Tag Archives: motives

Judging Motives: Depression Meets a Closed Mind (Or – Jeff Foxworthy Faced a Heckler)

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

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Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Can we fully understand anyone else’s motives? 

Foxworthy

Jeff Foxworthy was called “mean” by one of the audience members as he hosted the television game show,  Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.  His contestant was none other than Dan Whitney, playing his famous comedic character, Larry the Cable Guy. If you recall, Foxworthy and Whitney toured together for several years and have a long friendship.  

What might you have thought if you heard Foxworthy imply in front of millions of viewers that Larry was stupid?  

Whitney is a very successful comedian, actor, producer, and author.  “Larry” on the other hand is not so intelligent and is highly unsophisticated. Whitney and Foxworthy play off each other like an old married couple. 

Foxworthy replied to the heckler. “I’m not mean. I love this guy. We’ve been friends for a long time.”

We all judge

That situation may seem obvious because most of us know who are these two men involved in teasing each other. However,  all humans judge others – we do! It is not a question of judging or not. It is a matter of consciously challenging stereotypes, stigma, and negative perceptions.

If you have thought or said “stupid driver” about the person who doesn’t move as soon as the light turns green, you have made a negative assumption. If you assume laziness to be the problem when you see the mother in the grocery store with two screaming kids, you have allowed stigma to do your thinking.

Depression’s hecklers

As one with a mental illness history, I’ve felt the distrust and disdain of those who do not understand. Trying to explain the tunnel-vision that accompanies major depression, I told a man that for a while it feels like ‘me me me’. He said, “Yes, and that’s sinful. We are to be unselfish and loving.”

Nice.

Depression may prevent a woman or man from responding as we wish. She struggles to reason because her perceptions are negative. This is temporary. Meanwhile, of course she needs attention. He needs someone to dole out his meds. She wants to hear she is loved as-is. He longs for his friends to contact him so he does not feel forgotten.

The answer

We actually cannot understand anyone else’s motives. We must offer the benefit of a doubt, and believe a person’s explanation until facts show us otherwise. Close-minded people will be the last to learn.  Mental illness, abuse, and addiction each come with a crowd of assumptions and negative judgments.  

Let’s be leaders in setting higher examples, and casting the rallying cry for more eyes that willingly see, ears that choose to hear, and gentle respect for each other.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Galatians 6: 4-5
“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”

 

**** 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 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. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

 

On Valentine’s Day, Try These 4 Honesty Tips

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

photo-24779825-woman-kissing-her-man-on-cheek

If we want love in our relationship, we need honesty.

A woman I will call Tara, suffered from dishonesty. Her husband borrowed from Tara’s home office. If he wanted paper or a tablet, he took hers. When he needed a cord for his laptop, he replaced it with his wife’s. If he was home during work hours,  he commanded chunks of Tara’s time through long conversations.

Tara put up with most extremes. Her spouse would disappear with her car not knowing she needed it to meet a client. Borrowed items were not returned. One day he asked to employ Tara’s company for a project for his boss. Tara did the work and was never paid.

That was it. Finally, she told him off in a huge explosive fight. He claimed she never told him she wanted paid, and she said he did not take her work seriously. Oh my.

Honesty Tip #1

We are not honest when we try to be nice and not complain. Tara’s silence was actually sending the message that she did not mind her husband’s decisions. The first time she felt her husband might be taking advantage, she could have drawn a boundary.

For example: “I need my car available. It is not going to work out to lend it to you unless you double check with me first.”

Honesty Tip #2

We are not honest with ourselves when we rationalize that resentment is still love. All Tara’s denial accomplished was an eruption of built-up steam. The first time she felt anger, pausing to ask why would have been helpful.   

Had she realized she resented loss of control over her possessions and time, she could have drawn boundaries to gain it back.   

For example: “I need my printer to stay in my office. Maybe you can buy one on sale.”  (Responsibility is the husband’s to find another solution for himself.)

Honesty Tip #3

We are not honest when we deny our true motives. More than Tara wanted to be nice, she feared not being nice. She didn’t like the idea of hurting her husband’s feelings. The first time she felt this apprehension, she could have offered him validation and acceptance.

“Your life is a hectic one (validation).  I’m sorry, I want to be here for you (acceptance) , but my availability to talk is limited to lunchtime, evenings and weekends.” 

Honesty Tip #4

We are not honest when we are not clear about our expectations.  Tara fully expected payment for her work.  Instead of assuming her husband understood this,  offering him an estimate as she would any other client, would have helped. 

For example: “My company will charge your boss $_ _ _ per hour. I’ll need this agreement signed.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!! 

Today’s Helpful Word  

Romans 12:9 (NIRV)

“Love must be honest and true.”

 

***** 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.

 

 

 

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

man performing handstand
Photo by Yogendra Singh on Pexels.com

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.

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

Compassionate Boundaries: Motives Beware! (Sixth of Series)

2di5onoGod has never hired me as his right-hand gal though I have applied for the position many times. Seems he does not believe my qualifications are enough. 

He is right, of course. None of us are God. Why then, do so many of us try to change other people and be God over situations out of our control? This tendency leads to overinvolvement.  Truth is, we cannot draw boundaries for other people. 

When what we want does not happen, we are disppointed and perhaps angry. “It makes no sense,” we cry out in frustration. “I’m only trying to do what’s right. Why won’t people get with the program?”

Motives are not always what they seem

Personalizing. When Sally Sue experiences two deaths in her family and loses her job, we try to help by saying, “You can call me anytime, night or day.”

Do we not need sleep? Is there no other responsibility? At some level, we believe our role is caretaker.  If we do not stand up, who will? Her problems become our problem. It is a burden we bear.

Compassion comes from a place of sincere concern and love. Personalizing is more ego-centric. That is not to say it is cold-hearted. Sometimes it is how we think because we are human. Carefully established boundaries tell us when to step back. 

Naming the problem is helpful too. “This is Sally Sue’s problem, not mine.” “It is her life, not mine.” That honesty frees us to lend a helping hand in more sustainable ways.  

Sensitivity.  Let us face it, some of us feel more than others. Soft-heartedness is a blessing when wrapped up in healthy boundaries.  However, it can easily lead to over involvement if emotions guide all our decisions.

What relief to lay painful worries at the feet of Jesus! Not every need is our calling to serve. When we take time to formulate priorities and values, boundaries protect our hearts.   

People-pleasing.  Surrounded by friends, Billy is lonely. It seems that fitting in will forever escape him. How can that be? he wonders silently each day. I’m a nice guy.

Billy has trouble asking to have his needs met.  On a fishing trip, he accidentally drops his bait into the water. No one offers to share. At first he waits to see if anyone will, then settles into his usual role helping everyone else.

One friend leaves a rod in the truck. Billy fetches it.  Another forgot to switch shoes and is wearing his good ones. Billy trades with him and stays away from mud. Resentment grows as no one offers bait. He understands he is the odd man out once again. 

People-pleasing is about trying to gain something – friendship, recognition, acceptance, or even approval. Billy’s healthy boundary might look like asking for bait instead of wishing for others to read his mind. Another boundary may say no to fetching the rod because he is busy digging for new bait. 

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Other posts in this series: Friendship (1) ; God’s Example (2)Values and Family (3) ; Self-Care (4) ;  How to Say No (5) ;  Refuse Blame (7) ; Refer to Experts (8)  ; How to Say Yes (9)

__________________

***** 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.