Stuck – Coming Unglued

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Growing up, I thought my life would turn into something spectacular.  I thought things were going well for me and I was beyond blessed.  I had married the man of my dreams – a strong Christian who was the worship leader of the church I went to at the time.  But, one day, I woke up, and that life was over.  My husband had an affair and decided he no longer wanted to be a part of the family we had created, leaving me with a 15 month old and weeks away from giving birth to our second child.  With just the blink of an eye, my world came tumbling down.  Before I knew it, I was a divorced single mom with two kids, still in school working on my Bachelor’s, no income of my own, homeless, and no way out.  For a while, I was blessed with loving family members who provided my kids and me with a place to live while I finished my degree and adjusted to life as a single mom.  But, all too quickly, that came to an end.  Despite constant and tiresome effort to find a job, I have had no luck and I was at a loss as to what I was going to do.  Nonetheless, I persevered and somehow have managed to survive – even if it is not the life I want or ever intended on having.

I thought that with the new year, and with it, finishing my Master’s degree, that my life would start to turn around for the better.  That I would finally find a good job and be able to provide for my kids the way they deserve.  However, I feel more stuck now than ever before.  I find myself feeling like my life is stagnant, lacking passion and hope, my options in life ceasing to feel limitless.  I have hit a brick wall that I cannot seem to find my way around.  Soon, I began to notice that this feeling of being stuck was breeding a negative mindset all the way to the depths of my soul thus creating a resistance to life all together.  I realized I was feeling stuck because of several false beliefs: thinking I had to be perfect; that it was my responsibility and duty to please everyone else; that I lacked the resources to pursue my dreams; thinking I was forced to remain in the presence of people who are unhealthy for me; that I had to be everything to everyone.  But, these things are lies straight from Satan himself.  He was filling my heart and mind with these deadly misconceptions thus destroying my life and my ability to move forward.  That is when I decided, something has to change.

I had dug myself into the circular groove that I could not find my way out of.  When I decided things had to change, I realized there was no sense in digging deeper into the groove I had stuck myself in and instead had to take a completely new approach to change the way I perceived things.  Reality was, I had the power to persevere and move forward no matter the obstacles that seemed to be blocking my path.  Within me lies the ability to live up to my highest potential and the greatest version of myself.  Indeed, I have the strength to follow through and make progress towards my goals in life – and I have this power because, at the end of the day, I have the CHOICE!

First, I had to come to the realization that this feeling of being stuck is JUST a feeling, it is NOT fact, and I must acknowledge and accept the feeling of being stuck.  Being stuck is a feeling that comes from within.  Therefore, I must examine how I am feeling, what I am thinking, and how I plan to respond.  My life is my responsibility.  While I cannot always change what is surrounding me on the outside, I do have the power to change my perception of it.  The humor of it all, when I changed the way I looked at things, I began seeing changes in the things themselves.

Feeling stuck is also a sign that it is time to make a change.  This change may be a change of heart, a change in perspective, and/or a change in habits.  Nevertheless, the reality is, what I am currently doing is clearly no longer working.  With this awareness, it became clear that feeling stuck also serves a spiritual purpose in my life.  Just like with all times of stillness, there is fertile ground available for transformation to take place and therefore feeling stuck is an invitation to grow.  It is a time for introspection and reflection that should not be wasted.  Just because I do not feel like my life is going anywhere, does not mean God is not at work.  So, I decided to not underestimate this time in my life where I feel like things are not moving forward and instead I changed my perception and started viewing this “stuck” feeling as a time in which God is preparing me for growth and change.  Even if I do not feel like there is change occurring in my life, the reality is, God is constantly working in my life, which means there are changes being made within me even if I am unaware of them at the time.  Thus, what is occurring WITHIN me is just as important, if not more important, than what is happening THROUGH me.

Lastly, and probably the most important realization, I decided I am not as stuck as I think.  The truth remains, we are always constantly changing.  I do not know a single person who is the exact same as they were six months ago.  In some way, some aspect of our lives – our perception, our job, our location, our beliefs, our goals – we have changed.  This reality means we are not as stuck as we may feel.  Take comfort in the fact that the biggest breakthroughs we experience in our lives often come after a period – long or short – of feeling stuck.  This is why feeling stuck for a period of our lives is sometimes necessary.  So, embrace it.  When things appear to be at their worst, that is probably the ideal time to be at your best.  When you cannot take a big step forward, simply take a small one – tip-toe if you have to.  Just keep on reminding yourself that you are strong enough to take the next step no matter what size it is and that this step is the only one that matters in the moment.

Side Note

If you over analyze a situation that is now unfolding in your life, you will surely find something wrong with it. Just about anything you scrutinize will prove itself to be imperfect. If you go in search of what is wrong, it will stand out in a very obvious way. Likewise, if you study what is happening with an eye toward what’s good about it, you will find that too. Why not place your focus on the positive, and try to envision what wonderful things can come of a new development?

REACHING OUT POTENTIAL – Part 3: LETTING IT GO

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At some point, we have all been hurt – emotionally, physically – experiencing some kind of pain or disappointment.  It hurts.  We get let down.  We feel pain.  I get it.  Trust me – I GET IT!!!  But, what you DO with that pain is what is most important and so is the need to let things go if we want to reach our true potential.

The “it” we need to let go of will be different for each of us.  For some of us, it may be hurtful words while for others it may be the loss of a love one.  The “it” for others may be losing a job and the inability to find a new one.  “It” may be physical abuse, a breakup, the ending of a friendship.  For others, it may be self-inflicted pain from feelings of failure in some aspect.  Whatever the “it” is in our lives, we have to let it go if we are going to reach our potential.  The “it” is only holding us down, keeping us back, weighing down our ability to accomplish the Master’s plan for our lives.

Blaming others is not the way of letting go of “it.”  Yes, someone may have wronged us or did something wrong and we want them to apologize – we want them to acknowledge they did wrong.  Nonetheless, the hard truth remains, we cannot blame others for our “it.”  Holly Brown says this, “The problem with blaming others is that it often leaves you powerless.”  This is not to go about saying that your feelings are not legitimate – they are real and you have a right to feel the way you do.  It is important to feel them fully but then you have to move on.

Holding on to our “it” only opens us up for the opportunity to relive the pain over and over again and even get stuck in the feelings surrounding this “it.”  The first step in letting go of “it” is to identify what the “it” is that we are holding on to.  Write it down as clearly as possible because when the problem resides only in our heads, it takes up more space while internally growing into a size bigger than it truly is.  Get the problem out of your head and onto paper – making the problem clear.  The only way to create joy and happiness in our lives is to make space for it.

Next, make the decision to let “it” go.  The problem won’t disappear on its own.  It requires a commitment.  Without this conscious decision, the end result will only be a self-sabotaging effort in moving on from the “it” holding you back.  Making the decision to let “it” go also requires accepting the responsibility that you have the choice as to whether or not you let “it” go – to stop reliving the past, to stop feeling the pain, to stop reviewing the details of “it” over and over in your head – the choice to no longer do and feel these things is up to you.  You have a choice!  You can CHOOSE to let “it” go.

The next step in letting “it” go is to express your pain and accept your responsibility.  It is healthy to express our feelings and not bottle them up, as long as we express them in a healthy and unhurtful manner.  Sometimes we need to express our emotions to another person directly.  Other times, it is helpful to just get it out of our systems by talking to a friend or writing them out on paper.  By expressing your feelings, you are allowing yourself to understand specifically what hurt you so that you can let “it” go.  However, as we express our emotions, we also have to own up to our own role in the “it” in our lives – take ownership and responsibility for the “it.” Ask yourself what you could have done differently?  How are you an active participant in your daily life?  Will you let your “it” become your identity?

At this point, you have to stop playing the victim and blaming others.  Playing the victim does not make our lives easier and our problem go away.  Reality check – the world does not care, so you need to get over yourself.  Yes, you are special.  Yes, your feelings matter.  However, you cannot confuse the fact that your feelings matter with the idea that your feelings should override all else leaving nothing else to matter.  In every moment and situation, we have a choice: we can continue to feel bad about ourselves and our “it” OR we can start to feel good again.  You are the only one who can take responsibility for your own happiness.

Now, it is time to focus on the present – the here and the now – and find true joy.  Now is the time to let “it” go, to let go of the past and stop reliving it.  To stop telling yourself you are the victim.  Hard fact – you cannot undo the past and all you can do it live a life that makes today the best day of your life.  When you start to focus on the here and now, you actually end up spending less time focused on the past.  When your “it” tries to creep back into your mind (and they will from time to time), only allow yourself a brief moment to acknowledge “it” and then gently bring yourself back into the present.  Sometimes a conscious cue makes this easier, such as saying to yourself, “It is alright, that was the past and I am now focused on today and my path to creating my own happiness by doing ________.”  Remind yourself that if we allow our minds to be crowded by the “it” and the negative feelings they bestow upon us, we leave ourselves little room for the positive to proceed in our lives.  You are therefore choosing to continue to let the “it” control your life rather than allowing yourself the chance to welcome joy and happiness back into your life.

The last step is to forgive – whether it is forgiving someone else or forgiving yourself.  Reality is, everyone deserves forgiveness.  At times, we get so stuck in our pain and own stubbornness that we cannot even allow ourselves to imagine the idea of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, but it is a way to move forward.  It is a way of tangibly letting our “it” go.

Nobody’s life should be defined by the “it” in their life.  First off, it is not healthy.  Secondly, it adds to the stress of our daily lives.  It hinders our ability to focus.  Worst of all, it impacts every relationship we have (even those who are not directly affected by our “it”).  Every day you choose to hold on to your “it” is another day you are not allowing yourself the chance to reach your potential and ultimately find your happiness.

Side note: a poem

My heart breaks
It bleeds until it’s numb
Filled with only sadness
It is empty for someone
A man who should love me
Without any sin or doubt
But it pounds with fear
For love there is no amount
If only he could look within
And see all that’s within me
He’d know how much I love him
For my true heart he would see
But for some reason men are stubborn
Foolish and obscene
Not seeing what’s right in front of them
All the love inside of me
To proud to say I’m sorry
Or to admit they are in love
Instead they flea from the truth
Flying away like a rabid dove
Don’t they realize how easy I am to please
A simple I’m sorry, an act of love
That’s all I really need
But alone I sit
In sorrow and in doubt
Afraid of what state I am in
A long and loveless drought
It’s so easy to make me happy
To put a smile upon my face
But no man seems to care
I’m such an easy chase
I wish someone could see all that I am worth
It would save such time, energy, and strength
And true love we could set forth
One day I hope there’s a man who cares
With love like I have for him
Together we could be united in all that life has to share
But for now I sit in silence
Drowning in my tears
But one day I know there will be a man
Who will take away my fears
Together we will conquer all
The fears and doubts and sorrows
And live a life full of love
Anticipating the tomorrows
For now I must learn to deal with all that life may bring
What other choice do I have
From this terrible life I cannot flea
Maybe one day someone will see my worth
See all I have to share
Encourage me and lift me up so that I may set forth
The journey I know I must seek
Will require a great deal of support
Truly much more than one could ever truly think
If only a man could see
The truth I have to share
Maybe he wouldn’t flee from me
When my life I start to bare
Is there such a man that exists
Who will support, encourage, and be there
For faith I am losing
That such a man exist with whom my life that I may share
My life has been tough
And battles I have faced
I will not embellish my life will waistless, foolish embrace
But I know the destiny in store
A life full of glory and prosperity
When that will come I do not know
Nonetheless this life will take place
If only there was a man to stand by me
But they are lacking and few in sum
So for now I sit in silence
Wishing for such a man to exist
For I know he has to be out there
So I guess I must persist
Continue in this life alone
Like I have for so long
Because no man has proved himself
To be worthy of my cause
I know I am meant to do great things
I just wish others could see
All the plans God has set out
For someone as heartbroken as me

Part 3 REACHING OUR POTENTIAL Coming Out Soon

Part 3 of REACHING OUR POTENTIAL series comes out soon.  Sorry it has been so long between posts, it was not intentional.  I actually am having computer problems where a bad virus got a hold of my computer, locked me out of my computer, and ended up frying my hard drive.  So, I am not even using my computer right now and it is at a repair shop.  But, don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten about all my readers out there and a new post will be up soon so keep a look out!

The next post is on learning to let it go so that we can reach our potential.  It is a really exciting topic that I cannot wait to share with everyone.  It is going to be GREAT!

REACHING OUR POTENTIAL Part 2 – Not at our Potential

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“And in the end, it is not the years in your life that count; it is the life in your years.”  – Abraham Lincoln

What prevents most people from reaching their full potential?  The most common factor that is a constant companion and the toughest competition is FEAR.  We all have passions, dreams, hopes, and desires but a lot of us give in to the fear instead of pursuing them.  It seems that fear gets louder the closer we get to things that matter in life.  Fear does not bother those who are average, but the second you become more than ordinary, fear awakens.  Fear overtakes us.

Fear takes many forms in the process of reaching our potential and result in we do not accomplish the work God made us to complete.  Fear brings doubt which leads to quitting, driving our very decisions – which are usually the wrong ones.  There are many types of fear: the fear of failure, fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of critique, fear of rejection, and the fear of being known.

  • Fear of Failure – When we are not confident in our ability to succeed, we choose the wrong direction. Erwin McManus believes that our fear of failure prevents us from reaching our full potential.  McManus says, “We live in fear of failure, convinced that fear of failure will prove us to be frauds.”  The fear of failure turns dreams and potential into people who are non-doers.  Without failure, we will never understand what we are intended to do, how to make better decisions that line up with reaching our potential, and we will never succeed.  Failure makes us stronger and is a way in which we learn.  We “fail often and fail fast because we know that even through failures we gain wisdom and get closer to our calling.”
  • Fear of the Future – Decision making times of our lives heighten our awareness and fear of the uncertainty of the future – the fear of losing money and our safety net. We regularly conjure up a false sense of security in things, like where we live, what we drive, where we work, and how much money we have in the bank.  Month after month, we pay insurance industries for life, health, and property insurance.  However, none of these safety measures guarantees our future; they are simply managing the risks.  Nonetheless, we still remain uncertain of what will happen throughout the course of the day, let alone what will happen tomorrow, next week, or even ten years from now.  Charles Lee says this, “We can’t let insecurity become justification for not doing something… the alternative to not moving forward is living the life you never wanted.” The fear of the uncertain is something most of us struggle with; the short-term certainties preceding the long-term purpose.  People who reach their potential know and understand that our future is out of our control and we must pursue our purpose in life in spite of the risks.
  • Fear of the Unknown – No one person is good at everything or “has it all together.” The goal is not to have it all together, but to know where we are going and the confidence to move towards it.  You will continually run into things you do not understand, which presents us with the opportunity to admit our ignorance and weaknesses thus having to look to others for assistance.  Fact is – we need help to make our dreams come true, which is a terrifying concept to have to admit; but this is the dividing line between those who succeed and those who fail.  Our greatest limitations in meeting our potential lies within us; therefore, the quicker we accept and admit we cannot know everything, the quicker we can rely on others’ gifts to help us succeed.  People who reach their potential choose to focus on what we do know and find others to fill in the unknown spaces in order to keep moving forward.
  • Fear of Change – Admit it, we all want change at some point in our lives but at the same time, none of us want to make the effort TO change. Admit it, we all know we need change, but none of us is willing to put in the work to make that change happen.  Change happens when people choose a different way of thinking, acting, behaving, doing…  Change is attractive if it benefits us while guaranteeing that we will not suffer.  However, this fear of suffering in the midst of change causes many people to retreat from reaching their full potential.  Good news – change brings new hope and life to broken situations.  Those who want to reach their potential require change, choosing to tackle the fears.  People who reach their potential believe that if change is going to happen, it starts with us choosing a new way one day and continuing to choose it day after day. 
  • Fear of Critique – Critique can take the form of personal regret or dissatisfying others professionally and personally. In everything we do, there will be critics; in every community, there will be doubters.  Personally, I believe that those who try to bring us down do so because they have personally been held back.  People who reach their potential will not be held back by the potential criticism of others.  They fight through criticism to create something in this world. 
  • Fear of Rejection – No one likes to hear “no.” However, the sooner we can realize that behind every yes is a series of nos, the sooner we can move past the no to get to the yes.  We will all hear the word no at some point in our journey of reaching our potential, but that is no reason to be held back.  If we allow the fear of rejection to drive us, we are letting the negative potential overtake the possibilities of our future and our ability to reach our potential.   People who reach their potential do not fear rejection; they look past the no in search of the yes!
  • Fear of Being Known – What happens when it all works out? People could actually know you and that can be a scary concept for some.  Success brings spotlights and many people fear what that would do to them personally, their families, and other relationships.  People who reach their potential know there are no perfect people and choose to focus on their giftedness rather than brining others down.  They support and encourage others, knowing each of us needs grace in one area of another. 

When fear succeeds, it proves you do not believe in your own person strength.  We start comparing ourselves to others, believing others would be better at solving the problem or accomplishing the task.  We begin to think that our abilities fall short.  The comparison game fills our thinking process, which does not solve anything.  If we let fear win, we retreat from resolution and move in the opposite direction of our potential and God’s plan for our lives.  When fear overtakes us, we miss out on the potential to reach God’s unique design.

People who reach their potential overcome their fears and beat the odds to create progress in this broken world.  Fears will be prevalent, but we need to be persistent in beating them.  Fear tends to creep in and dominate our potential, but the decisions we make can help us understand our fears and allow hopeful possibilities to overcome the voice of doubt.  We must beat fear with courage even when we do not know where it will take us.

Another reason many people have not yet reached their potential is responsibility.  I have noticed many people actually run away from the burdens of making the necessary decisions that are required to reach your potential and are unwilling to take on the weight of the responsibility and ownership of the results.  I believe, when we make the right choices, those choices lead us closer to making things more right than they are today thus leading us closer to being the person God is calling us to be – ultimately accomplishing the Master’s plan while acquiring maximum potential.  Becoming responsible, and making even a small dent towards progress in reaching your potential will give you a connection to why you exist and your purpose in life.  Responsibility + who and what you love + your past story + your wisdom = the path you need to take to solve problems on your way to reaching your dreams and your potential.  We have the responsibility to determine our unique calling to the specific giftedness God is calling us to use for His purpose.

We often flee from problems instead of embracing them.  Truth is we will be known for the way we solve problems.  Additionally, you are known for the problems you are solving.  Problems create a distraction from accomplishing our potential.  Henry Ford says this, “Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”  Problems take time, energy, and hard work.  If you want to be a problem solver, you have to position yourself to seek out and engage the problem where you have the unique ability to create a solution.  To solve problems, you have to peel back the layers and change the infrastructure of the way things work.  It is never an easy task, but it is an important one.  You have to train your mind and passions to focus on things that most of society chooses to neglect and attack what is broken, beginning the restorative process of fixing things.  Truth is there are unforeseen opportunities lurking behind every problem.  You have to focus on how things could be and not become paralyzed by the way things currently are.

I am the kind of person who has a hard time telling people no, always taking on more than I can handle – even though I always seem to get it all accomplished.  Right now, I am a full time grad student, a single mom of two kids, attempting to sell Mary Kay, trying to get a blog to take off and reach thousands of people, am room mom in BOTH of my kids’ classrooms – and that’s all on top of the everyday duties of laundry, dishes, taking care of a house, running errands, etc.  Then, a friend needs my help moving or needs to talk or needs a babysitter – and I have a hard time saying no even when I know I cannot take on another task.  This is one of my pros and cons.  It is both a strength and a weakness.  Nevertheless, one thing I have learned throughout pursuing God’s calling for my life is this – you must say no to things that take away from you reaching your potential so that you can say yes to the things that bring you closer to your calling and responsibilities.

So, why do most people decide to stay average instead of reaching their fullest potential?  Truth is, they do not exactly make this decision, and they simply do not know how to be more than average.  In addition, the average path is much easier and less dangerous and stays comfortable.  The path to reaching your potential is a dangerous one – but a good kind of dangerous, the kind of dangerous that leads to great accomplishments.  There may be tall mountains with rocky vertical walls and the occasional dangerous dragon lurking behind the next corner that may require you to get a little dirty, bloody, become disciplined, and be tested.  However, the good news is, your dreams will be reached and it will be awesome!

Then there are the people who just feel stuck.  They are drained and low on energy and are certain there is no way to change the life they live with all the daily responsibilities of being a parent, employee, wife/husband, friend, and child etc.  It is not productive to beat ourselves up about not living to our full potential.  When we spend our energy telling ourselves we are not going enough or do not have enough time or energy, we are actually wasting that time and energy doing things that will lead us to reaching our potential.  Become busy searching for your potential and not telling yourself that you will never get there.  Living up to our full potential is not accomplished by attempting to avoid problems or making mistakes, it is giving it our all, wholeheartedly, with everything we have!