Tag Archives: happiness

Take Charge of Those Pesky Negative Thoughts

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2015 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

closeup photo of woman in white shirt and pants
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Have you ever walked past your bed and thought, “I could use a nap”? It is possible you were not even tired before that thought occurred.

We do have control over what thoughts dominate our mind. Some of our thinking events are just habit, and like any habit, they can be exchanged for new ones. 

Think of a thought habit you do not want. If you will take the time to complete this exercise, I believe you will be surprised at the positive outcome.

Make the exchange

1) What consistent triggering event do you experience? (Example: Your mood drops when you sit on the edge of the bed in the morning,)

(2) What is your brain suggesting to you during this triggering event?  What are you thinking? (Example: “Now I have to go to work and face…” or “I don’t have anything to wear I’ll look good in.”)

(3)What is your thought habit? (Example: Associating this moment and seat with stress or negative self-talk.)

(4) What thought habit would you prefer? (Example: Associating this moment and seat with the power to make life better.)

(5) What decision do you want to make? (Example:  “I want to feel better in the morning and will exchange this thought habit.”)

(6) How will you make your exchange? Be creative with your senses and apply what you know brightens your mood. Here are some ideas.

(a)Change the environment.  (Redecorate the area; move the bed.)

(b)Change the context.  (Make this the spot for foot rubs, saying prayers, reading, or calling friends.)

(c)Change the  atmosphere. (Keep the room cheery by opening windows; invest in a coffee maker that starts before you do so you wake to the scent)

(d)Use grounding techniques that help keep your mind on the facts. (Place on the nightstand a list of accomplishments or positive affirmations from other people)

(7) Make a quality decision for when you will start. (Example: I will buy the coffee maker after work; I will write down the positives people say about me today.)

(8) What is the first action you will take next time this triggering event occurs? (Example: Read the list.)

If  you take charge of your thought life,  more happiness will greet you in the morning.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Philippians 4:8 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

***** 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.

Is it Really Okay for a Christian to Say “No, I Cannot Help You”? (Part 3)

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

two man hiking on snow mountain
Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com

Saying yes to our and God’s priorities, means saying no to extra service opportunities that take up our time and resources. This is not to say we never help or become involved! In the last two posts and today’s, I show you that love practices boundaries.

Godly boundaries focus on what God has already asked of us. This leads to a life balance in which we can glorify God with peace, joy, and freedom in Christ.

1. Aren’t boundaries selfish? I’m supposed to be focusing on others. Boundaries are godly because they allow us to be who God wants. God blesses us with individual purposes. If we say yes to gain approval from humans, we may become co-dependent or a doormat. Living for someone’s happiness means we are not living to please God. We will not develop into the person he designed.

God also blesses us with individual purposes

Jesus refused distractions. In the end, he was able to say to our Heavenly Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

2. If I do not do help, who will?  Boundaries are godly because they allow others to step up and grow. In light of individual purposes, by taking on too much we may interfere with growth opportunities for another Christian. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:6, “There are different kinds of working, but in all of  them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

3, I want people to know they can count on me. How do boundaries fit in?  Boundaries are godly because people need to depend on the Lord. By playing savior and trying to fix people or their problems, we deny them the learning process we all need to grow in faith. We have this declaration, “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:1,2.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him (our agendas and daily schedules), and he will make your paths straight.”

**** 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

“But, God…” Find Contentment in Gratitude

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

oS9w2PUIn an episode* of the 1980s TV show St. Elsewhere, a would-be comedian, a character named Murray, told the following joke.  

A giant wave sweeps a boy out to sea. His frantic grandmother runs up and down the beach crying and pleading. “God, please don’t take Joey.  If you will return him, I’ll be grateful for the rest of my life!” 

Just then, miracle of miracles, another giant wave washes the boy right up to the grandmother’s feet. She hugs and kisses him. Then she looks to heaven and says, “You know, he was wearing a hat!”

Isn’t that the way it is with grumblers? Never satisfied. Today in the United States we celebrate a federal holiday for giving thanks. Many of us here have much for which to be thankful. Still, pay attention to the news or social media for five minutes and you might think complaining is our national sport.

Grumblers have a one-word slogan, “but”. The word negates anything good that follows it. For example, “It’s a nice autumn, but winter’s coming.” “God helped me with this month’s bills, but there is next month to worry about.”  

An attitude of gratitude toward God is not only saying thank you, it is also trusting him to stay the same yesterday, today, and forever. Otherwise, thanks can turn into grumbling. Like the grandmother at the beach, we might say, “Yeah, thanks, but what have you done for me lately?”

People who live in gratitude to God are content and peaceful because they understand who meets their needs. The Bible verse James 1:17 feeds their faith. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Knowing this offers certainty that what he has given and will give is enough. 

Billy Graham, the late evangelist and “America’s Pastor” said, “Nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.” **

Today and beyond, we have freedom to choose gratitude over grumbling. Let today be happier, and Thanksgiving a lifetime habit. 

qVDDLsmToday’s Helpful Word

1 Chronicles 29:13-14

Now our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious 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.

 

Happy Thanksgiving pic by XYMONAU; Thank you by COLINBROUGH: both  on rgbstock.com

*Season 5 Episode 10

**Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Thanksgiving Day – Billy Graham: How to Be Thankful in All Things. 2013. Retrieved from https://www.crossmap.com/blogs/thanksgiving-day-billy-graham-how-to-be-thankful-in-all-things.html

What You Look for is Exactly What You Find: Discover Happiness

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

One quick look at world news, and we need a good story to wash off all the corruption and heinous crimes and abuses.

Uplifting articles are available if we will look for them. In the past week, some co-workers showed their support to a young man who rides his bike 6 miles one way to work every day, no matter the weather. They bought him a car.  In Baltimore, a returning soldier surprises his children at school.

In my corner of the world, a mentoring program initiated by our governor is teaching middle school students in Cleveland, Ohio to dream beyond supposed limitations.  About twenty people from my church are in Houston helping to clean-up after Hurricane Harvey.  A friend drove me to the hospital for a procedure and waited for hours.  These are good stories, and they are everywhere.

Will we look for them?

“Challenge yourself: Look for the positives in your day …and find happiness!  Oftentimes what you look for is EXACTLY what you find,” wrote Dr. Louis Bevilacqua, founder of Sanare Today, a multi-location holistic mental health and addictions Intensive Outpatient Program.  If he is right, then we need to look for beauty. 

There is a world of difference between looking for the positives and denying struggle.  By admitting we hurt, we remain in the truth.  This post is not promoting  ‘positive-thinking’ in the sense that we cheerlead ourselves into being who we are not or do not want to be.  Our challenge is to own up to pain, and find the equally realistic better parts of life.

Today I woke feeling down.  Despite temptation to mull over sad truths,  I thanked God for rest and warm shelter. Guess what happened next? I smiled! Choosing to acknowledge God and his love made the morning’s start easier and more pleasant.

Where are positives when life is dark?

Understandably,  critical life stressors press hard.  Sometimes our hearts feel as if they have stopped. We see only pain. Emptiness rules our days, and desperation, our nights. How is looking for the positives supposed to help then?

When I was at that point, I knew only a handful of positives outside agony.  Here is the short list.

  1. In the depths of a sense of worthlessness, I knew other people, many of them strangers in health care, wanted me to survive.
  2. Emotionally lost and unaware of my footing, I knew only that I was on my feet.
  3. When suicide seemed the obvious choice,  I knew God might have other plans.
  4. Drowning in a sense of abandonment, I knew Jesus was still present.

These facts were all but buried under hopelessness. Yet because they existed, I could look to them as glimmers in the dark. Clearly, this was no picture of cheerleading!  Combined, they were the thread that connected me to the next step. Then the next. Then the next.

Mine was a long recovery. Learning to tally the good created a space where I could start to believe in life’s purposes.  It is my hope that you will see your opportunity to look for possibilities instead of focusing on bad news. 

Today’s Helpful Word

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

*********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 is yours.

We are an Optimistic People – Look Beneath Your Depression and Uncover the Truth

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

Surprise! It’s true.

If one of your life’s battles is depression, like it is for me,  I know you are an optimistic person.  Those on the outside of our struggle use terms like negative and scary to describe our mindset.  That’s ok, they do not see.  

Do you?

According to the Cambridge online dictionary, optimistic means “hoping or believing that good things will happen in the future.”  How can this term describe us in the middle of a major depressive episode?  What relevance has optimism to our recurring mood disorder? 

Optimism is not dependent upon whether we succeed at reaching positive feelings.  In total absence of hope, we are in despair. Yet even then we can cling to the hope someone else has for us. I remember hoping for hope during some of the worst weeks of my life. That is by definition, optimism!

Depressed is how you feel.  It is not WHO you are

I know you are optimistic because…you are reading this and maybe other sources of encouragement and information hoping to discover something different from typical rhetoric about keeping your chin up. You know you need more – a reason, a rescue, a reminder – whatever it is, you are looking for it. 

I know you are optimistic because…I too have walked that mile to the shower and the second mile to a pile of clothes, searched for the least wrinkled ones and lifted those weighty garments over my head with arms made of rusty iron, when all I wanted, what I thought I needed and should do, was lay back down under the covers and disappear. You dress because you know or want to believe it matters.

I know you are optimistic because…you run sprints in your mind and use every effort to slow down. You are a bouncer in-the-making, as day and night you try to throw out painful thoughts and memories that bring anguish to your soul. You believe peace of mind exists and work hard to snatch it for yourself.   

I know you are optimistic because…you are still here.  You are not dead. Your hope has perhaps faded and may not look like light anymore. Possibly it seems a mere shadow, stalking and teasing you, trying to trick you into believing it is real.  Yet doubts hidden deep linger, causing you to hesitate, choosing once again to stay alive.

I know you are optimistic because…you wanted so much more out of life, and your entire being is disappointed. This is because you sense there could have, should have, been more.  And you are right! There is more!

I know you are optimistic because…you recognize happiness exists. In your perception, maybe “more” and “better” are for other people.  You wish you were happy as everyone else around you seems.  However, everyone suffers, and you are acknowledging that all is not hopeless for everyone. This evidence that others can come through suffering to the other side proves it is possible for you.

I know you are optimistic because…you listen to survivors of trauma and abuse as they talk about the joy and meaning they find in helping other people.  A great camp of survivors of suicidal thoughts and attempts surrounds you with a united song – it’s not over, there is hope, darkness is not all there is.

I know you are optimistic because…you are reaching out for treatment or thinking about it. Mental health professionals have devoted their education, careers, and daily lives to helping. They find satisfaction in watching thousands of clients go from despair to experiencing full lives.  You can be one of those success stories, and at some level, you know it!

Depression is how we feel, it does not define who we are. You are an optimist with a fighter spirit. Look in the mirror and say “I am worth it. I will survive. I will find joy.”

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 43:5

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,  for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.”

**********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.

*sky pic by JOHNNYBERG on rgbstock.com; girl pic from kozzi.com

Is Your Skin Hungry?

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2016 Nancy Virden

Happy National Hugging Day!

free hugsA fellow college student once said to me many years ago, “Sometimes I need a simple touch or a hug. My skin gets hungry. You know what I mean?”

We feed out tummies readily enough. Some days we feed our minds. If we feed our souls at all, it is often a limited effort. When do we feed our skin?

Babies who receive hugs thrive better than those who do not. There is standard agreement on this point all around the world. Volunteers who hold babies born addicted to drugs or alcohol do a great service, perhaps improving that child’s whole life. Mothers and fathers who touch their children and hug them also are investing in their offsprings’ overall emotional and physical health.

While physical touch benefits our emotions, they also can bring us better health. For instance, cardiomyopathy and heart attacks can be induced by broken hearts.* Stress hormones lower when we receive and offer hugs.**  Want to feel better? Feeding your skin may be part of your overall answer.

I don’t know about you, but I feel more secure when someone holds me. I love it when my sons give me hugs. It boosts my morale and lowers stress levels. This is common among adults. Kind physical touch induces  a sense of well-being, connection, and even trust. It is about our basic need for belonging, which when met can lead to positive feelings, even happiness. Hugs make us feel less lonely.

Of course, this involves brain chemicals and hormones which in some relationships can lead to lovely romantic experiences. However, “skin-hunger” is not about sex. Sad stories that have come my way include people searching desperately for a loving touch, selling out to the lowest bidder in hopes of finding that permanent security. Destruction and regret follow such choices.

Simply for the sake of clarity, allow me to mention the grave seriousness of unwanted touch. Abuse is about power and control. Hugging against a person’s resistance is a breach of private space. It is a violation. Physical touch is a matter of choice and respecting another’s right to choose. Humans who experience skin-hunger want it fed and to experience safety in the process.

Well, today’s the day! Reach out to someone near you, and with their permission give them a gentle squeeze. You could add happiness to each of you at a deeper level than perhaps you imagined.

**********

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.

*Andrea F. Polard Psy.D.A Unified Theory of Happiness 4 Benefits of Hugs, for Mind and Body. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/heart-411/201201/can-you-really-die-broken-heart

**Marc Gillinov M.D.Heart 411 Can You Really Die of a Broken Heart? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unified-theory-happiness/201406/4-benefits-hugs-mind-and-body