John 16:33 - I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Peace. It eludes us. We rush around in life trying to cross the intersection before the light turns from yellow to red. But even though we crossed as fast as we could to get to the other side, peace is already a mile down the road.
As the Bible verse above says, in this world we will have trouble.
Yes, there is plenty of trouble to go around. And trouble in any one of these area can disrupt our peace.
So off we go to dash through that intersection as quickly as we can. What we don’t always understand though is peace is not something you can chase after. It’s in the stillness that we find peace. Yet, how many of us truly know how to be still. There, in the stillness, is where we can find that peace.
When you find yourself winding up inside, take a few calming breaths. Close your eyes and picture yourself beside a stream or an ocean where the water rhythmically flows. Take that scene and see every detail of where you are. The more detailed you imagine a quiet place the more you will relax.
Another way to unwind is to find a comfortable place to sit or lie down if you need to. Close your eyes as you did in the example above and take a few calming breaths. This time though contract and release different parts of your body. Begin with your feet and work your way up to your head. As you contract and release notice how your body feels. Is it becoming more relaxed or does it tighten up the minute you move on to another part of your body? If it’s tight, it may help to work on the muscles that are tense and tighten and release them again.
If you can’t find a place to calm yourself while indoors, get up out of your chair and take a walk outside. Begin once again with a few calming breaths. As you walk, don’t focus on the work you’ve left stacked on your desk, but notice your surroundings. Listen to the sound of birds singing or examine the leaves on the trees moving in the breeze.
There are many other methods you can use to be still such as reading a book, knitting, using adult coloring books or praying. Whatever you choose to do, remember to start with those few calming breaths.
Then as you return to your work area you may notice that you don’t see things quite as stressful as before. The calming exercises can also be used while you’re at home or even while in line at the grocery store.
Peace is attainable in our troubled world especially as we realize that Jesus has overcome the world and is right beside us, as we find a way to be still. He is our ultimate peace.
Galatians 6:4, 5 - Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
When people talk about an unpleasant situation, some can always find that silver lining. But the rest of us. Well. When something unpleasant is happening, we don’t just see the glass half empty. We can’t even see that a glass exists in the first place!
No matter what may be happening, good or bad, the pessimist always looks at the bad and can’t believe that things will ever work out.
A lot depends on our past experiences. As children, we learn quickly whether we’re one of the “cool” kids or someone that gets stomped on.
As adults, pessimists try to overcompensate for their lack of “coolness” by finding shortcuts, cheating and lying their way through believing that they’ll get the next promotion instead of their coworkers. Pessimists still try to achieve that fame which will make them look cool. But they never quite get there. And this coping mechanism turns into pessimism.
It’s here that the pessimist learns to lower his expectations in life. After all, if we don’t expect that something good will happen then we won’t be disappointed. Right? I don’t think so.
Even in the dark valley of our broken hearts there still beats a longing for a different outcome in life. So how does one drop the pessimism and transform into an optimist?
First, let’s go back to the food chain and see what we can learn -- Even at the bottom of the food chain there’s still that silver lining. Pessimists discover that they’re not the only one down there. They learn that together they’re not a disappointment after all. And they don’t have to cheat and lie their way to the top.
Next, we can learn that it’s never too late to turn our life around. It may hurt when disappointment greets us at the door, but it doesn’t mean that it has to permanently live with us. Don’t drop your expectations. Believe that good is just around the corner. Keep your eyes and ears open looking for how you can grow through the situation.
Third, be aware of the affect other people can have on your attitude. There’s power in those pessimistic friends of yours. Have you ever noticed that when you’re around a pessimist that pretty soon you’re riding the same train to that cloudy sky?
Forth, get some help. There’s no shame in admitting we can’t get through a bad situation alone. Instead of worrying how bad you might look to your boss, ask for help. He might surprise you by commending you for not being afraid to get his advice. This will show him that you’re in it for the long haul.
Fifth, take a look at the Bible verses above. Stop comparing yourself to others. Just do the best you can do in a situation. If you give your best and turn the outcome over to God, he will surely make a way for you to carry your load and to carry it well. Don’t just see the glass half-empty or half-full. Your glass is always ready to become a full glass and to turn you from a pessimist into an optimist.
What do you tend to be -- a pessimist or an optimist? I look forward to hearing from you.
1 Corinthians 12:18 - But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
Each of our lives are made up of different pieces. There’s your service to God; who you are within your family – daughter or son, sister or brother, mother or father; your marriage, wife or husband; and, your job and career.
All of these pieces are important. They make up our identity. Who we are and how we feel about ourselves is impacted by all of the pieces. But when one of those pieces is missing, the puzzle doesn’t look the same.
A job loss can affect all of these areas.
Our jobs not only provide for financial stability. They affect how we see ourselves and how others treat us.
Why you lost your job is equally important in how it affects your identity.
If you lost your job because a plant shut down that would affect you, but you wouldn’t feel it was your fault.
The same thing applies to layoffs, unless you’re the only employee who’s laid off.
The greatest effect on your life would be if you were fired. This can leave a stigma over you for years as people ask why you lost your job.
Yet even if you were fired, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. You can use what you learned through the loss, and it can help you succeed more in your future job.
I went through a season of job loss when my doctor took me off work for health reasons.
While I was working people told me how proud they were of me. Some for the first time. My family developed a deep respect for me and how I was handling the many facets of being an apartment manager. My older friends couldn’t believe I had even been offered the job and was seemingly thriving in the midst of the many things I was called on to do. While working I also made many new friends who appreciated me and told me so by thanking me when I was able to help them.
But when I was no longer working I crashed and burned. Gone were the encouragements, praises for a job well done, meeting new people and making friends, and finally feeling like I’d found a place where I belonged.
Thankfully I had some of my most trusted friends help me through the deep waters. And it was partly because of my job loss that I was able to devote time to what I’d always wanted to be – a fulltime writer. I have been able to take the pain I went through and use it to lift a hand to someone who has also experienced pain and loss. This website has been one of the results of not staying down, but lifting my eyes up and moving forward with my life.
God stood beside me each step of the way and took the pile of stones of my life that were scattered and used them to pave a new path for my life. He can do the same for you.
So remember, even with the loss of a job or the end of a career, God knows every part of us and we’re just the way he wanted us to be. He still believes in you.
For information on how to move forward after a job loss select the button below. If you’ve suffered a job loss I’d love to stand side-by-side with you. Just click on the blue “comments” below and let us know how you feel.
Ephesians 4:26-27 - "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
So far I have discussed many aspects of mental health. This post approaches the subject of anger and how it can turn ugly fast.
Many people when they are in situations they have no control over or when things go very wrong, experience strong emotions. Some display anger while others show worry. For me the worry and stress I try to hold inside sometimes turns into anger; except, my anger is not displayed to the world. It lives inside where the fire burns hot, but only a few puffs of smoke are released.
Anger in itself is not bad. It can be just a display of boundaries that have been broken. This is quite normal. The trick is to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible.
That’s what the Bible verses above are speaking of. Anger left to itself can turn into hatred and the desire for revenge. It can even be a signal that you or someone else is about to be harmed.
But we can nip it in the bud early on. It takes learning to be aware that your anger thermometer is rising. That’s why the Bible verses above say to “not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” If you keep that anger from eating away at your day, week and sometimes for a lifetime then you can find peace even in the most heated situation.
Take a look at some of the early warning signals and triggers that mean your anger is starting to get out of control from helpguide.org, in their article, "Anger Management," such as you feel clammy or flushed and you blame others for the bad things that are happening in your life.
Studying yourself and how you react will go a long way in experiencing a more peaceful lifestyle. And, if you feel your anger is getting out of control frequently it may be that you need someone to help you through it. Pastors and therapists can be just what the doctor ordered.
If you’d like to share your experience with handling anger or if you have a question you’d like to ask, just click on the blue “comments” below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Isaiah 63:9 - In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Stress is an everyday occurrence in our lives. It can be a “good” kind of stress like getting a new job or having company over for dinner. However it can also be a “bad” kind of stress like losing a job, not being able to pay your bills, or having a flare-up of chronic pain.
But there is also a third kind of stress, and it’s called “secondhand stress”.
Have you ever been at the airport waiting for your flight and a guy at the end of your row of seats is on his phone and obviously stressed out. You can tell by his voice and body language.
So, can you catch another person’s stress like you can catch the flu?
The answer is yes. According to ABC news.com in their article, “Can Secondhand Stress be Contagious?” Read about the "secondhand stress" study that was done to determine whether stress could be as contagious. After the end of the study, researchers said that stress can be passed on through things like facial expressions, the sound of their voice, odor and touch.
It’s hard enough to avoid getting stressed when you’re in difficult circumstances, but you can also get stressed just by being around someone who is stressed or by watching something stressful on TV.
Distress is another concern. This is when you’ve experienced stress on a daily, lengthy time period. This kind of stress has negative effects on the body. Examples are: stomach aches, muscle tension, headaches, raised blood pressure and mental effects such as anxiety and depression.
In the Bible verse above we see that even God was distressed as the Israelites were distressed. He feels what we feel. You’re not alone in your distress. God’s love and mercy can lift us up and place us back onto green pastures of the heart and mind.
To learn more about stress and how to recognize and avoid it select the “learn more” link below.
If you have suggestions on how to deal with stress, I’d love to hear from you. Just select the blue “comments” below.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.