September 23, 2015

How to get back up again when life throws you down

You can get back up again!

1. Take time to heal

Healing is getting mind and body well again. It is important to take as much time as you need to heal. It is also important to heal in mind and body, spirit and soul. Not everyone will understand your process- they might expect you to bounce back to the cheerful you they remember or get into old activities at the same pace, but you know what you are ready for so take your time.

2. Gain your deliverance

Deliverance is casting out the hold the trauma has on you. Without this we are tempted to behave a certain way because we've been burnt or we get hardened by the situation and become bitter instead of better.

We might need to work on our minds washing it in the water of the word and refuting negative and contrary thoughts. And we might even need to rebuke the Devil's manifestations in our lives, commanding fear to leave and anger to fall silent.

The truth is the devil has a way of taking advantage of our pain to ensnare us in bitterness or unbelief in God's goodness and power, in people and even in ourselves. It might be quick or it might progress over a period of time but we need to get ourselves free in mind and in body from Satan's oppression over which God has already pronounced us victors.

3. Determine your perspective of the past

Gaining perspective is seeing what has happened from a perspective that allows you move on in spite of it. It is a form of closure.

It is generally believed that we only gain closure from confronting a person who has hurt us and getting an explanation, an apology or the satisfaction that comes from giving it back to them. But seeing closure this way would imply it is not within our control but dependent on another person's willingness to give it. The people who have had horrendous things done to them yet found peace within themselves prove that gaining perspective over one's troubles can bring about closure.

Gaining perspective is also the reflective process that allows us learn from the past and thread wisely in the future.

4. See a new vision for the future

The bible says arise out of the depression and prostration which circumstances have kept you and don't just arise but arise to a new life!
Arise to a new vision for your future- see something ahead that is worth living and fighting for, this vision then gives you the strength to work through your present reality towards a beckoning future filled with hope.

5. Reconnect with friends and family

Trials are a time of isolation. You feel isolated in your experiences and in your pain. Anyone who goes through is tempted to believe they are alone and that no one understands. It is time to shake off this feeling of self pity.

People would have hurt you with insensitive comments and actions but let wisdom remind you that you need people and can't succeed carrying on with a feeling that everyone should stay on their own.

Don't get stuck in anger at those who didn't seek you out, who didn't help like you expected or who out rightly missed the mark. Think of those you have also unknowingly neglected or disappointed in their own time of need and thank God for those he brought your way- they were just what you needed. If you live long enough you learn that no one is to be thrown away, that someone who disappointed you in the past, can stand by you in the future and someone who didn't help you in one situation can help you in another. Like Job after his restoration, pray for and reconcile with offending friends.

Finally, accept the sympathy and good will of those who come around you to comfort you for the things you suffered and rejoice with you for the things you survived!

September 17, 2015

Refusing to rely on memory

Previously I have written about how we hold on to memories that do not serve us when we should be letting go of them. Our memories can be stronger than actual events, because long after events have passed and outcomes have changed, our memories insist that what we felt was fact and what we concluded was truth.

Sometimes we will need to question these facts and try these truths. To heal we will need to stop relying on memory alone, but begin to let other factors into the equation. More importantly we will need to let God into the situation and take his word above our memories.

Recently, I had this conversation with my friend that God is not likely working on how to rain thunder and hailstorm on someone who hurt us unlike the expression we often use that the thunder bolt God will use to strike our enemies is doing press up. I think he is more interested in seeing the person our anger is directed at come to repentance, and seeing us healed. 

Healing starts with removing the darts that wounded your heart. It's in staying down to tend to your wounds not in getting up to run after your attacker. It is in seeking vindication from God and finding the milk of compassion in ourselves to nurse our broken spirits back to form not in seeking a balm of apologies from the offender.

God knows all the sides of the story. He may be saying one of these to your heart:

"I was protecting you from something down the road"

"I was preparing you for something down the road"

"Your Mr right wasn't right for you"

"I allowed it happen but ensured that no real harm came to you"

Recently I was watching a bit of one of the Harry Porter series where Gandalf cast his memories out of his mind by taking out strands of hair with his wand. It was one of those moments where I went "Ahaa" because it reiterated my sentiment that the world is using principles God has given us even better than we do.

The bible says to cast down every imagination and take captive (take over) every thought (including every memory) which is contrary. It says so because the devil ensnares us with thoughts, imaginations and reasoning so that we only remember the worst of people who may have had done good to us in the past and harden our hearts against them without remembering how we have been just as guilty.

When we question our memories and challenge our feelings and allow God's word weigh in then we are reaching beyond memory and are bound to find out on the other side that the real tragedy is in playing into the Devil's ultimate plan to destroy our joy and happiness through pettiness and bitterness.

We find out that all those memories are really serving the Devil's purpose and we have God's grace to side step his traps and live free!

Read Part 1- Holding onto memory here-
Read Part 2- Letting go of memory here-

September 15, 2015

Rewriting History

Hey people! How is everyone doing?

last post I talked about Elizabeth Gilbert's idea that you can change the narrative of your story. I think it is an important skill to learn because it is not about what happens to you but how you see what has happened to you, that makes the difference in if you recover, or if you get bitter or better.
I have also found it a useful practice to retell my story in my version of events to find a way to accept an otherwise unacceptable outcome. More recently, I am learning to add to the story by balancing the evil men did with recollections of the good they have also done and by giving reasons not to justify growing feelings of dislike or persistent temptations to remain angry or bitter.
Paul in the bible shared his coping mechanism which helped him move forward through adversity; it was to forget the things that were behind him and press forward aggressively towards the things ahead. Through the bible, there are several instructions to forget, to not call to mind, and to refuse to dwell on past pain.
This article shows one woman's way of forgetting, by neglecting to give attention to the worst bits of a traumatic event and choosing to make the most parts of the story the best parts of it. Next time you get the opportunity to talk about something horrible you experienced, try this- tell about the good breaks you had, the kindness you received, the lessons you learnt!
No matter what you've been through, it can become beautiful in the retelling. By Elizabeth Gilbert

Everybody in my family is a talented storyteller. We can't play team sports, we have a tiny little problem with drinking and we're all pretty dysfunctional about money—but man oh man, can we tell a good story.

I spent my childhood watching narratives get spun, twisted and renegotiated as family events were transformed from incidents into stories. There's a big difference, it turns out, between the two. An incident is an event that happens in real time, with real consequences, usually involving real (and raw) human emotion. A story is what you make out of it later.
Incidents are wild and dangerous; stories are controlled and reassuring. In the process of building a story, you sand down the sharp edges of an incident, buffing away all the pain and immediacy and urgency, creating something you can carry around safely in your pocket. A story is a magnificent thing because it puts you back in control.

Growing up, my grandfather used to tell the tale of his cousin who had a habit, back in the 1950s, of getting drunk late at night and then going for nude swims in the Erie Canal, all alone. One night this poor fellow locked himself out of his truck—which contained his clothing. He was forced to walk home, several miles along the one main road of his hometown, wet and naked.

But it gets better! My grandfather's cousin had found a tiny washcloth in the bed of his pickup truck—the only thing he could use to hide his nakedness. As he walked home, whenever he saw a car approaching from the front, he would use the washcloth to cover his private parts. Whenever he heard a car approaching from the back, he would cover his bottom. Inevitably, of course, two cars approached from both directions at exactly the same time. Should he cover his privates or his bottom?

"So I asked him," my grandfather said, "'What did you do?'"

And the cousin shook his head ruefully and replied, "All I can say is this: I've always hoped that I made the right decision."

God, how I loved that story!

Of course, as an adult, I can see that it might not have been so hilarious back when it was actually occurring—back when it was an incident. But my grandfather's cousin had taken that unhappy incident and crafted it into a really good story, which he then gave as a gift to his family. He may have exaggerated some of the funnier details while editing out some of the sadder ones. My grandfather himself, over time, probably embellished the story even more. I may have just embellished it myself, retelling it here. Some may have a problem with this. They might say we are obscuring the truth. But I think it's fine. I even think it's humane. The truth is hard enough when it's happening.

Here's another example: From 2001 to 2003, I went through an awful divorce. This was an unhappy incident, indeed. I was miserable, depressed, shamed. At the time, a well-meaning friend said,
" Hey, you're a writer! Someday you'll write about this!" I was offended, thinking it impossible that I could exploit my own pain for a story.

But I did transform my incident into a story. I had no choice, really—it's my inheritance.
Not that writing Eat, Pray, Love was easy. Figuring out how to make a good story out of an unpleasant incident never is. What should I leave in, what should I take out? The choices matter because your history is whatever you choose to tell about yourself. I thought, "Which private parts of myself should I cover up, and which private parts should I reveal?" It was intense. The emotional stakes were high. It felt like traffic was coming in both directions and the only thing I had to protect myself was a tiny little washcloth of words. All I can say is this: I've always hoped I made the right decision.

Read more:

September 03, 2015

Building Resilience: 5 Ways

Building resilience is a phrase I came across a while ago and I thought of how apt it is. Indeed it is important to be resilient, to be strong enough that people's opinions and harsh comments do not land on an already sore spot, or their actions do not control you, or you don't give up easily and run away from every uncomfortable situation or play the victim e.t.c.
Recently I read a couple of posts on my blog and saw that a lot of them have to do with my process of building resilience and reserves of strength. Whether it was me learning I could only control myself, or learning to take control of my own happiness or learning to handle a tantrum thrower or difficult person etc., the reoccurring theme that stood out to me was how to become a resilient version of myself.
So maybe this might become a series over time or the theme of a book or some publication, but whichever way I use it, today I start with 5 ways you can manage uncomfortable situations by changing the way you react internally when you cannot change the person involved or the situation.

1. Emotionally detach yourself from other people's opinion of you.

Only yesterday someone passed a comment about my work. It started with flattering commendation on something I had done and ended with a flattening admission that this person felt I didn't always do the best work.

The criticism came right after the praise and guess which one stuck?  I had to consciously and continuously deflect my attention away from the negative comment, telling myself "whatever XYZ meant by that is XYZ's business" because for the life of me I couldn't justify the statement and so it sounded unfair, undeserved.

Besides it wasn't doing anything for me. If it contained information that helped me either clarify what this person expected or proved the accusation true, then I could admit it as reasonable but as it stood it was garbage. So what I did was to detach myself from this opinion and treat it simply as discardable garbage.

2. Before you agree that life has been a series of negative events, ask yourself what is happening right now that you can be positive about?

When you ask yourself this question you realise that there are a lot of positive things you have going for you and you only need to look up to realise that the drudgery and mundaneness of everyday is adding up- every day in little ways you are making progress even if it isn't obvious. 

For me answering that question proved every reason I thought I had to be blue wrong. It changed my focus from the past to the present and admitted as evidence the truth that all things are temporary and situations never remain exactly as they are but evolve. 

When we stay on the positive side of life and we see that we aren't getting the short end of the stick at all.

3. A negative thought/comment has no effect except you believe it.

Recently I was trying to navigate a turn on a crowded street, when another driver drove up to me and said "you cannot drive AT ALLLLL". I had observed a man gesticulating impatiently in a car that had to stop for me to be able to turn, it was this same man who took his time to tell me what all his antics were about.

I was startled more by his eloquent use of language and his clean accent than the deliberate put- down in his words. For a comment laced with as much bile to a total stranger, I expected a person with much less decorum. I mean I would only expect that brew of hostility from an uneducated, unpolished conductor in a moment of road rage!

As his comment landed, I flung it back remembering that mine and the safety of other road users was more important than impressing anyone, and mindful that I hadn't broken any traffic laws. 

I contemplated why an obviously proper gentleman will bother to be so uncouth, when it occurred to me that the problem was the car I was driving! He probably deserved to drive it more given his perception of his driving skills and I less given his perception of mine. Soon I had enough evidence to believe it was a dismissible comment and found myself feeling sorry for the man instead.

4. No matter what you've been through it can become beautiful in the retelling Elizabeth Gilbert on

When something negative happens. I actually get a sheet of paper and write at the top "my version of events", then I say what happened and explain my actions and rationale for them. When I look at my side of the story without all the harsh judgements of others involved, I can find a reason to be compassionate to myself and forgive any embarrassments or hurts that came my way as a result of the event.

But Elizabeth takes it further, saying that in the retelling you have the benefit of hindsight to dull or sharpen elements of a story and come out with an acceptable ending. It's your choice to retell that incident in a version that you can make peace with. Like drawing out the benefit or morale that came about as a result of the ugly incident or including the benefit of the doubt to one character's hurtful actions or justifying your reactions under the circumstances. 

5. Don't permit anyone to control the way you feel
 "Becoming a better you" by Joel Osteen and "Power thoughts" by Joyce Meyer.

In essence it is important that you do not let yourself be controlled by the anger of others. It's okay for someone to be angry with you, it is even okay for them to communicate their feelings to you but it is not okay for them to hold you to ransom, be mean, harsh or attacking, or to indirectly by passive aggressive behaviour try to register their annoyance with you.

When this happens you  need to see it for what it is, take responsibility for your part and apologise but leave the person to calm down and be civil again- this is their responsibility not yours.  

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