Tag Archives: overcoming

Anger that burned deep.

Hello again! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another testimony about overcoming emotional difficulties.  I don’t have another person lined up, so I am going to dish on myself.  So here we go…

It’s kinda tough to pick just one experience that I’ve had in the past 22 years that highlights an emotional difficulty that I have overcome because a) there are so many, and b) they are all interconnected which makes them complex and difficult to articulate clearly.

I have mentioned that my mother was an addict.  Her last addiction was prescription painkillers, which ended up taking her life in a (presumably) accidental overdose.  She was secretive about her addiction, and it was not immediately obvious to me because I had no knowledge about addiction during my childhood.  However, the symptoms of her addiction problem were usually at the forefront of her parenting because she was either at best confusing, or, at worst, abusive.

For example, my mother would periodically become very angry with the rest of the family.  Why she was angry with us was almost always a mystery.  One of the confusing things she would do during these random periods of mystery anger was to not let my sister and I do the weekly cleaning.  She would storm around, bang things, with a face screwed up in anger doing the cleaning.  I would feel awkward and strange.  I was afraid to say anything to mother for fear of upsetting her further.  Richelle and I walked around as if the floor was made of nails (sharp side up) while giving each other furtive looks of confusion and despair.  After a few hours of this, I would be practically begging for her to let me do the cleaning.  Anything to ease the stress and tension I felt.  Then, just as mysteriously, she would get over it.  Very occasionally there was some kind of discussion that really didn’t make any sense or have anything to do with reality.

As a child, these sorts of events caused confusion and fear.  This started embers burning in my soul that would smolder into my adulthood.  As I began working through the hurts of my childhood in counseling, I began to see my mother’s transgressions with anger, hurt, disappointment, and frustration.  These emotions ignited the long- burning embers from adolescence into raging flames.  It took a lot of years, and work, before I could even consider forgiving my mother.

For me, forgiving my mother meant giving up the right to be angry with her.  And believe me, I had felt I had every right to be angry with her for her transgressions.  I think some of you may even agree with me.  However, if unleashed, my anger could be a destructive force that wreak havoc in most areas in life.  I was deeply invested in my rights.  So much so, that God, in His infinite wisdom, had to work every angle to help me to see that holding things against my mother was actually holding myself prisoner to my own anger.  He had some pretty huge mountains to move.  Fiery, raging, burning volcanos. He showed me that I would be paying the consequences for my for my self-righteous attitude, like so much volcanic ash.  I would end up psychologically and spiritually dead, like those poor people on Pompeii.

As God labored to show me the truth, the light began breaking through my eyes, which were tightly shut against it.  Truth always stand the test of time, regardless of what we think or feel about it.  I eventually knew I had a choice to make.  On one hand, my right to be angry with my mother, on the other, forgiving her and moving on.  Forgiving her meant giving up my rights, but it also meant freedom.  Freedom from the burdens of pain.  Freedom from the consequences of my choices.  Freedom to live life to it’s fullest.

As you can probably guess, I chose to give up my rights.  And, indeed, I felt freer.  The rage no longer held me captive, torturing me incessantly, burning me from the inside out.

Today, I mostly look on my relationship with my mother regret and sadness, but, I am (mostly) not angry.  If she were still alive, I might even attempt to have a relationship with her, which is saying something.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Now, it’s your turn… Do you have something you overcame that you would like to share with the rest of the world?

Testimonial Tuesday by Richelle Knapp (my sis)

It’s time again for another installment of Testimonial Tuesday.  I am the oldest of four, and my sister is the second oldest.  She and I have been through a lot together.  Although we had different experiences and perceptions of our childhood experiences, we have been on a similar journey.  Each individual step in our journeys is invariably linked to the other person’s.  My sister describes a part of her journey in overcoming her difficulties.  So without further, I give to you my sister Richelle Knapp…

As I was growing up, my mother was hard to figure out, to say the least. She was very mean to me and my siblings most of the time. But other times, she was really nice and fun to be around. She singled me out for a period of physical abuse. She was a drug addict. She did not really know how to raise children.

I don’t think she intended to be this way. I don’t think she set out to abuse drugs. But her background was a big part of it. Her family was a mess with alcoholic parents. She and her siblings were ripped apart when she was very young. She was largely a victim of circumstance. But sadly she did become an addict. She was always in a deep grip of denial about her addiction.

Her life impacted mine in deep and profound ways. Everything that happened to her and to me as a result of her problems and our relationship resonated for years even after her death. When she passed it took me a while to figure out that I was not mourning her death, but her life. After her passing, I had many emotional and mental problems. I was losing touch with reality and regressing back to my childhood. I was having almost constant anxiety attacks.  I was also having flashbacks of things I did not understand. I had a vague feeling of ongoing fear and even terror at times. My poor husband went through it all with me and was my main support. I could not figure out how to function. I could not work or do much of anything else. My emotions were in constant upheaval. One day I would be okay, and the next I could not get out of bed. I was lost in a sea of mental and emotional problems, and I was drowning.

When things got really bad, my sister ended up coming out to help me. She brought me back to her house to stay for a month and to begin to get me the help that I needed.  I went through something called inner healing.  Inner healing is a way in which God is able to come in and make significant changes to a person’s spiritual landscape. I had Dissociative Integrative Disorder. Through the inner healing, process  God revealed the fragments of my psyche and integrated them back together again. When it was over, I felt whole for the first time in a long time. But I also felt very fragile, as if I could break very easily again.

Later in the year, I came in contact with a woman who was instrumental in helping me to become stronger emotionally, and mentally. During the time she counseled me, we did certain exercises to help me to better understand what was going with me. I realized I still blamed my mother for the majority of the problems in my life. I realized that I had not forgiven her for just about everything. One of the most important exercises we did was called The Vault. My counselor had me talk through a list of things I had made in a previous meeting that had to do with my life. I had to decide what I wanted to “keep” so that I could deal with it still, and what I wanted to “lock” in the vault and move on from. As I worked through the list I could feel myself suddenly getting lighter and lighter emotionally. It was a significant time for me, a real turning point. I left that session feeling completely different. I felt very nearly completely healed. It was finally a new beginning for me. For the first time in a long time, I felt free.

***********************************************************************

I am 38 years old. I have been happily married for over 4 years. I live in Bear, DE with my husband. I believe that anything can be overcome if you are willing to do whatever it takes; if you are willing to do the hard stuff to be healed and ultimately be free.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So, tell  me, do you want to write about so something you have overcoming?

How well do you tend your garden?

This is the beginning of a new series.  I am pleased and thrilled to start this with a post from my Aunt Barbara.  She is my mother’s older sister.  I have several fond memories of my Aunt Barbara from my childhood, but my favoritest of all was the day she gave me some earrings in a little porcelain box for my birthday that had a rose on it.  She told me that I was created to be unique and special.  No one else is like me.  I don’t know if I still  have that little box, but the memory is still with me.  Even after all these years.  

Aunt Barbara agreed to share her experiences with alcoholism with the world.  So here you go…


I believe we are all born as a new, fresh garden. The ideals and morals are taught, from our parents, dictate how our garden will flourish and nourish. I, unfortunately, was raised by two practicing alcoholic parents. Their disease became so bad that I and five siblings were placed in foster homes and torn apart.

To this day I have no idea where my siblings are, except my younger sister who passed away with her addiction. In this environment, my garden was not well-tended, but trashed and told that I had no rights to protect or defend the boundaries of my life. This carried on into my adulthood, and I allowed anyone and anything in to my garden that became trashed and a toxic waste site. I lived with abuse, guilt and anger strewn all over my yard, and the only escape was with what I knew best, alcohol. Now, not only did I allow the wrong people in my yard, I got to the point that alcohol would ease the pain and I did not care to tend my garden, I could survive in a blur.

Four years ago I was lucky enough to have survived a car accident that totaled my car and a fire hydrant, but allowed me the opportunity to look at my yard. What a mess. Waste and lack of care was killing my garden, I had no idea how to clean out the weeds and life with any control over my garden. I was fortunate to check into a six month alcohol recovery program, and now I can look at each new day with surprise and gladness in my heart that I can trend my garden. I have a choice what I grow, and I no longer need to tend other people’s garden or allow weeds or garbage in my garden.

This is what ‘Boundaries” are all about. I suggest if you are struggling, look around your garden, are there weeds of distrust and fear, lack of responsibility, addiction or inability to live life fully in your space? If so, you can learn to heal your soil, yank out the weeds and live life so much more fully. You may not even know what you want to grow; fear can let you stay at the comfortable junk yard.

 

But, with some work, you can proudly life in a beautiful garden. There is a book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend that explain how we can” learn to say yes, how to say no take control of your life”. I wish all a chance to recover their yard and be the beauty God intended you to be.

***********************************************************************

My Aunt Barbara and her family…

Barbara Light is a senior citizen with six beautiful, wonderful adult children and eight grandchildren, with another on the way.  She is finally going to college as a fulfillment of a long ago dream.  She is also a recovering alcoholic. This is her story, and she hope it helps just one other person out in their garden.

Sometimes….

I try to write when I feel inspired by something I heard or read.

Today, I got nothin’.

And I’m okay with that.

So I am just going to spout out random thoughts on overcoming.

Sometimes overcoming something simply means just letting it slide past you as you wave with your favorite drink in your hand that has one of those little umbrellas you like to stick in your hair.

Sometimes overcoming something simply means just going back to sleep.

Sometimes overcoming something means sitting on the couch with your knitting needles and a cup of tea and having a chat with your problem.

Sometimes overcoming something just means letting it be.

Sometimes overcoming something means sticking you fingers in your ears and saying “Nananananananananana”.

Sometimes overcoming something means meditating, or praying because that allows you to focus on something else for a while.

Sometimes overcoming means taking a leap of faith in yourself, in God, and in others.

Sometimes overcoming means letting go of the stranglehold you have on yourself.

Sometimes overcoming something means simply being nicer.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What does overcoming something look like to you?

Don’t let the fire-breathing dragons of life intimidate you into a case of the “I Can’ts”

I’ve had a bad couple of days.  This is mostly what I felt like:

Meet my alter-ego, Mrs. Viking Grumpy Pants.

Blog writing was right out.

However, because I cannot shut this brain of mine off, I have been thinking about a conversation I had with a friend on Sunday.  She didn’t say exactly what was going on in her life, but she did say she just couldn’t take anymore pain and suffering.   She just couldn’t go on anymore.  She wanted to give up and give in.  I did my best to encourage her to not give up, to trust God’s process, and to get back on track.  In other word, she is trying to make some changes and keeps getting knocked down.

Let’s be honest, most of our habits need to change.  Especially the emotional habits that constantly put us on the edge of a cliff.  That cliff you can’t see because you’re too busy making butt impressions on the couch.  Habits grow neurons in our brain that settle in with their favorite treats to watch a movie and refuse to budge from that really comfy couch because  you made an excellent indent where their butt goes.  Habits are familiar.  Habits are comfortable.  Habits are safe.

Making changes is a lot like fighting a fire-breathing dragon.  It’s difficult and it can be painful.  I mean, after all they have that nasty habit of giggling at me when I attempt to hack my way through their hard, scaly skin.  And the fire.  Need I say more?

Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

When faced with this, it is easy to want to give up.  I mean after all, falling down repeatedly on  your face is a painful (and embarrassing) experience.  Why would any sane person keep doing something that hurts, right?  If you’re not careful, this kind of thinking can give you a case of the “I Can’ts”.  As in “I just can’t do this anymore.”  As in “I can’t face the pain anymore.”  As in “I can’t change.”  As in “let’s just give up and let the dragon eat us, m’kay?” (Ok, that last didn’t technically have “I can’t” in there, but you get my point)

Yes, making changes is difficult and painful, but not impossible.

That’s right I said “NOT IMPOSSIBLE”.  (I shouted that in case you didn’t hear me.  You’re welcome)

It requires work, determination, sweat, blood, tears, grit, toughness and any other “You Can Do This” adjective you’d like to throw in there.  If you keep at it,  you’ll get there eventually.  That dragon does  have it’s weak spots.  You just have to keep looking for them.

Because the pain and difficulties associated with change are a price worth paying to get you out of your butt-impression making half-life.

I promise.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So, tell me about one of  your fire-breathing dragons…

The Conundrum of Comfort

My computer is about 5 years old.  I have the same screen, mouse, and keyboard. I am used to how the arrows keys seem to stick a little when I push them down.  I am used to the dirt that seems permanently stuck in between each key.  I am used to the fact that the trackball on my mouse no longer works.  I am used to the fact that my mouse pointer frequently “disappears” on my screen.  Not to mention the vertical lines that are randomly spaced on my screen.  I am used to it because this is normal.  And normal can be comforting, no matter how bad normal is for me.  Because it’s what I am used to.  It’s comfortable.  Sometimes I don’t even see the lines when I’m watching something on the computer.

See the lines? Perhaps I should be annoyed.

I really can’t do anything about my faulty equipment because of our faulty financial situation.  Replacing computer parts is expensive (especially because I have a Mac).  Even a new mouse cost $50, which is a huge sum in this house.  That’s equal to a tank of gas, or a few groceries.  So, I tell myself it’s not a big deal.  I do my best to ignore the faults.  I pretend they aren’t there.

My room is pretty crowded what with rather large primates and pachyderms hanging about, making themselves comfortable on my furniture.

Looks comfy. Doesn’t he?

I do the same with my emotions.  I get comfortable with my little faults.  I tell myself that a little selfishness is okay.  An outburst of anger towards my husband may be wrong, but’s it the way I am (right?).  My seemingly impossible-to-eradicate depression can’t be stopped or changed.  Somehow my personality quirks are comforting, even if they are wrong.  The chambers of my heart and mind can be pretty crowded too.

He’s a little hard to ignore.

When it comes to our little faults, we decide that there is nothing we can do about these things, so we get comfortable with them.  We invite them over for tea.  We snuggle up on the couch with our little faults and watch a good movie.  We share our favorite snacks.

But, being comfortable with the little faulty things in our lives just leads to us becoming like a fat cat…lazy. We never work at changing our thoughts and behaviors.  We let the dust collect on the rather large animals taking up space without ever questioning why they are there in the first place.

The opposite of this  is (you know I just had to say it) deciding that things are going to be different.  Making a choice for change.  Believing that living a half-life is not worth the comfort that familiarity brings.  We  have to kick that gorilla and elephant out and lock the doors of our minds and hearts.  We have to decide we want to live a different life.  We have to decide that life is worth living to it’s fullest.

So,  make that first step.  Take inventory of yourself.  Be honest.  Embrace change.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So tell  me, have you ever seen an 800 lb. gorilla?

Laziness is like a fat cat

I knew a fat cat once.  She had a genial disposition.  She’d let you pet her and would rub her fat little body all over your clothes.  But, she could barely get around on her stubby little legs with that huge belly in the way.

Okay, maybe she didn’t have the beer and TV remote…

She was content to eat food, use her litter box, and pretty much sleep the rest of the time.  In other words, she was lazy.

lazy |ˈlāzē|adjective ( lazier , laziest )

1 unwilling to work or use energy : I’m very lazy by nature | he was too lazy to cook.

  • characterized by lack of effort or activity : lazy summer days.
  • showing a lack of effort or care : lazy writing.
  • (of a river) slow-moving.

2 (of a livestock brand) placed on its side rather than upright : a logo with a lazy E.

DERIVATIVES

  • lazily |-zəlē| adverb
  • laziness noun

ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: perhaps related to Low German lasich ‘languid, idle.’

When  you look at Fluffy here, don’t you feel kind of sorry for her?  Do you feel kind of sorry for her?  Do you feel the urge to smack her owner senseless?  Are you asking yourself, “How could she let herself get this far?”  Do you feel the urge to take charge and put her on a diet?  How about if you look at yourself?  Do you have the same feelings?

If yes, keep reading.

If no, definitely keep reading.

When dealing with our own emotional difficulties, it is easy to become fat and content on the food of our own delusions.  We can pretend that all is well.  We can tell ourselves that changing is impossible.  We can say to the world, “But I was born this way!” and get out our beer and watch some TV.

Because, avoiding the truth is easier.

Deep down inside, we know the truth.  We know that the lazy, selfish manner in which we conduct our lives is not good for ourselves, or for the world we live in.  We know that living in a place of anger isn’t good for our romantic relationship.  We know that isolating ourselves isn’t good for us.  We know that our addiction is probably killing us.  We know that depression is keeping us from engaging in life.

Changing takes work.  It takes discipline.  It takes falling-down-in-dirt-and scraping-your-hands-and-knees-then-getting-back-up-again determination.  It takes recognizing and being honest about our own failures.  It takes will and perseverance.  It takes training.

This is who I’d rather be. Wouldn’t you?

Don’t be like that fat cat, happy and content on the gluttony of your willingness to  just eat and sleep and poop.

And never do anything else.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Tell  me, do you know any fat cats?

Climbing up out of the miry pit of depression

I remember reading a book, a work of fiction, that described a battle between two kingdoms.  The good king was defeated in battle.  One of his son’s was killed.  As punishment for being defeated, he was chained to the dead body of his son front to front, and left there to die.  Sorry.  I know that’s pretty gruesome, but I wanted you to get my point.

This is how depression can be for me.  Chained to a dead part of myself, wishing release would come for me.  It’s like living with one foot in the land of the dead, and one foot in the land of the living.  It is a half-life lived in terror of truly sinking into death.

Some days, I just want to be left alone.  Scratch that.  MOST days I just want to be left alone.  I want to be left alone to think and drown in my own pool of misery.  Me, myself, and I like our little pity parties.  I can get pretty grumpy if it goes too far.  I don’t get much done.  I hid and avoid like the best of them.  I become an emotional couch potato.

But life happens all around me, whether I like it or not.  My son still comes to me in the morning for snuggles and kisses.  He looks to me to succor and support him in these tender years.  He wants me to interact on a deeper level than I’d like to sometimes.  It’s not that I don’t love him, it’s that I sometimes I feel like an empty well: I have nothing to give.  It’s not fair to him to give him my scraps, and then hope he turns out okay.  He may later resent me for “not being there.”

My husband needs support too.  At our best, we reciprocate life to one another.  We share in the deep bonds of marriage.  Empty wells have not much to give into that sort of thing.  Not to mention friends, church, commitments, and so on.  Like I said, life happens, whether I like it or  not.

Some days it’s all I can do to focus on what’s going on around me.  Some days it’s all I can do not feel utter despair and hopelessness.  Some days  it’s hard to believe that life can be better than it currently is for me.  Some days, death would be easier than taking one more step up my metaphorical mountain.

Every day is struggle.  I have to make a choice.  I  have to choose life, or choose to be half-dead, or choose to be all dead.  It’s up to me.  ‘Cause you see, I believe there’s more to life than this.  I believe it can get better.  I believe I can be free of this some day.

Depression is one of the toughest things to overcome.  Depression turns in on itself and becomes an out-of-control tumbleweed of despair, loneliness, and hopelessness growing bigger and stronger day-by-day.  The more you see life through this lens, the more things look bad.  The more things look bad, the more depressed you feel.  It feeds on itself.  It grows exponentially.  One might think there is no way to overcome depression.

They would be wrong.

There are a variety of ways that to overcome depression.  My best, and first action, is get on anti-depressant when it is so bad I cannot see my way out.  I am chronically under-produce serotonin.  Prozac helps to keep serotonin in my synapses longer.  Next, is to seek out some kind of therapy.  Usually, I go to various counselors in my church for spiritual guidance and prayer.  Then, with the help of God and others, I keep working out why I am depressed in the first place.  I keep working at it till I feel good enough to come off the Prozac.  You can choose to manage your depression without medication or therapy.  But you have to be strong-willed to keep yourself at check.  You need to have a strong goal in mind.

These days, I have attempted to produce more serotonin by exercising regularly.  This method seems to be going okay, but I don’t recommend it for those who are inexperienced at managing depression.

Some people meditate.  I pray, which is a form of meditation.  I need to connect with my Divine Healer, with my Source of Life, with the Author of My Salvation.  Right now, Jesus is my Prozac.  I go to God, the same way, my son comes to me.  I seek succor and strength to keep on keeping on when the mountain seems to steep today.

Some people overeat (like me), attempting to fill their hole with food, especially food that falsely replaces the missing neurotransmitters (this is why people like chocolate so much when they are sad).  Some people drink alcohol, some do drugs.  Some have lots of sex.  These aren’t methods that I recommend.  They are false prophets that fill your mind with false goodness.  And it never lasts.  And it just reproduces negativity and despair.

Sometimes I use self-talk to snap myself out of my thick, soupy fog.  Quoting scripture to myself works for me.  Particularly Psalm 42 and the famous Psalm 23.  I literally talk myself out of depression.

Depression can be overcome.  Slowly, steadily, and surely.  Someday, I will get there.

You just have to choose to overcome…and get to work.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

How do you manage your depression?

An essential truth on fear

If you look to the left of this post you’ll see this quote (and a bunch of other worthy quotes, I might add):

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. -Nelson Mandela

I think that this one of the essential truths of humanity.  Fear is a significant daily motivator for many, many people, whether they know it or not.  Fear can define our actions, how we respond, what decisions we make.  The thing is, if most of what we are afraid is based on evidence, some would say truth.  And, we make decisions based on that truth, even if the action we take is slightly ridiculous.  For example:

  • Truth: The subway is a potentially dangerous place.  I may get hurt.
  • Action: Therefore I will walk the 6 miles to work.
  • Truth: I may get hurt on the roller coaster.
  • Action: Do not ride the roller coaster.
  • Truth: My husband beats me.
  • Action: I will lie about my feelings.
  • Truth: My mother says things that hurt my heart.
  • Action: I will keep my distance from my mother.

See what I mean?  Each thing listed is, or may be, true.  And therefore, you do what is necessary to protect yourself, even if it means compromising yourself, your principles, and/or your morals.

I am a person who has lived her life with fear.  Fear of just about anything and everything.  Even ridiculous stuff like “I might fall on the sidewalk therefore I must vigilantly stare at where I am walking, or avoid sidewalks altogether.”  Yeah, I did that.  Here’s another example: Fear would motivate me to act like a loon around people I didn’t know very well because I was afraid of being rejected.  If forced to talk to a new person, I would babble like an idiot all red in the face in sheer embarrassment at my ungainly social behavior.  For me, the safest thing was to avoid meeting new people altogether.  This fear lent itself to tension in  my marriage because my husband is rather fond of meeting new people.  Going to birthday parties of people I didn’t know would cause me a great deal of pre-festivities anxiety.  My husband has done a pretty good job being gracious with my crazy behavior.  But, I could tell he was sad because it was so hard for me.  Because of his desire to be supportive, my behavior limited his ability to be social.

I eventually got over the worst of this kind of social anxiety.  Mostly because, over time, I came to realize the new people weren’t going to hurt (mostly).  I felt like my behavior was wrong and it needed to change.  I had to force myself to calm down and give it a try, over and over again.  I had to force myself to appear to be calm, and have a nice conversation with someone I didn’t know.  This is where Mr. Mandela’s quote comes in handy.  He is saying that it is likely you are never going to stop feeling afraid. If you want to triumph over fear, if you want to conquer fear then do the very thing you fear.  Despite the trembling and shaking and your imagination going into overtime.

To overcome the fear, you have to ask yourself if being afraid is worth the price you’ll pay for allowing yourself to behave in fear?  Is it right to let yourself be bullied by your spouse?  Is it right to NEVER experience a roller coaster ride (well, maybe)?  Is right to walk 6 miles to work, in the snow, uphill both ways because something MIGHT happen to you?  Is it right for me to never form new friendships because I am afraid of rejection?  I have to choose one or the other.  I have to choose fear, or courage.  In other words, it’s my choice.  Mine.  No one else’s choice.  I  have to choose to overcome my fear.  I have to choose to be brave, even if I don’t feel brave inside.  And it’s your choice too.  YOU CAN CHOOSE to do the thing you fear.  That’s right, you have a choice.  Making the choice is point A, doing the thing you fear is point B.  The process of getting from A to B may look messy, but it’s a good messy.

Recently, I walked into a Zumba class at my local YMCA.  I didn’t know a single person in the room.  Not a soul.  It would be easy for me to do my usual wallflower routine and stick to the back and not talk to anyone.  No one was making an attempt to approach me and say, “Hi!”  Which would normally be just fine with me.  But, I would be missing out on making new friends.  Just last week I looked at the woman next to me and introduced myself.  I CHOSE to overcome my fear.  And, as it turns out this person is very kind and warm.  She shook my hand warmly, held it tightly, and introduced herself.  I felt good inside.  And, next time I show up for this class, if she is there, I will probably get a warm, “Hello!” from her, even if she can’t remember my name.  Overcoming my fear was totally worth it.

So, here it is:  Do what you fear.  Then you will be fear’s master, not it’s slave.  You will have unchained yourself from that wall.

Eventually, you will live free.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So tell me, what are you afraid of and what can YOU do to overcome your fear?

The Squishy Middle, also titled “Using your critical thinking skills to solve, or overcome, your problems”

My brain has pretty crowded the past couple of days.  Me, myself, and I are a pretty close threesome.  Me is lying the couch, while I am (using my best Freudian pose) talking to myself.

At this point, you may be staring blankly at your computer screen right now wondering if I am some kind of babbling idiot.  And I would in my best in-your-face know-it-all voice, “Yeah, so?”

Anyhow, it’s hard to write a coherent sentence in the midst of all that self-talk.  It ain’t pretty but somebody has to do it.  It’s my process.

Whether you know it or not, you also have a process when faced with problems.  Some of you might run and hide and stand in denial.  Some of you might blame, finger-point, and shout a lot.  Others, might take time to think through a problem and come up with a solution (if that’s you, you can stop here) (if that’s not you, read on).

This blog is about overcoming your problems.  This means you have to find a way to overcome.  I am here to help.  So, now to help you find the answers you seek, I am going to make up a phrase.  I will call it the “squishy middle” (a.k.a. employing critical thinking skills).  Why do I say the  middle is squishy?  Because using your critical thinking skills rarely looks like this:

Problem-solving made easy.

If it were this easy, you wouldn’t need me, or your favorite counselor, fish, dog, friend, or coffee-slinger.

The reason that problem-solving is squishy-in-the-middle is because the process  that comes between point A and point B is rarely easy.  Rather, the process in the middle of point A and point B  usually looks something like this:

Dangerous curve ahead.

Or this:

This is me on problem-solving.  Any questions?

Or this:

How many different ways can you go from A to B?

Or this:

Who says problem solving can’t be fun?

See?  All of these methods are messy, and, you know, squishy.  So, now, if you are still with me you might feel like this is just too much.  Well, I’m here to tell you that problem-solving, no matter how squishy-in-the-middle the  process is for  you, can be accomplished with a few easy-to-remember concepts that anyone can use regardless of style:

  1. Admit that there is a problem to overcome. (a.k.a. Point A)(This is a toughie)
  2. Decide on your goal (another toughie)
  3. Be honest with yourself about your part in this problem (yet, another tough one)
  4. Be honest about anyone else’s part on this problem (Be nice about it)(Ok, so they’re all tough)
  5. Decide on a plan of action
  6. Implement the plan (a.k.a. Point B)(this is the toughest part)

The process in between A and B is what counts.  That squishy middle is very, very important.  How  you get there doesn’t matter much, as long as you get there.  Problem-solving techniques are part of what makes each person unique.  What matters most is that you are able to overcome your problem. Period.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The squishy middle is what build character as you practice critical thinking skills.

I wanted to mention something that may occur during this process.  You may fail.  It happens.  If that happens you can either a) Take your ball and go home, sulk on the couch, eat some dirt, then go to bed, or b) try again.  And, don’t stick your fingers in your ears while singing the theme song of “Spongebob Squarepants”  as loudly and annoyingly as possible, and then keep doing the same thing over and over again (i.e. the “definition” of insanity).  That just leads to a poverty of spirit which will lead to being an emotional couch potato.

So, stick with it friend.  Try something different if the first thing didn’t work.  It’s really important that you do so.  I mean, really important.  Not so sure?  You’ll just have to trust me on that.

And the next time this problem comes around (and by God, it will), you will have the last problem-solving session to refer back to to help you overcome your problem even more quickly than before.  Because overcoming your problems is the whole point of this exercise.  Right?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++So tell me, what’s your squishy middle look like?