Tag Archives: Boundaries

In Over Your Head and Want to Get Out?

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

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Over and over. It seems never to stop. Just when life slows down, we repeat what has never quite worked for us. We say yes to too much.

It can help to know why we keep spinning in this cycle. Like a child playing Hide and Seek, if we do not know what to find, we cannot play the game.

9 possible motives to consider

If one or more fit, you will know what to change to find life balance. 

1. ImpulsivityWhen in doubt, don’t. If you are like me and most opportunities seem to be the right one, then pause. Not much in this world is going to change dramatically if we take the time to pray, think, and discuss before committing time, emotional energy, or money. 

2. Past trauma Physical or sexual abuse can teach us we have no boundaries over our bodies. Emotional abuse gets too little press. Its damage teaches us we have no worth and therefore it is appropriate to ignore our needs. Covert sexual abuse (sexualizing a child), and verbal abuse train us to believe that a flawed human’s opinions are the measure of who we are or will become.

One of my favorite promises was shown to me almost fifty years ago at children’s camp. A sympathetic counselor read Psalm 27:10. “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” God the perfect Father heals our pasts by healing our tender inner child.

3. Place-holding We humans are generally easily transfixed by power or the spotlight. Check with yourself; is your goal for saying yes that people see you?  Trying to become everything for everyone for fear of losing status will wear us out in no time. 

4. Personalization– Take responsibility for what is not yours to carry or is out of your control, and you have found the fast-track to false guilt and anxiety. Perhaps we want to involve ourselves in a situation to a degree, yet must draw the line at owning external problems. It helps to remember “It’s Liam’s family,” “It’s Sally’s job,” “Not mine.”

5. People-pleasing Fear of rejection brings many of us to say yes beyond what is helpful. What is the worst that could happen if we draw a boundary and say no? Someone will be mad? That is more their problem than ours. They will either find other help and respect our right to choose, or maybe we are better off without them.

6. Guilt –  Misinterpreting reasonable personal boundaries as unkindness is more false guilt. Maybe this idea is spilling over from some unresolved past. Is there an internal condemnation perhaps from a legalistic view of one’s spiritual duties?  Guilt can lead to over-compensation regardless of its source.  

7. Projection A woman on Shark Tank started a business selling comfortable dresses to busy moms. The soft dresses are good for playing with children without requiring a wardrobe change for work. During the show, she explained her reason for the dresses is that her mom did not play with her as a child.

Applying what we have learned through hardship to encourage others is a great motivation. That is what I try to do every day. 

It is not so healthy to assume others suffer and feel as we do, thus projecting personal disappointments into situations. We try to resolve our struggle through “fixing” the happiness of others. This can push us toward over-involvement.

8. Building a legacy – Experiencing internal validation and value through helping others is not wrong. It is a natural, God-given result of good works. Yet are we satisfied? Committing to too much will repeat itself if our desire for validation from people does not come fast or often enough. Be careful. If you are hoping for a statue in your honor, you may end up covered in pigeon dung.  

9. Mistaken responsibility – Someone says, “You owe me.” Maybe it is true and the better part of valor is to repay a kindness. However, if you cannot you cannot. For example, maybe your child needs an operation, and the other person is asking for money. You may have to say no and reserve your cash for your child. 

Have you ever thought or heard someone say, “no one else is doing it so I guess I have to?” Whew! This is a familiar road to too many yeses and resentment. God has the whole world in his hands and does not need us to fill every possible empty position in our workplace, the church, or anywhere else. Burn-out comes from doing it all by yourself.

Do any of these motives fit you? Congratulations on your discovery! If you need assistance changing deeply held tendencies, consider a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) professional’s input. 

Today’s Helpful Word  

Luke 10 40-42

 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 

***** 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

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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
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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Draws Boundaries

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

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When Jesus went off by himself to pray and walked away from the crying masses, he was teaching us that it is not only necessary to say no sometimes, it is godly to love fully with boundaries in place. If it feels like you are selfish or unkind unless you agree to jump whenever a friend or loved one says they need you, consider the following.

Boundaries protect our ability to love 

How often have you felt something you signed up to do was too much, and you were tempted to shut yourself in and never say yes again to anyone? Contrary to what we often assume, boundaries save relationships.

About 8 years ago, I hit a needy patch. I reached out to two friends whom I’ll call Ms. Boundaries and Ms. Intentions.

Ms. Boundaries listened to my sorrows and expressed concern. She said, “I’ll check on you soon”, and she did. There were days between her contacts. My emotions told me I needed her more than that. She was patient, compassionate, and assured me she cared, but drew her boundary. She was not slave to my emotions, not co-dependent, and not a doormat. She made no false promises.

Ms. Intentions also listened to my sorrows. She said “I’m here for you. Anything you need. Contact me any time.” My pain seemed all consuming to me, so it was easy to take her up on her offer. She answered every plea.

Ms. Intentions burned-out and seemed to resent her loss of freedom. Her inability to say “no” encouraged my dependence on her. Suddenly, she disappeared from my life. I haven’t heard from her since.

These years later, Ms. Boundaries and I are still friends. Knowing her limits and preserving herself saved our relationship for which I am grateful.

Which individuals actually show support in positive, meaningful, and effective ways? Is it the one who gives freely and gladly, or the one who gives with a smile while internally cringing? The person who does not make easy promises; or the one who fails to deliver on impulsively offered promises? The friend who remains a friend, or the ex-friend who walks away in frustration?

Love draws boundaries.

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.

Are You Handling Your Complicated Life, Or is It Handling You?

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

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Most of us want to be the type of person others can count on. We hope we are a good friend, spouse, parent, and worker.  

Life’s dramas and stressors sometimes overshadow these most important parts of living.  Are you the person you want to be? 

Think about your challenges with life balance, and with making positive and meaningful connections. Then ask if your way is working.  If it is not, perhaps you would like to join me in trying a different way, one proven successful.

How Jesus handled his complicated life

One of the reasons Jesus could serve as he did is because of his boundaries. Jesus loved well and practiced self-care. Unless we embrace his how-to, we cannot expect to experience the effectiveness, freedom, and wisdom he did.

1. He knew his mission; do you know yours?

One morning, while it was still dark, Jesus left where he was staying and went off alone to pray.  Later, several men went to look for him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus said, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages— so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Paraphrased from Mark 1:35-38)

Notice Jesus did not serve everyone when it would detain him from his priorities. He knew when to say yes or no regardless of pressure from others.

2. His getaways versus your getaways

In the Bible book of Matthew, we read an account of one of Jesus’ very busy days. As it was growing dusk,  he decided to feed the crowd gathered to hear him preach. They had been together for three days and were hungry.

After he miraculously stretched a few fish and loaves of bread into enough meals to satisfy about 8000 people, he dismissed everyone and went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.  It is recorded that shortly before dawn he came back down and joined his disciples. (Paraphrase of Matthew 14: 15 -25 )

Israel, where this took place, generally experiences dusk at 7pm and dawn at 6am. Allowing time for his disciples to pass out the food and to clean-up, it appears Jesus was in prayer for about 8 hours.  This is how he re-energized, by spending time with His Heavenly Father. 

3. Joy was his source of strength.

It was the prophet Nehemiah who encouraged his people to choose joy because it would give them strength to do God’s will. He said, “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8: 8-10)

Jesus came right out and said, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!  This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12

His joy was complete due to obedience to God his Father, and by giving and receiving love. Is this where you find joy?

4. Jesus’ choices versus your choices

John the Baptist was a great preacher in Jesus’ time. He was a relative of Jesus and a friend.  He was murdered when they both were about 31 years old. When Jesus heard what happened, he withdrew to a private place, no doubt to grieve and pray. 

Crowds followed anyway. When Jesus saw them, he “had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Paraphrase of Matthew 14:12-14)

Jesus made room for service when it was inconvenient, setting aside his personal grief momentarily.  However, this was not his only response.

5. Jesus held to boundaries. Do you?

Jesus was a celebrity, with clamoring fans from all over his country and beyond. Huge crowds wanted to hear him and have him heal their sick bodies, and ill sons, daughters, friends, servants, and other loved ones.  Some wanted him to raise their dead. 

Look at what Jesus did. He “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Paraphrase of Luke 5:15-16 Sometimes he simply withdrew from the needs and demands of a hurting world, and made room for self-care.

You can see it is not selfish to balance your life. Not everyone needs you all the time.  It is wise to weigh your priorities and pro-actively seek joy. 

Today’s Helpful Word  

 Amos 4:13
“He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind … the Lord God Almighty is his name.”

 

 

***** 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.

Help Hurting People Without Hurting Yourself: Summary of a Plan that Works

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Your family member, co-worker, spouse, romantic partner, friend, employee, or student is depressed. Majorly depressed.  You wonder how you can help, if you should become involved, and when life will return to normal.

What can you do with all the mixed emotions you are experiencing? You fear too much stress, and perhaps even a case of your own depression. The key is insight.

Insight guides your compassion 

Before we can operate in a meaningful way, we have to start with knowledge. Depression is one word with two definitions. You may hear, “I am so depressed, this weather makes me want to stay home in bed.” That is an example of the first definition: a state of being sad, low mood, feeling down.

Depression under the second definition is a potentially disabling or fatal condition. Several serious, combined symptoms, causing observable struggles with daily functioning, will occur most of the day most days for at least two weeks before a clinician will diagnose major depression.

Every one of us has nights we wish we did not have to wake up in the morning. Grief, burnout, and bad days are part of life.  Yet most people will never experience anything more than these blues. This is why  understanding the difference is beneficial as you care for your loved one who is majorly depressed.  

Insight into personal boundaries helps you and your loved one cope

Thoughtfully established boundaries protect you from losing peace of mind. Contrary to a familiar definition of “lines in the sand,” boundaries are not about stopping someone else’s negativity or demands. Think about it – you have no control over other people’s choices or over external events. None.   

Your power begins when you draw a circle around yourself. Ask, “What will I allow in here with me? What will I accept from others? What will I carry, and how will I respond?” 

Healthy boundaries are not selfish! They are doable and successful. Compassionate Boundaries, a nine-part series of posts, shows the way.  As you develop your yeses and nos, freedom will surprise you.

Meanwhile, boundaries based on realistic limitations protect you from burnout. You remain present and able to help your depressed loved one without resentment.  

Insight into what to do or say heals your fear

We want to do what is right. Stigma and myths cause us to hesitate out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. The gold standard of support is letting  one who struggles know you care. 

No, talking about depression does not make it worse. No, your loved one cannot snap out of it.  Yes, professional treatment works for most people. Yes, you can confidently know what to do if a person speaks of suicide. Yes, you have many options. 

Non-critical acceptance is important. Scolding does not help. Invitations, gifts, acts of service and more, provide some water in the wilderness of depression. Anything you have to offer matters, even if you think it is little.

__________________________________________

BookThis Practical Seminar: How to Help Hurting People without Hurting Yourself

This seminar is designed to shed insight into depression and anxiety,  show practical ways supports do help, and provide necessary tools for healthy boundaries which protect everyone concerned.   
  • Analogies and stories
  • Interactive 
  • Practical answers to common questions 
  • Factual responses to stigmas and myths 

Please email Nancy at NancyVirden.hope@gmail.com, or use this convenient form.   For more information follow these links:   Testimonials      Bio       

___________________________________________

***** 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.

4 Possible Motives for Taking On Too Much (and how to restore balance)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Last night, a friend said he feels like a heel because sometimes the injustice of this world is too much to process and he makes himself not care. He blames his lack of feeling on an apathy he is convinced must reside at his core.

My friend is not apathetic; he is overwhelmed. He feels powerless. He beats himself up for not experiencing what he has judged to be the correct reaction.

We are going to feel powerless when we are powerless. A key component to developing healthy, compassionate boundaries is to recognize what we can and cannot control. Hint:  we cannot control other people or external events. We can only hope to manage our reactions.

Motives are choices

If we find we are frustrated, burned-out, or emotionally or physically dysfunctional because we have said yes to solving an overwhelming number of dilemmas, we need change.

Today you can learn to recognize some unhelpful motives that keep us stuck in patterns of saying yes. Also you will read practical tools for adjusting your life’s balance.  Let’s use the following scenario to guide us.

You have left your job one afternoon  extra tired because you have much to accomplish in the few days left before you leave on vacation.

There are errands. Pick-up gifts for the nieces and nephews; drive Bobby to his play practice, and then go home – to wrap presents, grab a snack to share, and head out the door to the neighborhood holiday party. Don’t forget to pick up Bobby!

Then Tina calls. She wants to talk some more about her divorce, the unfairness of her husband’s lawyer, and maybe she will ask you for gasoline money. It’s always “gasoline” money, although you never really know. 

4 possible motives for taking on too much (and how to restore balance)

1. Taking on responsibility for someone else’s difficulty can lead to false guilt. Empathy is important. However, there’s a difference between feeling with and feeling as if.  If you carry someone’s pain as if it were yours, you will likely feel more trapped into trying to relieve or solve it. Healthy compassion feels with, but does not own.

It helps to name the owner of the problem and say it aloud. “That’s Liam’s job loss”, “It’s Sally’s depression.” In this case, “It’s Tina’s divorce, not mine.”

2. Have you ever said or heard someone say, “no one else is doing it so I have to?”  As a director of children’s ministries years ago, I used to carefully upkeep church bulletin boards. Later, after that position ended, the bulletin boards stayed stagnant.   Children’s ministries continued fine without anyone spending hours on bulletin boards.

Not everything we think must be done is our responsibility or even necessary. Consider before committing, “What is the worst possible result if I do not do this?” In Tina’s case, she may have to find someone new to lean on. She will when you are gone on vacation anyway. Let guilt go.

3. The term ‘people-pleasing’ is a misnomer. Fear of displeasing people is the actual motive behind this self-protective behavior. It is only by saying yes to everything that we feel safe.

For example, We fear displeasing Tina, so we give her $20 for the third time. We fear the neighbor’s unhappiness so we  offer to host the next party. We fear our nephews and nieces disappointment in us so we buy more gifts than is necessary. 

Seeking validation and a sense of worth by helping others is not wrong, just backwards. We all need appreciation and acceptance. Nevertheless, as a motive, it pushes us to too many yesses when that validation doesn’t come fast or often enough.

Look at and test the evidence. Are there people who say no and remain appreciated and loved? Yes. Name them. You see it is possible, so why not you? Say no to something small. Did you survive? Keep practicing until what you are saying yes to matches with your highest priorities.

4. Sadly, past trauma may have taught us  that we have no innate boundary rights. An unresolved history may leave us with internal condemnation.  Talking deeper issues out with a therapist is a reasonable investment for a lifetime of freedom.

Truth is, compassion leads us to want to help. It can seem odd that sometimes the most compassionate choices involve saying no, drawing boundaries, practicing self-care, or not trying to fix anything.

Not much in this world is going to change dramatically because we took the time to pray, think, and discuss before saying yes and committing. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Self-Care in Healthcare: How Boundaries Prevent Compassion Fatigue

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries (As originally published  on CIA Medical at : https://www.ciamedical.com/insights/self-care-in-healthcare/  )

Self-care. When I first heard the term used in a mental health context it came across as selfish. After all, are not  the good guys supposed to focus on rescuing, saving, helping, and serving other people? To me, self-sacrifice was the holier route to achieving ‘good guy’ status.

Due to a variety of health events over the years,  there are many remembered kind faces of medical doctors, first responders, nurses, mental health professionals, aides, and volunteers  that fill me with gratitude. Never are we more vulnerable than when we cannot control scary things happening in our bodies and minds. The service these people provide is irreplaceable for our overall well-being as much as physical health.

What then, of healthcare staff who commonly face trauma and tragedy and want to be  difference-makers? How vulnerable are they to our pain, horror stories, and deep wells of need?

Compassion Fatigue is real

Compassion Fatigue is one term describing the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder experienced by some professionals who are in the thick of helping traumatized patients. Other terms are vicarious traumatization or secondary traumatic stress. Psychology Today reports a survey conducted by PBS Adult Learning Satellite, which reads, “86.9% of emergency response personnel reported symptoms after exposure to highly distressing events with traumatized people”*

Physical and psychological symptoms of Compassion Fatigue may emerge over time, including a growing apathy toward the work, patients, and other relationships. While it may be a struggle to admit, if left unchecked and unaddressed, a caretaker’s ability to help suffers, perhaps leading to an end of career. Talking to a mental health expert is the best recourse for prevention and healing.

F. Oshberg, MD,, author of “When Helping Hurts,” emphasizes the need for understanding Compassion Fatigue and its process. “Compassion Fatigue develops over time … Basically it is a low-level, chronic clouding of caring and concern for others in your life … Over time, your ability to feel and care for others becomes eroded through overuse of your skills of compassion.”**

Three lists to help sustain a long-lasting career in healthcare

I believe the key to maintaining effectiveness includes self-awareness and honesty.  My seminar, How to Help Hurting People Without Hurting Yourself, expands on this idea.  Gaining knowledge about Compassion Fatigue or any other such vulnerability is important, and awareness of one’s need for self-care is a grand beginning to sustaining a long-lasting career. It is honest exploration of exactly what are one’s priorities, strengths, and limitations that is crucial.

If you are in healthcare and work with traumatized clientele, consider creating three lists. In one column thoughtfully write out your commitments and prioritize them. Make sure your basic needs are at the top, and include those people closest to you.  In a second column write out your strengths –  work-related, psychologically, and otherwise. Then honestly and with careful self-awareness, list your limitations. These can include time constraints, temperament, and where your skills are weakest.

These insights will direct your boundaries. For example, such a list teaches me that while empathetic (strength), my work and relationships (priorities) are deeply affected by stress over what I cannot control. It is important to limit hearing detailed stories of abuse or else I may kick-off my major depression (limitation).  Clearly, I am not well-suited for a career working closely with traumatized people! Still, this provides a general idea of the type of analysis I’m suggesting you complete.

Drawing boundaries based on your lists is perhaps the kindest gift you can offer to yourself and to those patients who rely on you. Knowing and not crossing them prevent pitfalls of various kinds including Compassion Fatigue. Ultimately, boundaries preserve best care options because professionals are operating in healthy mindsets and not heading out the door.

Interestingly, your patients will learn from your choices as well. By watching healthcare providers practice personal and professional boundaries, I learned self-care is not selfish. These people retained the capacity to heal because they did not allow my troubles to overcome their sense of role and responsibility.  My self-care muscles grew because I was not unnecessarily rescued at every turn.

Are you taking care of yourself? A quiz

By answering a few foundational questions, you may gain some clarity on your need for self-care.

  • Do I have the facts about possible dangers to my mental health because of my work?
  • Do I understand my role in the lives of my patients?
  • Am I confused, even a little, about appropriate boundaries?
  • Do I know my priorities? Is self-care on that list?
  • Am I growing angry, apathetic, or emotionally exhausted?
  • Am I who I thought I’d be when I entered this profession?
  • Will I look into talking with a therapist about possible compassion fatigue?
  • Do I believe that I matter too?

Self-care is up to each person who deals with trauma’s aftermath in other people’s lives. Gaining knowledge about Compassion Fatigue, understanding one’s needs, and applying  healthy boundaries will make a difference between overcoming or being overcome.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 23:1,2 

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength.  

 

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Comments are always welcome (see tab below).  NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*Babbel, Ph. D., Susanne. (2012, July) Compassion Fatigue: Bodily symptoms of empathy. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/somatic-psychology/201207/compassion-fatigue

**”Compassion Fatigue. The American Institute of Stress.” The American Institute of Stress. N.p.,n.d. Web. 18 March. 2016. http://www.stress.org/military/for-practitionersleaders/compassion-fatigue/

How to Survive Your Unwanted and Painful Negative Self-talk

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014, 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

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Our inner bully is one of the cruelest voices we hear. There are unkind people who will reinforce what it is saying. It is our choice not to listen to negativity. 

“If you are going to talk to me that way, I’m not speaking to you anymore!” I said.

My foe had recently started the conversation. “You are so annoying. No wonder people do not want you around. You don’t fit in anywhere because you are so weird.”

This time I stood my ground. “There have been friends throughout my life who enjoyed spending time with me. I like being unique and there are those who appreciate who I am.”

“I doubt if that is true,” said the verbal abuser. “I could name names right now of those who reject you. Including me.”

“I can name those who have not,” I said.

That is when I shut down the dialogue with myself.

Sound familiar? Negative self-talk is a primary fuel for false self-defeating beliefs, and depression.

How your negative self-talk started

Beliefs form when we receive a message from a significant source. This could be from parents, teachers, or even the media sending a broader message to society.  Any source we consider valuable and do not dismiss offhand can plant a seed of belief in our minds.

For it to become a solid truth to us, experience has to support the message. For example, if the seed was that you deserve bad things to happen to you, and something bad does happen, that event can be interpreted as evidence backing the initial message.

However, the necessary third component in formulating a belief is that we have to repeat the same message to ourselves. So you see, our self-talk is powerfully influential.

How to survive (and change) negative self-talk. 

  1. Question past messengers’ credibility. If the person sending negative ideas was a narcissist, a liar, had ulterior motives, was emotionally unable to meet your needs, or was well-meaning but ignorant, what effect does that have on their message or on our memories? What if they were wrong? That changes everything, doesn’t it?
  2. Look for evidence to the contrary and do not dismiss it. You believe you are incapable? Count all your accomplishments, big or small. No matter if you judge these as unworthy, they do prove you are capable. Take that in.
  3. Let go of the past.  While it is unfortunate any one of us has been hurt, you do have a say in how long you allow that pain to define you. Forgiveness starts with burying self-blame and allowing yourself to be human.  Then forgiveness of others will be possible. 

Success!

Negative self-talk used to be my constant. Despite my faith in a loving God, friendships, two great sons, and more, the inner voice doggedly told me I was worthless and unlovable. Because of strategies and hard work, eventually those automatic negative thoughts gave way to automatic denial of their truth. They still come around, however do not hold the power they once had. 

You can survive the inner bully and overcome. You can!

Check out How to Gain and Maintain a Mindset of Hope for practical strategies that worked (still do!) for me.

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 3:22-24

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight.  He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

 **********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

picture from qualitystockphotos.com

 

 

As an Entrepreneur, Use Expressed Boundaries to Preserve Business Relationships

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Let’s be upfront with each other. If your entrepreneurial business goal is to make money at all costs with little regard for the people you work with or for, this article is not for you.

If you are trying to build or maintain a sustainable business that nurtures relationships within and without the company, you will find the following information encouraging.

Craig* works closely with clients in one-on-one meetings. As a psychologist who owns a thriving business with a growing number of offices and employees, he also interacts with entities and those who represent them.

Craig is kind and savvy. Early in his career he learned the value of professional boundaries, particularly as a therapist. It’s personal boundaries he sometimes struggles to articulate.

What’s the difference?

First, let us understand what boundaries are and are not. Boundaries of any kind are not about preventing others from making decisions that can potentially hurt  you or your business. You have no control over external events or people. Healthy boundaries place you in the powerful position of deciding what kind of person you want to be, what you will allow in, and what you will refuse.

Craig’s professional boundaries help prevent a most costly confusion between client and therapist. He limits his availability, clients are responsible for building other support systems, and generally these rules are explained well. In building a business however, the stakes are different. Money is on the line. He takes on heavy responsibilities as all entrepreneurs do.

Because of this business focus, he “forgot” a twice-given promise he made to Justin, a less obviously successful entrepreneur, who was counting on him.

Craig never wants to cause harm. Yet by speaking in generalities, he allowed personal boundaries to go unexplained. He found himself in a bothersome relational situation with Justin he preferred not to confront. The rush of business pressures gave him the excuse he needed in the moment to avoid Justin and disregard his word.

The broken promise led to a series of events of which Craig was unaware. His fellow entrepreneur’s feeble success was damaged because Justin too had made promises expecting Craig’s to be fulfilled.  Ultimately, Justin’s reputation and confidence took a hit, and part of his business closed. 

This is not an indictment against Craig or anyone’s business decisions that seem appropriate to them. Choosing to remain uninvolved is absolutely fine unless we start making impulsive promises we are not committed to keeping.

Go ahead and draw personal boundaries. These are vitally important for your emotional, physical, mental, and even spiritual protection! I encourage you to spell them out, or at least do not blame another person for misunderstanding if you do not.

Well articulated personal boundaries preserve the health of current and potential business relationships by preventing situations that make you feel trapped and ready to run.

Today’s Helpful Word

1 Corinthians 10:23

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.

 

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*name has been changed