Overcoming Struggles

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a map that could tell us the outcome of our decisions?  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we see what hardship is coming our way so we could brace ourselves for it?  In some way, I think it would be nice to have that gift of foresight, and yet perhaps not.

If we looked back at all that we’ve been through to get to where we are today, we’d see moments that make our chests swell with pride and moments that may inspire shame or guilt.  If we had that gift of foresight, we surely would have avoided some hardships.  Let’s face it, many of our hardships turned out to be moments of pride that wouldn’t have come to be if we had avoided them.

For those of you who struggle through some hardship, though you may not understand why you’re struggling or how you’re supposed to resolve the issue, fight on.  This could be one of those hardships that you will one day look back to with pride.  Learn from the past, live in the present, and work towards a brighter future.

Be a light to your world today!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/85608594@N00/15864966266″>C.S. Lewis Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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Reminiscing

Many of us enjoy reminiscing on past events and certain periods of life.  Lately, I’ve found myself reminiscing a lot more.  Places I’ve been and people I’ve been with.  Wondering how differently things would have turned out if I had made better decisions or invested more in some friendships.

It’s crazy to think of where we’ve been and where we are now.  Reconnecting with old friends/classmates makes that contrast even more impressive.  Although I am not proud of every decision I’ve made in life, I do consider myself very blessed with the life I have today.  I am blessed with a beautiful wife and beautiful daughters, I am building a successful career, writing books that I hope to publish (sooner or later), enjoying the support of amazing family and friends, etc.

Can I say that this is all due to my decisions in life?  No way.  I’ve made decisions that drove me further from my goals.  What I am learning from all this is that no matter the nature or number of our mistakes/sins, God’s Goodness can never be outdone.

Any time you feel regret, shame, or guilt, simply admit it to yourself.  Then count your blessings.  Literally.  Look at all the great people you’ve been blessed with during those difficult times, all the great turns of events that helped you along.  See all the good that could not have come about otherwise.  It doesn’t justify our bad decisions, but it shows that we’re being looked after by someone or Someone.  Life isn’t as lonely as we may think it is.

Next time you see someone in a difficult situation, be there.  You may not be able to fix the situation, but you can be present to help that person pull through the current challenges.

Be a light to your world today!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/58782227@N00/2250359151″>Day 39</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

The Simple Truth

There are many things that I love about the work that I do as a mental health counselor.  I feel honored and privileged that my clients are able to confide very personal (sometimes embarrassing) information about themselves.  I love those “ah-ha” moments when the big picture finally comes into focus.  Most of all, I love seeing clients turn a simple dialogue into a life-changing event.

I’ve been humbled many times by clients who took a simple discussion and turned it into a life-changing event or decision.  I say humbled because it is often the simple truth that seemed almost unnecessary to utter that is responsible for great change.  Sometimes we need to be reminded of the simple truth.  I find that our present-day society values and seeks to be impressed by complexity, while the answers we are looking for are often simple.

Next time you or someone you know is looking for an answer, don’t shy away from the simple truth.  It could be exactly what that person needs to hear.  Even in all its simplicity, truth remains a burning sun that casts away all darkness.

Be a light to your world today!

 

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Removing Road Blocks

In some previous posts, I’ve addressed the topics of dreaming big and fighting for our dreams.  Recently, I’ve become aware that my pursuit of dreams was hindered by roadblocks.  I have goals, but it seems doubtful that I’ll make it.  Perhaps the reason is that I won’t reach them if nothing changes.

Whether your own goals are to achieve financial or professional success, or to recover from depression or other mental health difficulty, or whatever they may be, you are likely hindered by a road block.  These road blocks, unfortunately, are usually not so evident.  They can seem harmless: the types of books you read, to company you surround yourself with, a comfortable under-stimulating lifestyle, etc.

My recommendation is to start by making small, concrete changes that will give you a nudge towards your goal.  If you want to achieve your goals, seek advice or read literature by those who’ve achieved similar goals before you.  If you feel there’s a part of your daily routine that doesn’t help you grow personally or draw closer to your goal, then perhaps a small change is in order.

You don’t have to revamp your life, just be open to change.  If the change is uncomfortable, keep in mind that it’s helping you move forward.  If you feel like you’re losing something, keep in mind that something greater is coming your way.

Be a light to your world today!

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KISS – Keep It Simple, Silly!

Ever feel weighed down by the hustle and bustle of every day life?  I know I do.  You reach a point where you begin to look desperately for a way to squeeze in some down time or even a vacation, but you can’t seem to be able to justify fitting it in anywhere.  You’re worn out from driving around to run errands and chauffeur people around.  You and your significant other hardly spend time together that doesn’t involve talking about finances, children, or something that requires problem solving.  You want to pursue your life goals and realize that there’s not enough time in a day, or in a year for that matter.

My answer?  Kiss.  Yes, KISS… Keep It Simple, Silly!  We can run around pursuing all sorts of dreams, committing to all sorts of causes or sports.  In the end, how many of these are actually helping you attain your ultimate goal?  I’ve found simplicity to be an important part of self-care.  When it’s simple, it’s not very stressful.

Simplicity gives you a clear sense of direction, whereas complexity pulls you in many directions at once.  The key to happiness, in my mind, is not about having more or doing more, but in being the best version of yourself.  To do so, you need a clear sense of direction and purpose, which comes from simplicity.

Be a light to your world today!

Mental Health Care: Where are you going?

Throughout life, we come to many crossroads.  Each road leads us down an uncertain path.  Where these paths lead remains a mystery until we reach their destination.  Some paths are smooth, paved roads.  Others look appealing with many attractions along the road.  Some other paths are rugged, beat-up, and worn-out ruts.  Some are straight, some are winding.  Each path requires us to decide whether we will follow it or not.  In the end, we can easily get overwhelmed by the number of decisions we have to make, never really knowing for sure where our decisions will take us.

Sometimes we sit at the crossroads, analyzing the possibilities ad nauseum, hardly daring to choose in case we make the wrong choice.  Sometimes we follow a path recklessly because of all the promise, fun, or pleasures we think we’ll get out of it, only to realize down the road that it was a bad decision… then we feel lost.  Occasionally, we feel grateful, seeing the many blessings that came to us as a result of that decision.

So what does this have to do with mental health care?  Simple.  The purpose of mental health care is to have clear focus of where we are going and what we are doing.  The healthy mind doesn’t worry or fret about the small cares of life.  It is willing to let go of the small things for the sake of the ultimate goal.  It won’t go down paths that lead it astray from its goal, no matter how tempting or easy some paths may seem.

So how do you know which path is better?  Follow your conscience.  Our conscience is our God-given compass to make the right decisions in life.  Our conscience will point us in the direction of what is righteous.  Morality is essential to a healthy mind, and it overlaps both mental and spiritual care.

Nevertheless, despite our best efforts to do what is right, we often find ourselves in a mental fog due to exhaustion and poor self-care, which makes it difficult to make the right choices.  In a nutshell, here’s my two cents on proper mental health care: limit multi-tasking to a minimum, limit the flow of information your mind has to process, give yourselves short mental breaks during the day and especially a nice long one in the evening before bed where you completely disconnect from all your cares and worries.  It sounds simple, and it is, but it requires discipline to be able to maintain proper mental health care.

Be a light to your world today!

Facing Your Fears

Fear is an incredibly powerful elementary emotion.  When we’re afraid of something or someone, it’s because we feel threatened and vulnerable.  It’s a strong survival instinct, but sometimes it’s difficult to understand why it’s triggered in the first place.

The key to identifying fear is avoidance.  If I’m avoiding something (person, place, phone call, task, etc.), I’m running away from something that I fear.  Avoidance is the smoke of the fire of fear.

Recently, I realized that I was fearful of giving too much of myself in certain areas of my life because I was afraid of heading into another burnout.  This burnout happened almost 9 years ago.  After all this time, I felt the need to be calculative in how much I was doing for others and worried so much about over-exerting myself.  Sadly, this took a toll on my energy and motivation levels, and in my ability to enjoy life.  During these last 9 years, I’ve been faced with many challenges that threatened to demand too much of me, so the fear was sadly reinforced for a good number of those years.

To my surprise, I found myself having more drive and more energy after making the effort to give myself more generously.  I realized that avoiding was far more exhausting than facing my fears.  Of course, I’m in no way saying that we should disregard our fears.  Some of these are healthy and necessary for our survival.  Rather, whenever we notice ourselves avoiding something or someone that doesn’t threaten our well-being, we need to ask ourselves why we do so and what it says about us.

Hope this reflection helps you challenge your irrational fears.

Be a light to your world!