Let’s Talk

One Exercise for the New Year

Q. What can I do as I start this new year to best help my own mind and heart?

A. Let’s Talk! I bet you’ve already seen tons of well-written posts and devotionals encouraging you to make countless lists of ways to make your life better in the new year. Now we are in the last week of January and there’s a chance you could be discouraged. Maybe the lists helped; but if they didn’t, here’s an idea.

Have you thought yet about the ONE THING you might want to change? Sometimes it is too overwhelming to focus on more than one life change at a time.

So, let’s think about it. What is the one thing that you want to add into your life or the one thing you want to take away? What has been burdening you? Identifying what weighs on you is always a clue to your needs, your gifts, and unfinished business that needs your attention.

Now that you know the ONE thing you want to focus on — you also need a specific next step for that one thing to really happen. Whether you want to insert an exercise program into your life or you want to know more about a calling on your life, where will that help come from? Now we need clarity and wisdom that we don’t have, or it would have happened long ago. Guess who wants you to KNOW and be helped? Yes, God. Think about asking Him to clarify your next step.

For Deeper Reflection

Jeremiah 29:11–14

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord….”

James 1:5–6

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

Forgiveness in the New Year

Q. As I start the New Year, what can I do to help my relationships?

A. Let’s Talk! A great start would be to make sure you have cleared up any issues in your relationships. Maybe you have been faithful to take care of clearing up your part of the problem and asking forgiveness immediately “after” — but if not, here’s a review of the language you might want to use, PLUS a new important question at the end.

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“I was wrong to [name the offense such as “to be so unloving” or “to be so thoughtless” or “to hurt your feelings,” etc.] and I am so sorry. Will you forgive me?” Then you wait for the answer. Here is the new question I learned a few weeks ago from my dear friend Martha Wolfe. You ask, “IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE?”

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How utterly stunning! When you take the initiative like this in your relationships, you have gone beyond an act of obedience and are bravely going to a vulnerable place of restoration.

Martha had a few additional thoughts: “When you go to the person you are asking forgiveness from, make sure you have already forgiven the individual in your heart for any offense. This makes your heart clear ahead of time toward the person. You can now concentrate on asking forgiveness for YOUR wrongs. Of course unexpected things can come up in the conversation and you will deal with those as they happen.”

It’s both terrifying and freeing all in one to settle issues in a relationship, but if your heart really wants to restore that relationship, the resolution is worth it. Have a brave week!

Deeper Reflection

Ephesians 3:20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us . . . .”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

’Twas the Week Before Christmas

Q. What can I picture this week to keep myself restful on the inside and focused on the real reason for celebrating?

A. Let’s Talk! My very favorite Scripture verse about Christmas that helps me is a word picture found in Luke 1:35: “The angel answered and said to her [Mary], ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.’”

I don’t know about you, but I need overshadowing!! To be overshadowed by God is a beautiful picture and a beautiful promise of the blessing, power, rest, and authority that believers walk in.

Isaiah 61:1 is another verse to keep us restful. These are Jesus’ words at the start of His ministry:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners.”

For Deeper Reflection

So, at the proclamation of Jesus’ birth to the first day of His advent—the Spirit was promised. Today the Holy Spirit is promised to overshadow and indwell all those who belong to Him. If you are not sure you belong to Him, and if you want to make sure, you can pray a simple prayer inviting Him into your heart and life.

Here is the assurance we have from 1 John 5:11-13:

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Enjoy this beautiful reason and we’ll talk in the New Year!

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

 

Let’s Talk

More about Rest

Q. Could you say more about how I am to manage the stress of the coming weeks?

A. Let’s Talk! Are you feeling “weary and heavy-laden”? What is it about our culture that encourages us to “do it ourselves,” exhaust ourselves, and not share heavy assignments?

Let’s talk about the payoff when we go into overdrive and hypervigilance. We are applauded—but there is a cost to our health. It’s crazy to be cheered for compromising our adrenal system!

I thought I’d share with you the health benefits of the attitude of thanksgiving! Yes, we just celebrated Thanksgiving, but you may want to take the discipline of gratitude into Christmas. The following list of the benefits of thanksgiving is from www.happierhuman.com. Several other websites, including WebMD, highlight similar lists.

  • 16% fewer physical symptoms
  • 19% more time spent time exercising
  • 10% less physical pain
  • 8% more sleep
  • 25% increased sleep quality
  • Reduced depressive symptoms by 35%

Being grateful is RESTFUL! I’ve long loved the principle and verse that “as a man/woman thinketh in his/her heart, so is he/she” (Proverb 23:7).

It SO matters what we think. Is your mind/heart on your blessings or on something else? We have better rest with blessings!

For Deeper Reflection

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 11: 28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

About Rest

Q. The holidays are marching in and I’m already a wreck. How do I manage the stress?

A. Let’s Talk! Did you see Beth’s wonderful post this past week entitled, “Slowing Down?” That was the second message I have heard on slowing down and resting this week. I’m paying attention.

Let’s talk about how counter-intuitive it might be to rest more instead of speeding up more. Thanksgiving and Christmas are indeed rushing in, but let’s consider a restful response. What would that look like?

There is a model in Scripture for us to consider what rest does NOT look like! The priests were not to come to the altar in wool – that represented sweat. Instead, they were to wear linen. (See Ezekiel verse below.) So, when we are rushing around in driven-ness, striving, and self-effort, could that represent sweat? I think it could.

Now let’s consider what rest looks like. It means more physical rest, but also a quiet dependence on God for all of the decisions ahead for the next few weeks. Some call rest “walking in the Spirit instead of the flesh.” Have you asked the Lord of the universe to help you plan the next few weeks? We have talked recently on hearing His Voice: He really, really can direct your steps and you can be at rest.

Today I intentionally chose to listen for God’s direction as I officially started planning and shopping. It was an amazing adventure in clarity and REST. Will you join me? And, will you write and tell us the rest you are experiencing and also the messages you get from Him?

For Deeper Reflection

Ezekiel 44:16-18

“They shall enter My sanctuary; they shall come near to My table to minister to Me and keep My charge. It shall be that when they enter at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and wool shall not be on them while they are ministering in the gates of the inner court and in the house. Linen turbans shall be on their heads and linen undergarments shall be on their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything which makes them sweat.”

See also Leviticus 6:10; Exodus 28:39, 42 and Exodus 39:27-28

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

 

Let’s Talk

About Relationships, Boundaries, and Listening

Q. Could you please share some more about healthy relationships and boundaries?

A. Let’s Talk! Healthy friends learn to listen well with their hearts, don’t give unasked-for advice, and have wise boundaries. They are not controlling or needy. . . let’s stop there for a bit.

One of the sentences I heard long ago that I have chewed on over the years is, “Codependent friends don’t have relationships – they take hostages!”

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the expectations of a friend? Does a friend often take over your schedule — either not mindful of your time or disregarding your needs while focused on his or her needs only? Do your friends invite dialogue or do they want you to think like they do? Do your friends share you, or do they want you all to themselves? The list goes on, but you get the drift.

Another name for codependency is relationship addict. Where there has been emotional neglect or lack of emotional nurturing, that is the natural setup for looking for comfort in relationships/people. But! It’s a trap, isn’t it?

What’s the alternative? I believe the real cure is looking to God for what mankind just can’t give. People were never meant to fill up that hole in our hearts. Relationship dependency is a counterfeit of the real deal. We’ll talk more about healthy relationships in the next post.

For Deeper Reflection

2 Peter 2:19b, “For by what a man [or woman] is overcome, by this he [or she] is enslaved.

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

 

Let’s Talk

About Listening

 Q. Could you please share some listening tips? I suffer in my relationships because I am such a poor listener.

 A. Let’s Talk! In that same file folder of “document treasures” that I shared from last week is a real “rooty-toot” piece on listening, by an anonymous cancer patient. It’s a start—and we’ll talk more about listening, boundaries, and relationships in the weeks ahead . . . .

When I ask you to listen to me and you change the subject, I feel I am alone.

When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice, you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

All I asked was that you listen, not talk or do—just hear me.

All I can I do for myself. I am not helpless. Maybe discouraged and faltering but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.

But, when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how distressful, then I can get about the business of understanding what’s behind this feeling.

Now, more than ever, I need to talk.

And, I will listen to you. It will go much better for us. We will be closer.

For Deeper Reflection

In each of these verses in John 10, our Shepherd assures us that we can listen and hear His Voice, the best one of all.

John 10:3, 4, 16, and 27

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

More Letting Go . . .

Q. Could you please share more about letting go?

A. Let’s Talk! Do you have a file folder of “document treasures” you want to see again? One of my docs is about Letting Go, and I’d love to share it with you. Get out the tissues.

To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring,

It means I can’t do it for someone else.

To let go is not to cut myself off,

It’s the realization that I can’t control another.

To let go is not to enable,

But to allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To let go is not to try to change or blame another;

I can only change myself.

To let go is not to care for, but to care about.

To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own outcomes.

To let go is not to be protective; it is to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny, but to accept.

To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue, but search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes.

To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone, but to try to become what dream I can be. . . .

To let go is to fear less and love more!

Note: I would give credit to the author of this if I could but the author is unknown. Let me know your thoughts on these letting go points.

For Deeper Reflection

Ephesians 4:31-32 and Isaiah 43:18-19

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

Someone Letting Me Go Issues

Q. Could you please share about separation issues when it’s not enmeshment? It’s the very opposite – someone has let go of you.

A. Let’s Talk! Being abandoned, detached, rejected, or separated from someone you care about is so painful. Instead of the problem being “you are too close,” you are very far apart.  

The material I shared in my last column about reframing grief is still part of the remedy to take care of your heart. Boundary issues in relationships involve change and loss, and so there is grief involved.

The next step is not so easy. When a tearing away occurs, we don’t want any codependent neediness to prevail. We don’t keep tugging, we let go in respect of the one who left the relationship. It’s the mature thing to do, albeit painful as all get out.

But! If there is still dialogue going on and the one hasn’t left the relationship entirely, there is a powerful question that is super healthy and respectful to ask the one leaving the relationship. If appropriate, think about asking, “What do we need to do to make things better?” Do you hear the fresh air? Do you feel the hands off? Do you hear shared personal responsibility and shared solution? Do you hear healthy dialogue beginning?

This dialogue helps lead to solutions on a human level, but I also want to suggest a movie for you to see that demonstrates spiritual solutions in relationships. Have you seen War Room yet? It is a classic picture of praying spiritual warfare prayers in intercession for others from our prayer closet. Now that’s the best dialogue of all!! I have heard hundreds of stories over the years of “hopeless” relationships, but when powerful prayers were earnestly cried out, there was a change no one could explain except that it was a supernatural miracle from God.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. . . .”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

 

Let’s Talk

Letting Go Issues

Q. Could you please share some more about separation issues you talked about in your back-to-school column?

A. Let’s Talk! Letting go is a challenge for most parents and children, whether it’s off to kindergarten or college! It’s completely in the normal range to need to process the emotions surfacing.

It is “good” grief to process the changes and losses taking place by naming, tagging, or titling your thoughts/feelings as best you can, then put them in list form on paper – and then reframe those thoughts/feelings. By way of review, to reframe means to contrast or compare each item on your list with “what’s true.” You can either use your own sense of what is really true (what’s really happening) or you can go before your heavenly Father and ask Him to show you the deeper truths beneath your sorrow. Knowing truth and staying there sets us free. If you are helping a small child process this tearing away, it might sound like this: “I know you are sad to not be home today, but the truth is, you are very loved and my love will go with you (send a photo or note in the backpack, etc). Keep thinking about how proud we are of you.”

I gave you my example in the last column of my outside-the-normal-range of sorrow when my son went to college. It was God who opened wide my understanding that my loss was on many levels and not just my son leaving. It was the end of my parenting role as it once was, and even though I said I had let go of my son – I hadn’t! Oops. But much grace came, and I asked God to teach me what a more lateral, healthy relationship looked like and how to parent in this new stage. He was faithful. This led to healthier relationships (less needy and more letting go) for me in my family and beyond to other relationships. My daughter was leaving for college the following year, so I certainly needed to learn this. We’ll talk next time about some codependency issues that are often present during these changes. Being close is good, but enmeshment and needy-ness is not so healthy.

Let me close with a verse about our needs and where they are to be met, so we’re not trying to get those needs met with just people. This truth makes it easier to let go!

Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com