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

7 Steps That Will Enhance Self-Care

“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:39
                                                                                       Jesus

What comes to mind when you read the words Self-care or Self-Compassion? Are you aware that one of the components of resilient, successful people is they practice self-care?

For many people, the first reaction self-care is often one of concern, misgiving, or uneasiness. They believe that being kind and gracious to themselves might make them weak, more vulnerable, or even snotty (a clinical word that could mean arrogant, puffed up, or aloof). They erroneously think self-criticism keeps them accountable or improves their performance. They are sometimes overly concerned that letting go of the nasty habit of self-criticism will somehow cause them to appear less competent.

I believe one of the things those of us who have struggled in this area have a hard time understanding is that the reverse is true; tormenting ourselves and holding ourselves to be accountable to completely unrealistic expectations which will most likely sabotage our efforts.

I know in my own life; one of the voices that I consistently listened to, was that nagging whisper planted in my head by a teacher in high school that I was a horrible English student and that I might not make it out of high school. FYI, I got through High School and completed 2 Masters. Now in all fairness, she planted the seed, but I did a phenomenal job of watering and fertilizing it. That is until I made a choice to turn the volume down and begin to write. Just so you know, at age sixty-seven and still learning and growing.

News Flash! 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, bludgeoning yourself with self-criticism compromises your goals, impairs your pursuits and steals your dreams, whether they are mental, physical, spiritual, academic, health-related, or professional.

In my work as a therapist and as a Crisis Response Specialist I have learned that self-care, self-compassion is a must if I want to provide adequate care to others. Likewise, self-care, self-compassion is not an option if I desire to impact this world.

I love this story in the New Testament book of Matthew 22: 35–38, One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question; ‘Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses? “Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Let me be clear, we are not talking about some narcissistic type of self-love, but of, to use a biblical metaphor, “temple maintenance.” We cannot export what we do not have.

So, what does healthy self-care or self-compassion look like?

It brings forth resilience, and it enables you to be more flexible and agile as you face life’s challenges, it provides you the capacity to identify problems, accept feedback, both good and bad, and to modify habits that no longer serve your best interests. This type of shift in your thinking opens the doors to enhanced resilience, hope, increased strength, optimism, and opportunities.

Self-Care Explained 

Do you remember the safety briefing from your last flight? When the flight attendants get to the part about the unlikely event of sudden cabin depressurization, they explain that the oxygen mask will drop from the ceiling and at that point, they instruct you to put on your mask first, then and only then, help someone else with theirs. 

Self-care is sort of like this in a way. It is a very intentional, active choice that we make to take care of our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. It’s putting us first…because we can’t care for or be the best help to help others unless we first take care of ourselves. 

The benefits of self-care

Self-care can have the following positive effects:
– Improved self-esteem and self-compassion
– Increased insight in decision making and motivation
– Boosted immune system
– Enhanced stress management by reducing anxiety
– Improved productivity fostered by a greater ability to focus
– Deepened spirituality and sense of meaning
– Heightened connection to yourself and others
– Increased resilience
– Greater ability to set boundaries (internal and external)
– Boosted immune system
– Enhanced stress management by reducing anxiety
– Improved productivity fostered by a greater ability to focus
– Deepened spirituality and sense of meaning
– Heightened connection to yourself and others
– Greater ability to set boundaries (internal and external)

Here are seven ways to practice self-care

1. Get your horizontal and vertical relationships in order. The quote from Jesus pretty much sums it up. Love God and out of that love of God will come the love of self, then love of others.

2.  Remember, we have to all constantly fight the inner poser. We all feel like fakes and frauds from time to time. When you find yourself beating yourself up, calling yourself names, rehearsing old hurts, telling yourself you are a loser or suffering from the paralysis of analysis, STOP. Everybody struggles with this from time to time, and it is all part of being human. They are just thoughts. You always have a choice to give them a place in your brain and heart or to dismiss them.

3. Be a buddy to yourself. Would you offer yourself support and encouragement on a bad day? Would you cheer for yourself on a good one?

4. Use your meals as an act of self-care. When you eat, pause to notice that you are taking time to nourish yourself. Rather than seeing how fast you can consume your meal, a nasty habit that I picked up in the military, chew your food slowly, savor the flavor as you add fuel for your body.

5. Get the rest your body needs, 7–8 hours is a great goal and has been proven time and time again to renew and refresh.

6. Have a time of stillness and quietness in the morning. It could be a time of prayer and meditation. You could read from a daily devotional or have some type of daily reading plan. One that I have used is to read one chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs a day.

7. Ask for some help. No, I do not mean therapy, although a good therapist could help. Here is a thought, experiment with giving someone else a chance to help you. It might be a friend, colleague, or mentor who can come alongside you to help out, be an accountability partner or just an encourager.

Action Plan

Choose 2 of the 7 suggestions to begin showing yourself some Self-Care.

Let me hear your thoughts. 
Blessings,
John

7 Secrets to Building Resilience in Your Life and Business.

“Resilience is like a muscle. Flex it enough, and it will take less effort to get over emotional punches each time.”

Alecia Moore

Resilience, a buzzword that has become very popular in the past fifteen years. Today, I am going to reveal the 7 secrets to building resilience in your life, relationships, and business. While the term is a very old concept, Dr. Marty Seligman, known as the father of Positive Psychology, has spent his life researching and training others about the importance of developing resilience.

So, what is resilience? I will give you a couple of definitions:

Resilience is the ability to resist the manifestations of clinical distress, impairment, or dysfunction that are often associated with critical incidents, acts of terror, mass disasters, and personal trauma.[i]

One of the unique things about the 7 secrets to building resilience is you can develop and enhance it at any stage in life.

Another way of explaining resilience is when you are able to calm a frenzied mind after some type of negative experience. It is that internal drive, an inner force by which we can hold ourselves through all the downsides of life.

Emotional resilience is not about overcoming a particular challenge or winning a battle.  It is the strength to power through the storm and still keeps sailing. For those of you who are familiar with the Bible, the resilience piece combined with faith is a reliable and consistent theme in the Scriptures.

One of the adventures of my life was attending the North Carolina Outward Bound School in 1968, I was 16 at the time. The motto of Outward Bound, which is still very much a part of my being is “To Serve, To Strive, and Not To Yield.”

The founder of the Outward Bound School put it this way;

“There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.”

Kurt Hahn, Outward Bound Founder

We are living in an age of incredible, rapid change. Being alive in the era of a technological revolution means that we are having to adapt to things that have never existed in our lives before. From rigorous, rapid digitalization to the 24/7 news cycle, social media influence, the “Amazonification” of business, and the changes that commercial enterprises, it is only natural to feel emotionally in knots at times.

The word resilienceis an ancient word rooted in the Latin word ‘resilio’ which means ‘to bounce back’ or retaliate.

Emotional resilience is an art of living that is entwined with self-belief, self-compassion, and enhanced cognition. It is the way through which we empower ourselves to perceive adversities as ‘temporary’ and keep moving forward through the pain, suffering, and setbacks of life. As we actively look for ways to use the 7 secrets to build resilience, we will enrich both our lives and the lives of others

On a grand scale, building resilience in the areas emotional, mental, and even spiritual resilience means bouncing back from a stressful encounter and not letting it affect our internal motivation. It is not a “bend but don’t break” trait; instead, resilience is accepting the fact that I am broken and continue to grow with the broken pieces together. The Apostle Paul, in the New Testament book of Philippians 4:14 says, I press on to reach the end of the race.

Here are a couple of women who have a very unique look at what it means to be resilient. One is known to nearly everyone and that is Amy Poehler.

Amy Poehler, Comedian

“I see life as like being attacked by a bear. You can run, you can pretend to be dead, or you can make yourself bigger. So, if you’re my stature, you stand on a chair and bang a pan and scream and shout as if you’re going to attack the bear. This is my go-to strategy.” —The Guardian, July 2015

Another woman that exemplifies a resilient faith is my friend Gayla Unger. We have known Keith and Gayla for a number of years and watched her face some significant challenges with breast cancer. I am blessed to know a woman which such tenacity, grit, faith and optimism. She is a woman who has a stellar, powerful perspective as a person who, in her own words has been chosen, challenged and changed.

Gayla Unger, Senior Leader, Premier Designs Jewelry

“I am a woman of deep faith in God’s perfect plan for my life. Proverbs 16:9 is my life verse. This scripture reminds me that I can make all the plans I want but ultimately the Lord will direct my feet. I knew at that moment, that although I had not “planned to have cancer” that the Lord would direct my feet. I knew within 24 hours that I was chosen and He was not going to allow me to waste it. Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go…
Make a list of what you love to do and make sure you spend time doing those things. Be a moment maker every chance you get. Let go of the stuff that doesn’t matter and cling with all your might to that which does. Create a life you love. I am so grateful I was chosen, challenged, and changed through this diagnosis. I won’t waste it. Be sure to check out her entire post. Link to her website

I hope you are feeling encouraged with these very brief snapshots of resilience. As a matter of fact, I want you to pause for a second and think about others that model resilience.

Resilience is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as we have planned. Resilient people refuse to wallow in or dwell on failures, they don’t allow letdowns and setbacks to steal their energy. Instead, they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then choose to move forward.

There are three components of resilience:

  1. Challenge/Adversity– Resilient individuals see difficulty as a challenge, an opportunity as opposed to a disheartening, petrifying event. As a general rule of thumb, they look at failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from and opportunities for growth. They refuse to let setbacks become a negative reflection on either their capabilities or their self-worth.
  2. Dedication/Commitment– People who demonstrate resilience are committed to their lives, goals, and vision. They live their lives with intentionality and have a sense of mission which gives them the drive to face another day. This drive is not just about work; they are committed to their relationships, friendships, and faith or spiritual practices.
  3. Internal Focus of Control – Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on events and situations they feel they have control over. Because they apply effort where they believe it will have the most impact, they often feel a sense of empowerment and confidence. People who live with an external focus of control often allow challenge or adversity to control them, as a result, they feel lost, helpless, impotent and powerless to take any meaningful action.

Dr. Marty Seligman frames resilience this way. As he talks about resilience, he frames it in the context of optimism and pessimism. He says our ‘explanatory style’ indicates how we will respond to challenges and adversity.

Pervasiveness– Resilient individuals refuse to let setbacks, challenges, and adversity impact other unrelated areas of their lives. They might say something like, “I am not very good at this” rather than “I’m no good at anything!”

Personalization– People who are resilient don’t blame themselves when negative events happen. Instead, they see other people or circumstances as a possible cause. Once again, in the workplace, they may say, “I didn’t get the support I needed to finish the project successfully, rather than “I screwed up that project because I cannot do my job right.”

They have a positive image of the future. They maintain a positive outlook and envision brighter days ahead.

Here are some other common traits about resilient people:

They have solid goals and a desire to achieve them.

Resilient people tend to be empathetic and compassionate. However, they don’t burn up any calories worrying about what others think of them. As a general rule of thumb, they have healthy relationships but are slow to bow to peer pressure.

Individuals who are resilient never think of themselves as victims-they focus their time and energy on changing things they have control over.

So, what types of challenges, setbacks, or adversity are you facing today? 

You see, how you and I view adversity and stress will dynamically and kinetically impact how we succeed, and this is one reason that developing a resilient mindset is so important.

The truth is that you and I are going to have “face plant” moments and setbacks as we live our lives. The only way to avoid this is to live an isolated, sheltered and meager life, never trying anything new of taking any risks. Who wants to live like that?

Instead, we should have the courage to pursue our dreams, despite the genuine risk that we will fail in some way or another. Being resilient means that when we do fail, which we will, we will bounce back. Being resilient mean that when we fall down, we get back up, we have the strength to learn the lessons that we need to learn, and we can move on to bigger things.

Here are the 7 secrets for building or developing and strengthening your personal resilience:

  1. View every experience as a growth opportunity. This directly relates to maintaining a “Growth Mindset.” Be sure you take a couple of minutes to view this video, it will not disappoint. 
  2. Find meaning and purpose in your work, maybe even seeing it as a vocation. Martin Luther (1483-1546) asserted that the term ‘vocation could be applied not only to those who are ‘called’ into the ministry, priesthood, or holy order. Instead, Luther preached that all Christians have a vocation: wherever God has allowed the opportunity to work or start an enterprise, was one’s vocation. In other words, work is sacred.
  3. Learn to reframe stress and anxiety as helpful feelings and emotions. When we are stressed and feel the tension in our chest, we need to remind ourselves that our body is getting ready for action. These feelings and emotions can be helpful in that they are designed to help us perform better. Recently, my wife and I attended a Jeff Foxworthy show, and in the early part of his show me made the following statement. “You know, I still get a little nervous before every performance, I have learned that as long as I am a little jittery, I will do a great job.
  4. Play and relax more. Research time and time again reveals that people are most creative and solution-oriented when they feel relaxed, curious, and happy.
  5. Recalibrate your thinking to a long view. Life is a marathon not a sprint. Remember our lives have a start date and a end date what will you do with the dash between those two dates?
  6. Remember, resilience is a life skill that is best developed in the context of relationships and social support. These intentional connections are mutually beneficial and life enriching. There is an ancient text that says, “As Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17
  7. Practice Self-Compassion. Self-care explained – Do you remember the safety briefing from your last flight? When the flight attendants get to the part about the unlikely event of sudden cabin depressurization, they explain that the oxygen mask will drop from the ceiling and at that point, they instruct you to put on your mask first, then and only then, help someone else with theirs. Self-care is sort of like this in a way. It is a very intentional, active choice that we do to take care of our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. It’s putting ourselves first…because we can’t care for or be the best help to help others unless we first take care of ourselves. 

Wow, that was a lot of material!

Let me ask you a personal question. How would you rate your personal resilience? If you are married, how resilient is it? Here is an article I wrote for Christianity Today on Resilience in Marriage. Here is another link about resilient marriages.

Do you feel pretty good about how you manage the ups and downs of life? If you’d like more information, here are some links that you might find helpful.

Be Blessed!

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Meaningful Intimacy, Want More?

meaningful intimacy

Have you ever blown it the arena of intimacy in your marriage? I have. There have been times when I have been a knuckle-dragging, selfish, and ignorant Neanderthal. I am thankful for my wife, who has extended grace as we have spent most of our 46 years together in a learning mode. In this post, I am going to show you how to have more meaningful intimacy in your relationships.

If you are feeling brave, I encourage you to take some time and read this post. It is a compilation of things that I have learned over forty-six years of marriage and over fifty thousand hours of counseling experience. I can guarantee you that you can enhance your relationship with more meaningful intimacy.

One of the foundational principles of building and maintaining a healthy, resilient, relationship is to recognize the foundations of meaningful intimacy and communication. It is not about technique, positions, or power, but about getting to know someone genuinely.

Dwight Bain, a long-time friend, therapist, and life coach shared some great thoughts in a recent presentation which I would like to pass along. It sets a good starting point for this article. Dwight was addressing married couples, but the points he makes are crucial to developing any romantic relationship.

There are so many failed marriage stories in the headlines it can make you wonder, “Is an intimate relationship even possible anymore?” and if so, “How do you get one?” It seems that some couples quickly move from being fired up with a romanticpassion to wanting just to fire each other as a bully boss does to an exhausted employee. 

It’s no wonder people are more cautious about opening up their hearts to another person. It might be because they have likely witnessed the process of intense romantic chemistry quickly eroding into hateful rejection and ugly conflicts.

Everybody talks about genuinely wanting a meaningful relationship where they are loved and accepted, yet few are willing to take the chance of being vulnerable or hurt again.

Genuine, meaningful intimacy is about seeing into the heart and mind of your mate. It’s learning to connect with them in multiple ways like feeling close, accepted, and loved on the inside no matter what kind of pressure might be happening on the outside. 

To experience this kind of intense relationship, you need understanding regarding both sides of an intimate connection to grow to a new level of purpose and passion together. These different levels of connection reflect the differences between a cultural view of relationships where romance is the primary goal; and a long-term view of marriage where learning to connect together through the realities of daily life is joined alongside love to build intensity, regardless of the circumstances. You need both sides to make your relationship go the distance from short-term infatuation to create long-term success in your marriage.

Building a meaningful relationship and/or being married is a team sport; you either win together or lose together.

One of the keys to building meaningful intimacy is communication. Two-way communication that is based on respect, honor, and grace is essential for two people sharing a life together.

Two marriage researchers whom I have known over the years, Drs. David Olson and Peter Larson have discovered 10 things you and I can do to be better at communication and increase your menaingful intimacy. 

1. Give full attention to your partner when talking. My wife gets very annoyed when I think I am listening, but I am distracted. My suggestion, turn off the phone, IPad, computer, or television and turn towards your partner.

2. Focus on the good qualities and be intentional about catching them doing good. People tend to rise or fall on our expectations when you are intentional about finding the good in someone they rarely disappoint.

3. Be assertive, not aggressive or passive. Share your thoughts, feeling, and needs. One way to do this is to the old therapist stand by, using “I” statements versus “you” statements. (e.g., “I worry when you don’t let me know you’ll be late” rather than “You are always late.”)

4. Avoid criticism. It is a relationship killer. I think William Arthur Ward hit the nail on the head when he said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you.” You can never share too much encouragement. If you must criticize, sandwich it with a least two positive comments. (e.g., “I appreciate it when you help out by cooking, the food is excellent. It would mean a lot to me if you could straighten up a little after you are done. Thanks again for dinner.) This is known as the sandwich method. 

5. Listen to understand, not to judge. Two eyes, two ears, one mouth. Listening is all about trying to understand.

6. Use active listening. Summarize your partner’s comments before sharing your own reactions of feelings.

7. Avoid blaming each other at all costs. Instead, work together for a solution. There is energy when we accept responsibility and decide to work towards a mutually beneficial solution.

8. Manage your conflict. (I will give you ten steps for resolving conflict in my next post. 

9. Seek counseling. If you are not able to have better results with your communication as a couple. Then take action. Enroll in marriage/relationship class, read a book together, see your pastor, priest, or get counseling if you need to.

10. Hit the pause button, slow down, catch your breath. Sometimes a dinner date, a night away from the house, a weekend escape can go a long way in lowering the stressors in a marriage.

One of the best ways to increase the frequency of physical intimacy is through solid communication. When men and women feel heard they usually are open to more intimacy.

What is intimacy? One definition of intimacy is it is an act of familiar expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, and love

I believe as a culture we have lost some of the essential components of intimacy by limiting it to just a physical response.

There has been some breakthrough research that shows which there are at least five different areas of meaningul intimacy! Take a moment and grade yourself in each area, then ask your partner to do the same.

The first is Intellectual Intimacy. On this level, couples are able to talk about current events, share ideas, laughs, and thoughts, even debate political and religious topics. They are able to participate in the exchange of thoughts and ideas jointly.

The second area of intimacy is Recreational Intimacy. This means there are some recreational activities that a couple enjoy together. It does not mean they do everything together. 

The third area of intimacy is Social Intimacy. After decades of marriage, my wife and I realized that it is entirely okay for her to have her friends and me to have my friends as long as we share some “we” friends. Couple friendships can be an added bonus to a relationship by being a sounding board, providing feedback, and accountability.

The fourth intimacy area is Spiritual intimacy. While this area of intimacy is the most subjective, due to the various religious backgrounds & practices a couple may have, it is still an essential component. In my opinion, one of the most important because a growing relationship is at its core spiritual in nature. Spiritual intimacy is also a crucial factor when and if children become a part of the family.

The fifth and final level of intimacy is physical intimacy. Sexual expression is part of our hard wiring and can be both exhilarating and refreshing for a couple, in the right context. In recent years the primary focus has been primarily on physical intimacy. We have reduced physical intimacy into a series of positions and practices based more on applied physics than on building relationships.

Could it be that one of the reasons we see so many relationships falling apart is that we have failed to understand that intimacy works on several levels? If a relationship is based primarily on sexual expression, it is doomed to fail in the long run. However, if a couple can grow in their understanding of these different levels of meaningful intimacy, their relationship will experience growth in all areas. As you grow in these other areas, then sexual expression within your relationship will become more intense and meaningful. This is because it is based on getting to know your partner and being recognized by them.

So how can you have more meaningful intimacy in your life? Be mindful of the ten communication tips and the five levels of intimacy and how interconnected they are. 

I’d love hearing your thoughts.

5 Valentine Shopping Tips for Men

Keeping things lite, fun, and romantic can strengthen your relationship.

February is here, and we all know Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

John Thurman

Men, please get your shopping done before Feb. 14. If you wait too late, the roses will be wilted, and the selection of cards and chocolates will be pretty much picked over. It seems simple enough, but how many times have we men suffered from procrastination a condition related to waiting until the last minute to shop for your wife or girlfriend. Good news: There is a cure – buy early!

I got a chuckle out of this story.

Nuts About Love
 
“Driving through Southern California, I stopped at a roadside stand that sold fruit, vegetables, and crafts. As I went to pay, I noticed the young woman behind the counter was painting a sign. ‘Why the new sign?’ I asked. ‘My boyfriend didn’t approve of the old one,’ she said. When I glanced at what hung above the counter, I understood. It declared: Local Honey Dates Nuts.”

Contributed by Theodore Bologna

Here are five guy tips that will help you in your Valentine gift selection:


1. If you buy chocolate, make sure you don’t get it at the grocery store or the pharmacy. Buying high-quality chocolate shows her how special she really is. You need to know if she likes milk chocolate, dark chocolate, soft centers, assorted nuts or just plain chocolate.

2. I spent part of my young life helping my mom out at her florist shop. It was always interesting to see stressed-out men coming into the shop on the 13th or 14th of February hoping Mom could work a miracle. She usually did.

Don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to pick up flowers at a florist shop or grocery store. If you want to earn extra points, spend a few extra dollars and have them delivered to her work site or home. Women have this fantastic quality: While the other women at her workplace will ooh and ah over the flowers you sent your spouse, they will walk away with envy, wishing their man had done the same.

3. When looking for a card, try to avoid the “ I know I don’t say it enough, but I really do love your card.” I promise she will not be impressed. Instead, you might ask one of the women at the store to help you pick the right card. Make your card purchase based on words she would like to hear. For an additional bonus, write a short hand-written note of love and appreciation.

4. Help your kids select a card or gift for their mom.

5. You do have permission to get your wife some cute, flattering pajamas. Just don’t buy anything too revealing, flashy or trashy. If you decide to get something on the naughtier side, just make sure she has pre-approved it. Remember the gift is for her.

In closing: Being thoughtful on Feb. 14 does not let you off the hook for the rest of the year. Your wife and or girlfriend desires to feel valued, cherished and secure 365 days a year.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’d love to hear your thoughts.