5 Practices of Successful, Resilient Couples

five principles of successful couples, communicate

For the next four weeks, as my wife and I approach our 47th anniversary, I will be posting some articles about ways to build and maintain a long-term, resilient marriage.

What would you think if I told you I’d discovered 5 practices of successful, resilient couples, all starting with the letter C, that you could use to give your marriage a jump start?

Recently I was speaking to a group of about 140 folks at Cannon AFB in Clovis, New Mexico. While my presentation was on Resilience and Stress Management, a couple of the participants and I get into a brief discussion about marriage and what makes some marriages work. I mentioned a few things like communication, compromise, being honest, you know the usual stuff and pretty much forgot about it and went back to the session.

Then, the other night we had several friends over for a dinner party, and while a couple of us were visiting we discovered that they had just celebrated their 46th anniversary, another was going to be celebrating 24, and we are preparing to celebrate our 47th next month. That is 117 years of marriage! While we didn’t get into the subject, I have known these folks for a while, and I could safely say, they demonstrate the 5 practices of successful, resilient couples.

So here are the 5 practices of successful, resilient couples or practices you can develop in your marriage.

Ready? Let’s jump in.

Compromise – One of the things you learn about marriage, usually within the first few days or weeks is that a marriage is all about giving. Compromise is a vital part of any successful, enduring marriage. For two individuals to develop and work as a married team, you must learn to give and take. 

5 principles of successful couples, Clear the Air

Communicate – Your marriage will shrivel or thrive based on the number of meaningful discussions that you have. Communication in your marriage is like a life-giving river. When you fail to communicate you dam the lifeblood of your marriage. Do what you can, read what you need, spend the money necessary to guard your communication. Many potentially significant marriages crumble simply because of poor or no communication. 

Clear the Air, don’t hide your hurts. WARNING: I am not talking about downloading on someone. One of the components of a long-term marriage is that you allow your spouse to encourage, nurture, comfort, and support you. As couples learn to mutually do this, several positive things can happen. A few benefits include feeling accepted, which leads to more emotional connection, lower stress, and increased intimacy.

By the way, laughter can help clear the air!

Choose your Battles Carefully. When you have two people sharing the same space, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually, the conflict will ensue. So, don’t be blindsided by this. The critical thing here is to be careful to choose what you will be investing your energy in. Here is a helpful acronym from my friends dealing with addiction, the word HALT is one of the tools they use to avoid “falling of the wagon.” I believe it can also be a powerful way to lower the risks and level of conflict in your home.

H – Hunger is a physical and emotional need. Hungry people can be grumpy people, and cranky people tend to be more combative. 

A – Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that we all experience from time to time. Slow down and take some time to try and understand what is causing the anger and know how to express it appropriately. 

L – Loneliness – If you are feeling lonely and. or misunderstood, do you best not to isolate,but to find meaningful and safe ways to connect with your spouse. 

T – Tiredness impacts us across the board, body, soul, mind, and spirit. Realize that if you or your spouse are experiencing tiredness and fatigue, you are more at risk to fight.

You might want to check out my 10 Rules for Fighting Fair.

Hopefully, this acronym will help you in choosing your battles carefully.

Last, but certainly not least is what I believe is the most important one.

Want to receive my Free Ebook 21 Ways to Improve Your Marriage? Text the word Marriage to 33777.

Capitalize on trust, truth, and honesty. Dishonestly in a marriage is an almost sure-fire way to screw things up. Why?  It destroys trust. It sets a horrible example. It undermines your goals as a couple. 

Being married is at the same time, one of the best and toughest things you will ever do. My hope is that you will be able to use these 5 principles of successful, resilient couples to enhance your marriage.

Ancient Relationship Wisdom

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT 

So, which of these do you need to work on? Which one could you prayerfully consider doing this week? I’d love to hear from you.

Full Disclosure, this article was inspired by 5 Secret to a Successful Long-Term Relationship or Marriage by Dr. John M. Grohol. It was hard to beat his outline, though I have addressed the different areas a little bit differently.

Hey, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this, maybe even begin a conversation.

Blessings,

John Thurman

10 Rules for Fighting Fair

10 Rules for Fighting Fair

Have you ever been at a party and overheard a couple say, “Oh, we never fight!” Don’t believe them! In this article I will show you ten rules for fighting fair.

Couples fight! We will be married 47 years this August, and we have had our fair share of fights. As a matter of fact, we had a pretty good one yesterday, as I recall it had to do with my being distracted by my new iPhone. The good news is that over the years, we have learned to fight fair. One of the traits of a resilient marriage is the ability to manage conflict.

Did you know that most of what we fight about really doesn’t matter? As a matter of fact, Dr. John Gottman, the leading authority says, “Our research has shown 69% of relationship conflict is about perpetual problems. All couples have them — these problems are grounded in the fundamental differences that any two people face. They are either fundamental differences in your personalities that repeatedly create conflict or fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs. [i]

The key to fighting fair is to maintain control. You do not have the right to be immature, childish, or abusive. If you do have legitimate feelings and issues, you are entitled to give a reasonable voice to those feelings in a constructive way. (That includes not being self-righteous or taking yourself too seriously.

So here are 10 Rules for Fighting Fair.

Make it private and keep it private. Fighting in front of your kids is nothing short of child abuse. It can and will scar them emotionally and spiritually all because you don’t have the self-control to keep it together until you can talk about it privately. It is not advisable to share information about your fights with family and friends – the information always gets twisted and enhanced.

Deal with the issue at hand. Keep it relevant. Stay on task! Focus on the problems rather than attacking each other. Don’t bring up old issues or grudges when they are not a part of the solution. Put boundaries around the subject so it won’t turn into a free-for-all. Limit the discussion to the one issue at the center of the conflict.

Stay in the room emotionally, keep it real. Deal with them, not with symptoms. Tell your spouse what is bothering you. Focus on the issue rather than the attack! When people are involved in a conflict, it is easy to feel flooded and overwhelmed, here is one quick free way to make sure you are staying in the room. Check your pulse if it around one hundred, 80 if you are athletic, then step back take a few moments and attempt to re-engage. 

Eliminate “You never,” “You always.” These phrases will always lead to someplace you really don’t want to go.

Avoid character assassination like the plague. Stay focused on the issue rather than ripping into your spouse’s personality, family, or past.

Don’t “mind read!”  Have you ever said or heard, “I know what you are thinking?” If you have, then consider yourself duly busted. If you are not sure what your partner meant by something they said, ask for clarification. Because asking for clarification always adds bonus points by slowing the conversation down. It lets your partner know that you are really trying to connect and understand. 

Stay on task! The mission is to resolve to conflict and come out with a “win-win” not an “I win you lose” outcome.

Be proportional in your intensity. You don’t kill a fly with a cannon. There are basically only two types of problems people have – solvable and unsolvable (or not solvable right now.) Everything that you disagree on is not an earth-shattering issue. Remember, you don’t have to get mad and upset every time you have a cause to be.

Commit yourself to openness, honesty, and acceptance. This will help you relax, listen, and give feedback.

Allow yourself and your partner to retreat and/or regroup with dignity. How a fight ends is crucial. Recognize when an olive branch is being offered to you (it might be disguised as an apology or a joke) and give each other a face-saving way out of the disagreement.

Action Plan

Are you serious about improving your relationship? If you are, I want to challenge you to review this article and pick two or three specific things you can do to make your next fight more productive.

If you would be interested in relationship coaching shoot me an email and we can set up a free assessment call.

Be sure to let me know what you are going to do in the comments.

Blessings.


[i]https://www.gottman.com/blog/managing-conflict-solvable-vs-perpetual-problems/12 Feb 2018

D-Day Thoughts

In the summer of 1977, I was a newly minted twenty-five-year-old U.S. Army Chaplain assigned to the 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry, 39th Infantry Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard. It was my first time for Annual Training, a time when many National Guard units gather for training.

It was during this time that I met Master Sergeant Clark(not his real name), a kind, older soldier, probably in his mid 50’s who welcomed me and told me that he was a member of the Church of the Nazarene. The unit patch on the right shoulder of his fatigues said to me that he’s served in combat with the 45th Infantry (Thunderbird) Division, a unit made up of National Guard soldiers.

During the first few days of training, I’d had the opportunity to visit with him a couple of times and hear just enough of his story to want to hear more.

In those days there were still several WWII veterans in the Guard. Many had done their time, we discharged, and later came back into the various Army Reserve and National Guard Units.

Towards the end of the first week, the XO of the Battalion informed me that Sergeant Clark had been admitted to the hospital for a possible heart attack and asked if I could drive into town with the Sergeant Major to visit him. We had a great visit, heard some his stories and he and the Sergeant Major had both served in WWII, and we went back to the field.

This would be Master Sergeant’s last Annual Training. He was transferred back to the hospital in his home town. As I recall, he was discharged from the hospital and within the next few months died of a heart attack.

As the unit chaplain, I was one of many unit members that represented the Battalion at his funeral. 

As a member of the Greatest Generation, Sergeant didn’t talk much about his WWII experiences. Instead, he lived a quiet life in Southern Arkansas, was a loving husband, father, and granddad. He was an active member in his church and lived a life that honored the Lord Jesus. Like so many of his peers he saw and experienced some of the most extraordinary things, a young man can suffer as a result of being involved in a war. But you would never know his story unless he let you in.

One of the benefits of being a soldier and a Chaplain is that when soldiers begin to trust you, they will tell you some of their story with you. I know that he’d been a tanker and had been involved in the Sicily and Italian Campaign and then was involved in the D-Day invasion.

What I learned at the funeral is that he’d had two tanks shot out from him in just a few days in France. You see, he had to be a badass when his country called him to join the fight. He engaged the enemy, took care of his men, and fought until he could fight he was relieved. That has so many of these young men in WW II were.

On that day, the preacher shared the word of God about the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ and the Hope we have in Christ.

Also, on that day, other older soldiers shared some appropriate stories about MSG. Clark.

We went to the cemetery, words were said, the ground was consecrated, and as Taps played fellow soldiers fire the final rifle volley.

That was the first Military Funeral that I’d participated in, and even now I have tender memories of that fine man.  I read that the greatest generation soldiers are dying at a rate of 400 a day as they move into their 90’s 

This week, as we recall the 75th anniversary-Day, take a few moments to review the history and impact of that day, and if you are brave, ask members in your family about family members who may have served in WW II. 

I had an aunt served as an Army Nurse, three uncles that served, one was with the Merchant Marines, one was Airborne, and one was a medic. My dad was commissioned into the Navy as the war ended. While they may be gone, see if any other family members know any of their stories.

Here are a couple of movies that will help give you a perspective:

Saving Private Ryan

The Series Band of Brothers.

Fury – an up close and compelling account of a WW II tank crew toward the end of the war

May we be worthy Americans that can live a life that honors their sacrifice.

7 Benefits​​​ of Having Humor in Your Relationship

Cheap ways to strengthen your marriage by adding humor to your reationship.

Humor in Resilient Relationships

Several years ago, my wife and I had come to an impasse in our relationship. I was detached and living in my career; something men often do, and my wife was into other things. I wish I could tell you that I suggested some counseling, but no, I was too proud and bone-headed to do that. It was my wife who strongly encouraged me to make a call. Our counselor was a wise man who helped us learn to re-negotiate our marriage and reconnect. As we wrapped up therapy, he made a comment that surprised and encouraged us. He said, “Angie and John, like many couples that come to see me, you guys were way off track, but even in some of the tougher sessions you both maintained a healthy sense of humor in your relationship. That let me know that you two are going to make it.”

Those encouraging words were a gift to us nearly 34 years ago and have sustained us through the ebbs and flows of our marriage. Through the Winters, Springs, Summers, and Falls of our lives, we have managed to maintain humor in our relationship.

Humor, laughter, and joy have a powerful effect on health and well-being. It alleviates tension and stress, boosts the mood, raises creativity, and provides an excellent, drug-free energy boost. Humor brings people together and helps them manage life better. An occasional shared belly laugh is an essential part of a robust and healthy relationship.

Laughter and joy and playful communication are some of the most effective, free tools that can keep your relationship vital, fresh, and stimulating. Humor and laughter can keep your relationship exciting, light, and joyful. Want more sex, laugh more. Want to increase your overall well-being, chill out, and giggle.

Here are six things that laughter and humor can do to enhance your relationship.

1.     Links you to others. We are hardwired for relationships. Your happiness and health, in no small degree, depend on the quality of your relationships. Real connections are engaged in face to face, eyeball to eyeball, not in the glow of the blue tinted screens. And the laughter helps strengthen the relationship’s connect on several levels.

2.     Helps smooth over differences. Using soft humor often enables you to deal with sensitive subjects, work through disagreements, and gain a fresh perspective on problems.

3.     Develops resilience. A sense of humor is one of the keys to resilience. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress–such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. 

4.     Increases energy and relaxes at the same time. Joy, humor, and laughter relieve fatigue and relax your body while recharging your batteries and helps you get more done.

5.     Renews perspective. Most relationships, life, or job situations are not as bad when viewed through the window of joy and laughter.

6.     Increases creativity. Playfulness and humor release certain brain chemicals that loosen you up energize your thinking, and inspire creative problem-solving.

As we move into the summer months, I want to challenge you to be more intentional about experiencing more joy in your relationship.

I’d love to hear your comments, input

 and ideas. 

You Can Become More Resilient!

Diagram of Resilience

“How can you think yourself a great man, when the first accident that comes along can wipe you out completely.”
 — Euripides

Did you know that no matter where you are in your life, you can become more resilient? Resilience is a hot topic and has been for the past few years. Every week more research looks into the topic of resilience. More therapist are realizing the importance of helping client learn to become more resilient.

The subject of resilience in positive psychology deals with the ability to cope with whatever life throws at you. Some people can be knocked down by life and return as a stronger person than ever before. These people are called resilient. Did you know that you can learn how to become more resilient?

A resilient person works through challenges by using personal resources, strengths and other positive capacities of psychological and spiritual capital such as faith, hope, optimism, and self-efficacy. Overcoming a crisis by resiliency is often described as “bouncing back” to a normal state of functioning. Being resilient is also positively associated with happiness.

“If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

We define resilience very merely as a steady trajectory of healthy functioning after a highly adverse event.

Dr. George Everly defines resilience as the ability to withstand, adapt to, or rebound from extreme challenges or adversity.

Dr. George Bonanno defines it this way: By resilience is meant the ability of individuals exposed to a potentially highly disruptive event to maintain both healthy psychological, spiritual and physical functioning and the capacity for positive emotions.

Personal resilience, what we sometimes think of as psychological body armor (a term credited to and copywriter by Dr. George Everly), is your ability to bounce back, to pick yourself up and try again, and again and again until your either succeed or decide on a more productive direction.

Resilience is your ability to see yourself in the dark abyss of failure, humiliation or depression-and bounce back, not only to where you were before, but to even greater heights of success, happiness, intentionality, and inner strength.

Resilience helps you withstand adversity. It gives you a form of immunity that enables you to make the right decisions under pressure, motivates you to move forward and always allows you to bounce back quickly and effectively.

Resilience gives you an edge when things get tough in your relationships.

The great news is that research reveals five factors for personal resilience.

  1. Active Optimism– It’s the inclination to move forward while others are retreating. But to do so much lead to …
  2. Decisive Action— You have to make a conscious choice to be decisive and to act to move forward. Clare Boothe Luce stated, “Courage is the ladder on which all other virtues mount.” To grow, you must have the courage to make robust discussions. These decisions are much more comfortable when they are based on a…
  3. Moral Compass. For me personally, this is based on a biblical world view which is wrapped in honor, integrity, love, and ethical behavior to guide your decisions. Once you have made your decision, you much engage in…
  4. Relentless Tenacity, and determination. Be persistent, while at the same time knowing when to quit. To find hidden opportunities and aid in physical, psychological, and spiritual energy for the task rely on…
  5. Active, face to face social support. While social media is important, nothing can replace an appropriate look, word, and touch.

Why is it so important to have an active social support network?

First, it essential to life. Even the Bible talks about the importance of being connected on a personal level. Doing life together is good for your health.

Second, many researchers have discovered that social support if one of the critical components in recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Third, being connected can have a positive impact on your income.

Fourth, sharing your life with others invites them to share their life with you.

Fifth, having social support makes you stronger both in your personal life and in your relationships.

The ancient wisdom contained in the Book of Ecclesiastes says “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
So, how can you begin to be intentionally connected?

All relationships are not equally supportive. Building a network of supportive friends, or even just one supportive relationship can be vital to your wellbeing.

Let me close with one of my favorite pieces of ancient literature. This ancient wisdom helps me in my personal development of resilience;

Proverbs 3:5–6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
 do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
 and he will show you which path to take. (New Living Translation)

Please check out these great links:

What Does It Mean to Be Resilient and Why Does It Matter, by my friend Danielle Bernock

Resilience and Tolerances by Seth Godin

Bonanno G. A. Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely adverse events?. American Psychologist. 2004; 59: 20–28. [PubMed Abstract].[Google Scholar]

Bonanno G. A., Westphal M., Mancini A. D. Resilience to loss and potential trauma. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. 2011; 7: 511–535. [PubMed Abstract].[Google Scholar]

Everly, George, Strouse, Douglas, McCormack, Dennis. Stronger: Develop the Resilience you need to Succeed, New YorkKindle edition, 2018. pp.265–266

2 Problem Solving Killers

What is the most recent problem solving situation that you have personally faced in the past few days?

How did it turn out?

Did you know that one trait of a person who is living a resilient life is the ability to problem solve and make good decisions?

I don’t know about you, but it seems that in the past few years with the rise of smartphones, tablets, and social media we are overwhelmed with choices which have lead to real problems for some people and that is in the are of decision making and problem solving.

There seem to two primary mindsets that keep people from dealing with the stuff in their lives. At least from my observations after living on this blue marble for over six decades.

The first is the Big D word, Denial. People that choose to live in this lane of life tend to deny the impact of problems and issues in their lives at all costs. They do their best to live in the delusional state of denial because they are scared spitless of seeing the reality that is right in from of their eyes. Because of this mindset, they develop finely tuned skills to avoid some of the tough things in life.

So where do you think this type of living leads a person? Well, in my opinion, this denial mindset will lead you down a twisted path of insecurity, anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustrations, jealousy and a whole lot more of yucky stuff.

The second mindset of people who avoid dealing with life issues is that of being a perpetual victim. While this mindset has been around for thousands of years, it seems to be enjoying a new surge in this modern age.

The Victim mentality. People with this mindset choose to believe there is not a single that they can do to solve a problem or deal with their stuff. When, in more cases than not, they could. I have said this before, but it is like some people want to play emotional pin the tail on the donkey. They are continually seeking ways to blame either others or circumstances for all that is going wrong in their lives.

While it might give the person choosing to be a victim a little bit of relief, it will ultimately lead to anger, emotional impotence, learned helplessness and despair.
Why do so many people choose to swim in the river of denial or attempt to pin the emotional tail on the donkey by blaming circumstance on others?

The simple reason, I think is because there is a quick payoff. It gives them a rush, a buzz, and maybe some relief to push the responsibility off on someone or something else. It is a quick fix that allows the person, at least for a moment to escape life’s problems as opposed to seeing problems as an invitation to growth, and change to learn something and maybe experience grace and goodness.

Let me ask you a question.

What do you do when it comes to dealing with some of the problems that come from being a human? Do you run from them, deny them, or blame your parents, upbringing, your ex or your diagnosis? Your answer will determine whether your life will be enriching, rewarding or bland and mundane.

In my counseling and coaching practice, one of the first questions I ask a client is something along the lines of how can I help you? The replies usually sound “I want to be happier. I want more peace in my life. I want to be more successful. I want to improve my relationships.” All of these are worthy goals.

Typically, after we talk about that for a few minutes, at least to the point that I feel I have some understanding, I will they ask something like, “What are you willing to do to get it? What are you ready to change? What problems do you anticipate and how will you deal with it?

At this point, things seem to come into clear focus.

I remember a few years ago I was asked to be on the faculty of a writer’s conference at the Glorieta Christian Writer’s Conference at what used to be the Glorieta Baptist Conference Center. Part of my job was to visit with hopeful writers and authors about their dreams. Needless to say, it was a blast being able to participate in such a great event.

I remember, one of the benefits of attending this conference is that every day the staff would meeting in this large room to visit with and listen to aspiring writer’s pitching their book ideas. This was always an exciting and impressive time to meet these people, listen to their stories and proving encouragement, maybe even some further networking opportunities.

And then I began to pick up on a trend. I spoke in a massive group session on the second day and when people realized that I was a licensed professional therapist I was inundated with potential authors who wanted to tell me of their travail of abuse, and neglect. As I listened to some of these stories I begin to feel like I was back in my office as a therapist. Not a great place to be when you are providing the types of services we were at the Writer’s Conference. At dinner that evening I was processing this sudden increase in authors wanting my input to their stories with a couple of older, female authors that I really respected. Their insight was invaluable. Luckily I’d asked several of the women who’d shared their story idea with me to check back with me the following day.

Here is how it went.

Five of the ladies came back the next day, as well as a few whom I’d not yet met.

I made sure I was listening and tracking each of these unique and painful stories that these potential authors were sharing with me. And then I would say something like, “Would you like my input and suggestions? To a person, they all said yes. Here was my reply.

I want you to look around this room and see how many women are here. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center 1 in five women and one in 71 men have been raped at some time in their life. One in three women and one in six men have experienced some type of contact sexual violence in their lives. And then I would say something like, “what makes your story different? In most cases, when I asked this, I would receive a shocked look of anger, and if stares could kill, I would have died 15 times that day. Fortunately not one of the emerging heroes bailed on me.

After I made that statement, I’d keep quiet and hope that they would ask a follow-up question and they did. After the initial shock of my statement they would ask, so what did I need to do.

This is the essence of what I told them. I would start off by telling them how proud I was that they were making a bold choice to share their story, but that to separate their story from everybody else they had to share how they addressed the problem of abuse and how they overcame it. I suggested before they wrote another word in their transcript that they exam what they were learning. In marketing terms, which you might feel is a little harsh, what was their unique selling point.

What was the principle, purpose, promise or prayer they were learning or had learned as a result of no longer denying their abuse and no longer blaming others for how they were dealing with the abuse?

I have to tell you the truth here, I did not want to hurt any of the women, but at the same time I wanted to challenge them to dig deep within and write their story of how they, with God’s help, found the courage to face their challenges and move from being a victim to an overcomer.

Over the next twelve to eighteen months I heard from several of these writers who thanked me for my comments. Two of them invited me to read and comment on their drafts, and a few of the others sent me notes and emails regarding my gently calling them out. I have to tell you, these women dared to not buy into the Denial Trap or the Blame Trap. And while there is a special place in Hell for people who sexually abuse other people, these ladies absolutely refused to let the perpetrator win.

These writers wanted a better life. They were beginning to understand that real, honest, long-term fulfillment comes through how we choose to confront and manage our struggles.


To be clear, I am not talking about “no guts no glory” or “no pain, no gain.”
Instead, how we face and manage our struggles, in large part determine our happiness and our success in this present life.

My wife says it best, “We are either in a struggle, coming out of a struggle, or preparing for a struggle.”
I think she is right on target. How about you? How are you managing the problems that come at you in your day to day life?

Ancient Wisdom
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess the perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us.”
Philippians 4:12-14 NLT

Be sure to read my next post, when I will talk about a third way to deal with problems, which I call resilient decision making.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

6 Ways to Crush the Fear Criticism

John thurman Overcome Criticism
John thurman Overcome Criticism
Depositphotos

The fear of criticism robs a person of their initiative, destroys imagination, limits to ambition, extin-guishes dreams, steals self-reliance, and does, Lord only knows how much more damage.
-Napoleon Hill

Have you ever given a speech, lead a breakout, or shared your art and had it evaluated? Have you ever felt the fear of criticism?

If you are like me, you are very gracious when the results of the evaluations are given to you. And I bet you are like me you want to show how cool you are and not even take a peek at them until absolutely no one is around. For me, I will get to the bathroom or some other private space as soon as I can to see how I did. Don’t just love going through them and reading all of those affirming words. You’re giving yourself high five and tell yourself, “I killed it today!” That is until your alert eyes open wide when you read those, shall we say less than stellar comments. Immediately you begin to doubt yourself, and if you are not careful, you will spin into the death spiral of self-pity.

The truth is, anytime you put your head above the crowd there is the potential that you will become a target of criticism. The fear of criticism can be a show-stopper, but it doesn’t have to be. I hope that as you continue to lean into life, you will take the risk to live the life you were intended to live.

Let’s jump in! Let’s look at some tools that will help you crush the fear of criticism.

Six Strategies to help you deal with crush criticism.

Tip #1—People are going to criticize you no matter what you do. So why not give them something to talk about? As you grow, become more visible, and share your gifts, vision, and expertise, others will criticize.

As you step into this adventure of pushing back the fear of criticism you will only have two options:

Option #1— Gripe, complain, moan and groan. Complain about how bad things are and how we should all just love and respect for each other. FYI: it will do nothing but make you more miserable.

Option #2— Accept the fact that people will be critical which doesn’t mean you have to like it or let people walk all over you. Once you have done that, then take what you need and dismiss the rest.

Tip #2—Learn to look inside and discover the beautiful person God created you to be.

Recently, I attended the Fellowship Church in Gonzales, Louisiana and heard an excellent sermon about the Woman at the Well in John 4:4-42. Read it today; I promise you will be blessed.

This story is only in John’s gospel, and it is about a nameless Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus, the longest one-on-one conversation of Jesus recorded in the Bible. This interaction gives us a brilliant insight into how the Lord sees us, warts and all.

She was a Samaritan, a group of folks who were hated by the Jews of Jesus’s time also, she was an outcast from her own culture, marked as an immoral woman, divorced five times, living with a man who wasn’t her husband.

I just love how Jesus knew her history, and her actions, her lifestyle yet did not condemn, be-little, gossip about, or disrespect her. Instead, this immoral woman, who would probably be labeled a sex addict today, was one of the early people to whom he disclosed his true identity.

Jesus’s encounter with the Woman at the Well teaches us that God loves us in spite of our corrupt lives. God values us enough to actively seek us, to welcome us to intimacy, and to rejoice in worship. And God uses our brokenness to bring others into a relationship with Himself. As a result of this conversation and the woman’s testimony, scores of Samaritans came into a relationship with Christ.

People believe the two lies. The first is that our sense of self-esteem should be based on our performance. The second is that our self-worth is based on what others think about us.

  Now, while it is essential to be the best employee you can be in the workplace, that has nothing to do with healthy self-esteem.

A healthy sense of self-worth is based on God’s love for me; he knows how bad I can mess things up and yet He chooses to love me and be a dynamic part of my life if I allow Him to be. He gives me a purpose for living.

Tip #3—Listen to your inner critic and disagree. Learn to challenge your thoughts. In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) we read:

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Paul uses a military term to describe this warfare with sin and Satan. God must be the leader, even of our thought lives. The idea of walking circumspectly is being situationally aware of your thoughts, your “at risk” areas of life, where you can be tempted. When these thoughts—even self-defeating thoughts—come to mind, capture it and give it to Jesus. When we are exposed to toxic thinking or toxic behaviors, we always have a choice.

My challenge to you is to recognize the danger, the self-defeating thoughts, and actions, and refuse to let them take hold of you. Instead, ask God to give you discernment and a trusted friend who can encourage you.

Tip #4—Remember, you’re an adult, and you get to choose. Choose wisely.

Tip #5—Don’t be intimidated by criticism. Look for wisdom in a critique. When people who love you are critical, trust that they love you and have your best interest in mind. Cut them some slack and meet them with an open heart and mind.

Tip #6—Move from being emotionally fragile to emotional resilient.

You can do this! I know you can. If you are a person of faith remember these words, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Action Plan:
Buy my book The No Fear Entrepreneur
Join my email list by going to www.johnthurman.net and sign up for my newsletter.

Be Blessed,
John

4 Steps to Change Your Thoughts And Your Life!

Manage your thought life for life change
Deposit photos.

By John Thurman, M.Div., M.A., LPCC 

Did you know that you have the power to change your thoughts, alter the path you are currently on and delete or reduce your limitations? By understanding the power of resistance and resilience and by engaging these 4 tips, you can dynamically impact your future and boost your motivation.

Do you hit replay every time you have a regret, make a mistake, or take a wrong step? If you do here are some proven tips you can use to turn those thoughts around and get your mind going in the right direction.  Here is an important tip, nobody else is going to do it for us. You can choose to change your thoughts and change your life!

Let’s pretend for a second that you are going to have to grade your current ability to manage your thoughts and move yourself if a positive, edifying direction. How would you grade yourself?

If your grade isn’t where you want it to be read on.

There are four simple, practical, things you can do to boost your self-esteem. If you want to see a big shift in your life you can learn to change your thoughts and change your life give these tools a try. Before I get into them, I want to mention two principles that should be operating in the background as you implement these new ways of thinking. 

The first is resistance. This sounds odd, but developing resistance means that as you try new things, it will be easy to quit. Resistance helps you predict the fact that sometimes you might not want to do the work that you need to do, but that you will do it anyway. You will learn to resist the temptation to go back to your old ways of thinking and behaving. You will begin to see the positive impact of learning how to change your thoughts and change your life in powerful and positive ways.

Resistance refers to the ability of an individual, a group, an organization, or even an entire population to literally resist manifestations of clinical distress, impairment, or dysfunction associated with critical incidents, terrorism, and even mass disasters. Resistance may be thought of as a form of psychological/behavioral immunity to distress and dysfunction.  [i]

The second is resilience. Resilience is a natural occurring tool which most people have in their mental toolbox. Resilience, according to Dr. George Bonanno, is a naturally-occurring tool which most people have always had in their psychological locker, and which is enhanced or weakened by experience and circumstances. In a nutshell, resilience is the power to overcome adversity, trauma, low self-esteem and to be strengthened.

Resilience refers to the ability of an individual, a group, an organization, or even an entire population to rapidly and effectively rebound from psychological and/or behavioral perturbations associated with critical incidents, terrorism, and even mass disasters[ii]

Here are the four tips that will boost your self-esteem as you learn to change your thoughts and change your life!

Tip # 1 – Supervise your self-talk.  Right now, whether you realize it or not, you are having a running conversation with yourself. Here is the question: Is it a productive conversation or energy stealing one? If the discussion is positive and hope-filled, you are creating and sustaining a favorable view of yourself. If you are negative, you undermine your self-worth. You diminish the fact that God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. 

       In their book The Answer, businessmen-authors John Assaraf and Murray Smith talk about the negative messages children receive growing up. They write,

By the time you’re 17 years old, you’ve heard “No, you can’t” an average of 150,000 times. You’ve heard “Yes, you can” 5,000 times. That’s 30 no’s for every yes, creating a powerful belief of “I can’t so why even try.”[iii]

Wow! That is a lot to overcome. If we want to change our lives, we need to change the way we think about ourselves. Ethel Waters,famous jazz and gospel singer, whose birth was the result of her mother’s rape, spoke for us all: “I know I’m somebody ’cause God don’t make no junk.”

You need to learn to become your own encourager, your own cheerleader. Every time you do a good job, don’t just let it pass; give yourself a compliment. Every time you choose discipline overindulgence, recognize how much you are helping yourself. When you do make a mistake, don’t bring up everything that is wrong with yourself; tell yourself that you are paying the price for growth and that you will learn to do better next time. Every positive thing you can say to yourself will help.

Tip # 2 – Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparing yourself to others is a needless time and energy sucking experience that only makes you feel bad. Your mission is to become better today than you were yesterday. You do that by focusing on what you can do today to improve and grow. Do that enough, and if you look back and compare the you of weeks, months and years ago to the you of today, you should be greatly encouraged by your progress.

Tip#3 – Stretch your limiting beliefs. Some of you might be saying something like, “When it comes to believing in myself, I am an agnostic.” 

It is sad that too many people think this way about themselves. They don’t believe they can accomplish great things. But the most significant limitations people experience are the ones that they impose on themselves. Businessman Charles Schwab said, “When a person has put limits on what they will do, they have put a limit on what they can do.”

Tip # 4 – Build up others. People with low self-esteem often see themselves as inadequate or feel like victims (which usually starts because they actually have been victimized in their past), and they over focus on themselves. They can become self-protective and selfish because they feel they have to survive.

If this sounds a little close to home, one of the best ways you can combat those feelings is by serving others and working on adding value to their lives. Making a difference – even a small one – in the lives of others lifts one’s self-esteem. It is hard to feel bad about yourself when you’re doing something for someone else. Also, adding value to others makes them value you more. It creates a cycle of positive feeling from one person to another.

Hoping that you will choose to have a Great Day! Looking forward to hearing from you and how you are learning to change your thoughts and change your life!

I would love to hear your comments!


[i]Everly, George S, Kamisnky, Michael, McCabe, Lee, and Langlieb, Alan (2007, December 7) An evidence-Informed Model of Human Resistance, and Recovery: The John’s Hopkins’ Outcome-Driven Paradigm for Disaster Mental Health. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention. Retrieved 8 April 2019, from http://triggered.edina.clockss.org/ServeContent?rft_id=info:doi/10.1093/brief-treatment/mhl015

[ii]Ibid.

[iii]Assaraf, John and Smith Murray (2008). The Answer (Kindle version) p 50. Retrieved from Amazon.com

Get Your Stuff Together! How to Hit the Restart Button.

Regretting that you didn’t start earlier is a great distraction from moving on your dream today, and the reality is that today is earlier than tomorrow.

Jon Acuff

Do you suffer from the paralysis of analysis? Are fear and lack of focus and holding you back?
Here is a path you can take to get moving again.

You are going to Get Your Stuff Together startin now!

Step # 1 – Get off your duff, quit making excuses and be brutally and totally honest about what you want. And aim lower! Get your stuff together!
You see you will never write the perfect book.
There will never be a perfect race.
There will never be a perfect idea.
There will never be a perfect relationship.
And you will never be a “perfect Christian,” apart from the finished work that Jesus did for you on the Cross.
There will never be a perfect meal, dessert or car. There will never be an ideal solution.
Why?
Perfection does not exist on this side of heaven.
So, what are you and I supposed to do?
Aim lower, destroy perfection and get something done. (Jon Acuff; Finish)
If you and I tend to set the bar too high, we will do a complete faceplate every time! We will haul off and do nothing and then either blame the world, our parents our ourselves, make excuses and limp off into the sunset.
There is no way we can win squat if we hold ourselves to entirely unrealistic expectations.
So, lower the bar.
If you are a nonfiction author like myself the odds of you becoming a Delia Owens, James Madison, Rachel Hollis, or Dr. Gary Chapman are pretty slim. So, aim lower! Here is a hint that helped me last year when I launched my latest book, The No Fear Entrepreneur, I found a smaller niche. And what happened, on launch day it was the #1 Best Selling Kindle, Paid, Christian Books-Christian Living-Professional Growth.
I had to get myself in a category where I could excel.
Congrats! You survived the first point, I think the most challenging thing to do is to start!

Other things to help Get Your Stuff Together to Move Forward?

Step # 2 Simplify Your Tasks.
T
he quickest way to do this is by getting more reality-based about how you invest your time.
How about this, rather than spending time on the latest time-saving app, get a small notebook, and jot down how you spend your day. Work on tracking your time use for about a week, and you will begin to get a clearer idea of how you spend your time.
As you keep this simple record, you will begin to discern the ebbs and flows of your days.
By the end of the week you should be able to have a more unobstructed view of how you use your time then you can begin to make some gentle, user-friendly adjustments that will give you more time to do the things you need to do in the nooks and crannies.

Step # 3 Get Your Mental Health Stuff Together.
Did you know that by doing just a little bit of self-care and self-management you can significantly enhance your mental health at absolutely no cost to you?
As a professional counselor for over 35 years, I have a couple of gems for you.
Often one of the best ways of dealing with anxiety-producing situations is to stare them in the face and rip their mask off and see them for what they are. If you fail to do this, you might work yourself into a hissy fit and tie yourself into a useless pile to twisted knots.
This is the type of approach to use when there is some type of kinetic response is required. This type of anxiety means that you either have to stop doing something or start doing something.
Another strategy, which may not feel very intuitive, maybe to hit the pause button and do nothing.
I use this illustration when I am teaching people how to manage their thought life.
Let’s say it is 3 minutes until quitting time and you receive a short email from your boss, it is somewhat ambiguous, short, and he/she wants to see you first thing in the morning.
Now you could get pretty worked up over something like this and even to the point of losing your appetite and missing sleep.
DON’T
The other option – you could sleep on it, pray and meditate on it and see what happens. There is a high probability that it is harmless.

Step # 4 START NOW!

If you need some help getting started email me for a free consult.

Here is a little story from an obscure Old Testament Passage.
31 After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath rescued Israel. He once killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. Judges 2:31 NLT
What is the lesson here?
Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.
Trust God.

Here are some helpful resources:
Jon Acuff ’s books
Start – Much Fear in the Face and Do Work that Matters
Finish – Give Yourself the Gift of Done
Karen Porter- If You Give a Girl a Giant
Carol Dweck – Mindset
Sarah Knight – Get Your S#*t Together John Thurman- The No Fear Entrepreneur