Archive for the ‘Stress’ Category


About thirty years ago I woke up with a headache.  Now we all do that from time to time but after about three weeks of waking up with a headache I started thinking I had a problem (I know, I’m a man, right?).  My doctor’s recommendation was that I needed to check into a hospital for a battery of tests.  So I checked into Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, MS for an overnight stay that lasted five days. 

After visits from every type of doctor from a Neurologist to a Podiatrist I finally found one who felt like he had found my problem… a Psychiatrist!  I failed my psychological test.  You can laugh but I seriously failed this test as badly as any test I had ever taken.  I was prescribed some heavy psychotropic drugs and scheduled for a series of counseling sessions.  Let me cut to the chase: I needed counseling but either did not know it or I knew it deep down inside but would not admit it to myself.  Looking back, I think it was the later.

So my point in writing this blog is to help you decided if you or someone you love needs to seek counseling help without having to spend a week in the hospital being poked and prodded to find out.  There are a lot of good self analysis plans to guide you in this that you can find if you type in Google the phrase “Do I Need Counseling?”  Here is the link to one that I feel can help you decide whether or not you need to talk with someone: Counseling Self-Test

 I know it may seem a little self-serving for me to write about the need for counseling.  However, having been on the counselee side of counseling, I can say with confidence that it can help us to get a new perspective on life.  I’ve read that the secret to healing is revealing and I agree.  Going through life with a painted on smile saying “I’m fine” every time you are asked how you are doing is at best a lie and at worst life threatening.

Find appropriate help based on your need.  Sometimes a trusted friend is enough.  Other times you may need someone with the training to walk you through life issues.  You have so many counseling options available to today.  There is, of course, in-person counseling which would be the ideal, but there is also online therapy to consider. Online counseling is live counseling through a webcam and Skype (free video conferencing).

I would be honored to serve your counseling needs.  I offer both in-person and online sessions.  While I am unable at the present time to take insurance, I offer a sliding fee scale for you to decide what you can afford.  Your first session is always free so that you can decide whether or not Ready4Life Counseling is for you.  For more information you can check out my website www.ready4lifecounseling.com or call me at 601-818-5665. 

By the way, I’m much better now.  You can ask… well just take my word for it!

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Some counselors talk about “how to cope with stress.” I’ll be honest with you: I’m not interested in “coping” with stress. I had a cold a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t want my doctor to give me a three point plan to cope with it.  I want to eliminate worry and stress. I don’t want to get used to it, I want to get rid of it. In Philippians 4, Paul shows us how we can do just that. He begins by saying…
(v. 6) Do not worry about anything.

Now, this is easier said than done. Everyone knows that worry isn’t good, yet everyone does it from time to time. The only thing more futile than worry is telling someone not to worry. But Paul does much more than just say “Don’t worry.” He tells us exactly how to stop worrying. Do you have worries? Here’s how you can get rid of them.

1. Make everything a matter of prayer

(v. 6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

2. Point your thoughts in the right direction

Our thoughts control us. In the Bible, King Solomon said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

What do you think about all day? When you wake up in the morning, what thoughts go through your mind? How you think during the first few minutes of the day can set the pace for the entire day.

You could begin each day by saying, “This is the day that Lord has made! I’m above ground and my heart is still beating, so it’s a great day! I’ve got many things to look forward to. Today, I’m going to make progress on my problems. Today, God will be with me every step of the way. Today, God will cause all things to work together for good. Today, God will give me the opportunity to serve him in some capacity. Today, I will encourage my family. Today, I will show God’s love to everyone I meet.”

Do you see how empowering this can be? If you point your thoughts in the right direction at the beginning of each day, your worries will not have room to squeeze in. This is why Paul says…

(v. 8) Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

These 8 things serve as filters that help us reject certain thoughts and prevent us from putting garbage into our minds. You don’t have to throw your TV and radio in the trash, but you do need to be selective in what you put into your mind.  Let verse 8 be your remote control controller.

Paul teaches that a crucial step in eliminating worry or anxiety is to think the way you ought to think—point your thoughts in the right direction. Thirdly…

3. Take action against your worries

Many people resign themselves to their worries and do nothing. They tell themselves there is nothing they can do, and they wait for the worst to happen. As a result, their worries get bigger and bigger, and things get worse and worse. Doing nothing is fertilizer for anxiety—it causes your worry to spread out of control. Taking action is weed-killer. It removes worries once and for all. Paul said,

(v. 9) Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Paul goes out on a limb with this statement. He was speaking to a church that knew him well. He had lived with them and served with them. If he said, “Do not worry” but was himself always stressed out and full of anxiety, they wouldn’t have bought what he was saying. However, Paul’s life did match his message, and he could say with confidence, “Follow my example. Do what I do, and you’ll have God’s peace in your life.”

There is a principle here for us to learn. Do you know someone who has a handle on worry? Follow their example. Do you know someone who can go through stressful situations without coming unglued? Then handle your problems the way they handle their problems.

What I see in the lives of people who do not worry is a commitment to take responsible action. Doers aren’t worriers, and worriers aren’t doers. If you take action in the direction of whatever it is you that worries you, your worries will disappear. Paul said, in effect, “You’ve heard me say it, you’ve seen me do it, now—put it into practice yourself—take action.”

What kind of action should you take? Well, what are you worried about? Is it your marriage? Then do something that will strengthen the bond or open the lines of communication. Are you worried about losing your job? Make an effort to protect yourself and get your resume ready. Are you worried about your health? Take steps to become more healthy. It’s as simple as this: Taking action destroys worry.

It comes down to this. The cure for worry and anxiety is to pray like you ought to pray, think like you ought to think, and act like you ought to act. Your worries will disappear, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind.

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At the church where I am a member, Pastor Jim and I are doing a study on “stress.” Last night he was unable to attend due to having surgery during the morning.  He asked me to do the study and what I am sharing here is what I shared with the Wednesday evening church family.

The Bible is such a practical book.  I want to guide us as we see what it has to say on the topic of how to eliminate stress.  In the book of Philippians chapter four the writer (Apostle Paul) begins by saying… (v. 6) Do not worry about anything.

Do you have worries? Here’s how you can get rid of them. First of all…

1. Make everything a matter of prayer

(v. 6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

When I read the writings of Paul I quickly come to the conclusion that I do not pray enough. Again and again Paul commands us to pray about everything.

We have a tendency to want to handle the little things ourselves and only “bother” God with the big stuff. There are two problems with this line of thinking. First, it’s all small stuff from God’s perspective. Secondly, if we don’t let God help us through the day-to-day problems, how can we trust him to help us tackle the toughies? When you pray about everything, you will begin to see God’s power at work in your life—in little problems and in major crises. The Bible says…

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

In fact, Paul takes it a step further. He said, “Present your requests to God.” That means, in any problem you have, or any situation you encounter, you have permission—in fact, you have a direct order—to make a request to God, telling him exactly what you want to happen.

That’s quite a privilege, isn’t it? What if you request something that isn’t in line with God’s will? Well, don’t worry about that. God will take care of it. He will not give you something that he knows isn’t best for you. Besides, the more you pray about something the more you will learn to discern the difference (when there is one) between God’s will and your desires.

Don’t be afraid to ask God for help. Twenty times in the New Testament we are commanded to “Ask God.” Also, the book of James tells us…

You do not have because you do not ask God. (James 4:2)

Could it be the reason God hasn’t helped is that you have never given him the opportunity? Think about the biggest problem you’re facing today. Have you asked God for help? Now, think about the smallest problem you are facing. Have you asked God for help with that? It’s ok to pray for parking spaces and laundry stains and runny noses and late appointments and broken water heaters and office conflicts and financial problems and marital problems and rebellious children and…cancer. If it concerns you, it concerns God. Bring your requests to him.

The first step to getting rid of worry is pray like you ought to pray—make everything a matter of prayer. Secondly…(Tomorrow)

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ALTERNATE TITLE: HOW TO SURVIVE WEIRD PEOPLE!

Let’s just be honest. We all have difficult people in our lives, don’t we?  More than likely if you don’t have one, you are one.  On top of that every family has at least one chestnut roasting on the open fire and a jack frost or two who is going to be nipping at more than everyone’s noses.  You may be able to stay clear of these people for most of the year but at the holidays you are going to be thrust into the same room with weird Uncle Joe.

Here are some simple suggestions to hopefully help you achieve a measure of relational happiness this year:

1. The first step toward relational harmony is to focus on their positive qualities.

Even though your difficult person might be totally opposite from you in terms of preferences and pattern for doing life, they bring something positive to the table. In fact, they just may have a quality or two that could be lacking in your own character.

If they’re organized and you’re laid back, you could probably learn something from them about being more disciplined. (Of course, for that to happen you’ve got to have a teachable spirit). Maybe your difficult person is very spontaneous and you’re always in a rut. That rubs you the wrong way but, truthfully, in a lot of situations, it’s better to be spontaneous than in a rut. Maybe they could help you.

The Bible teaches this principle this way:

Suppose the whole body were an eye–then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! … The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 1 Corinthians 12:17-21 [NLT]

In other words, in the same way that each part of the human body, on its own, is incomplete … each person on their own is incomplete.

That person who is so hard for you to relate to is making a positive contribution somewhere. That’s step one on the road to relational harmony.

2. I won’t lie to you, step two is hard: Give up the right to be right.

There is a sign outside a mental hospital in California that says, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be well?” Let me rephrased that thought a little, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”

Getting along with people, especially with people who see things differently than we do, requires us to choose happiness over rightness. It requires us to give people the freedom to be wrong. The Bible puts it this way:

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with–even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. Romans 14:1 [Msg]

Let me ask you: in your dealings with the difficult people around you how much of the strain is caused by you having to be right? What if you decided that your goal wasn’t to convince that person, but to love that person?

So, focus on positive qualities, give up the right to be right and finally …

3. Realize that “different” people are also “dearly loved” people – by God.

He created them, just like he created you. And not only did he create them, He also loved them enough to die for their sins on the cross, just as he did for yours. Why?

… God our Savior showed us his kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-5 [NLT]

Jesus died for difficult people and as hard as it is to swallow, we all fit in this category from time to time. He did this not because we deserved it … not because we are normal … not because of any other reason than the fact that we are dearly loved by him. And that makes us valuable.

I think it would help us a lot in our relationships with others if we could remember this, if we could remember that we’re dealing with someone for whom God put his Son’s life on the line.

So, let me ask you …

That person or persons who’ve been in your mind since you started reading this … what do you need to do about them?

Maybe you need to make a little prayer out of that verse we read earlier. “God, you give patience and encouragement. Help me and this other person to live in complete harmony with each other …” Let me assure you that is a prayer God wants to answer.

Maybe you need to sit down and make a list of positive qualities about this person and start complementing them on those things, start blessing them in those areas. That will have an amazing effect on them.

Maybe you need to say to yourself, “it’s OK if this person is wrong. I won’t die if they don’t let me be right.” You’ll sleep a lot better at night and the tension level in the relationship will immediately start to drop.

Maybe you need to get a vision of that person’s value in God’s eyes. Maybe you need to get a vision of your own value in God’s eyes.

You will get an opportunity to use this during the holidays. These suggestions, however simple, will work to help make the season bright which is my wish for you this year.

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II. MONITOR YOUR HEART

 The Bible says in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart for it affects everything you do.”  Enduring change in your life it starts from the inside and works itself out.  You don’t focus on your behavior.  You don’t focus on willpower.  You don’t even focus on your emotions at first.  You focus on what’s causing those emotions.  It always starts on the inside.  If you really want to break a bad habit you need to stop today and do an EKG of your heart.

  1.  What is your physical condition: Am I more physically exhausted or am I more energetic and in shape?
  2.  How about emotionally?  Am I emotionally discouraged about my life?  Am I pessimistic about my future?  Or am I more encouraged and optimistic about my future? 
  3.  How about mentally, the third one.  Am I right now mentally bored or discontent with my life, my job, my relationships?  Am I bored and discontented?  Or am I more challenged and contented in my relationships, my job, my career?
  4.  How about spiritually?  Right now, am I spiritually dry and empty?  Or am I more spiritually growing?  I’m on the cutting edge.  I know things are right with God.  Where are you between spiritually dry and empty and spiritually growing and on fire with God? 

Notice what the Bible says in Ephesians 4:27 “Do not give the devil a foothold.”  What is a foothold?  It’s when the devil finds a crack in your life’s security system.  He hangs on to the space so he can grab more because he wants to control your life.  It’s like soldiers in a war taking over an island.  They first establish a beachhead.  They just barely get on to the shore, but once they’re there they just keep pushing, pushing, pushing to capture more and more of the island.  And the devil wants to establish a little foothold in your life once he’s got something there to hold on to.

What is the number one foothold that Satan gets in your life?  It’s any negative emotion – when you’re physically exhausted, when you’re discouraged, when you’re bored, when you’re spiritually dry, when you’re insecure, when you’re deeply wounded, when you’re secretly bitter, when you’re sad, when you’re alienated.  Any of those things can allow the devil to get a foothold in your life. 

Let’s say you’re worried and insecure and angry and hurt.  The devil’s going to come along and start saying things like this, “You deserve a little pleasure in your life.  You deserve a little comfort in your life.  I know this isn’t right but there are so many bad things happening in your life you need something for comfort, for relief.  You deserve a little excitement.  You need something to calm you down.  Because everything’s bad in your life right now you really need just a little bit of good pleasure.” 

He doesn’t tell you it’s only going to make it worse in the long run.  You have to know the condition of your heart.  “Guard your heart,” the Bible says.  If you allow these emotions to dam up in your life you are more apt to say “yes” when you should be saying “no way!”

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Why do you need to know your Temperament?

The understanding of temperament gives us “special insight” into the inner workings of each individual. It helps to identify the pressures or feelings you are dealing with and where they are coming from:

  1. Internally.
  2. Externally in the world in which you live.
  3. Your weaknesses or desires.

Temperament is a determining factor in:

  1. Finding a career that is most comfortable for us.
  2. Finding hobbies that will bring us the most satisfaction and enjoyment.
  3. How we make decisions and take on responsibilities.
  4. How dependent or independent we are.
  5. Our spiritual development.

(Happiness in marriage is greatly dependent on how well each spouse understands their partner’s temperament and how willing they are to meet their partner’s temperament needs.)

The way a we view ourselves, our world and God will determine how we behave. These perceptions are founded in the temperament. Therefore, on the basis of these premises, the temperament is the determining factor of what we are, but our environment and our relationship with God determine what we will become.

There is no right or wrong Temperament.

All temperaments come from God but each has strengths and weaknesses. The key is to find out what temperament you were born with, and keep it in balance by meeting your temperament needs in a godly way. When you do this, many conflicts that you may be having with your spouse, your children, or others can be resolved.

It is also important that you find out the temperament of those that you interact with. When you do, you can begin to follow the Apostle Paul’s advice in Ephesians 5:21 (NLT) “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  We can begin to seek ways to serve as opposed to being served.

Many of your problems or the problems of others that you are interacting with or know are probably being caused by trying to meet a temperament need in an ungodly way. Unmet needs become weaknesses.

When you find out what your temperament is and you understand your temperament, you will have the correct knowledge to find balance in your life and in the lives of your significant others. You are given the ability to find balance between body, soul and spirit, which allows you to live out the purposes of God for your life, and thereby find peace in your circumstances.

An oak is an oak tree, and an apple is an apple tree. We do not criticize the oak because it is not an apple or the apple because it is not an oak. We only see the beauty of the two different creations of God and accept their individual places in the scheme of creation. So it should be with people.

We must not criticize them for what they are and try to make them into something different. We must love them the way that they are, and lead them, through the Gospel (Jesus), to find the unique place God has created for them. We must know our strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of those we love, and only then can we find balance in our relationships.

If you would be interested in receiving a Temperament Analysis Profile for yourself individually, as a couple, for your workplace, or your children, click here.

The photo is used courtesy of  www.flickr.com/photos/mr_clambake/

DE-STRESSING 3.0

Posted: June 9, 2010 in Conflict, Stress
Tags: ,

KEEP SHORT ACCOUNTS

A lot of stress that you and I face is in the area of relationships – with a family member, with somebody at work, a close friend.  It is stressful when your relationship kind of goes sideways on you – you’ve felt that kind of stress where you hope you don’t even want to bump into them casually in the grocery store.  You’re already pre-stressed based on how things went the last time you were together.  What the Bible asks us to do is keep short accounts. 

Realistically we all have to agree it is not always possible to make things right with all of our friendships and relationships.  The Bible is so real in Romans 12:18 when it says to us –”If it’s possible, fix it.”  It even defines it further.  “If it is possible as far as it depends on you.”  You can’t guarantee how the other party is going to respond.  But you can guarantee what your response is going to be, your half of the problem.  We can keep relating even to those who disagree with us in a positive way.  The Bible says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” 

Not every relationship that we have is healthy.  Christians, for the longest time have had no sense of boundaries.  We were taught that since you’re a Christian you ought to love everybody and we would get stuck in the sick relationships with abusive people and had no out, no one had taught us truth in a larger context.  People do abuse us– and you know who they are in your life.  They verbally abuse or more.  It is possible to just passively not choose to be in their presence any more that you have to.  It’s an option.  You can do that nicely.  You don’t have to be ugly about it.  I give myself permission in certain situations, not to be ugly or less than respectful, but passively saying, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to make that.”  That’s ok. 

When we talk about living in peace in relationships, sometimes we give the impressions that living in peace whatever the cost is always the best thing and that’s absolutely not true.  Sometimes it’s worth wrestling and kind of stressing the relationship to get the very best.  I think, it’s worth going through the tunnel of chaos to take life and relationships to a higher level.  I do not believe in peace at all costs.  I believe in peace for the right reasons.  I challenge you to keep short accounts.  When you have happy relationships it’s easier to be a happy person.