaint with heartfelt gratitude for the blessings we learn to recognize from those we used to complain about.
Refuse to cast spells of criticism, no matter how “constructive” we think they are.
Instead, learn to see others through God’s eyes, as He sees them. Train yourself to recognize others as children of God, the spark of divinity within, all doing the best we know how.
Don’t get me wrong—there is a place for honest feedback under circumstances that may even require that you offer it. Still, love and humility should be the larger context within which we reluctantly share our thoughtful critique.
Judgmentalism turned inward is the perfectionism of self-contempt. Judgmentalism turned outward is the perfectionism of the contempt for others.
We thereby demand a standard we have no right to impose and judge others unworthy for failing to live up to the standard we had no right to measure them by.
Judgmentalism delivers the poisoned apple of disdain, disguised as a healthy snack.
As already mentioned, the antidote to this poison is to change how we truly see each other. So go find the silver lining of decency and good intentions in the dark clouds of our former prejudice.
Otherwise, we remain stuck in the toxic fog of judgment, clouding our perspective and discoloring our ability to see others as they truly are.
As we rid ourselves of this bewitching habit, we will finally be able to set aside the self-imposed responsibility of uncovering everyone else’s sins and weaknesses.
We will then finally be able to shift the weight and burden of shouldering others’ sin to the only Shoulders ever meant to carry them.
5. I Fear the Creeping, Clawing Rats of Sin
I know that rats aren’t technically monsters, but I can confidently say that they’ve been in every monster movie I’ve ever seen, adding significantly to the intended creep factor. Besides, sin can deliver some pretty monstrous consequences itself.
The rats of sin trap and cripple, corrupt and enslave.
These vile rodents nibble away at our true identity, creating a gap between us and our God.
The holes they gnaw into the walls of our character makes us believe we are no longer worthy to pray, unqualified to receive His blessings or guidance.
The vermin of sin undermines faith, testimony and conviction, as we stumble and stutter along the covenant path less confidently than before.
Still, we all fall victim to it. Our Savior paid the price for it. The covenant path leads us away from it.
But when rat-like sin is allowed to hide in the corners of our lives, in the dark and shadowed places of our souls, scurrying behind walls and creeping under floorboards and scratching around in attics where shame and guilt fester, sin tends to nest and spread as these rats dig deeper into the tunnels and basements of our lives.
If left alone, the infestation can grow larger and more eradicable, allowing sin to scratch and claw at our peace of mind and chew gaping holes into our weakening faith and testimonies.
As sin burrows under and through and around the structures of our lives, those structures become weaker, less reliable, more susceptible to other insecurities.
Sin begins to gnaw at our self-confidence, esteem and respect, turning us from God to the world where nothing fully satisfies and bellies are never truly filled with ultimate purpose and meaning and the kind of joy that endures.
The only proper extermination of sin is the admixture of God’s love and grace, Christ’s atoning sacrifice, our repentant and willing heart, and faith and hope in Christ.
That’s a reliable pest control that changes hearts, lifts spirits and reshapes our hopes and desires.
The sooner that potent potion is applied, the easier the process of eradicating these rats will be.
We all have a few rats running around in the attic of our souls that we will never fully eradicate.
The point is not to overdramatize the effects of what you might call run-of-the-mill moral inadequacies and spiritual deficiencies—even though such weaknesses are part of the path we’re on and should not be left unattended.
The point is to point out the intent and motivation of the father of all lies and the architect of all sin. It is to help us remember that sin is not neutral.
Sin is not passive or patient or moderate in all things. It doesn’t let up or let go. It doesn’t rest, take naps, or go on vacation. It is relentless.
In fact, sin scampers and hides, gnaws and infests in rat-like packs of temptation.
It breads disease and fear and death. Avoid it like the plague it is. Repent of sin as soon as you commit it. Then commit to do just a little bit better next time.
Lean on the word of God and connect deeply with Him through prayer so the spiritual rat-traps can quickly remove the clawing moral vermin from our lives, one rat at a time.
That’s all it really takes. It’s those small daily adjustments that keeps us squarely on the covenant path most of the time. And that path is indeed a very good path to be on.
6. I Fear Apocalyptic Outbreaks of Contagion
From the 1964 thriller, The Last Man Standing, to Outbreak and Contagion, to I Am Legend and World War Z, Halloween has had its fair share of viral outbreak movies.
Our current pandemic adds relevance to the moment.
But the viral outbreak that scares me most is one that infects hearts and minds and marriages.
I fear the disease of carnal decay, the addiction of pornographic rot that eats away at the spiritual nature of our souls, robbing us of our confident walk along the covenant path.
This viral outbreak of epidemic proportions corrupts honesty in the darkness of deceit, hidden in the night of our shame.
It transforms its victims into zombie-like slaves of appetite, flesh-crawling souls of bottomless hunger for the lurid, corrupt and immoral.
It spiritually maims and morally softens our will to fight and endure. It cripples our discipleship and disrupts our spiritual progress.
It weakens our moral agency and supplants testimony with spirituals apathy.
It robs us of irreplaceable hours and lost ambition. It dims future prospects of possibility, and lengthens and complicates pathways forward.
Trust, confidence and hope bleed from its open wounds. It insidiously darkens reality by forcing it to compete with the corrupting influence of airbrushed fantasy.
In that state of moral vertigo, where spiritual foundations start to slip and slide and we feel the moral landscape shifting underfoot, it becomes easy to lose an eternal perspective in a mortal life.
When our spiritual immune system has been compromised by the habit of carnal desires, it becomes exponentially more difficult to feel the reconfirming impressions of the Holy Ghost.
Spiritual assurances can then start to waver and the world can start looking like an increasingly attractive alternative to the demands of discipleship.
These are spiritually perilous times. Just as we cannot serve God and Mammon, we also cannot continue walking the covenant path in sin without losing sight of where we’re supposed to be going.
The two are fundamentally incompatible.
Carnality corrupts our moral compass and weakens our spiritual legs along the path that we find increasingly difficult to see in the moral fog our addiction creates.
The sin we repeat starts to feel like the sin we cannot stop. And the sin we can’t stop starts to feel a lot like moral failure of a permanent kind.
That gives room for shame to accelerate the infection, making it easier to believe the lie that God has abandoned us. We feel unworthy to stand in His presence, so also feel uncomfortable standing in His church.
It’s a slippery slope of self-destructive viral contagion that must be stopped.
The best vaccination against the spread of this habitual devouring disease of self-disdain is to wash deeply in the waters of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, decisions have to be made. Since technology and privacy are the spreading agents of this disease, technology and privacy need to be considered when combatting it.
Immoral thought that sits in the poisoned well of the soul poisons other parts of the landscape as well.
One way to lessen the viral impact of the past is to dilute the effects of sin with a flood of inspiration and truth.
Read and listen, watch, pray and ponder on eternal principles until the dirty waters of the past have become so diluted that the waters of your current life taste a lot like the filtered Living Waters of Christ.
But the first step to ultimately cure any viral outbreak is to get yourself to the doctor. Christ is the Great Physician.
His grace and atoning sacrifice, His love for and acceptance of each of us—no matter where we are or what we’ve done—are emotionally cathartic and spiritually healing.
Certainly, the Great Physician calls us to higher ground, to climb the mountain of addiction to the summit of freedom, but He nonetheless accepts us as we are.
He calls us to follow Him whether it is from the prairies and deserts or the forests and grasslands, or even from the hole we’ve personally dug and then subsequently fallen into. It’s all the same.
He wants to heal and cure and bless us. He wants us to feel the intimacy of His divine and perfect love.
Only He can heal our wounds and change the substance our character, remove the thorn from our side and transform our very nature.
Turn to Christ and let Him lift you from the plague and disease of your addiction to a progressively abundant life.
Peace, happiness, confidence, the sweetness of the Spirit, inspiration, revelation, purpose, meaning and pure joy are the fruits of this prescribed spiritual inoculation and ultimate cure.
The process of inoculation and cure is usually incremental and progressive.
Be patient as Christ heals you. Set short-range goals and celebrate each baby step of improvement, even if it’s just refraining an hour longer than usual.
Any progress is victory over the spreading disease.
And know, most fundamentally, that you are a child of God. You are endowed with greater capacity than you think.
The moral landscape of your life may seem dark and uninviting. But that’s temporary, no matter how dark or how long it’s been that way.
All God asks is that we take the first step. Then the next.
We will stumble and fall along the way; that is part of our discipleship. That’s why Christ atoned in our past for what He knew we would do in His future.
No one learns without mistakes. No bakery has a clean kitchen.
But as you take each subsequent step, and lean on the love and grace of your Savior, even if many of those steps you take are retracing lost ground, you will eventually have climbed the rocky terrain of this mountain in your life where you can finally breathe the redeeming air of spiritual freedom.
It is on your horizon, beckoning you toward it.
When Jesus invited us to follow Him, He never expected all of us to follow at the same pace or in lockstep with His. But He does expect us to follow nonetheless. I pray this will be your call to action.
7. I Fear the Blob of Stagnation
The Blob was a science-fiction horror movie in 1958 that depicted an alien blob of gooey proportions spreading slowly, methodically, but ever lethally through a city, engulfing and smothering everything in its oozing, expanding blob-ness.
We too are susceptible to alien attacks from the gooey grips of laziness, where we are slowly suffocated by The Blob of our own unchosen options.
When we stop moving forward, stop learning and striving and becoming, we allow The Blob of procrastination and atrophy to set in.
It’s then that the gangrenous loss of will-power and self-discipline stops us from taking the shape and form we were meant to occupy.
We are created in the image of God.
That’s not a mere physical reality. We were also created in the image of who we could become.
To stagnate on the couch of life is to forfeit that potentiality and allow who we could have been to bleed into the gutter of regret.
To end that slow bleed of potential, begin today to aim at something worth aiming at and then take your first steps toward it.
Discipline yourself to learn and grow. Read and think. Write and pray. Love and serve. Organize your life around incremental steps toward your ideal self.
Cut back on watching so much TV or YouTube, social media, Netflix or whatever undemanding devices of delay are preventing you from becoming more than you were yesterday or last year.
You were meant for amazing, so go start building something that leans in that direction.
Of course your first or even twenty-first build will crash and burn. Maybe all of them will to one degree or another, but so what! Build anyway.
What’s the alternative? Build nothing? Become nothing more than you currently are?
No, that’s to miss the point of our creation. So work hard and aim the best you know how at the best thing you know to aim at. And then adjust as you go.
Choose a talent and develop it. Choose a hobby and work at it. Choose a subject to explore, a project to accomplish, a trait to acquire, a weakness to overcome.
It doesn’t really matter what you choose to do because doing almost anything productive is better than sitting like a blob on the couch of life in wait of some epiphany or revelation to push you forward.
Epiphanies and personal revelation, by the way, are much more likely to come while in the act of becoming and doing.
So become and do. What else is there, after all?
8. I Fear the Self-fulfilling Prophecy of Self-doubt
Like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, it lurks in the dark swamp of our insecurities. It creeps through the murky waters of base comparisons where other creatures of self-contempt and self-loathing lurk.
Dark thoughts, like dark creatures, breed and multiply in dark places, then spread, scraping and clawing at our true nature and eternal potential until all that’s left is the emptied vestige of a former self.
Our divine origins are then hidden in the cold depths of spiritual confusion and misunderstanding as we sink to the bottom of the darkened waters of disbelief and gasping faith.
In that watery grave it becomes easy to get lost in the marshes of spiritual disorientation where our self-doubt creates the shackles that bind us to our lesser selves.
And yet we’re taught to love and serve each other with kindness, patience, acceptance and compassion, overlooking the flaws and imperfections of mortality, while focusing on the good in others.
We should have that same attitude turned inward as we stumble down the covenant path, no matter how imperfectly and inconsistently.
We’re taught to love our neighbors as ourselves. But harsh self-criticism is hardly the proper context for that love.
The implied scriptural assumption in loving others as we love ourselves is that we treat ourselves well, and so ought to treat others at least equally well.
And yet we often treat ourselves with something more resembling contempt than love.
We can be quite harsh and unforgiving, pummeling ourselves mercilessly for failing to measure up to some self-imposed standard.
Don’t get me wrong—standards are essential. They give us something to aim at and keep us acting within certain acceptable parameters.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is, in fact, a gospel of moral and spiritual standards. But to verbally slash the tires of our own self-regard undermines our effort to move along the straight and narrow properly and productively.
If only “he who is without sin” is authorized to throw the first stone, what makes us think we have the right to throw stones at ourselves?
Don’t allow that creature of the marshy depths to drag us down to the darkness of self-abuse, verbal or otherwise.
Instead, start treating yourself as though you were worth protecting.
Treat yourself as though you were on loan from God, as though you actually believed that you are indeed a Child of God with infinite potential.
Treat yourself as you would treat your own toddler still learning to walk by faith.
How would you treat your own flesh and blood as they wobble and stumble through life? What would you say to your own child with skinned knees and teary eyes? How would you say it?
Would you condemn and punish or lift and comfort? Would you abuse or protect? Reject or embrace? Blame or inspire? Abandon or nurture? Criticize or encourage?
Well, you are your own flesh and blood!
So, to yourself, “Go and do thou likewise.”
9. I Fear the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Hypocrisy
Dr. Jekyll was a good-natured physician who healed by day, and raged and ravaged by night. The potion he felt compelled to drink each night turned him into a monstrous beast of unbounded evil.
But his moral weakness was not what turned Jekyll into a hypocritical Hyde; Hiding Hyde was.
Hypocrisy is the peculiar state of believing no one else can see what we are pretending doesn’t exist.
Being human is not to be a hypocrite. Failing to live up to our values is not hypocrisy. It is in the pretense of virtue that hypocrisy is found.
Pretending to be something we’re not, hiding in sin while professing a falsified image of self-righteousness is where the problem exists.
But why did Jesus mince no words in condemning Pharisaic hypocrisy? Why were His boldest condemnations saved for that particular character flaw?
Perhaps it’s because false righteousness makes the real thing appear ugly and self-serving.
Perhaps it’s because the façade of faithfulness makes a mockery of faith.
Maybe it’s because hypocrisy makes it easier to justify the wholesale rejection of the Perfect Example of all that’s good and praiseworthy.
Perhaps the hypocrisy of too many believers is responsible for too many former believers who lost their faith in the Sunday parade of costumed righteousness that was too often disrobed beyond the chapel doors.
Maybe the pretense feeds pride, which nourishes self-righteousness, which alienates those treading on newly found and still wobbly spiritual legs.
Maybe hypocrisy creates the appearance of an impossible and therefore futile attempt to measure up with too many people giving up in the false glow of the hypocrite’s self-amplification.
Christ suffered for our sins. He paid the price we couldn’t.
To fake righteousness is a bit like going into debt, getting help from a friend, then telling him afterwards that you never needed his help in the first place.
Hypocrisy is telling Jesus you don’t need His atoning sacrifice even while He’s bleeding for your hypocrisy. That kind of Jekyll and Hyde-ism looks too much like a sacrilegiously disrespectful slap.
The cure to Jekyll’s hypocritical Hyde is in the serum of truth.
It’s to tell the truth courageously, forthrightly, not as a weapon, but as a sign of respect for Truth and its Author.
It requires removing masks of deception and dismantling facades and choosing to live in the open, instead of sneaking and hiding in the shadows of half-truths and pretended appearances.
The cure is to refuse to decorate the simplicity of truth with the ornaments of pride or to over-simplify it to the point that it loses its fundamental substance.
The cure is to integrate the natural and the spiritual, while subjecting the former to the latter the best we can. It’s to live behind closed doors the same way we hope others think we live when they see us out in public.
The cure is to choose the teachability of humility over the arrogance of pride.
Courage is a prerequisite to real authenticity. Granted, it is infinitely easier to write about being genuine than to actually swing open the doors of authenticity and invite others in to see the dust and lint in the unkempt corners of our lives.
But authenticity is the true glue of connection and unity that forges inseparable bonds of love.
And that, it seems to me, is a pretty decent goal to aim at.
Moral Monsters are those creatures that sneak into hearts and corrupt souls with crippling effect. This Halloween is a good time to reconnect to what matters most in life. It’s a good time to look deeper into mirrors to find the parts of our hearts that still cling to darkness. It’s a good time to recognize that such monsters are real and are a part of who we are, but that Christ already paid the price to root out those self-harming qualities.
I invite you, with me, to lean on Him to set us free.
Art courtesy of Pixabay
The Power of Setting BIG, Hairy, Audacious Goals
Just over 10 weeks ago I wrote an article challenging you to work towards a goal for 10 weeks. It was titled the “10 Week Health and Fitness Challenge” because my personal 10 week challenge was to run under 58 minutes for the world’s largest fun run – the City to Surf.
Now, that 10 weeks is up!
Firstly, I want to ask you how did YOU go? Did you participate in the challenge? If so, how did you go? What successes did you have? What challenges did you face? How has it improved your life?
If you didn’t take part in the challenge, I want you to answer honestly to yourself “why not?”
What held you back from taking part in the 10 week challenge? Was it that you lacked clarity on what you wanted to achieve? Is it that you had a goal but you thought it was too big of a challenge to complete in 10 weeks? Did you have some self-limiting beliefs? Was it that there would be no-one to hold you accountable other than yourself so you didn’t take part?
Really think deeply about this. I want you to raise your standards. When you are offered to take part in a challenge like this, I highly encourage you to take part. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I’d love to hear your comments below this article.
But let me share with you how I went against my own challenge and what I’ve learned.
My Successes and FAILURES in my 10 Week Health and Fitness Challenge
I challenged myself to run under 58 minutes for the world’s largest fun run – the City to Surf. This is a 14km run that takes you from the heart of the city in Sydney to one of the most iconic beaches in the world – Bondi Beach.
My training was average.
I set myself a clear strategy which I detailed extensively in my initial post however I did find it hard to stick to.
Firstly, I found that with different schedules it was hard to organize times to train with my brother, Mike and my mate, Andy. This meant my training was mostly by myself.
Secondly, my plan for eating purely healthy foods with the exception of occasional dark chocolate completely did not happen On the whole I’ve been pretty good, but there have definitely been times when I’ve spoiled myself over the past couple of months. Every piece of nutrition adds up and can dramatically affect your overall energy levels and performance in life and this is why this is an area of continuous improvement for me (and should be for you too)… it does take tremendous discipline to say no to certain foods
Thirdly, about 5 weeks into my 10 week challenge I knew that there was a possibility I would not be able to actually take part in the City to Surf. There was a good chance that I was going to be flying to Washington DC for business the day prior to the race. This halted my training (as well as my motivation) for a couple of weeks.
Immediately, I recognized in me how important it is to have goals… once I had the likelihood of my original goal not being achieved it dramatically lowered my motivation. It was a very interesting experience. I’m sure this has happened thousands of times throughout my life but because I went public with this challenge I was focused on it more I was a lot more aware of my own feelings.
With 3 weeks to go it was confirmed that I wouldn’t be able to race in the City to Surf. This completely gutted me! I LOVE this run! It’s such an amazing feeling having 80,000 people around you all working towards the same goal… and it was going to be the first time that my wife, Sylvia would join me.
Needless to say, without the goal of the City to Surf to work towards my training tanked. I also became more focused on other priorities in life such as my career and business.
But then I decided to do something crazy…
Setting a Bigger, Meaner and Harder Goal
When it comes to running festivals in Sydney there are two major events. Firstly, there is the City to Surf which I unfortunately was not able to attend. Secondly, there’s an event that has been known to break people down, injure thousands and actually cause death… it’s 42km of pain, endurance and determination. Yes, it’s the marathon.
I was having lunch with Mike (my brother) and he suggested that because I can no longer run the City to Surf that instead I run the marathon!
Immediately, I thought to myself “he’s gone mad!”
The furthest I’ve ever run is the City to Surf and that’s 14km. This alone breaks me down and causes me to walk away with extremely sore legs. I considered doing a half-marathon (21km) but thought to myself that it’s just way too far for me to run and that the training and preparation alone would kill me.
Days later, I’m having lunch with Mike again and he tries to convince me once more to do a marathon. I actually thought about what I do here with The Start of Happiness and thought that this would be a great case-study to share with you guys.
What if I could run a marathon with little training? How much of it is mindset? What barriers, challenges and beliefs am I going to have to break through to run this distance and successfully complete the marathon?
So, putting myself on the line and in the name of experimentation, I decided to say “You’re on!” and paid the $140 registration fee.
Over in the USA I unfortunately didn’t manage to do any training… and my diet was pretty poor. So I was off to a very poor start for training and considering the race was only 5 weeks away I was starting to get a little nervous. I realize I need to develop my own self-discipline.
Now, I have just under 3 weeks to prepare for my first (and probably only) marathon. In saying that, I have been back in Sydney for a week and I did train 4 times last week and they were all fantastic sessions.
Since signing up and returning home to be focused on the marathon, I’ve felt a new determination, focus and energy as I have a new goal to work towards.
In terms of my own mindset, I find it quite amazing. Previously, I was focused on running 14km as fast as I could. Now that my goal is to run 42km which is MUCH more challenging, I immediately feel that 14km is an easy distance to run. It’s weird… it’s just a mindset shift. But again, it proves to me that the goals you focus on are SO important in your life. If you set small goals, you will achieve small things. If you set BIG goals, you will achieve big things (and I hope to prove this by completing my first marathon with just 4 weeks of training).
My New Strategy
Now that I’ve created a goal that is significantly more challenging, I need a strategy that will significantly increase my probability of completing the marathon.
Firstly, let’s get specific. I could just say I want to complete the marathon… but this just doesn’t really motivate me. It doesn’t motivate me to run at all or to really push myself as hard as I could.
Instead, I’ve decided that the time I want to run the marathon in is under 4 hours and 30 minutes. I’ve based this off the fact that at my best it takes me 1 hour to run 14km (the City to Surf). If I maintain this pace I could complete the marathon in 3 hours. This is incredibly fast! I’d love to be able to maintain this pace for 14km, but the fact that I’m normally a walking jellyfish after the City to Surf lets me know that it’s highly unlikely I’ll be able to maintain that pace
I figured a more conservative pace, allowing for toilet breaks and some walking, 4 hours and 30 minutes is a reasonable target.
Nutrition and Hydration
I’m following my Ultimate Guide to Healthy Eating and continue to do so. The main thing that changes is that I need to eat enough food to replenish and repair my body after each workout or training run. My key nutrition after training will be coconut water, bananas, sandwiches and cereal.
The tricky thing for me is that because my goal is now 42km and the fact that this is going to take me about 4.5 hours to complete, I’m going to need to rehydrate and give myself nutrition DURING the run. I’ve never done this before! So I need to learn how to do this and what’s the right food/drink to take.
Cross-training is as important as ever for me. Previously, I’ve had knee injuries from running too much on concrete. I’m going to cross-train with swims and cycles as much as possible to reduce the risk of knee (or other) injuries. Already since establishing my new 42km goal, I’ve smashed my best ever distance in the pool (by 50%) and distance on the bicycle (by 100%!). Again, this has immediately proved to me the power of goals.
Focus on time (not distance)
Previously, training for the City to Surf I would focus on running for 6km, 8km or 10km at a time and try beat my previous times. Now, my strategy is to build my endurance. Instead of going for the time, my plan is to run, cycle and swim for longer durations (albeit at a slower pace). For example, I’ll focus on running for an hour, instead of trying to run 10km in under 45 minutes.
As this is all completely new to me, I plan to read as much as I can about training for marathons and learn about strategies for beginners in running a marathon.
3 Weeks to Go!
So, there’s just 20 more days to prepare and train for this marathon. I’m super-keen to do it and if I complete it in under 4 hours and 30 minutes I’d be extremely happy. Firstly, I need to just ensure I finish!
If you have run a marathon before and have any tips or suggestions for me, I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know in the comments below.
Also, if you took part in the 10-Week Challenge, I’d love to hear about your successes or challenges and what you have learned.
The post The Power of Setting BIG, Hairy, Audacious Goals appeared first on The Start of Happiness.
Trajectory: A Model For Your Path in Life
Today, I’m going to share with you a concept that I absolutely love. It’s something that I remind myself of on a regular basis to help me move forward, stay focused and stay disciplined in the direction of my goals.
It’s a concept that I like to call trajectory.
Your trajectory is simply the path in life that you choose. When you continue to progress your life in a certain direction you will reach a certain end-goal. The thing is, a slight change in your trajectory can lead to huge differences in the outcomes you get in life.
Let’s Get Specific
Let’s look at an example. If you’re currently at University or if you think back to when you were at University, you had the world at your feet and you could choose the subjects and majors that you wanted to study. You could say that this point in time was the starting point of your career.
Let’s say you had an interest in doing Marketing and an interest in the Arts but you had to make a decision between the two and build a career in one of them. In this case, you choose the Arts. Over time, you become very proficient in the Arts and you gain a solid understanding in your early career to propel you forward.
Now, what if you chose Marketing? Well, this would mean that you have set a completely different path and direction for your life. Again, in the first few years you will have developed a solid foundation and understanding of Marketing which can propel you well into the future.
You can imagine the difference in your path and outcomes as like in the graph below. The bottom (x axis) represents time and the left (y axis) represents the degree of variance in the outcomes you will achieve from following a certain path.
As you can see from the above graph, the choice of path you take can have a significant impact on your destination in life. The path that you take is what I call trajectory. What trajectory are you currently on?
Now, what if you continued going down that particular path for more than 3 years? What if you spent 12 years working towards that particular goal?
As you can see from the chart below, over time, this leads to a HUGE variation in outcome in your life.
To put it into perspective, the little red box in the bottom left-hand corner represents the original chart above after just 3 years.
Current Life vs Desired Life
Now, where am I going with this?
I want you to know that the CHOICE of path you take can have a HUGE impact to the outcomes you desire in life.
That one simple choice you made at University and for your career can have a profound impact on your social groups, your love life, your free-time, your health, your knowledge and expertise, your location of residence, your income and the experiences that you have in life.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of people that are living a life similar to the below chart.
I see people on a particular trajectory that is currently leading them down a path that is unrewarding, unfulfilling and will not get them to what they truly desire in life.
And, as you can see, the longer they stay on their current trajectory, the greater the degree of variance from their desired life.
Let’s bring this back up and look at it with a common, real-life example.
You might currently be in a job that you dislike. Perhaps you knew early on in your career that you didn’t really enjoy the career path that you chose, but it paid you well and so you stuck at it. Now, perhaps 10 years later you have worked your way up and have solid experience under your belt. The only problem is, you still really dislike the career path that you have chosen and you’re still not satisfied, fulfilled or happy. You still have a deep desire, if not even deeper, to really pursue a career and life that is much more meaningful to you.
Now, the only problem is it’s a lot harder to move towards your desired life because the degree of variance is much greater than what it was years ago. When it comes to your career, this degree of variance can also represent income in many cases. The longer you are in your current job/career, the greater your income becomes and the harder it may be to completely change your trajectory and progress down your desired path.
Can you imagine how different your life would look right now if you made the decision 3 years ago to change your trajectory and start progressing towards your desired life? What if you made that decision 6 years ago? 10 years ago? 20 years ago?
Unhealthy Life vs Healthy Life
Let’s look at another common example. Let’s say you have the desire to lose weight and be more fit and healthy.
Firstly, you might currently be on a trajectory that provides you an unhealthy lifestyle. It might be that you are working longer hours and often eat takeaway. It might be that you prefer to watch TV as opposed to doing exercise. It might be that you simply haven’t made the conscious decision to start living a healthy life.
If you stay on that same trajectory, with time, the degree of variance from your desired life will only expand. You will put on MORE weight. You will have LESS energy. You will continue to live an unhealthy lifestyle.
Now, if you make the decision to set yourself up on a new trajectory and start living a healthy life, you will start to make some progress.
Initially, the progress will be small, but if you continue down that new trajectory you will see the results that you desire. Achieving results takes time. It takes hard-work, commitment and discipline in staying on that same trajectory no matter how difficult it may seem.
What Can You Do Right Now?
The most important thing you can do RIGHT NOW is to determine what the right trajectory is for you. Examine what your current trajectory is and ask yourself whether continuing down this path will lead you to the life you desire the most?
Here are some basic steps to get you started:
- Identify your desired outcomes in life
- Determine whether your current trajectory or path is leading you to those outcomes
- If not, identify what actions and steps are required for you to progress down your new trajectory
- Make an immediate decision and take immediate action and take your first step on your new trajectory.
- Stay focused, determined and disciplined in moving down the path of your new trajectory. This will be the hardest challenge you face. It’s human behaviour to want to stick to things we know and stick to things we are comfortable with. Make sure you are aware of your own comfort zone and remain committed to expanding your comfort zone and reaching the outcomes you desire.
Focus, determination and discipline, coupled with time, can lead you to anything you desire in life.
Want Some More Guidance?
There are a ton of other strategies you will need to be successful in progressing down your new trajectory and these are all provided to you in the Launch Your Life Academy. The good news is, the doors to the Academy are reopening next week! So if you’re keen to start living a passion based life and want to stay focused, motivated and disciplined in doing so and achieve the results in life you desire, then I highly recommend you get started with the Launch Your Life Academy. The doors are opening next Tuesday, 29th April for a very limited time so lock it in your diary!
For the Comments
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the concept of trajectory. Are you currently on the right path in your life? Do you desire to change? Have you tried changing previously? What successes or challenges have you experienced when stepping onto a new trajectory?
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4 Big Challenges Facing Mental Health Facilities
The post 4 Big Challenges Facing Mental Health Facilities appeared first on NotSalmon.
More people are struggling emotionally and with this in mind here are some big challenges facing mental health facilities. Research has indicated that in the United States of America alone, about twenty percent of the adult population or one in […]
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How to Validate Your Inner Child with What to Say
Validating our inner child is one of the best things we can do, especially if she (he) has suffered from emotional neglect for the longest time. When we validate her feelings, it aids in her healing and recovery. Her unresolved needs of not being listened to are now being met. Ultimately, it boosts our emotional well-being from the inside-out.
Let’s understand more about what validation is about. In general, when we validate someone, we are showing that we acknowledge his or her emotional experience. The opposite is true of invalidation when we ignore, reject or judge the other person.
Validation doesn’t mean that we have to agree with the reactions or choices of others. We are simply saying that we can understand why they would feel a certain way based on what happened. Also, we are demonstrating acceptance of who they are – regardless of how they feel or think.
What Happens When We Validate Someone Else
When we validate, we give them a safe space for them to safely share their thoughts and feelings. We don’t apply judgment while actively listening and we are open to hearing their side of the story. At the same time, we are assuring them that it is okay not to feel okay. Our task is to simply let them feel heard, understood, acknowledged and accepted.
We validate with a nod or sign of agreement or understanding. Sometimes, validation entails listening and waiting for the person to share. At other times, it can be a hug or a gentle touch.
In the absence of validation, the other person may feel as if it is wrong for her to feel what she feels or that there is something wrong with her. It can create misunderstanding and problems in relationships. In fact, invalidation has been suggested as one of the primary reasons contributing to mental issues such as inflicting harm to oneself.
Many children have been taught from an early age that expressing their feelings were bad and wrong. They were not allowed to feel a certain way. Some were even severely punished for expressing their thoughts and feelings. In households where parents don’t model how to deal with feelings, there is an implicit sense of invalidation since no one talks about them. Clearly, there are benefits to validation.
How to Validate Your Inner Child
Which brings me to how do we go about validating our inner child especially where her feelings have never been acknowledged previously.
With validation, we start by being present and curious about what our inner child is going through. She may be unable to articulate what she feels at the start. However, we are patient and we allow her to feel safe to experience what she feels. A skilled practitioner can also be on hand to help her identify the emotions that she is having. (Contact me if you need assistance with processing emotions and feelings.)
Next, we nurture her by responding with certain comforting and assuring words or actions that validate her experience. An example of an action is the butterfly hug that we can apply. Some examples of words that we can use are as follows…
Hmm…I hear you.
It does sound hurtful.
It sure seems like you have a lot to deal with.
I know just what you mean.
Based on what you’ve described, am I right that you are feeling this _______?
How you feel matters to me.
I acknowledge how you feel.
You did the best you could with what you had back then.
It’s not what you do but who you are that I love.
You are NOT a mistake even if you have made one.
You have it in you to thrive in the world.
I see you. I trust you. I believe in you.
Validate Your Inner Child Often
Give your inner child the essential Vitamin: Validation!
Start by validating your inner child, so that you can improve the relationship you have with yourself. Validation is a practice in self-love. I suggest validating her as often as you can. The more neglect you have experienced as a child, the more she would need Vitamin Validation.
When you validate others, your relationships with them will also improve. You can also share with them this article on how validation simply raises mental health and boosts connection.
Shine in self-love always,
Self-Love Healing Therapist
1. How to connect with your inner child
3. How to heal 4 common childhood wounds
The post How to Validate Your Inner Child with What to Say appeared first on Abundance Coach for Women in Business | Evelyn Lim.
10 Life Lessons That Have Made Me a Much Happier Person
“Happiness is a how, not a what. A talent, not an object.”
The older I get, the more that I experience life and the more I learn what truly makes me happy. Throughout my life, I have always been a pretty happy guy, but I have definitely had my ups and downs like every other person.
Happiness has always been an intriguing point of interest for me. I have always seen happiness as the epitome of all success that life can bring. To me, I believe income and status is important, however if it’s at the cost of happiness it’s not something I would want to continue to pursue.
Happiness comes in many forms and I’ve come to learn that it can be extremely different for all people. However, there are 10 lessons in life that I have learned and that I believe can help anyone become a more satisfied and happier person. I would like to share with you the 10 lessons in life that have made me a much happier person.
Image: Some friends and I frolicing in the vineyards. Gotta love that jump, right?
Learning to say I love you
For some reason, this was always a hard one for me, particularly with my immediate family. As I have grown older I have come to realize what my family have done for me throughout my life and that I am extremely thankful to them. I’m still learning to say “I love you” more and I still find it difficult (I think it’s part of our male genes to find this hard!) but when I do it gives me a great sense of happiness and I feel more authentic and honest with myself. Plus, I know that those I love really appreciate it.
Learning to forgive
There have been times in my life where I have felt betrayed or let down, and there have been times when I know I have let others down. Although sometimes hard, I have found that forgiving others and being able to forgive myself is essential for being able to move forward and regain a truly positive outlook in life.
Learning to say no
I used to struggle (and often still do) with saying no to people, events or situations which would then take up a lot of my time and have a negative impact on certain areas of my life. I have learned that saying no is essential for being able to focus on what I truly believe in, what I value and what is important to me in my life.
Learning to live my passion every day
Now that I’m working for myself, I have the pleasure of being able to spend my time how I want to spend my time. I get to incorporate my passion into everyday life and into the work that I do. I have come to learn that spending even the smallest amount of time living my passion each day can have a huge impact on the way I feel and on the success I achieve.
Learning to eat healthy & exercise regularly
The old saying goes ‘you are what you eat’ and I am a true believer of this. The amount of information on health and well being these days is absolutely enormous. Scientifically proven, eating healthy and exercising regularly can have huge physical and emotional benefits. I now exercise first thing in the morning for about 30-40mins, 5 days a week and this has helped me to feel more energetic and happier on a daily basis.
Learning to connect deeply
I used to be somewhat afraid of connecting deeply with others as I always thought that I was making myself too vulnerable in doing so. It’s kind of like learning to say “I love you”. I’m a lot more conscious of the benefits of connecting more deeply with others now and I actively try to do this. I have learned that making myself vulnerable and connecting deeply with others can help me become more relaxed, open and honest and helps me to be more of who I truly am. I have also learned that connecting deeply, being vulnerable and asking for help is essential for both growth and success. It also helps build a trustworthy and honest relationship.
Learning to see life differently
This is something that I continue to focus on and gain an understanding of to help me create my own lifestyle. I have learned that life is not meant to be taken so seriously and that life is simply about enjoying the time that we have and making a contribution in some way. I’m not a fan of the traditional corporate career and spending time working on another persons priorities. In saying that, I’m sure I’ll re-enter the corporate world at some stage but it will be with more of a focus on gaining the skills and experience necessary to move towards where I want to go with my life.
Learning to set my own goals
I never used to set my own goals. The world around me used to do it for me, such as my parents telling me what grades I should aim for or what job I should get, and my teachers telling me how to go about my schooling. Even into adulthood, my bosses and society (through social norms, peer pressure and media etc) would dictate what I would focus on. I have learned that by setting my own goals and focusing on what I truly believe in is the only way to live authentically, realise my full potential and sustain happiness.
Learning to count my blessings
When I was growing up as a child I took everything for granted. As I have become more aware of the world around me, I have come to realize that I am extremely blessed with good health, a great social circle and community and the freedom to live a life that I choose. I remind myself of this every day which helps me take to the world with a positive outlook and a mindset to make a difference.
Learning to give
Following on from the above, I have learned that giving is an essential ingredient for happiness. I have come to realize that the more I give the more that I get in return. This is in both giving to others and also giving of my time and energy into what I believe in. I have learned that by giving to others, it can enhance my relationships, build up trust and make a difference in the life of another. I have also learned that the more I give in terms of my time, energy and focus on my goals, the greater my return in terms of success and happiness.
Life continues to unfold and I continue to learn every single day. There are so many experiences and so many relationships that I have yet to have in life and I’m truly excited for what life has to bring.
I look forward to reading back over this post in a number of years and seeing what has changed in my life and what else I have learned about life, success and happiness.
What lessons have you learned about life, success and happiness?
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