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Saturday, August 16, 2014

How to Have a Loving Family Relationship

Do you want a loving relationship with your husband, children, friends, and other relatives?  Then follow the edicts of this verse:  

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres"  (1 Cor. 13:4) (NIV).

Now which one of those have you fallen short on recently?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Life Coaching a Depressed Client


Some life coaches begin working with women they've screened and later, during the life coaching process, it becomes apparent depression is involved.  Life coaches are not to cross the line of counselor, so refer clients when necessary.

Nevertheless, life coaches do work with clients' mindsets, so it is important they have knowledge and tools for this.  One of my favourite tools is by Joseph L. Luciani.

Self Coaching, by Joseph L. Luciani isn't a Christian book per se, but offers important information on anxiety and depression.

He warns the reader to be aware of certain thinking traps.  He suggests unless we are aware of the traps and their potential harm, they can become habits leading to difficulty (pg 71).

When I read the list of thinking traps Luciani set out, I immediately became aware that they could be considered STRONGHOLDS.  Spiritual strongholds are problems rooted in a person's personality that cause ongoing struggle.

The motive of strongholds as authored by Satan is to interfere with a person's ability to accomplish Godly assignments.  A stronghold can be a lie a person unknowingly believes.

“Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 
for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful 
for the destruction of fortresses [strongholds]” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4, NASB). 


Reading the traps or strongholds listed in Luciani's book was eye-opening.  He listed these:

  • black and white thinking
  • what ifs
  • should
  • labelling
  • have-tos
  • mind reading
  • tunnel vision
  • rehearsing troubles
  • fear of the future
  • defensiveness

Black and white thinking shows up in statements that are strongly pointed in one direction, negative or positive.  They leave little room for "grey".  But life really is rarely one or the other.  Thoughts and feelings aren't facts and it's easy to become duped by them.  The need to be right is another symptom of black and white thinking.  But this compelling character trait can cause a person great grief.

Have a look through this list and ask yourself if you might be caught in any of these strongholds.

(For blogs especially geared for
midlife women visit:  The Midlife Christian Woman)

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Get That Monkey Off Your Back By Working With a Life Coach

As I laid upon my bed resting, I thought about a blog to write about the unique purposes of using a life coach.  I'm NOT writing this to solicit business because right now I'm not taking clients.  I am writing this for those of you who feel all alone in a struggle and may need a nudge to look for a coach of your own.

A PERSONAL STRUGGLE 

I've been knocked out with a leg injury from nowhere!  Well, that's what I like to think.  All I did was two weeks of heavy garage cleaning, lawn mowing, and gardening to set an old knee injury off.

My garage looks great, but after all the work, my knee began to hurt and my calf and Achilles muscle have become so tight I can't walk.  I've been nursing this injury a full two months now with the aid of therapy!


I feel as though I'm being robbed of my favourite season.  I love to garden and right now I can't if I want to get better.

While I'm in physical therapy, the emotions are affected too.  I find myself looking for God's purpose in this.  It's so disappointing.  I am always open to his new path, but this isn't quite what I had in mind.  So right now I'm testing a lot of principles I teach.

THE NEED FOR EMOTIONAL RELIEF 

I've used life coaches before for a variety of purposes--not just identifying my life direction--but often for venting.  That's right, venting.  Why?  Well, in one case, I was not allowed to discuss certain details of an event due to confidentiality.  But I needed a relief valve.  In another case, I had pent up anger about something and I needed a safe place to get the monkey off my back.  

Us women can carry that monkey around for a long time until the monkey grows so big it weighs us down stalling forward movement.

Right now the monkey is hanging onto my leg and causing me frustration.  My husband is getting tired of hearing me complain about my sore leg.  He's pitching in like a trouper though.

Recently, I was so discouraged my mood was low and I knew my husband didn't want to hear about it.  Men like to fix things and this he could not fix.  This was one time I could have used the services of a life coach--someone safe to vent to.

So as I sat in my bed, I wanted to share this thought because I know so many of you have problems that crop up too that you wish you could talk about with someone without looking like a negative Nelly.  If you have an issue you think will be helped through having someone safe to talk to, look up Christian life coaches and send an inquiry email outlining the specific purpose you want to address.  If it's a one-time call you want, mention that.

Life coaching is different from counselling or therapy and this is a good example.  You probably wouldn't go to a therapist for a struggle over a temporarily frustrating condition.     You might go for healing of unhealed wounds or to deal with depression, but if it's merely a monkey you want to release, life coaching is a great tool.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Moodiness and Happiness Coexist Just as Rose Blooms Co-exist with Thorns.

A rose bush is both beautiful and full of thorns. - Photo Rosalie Garde 2014

Today's women are smart and savvy.  They want to be on top of their game.  They want to have meaningful work, a healthy marriage, to be able to manage their moods, and so on. So how can they be the person they want to be?

Just as the rose bush pictured above, beautiful blooms and thorns can co-exist.
When you get your skin too close to a thorn, it can shred your skin and draw blood. It hurts and requires first aid.

Any wise gardener puts on gloves.  But there are differences in gloves too.  The thin and flimsy ones only partially protect.  Good leather gloves, on the other hand, insulate the skin.  They allow a gardener to care for the blooms and successfully avoid the damage of the thorns.

If we compare thorns to moods--whether your spouse's mood, your co-worker's mood, or your own--it makes sense you should insulate yourself.  Being moody isn't a sign of weakness, it's part of life.

Many things affect our moods:  For instance, our mood can fluctuate based on our energy level, or our expectations of our spouse or children who seem to leave most of the chores for us.

Our moods can change after receiving scathing words from a co-worker, friend or relative.  Our moods can change due to hormonal cycles.  Those with chronic pain have a huge challenge regarding their moods.

When a husband comes home from work stressed, he might take his frustration out on the woman he loves because he believes he's in a safe place to do so.  But if a woman isn't equipped, she can take his frustration personally and division occurs.

Many women use venting  as a way to decompress.  But a husband may not enjoy being at the tail end of her vents.  He may not understand the therapeutic nature of venting and he may take it personally.  As a result, there can be division.

To keep life in balance, most women need a few good tools that will help them navigate issues such as managing their moods.  Using these tools is similar to putting on good leather gloves prior to gardening.

Choose Your Tools

Having a life coach to call or email may be helpful for a woman in need of decompression.  She can vent to her life coach all she wants.

Having a good friend to vent to might be equally helpful.  But it's hard to know how trustworthy your friend may be.  Would she leak information?  Would she get tired of hearing your rants?

Hiring a long distance life coach may be a good answer.  You'll have someone not too close to your life to vent to.  She will keep things confidential.  You will decompress and hopefully move forward with a new outlook after your session.

While I'm not taking phone clients right now, you can ask to be on a waiting list.  email or leave a comment for information.  What I hope to give you in the meantime is a tool or two.

Today's tools:  Separate your husband's vent so you don't take it personally.  Let him vent without it becoming an argument.  Validate him.  Do what you can to be his safe place to fall.  If his words seem abusive and targeted at you, leave the room.  Don't engage until he has time to settle down.

Separate your own issues from your relationship.  Ask yourself why you feel as you do?  Is it really that he doesn't pitch in or is it that you want to be a control freak?  How important is your issue in the bigger picture?  Ask yourself what the worst is that can happen if things don't go your way?

Consider writing your thoughts in a journal and employing self-care until you find the calm you crave.

If this is helpful to you, please leave a comment below.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Are you in Midlife and Feeling a Sense of Crisis? Help for the Christian Woman

(Revision of post Written in 2011)

I found myself awake at 3 or 4 am, unable to sleep and feeling troubled. It led me to do a web search on Midlife Crisis.



I've discovered that countless midlife women have similar insomnia issues. Alongside them may be feelings of midlife crisis that might be described as a bit of grieving or melancholy combined with an urgency to know what lies ahead on the road--to hope there is something meaningful yet to come.

Midlife crisis feelings are as prevalent in Christian women as they are in women of other faiths. Women everywhere tend to experience similar feelings--some as early as in their 30s, but more often in the mid- to late 40s and beyond.

Even when a woman thinks she's over the hump of uncomfortable "lost" type feelings, the feelings may creep back. She may be triggered hormonally, but there are probably several other causes at play.

It can be helpful for a midlife woman to understand the causes for her feelings so she can put coping strategies into place.

POSSIBLE REASONS FOR A MIDLIFE CRISIS

Here are but a few reasons a woman may have a midlife crisis:

  • grieving the growth stages of her children and grieving her own role changing
  • grieving not having had children
  • entering the empty nest or fearing an impending empty nest
  • recognizing that many goals have been achieved--education, career, marriage, children, home ownership...and experiencing a plateau (almost bored) feeling
  • experiencing marriage difficulties or disappointments
  • ongoing singleness
  • dealing with recent separation or divorce
  • experiencing job loss or inability to find work
  • trying to restore a sputtering business and having financial fears
  • parenting but having trouble with teens
  • experiencing pain, illness and general body aging issues
  • dealing with unwanted weight gain
  • coping with chronic stiff and sore muscles
  • working through perimenopause; menopause and other hormonal imbalances that cause hot flashes, headaches and more
  • feeling unhappy with her life evaluation
  • feeling disappointed with life or people
  • failing to have reached goals by a certain age
  • facing ongoing fatigue

Here are but a few reasons Christian women have a crisis:
  • All the above, plus...
  • Disappointment with God for not granting desires
  • Difficulty hearing from God
  • Difficulty accepting what God seems to allow
  • Feelings they have some how spiritually failed their family
  • Unanswered prayers, especially concerning spouse or children, hopes or dreams
  • Lack of financial prosperity they expected from God
  • Unfulfilled ministry dreams
  • Unanswered prayers regarding personal fulfillment
  • Disillusionment with the church or other believers
  • Spiritual attack--the devil's temptations of dissatisfaction and "greener grass" syndrome

WOMEN'S MID-LIFE CRISIS: The Good and the Bad

It may help a woman to talk with another woman about her struggles--preferably with one who can relate. (It's tough, though, to fess up to a woman who has no clue what you're talking about.)

Try joining a Facebook group with women in a similar phase, or join a Christian chat such as Power to Change. Buy and read books that will help walk you through your struggles.

The good is, midlife crisis feelings can cause a woman to draw closer to God.  The feelings drive her on a quest for answers. The bad is if a woman gets stuck in thought patterns that lead her to spiral downward into depression. The bad is also when those thoughts lead a woman to make drastic life changes she may regret later.

It is important to wage constant war on your moods and thoughts. Check out everything, and count the cost before taking drastic steps.

A woman can battle troubling thoughts and feelings by gaining professional help and/or by challenging her thoughts on a regular basis. Categorizing thoughts correctly as to what is true and what is irrelevant is vitally helpful.


How to categorize your thoughts or moods:

Sometimes thoughts are driven by overwhelm, tiredness, or pain. You may not have the energy you used to have, and sometimes chronic health issues cause problems. What you need to do in these instances is to nurture yourself. Sometimes you do need to just go to bed for a rest. Order-in dinner. Rest until your energy returns.

Sometimes thoughts are associated with a process of grieving. Grieving is a normal part of letting go. Small spurts of grief are healthy. All women face change and grief now and then.

Some feelings are driven by melancholy. This might include focusing on the good daysthe old friends, your children's preschool years...whatever. Sometimes a movie, music or possessions trigger sad feelings. Getting stuck in the past or in melancholy can become a major problem.

Feelings aren't bad.  They're part of the human condition.  It will help a woman to learn how to feel feelings and process her feelings, and then move back into the present quickly. That is, to learn to cherish good memories, but to not cling to them as though that's all life holds (a theory of author Susan Miller).

Sometimes women are bored, not in crisis.

Other times women are lonely.

Other times women fail to meet their own lofty expectations. Dropping high expectations may help a woman not only survive, but enjoy life again.

Assigning the most accurate label to the feelings may help a woman find the right solution.


MIDLIFE AND CHRISTIANITY

Christian woman are often told "all you need is Jesus". But even Jesus needed physical friends. Jesus liked serving people and talking to them. He attended parties, dinners and tea times in homes. He liked fishing and public speaking. He moved around the countryside. He didn't isolate himself.  He was on a mission with a purpose to fulfill.  We are to model Jesus.

Yes, Jesus did go away to pray and spend time in solitude, but not wholly.

We need Jesus, but while on earth, women need a variety of other things included in their lives to give them healthy life balance--events, relationships, activities, ongoing learning, soul work.

THE GOOD IN MIDLIFE CRISIS FEELINGS

The good about midlife crisis feelings is that they can direct a woman to look life squarely in the face and make new positive choices for herself.  They may push her to seek God more intently.


Evaluation is often part of crisis feelings. A woman may evaluate what could be done better, what she'd rather be doing, who she'd like to see, what she needs more of, things she'd like to change, etc. These feelings guide a woman to see what areas of her life might need development.  Once identified, these can be taken to prayer, and steps can be put in place for working on them.  (Over-evaluation, however, can be detrimental to a woman's sense of well-being.)

The good about midlife crisis feelings is that they push a woman to search for answers. They may push her to reach out to new people, to get out of her comfort zone, to search for new interests to become involved in, to look for answers, and ultimately to fulfill her God-given life purpose.

ACTION STEPS - WHAT TO DO when in a Midlife Crisis
  1. Hopefully you have many things about your life you are proud of and enjoy.  Always take time to enjoy your accomplishments. Pat yourself on the back more than look for what is missing.
  2. If your feelings are connected to tiredness, illness or pain, deal with them. See a professional (or two or three), take pain medication, lessen expectations, get rest, quit over-thinking, rest your brain.
  3. If you need a paradigm shift, go shopping, see a movie, take the family out for dinner, visit a poor area of town, help the sick. Basically, get out of the house and go somewhere new or different. Practice seeing the world in a new way. Read a thought-challenging book, listen to a thought-challenging audio, or watch a video.
  4. Capture your underlying thoughts and promise to work on them when you're feeling better.  For instance, if you're lonely, promise you will work on cultivating more relationships. If you're bored, look for a new course to take or an activity to become involved in, and so on.
  5. If your life has become too one-dimensional, plan to shut down the computer and get away from the house more often. If you miss time with your kids and husband, plan more regular outings with your family.
  6. If you're spiritually lacking, purchase a Bible study to work on, or join a study group. 
  7. Call someone and have a talk when you need to.
  8. Keep moving and growing in who you are. Take some personal assessments.
  9. Continue to be available to your children and to celebrate with them. Be available to other people--nieces, nephews, other young people, church members.
  10. If you have time on our hands, it's important to add in helpful things: take courses, apply for jobs (some that may be in completely new areas), volunteer or help others.
  11. Refuse to become discouraged.
  12. Take the leap of braveness and sign up for therapy, counselling, or coaching. 
  13. Start your own business.
  14. Pray and Seek God's input and commit to obeying what you hear him saying.

ULTIMATELY: FOR THE CHRISTIAN

Ultimately, God has many purposes for you to fulfill: fellowship, discipleship, service, evangelism, worship, relationship with God, study, etc.  He also has more specific purposes that you're design for. These specific purposes are the "bloom where you're planted type".  They are made up of your skills put to good use.

If you find no new doors opening to help you move forward, look at all the things on your to-do list right where you are.  God has you there for reasons!

Bloom where you're planted.  That means do your best at whatever assignments are before you.  Use your imagination and creativity. Complete all things well until new doors open. Accept where you are as what is God's best for you right now, but do dabble in a variety of interests.

There is a Bible verse that suggests the importance of scattering a lot of seeds along various riverbanks for when the river rises the right seeds will be watered and bloom.  This can be a good way to look at life too.  Scatter the seeds of your God-given abilities here and there.  Investigate.  Plant seeds of possibility and love every where you go.  God will bloom the right ones.

for more on midlife issues in Christian women, visit www.MidlifeChristianWoman.blogspot.com