Facing the Facts about Suicide, One Christian’s Response.

 

The deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have unfortunately brought into focus the alarming rise in suicide among Americans. I have to admit Bourdain’s suicide caught me off guard. I have always admired his ability to bring people together over food. I have appreciated his snarky attitude, and his uncanny ability to expand our understanding and appreciation of other cultures through the most common and intimate interactions we humans can have, breaking bread together. In the past several years, I have had the opportunity to travel the globe, particularly in the area of helping Christian missionaries and relief workers learn to manage stress. One of my pre-travel rituals was to Google his show “Parts Unknown” to see if he had been where I was headed. His shows on Israel and the West Bank, the Congo, and Chaing Mia, Thailand helped me have a little better understanding of some the places I have visited, cultures I have been exposed to, and food that I have tasted.

He had his demons, as we all do, The Center for Disease Control released their most recent findings last week and reported that in 2016, nearly 45 thousand people committed suicide, the most shocking statistic was a dramatic 30% increase in suicides since 1999. Another disarming fact is more than half of the people who died from suicide, 54% did not have any known mental health condition.  Click here for the CDC’s Visual Fact Sheet, which provides some excellent ideas for suicide education and prevention. You will also want to check out the CDC’s Vital Fact Sheet.

In over 35 years of clinical practice, I have three former clients that ended their life by suicide. Also, in my work as a Crisis Response Specialist, I have provided post-suicide services for businesses and governmental agencies that have lost team members to suicide. In the past year, I have been involved with 8 post-suicide incidents in New Mexico.

Tim Clinton is the President of the American Association of Christian Counseling, and one of my former professors authored a timely and sensitive article which, in my opinion, addresses suicide from a Christian behavioral perspective with compassion and clarity. This next portion is from an article he published a few years ago.

Some have described suicide as the permanent solution for a temporary problem.  From my perspective as a Christian Mental Health Professional, suicide is not permanent and solves absolutely nothing. I believe that one of the unique things about being human is that we are not like other creatures because we are created in God’s image, and therefore, we are immortal beings with responsibility and accountability beyond our existence on this earth.

In reality, suicide is a selfish action taken against oneself to eliminate what is perceived as unrelenting pain. It is the tragic and lethal culmination of a psychological process that results from unresolved events that create depression and hopelessness. What we know from people who survived suicide attempts is that often they cannot see any hope that the future will be different from the painful past or present. While more around 54% of individuals who choose suicide do not have any type of mental health disorder, people who end their lives are generally burdened by many seeming unresolvable events or problems. Feeling overwhelmed and de-energized and without any more coping skills and the help of friends, professional assistance, or loved ones, these overwhelming, unresolved burdens grow heaver until the weight becomes unbearable and the individual is weakened to the point of hopeless, bleak, despair.  The problem is not that such despairing people want to die; it is they don’t feel they have the power to live.

A Biblical Response to Suicide

A biblical understanding of God and life inspires hope while it diminished despair. Every human being will suffer whether a child of God or not. A believer’s knowledge and love for God gives hope that suffering is never without a purpose. So rather than curse and blame God for the troubles of life, we choose to live by faith in Him.

All too often in the church, believers are unresponsive to their brothers and sisters who struggle in their faith, and sometimes too busy to involve themselves in the lives of their neighbors. It is the responsibility of mature believers to be sensitive to the needs of those around them and to encourage and to support those who are struggling gently. In doing so, they assist others in carrying their burdens (Galatians 6:1-3) and so fulfill the Law of Christ which is to love God and one’s neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). The church can be a safe place where people can talk about their problems, build trust, and learn from each other. Isolation, whether initiated by someone who is struggling or by those too busy too care, only heightens the possibility that thoughts about and attempts at suicide will occur.

When a person is struggling with despair, depression, a break-up, and indeed when someone admits to having thoughts of taking his or her own life, then professional help is needed. It is the responsibility of the caring friend, not to carry the burden alone, but to take action to make sure that the friend gets help quickly. (http://timclinton.com/articles/17/suicide/).

Myths & Misconceptions about Suicide

 Myth 1: People who talk about suicide won’t do it.

            Fact: Nearly everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Don’t ignore even indirect references to death or suicide.

 Myth 2: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.

          Fact; Most suicidal people are neither psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed, or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.

 Myth 3: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.

          Fact: Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

  Myth 4: People who die by suicide are people who are unwilling to seek help.

         Fact: Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months before their deaths.

   Myth 5: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.

        Fact: You don’t give suicidal morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true-bringing up the subject and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

Warning signs of Suicide

  1. Talking about suicide – Any talk about dying, suicide, or self-harm, such as “I wish I’d never been born,” If I see you again…” and I’d be better off dead.
  2. Seeking out lethal means – Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  3. Preoccupation with death – Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
  4. No hope for the future – Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (There is no way out of this). The belief that things will never change or get better.
  5. Self-loathing, self-hatred – Feelings of worthlessness, share, guilt, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“everyone would be better off without me”).
  6. Getting affairs in order – Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
  7. Saying goodbye – Unusual or unexpected visits to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
  8. Withdrawing from others – Withdrawing from friends and family. Increased social isolation.
  9. Self-destructive behavior – Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”
  10. A sudden sense of calm – A sudden send of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has decided to attempt suicide.
  11. Increased drug or alcohol use.
  12. Posting thoughts on death, dying, or suicide on social media.
  13. A notable increase in anxiety and agitation.
  14. An inability to sleep or sleeping all the time.
  15. Notable changes in mood.

Suicide Prevention Tips

  1. Speak up if you are worried. If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say anything. What if you are wrong? What if the individual gets angry? In such situations, it’s completely natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. But anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help-the sooner the better.

When talking to a person who is suicidal

          Do:

          Be your self. Let them know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.

         Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, vent anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.

         Be sympathetic,non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.

         Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.

         Take the person seriously. If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts about killing your self?” You are not putting ideas in their head; you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it is okay for them to share their pain with you.

         But don’t:

        Argue with a person who is suicidal. Avoid saying things like: “you have so much to live for.” “Your suicide will hurt your family” or “Look on the bright side.”

       Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, tell them if they suicide they will go to hell, or that suicide is wrong. This is not the place for this type of discussion.

       Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy! A life is at stake, and you may need to speak to a medical or mental health professional to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussion secret, you may “Have to break your word.”

      Offer ways to fix their problem, or give advice, make them feel like having to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how wrong the question is, but how badly it’s hurting and your friend or loved one.

       Blame yourself. You can’t fit someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.

 

  1. Respond quickly in a crisis. If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about suicide or death, it’s essential to evaluate the immediate danger the person is might be. Those at the highest risk for suicide soon have a specific PLAN, the MEANS, to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and an INTENTION to do it.

The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:

 

Myths & Misconceptions about Suicide

 Myth 1: People who talk about suicide won’t do it.

Fact: Nearly everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Don’t ignore even indirect references to death or suicide.

Myth 2: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.

Fact; Most suicidal people are neither psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed, or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.

Myth 3: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.

Fact: Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

Myth 4: People who die by suicide are people who are unwilling to seek help.

Fact: Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months before their deaths.

Myth 5: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.

Fact: You don’t give suicidal morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true-bringing up the subject and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

 

Warning signs of Suicide

  1. Talking about suicide – Any talk about dying, suicide, or self-harm, such as “I wish I’d never been born,” If I see you again…” and I’d be better off dead.
  2. Seeking out lethal means – Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  3. Preoccupation with death – Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
  4. No hope for the future – Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (There is no way out of this). The belief that things will never change or get better.
  5. Self-loathing, self-hatred – Feelings of worthlessness, share, guilt, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“everyone would be better off without me”).
  6. Getting affairs in order – Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
  7. Saying goodbye – Unusual or unexpected visits to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
  8. Withdrawing from others – Withdrawing from friends and family. Increased social isolation.
  9. Self-destructive behavior – Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”
  10. A sudden sense of calm – A sudden send of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has decided to attempt suicide.
  11. Increased drug or alcohol use.
  12. Posting thoughts on death, dying, or suicide on social media
  13. A notable increase in anxiety and agitation.
  14. An inability to sleep or sleeping all the time.
  15. Notable changes in mood.

Suicide Prevention Tips

 Speak up if you are worried.

If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say anything. What if you are wrong? What if the individual gets angry? In such situations, it’s completely natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. But anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help-the sooner the better.

When talking to a person who is suicidal

         Do:

        Be your self. Let them know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.

         Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, vent anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.

        Be sympathetic,non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.

       Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.

       Take the person seriously. If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts about killing your self?” You are not putting ideas in their head; you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it is okay for them to share their pain with you.

 

        But don’t:

       Argue with a person who is suicidal. Avoid saying things like: “you have so much to live for.” “Your suicide will hurt your family” or “Look on the bright side.”

        Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, tell them if they suicide they will go to hell, or that suicide is wrong. This is not the place for this type of discussion.

        Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy! A life is at stake, and you may need to speak to a medical or mental health professional to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussion secret, you may “Have to break your word.”

        Offer ways to fix their problem, or give advice, make them feel like having to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how wrong the question is, but how badly it’s hurting and your friend or loved one.

      Blame yourself. You can’t fit someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.

 Respond quickly in a crisis.

If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about suicide or death, it’s essential to evaluate the immediate danger the person might be in. Those at the highest risk for suicide soon have a specific Plan, the Means to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and the Intention to do it.

The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:

  • Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
  • Do you have what you need to carry out your plan. (pills, gun, etc,)? (MEANS)
  • Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
  • Do you intend to take your own life? (INTENTION)

     Levels of Suicide Risks

        Low – Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.

        Moderate – Suicidal thoughts. A vague plan that isn’t very lethal. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.

        High – Suicidal thoughts. A specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.

       Severe – Suicidal thoughts. A specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will attempt suicide.

If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, dial 911, or take the person to the emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potential objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.

Offer help and support.

If a friend or family member is suicidal, the best way to help is by offering an empathetic listening ear. Let your loved one know that he or she is not alone and that you care. Don’t take responsibility, however, for making your loved one well. You can offer support, but you cannot be responsible for their choices. He or she has to make a personal commitment to recovery.

It takes courage to help someone who is suicidal. Witnessing a loved one dealing with thoughts of ending his or her own life can stir up many difficult emotions. As you’re helping a suicidal person, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Find someone that you trust – a friend, family member, pastor, or counselor to talk about your feelings and get the support of your own.

To help a suicidal person;

Get professional help. Do everything that you can to get a suicidal person the help he or she needs. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or local Crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the individual to see a mental health professional, their family health care provider, and emergency room, of a local treatment facility.

Follow – up on treatment.  Check in on your loved one to make sure they are doing what the provider recommended.

Be proactive. People contemplating suicide often don’t believe they can be helped, so you have to be more active in offering assistance. Saying, “Call me if you need me” is too vague. Don’t wait for them to call you, instead call them, drop by, or take them out for coffee.

Encourage positive lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, plenty of sleep, getting out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes a day. Exercise, of any time, releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.

Make a safety plan. Help the individual develop a set of steps they can take during a suicidal crisis. It should identify any triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis, such as an anniversary or a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Also include contact numbers for the person’s doctor, therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.

Remove potential means for suicide, such as knives, pills, razors, or firearms. If the person is likely to use prescription medications, keep them locked away or give them out only as needed.

Continue your support over the long haul. Even after the crisis has passed, remember, your help is vital to ensure that your loved one remains on the recovery track.

For more information check out these links:

My closing thoughts.

The church’s response to suicide has historically inept and at times utterly dismal. In the middle ages, the Church had accepted the doctrine that salvation comes only by good works, and when a person committed suicide, because he/she did not have the time to receive last rights, would be forever tormented in hell. In those days, people who committed suicide were denied church funerals and burials, and their families were banished or this disgrace. The Protestant church after the Reformation did little to correct these errors but instead continues many of the same practices. Thankfully, both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches have since amended their doctrine.

Even with all of these changes, many Christians still operate with an ungracious, Middle Age’s mentality. Only a few years ago, when Rick Warren lost his son to suicide, a majority of people displayed grace, mercy, and compassion. A small, and ignorant group of “Christians” were way out of line in their judgment of both Rick and his son who died by suicide.

I believe when a person is in a suicidal mindset, they are literally out of their normal mind, I am not saying they are crazy or insane, but they are in a desperate, hurting place where their thinking is distorted. Even in that state, the grace of God is present.

What are we in the Church to do?

Given the state of our culture, it’s not surprising. People seem more isolated than ever before, despite — or perhaps in part because of — being more virtually connected. Loneliness and depression are epidemic and rising, and the mediating institutions of communities, like families, churches, and civic organizations, are struggling. Social ties are fraying at an astonishing pace. Click on this link to see the CDC’s most recent updates on the alarming rise of suicide in America.

In our society, it’s increasingly difficult for individuals to be spiritual, mentally and emotionally healthy.

And Christians are not immune. I think of Rick and Kay Warren’s son, Matthew. And my friend, Wisconsin Pastor Bill Lenz. Thank God the church is starting to wake up to the problems of suicide and mental illness. But only beginning to wake up.

The time has come, for the church to have a serious conversation about mental illness, about reaching out to those who struggle with mental illness, providing pastoral care and appropriate mental health referrals for them and their families so that they can genuinely feel integrated into the Christian community.

And that integration is essential.  When a person who has a firm inner conviction of God’s love for them and his healing mercy and feels supported by the Christian community, that person is going to have a significantly lower risk of suicide, even if they are struggling with a serious [mental] illness.

And then, what can churches do? Be aware, he said. The person next to you in the pew may be struggling. Pastors and church leaders: Pray for your members who are suffering. And vice versa! Open the door to support groups for those who struggle with mental illness or their family members — much like we would for anyone struggling with a physical illness. If leaders lead — even with small steps — the congregation will follow.

I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I am proud to say that several of our churches have very robust recovery, and faith-based psycho-education courses. In my church, Sagebrush Community Church, I occasionally teach short-term classes on Depress as well as Stress and Anxiety. A few years ago, I helped my home church, as well as a couple of other area churches, develop a referral list of both competent Christian Counselors, as well as others who were faith-friendly.  The last time I checked, between Sagebrush, New Beginnings Church, and Copper Pointe church, three churches that I have assisted over the years, there are probably between 1000-1500 people getting direct help from outreach ministries of these churches in my city.  I know many other churches are doing exceptional work in helping individuals and families who struggle with mental illness, addictions, and recovery. I applaud their efforts and hope and pray that other churches will pick up the banner and spread the word that we are all broken people and that Jesus offers us love, hope, and forgiveness.

If your church is looking for competent faith-friendly counselors, you can go to the American Association of Christian Counselors, (aacc.net) or Focus on the Family (https://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/emotional-health/counseling-services-and-referrals)

Next to Jesus Himself, life is the greatest gift God has given us. And as his children, we have to do all we can to help our brothers and sisters hold on to life — and to Jesus.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Feel free to comment and even email me your thoughts.

 

 

Feel free to comment and even email me your thoughts.

The Three C’s of Grit

Why is it that some people succeed in starting a new business, ministry opportunity, or creative enterprise and others fail?

If you read or listen to motivational books you learned the importance of knowing you’re why, identifying your passion, developing a business plan, understanding your niche, having goals with measurable outcomes, and having a tribe.

While every one of these is a requirement to pursue your dream there is one vital ingredient missing in the formula. That key component is grit or hardiness.

While anyone can develop hardiness, researchers have identified certain characteristics.

According to the research of psychologist Susan Kobasa, three elements appear to be essential when we look at hardiness or grit to exist: challenge, personal control, and commitment. Kobasa called these the three ‘Cs.’

Commitment.  They have s sense of purpose in their life.  They are committed to their dream and do the work necessary and tackle challenges head-on. Part of the reason hardy people are able to stay in the game and persist in their coping efforts is that as a group they are committed to an active, engaged stance towards life. They feel that their life has a purpose (whatever shape that may be), and that purpose motivates them to actively attempt to influence their surroundings and to persevere even when their attempts to influence their surroundings don’t appear to be working out. A person who has no purpose in life –no motivation and no commitment –will not be able to lead a resilient life. On the other hand, resilient people find meaning in their activities even when faced with significant adversity precisely because they are committed to finding that meaning; towards taking an active, problem-solving approach to life.

 

Challenge. Individuals with grit  have a sense of purpose in life see problems as challenges and they devote time, effort and energy into solving them

They are connected to their dream, their mission and tackle things head on.  People with grit remain involved in an endeavor despite stressful circumstances such as changes in the marketplace, business systems, and the economy. People lacking grit tend to pull back from their dream or opportunity and drift into isolation or alienation.  People with grit view stress as a challenge that they can potentially overcome if only they can understand it properly. Their habit of looking at challenges to be overcome motivates them to address the causes of their stress in positive ways.

I remember one of my Battalion  Commanders used today. “Men we don’t have problems we have opportunities for growth and excellence.

This active approach to life challenges may be contrasted with the more common approach, where stress and challenges are viewed as an unfortunate, overwhelming or even paralyzing force that overwhelms rather than motivates.

Personal Control.  People who are gritty believe they are in charge of and responsible for their lives and that they have the power to change it. If they don’t have the skill set to do something they will go out of their way to get them.

As a group, people with grit people tend to accept challenges and to work to overcome and master them. Even when true mastery of a challenge is not possible (e.g., when a situation is not possible to control), gritty people work to find what possibilities do exist for mastery and pursue them. When faced with the loss of employment, a hardy person would seize upon opportunities for exploring new employment options rather than become depressed and demoralized.

 

How about you? Do you consider yourself a person with grit, are you someone who exemplifies hardiness? Later this week I will share 8 signs that will reveal that you do have it and on Friday I will give you 8 ways to develop it.

I love what St. Paul said in the New Testament book of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.”

One Woman’s Story of Overcoming Fear and Violence

 

 

Author’s Note: Due to security concerns, the names and locations in this story have been altered.

In the Summer of 2016, I was on a short-term deployment to the central sub-Sahara as a part of a stress assessment team. During my stay, I made new friend James.

James and I had visited several times during my TDY, and today he was going to take me to a small Lebanese restaurant. I always enjoyed time with a kindred spirit. James is a career diplomat who is filled like an overflowing cup with joy and excitement about life and his various assignments. James saw every job as an opportunity to learn about the people and the local culture.

As we enjoyed our hummus, tahini, tabbouleh, shawarma, cucumbers and yogurt, and pita bread, he began to tell me about his administrator, Nicolette.

As he told the story of her journey, my jaw dropped in both bewilderment and amazement.

The Great African War, began in 1998 and ended with a peace treaty in 2003. Between 1996 and 2006, 5.4 million people had died. In the years since 2006, there had been and continue to be rebel flare-ups in the eastern part of her country.

During these dangerous days, there was indiscriminate killing, destruction, rape, mutilation, and every other type of corrupt behavior people can do to each other. Men and women were hacked to death. Women and girls were raped, beaten, and forced into sexual slavery. Children were kidnapped, and many were trained as soldiers. Sadly, this is still a widespread occurrence in many African countries.

This is the palette for the story Nicolette shared with me that morning.

Around 10:30 there was a muted knock on the heavy armored door of my office what was a converted guard station. As I opened the door, there was Nicholette and a translator. I rapidly exhausted what little French I knew, she and the translator smiled as we sat down and began our session.

She was a humble, gentle woman of faith who was wearing the bright, bold, traditional colors called a pagne. Despite the wars, oppression, corrupt government, and challenging history of this part of the world, these dynamic, colorful designs show the strength, resilience, and optimism of the people of this region. On this day she also wore a matching headscarf. Her outfit helped me see some of the inner strength this woman possessed.

She began to share her incredible journey, with the help of her translator.

Nicolette lived in the southeastern area of her country, and up to this point had managed to survive most of the carnage that was going on around her. That is until her husband was killed. As the violence once again began to flare in her region, Nicolette faced a crucial choice—stay and take her chances and live in fear, or leave and hope for a better, safer place to raise her children and make a life for herself. She had an almost impossible God-sized dream.

After much prayer and planning, and with the encouragement of her church, she made a courageous choice to begin an 800 kilometer (500 miles) trek to freedom and safety.

Nicolette, like so many others in her country, was about to become a refugee. Over the next several months, she and her children began their long walk to safety. Some days they traveled with other refugees. Other times, when they heard that military or rebel patrols were in the area, Nicolette and the children would go into the bush. On some occasions, villagers or relief agencies would provide food; other days she had to count on foraging skills, she learned as a little girl living near the jungle.

As she moved into the portion of her story about coming into a large regional city, she began to tear up and shared how humble and grateful she felt about arriving in this safe town. After walking 800 kilometers, she and the children reconnected with family members who had made room for them and welcomed them with great joy and relief. Her initial dream was accomplished. Like Moses and the children of Israel, she survived her exodus with the combination of hard work, the grace of God, and the kindness of strangers. She and her children finally enjoyed sleeping in real beds, eating regular food, enjoying the company of family and friends.

She felt blessed she had taken the risk, pushed through the fear, and made it.

She soon began looking for work. Within a few days, she interviewed and was hired as a medical assistant in a facility that treated girls and women whod been raped, mutilated, and disfigured in many cases by soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Nicolette was not trained as a medical professional, but the nurses and doctors at the facility noted that she had the gift of mercy and was a great listener and encourager. She told me she had listened to hundreds of hours of stories and had prayed with and encouraged hundreds of girls and women during the time she worked at the facility.

Nicolette shared how vital this part of her life was to her. She believed God had led her and spared her to be able to protect her children and to help others. She found a great sense of completeness while providing much-needed encouragement and support to others in this season of her life.

But there was a cost.

As God led her through the circumstances of her life, she moved to the country’s capital and found stable, well-paying work as a for the U.S. Government

In the past couple of months, more than 200 people had been killed in the eastern part of her country. Also, there was the almost never-ending political pressure that is an everyday adventure in this nation.

As we continued our time together, I felt it was time to ask, How can I help you today?”  She replied, I have been having great difficulty sleeping and concentrating at work at home.I absorbed her words, intonation, and nonverbal cues to discern what she was trying to tell me. After a short pause, I asked her to share her story with me. For the next several minutes she brought to light some of the parts of her journey, her work in Goma, how her faith had grown, and how much better her life was today.

Her mood and eyes suddenly became sad and tearful. She began to tell me about the flashbacks and memories she was currently having. She thought shed put these behind her. As she continued to share her burden, I gently asked a few more questions. She told me that with all of the rising political dissent and the troubles in the eastern part of the country, she was afraid war would break out again.

It was evident she was dealing with some PTSD issues. But with the status of mental health in this part of the world, we needed to look for some practical things she could do until there could be an appropriate referral.

I asked her to tell me more about her faith and how it had helped her. I shared a few things about PTSD and how to manage it. At this point in our conversation, I shared some information on post-traumatic grow and how we have choices in how we deal with trauma.  One of the truths I shared was the importance of finding meaning in the traumatic event. I also mentioned a phrase that intrigued her: Dont waste the pain.

As Nicolette opened up, she began to articulate how she believed it was part of Gods plan to take the long walk, to work in the hospital with all of those girls and women, and to hold the job she has today. During the questioning, I hoped she would be able to see how the Lord was leading and guiding her through all the ups and downs she had experienced.

It was an almost miraculous moment when I watched the light bulb turn on. Nicolette sat up straight, with a hope-filled, determined look as a smile slowly revealed itself. She said, I get it. God was there all along, He is with me now, and will be with me in the future.She went on to tell me how much better she felt. With that, our session ended. Over the next several days she checked in a couple of times to tell me how much better she was doing.

What motivated her to take the risks that she did for herself and her children? What big dream did she have to help her find the faith, courage, resilience, and grace to make this trip happen?

First, like many ordinary people who accomplish incredible things with their lives, she had the almost impossible dream of relocating her family to a safer place to be a better provider for them.

Second, she developed a plan with options to make it happen. She worked her plan and was prepared for the possible adversity that lay ahead. Looking back, she noted, I learned many lessons as a child that would teach me how to provide for my family in the darkest of days.

Third, she trusted God and served others. And while there is some residual pain as a result of this arduous journey, she is a stronger, more faithful servant of God for taking the trip.

She continues to enjoy working with James and the rest of her team. She is also actively involved in her church and ministers to girls and women in her community.

I will never forget the enduring strength of this incredible lady. When I have fears or troubles, I will remember her godly example.

Nicolette’s motivation, her God-sized dream gave her the courage to push through her fear and provided for her family.

As a follow-up, James emailed me several months after I’d returned to the States to tell he how much Nicolette appreciated the time we shared and that she was doing fine.

That same spirit lives in you!

Here are some proven things you can do to make it happen: Know your why.” Nicolette’s “whywas to give her children a chance to grow up in a safer place to have a better life. Expand your dream.Her dream was to get to a safe place. Write it down. Everyone has dreams for their future. It might be to write a book, start a new hobby or venture, or to make some life changes. A great way to bring a more concrete feeling to these dreams is by creating a dream board, also known as a vision board. A dream board (or vision board) is a visual tool that serves as a guide to your goals for the future. It is a visual representation of your dreams and your ideal life. Making your unique dream board can be a chance to explore your own goals and dreams and exercise your creativity.

Share your why and dream with people you trust. The accountability will be an excellent source of help and encouragement. Nicolette did share her plans with a few friends, who agreed to pray with her.

Get a coach, mentor, or accountability partner to help you develop a plan.

DO IT! Nicolette did it.

Have a Great Mothers Day

 

Overcome the Fear of Success

 

 

 Success will never attack you!

In my previous article, I asked a question about your definition of success.

In this article, I want to share some thoughts about success from a biblical perspective.

A key part of God’s design is to create and bring an increase. These are vital factors to understand as you build your business/ministry.

From a faith perspective, success is not measured in fame, money, prestige, or how many toys you have. It is measured by how many lives you touch.

These can be lives you touched personally, through the profits of your business, the developing of your gifts, talents, and temperament.

It is rooted in the art and hard work of diligence.

Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave. Proverbs 12:24 (NLT)

Become a person of excellence.

Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than working for ordinary people.   Proverbs 22:29 (NLT)

Assume responsibility and manage details.

Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds. Proverbs 27:23 (NLT)

Strive for trustworthiness and dependability.

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
Who may enter the presence of your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Psalms 15:1-4 (NLT)

Treat your customers, associates, and coworkers like family.

Choose a good reputation over great riches;
being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life. Proverbs 22: 1&4 (NLT)

Develop a long-term perspective.

Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house. Proverbs 24:27 (NLT)

Be alert for opportunities to expand your business/ministry

She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings, she plants a vineyard. Proverbs 31:16 (NLT)

Manage risk well.

Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have! Romans 4:18(NLT)

Make your assets work for you.

Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! Matthew 25:21 (NLT)

Surround yourself with wise counselors.

Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers. Proverbs 11:14 (NLT)

Make decisions based on biblical principles.

O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NLT)

Ask the Lord Jesus to be your CEO.

Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

No matter what type of fear you may be facing, no matter what type of decisions you need to make, one of the most important things you can do is realize that the Lord wants to have a relationship with you. He wants to be involved in your life, your relationships and your business.

Action Plan

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. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

Consider buying my new book, The No Fear Entrepreneur

I’d love to hear your comments.

Shut Down the Fear of Success Pt !

Is it ok to be successful? Now and then I love to ask people this question. As a person of faith, I am always amazed how many Christians have a tough time answering that question without qualifying their answer. Many of my more secularly minded friends were less likely to try and qualify their answers. I will talk about that in another article.

Second question; How do you define success?

One of the leading fears I discovered while working on The No Fear Entrepreneur, was the fear of success. I had heard about this, and have had my challenges with this fear.

The Difference Between Fruitful and Unfruitful People

One of the significant differences between people who are fruitful and those who are unfruitful toward a goal. Any little win or small victory seems to fire them up and push them toward their goals and dreams.

People who fear success focus on their lack of success. Any slip-up or misstep seems to fuel their fear of success. They read the blackmail of fear which says something like, “You will never measure up.” This leads them to think, “See, I cannot do this, I am hopeless, I will never amount to anything.” As a result, they lay their life, hope, and dreams on the altar of fear.

While this may seem odd to many, it is a form of self-sabotage that can make things fearful. From getting hired, messing up a relationship, or missing opportunities that come your way, we can sabotage our plans.

Key Thought: Kill Fear

To kill fear, you must identify it, call it by its name, and cut off its fuel source. Rather than passively feeding the fear, you need to get crystal clear about the dream God has given you and make sure you are adding fuel to the fire of your dream!

The fear of success is very much like the fear of failure. Both prevent the individual from achieving their dreams and goals. Many people get so accustomed to this mindset that they convince themselves it is okay to never think about getting ahead in life.

Here are a few of the behaviors of Success-Fearing People:

  • You do not complete your projects at home or work.
  • You talk about what you’re going to do more than what you do.
  • You work as a chicken with its head cut off on several projects at once, not focusing intensely on any of them.
  • Your vision board has the same things on it that it did three years ago.
  • The one consistent thing you do is second-guess yourself. Distraction is your middle name.
  • You don’t think your work is ever quite good enough.
  • And the BIG giveaway –you are on the verge of “success,” and things start going wrong.

If this sounds like you, I bet you are asking, “What can I do about the fear of success?”

The above list represents the classic symptoms of someone who struggles with the fear of success. It’s not that you don’t want to be successful, because you have probably been working your tail off and spent many a night thinking, dreaming, and strategizing. The truth is, if success doesn’t come quickly to you, on an individual level you might not want to succeed or feel you deserve to. These thoughts hide in your subconscious mind and, over time, may have been put there through a variety of life experiences. The good news is, you don’t have to stay in this life-sucking, dream-stealing state. You can change.

To help alter our perspective the Scriptures offer plenty of warning about trusting in riches and the dangers of success. It speaks as often about the positive side of success and the importance of using our gifts, resources, and mind constructively for God’s glory. Psalms 1:3 (NLT) says, “They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”

Did you get that last part? The Lord has ordained each of our lives for specific accomplishments. The fear of success can and will hold us back.

Action Plan:

Be ready for my next two posts, one on Wednesday and one of Friday

Check out Jeff Goin’s book Real Artist Don’t Starve, I double dog dare you to get this excellent book.

6 Traits of People Who Fear Rejection

Did you know there are at least six markers of someone who struggles with the Fear of Rejection? Here is a little self-assessment for those of us who struggle with the Fear of Rejection.

A word of caution! Read with the idea of gaining perspective that will help you grow. Please try to avoid beating yourself up if some of these feel a little close to home.

Phoniness: Many people who are afraid of rejection develop a carefully choreographed life. Fearing rejection, people will often live behind a mask. This type of angst can make an individual seem bogus and counterfeit to others and could cause a rigid unwillingness to learn from life’s challenges.

People pleasing: While it is entirely reasonable to take care of the people we love, those who fear rejection often go overboard. This type of people pleasing can lead to burnout. Worst case: People pleasing behaviors can turn into enabling the wrong actions of others.

Unassertiveness: Many individuals who fear rejection go out of their way to avoid confrontations. A common tendency for individuals who struggle with fear of rejection is to simply shoot down their needs or pretend their needs do not matter.

Passive aggressiveness: Uncomfortable showing off their true selves but unable to entirely shut down their needs, many people who fear rejection behave in passive-aggressive ways. They might “forget” to keep promises, complain, and work inefficiently on projects they take on.

Additionally, the fear of rejection often restrains a person from going after their dreams. Putting yourself out there is a frightening experience for anyone, but if you have a fear of rejection, you may feel immobilized, frozen in place. You may feel safer staying in the harbor than leaving for the open sea. If a person chooses to give in to the fear of rejection, it will stop them from approaching their full potential.

As the fear of rejection spins its web around you, it can lead to behaviors that make you seem insecure, ineffective and overwhelmed. You might sweat, shake, fight, avoid eye contact, and even lose the ability to effectively communicate. While people react to these behaviors in a broad variety of ways, below are some of the common reactions.

Rejection: Ironically, the fear of rejection often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A 2009 study at the University of Florida demonstrated that confidence is nearly as important as intelligence in determining our income level! As a rule of thumb, the lack of self-confidence connected to the fear of rejection makes an individual more likely to be rejected.

When it comes to rejection, many of us blame themselves or others immediately.

Regardless of your background or gender, how you handle rejection is much more important than the rejection itself.

Friday, I will reveal four things you can do to help you deal with the fear of rejection.

Here is a bit of ancient wisdom that is an antidote to the Fear of Rejection.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. “     Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Action Plan:

First, identify you “go to” way of coping with the Fear of Rejection

Second, take action to push back on it

Excerpt from my Amazon #1 Best Selling Book, The No Fear Entrepreneur.

(c) 2018 John Thurman

How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

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Did you know one of the most powerful ways we can push back the fear of failure is to read about and observe how others have overcome this game-stopping fear, glean the lessons they learned, and apply them to our life as appropriate?

Did you know?

Michael Jordan missed more than half of the shots he took. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter author’s story is legendary. She wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the first book of the series) as a struggling single welfare mom and had twelve rejections from publishers. Her first book eventually sold for the equivalent of $4,000.00. She says, “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure which often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing… Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began diverting all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”Today, based on her book sales and incredible film series she is now worth over $1 billion dollars.

• Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade and lost every public election he entered until being elected Prime Minister of Great Britain at age 62. “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm…Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Charlize Theron. When Theron was 15, she witnessed her mother shoot her alcoholic father in an act of self-defense. Instead of letting the trauma immobilize her ambition, Theron channeled her energy into making a name for herself. She would eventually become one of the most respected and talented actresses, becoming the first South African actress to win an Academy Award.

Stephenie Meyer. Before the Twilight series broke sales records, she faced the failure of rejection—multiple times. Meyer wrote fifteen letters to various literary agents and received fourteen rejections. Fortunately, one agent took her on and eight publishers bid on the rights to publish her wildly successful series which turned into a highly popular movie franchise.

Vera Wang’s path to becoming the successful designer she is today was by no means conventional. First, Wang, who was a competitive skater in her youth, failed to make the 1968 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team. To the benefit of the fashion industry, this loss of a dream prompted her to take a job as an assistant at Vogue in 1971, where she was eventually promoted to senior fashion editor within a year—at age 23! After fifteen years with the magazine, Wang was passed over for the editor-in-chief position. But she ended up where she needed to be and has become one of the leading fashion designers of all time.

None of these people would have made history if they had chosen to be frozen by failure.

I do not know anyone who enjoys failing. For some people, the fear of failing can present such an overwhelming psychological menace that their incentive to avoid failure exceeds their motivation to succeed. This very personal and intimidating fear of failure causes them to unintentionally sabotage their chances of success in a broad variety of ways.

Here are some practical things you can begin doing today to face your fear of failure!

Stay focused on your “Why.”

To overcome the fear of failure, set your focus on the goal, dream, or outcome that you want to create. The more you focus on the end in mind, the less power you will give fear.

Recognize avoidance patterns, self-sabotaging, and push forward. Once you shift your mindset from being a victim to an overcomer who is in pursuit of your dreams, you are moving forward. When fear holds you, you tend to either avoid or waste time on the mundane things of life.

“Never, never, never quit!”

This famous line comes from Winston Churchill in the early days of World War II.

Churchill was the Prime Minister of England at the time. In those dark days, England was being bombed on a daily basis and civilians were dying throughout the island nation. It was in this context that the following short speech was made on BBC in October of 1941:
Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. ~Winston Churchill

One of the keys to winning at anything you do is to be persistent— to never quit.

“Where there is no vision, people perish.” Taken from Proverbs 29:18, this passage points to the truth that if we have no vision, no path, no idea where we want to go, we will never arrive. To push back fear you have to be crystal clear about what your goal or dream is.

Trust Your Dream!

If you believe that the Lord has given you a dream or desire to do something, just do it. If He gave you the dream, He will provide the tools to fulfill it. The secret? You have to open the toolbox and get to work.

Break Your Dreams into Bite-Sized Portions.

To succeed at anything from weight loss to increase your personal productivity, you have to figure out what your goal is and what steps you will have to take to make it happen.

Have a long-term view, realizing that there will be ups and downs. A can-do attitude helps us never give up on the dreams that God has placed in our hearts. Focus allows us to recharge, reinvest, and reinvent ourselves by melting down our fear.

Share Your Dreams and Your Fears.

In my work as a Crisis Response Specialist, I tell people that one of the keys to moving through a traumatic event is to remember that “Pain shared is pain divided; Joy shared is joy multiplied” (LTC David Grossman). When we do this with our trusted friends we will find the courage, faith, and support to push through the fear and go after our God-sized dream.

Patience, Faith, and Friends are Our Best Allies.

Choose to shift into a “growth mindset.” Dr. Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset, spent her life researching the origins of mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes. Her findings give us two options—a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

A “fixed mindset” is one in which you believe you are born with a particular set of talents, abilities, and intelligence—all of which are unchangeable. Some people with a fixed mindset may find it harder to experience life change and growth. As a result, a fixed-mindset person fails to develop his abilities and is more likely to give up or become distracted and feel depressed when he fails to make the grade in his own eyes.

A person with a growth mindset begins in a different place. When you have a growth mindset you see yourself and others as more flexible, adaptable, and hopeful. Way down inside, you know the potential for growth and development. With the right motivation, effort, moral compass, and concentration you believe you can become better at almost anything. A person who has a growth mindset doesn’t take failure personally. That individual tends to see failure as an opportunity for growth. If one path doesn’t work, then the person will try another.

As a Christian therapist, I believe the Bible continually teaches the benefit of being growth-minded. I believe God is active in time, space, and history and that He has an active, life-fulfilling plan for each of us. The Bible gives us truth, hope, and stories of those who have gone before us and have found such purpose.
You can overcome the fear of failure by understanding those old triggers and turning them from energy-sapping vampires into life-motivating power that will help you accomplish your dreams.
May you experience His comfort, grace, and strength as your face your fear of failure.
Excerpt from John Thurman’s #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, The No Fear Entrepreneur.

How to Overcome Fear of Failure Part 1

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Failure can stir up feelings of disappointment, anger, sadness, regret, frustration, disappointment, and confusion.

Underneath this fear is a deeper fear of shame. People who have a fear of failure are motivated to avoid failing, not because they cannot manage the underlying emotions of disappointment, anger, and frustration that accompany such experiences, but because failing makes them feel a profound sense of shame.

Indicators for Fear of Failure

1. You worry about your ability to go after your dreams.

2. You worry about what others think of you.

3. You feel if people knew you they would reject you.

4. You consistently live in a world of lowered expectation.

5. Once you have experienced failure at something, you have difficulty imagining what you could have done differently.

6. You often get last minute headaches, stomach aches, or other distressing physical symptoms which keep you from finishing the task at hand.

7. Failure makes you doubt your abilities and how smart or capable you are.

So, with all this knowledge, what are practical ways to overcome the fear of failure?

Always remember: regrets are worse than failures. Jack Canfield says it well, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

I love how the scriptures, though thousands of years old speak truth today. If you struggle with fear of failure take a moment and reflect on one of my favorite verses of sacred text.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. 2 Timothy 1:7 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Action Plan:

Stay tuned, in the next three posts I will give you some examples of people you know who overcame the fear of failure, and the third post will show you some tools and tips that I have used to deal with this nagging issue in my own life.

Go to my website and sign up for my newletter and receive a free chapter of my #1 Amazon Best Selling Book, The No Fear Entrepreneur.

Blessings!

4 Tactics That Will Kill Fear!

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Self-observation can be a great use of your time if it leads to positive things and not into self-flagellation.

I’ve spent a significant portion of my working life guiding people through self-observation. In that time, I have discovered far too many people on the edge of a breakthrough in their personal life, their relationships, or their business but who squander the opportunity by over-focusing on self-doubt and fear. The thing that surprises me to this day is that many times they are completely unaware of how their self-talk defeats them. Here is how it usually happens. People say they want something very badly, that they want to change, and theoretically, they would do almost anything to make the change and get what they want.

But when it comes time to turn the key, to take the step, it is an entirely different story. For many, when it is time to take action, they get cold feet and either pause or back out and fail to do what they need to do to get the results they want. Why? The usual suspect is the inner self-doubting voice that has them questioning every move they make in experiencing the changes they want to engage.

Would you like to learn practical, concrete ways to push back fear? Here are four methods you can implement to press fear back.

1. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

My wife Angie is no fan of heights. She would do almost anything legally to avoid heights. However, my wife is a strong woman who does not like to admit defeat. She is involved with an excellent direct service company called Premier Designs Jewelry, and in the year of her sixtieth birthday, she had qualified for a free Caribbean cruise.

One evening, as we were preparing for the journey and looking at different adventures and excursions, she said, “I want to go tandem parasailing at Grand Cayman.” I was surprised and yet readily agreed. She went on to say, “I know I need to take action to push back the fear, so let’s do this. I am also going to tell some of my close girlfriends what my plan is. That way, I will have positive peer pressure that will hopefully keep me from chickening out.”

The day came, and with tons of encouragement, we hopped on the boat and headed out. After watching some other couples take the ride, it was our turn. The air was warm; the breeze was gentle as we slipped into the harness. Within a few seconds, we were gently lifted off the deck, and the winch began to unwind. After a minute or two, we were soaring 400 feet above the water. As we floated, talked, and took it all in, it was inspiring to see the radiance in Angie’s face as we looked down on our cruise ship from our airy, highly-harnessed perch in our parasail.

When we landed on the deck of the boat, a couple of our friends gave Angie hugs and high-fives. When all of us returned to the ship that evening, Angie’s accountability partners and friends were overjoyed at what she had done and listened intently to her story.

When you feel the fear, call it what it is, and face it, friends will come alongside to pray with you, encourage you, and walk with you.

All of us experience fear from time to time. What separates people who discover success in their lives and those who give permission for fear to hold them back is the willingness to act in spite of the fear.

2. Make no apologies—no excuses.

As a young cadet at Georgia Military College in the late 60’s, I came under the influence of a seasoned warrior, Command Sergeant Major Scott, one of our military instructors. He was quite a character, soft-spoken but a veteran of WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Dominican Republic Action, and two tours in Viet Nam. When he spoke, everybody listened because of the respect we had for this leader. He was full of pithy quotes, and one I remember to this day is: “Men if you are looking for an excuse, anyone will do. Just remember you are accountable for the decisions you make.” I have to admit, as a young man, it didn’t make much sense at the time, but over the years, I have come to appreciate the wisdom he shared.

While some call them “reasons,” people stop themselves all the time using rationalizations and excuses. The top reasons, particularly in the direct sales business, go something like this: “I don’t have time;” I don’t know anybody;” My friends and I are too busy.” This list goes on.

As Command Sergeant Major Scott said, “When looking for an excuse, anyone will do.”

People will use excuses like a trap door or an ejection seat—an escape usually based on self-doubt.

One of the ways to have more of what you want and what God wants in your life is to push back fear and self-doubt. To do this, you will need to hone the skill of developing a “no excuses” approach.

So, how bad do you want to change? You can either have “reasons” or life-changing results. The choice is always yours.

3. Be willing to move outside of your comfort zone.

I have to admit, I honestly admire the wild success of Taylor Swift, but I would never want to be a former boyfriend. In an interview a couple of years ago she was asked about another famous singer who consistently pushed her comfort zone.

Swift said, “One element of Madonna’s career that really takes center stage is how many times she’s reinvented herself. It is easier to stay in one look, one comfort zone, one musical style. It is exciting to me to see someone whose only predictable quality is being unpredictable.”

Here are some other quotes that will help you think about this:

Taylor Swift:

“You have people come into your life shockingly and surprisingly. You have losses you never thought you’d experience. You have rejection, and you have to learn how to deal with that and how to get up the next day and go on with it.”
“I think fearless is having fears but jumping anyway.”

Joel Olsteen:

“I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfort zone. You have so much incredible potential on the inside. God has put gifts and talents in you (that) you probably don’t know anything about.”

Bruce Wilkerson

“It’s when you begin to think about going to your dream that your dream is always outside your comfort zone. It is always just beyond what you have ever done.”

Adventurer Bear Grylls:

“Adventure should be 80 percent ‘I think it is manageable,’ but it’s good to have 20 percent where you are just outside of your comfort zone. Still safe, but outside your comfort zone.”

Let’s face it, most of us avoid discomfort with a passion. If you want to progress in your personal life, your relationships, and your business, you will have to become more familiar with being out of your comfort zone—for a short time. Will it be scary? Yes, but it will not kill you, and it may even make you a better person.

The key question is—are you willing to exchange short-term discomfort for a better life, richer relationships, and a more successful enterprise? If the answer is yes, are you willing to push back the self-doubt and move beyond your comfort zone?

Yes? Here is some great news: blessing, joy, and opportunities will increase. So get ready!

4. Just do it!


The biggest difference between daydreaming and having a big dream in action!

Wishful thinking will never get you there. You must engage, take a risk, lean into the self-doubt and fear.

You have to “rise from the doubts and fears and walk.” This is the place where the phrase “If it is to be, it is up to me,” kicks in. This is the “grown-up” location where you declare to yourself that you are solely responsible for your life, and you accept the fact you cannot blame others for the choices you have made. Time and time again, this is the place where our negative self-talk, which fuels self-doubt and fear, causes us to question everything and keeps us from taking action. I call it decision constipation. This fear and self-doubt are at the bottom of self-sabotage.

Getting a higher and wider vantage point around moving forward with your life starts with a decision. Once you have made that decision, it is time to get down to work and make it happen.

My pastor, Todd Cook, of Sagebrush Community Church in Albuquerque recently introduced a song by Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, in his introduction he shared the following story.

Scott recently had to carry a tough burden of her own, having experienced a miscarriage. As a result of working through the pain of the loss, she made peace with it in the months ahead and penned the poignant tune, “Thy Will.” The song appears on a gospel album she recorded with her family called Love Remains, which was released in July 2016.

This was not Hillary Scott’s first challenge.

Did you know that before she joined Lady Antebellum, she auditioned twice for American Idol but failed to make it to the judges’ round? After those two failed attempts she, along with Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, founded Lady Antebellum and the rest is chart-making history.

Grit, tenacity, resilience, no matter how you label it you can choose to move through fear and become a more intentional, purpose-filled person. The key? Have a Why and a Dream that is more powerful than your fears.

Here is a piece of ancient literature that will comfort you.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NLT

I think this song by Zach Williams says it all.

ACTION PLAN:

Quit living in denial, acknowledge your fear, and with God’s help move through it.

4 Actions You Can Take Overcome Fear

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“Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them,” Brendan Francis.

Here are some steps I adapted from The Art of Manliness: 29 Days to a Better Man: Conquer Fear.

Change Your Perspective On Fear

Fear is only negative if you think it is. Fear is a natural process that if left unchecked will cause us to live timid, restricted lives. Truthfully, in life, there is zero growth without risk. Instead of pushing back fear as an all-consuming, nerve-racking experience, see it as an adventure, a journey that will take you out of your comfort zone and into a whole new life and bring a sense of joy and adventure. If you have ever conquered a fear, you know it can be exhilarating. So why don’t you try and scare yourself just a little today? You might like the outcome.

Adjust Your Perspective On Risk

The honest taproot for many of our fears is the fear of trying something and failing. What if I get rejected? What if I fail? Well, you could, but you will never know until you try. If you don’t take the risk, you will never know, and you are guaranteed to fail.

This might be uncomfortable for you, but my mission is to challenge you. In making such a decision, you are leaving out the possible long-term risk, a risk that could be far greater than a risk to your ego. The long-term risk is the danger of living an entirely average life. The risk is looking back on your life in 10, 20, or 30 years and feeling your stomach turn with regret and remorse.

The primary reason we miss opportunities God sends our way is fear. It is sad to say that when you miss a chance because of your fear, you will never get that moment back again.

Maybe it is time for you to update your risk criteria.

Act with Courage

Teddy Roosevelt put it this way: “There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to ‘mean’ horses and gun-fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be scared.”

Think about some of the men and women of the Bible who acted courageously: Ruth, Esther, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Gideon, David. And how about other historical figures?

SFC Leigh Ann Hester, Silver Star, American Hero.

I doubt you have heard of this hero. Sergeant now Sergeant First Class Leigh Ann Hester was the first female to win the Silver Star in the Iraq War. This was later upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. Here is an excerpt from the citation:

After insurgents hit the convoy with a barrage of fire from machine guns, AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Hester “maneuvered her team through the kill zone into a flanking position where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 rounds,” according to the Army citation accompanying the Silver Star.

“She then cleared two trenches with her squad leader where she engaged and eliminated three AIF [anti-Iraqi forces] with her M4 rifle. Her actions saved the lives of numerous convoy members,” the citation stated.

Here are other, more well-known people who overcame fear and became world renown in their field:

Colbie Caillat, Singer.

This artist is one of my personal favorites. I enjoy her style, attitude, and lyrics. She is a two-time Grammy winner with over six million albums and 10 million single sales to her credit. Also, she was a two-time loser on [the television show] American Idol.

Reflecting back, she said, “I was shy, I was nervous. I didn’t look the greatest. I wasn’t ready for it. I was glad when I auditioned, and they said ‘no.’“

Kill Fear With Faith-Filled, Logical Thought Processes

Fear is usually a function of lack of confidence and low self- esteem. Many people are afraid because they think they will fail. But if they do it anyway—if they try to overcome their fear instead of letting their fear limit them—they find they can do it. Fear should not keep us from working.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear;What can mere man do to me? Psalm 118:6 (NKJV)

Think on this as we begin the freedom-from-fear journey together. Fear receives way too much airplay. Fear is the big bad boogeyman that grows by negative, contemplative thoughts that are re-runs of painful past events.

Fear is primarily mismanagement of our mental capacities.

Action Plan

Be sure to check out the final installment of how to overcome fear coming this weekend.