Category Archives: Mental Health (General)

Dear Supports, The Line Between Concern and Control is Not So Fine. Here are 10 Differences

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

people sitting in front of wooden table
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

A mother in her late sixties consistently criticized her forty-something son’s job hunt, marriage, and child-rearing. In turn, her daughter-in-law sent her accusatory letters telling her to back-off. 

Over many years, a variety of people had tried to tell the elder woman that her controlling attitude was damaging to her family relationships and ability to work well with others. For as many years, her stubbornness told a different tale; she knew she was right. 

Finally, after losing two careers and a lifetime of closeness to her children, she asked, “What am I doing wrong?”

She asked me. Her question stirred a thoughtful process that led to the following ten-point general comparison between concern and control. 

As supports of anyone who struggles with mental illness, abuse, or addiction, our role is often uncomfortable. We have to make a decision, deep in our character, as to whether we will respect each person’s freedom to choose. After offering what help is reasonable, will we let go?

Two supports in my own struggle with major depression showed opposing attitudes. One said,  “God brought us together so I can fix you.” The other said, “You are powerful, Nancy. You can get through this.” 

Which one do you suppose is still my friend?

Control versus Concern- what is the difference?

1. Concern wants to extend love above all else. Control desires results above all else.

2. Concern is humble and eager to learn. Control knows the answer.

3. Concern actively listens and validates with genuine interest.  Control does not listen.

4. Concern offers hope based on knowledge, insight, and wisdom.  Control offers pat answers, quick-fix solutions, or false hope based on incomplete understanding of a person and his or her needs.

5. Concern accepts responsibility for one’s own life, and patiently leaves others to take responsibility for theirs. Control criticizes, manipulates, and tries to force its will. 

6. Concern offers help when asked, or asks before helping. Control assumes ways to “fix” a situation or person with or without consent.

7. Concern respects the privacy of others.  Control shares what is told in confidence, and  wants in on gossip and rumor.

8. Concern feels some worry, yet also experiences peace by letting go. Control repeatedly expresses frustration and disappointment at slow or unwanted results.

9. Concern feels empathy, pain, or grief, but does not have to own what is not one’s problem. Control takes personally another person’s troubles. 

10. Concern of a Christian believer points people to Jesus. Control is self-worship that can blind others to God’s miraculous power. 

This is not about perfection, it is about growth in love. We all can pass between concern and control at moments. However, making the mistake of living as a controlling person harms relationships and damages those for whom you care so much.

Today’s Helpful Word  

James 3:13-18

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth…  

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

 

6 Steps to Overcoming False, Negative Messages About You

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

person pulling travel luggage
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Some baggage from messages learned in childhood is severely heavy, others less. Even the kindest parents were imperfect. In our childish minds we may have misinterpreted what was meant to be helpful.

Society failed to teach us emotional safety or the truth about the inherent value of human life. The church failed to present a pure gospel devoid of man-made rules. Other individuals disappointed us in myriad ways, because this is a fallen world. 

Regardless the source or reason, some negative messages became false core beliefs. 

Message: “You never get anything right”   

Experience: You make a mistake

Repetitious self-talk: “I knew it. I never get anything right.”

A belief starts with a message. Experience has to back it up whether it is only our perception or reality. Then we have to repeat the message to ourselves. That is how a belief starts; otherwise the message remains only a thought.

These beliefs, often buried deep inside and out of sight, strongly affect our decisions.  Meanwhile, we are responsible for what we do with what we have been given and taught. 

6 steps to overcoming false, negative core beliefs

1. Ask, “What do I believe about myself that is negative?” Write it down.

2. Question the messages. “Were they true?”  Reconsider using terms like “always” or “never”.  If you believe you never do anything right, look about you and write down all you have accomplished in the last 48 hours. No matter how small you think the accomplishment, it is evidence to the contrary of “never”.

In the case of any belief, evidence will crumble on the false side.  It may feel more comfortable to stick to familiar beliefs. That does not make them true. 

3. List all the evidence that defies negative beliefs about yourself.

4. Ask, “Do I know who taught me these negative messages?”   Y/N    Name them. 

5. Question the messengers. Are they mature and responsible? Are they liars? Narcissistic? Are they emotionally capable of realistic insight?  Maybe they are repeating unchallenged false, negative core beliefs of their own. 

What if they were wrong? That changes everything, doesn’t it?

6. I invite you to find God’s evidence of the truth about you. In the Bible are many passages proclaiming his unending love, and the sacrifices he made to have YOU with him forever if you will so choose.  

Today’s Helpful Word  

Proverbs 20:5

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,

but one who has insight draws them out.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Let Personal Boundaries Set You Free

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

men s black and white long sleeve shirt
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I called an insurance company, and the phone was answered by a chirpy computer which introduced itself with, “Hi, I’ m Ashley, manager of customer happiness!”

I like the idea of someone managing my happiness. How easy it would be to make my happiness their only concern! No person (or computer!) can do that for me.  In the same way, none of us has the power to make or break anyone else’s happiness.

It is our responsibility to be the person we want to be, to live the life we want, just as it is the responsibility of others to choose how they want to be. It helps to know what we are and are not responsible for when we choose personal boundaries. 

What are you responsible to do?

  1. Manage someone else’s happiness
  2. Be the person you want to be
  3. Place your decisions under the guidance of God
  4. Make Yes/No decisions according only to your emotions
  5. Build and nurture positive and meaningful connections
  6. Rescue people from the consequences of what they’ve sown
  7. Rearrange your priorities every time someone says they need your help
  8. Put up with abuse
  9. Entrust others to the Lord.
  10. See that your own needs are met.
  11. Practice godly priorities
  12. Be the problem-solver whenever an external crisis or drama occurs
  13. Keep your eyes and mind open to the realities others face
  14. Pray
  15. Be self-sufficient and never ask for help

(answers below)*

Moses led a nation of more than a million people, serving as their only judge. He worked long days, and people who needed his intervention stood in impossible lines in the desert heat. 

One day, his father in law came by.  He asked, “Why are you the only judge? And why do people come to you all day?”

Moses said, “If people have an argument, they come to me, and I decide which person is right. In this way I teach the people God’s laws and teachings.”

But Moses’ father-in-law had a healthier solution in mind. He said, “You cannot do this job by yourself. Yes, you should explain God’s laws and teachings to the people.  But you should also choose some of the people to be judges and leaders under you.” (abbreviated from Exodus 18).

When we want to make a difference in the lives of people, understanding what  boundaries to draw has to do with awareness of our limitations. 

What are your limitations?

  1. What I can afford to spend ______________________
  2. How do I need to limit my emotional energy?
  3. How do I need to limit myself physically?
  4. Do I have time to spare? List how many hours and on what  days of the week and what time of year, etc.
  5. What skills do I have?
  6. Are there other personal limits?

No, we cannot make anyone else happy. If a person chooses negativity, our personal boundaries protect us from becoming negative too.

Know what are your genuine responsibilities, and respect your limitations. In this way, you avoid losing yourself and living for someone else.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Proverbs 19:2 (CJB)
“To act without knowing how you function is not good;
and if you rush ahead, you will miss your goal.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

*answers to What are you responsible to do?
  1. no
  2. yes
  3. yes
  4. no
  5. yes
  6. no
  7. no
  8. no
  9. yes
  10. yes
  11. yes
  12. no
  13. yes
  14. yes
  15. no

Let Life Seasons Guide Your Best Boundaries

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

trees by lake against sky during winter
Photo by Natalija Mislevicha on Pexels.com

I’m binge-watching ER when I have time. (Is it technically a binge if you have to schedule it in? Whatever.) The emergency room drama originally aired for 15 seasons. Characters came, left, and returned. Plots twisted amid sirens, explosions, and the occasional surprise birthday party that never seemed to surprise anyone.

The episode I last finished featured Alan Alda, playing a frustrated doctor who had recently received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. He had to stop treating patients and begin teaching instead. His portrayal has me thinking about the seasons of our lives, and not in a melancholy way.

Seasons of life are helpful guides for deciding where to draw boundaries.

For example, my current life season is busy. Leisure time has to be penciled in because my physical health demands it. Imagine that a recently married young adult with a baby on the way, is beginning a new career. Do you think this is the time for him to take on leading a scout troop? 

Below is a list of many life seasons we may pass through.  Obligations, free time, and energy vary as the years pass.  

⇒ Youth    Young adult    Middle age     Mature

⇒ School    New career    Career prime    Career change    Retirement    Unemployed   

⇒ Single   Newly married    Married, no children   Married with children    Single  again   

⇒ Exploring volunteerism     Regular volunteer work     Irregular volunteer work     Change of volunteer focus      No volunteer work

⇒ Physically Healthy     Emotionally stable     Mentally healthy     Physical and/or mental health challenges      Burned-out      Disabled

⇒ Financially dependent    Financially free      Limited income    Poverty

⇒ You have adult children     You have grandchildren     Other family living with you      Care-taking or other exceptional family demands

What seasons are you in today? How can recognizing this help you make wise decisions with your time and money?

No one can do it all at every stage of life; Even in a TV show, the more selfless ER characters have to carefully select their priorities in order to be effective and make a powerful difference.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Ephesians 2:9-11

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Yes or No Exchange: You Have the Power to Plan for Freedom and Joy

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

man standing on street
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Every YES is a NO.  Every NO is a YES

What? It’s true.

This is not about lying or playing jokes. It is fact that each time you agree to a plan or activity, you are simultaneously choosing not to to do something else. Every yes is a no.

Flip it, and your every no is a yes to an alternative. 

This matters when priorities are lost in the mix.  Under my list of primary yeses, I would include my faith, family, and myself. If that sounds selfish, keep in mind that my faith demands service to others, and doing so is part of my joy and purpose.  It is trickiest when the more intimate parts of my relationship with Jesus  (like prayer) and self-care (like sleep) compete for time due to busyness. 

That is where planning and structure come in.

Establish priorities 

1. What are your current commitmentsthings and people you cannot ignore without disastrous consequences? Be specific.

2. What are your values? What kind of person do you want to be? List by most important.

3. What do you want? Decide what you want in your relationships, and for yourself. Write down what you sincerely hope for generally, long-term, short-term, and in the situation you are in now.

Asking ‘what do I want’  can shed light on why you are in a situation.

If you want someone else to change, this is out of your control. If a person is regularly crossing your boundaries and not changing even when you are communicative about the issue, maybe it’s time to ask, is this the relationship I want?

4. Are your own needs met? Y/N Which ones are not met?

You have legitimate basic needs, too. If they are not met you will grow weak. Think about what you must have to know joy. What do you need to be happy? Where are you on your list of priorities? Are you on your list? Put yourself on your list.

5. Are you engaging specific goals and priorities that support your values?  Which ones?

6.After completing this analysis,  think of all the activities in which you are involved.

List what you believe are your YESes and NOs

In the end, know it is you making your decisions. You are not trapped. You have the power to plan for freedom and joy.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Psalm 32:8-11

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

Many sorrows come to the wicked,
    but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
    Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Follow this Plan for Stronger Emotional Health and Relationships

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

pexels-photo-975436.jpeg
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

You live inside a cube with a window and door. Each of us does.

With you in your cube are what you value, and what makes you who you are. Your family, church, job, and hobby are in there. So are your favorite entertainments, and deep thoughts. In one corner is a dark spot of flaws and selfish behaviors.

All our cubes are filled in the same manner.

As you go throughout your day, bumping into other cubes, maybe annoyance grows.  Inside your private space with unchallenged ideas, you feel safe.

It is simple to dehumanize others we refuse to see.

Observe and connect

Open your window and watch from a distance superficially.  Possibly some faces look back at you making assumptions. You presume to know what they are thinking.

Communication is empty of understanding.

Ah, the door. Swing it wide and invite others in! Expose the real you. Take responsibility for your decisions. When you and at least one other person are welcome to enter and leave each other’s cubes freely, your basic human need for positive, meaningful connection will be met!

There is joyous give and take, generous communication, forgiveness, and honesty about darker egos. That is how we learn and grow.

Be emotionally healthy

You have no control over whether other cubes open. Let them go. You will not have freedom with everyone. However, it is not healthy to stay hidden inside, never reaching out, sharing, or helping.

It is not healthy to allow someone else to live in your cube trying to meet all your needs. It is equally not healthy and is dangerous to stay in another person’s cube, living for his or her happiness.

Whether family, friends, or romance, choose relationships wisely.  Within a positive and meaningful connection you need validation, to know someone values you enough to be involved, and genuine acceptance. Look for these.

A connection is ready 

Jesus offers all three.  He knows every second of your existence. This validation and acceptance is proven in Psalm 139. Jesus also showed how much he values you when he left heaven to sacrifice his body for your eternal soul.

If people in your life refuse to connect, remember you have One who always wants you to know him as he knows you.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Psalm 139: 1, 16 

“You have searched me, Lord and you know me… Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

A Toast to 2019

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

rcuM3Tw (1)

Here’s to starting over!

Placing one searching foot in front of the other, may we find stability on Truth’s solid ground. Daring to ask and learn beyond familiar knowledge is a rare and precious trait.

May our flailing hearts steel themselves with eternal hope. Advancing against negative odds and uncertainty requires courage from the Highest Power. 

Let our words burst forth in constructive thought. Wisdom deplores hate and vain arguing. It speaks peace,  love, and possibility.   

May this next year be better than the last!

Happy New Year! 

New Year toasts have been a CompassionateLove Blog tradition for nine years. 

 2011    2012    2013    2014    2015   2016   2017    2018 

A Helpful Word for 2019:

9 Ways to Place Yourself in Mental Health “Intensive Care”

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

2dRXCHI

A time of reprieve and emotional healing follows difficult struggles with depression.  It is as if God is saying, “Come now child. I know you were just beat up. Let’s sit awhile, I will bandage you, and we can talk. Only rest and know you are safe.”

Ah, the tender heart of the Almighty.

I have learned that when I feel most like giving up – whether it be hopelessness, money concerns, schooling, or  burn out in some other area, the answer comes right after a sense of defeat. 

Repeated experience has taught me to respond differently. When my mind screams. “I can’t,” now I add,”You (God) can.”  When life is too much to bear, I recall that I have survived the worst.  When emotions are too much to handle, relief and healing begin in the embrace of the Heavenly Father.

You have probably heard that it is okay to not be okay. That is true! At difficult times, we may need to put ourselves into mental or emotional health intensive care.

For me, this means stopping everything and focusing on repairing my thought processes.  From simply praying in my home, to therapy and even psychiatric hospitalization, taking care of myself is the primary means of restoration. 

9 ways to practice intensive care

  1. Take a break for awhile. If you feel as if everything is closing in around you, step back and rest.
  2. Call on God for wisdom.
  3. Seek professional diagnosis if these struggles interfere with daily functioning, especially if it has been going on for a few weeks.
  4. Struggles that seem insurmountable can ease up by reaching out for support and hearing a new perspective.
  5. Eat right
  6. Sleep right
  7. Breathe.
  8. Putting yourself in mental or emotional intensive care is more than taking a mental health day. You may need several.
  9. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, for safety and health go to the actual Emergency Room. 

Trust that sometimes hope hides behind pain. It does not disappear. To find it again, consider paying vital attention to your well-being. Place yourself in mental health intensive care.

Today’s Helpful Word

Zephaniah 3:17 

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

Struggle is Normal. Overcoming is Normal Too

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

woman with yellow backpack standing on hanging bridge with trees
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

It is normal to struggle. 

It is normal to struggle. 

Say that to yourself, and then say it to others.  Not everyone knows this truth. 

Recognize Normalcy

I’ve spoken well of previous therapists who helped to move me from suicidal despair to a life of hope and joy.  I was encouraged to change unhealthy thinking patterns and habits.

Due to my temperament and life experiences, much of what I felt in this process was a sense of failure at life. Had I known how normal my struggles were, how they are so common they have names in the psychology books, I would have felt less shame. 

Since that time, my research relating to advocacy has uncovered the truth. It is extremely beneficial to learn that much of how I’d been responding to life’s challenges was normal, even predictable, under the circumstances I’d been given.

Explore your possibilities 

If you equate struggle with shame, let it go. Humans have more in common than many of us realize.

Stress will produce anxiety. Ask, “What is known to help the myriad of people who overcome anxiety?” 

Depression is caused by many factors. It is appropriate to find out, “What works for the millions who recover every year?” 

Being an abuse survivor has some predictable outcomes. Your best question is, “What have others done to overcome horrible lies and victimization and to live to the fullest degree of joy?”  

Within our struggles, God offers good gifts:

  • The help of others
  • Opportunity to rely on Him 
  • Chances to refocus on new purposes

You see, overcoming is normal too. It happens all the time.

Stick to living, taking one day at a time. Allow yourself the privilege of humanness. Take advantage of God’s gifts. You will join the throng of people who make it through.  

 

Today’s Helpful Word

Hebrews 13: 5b-6

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with  confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*  crossing the bridge- Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

5 Uncontrollable Things We Try to Control (and Make a Mess of It)

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

woman riding on black vehicle
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

We like control. That’s not weird.

Control is good. We want to control our toddlers because they do not know how to be safe. We must control our cars or people will be hurt. Controlled tempers keep us out of fights and jail. Self-control is wise.

Focusing on what is within our control helps keep us sane. It is when we try to force influence over uncontrollable things and situations that we and those around us suffer.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) lists “Accept that you cannot control everything” as the number one way to deal with stress and anxiety.* The following are, I believe, common fuels for anxiety and possibly depression.

Five uncontrollable things we wish to control 

Other adults. We have zero control over the choices of others. Efforts at gaining control leave us frustrated and angry. Abuse is an obvious attempt at control, but so is political  vitriol. I know of a daughter and mother who rarely speak to one another because of disagreement over politics. No one in this scenario will change her mind, so what is the silent treatment for? 

Other drivers.  Yesterday on a local freeway, a driver weaved dangerously close between cars at about 85 miles per hour. It is amusing that my travel at a legal pace landed us at the same spot about five miles later. Trying to own the road makes a fool of an impatient driver. No one admires the person whose road-rage so easily overpowers good sense.

People groups. Whether the group is different by race or gender, age or belief system, pointing and accusing will not change anyone. One talk show host pointed to the TV camera and said, “Jesus was just a man.” In the same breath she condemned  believers who value sharing their faith. This hypocritical attempt at control (it is okay for me to share my beliefs but not okay for you to do so) will not enlighten a person, let alone a society. 

The future. No doubt this sums up all the rest. If designing the future was up to us, we would not suffer or experience disappointment. As it is, the doctor may have difficult news, a future spouse’s parents may not like his or her choice in a mate, relationships end, and sometimes we fail. Trying to control any of this will leave us fearful of facing the next day.

God. God is the king of the unknown. I claim Jesus as my Savior and worship God the Father as the one in Sovereign control. He has never let me down, so shouldn’t it be easy to let go and let God? Trust is difficult when my focus is on fear of potentially unhappy circumstances rather than his goodness. 

I suspect this is the same reason many try to design their own gods. By controlling one’s object of worship, this god cannot demand what one does not want to give. Trust and a sense of God’s love are absent. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 34:4
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

*https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress