Six Steps to Getting Unstuck

 

One foot in front of the other
All that we have is each other
One foot in front of the other

Walk the Moon

Have you ever felt stuck?

You started off the year with new goals and refreshed dreams somewhere along the way you became distracted, bogged down, and may be disengaged.

I have experienced seasons like that in my life. It wasn’t like I intended to get stuck or drift off course, but it happened.

If this sounds familiar you have only three choices:

  1. Live in denial and pretend like everything is fine.
  2. Quit, give up on the goal, the dream, the vision.
  3. Re-engage, begin to move forward again.

It’s funny how life will send you little reminders if you are paying attention. A few weeks ago I was on the road to a speaking event with the leadership team of the Gila National Forest in Southern New Mexico when some great lyrics caught my attention. It was a song by the group Walk the Moon titled One Foot in Front of the Other.

The lead vocalist, Nick Petricca in a Rolling Stone interview noted, “The song is about starting out into the unknown, being faced with uncertainty and what could be an uncertain future and to take the first step anyway.”

Petricca’s words remind me of the words about faith in the New Testament book of Hebrews 13:1, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is evidence of things we cannot see.” NLT

The resonating theme to me in this catchy tune is the theme that one has to keep moving forward, taking one step at a time, one step in front of the other.

I believe that this is one of the key components of resilience which is the ability to resist the manifestations of clinical distress, impairment, or dysfunction that are often associated with acute stress, upsetting life events, and personal trauma.

So is it time to get unstuck? Is it time to refocus? Is it time to use your resilience muscle?

If you are sick and tired of being stuck and you don’t want to live in denial or give up, I have some excellent news for you! I have six things that you can begin doing as soon as you finish this article that will give you some energy to start moving forward again.

  1. Quit staring in the rearview mirror of your life. Quit focusing on the past, let go of it. If you need help with this, see your spiritual leader or get therapy.
  2. Don’t be distracted by the bugs on your windshield, change your perspective.
  3. Begin by taking baby steps. Avoid you little inner perfectionist voice and take action.
  4. Consider your purpose on this planet. Hint: It’s not your job, it’s that thing that makes you tick, your passion.
  5. Believe in yourself. You are a unique person that is fearfully and wonderfully made. You have a unique blend of talents and gifts. Rather than doubting yourself, I want to you make a gratitude list, once you finish this article. In that list, I want to you write down some of this gifts and abilities and be grateful for them. Refuse to sabotage yourself with deep-seated fears and false beliefs.
  6. Change your thinking patterns, and you will change your life and outcomes. Incidentally, I have a free twenty-minute online course that you can sign up for today. It will give you the secret to managing your thought life in such a way as to improve your health, relationships, and business outcome.

Call to action:

Pick two of these and begin moving forward.

Sign up for my 20 minutes “Brain Tricks” Class

If you need to, talk to a professional. It might be your pastor, a therapist, or even me. I do offer Life Management Consultations.

Feel free to leave a comment, or sign up for my by clicking the banner at the top.

Be Blessed,

John

Change or Die: Recalibrate or Stagnate Part 2

From Deposit Photos

 

What do Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Jamie Fox, and Viola Davis have in common?

They reinvented themselves.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, world-famous wrestler to respected film star.

Jamie Foxx started out as a standup comic, turned singer with numerous # 1 Billboard hits and Platinum selling albums not to mention the fact he is an Academy Award winner.

Taylor Swift who has made a dynamic and successful shift from being the darling of country music to a dominating pop artist.

Viola Davis who was trained at Juilliard in theart of classical theater made a successful transition from stage to television to becoming a two-time Oscar winner. One for her portrayal as a 1960’ housemaid in the comedy-drama The Help and another for her role in Fences.

Ed Sheeran who has transitioned from a Gaelic folk singer to a rock vibe, then into a very marketable alternative sound that crosses many genres.

Why do you think these individuals needed to reinvent themselves?

I believe it was to remain viable in today’s marketplace.

The explosion of social media, the Amazon effect, and other massive cultural shifts are changing the way we do everything.

What about you?

Have you ever considered reinventing yourself?

Today, using some of John Manchin’s keen insight on three type of reinvention, I am going to ask you to take a look at where you are.

So, when you are looking to reinvent yourself, you need to realize you only have two options, change or die. Maybe not physical death, but the death of a vision, death of hope, end of a dream.

I recently read an exceptional article by John Manshi, an attorney, entrepreneur, and actor who I follow on Medium..com His words connected profoundly and profoundly, and mirrored my own experience. In the interest of full disclosure, the balance of this post is an intermingling of his article with my story.

Manshi reveals the three types of reinvention people go through in their lives, strategic moves which people can choose to make or not.

The Three Basic Structures of Reinvention

Is there a distinction between change and reinvention? Yes, all reinvention required change, but not all change is reinvention.

The Reactive Reinvention

This type of reinvention is usually sudden and immediately impactful.

  • You experience a job loss
  • You suffer an injury
  • You make a colossal misjudgment or mistake
  • Your spouse, or significant other cheats on you
  • Your company’s business model undergoes an abrupt change

Each of these events can lead to a reactive reinvention.

Reactive Reinvention comes about when an external event occurs and compels you to make changes. In this type of activity, you must change to advance your life and those things you hold dear. You cannot go back because the activating event that caused this is irreversible.

I experienced this twice with my work as a ministry professional. The first being when I moved to New Mexico, the second when the Senior Pastor left the church I was serving in New Mexico.

At that point, I had an epiphany. I needed to go back to school, obtain my counseling degree, and become a licensed professional counselor.

While the event shook me to the core, it caused me to take an intense and serious looking into my vocational call as a people helper. The lesson gleaned from this experience is you core calling will not change, but the way you live it out may be radically different from what you thought it would be.

The beauty of this type of reactive reinventions is even though it can and most likely will be an arduous task to start, the person you become will often be better and stronger than before.

The Proactive Reinvention

  • You want a new job or a promotion
  • You want to start a new business, write a book, or share your art
  • You want to improve your health or finances
  • You want to develop a new skill
  • You want to have a new adventure or experience
  • America is the land of dreamers and entrepreneurs who believe there is a better way to live

I have traveled the world in the past several years, and I can tell you from up close and personal experience, there is no other country in the world today which gives its citizens the freedom to fully pursue your dreams.

Proactive Reinvention is when you purposefully and intentionally change to take advantage or a trend or an opportunity that is in front of you.

On a personal note, one of my proactive reinventions was to become a Crisis Response Specialist.

As an ordained minister, chaplain and mental health professional I have been involved in helping people with events ranging from automobile accidents, natural disasters, acts of terrorism for some years. Also, I have served as a Stress Management Consultant Team for international agencies.

Early on I was keenly aware of how people respond to natural disasters; human-made disasters, mass casualty events and other disruptive events. Intrigues by my observations and reading, I began some independent studies in the field of Psychotraumatology, humans resilience, stress reactivity, and post-traumatic growth.

This proactive reinvention has opened the doors for me too as a specialist in both Disaster Mental Health and Employee Assistance Consultant who helps companies with Disruptive Workplace Events.

The crazy things about proactive reinvention are the power to condense an incredible amount of training into a relatively small, intense amount of time if you desire to transform is strong enough.

The third type is a by-product of failure. As mentioned before, I experienced this when I failed to be accepted into the counseling program all those many years ago. Also, the job loss in Albuquerque and the intense financial struggles for the next short season intensely confronted me on the need to rise out of the ashes of what I perceived as some of my miserable failures

The Reflective Reinvention

Reflective Reinvention occurs when you fail at something, but you still have a strong desire to continue on a particular path.

You may have failed numerous times. You may feel like a complete loser because of the number of times you have eaten the bitter tastes of failure. Nevertheless, something deep inside you will not go away.

The key to reinvention and transformation at this point in the game is to change something about yourself.

The only way to change yourself is to reflect on your situation. A simple way to do this without going into a negative spiral is to ask yourself three questions. What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? What can I do better or differently? After spending some time of honest reflection and counting the cost to make the changes, you will have clarity as you make the necessary adjustment and changes in your life.

Manshi proposed a question: Why do I care if there are three varieties on the theme of reinvention?

He continues, being able to identify the one you find yourself in is the key to determining the strategies you will need to move forward.

Why?

First, each style of reinvention calls for distinct, calculated strategies actually to make the necessary changes.

Second, when you utilize the correct strategy to the type of reinvention you are going through you immediately accelerate the desired outcome.

Third, if you fail to implement the suitable strategy/s, you will, no doubt, waste precious time and might not reach your desired outcome nor reach your full potential.

Here are some of very insightful thoughts Manshi shares about reinvention strategies.

The Reactive Reinvention Strategy

When you are trying to reinvent yourself reactively, you have an enormous amount of energy and motivation. Not all of this is positive, edifying energy, much of it can become detrimental, life-sucking energy, destructive power.

That negative energy comes from self-doubt, self-loathing, anxiety, depression, loss, and possibly physical pain.

Here are a couple of “must do’s” to make this transition go forward:

  • Learn to manage the energy, both internally and externally. By doing this, you can use the positive, kinetic energy to propel you forward. If you fail to do this, there is a possibility the negatively could consume you.
  • To reinvent, it is imperative you use this burst of energy and transform it into your burning purpose.

The Proactive Reinvention Strategy

If you are going to reinvent yourself proactively, you must spend some time reviewing and analyzing trends. You must become opportunistic in the art of seeing what others cannot or will not see. You need preparation, education, and focused learning.

You will have to create margin in your life so you will have free, unencumbered time to prepare, learn and move towards the new opportunity to trend.

Finding time in the nooks and crannies is the most critical aspect of proactive reinvention.

For me, it meant working on my second Master’s degree while working full-time and being deployed for Desert Storm.

The Reflective Reinvention Strategy

When you engage in reflective reinvention, you have experienced multiple failures of something. As for myself, I had this crazy idea I should write. I attended some small writer’s conferences and workshops and began to submit to various magazines, online journals, as well as local outlets.  I received many more rejections than acceptances, while these dismissals slowed me down, they did reveal I had something to say.

If your best effort and knowledge does not result in success, then the problem is easy to diagnose; you need information and input from a source outside of yourself. This might come through a mentor, a friend, a personal business coach or consultant.

This step can be a difficult one for many people because it may involve swallowing some pride to realize you are having trouble figuring things out. Being prideful will not allow you to see the back of your head. You need a mirror, a camera or someone else.

There is no shortcut. It is the only way to succeed. You need to consider finding a mentor, coach, consultant, or some source to help you with this step. They may be able to provide a missing or overlooked piece of the puzzle that you are trying to solve.

In my own, small but growing journey as a writer I have been so workshops, seminars, writer’s groups, mastermind groups, as well as critique groups. I have submitted proposals, received multiple rejections, while at the same time, having some things published. I have had friends make helpful suggestions have helped me improve in this area of my life.

So what am I doing to help with this reflective reinvention strategy:

  • I am learning about my blind spots and am finding workarounds
  • I am lowering some of the gates of my self-pride and am allowing others to speak to me.
  • I am growing an accountability group to help increase my effectiveness as a person, spouse, and people helper.

What about you? Are you either entering into one of these reinvention phases, in the middle of it or coming out of it.

I would love to hear about your journey in the comments.

 

 

Pushing Back Depression #5


Picture

(c) 2014 John Thurman – Happy Dancer Premier Rally
Push Back Depression Tip # 5: Re-energize

Depression is an energy eater. If you have ever struggled against depression, you know that it can suck the life right out of you. It drains your energy, heart, mind, body, and soul.

The good news is, you can fight back, and you do not have to let the darkness pull the life out of you.
One of the best ways to re-energize yourself is to monitor your mouth. Depressed people tend to talk depressed using sad words and sad tones–much like Eeyore.

Using negative language when you talk to yourself, especially when you consistently feel helpless and hopeless, is a sure-fire way to keep feeling depressed. Multiple studies on negative self-talk show how gloomy and unhelpful words and thoughts increase depression and anxiety. Making small changes in the way you verbalize can have an enormous, positive impact on the way you feel. And the best thing about this idea, it doesn’t cost a penny. Here is a couple of examples.

You can feel better if you drop the phrase “I can’t.” Instead, try saying, “I won’t.”  This tiny shift in language, changing one four-letter word for another, can have a huge positive impact on your mood. Learn to say it loud and proud.

Instead of saying, “I can’t get out of bed,” say, “I won’t get up in the morning.”

“I can’t feel enthusiastic about my business,” becomes, “I won’t become enthusiastic about my business.”
These small shifts in your verbiage will have a powerful impact on how you feel. When you do this, you move from a position of impotence and powerlessness into choice, which opens up possibilities. When you make this subtle shift, what you are saying is, “My thoughts and my actions are under my control.” That is a powerful statement.

Proverbs 18:21a says “The tongue can bring death and life…” (NLT)

My challenge to you is to be intentional about re-energizing yourself with your words.

John is a Licensed Counselor, Speaker, Publish Author, and International Crisis Response Specialist who lives in Albuquerque. 

Pushing Back Depression # 3


Picture

(c) 2013 John Thurman Beach Jumper 1
Last summer I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a some training as a Crisis Response Specialist. I stayed over a couple of extra day to experience Lake Michigan. My friends told me to check out Grand Haven Beach and I did. What a delight to see people enjoying a day at the beach. Walking out to the light house I noticed a group of local teens jumping off the pier. They were having an absolute blast. You can check out some of my shots on my flickr account.

One thing was for certain, they were having a blast. 

As we continue to look at ways to beat the blues, to push back depression, to overcome the negative things in 

One of the practical things you can do to push back depression is to bump up your positive experiences

Sasha had been volunteering as the women’s ministry director in her church for the past three years. She led the ministry through the ups and downs including power struggles and emotional drama. She spent hours in prayer and in personal study. The other night she told her husband, Leo, that she thought she was done. 

For the next half hour she cried, complained, and released all the frustrations that had built up. Leo was wise that night. He said, “Do you need a hug?” The next morning Sasha asked Leo what she should do. Once again he wisely said, “Call a couple of your girlfriends and go have some fun.”

She did. She and two of her girlfriends spent some Kohl’s bucks and then went to Starbucks. 

One of the classic effects of depression is stealing your sense of pleasure. Without some pleasurable experiences woven into your life, you can descend into the dull grayness of depression.

Being intentional about having pleasurable experiences is one way to overcome the low motivation that can be a part of depression.

Here is one proven plan for boosting your pleasure.

Do this:

1. Record every activity you do for the next three to five days.

2. Answer the following question for each activity: Was it pleasurable? Yes or No? 

3. For each pleasurable activity, rate it from 1 to 10 — 1 being the least pleasurable and 10 being the most.

Thoughts about Robin Williams Part #2 

Laughter, Joy, tenderness, and passion are things that come to mind when I think of Robin Williams. Another attribute I admired was his ability to be vulnerable. For years he talked about his struggle with addictions, depression, and open heart surgery.

He had struggled a great part of his adult life with a brain disorder which included severe depression, which in many cases co-exists with addictions. Even with treatment, support from friends and family and remarkably successful career, mental illness can still end up killing a person.

As a Christ follower, I have been somewhat discouraged by some of the “faith-based” blogs I have seen about suicide. As a seasoned professional, I have come to see that individuals who come to the edge of the black hole of suicide are not in their right mind. Isolation, depression, and hopelessness steal the individual of their ability to look forward to the possibilities of hope and relief. I believe in a God that is at His core Compassionate, one who weeps with those who weep, one who feels sadness, and one who mourns with those who mourn. 

We need to respond to hurting friends, neighbors, and relative with compassion.

Here are some facts about suicide and depression. I trust that you will find this helpful.

The following is from my book Get a Grip on Depression:

Over 90% of people who commit suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder. Many times, people who commit suicide have a substance abuse problem. Often they have that problem in combination with other mental disorders.

Adverse or traumatic life events in combination with other risk factors, such as clinical depression, may lead to death. But suicide and suicidal behaviors are never normal responses to stress.

Other risk factors for suicide include:
• One or more prior suicide attempts
• Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
• Family history of suicide
• Family violence
• Physical or sexual abuse
• Keeping firearms in the home
• Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain
• Incarceration
• Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others

Warning signs that someone may be thinking about or planning to commit suicide include:
• Always talking or thinking about death
• Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
• Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
• Losing interest in things one used to care about
• Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
• Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
• Saying things like, “It would be better if I were nothere” or “I want out.”
• Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
• Talking about suicide
• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
• Prior suicide attempts (According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20 and 50% of people who commit suicide have had a previous attempt)

What you can do if you have suicidal thoughts:
• Talk with trusted friends, family members, or others you respect who can assist you
• Talk with your doctor, mental health professional, or pastor. Many times, talking eases or removes suicidal urges. In some cases though, hospitalization is necessary until a sense of balance can be restored.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or a local hotline to speak with a crisis counselor.

John is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Speaker, and Author.

Here is an ancient thought that could provide encouragement.

Psalms 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.

Click this link for a Free Depression Test

Thoughts About Robin William’s Life.

My first recollection of the zany comedy of Robin Williams goes all the way back to his guest appearance as Mork on “Happy Days.” Over the years, I followed him mainly through television and then through his movies. I have to admit, I rarely missed his late night appearances on Jay Leno because I knew it was going to be a roller coaster ride. 

He did touch millions of lives through his art, his kindness, and the multitude of characters he played throughout his career. There are thousands of tributes to him on the internet. As a result, many bloggers are talking about things individuals can do if they are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

This is where I want to jump in.
As a therapist with over 35 years of experience, I was thrown off guard when I heard the news of Robin Williams death. I began thinking about this three part series as a result of this incident and have thought long about what to say.

In following several blogs and conversations, I have only heard one commentary about some other possible issues that may have been going on William’s life. In addition to the impact of drug and alcohol abuse, which he’d been successfully treated for, and based on reports, he had maintained his sobriety, Williams had also had open heart surgery.

Dr. Drew Penski, in responding to the news of Williams death, reminded listeners that Williams had struggled with depression as well as the addiction issues. Penski reminded viewers that Williams had also undergone major heart surgery a few years ago. Dr. Drew spent several minutes talking about the psychological risks of having your chest opened up. He stated that for many people, this procedure, though life-saving can increase the chances of major depression. If someone is already “at risk” this surgery can make them even more prone to depression.
Williams had also been diagnosed with the Parkinson’s. This could have been another another factor that could have pushed him over the edge.

The loss of any life to suicide is tragic. Understanding depression, developing tools to help hurting people, and being present with friends in their tough times can go along way in helping people have hope and a future

My purpose in this three-part series is to look at what you and I can do for ourselves and for others who might be depressed or even suicidal.
I will close with a couple of important thoughts from two writer’s
Andrea Lennon has some thoughtful reflections that I wanted to share:

  1. Everyone has a struggle. 
  2. Our words matter. As wise man once said, when you go into a situation that is full of grief and pain, pray twice and speak once.  

Cliff Williams, author of a thoughtful article, “When Christians Contemplate Suicide”,  closes with a powerful reminder.

Philo of Alexandra wrote that we should always “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Everyone we meet is, indeed, fighting battles, many of the same battles, in fact, that suicidal people fight—difficult circumstances, mood swings, a sense of unworthiness, dejection. Some of the people we meet, including some of the people we know well, are fighting such big battles that they want to give up entirely. Our kindness can help them fight these battles. It can encourage them and strengthen them. It can save their lives.

My next blogs will focus on identifying depression, as well as practical tips you can use to push back depression.

Depression can be treated and symptoms managed. The National Suicide Hotline phone number is 1-800-273-8255.

John is Licensed Counselor, Speaker, and Author. His book,  Get a Grip on Depression, is a faith-friendly guide to understanding depression. You may purchase this resource on Amazon/Kindle. To purchase an autographed copy directly from John, click here