Let’s Talk

After the One Exercise for the New Year . . .

Q. Do we focus on the one thing until it’s completed and then choose another one thing? What are your thoughts about when to move on to other goals?

A. Let’s Talk! Changes are stubborn, so I trust you tied your first goal to a good hitching post! Until you see success for several weeks, I would hesitate to focus on your next New Year’s change. But! It could be helpful to start a list and begin to prioritize your “wish list” of goals if that thought doesn’t overwhelm you.

I have found that most of us resist change with every fiber of our being. We say we want to make changes and conquer many goals, but changes can die hard.

So, if your goal was an exercise program, is it really, really at a time and place you won’t resist? Is your goal tied to something else that you do regularly so you’ll have better chance of success? If your goal was more study time, is the time in a slot that doesn’t get slammed with other activities? You get the gist of how we sabotage our own desires.!

Another barrier could even be taking on another goal too soon. For example, if you chose exercise as your “one thing,” but then you throw in a new diet change, notice the result. If the second goal enhanced the first goal and didn’t discourage you (as in too much too soon)—hooray. Your second goal wasn’t too soon.

So, to answer your question: Watch your heart and watch for success. If your heart gets discouraged and you are not experiencing success, you’ve added a new goal too soon. If not, you are right on track making helpful changes to your life.

For Deeper Reflection

Is our gaze on the goal or on God? Our success comes from Him!

The enemy of our souls would wish to discourage us with even the pursuit of GOOD goals.

Joshua 1:8-9  “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

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

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

“I am not In A Good Place”

Q. What input can you share for people who confide that they are not in a good place?

A. Let’s Talk! Many people say they feel like they are drowning at the start of a new year and are overwhelmed by all that is ahead and all that needs to be done. We can feel weighed down with all the things undone, the assault of bad memories, and the regrets. We can also encounter sadness that comes even when we remember the good things we used to enjoy but now can’t for any number of reasons.

We are never in a good place when we are dwelling on the “former things” without new hope, new information, new direction, or new behaviors. Remember Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity? It’s repeating the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. Even in the simplest of math terms, same old is going to repeat same old every time.

Here’s a tricky piece: We know not to dwell on the former bad-for-us things that obviously take us down. But! Even the GOOD things in our past can depress us if we can no longer repeat those events, access those relationships, or experience many other present day losses. Our hearts are very sensitive to loss, especially of the good things.

So, thinking of former things — good or bad — needs caution. Unguarded inventories can take us to a not-so-good place. The verses below are some of the most powerful I think I have ever shared with you and became very personal for me several weeks ago when I wasn’t in a good place! I hope they help your heart as well. Understanding that the new year is in God’s hands can bring us into a good and NEW place.

P.S. You may also want to scroll back to the December’s Let’s Talk about where to find true joy.

For Deeper Reflection

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.”        

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth;will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

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.

Finding Joy

As I’m writing this first message of the new year to you, I’m looking over at my new wall calendar with the January photo of snow-dusted evergreen trees blanketing mountain foothills. The pristine photograph reminds me of fresh starts and new adventures that awaken us like the current chill of the Polar Vortex on our cheeks.

10078_10200734125102983_393007073_n - Version 2I used to be a voracious new year’s resolution drafter. Or resolution dreamer. Every year I’d list goals in key areas of my life from exercise and nutrition to my relationship with God and others. Often these optimistic aims faded by February and marooned by March. Eventually I stopped the practice of brainstorming resolutions, and now instead, at the start of each year ponder one character quality or a particular Bible verse that I’d like to emulate more during the next 12 months.

I haven’t settled on my word or verse for 2014 quite yet, but I am leaning toward the word joy. As a teen I used to roll my eyes that my parents chose Joy as my middle name. Now I actually enjoy it!  Dictionary definitions for joy include: keen pleasure, great delight, rapture, bliss. Oh how I would love to express blissful joy even through my roughest moments.

Some of you know that I deal with chronic physical pain and joy is not always my upbeat response. BUT, I’m learning that I can find joy when I look for it in everyday situations. Find means I have to look for and even expect that I will discover some degree of joy right in the middle of the muck. The New Testament’s Galatians 5:22 explains that joy is also part of God’s gift to us and we don’t have to gut our way through life to experience it. Joy flows from a heart that is surrendered to the unpredictable in each day. Perhaps surrender and joy are soul mates.

Throughout the Psalms, the psalmists honestly express their heaviness of heart and then surrender their circumstances to their Jehovah. Supernaturally, their perspective turns to shouting or singing for joy. Psalm 90:14 invites us: “That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Surrender. Joy. Both will uplift us even when we never know how each year will unfold.

What word or two would you most like to emulate this year?

 

Brave and Resilient Tip #52: Surrender and joy help you navigate the unpredictable.