Will You Declare Your Intentions?

WILL YOU DECLARE YOUR INTENTIONS?

Dr. Randy Carlson

Do you ever feel like you’re on the backside of the moon? Have you started out on one mission in life and ended up on another? You started down one path and all of a sudden, you’re on your way to the moon. You think you’re going to have a successful landing, and you are going to come back, and then all of a sudden, “Houston, we have a problem.” If you’ve seen the movie, Apollo 13 think about that. The turning point of the whole story occurred when Jim Lovell said, “Gentlemen, what are your intentions?” They were so caught up looking at the moon, wishing they could get there. But when he asked them about their intentions, everything changed.

I think it’s easy for us to be on a mission in our lives, going in a certain direction and all of a sudden things blow up. Finances, work, health, relationships … you name it, and there’s a tendency to either look to the past or get caught in the problem. Many get stuck with I wish, I hope, I should, I could, and they’re waiting, disappointed and discouraged. That’s when we need people to speak into our lives and ask, “What are your intentions?”

When you declare your intentions:

  • It’s clarifying.
  • It eliminates other options.
  • It builds your faith.
  • It gives you a hope and a future.
  • It makes you accountable.
  • It sets you apart from other people.

It’s important not to declare your intentions until we know that is coming from God. That is where we get in trouble. Some people deliberately declare wrong intentions, and they are successful at it. Intentional Living works for people who are evil because it’s a powerful truth. When you have an intention and you follow through, things happen.

When you reach a place where you are so passionate, so convicted and so convinced that God has given you the clarity of your intentions, those intentions must be spoken. Then a series of things begin to happen for your good. We can either live our lives at a level of mediocrity or choose to declare our intentions and live them out.

We all have moments in time when we need to make a declaration. “This is where I stand.” “This is what I believe.” “This is where we’re going.” Joshua declared: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” We need more of that today. We are being pushed and shoved into a mold of our society. The way we think, the way we act and the way we live is are being challenged every day.

If we don’t choose to be intentional by declaring our intentions, we are going to get washed away. We need to be as believers today more convinced than ever of what our intentions are. High intentions are required to be a follower of Christ and be obedient to Him.

In Jeremiah 29, God made a declaration of intention toward you. He said: “I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God’s intentions are unlike human intentions; He actually does them, because let’s face it, we all have good intentions. And we have intentions and sometimes they don’t work out, and that’s disappointing, hurtful and painful. We’ve all experienced that, some more than others. But we know when God makes a declaration of intention, He means it.

So, today I ask you, “What are your intentions?” and “Will you declare them?”

Making Friends With Other Parents Is Like Dating

MAKING FRIENDS WITH OTHER PARENTS IS LIKE DATING

Lyz Lenz

THE GIST

  • Make friends by trying new activities with your child; volunteering at school; joining local mom groups; and signing up for baby yoga, music lessons and story time. 
  • Find like-minded parents in the places you already frequent: parent-child classes at your gym, mom night at a local wine bar or a baby-friendly movie screening. 
  • Be proactive about introducing yourself to other parents in your neighborhood.
  • Initiate conversations without expectations — just because someone doesn’t want to hang out, doesn’t mean they hate your face. 
  • Find your people by searching interest-specific Facebook groups and Reddit forums for parents in your neighborhood.
  • The isolation of the early weeks and months of parenthood is a finite phase, like teething. As your kids age, making friends will become easier, with more opportunities to connect.

The birth of my second child threw my world into chaos. I went from being a working parent of one manageable child to a stay-at-home mom with a toddler and an infant. I felt alone, and my nipples ached while I cleaned poop off the floor. What I needed was a friend. 

I struck up a conversation with a mother at my daughter’s preschool. I thought it went well, so I asked, “Want to go out for coffee sometime?” She shrugged, “You should go out with my sister. You both seem to need friends.”

I never went out with her sister. But by continuing to make my neediness known and asking moms online and offline out for dates, I did find my friends (and I stopped bragging to my toddler about my degrees). Study after study show that people with strong friendships are happier, healthier and more satisfied with their lives. Additionally, friendships are a relief valve for the pressure of other roles in our lives, like parenthood. 

Finding parent friends can be just as fraught and unnerving as dating, so I spoke to two authors who wrote books about parenting and friendship, and to parents from all over the country, about how to find new friends as a parent.

WHAT TO DO

Start close to home.

Melanie Dale, author of “Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends,” offers a practical, step-by-step approach to meeting new parent friends. She advises that parents stick close to home — try meeting local parents at a park or pool, or even a mall playground close to you. Some movie theater chains have mommy-and-me screenings on weekday mornings and afternoons (Google your city and “baby-friendly screenings” to find some). 

It can seem a little awkward to go to your local children’s museum just to “pick up” another mom. But rest assured, you aren’t the only one on the lookout for friends. Michael Auteri, a New Jersey-based father of a toddler, met his best dad friend on the bus commuting into New York City. They saw each other every day, so Auteri struck up a conversation about a book the other dad was reading. One thing led to another: Now, they meet at least once a month at a park with their kids in tow.

Make the first conversational move.

Dale advises starting a conversation with a fellow mom by giving her a compliment, something about her child or clothes or ability to calmly handle a tantrum. But you may be able to bond over negativity, too: I met a mom friend when my son was an infant and I was breastfeeding at a park. She overheard me grumble to myself about boob sweat, and we’ve been friends ever since.    

Dale also encourages parents to initiate contact without expectations. “If another mom tells you she can’t hang out, she may just be busy or maybe she was burned from her last friendship and she’s nervous,” Dale said. “And for those of us who are not initiators, maybe we need to say ‘yes’ next time someone gets up the courage to ask us out on a mom date.”

Rachel Bertsche, author of “MWF Seeks BFF,” encourages new parents stuck at home with a baby to sign up for a music class or baby yoga. These classes are really for the parents, she explained: “No 1-month-old is going to turn into a concert pianist. It’s just a fun way to get out of the house and meet other parents.” 

Find an online parenting group that’s right for you.

Online parenting groups can be miserable, with in-fighting and passive aggressive comments, but they can also be an amazing way to find your tribe. Bertsche recommends trying Facebook Groups, Meetup or apps like Peanut and Bumble’s friend feature to find your perfect parent match. You can search Facebook Groups for parent groups in your neighborhood. Even in my small Iowa town, there are hundreds of groups organized by interests ranging from yoga to a favorite TV show to cloth diapering. Meetup also has meetings organized for parents filtered out by interests. My local baby store has a Facebook group for parents in the area and regularly hosts meetups at the store. Most online groups will come with scheduled events and playdates that make it easier for you to take initiative. 

It’s hard to know what groups suit you until you spend some time in them, learn their rules and see how they handle controversy. Try to find groups that reflect your personality. If you are low-key and jokey, filter through groups for that tone. Bertsche met a mom friend by swiping through Bumble’s friend feature and swiping right on a woman who said she wanted to do things without her kids. “That’s how I knew we’d get along,” she explained.

Let your kids do the talking.

As the wife of a pastor, Lisa Cooper, based in Michigan, has moved quite a bit, so she relies on her children’s friendliness to make friends. “It helps when you have kids who will talk to other kids. My youngest toddled over to another toddler, and they started playing. So I talked to the mom of the other kid. Now we’re best friends!”

Host a playdate outside your house.

When kids are little, before the blessed drop-off playdates begin, Bertsche recommends meeting at a neutral third-party location, where kids can play and parents can talk. Go to a playground and then to coffee. Or the zoo and then lunch. Or pack a picnic and go to a concert in the park.

Bertsche suggests finding a place where you won’t always be chasing your kids and hosting more than one parent at a time. “It takes the pressure off, and there are fewer awkward silences when there are more parents around,” she said. It also makes it easier to leave if the interaction is going south. 

Accept that not every relationship is built to last.

Dale breaks down the stages of parent friendships into “bases.” No, you don’t have to kiss anyone. For Dale, first base is the awkward small talk at the park. Second base is the initial playdate at a neutral location. Third base is a playdate at home. And a home run is when you hit it off and start meeting without children around. “Some friends come into our lives just for a season, sometimes literally a baseball season or a soccer season, and then you change teams, your kid quits the sport, and you never see each other again and that’s O.K. But once in a while, you find a lifelong friend,” Dale said. 

Raquel Reyes lives in Miami and said that every parent she meets seems to cycle in and out of the city, which makes keeping and maintaining friendships hard. She met a group of good parent friends by volunteering at her local Unitarian Universalist church. They keep in touch by scheduling monthly lunches and checking in weekly on a WhatsApp group chat.

The initial desperation to create new parent friendships is just a phase like teething. Give yourself some kindness. Eventually you will find your people. And then, when kids start school, you’ll find a whole new set of parent friends.

Put in the effort to maintain new friendships.

Parents are busy; it’s hard for them to prioritize friendships. And making good friendships takes time. Researchers at the University of Kansas found that it takes about 50 hours of time together to go from acquaintance to casual friend, 90 hours to move from casual friend to friend and 200 hours to move from friend to good friend. Bertsche suggests penciling in a regular time to meet up, whether it’s a monthly playdate or a happy hour. “Having that standing date keeps the guess work and effort out of maintaining the relationship,” she advised.

SOURCES

How to Quit Porn: 6 Essential Steps

HOW TO QUIT PORN: 6 ESSENTIAL STEPS

Douglas Weiss

If you’re wondering how to quit porn, you’re not alone. Skim through the comments below and you’ll see. Quitting porn doesn’t have to be so complicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you want to quit watching porn, it’s going to take some intentional work, and I encourage you to get real familiar with these six steps.

Step 1: You need to want to quit watching porn.

The first part to quitting porn is you really have to want to quit porn. You need to be sick and tired of porn and the sickness that it causes you in order to quit. If you are not committed, you will only be quitting untl the next time you look. Deep inside you have to want to stop.

Step 2: You have to be willing to try a different way.

Secondly, you have to be willing to do things you haven’t done before. Seriously, if you keep quitting the same way, you’re likely to fail again. To quit, you have to give up what you’ve  been doing and do what you have to do. Have you tried using Screen Accountability yet?

Step 3: You need to be brutally honest with another person.

Thirdly, you have to tell someone else about your struggle and desire to get free. This person may be a male friend, your wife, a person of clergy, a life coach, or a 12-step group person.  Somebody has to know the truth about your porn usage for you to get and stay free.

Step 4: You need to get rid of all your porn.

Next, you have to do what I call “clean house.” You have to get rid of the porn you have. Throw away the discs, magazines, anything you have used as pornography, and make sure to dump and clean out your computer. This is just a start, some you have to clean house regularly.

Step 5: You also need to block porn from coming in.

The next step is you have to block entry points. This means have a porn blocker and accountability software like Covenant Eyes on your phone, computer at home, and at the office. If you have people sending you compromising emails, block them. Unsubscribe from porn websites. You may have to decide if credit cards are a problem. You know how porn is coming into your life. If you had a gun to your head you could block entry points in a minute.

Step 6: You need a friend to help you stay on track.

Finally, get accountable to a man on a daily basis about your porn usage. Make a call a day and a commitment to call this person before you even consider looking at porn. People who set consequences for porn relapse do better. Seriously, if you look at porn, set a consequence. Some guys run laps, give money to the political party they don’t vote for, do leg lunges for a half mile, give up some privilege or just pick up trash on the highway for a few hours.

A porn-free life is a better life.

You have to decide that you are worth living porn free. I decided that almost 25 years ago and just passed a polygraph verifying my freedom. I believe you’re worth it but your behavior will show you if you are. Don’t believe your words. Believe only your behaviors; otherwise, you can be in denial as to your commitment to being porn free.

One of the most effective tools I’ve found to quit porn is Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability™. It helps with four of these six essential steps. Not only can it block porn before it gets to you, it also provides a weekly report of your internet use to a trusted friend–forcing you to be brutally honest and making it easier than ever for you to have the open and honest relationship needed to beat your porn addiction.

Remember, you are not the only one being affected if you are married or want to be married. She is in pain because of your porn usage. Your children are being affected as well. They deserve the best man you can be. You decide. Do they get the porn-drunk you or the porn-free you? I recommend the porn-free you. It’s the better you.

Jesus vs. Porn: How Christ destroyed my addiction to lust

JESUS VS. PORN: HOW CHRIST DESTROYED MY ADDICTION TO LUST

Dan Sheldon

Dan Sheldon

It all started for me in the mid 80s at a young age. It was all innocent enough. My neighborhood friend found his dad’s stash of Playboys and he showed them to me.

Like all addictions it started small and snowballed out of control. It started with Playboy, but when that wasn’t enough, I started looking at Penthouse, when that wasn’t enough I went to harder and harder material. When the Internet came around it was over, I could look at whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

From Porn to Sex

Viewing porn started to affect my “real life.” I had many partners and starting acting out some things I was seeing. I didn’t care who the person was as long as I was getting what I wanted. I felt lonelier and lonelier with each partner. I no longer knew who I was.

Then I really hit the bottom. One drunken night at the bar, I had unprotected sex with a girl I met there. I ended up getting Chlamydia. That really scared me. What if it would have been AIDS? I called my friends who are born again Christians. I asked if their offer to take me to church was still open. I started to go to church with them and even answered an alter call. I didn’t feel any different and started right back down the road of sex and porn.

Coming to Christ

A few months later, while I was on the Internet surfing through some really hardcore porn, a voice said to me, “This isn’t how you are going to find a wife, and it isn’t how you are going to be a good dad someday.” I later found out this voice was the Holy Spirit talking to me. The Holy Spirit knew I had always dreamed of being married and having children. I had all but given up on that dream. However, I actually listened to that voice this time. I clicked off the Internet that night.

A few days after that I went on a train ride with my friends. After the ride we stopped to eat. As we were eating, I started to tell them about my addiction. How I couldn’t get porn out of my life. My friend said to me, “All you have to do is admit your sins to Jesus and accept him as your Savior.” I looked at her and said, “I think I just did.” From that moment I was forgiven for my sins!

The Difference Jesus Makes

My story was just beginning. I started to go back to church. This time it was different: I wanted to change! Everything started in small steps. The first was throwing out all the porn magazines and DVDs. Next, I threw out all the extra “stuff” I collected from my former partners. The next thing was I stopped drinking. When I got drunk I would do things I wouldn’t do otherwise. One of the hardest things to give up was using my phone to sext. I kept that one girl in my phone so I’d still be able to flirt. I was finally convicted of it and told her I could no longer do that. I also realized I couldn’t use the Internet late at night when no one else was around and I deleted my MySpace page because it was too easy to find porn. I was starting to finally be content with being alone.

That’s when God put a special woman in my life. We met at membership classes for the church. I was afraid to be in a relationship because of all the things I had done in the past. I told my future wife everything within three weeks of knowing her. Telling her if she wanted out, that would be the time. She didn’t leave. We were married in December of 2008. In January we were given the news that my wife was pregnant and in September my little boy was born! I adopted her daughter as well! The things I always dreamed about!

Going Deeper with Christ

During that time I still continued to grow. I had a meeting with one of the pastors and he helped me break the soul bonds I had created with all my past partners. I also threw out anything in my house that reminded me of old girlfriends, even if they weren’t sexually related. Later I started to use Covenant Eyes on my computer with my wife and an Accountability Partner getting the Reports in their e-mail. The next step was finding a group of guys who get together once a week for face to face accountability.

Another thing I have been working on is masturbation. I struggled with that when I first came to the Lord. I was taught that with God’s grace it can be defeated! I am also working on getting rid of lustful thoughts and changing my thought process. It took years for me to get to the point I was at and it took time to change that.

Looking Back: 7 Important Steps

The porn problem hasn’t been much of a problem lately, but I will continue to take steps to make sure it doesn’t come back into my life. The most important things it took for me to come as far as I have:

1. I admitted I had a problem

2. I asked God to help me through the work Jesus Christ did on the cross

3. Taking small steps

4. Transforming my thoughts

5. Accountability (both on the computer and face to face)

6. A continuous choice to want to get better

7. I found a good church to help me

I have come a long, long way since I gave my life to Jesus in October of 2007, and with the help of Jesus Christ I will continue on my walk!

How to Battle Against Emotional Adultery

HOW TO BATTLE AGAINST EMOTIONAL ADULTERY

Intentional Living

Audio Player00:0027:58 Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.

It may have nothing to do with sex; but just maybe you have emotionally given your heart to someone other than your spouse. If that describes the precarious state of your heart, Dr. Randy shows you How to Battle Against Emotional Adultery.

“Avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help.” (2 Timothy 2:22 GNT)

Family Time Means Quality Time

FAMILY TIME MEANS QUALITY TIME

Intentional Living

Whether it’s at the dinner table, in church or watching a movie together, families form strong bonds when they connect on a personal level.

There was a time when parents would read to their children every day. It could be a beloved fairy tale, a favorite Bible story or a library book, but it helped build intimacy, comfort and trust. Mothers and fathers had an opportunity to build morals and principles for living.

Intentionally spending time as a family is extremely important. How a family interacts will have great influence on the development of a child’s personality.  As an Intentional Parent, you will help your children feel secure in your love for them.

Dr. Randy Carlson explains how “Ten Commandments for the Family” might be a good guide for living in your family.

Families that emphasize organization and sets of rules, for example, will likely produce children who highly value organization themselves and rely on regulations to help them know boundaries in life.

Families that place an emphasis on freedom of expression are more likely to have free-spirited children, who may have trouble setting or distinguishing boundaries without help.

Prevailing attitudes often stem from the family atmosphere present in homes where the parents were raised. For example, strict, repressive homes may produce children who grow up to be legalistic, overbearing parents.

Children raised in that atmosphere, depending upon their individual makeup, will either likely rebel against it, or become overly cautious in adulthood themselves. Moreover, family crises and problems can have effects on a child. Parents who are tense and worried about finances may find themselves parenting a child overly interested in making money.

While families, like individuals, take on unique personalities, there is one contributing factor that will help produce happy, well-rounded children: the home should provide an atmosphere of love and attention.

This is one thing you should strive to be very intentional about.

Intentional ONE THING Challenge

If you could do ONE THING and know that it would make a significant, lasting, possibly life-changing difference in your life, would you do it? Dr. Carlson shares the power of ONE THING and why you should get started doing your ONE THING today.

Tell Us

How do you spend time as a family? Do you read the Bible regularly? We’d love to hear your success stories. Post your comments below.

Have the Courage to Change – Part 1

HAVE THE COURAGE TO CHANGE – PART 1

Dr. Randy Carlson

When I was a kid growing up, I remember a saying that hung over my dad’s desk. It’s often referred to as the serenity prayer: “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The law of change says nothing stays the same.  Everything either grows stronger or weaker. In physics, there’s entropy which is the tendency for things to go from strength to weakness. We often can see this in our own lives.

You’re not the same as you were yesterday. We all experience little changes each day of life, and we often can’t perceive them until we see a photograph, or a health report, and we go back and take a checkup. Then we realize how much change has occurred.

The reason we focus on the things in our life that we can’t change, like the mess in Washington, DC, or a spouse’s bad attitude, the jerky person that we work with, or the stock market is because in that moment, we are no longer responsible. But ask yourself this question: What is it in my own life that I need to change or should change?  It’s at that moment we become intentional.

Change starts by first taking 100 percent responsibility for our thoughts, actions and attitudes.  It requires changing our thinking, our attitudes, and our behaviors.  This theme of the failure that many of us have – and let’s face it – many of us do – is we fail to take personal responsibilities for our lives.

When you think about it, we grew up in a time where it’s hard for us to take personal responsibility.  In fact, our culture does anything but take responsibility.  Every group in our culture points to another, saying it’s their fault. We need to have the courage to change, and until we accept the reality of this law of personal responsibility, we cannot fully mature into a spiritual and relational point of being an adult.

Christianity is not a passive religion; it’s an act of faith. The Bible uses words like choose, defend, fight, forgive, love, plant, seek, teach, train, visit, worn, work, and worship.  The Bible is full of verbs that demonstrate a very active faith. God’s design for us is to be intentional in taking these verbs and living them out:

  • When we’re obedient to know what the scripture teaches about how we’re to treat our spouses, there’s a payoff for that.
  • When we’re obedient to be intentional, to take the verb, and we use the verb, and we act on that verb in our lives, when it comes to how we live, with our finances or with our faith or our health, there’s going to be a payoff for that.
  • There’s always a positive return on investment for being intentional.

Accepting personal responsibility should cause us to have the courage to change by facing the reality as it is today, resulting in actions that will glorify God and bring benefit to ourselves.

6 Steps to Rest an Anxious Mind

6 STEPS TO REST AN ANXIOUS MIND

Dr. Randy Carlson

I have read Paul’s words, “Be anxious for nothing” many times (Philippians 4:6). That means when something happens that we didn’t expect in our health, we’re not to be anxious about it. When there’s been a reversal in a relationship, we’re not to be anxious about it.

That’s a troubling verse, because the reality is, researchers report 40 percent of Americans say they have more anxiety today than they did a year ago.[1] Some people wrestle with unexpected panic attacks, heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, shaking, shortness of breath, feelings of impending doom and feelings of being out of control. When I was in my thirties, out of the blue, I started having panic attacks. I didn’t have symptoms when I was working. It occurred when I tried to rest my mind.

As Christians, we need to make sure we are practicing these six steps to resting an anxious mind, but you may also need to seek professional help. Don’t feel like you are less spiritual than you ought to be. Some of the great giants of scripture wrestled with mental illness issues. We live in a fallen world, a broken world and the stresses that we face today are very real.

We should all be practicing these six steps in our lives, if we have anxiety or not.

  1. Let it go.

1Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Casting literally means to throw it or to drop it. It means to simply take whatever it is you’re carrying and leave it.

A good picture of this is going into the grocery store. The other day, I was there to pick up some things for home, and I didn’t get a shopping cart. I thought, I’m just getting a few things. I got milk, eggs and paper towels – just walking along picking up things, and I realize I really needed a cart. If you’ve ever done that, you’ve got all this stuff in your arms and you begin to feel the tension in your muscles as you’re trying to hang onto it. You get to the conveyer belt and release it all, and that tension in your arms immediately releases.

That’s what happens to us with the worries and anxieties in our life. When we finally drop it, it’s no longer our responsibility. The key is to know the difference between the things we should drop and the things we need to hang onto. So, the first step is to let it go.

  • Activate your spiritual life.

Paul gives us the solution in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t be anxious for anything, but in everything” – in your finances, health, relationship, work – “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Paul says these three things are the way to treat feelings of anxiety in your life.

Something happens when we pray to God and say, “Father, I am really anxious about this.” And use the word, anxious. Take it to the Lord on a regular basis and admit to Him “I just can’t handle this myself. I need you.” Something happens when we pray that’s not only spiritual, but also psychological and emotional, as well. Supplication means I need you. It’s asking boldly, “God, would you please take this anxiety I’m feeling from me.” And Paul says, “Do this in a thankful heart.”

  • Just breathe.

If you see a professional about anxiety, one of the things they are going to teach you is to breathe. Breathing exercises are a part of good health, reducing anxiety and blood pressure. When people wrestle with great levels of anxiety, we breathe shallower. We’re not breathing as deeply as we should. There’s something relaxing about being able to breathe deeply when we’re feeling anxiety.

This is something I wrestle with in my life. I’m a high control person. I like to know what’s going on. This message is to help me, and I believe it will help you as we learn these things together.

We have looked at the first three steps that the Apostle Paul outlined in Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (NKJV).

Number four on our list of how to rest an anxious mind is a few verses up from that. Paul is writing to us from prison and he’s talking about rejoicing …

  • Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice (Philippians 4:4 NKJV).

But what is he encouraging us to rejoice in? He’s not to rejoice and celebrate my anxiety. Many times, we confuse rejoicing in the Lord with rejoicing in the junk that’s going on in our lives. I’m just going to rejoice in this pain. I don’t want to rejoice in the cancer diagnosis.

No, it comes back to the focus that we have – being able to rejoice in God no matter what we are facing at any particular moment. Not rejoicing in our worry, our fears or our problems, but rejoicing in the Lord, which is a daily commitment.

  • Change your focus.

Jesus said, in Luke 12:29-31, “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (NKJV). We’re to seek the kingdom of God. We’re to focus on Christ’s reign. When we focus on the fact that He rules and reigns in the universe, it puts us into our own little perspective, doesn’t it?

  • Meditate intentionally.

Meditate means to contemplate, ponder, think and consider. If you’re dealing with an anxious mind, meditate on the right things. Again, we have more wisdom from Paul. He says, “Finally, Brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Our meditation is to be on God, to be on scripture, to be on His love for us intentionally. After all of these things, if we have this restless mind, and we do these things, scripture promises – And then we will experience God’s peace (Philippians 4:9). I’ve learned when we do these things every day intentionally, they truly make a difference in our lives. Paul’s instruction comes with a promise – then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

[1] http://time.com/5269371/americans-anxiety-poll/

Both Partners Are Never Equally Satisfied in a Romantic Relationship

BOTH PARTNERS ARE NEVER EQUALLY SATISFIED IN A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP

Kyle Benson

Without extensive research, one might assume that both partners in a romantic relationship would have similar opinions and levels of satisfaction.

This is a myth.

Over 5 million individuals in a committed relationship have confirmed that each romantic partner has their own unique view of the marriage or relationship. Research by Prepare-Enrich has revealed that a romantic partner only has a 25% chance of predicting their partner’s level of satisfaction and opinion of the quality of the relationship.1

There really is a “his” and “her” experience of the relationship.2

The reason this happens is that each partner has their own metrics by which to assess their level of satisfaction in a relationship.

Here’s a potentially fun activity.

  1. Write down what you think gives your partner the greatest satisfaction in the relationship. Do not share this with your partner (yet).
  2. Ask your partner, “What is one thing we do that gives you the most satisfaction in our relationship?”
  3. Compare their answer to the guess you wrote down.

If you find that you are spot on, bravo.

If you find that you are off, congrats! You learned something new about your partner and can do more things that support your partner’s satisfaction in their relationship with you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I had no idea that was important to you.” Even from couples who had been married for decades.

Romantic partners are often unaware of how important a given issue is for their lover, because from their perspective it’s not a big issue, even if their lover has complained about it over and over again.

As the authors of the book The Couple Checkup highlight, sometimes the levels of disconnection and satisfaction printed on The Couple Checkup assessment finally connect the dots on how important something is.

Here’s an example:

From Tom’s perspective, his relationship is great. He feels connected and close to Jake. Throughout their four years of marriage, Jake has complained about the lack of time spent together. Tom thought the time spent together was perfect.

Growing up Tom spent a lot of time playing by himself and had the freedom to do things he wanted when he wanted. Furthermore, his mother never complained to his father about how much time his dad spent working in the shop or out golfing. In Tom’s family culture, there was a lot more me-time than we-time.

So when Jake brought this issue up, Tom didn’t think it was a big deal. After all, it had never been a problem in past relationships.

But for Jake, time together signified love and importance. So, when that time together continued to be limited, Jake felt neglected and like he didn’t matter to Tom.

When Jake was able to reveal these hidden emotions and Tom was able to actually listen, Tom was shocked. He had no idea how important this was to Jake.

Putting Your Partner’s Satisfaction On Par With Yours

One of the key differences between happy and unhappy couples is the attitude of a two-person system as defined by Stan Tatkin, PsyD.

satisfaction
Source: Stan Tatkin’s Facebook Page. I would recommend reading the description and Stan’s first comment. He also describes this in more detail in his recent book We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love.

“A couple’s ability to operate as a coregulatory team determines the success or failure of that relationship and is fundamental to relationship safety, security, and longevity.” – Stan Tatkin, We Do

This means that if your partner is hurting, the relationship is hurting and as a result so are you.

This means recognizing that your partner has a different perspective and experience of the relationship and you have to check in with them and make corrections so the relationship will work for them and you.

Just as we might see in a three-legged race, you can’t win at the expense of your partner.

This is part of being a member of a two-person team.

You must remember that what satisfies you may not be what satisfies your partner. But if you collaboratively work together you can satisfy the team.

This requires working together, first by completely understanding each other and then arriving at an agreeable win-win solution.

In Tom and Jake’s experience, they learned to honor their unique preferences for me-time and we-time by intentionally dialoguing about how they would spend their time together and how they could make that time more meaningful

During their weekly State of the Union meeting, Tom checks in with Jake about the quality of their time together by asking what Jake liked about the past week, and then asks how this week might look. During this conversation, Jake asks Tom about his alone time and ways they can, as a team, make adjustments to meet both partners’ needs.

Ironically, just having this topic brought up by Tom on a weekly basis has significantly made Jake feel loved and important, even on the weeks when there is the same amount of time together as there was before Tom caught on.

Why?

Because Tom makes a conscientious effort to show that Jake’s satisfaction is just as important as his. This is demonstrated by bringing up the question each week.

When you take the time to communicate, truly listen to each other, and team up to make changes in your relationship, you can get closer to having a similar level of satisfaction in the relationship—one that is happy, connected, and meaningful.

  1. This research is cited in The Couple Checkup by David Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg, and Peter Larson (p. 8). Furthermore, research indicates that a couple spending more time together does not make their assessment of each other’s relationship satisfaction more accurate. Rather, it gives them the illusion that they are more accurate. Source: Swann, W. B. J., Gill, M. J. (1997). Confidence and accuracy in person perception: Do we know what we think we know about our relationship partners? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 747–757. 
  2. This is a paraphrased quote from The Couple Checkup (p. 8) 

12 Signs of Highly Sensitive People

12 SIGNS OF HIGHLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE

Being sensitive and caring is usually considered to be a good thing, but if you take it too far then it can end up turning your life into a living hell. This is because people who are over-sensitive often end up being diagnosed with many other debilitating conditions such as severe anxiety or paranoia. Here are the most common signs of being way too sensitive:

1. Your stress becomes real pain.

Inner anxiety can eventually develop into physical pain, such as headaches and stomach issues. Such symptoms may either be initiated from accumulated stress, from the suppression of negative thoughts or from a single incident that was especially traumatic.

2. You care about what others think.

Your anxiety over what others think of you applies to pretty much everyone you meet, not merely your friends and family. You may feel that people are analyzing your every move, when in reality your harshest critic is probably yourself.

3. You find it hard to accept critical feedback.

Whether it’s from your boss or your mom, negative feedback really seems to leave a huge impact on you. This is particularly important to be aware of since overly-sensitive people already struggle with their own perception of themselves, and such feedback could further aggravate symptoms.

4. You feel discomfort in large crowds.

Huge crowds are often highly agitating for sensitive people, as too many things happening at once can overwhelm and exhaust. It goes without saying that such people would do best to avoid dense cities like New York and Miami, where emotions on the street are way too palpable.

5. You feel self-conscious in romantic encounters.

Even if you have been with the same person for quite a while, you still often let your anxiety get the better of you and end up questioning your partner’s every move. Every minor disagreement feels like the apocalypse, and you are frequently overwhelmed with emotion in the aftermath.

6. You often feel unhappy online.

Social media makes it all too easy to compare ourselves to others, and this often results in sensitive people feeling even more inadequate than they did before. This can weigh deeply on your mind until they end up affecting your day-to-day life. We’d recommend simply logging off and staying off if it makes you feel better.

7. Bad days impact your sleeping and eating habits.

Bad days turn into more than just a need to blow off some steam but may end up causing your anxiety to skyrocket, which in turn can affect your eating and sleeping habits. Usually, you end up focusing intensely on every bad aspect of the day, replaying scenes in your head until you realize that it’s been hours since your last meal!

8. You are easily startled by bright lights or loud noises.

Sensitive people are easily startled by bright lights, loud noises or anything else that is unexpected. Because of the need to feel prepared for everything, anything that shocks the system is highly frustrating and a cause for concern!

9. Group outings challenge you.

Group outings are challenging for sensitive individuals because leading a conversation or trying to win the attention of others seems to go against a sensitive person’s passive personality. After such outings, you feel drained and need to recharge your social batteries.

10. Driving is a nightmare.

If you’re a sensitive person, it’s very probable that you hate driving. While your road rage may not necessarily be aggressive, you have a tendency to be easily driven to fury when people cut you off. Rush hour is the largest stressor of all, as anxiety levels increase and your number of inhibitions disappear.

11. You get ‘hangry.’

After a few hours without eating, your hunger will consume your mind, causing you to act way more aggressively than is acceptable. You never meant those things you said when you were hungry, but now it’s way too late to unsay them.

12. There’s way too much drama in your life.

Your friends are always marveling at the amount of drama in your life. If you’re finding that your life is starting to resemble a never-ending soap opera, it could be because you often end up blowing most stories out of proportion due to your sensitive nature.

%d bloggers like this: