Tag Archives: self-worth

Your Value and Hope are Not Decided By Holiday Circumstances

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

ngaw2pGCircumstances cannot choose for us how we think about ourselves. What I mean is, whatever is going on in life is not powerful enough to decide for us how to interpret our value or hope. 

That is because we are complex beings maneuvering through complicated lives. There is no all-this or all-that perception of the world that actually works. 

Wouldn’t it be easy if it did? Imagine if everything was categorized into right/wrong, healthy/unhealthy, and wise/foolish. What if all decisions were a simple matter of looking in a textbook? 

I don’t know. Sounds boring. It certainly takes the joy of freedom of thought out of the equation. One such freedom is the ability to choose how to perceive our value and hope and the value and hope of others. 

In answering a podcast host’s question today, I mentioned that the measure of our value and hope never changes. God’s love is constant, and his eternal promise is for all who believe on his Son Jesus. What flexes is our beliefs about ourselves, God, and the world around us.

Three questions

Here’s a challenge I try to do and invite you to join me.  When confronted with a sense of failure or lesser worth, or when hope begins to fades from view,  ask 3 questions:

Who is speaking this message to my brain? If it is a person, seriously, what is their problem? They are wrong. If the culprit is negative self-talk,  challenge the message. 

What is the meat of the message?  Is the worthless feeling coming from loss? Is the lack of hope coming from fear?  Knowing and focusing on the root issue helps us find ways of dealing with it. 

Is this who I want to be?  I was asked once if I wanted to be valued for being depressed or for finding something worthwhile to offer the world. Awareness of the choices we have – how to see ourselves, others, and God; who we want to be, and what steps we will take toward becoming that person – gives us power. Change is a possibility. Will we go for it? 

What is happening to us or around us cannot determine our value or hope. Value is inherent. Hope is always present.  Believe it. 

p3sR2m0Today’s Helpful Word

Lamentations 3:21-23

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

***** 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.

 

*forest path pic by MIMICA; autumn sky by TACLUDA: both  on rgbstock.com

For more on today’s topic, see  How to Gain and Maintain a Mindset of Hope 

Part 1 Silence No More: Go from Voiceless to Heard by Overcoming False Belief

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

The freedom to live by your values is not out of reach!

Secrets and shame equal silence

Emotional struggles, mental illness, addiction, and abuse tend to embrace secrets and shame.  We who live with them may feel voiceless and unknown.

Silence no more!  You can, with help, release those chains and stand up for yourself.  There are three obstacles to overcome first. They are covered in this and the next two posts. 

Obstacle #1:  False beliefs

My almost complete silence about experiences that were slowly destroying me, was based on false hope.  Unaware of facts, emotions,  or my role,  I scrutinized truth under a misaligned perspective.  I believed the wrong people, and did not trust my instincts.  False beliefs had no strong challenger, and served to enable abusers and prolong my shame.

This is not unique. 

False Belief – “My story is unimportant.”

This idea holds back many if not most of those who suffer. One’s experience is held up in comparison to all the evils in the world, and judged unworthy of attention.

Truth is, we all have a genuine basic need for validation.  This means simply having someone believe us, agree our pain is real,  and respond in a way that proves our experiences matter.

By dismissing our story as unimportant, we essentially deny ourselves a solution.  One therapist told me, “I have never really seen anyone move forward without validation.”

Crisis workers, helpline volunteers,  and professionals in the fields of mental illness, addiction, or abuse, may be better suited to meet this need than well-meaning friends, family, or clergy.  That is not disrespect. It is acknowledging that significant supports do not always know how to give quality validation under circumstances they are not trained to understand.

I found this safety in therapists – your experience may be different.  Keep looking until you are heard.

False Belief – “I do not matter” or  “It is selfish to waste time on myself”

Perhaps your sense of personal value is shaky.  Remember that any of us who have moved out of silence and gone on to help our families and other people, had to first invest in ourselves.

Self-doubt is powerful.  Continue learning.  Listen to positive feedback, and do not dismiss it.  Collect affirmations on a list.  Ask people you trust why you matter to them!

Believe in God’s love and your inherent value. You can start to grow this faith by reading first the New Testament Book of John in the Bible.

Finally, please consider the messengers who filled you with your sense of worthlessness, helplessness,  and fear. If they are liars, haters, narcissists, self-protective at all costs, emotionally immature, or stuck in their own false beliefs, they could be wrong, couldn’t they? What if all those negative messages are false? That changes everything!

Next 

Stay tuned for a discussion on obstacle #2, fear of what might happen if we speak up. 

 Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 2: 6-10

For the Lord grants wisdom!
    From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.  He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.  Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,  and you will find the right way to go.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.

 

******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, abuse, and addiction. 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.

Pics: Climber  by COLUMBINE ; Raised hands by COSTIQ , both of rgbstock.com

 

“Counted as Nothing at All…” 4 Choices Lead to a Life of Significance. Part Four

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

Your significance is not up for debate. However, do you wish your life had more meaning? Do you wonder if you are making a mark on the world? In parts one, two, and three of this four-part series, you learn some options for developing a meaningful existence, and for knowing that you are.  This is the last part. 

(4) Choose the promise

No doubt you have heard the phrase, “God has a plan for your life.” According to the “born-again” Christian viewpoint it is true, however only by surrendering to God can we live it out.  This may sound like only so much hogwash to some people. To those who believe or are willing to believe, this is the essence of hope for us, our families, and the world.

The short of it is that God’s plan for each person (as explained well in the 5 chapters of  1 John) is faith in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation. Beyond that, we are called to live in love toward God and each other.

Love. What a concept. Pure love is patient and kind, and does not envy or boast. It is not proud or rude. It is not looking out for #1 all the time, but is invested in the wellbeing of others. Love does not grow angry quickly, and holds no grudges.  It does not get excited about things that displease God, but is happy when truth wins out.  Love is protective, hopeful,  trusts wisely,  and perseveres. God-honoring love never fails.* 

That sounds amazing, does it not? This world could use more love like that.

When we step away from ourselves and surrender to God’s plan,  he turns what we may perceive as straw into gold. This is the promise that makes it clear our significance is not decided by circumstances or other people:

Romans 8:28. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” 

You do not have the power to know everything good that results from obeying God. Nevertheless, by choosing how you want to feel,  wisely selecting a standard for measuring significance,  and living by your values, you will know you have a meaningful existence.   

By grasping God’s promise, you can be at peace, believing it is all worth it.   

Today’s Helpful Word

*Based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

“Counted as Nothing at All…” 4 Choices Lead to a Life of Significance. Part Three

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

Your life matters. Period. Do you believe that?  By following my recommendation in part one of this four-part series, you have opportunity to choose how you want to feel.  In part two, you can choose the standard by which to measure your significance. 

Here is the third of four choices that lead to being certain yours is a meaningful existence. 

(3) Choose what kind of person you want to be 

We have to live with ourselves. That is tough to do if regret, memories of failure, or a sense of worthlessness fills our minds.  Two simple questions have the power to lift those burdens if we answer honestly and take action.

What kind of person do I want to be? 

What steps will I take today toward becoming that person?

Remember Phyllis, the retired woman from parts one and two of this series. She feels lonely, hides from social interaction due to shame over her weight, and misses being needed like she was on her job for many years.

As far as I know, she has not asked these questions. If she did, she might be surprised to discover her values once again. 

Knowing our values – certain of what is most important to us – is a guideline for decisions. Unfocused, I think all too often we allow days and years to slip past, sometimes complaining as they go.  A victim mindset is one that blames circumstances and others for disappointments. A defeatist mindset finds no reason to strive for better. Fear paralyzes us from moving forward. Questioning whether to remain the same is healthy.

I value helping people. This has been the driving force behind most of my choices. That does not mean I always do it well, or that I haven’t made colossal mistakes. Yet because helping is important, I take steps toward learning how. 

What about you? What kind of person do you want to be? What steps will you take today toward becoming that person?

Putting romance novels aside, perhaps Phyllis would enjoy reading to seniors or to children. Maybe joining her outgoing husband on one of his volunteer projects would bring her joy.  She has to decide if hiding at home or being needed is most important to her. 

How you answer these two questions will determine the power that regret, shame, and feeling worthless have in your future. Deciding to live by positive values will change your idea of the past. It will not own you anymore. You will look in the mirror and better like who you see. 

Each small step forward is a game-changer. 

Stay tuned for the final part of this series. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Joshua 24:15

“…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…  But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”   -Joshua

 

You Have Value! 6 Ways to Honor Yourself Without Being Jerk

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

What does honor look like?  

Most of us know it when we see it. Honor is courageous in harm’s way. It practices priorities despite temptations to settle for instant gratification.  Honor is honest when it is painful, and hesitates to make a promise because it will be, you know, honored.  The basic truism about honor is it values other people. 

Does that mean it is dishonorable to consider one’s own value?

We have all met braggarts who bellow and try to commandeer respect. Gossipers often want to make themselves look good by putting others down. Those behaviors are not honorable, but self-centered. Generally, people who engage in them are perceived as jerks.

What does it mean to honor yourself? 

  • Honor your boundaries. You cannot control what other people choose to do. However, refusing maltreatment is one way to honor yourself.
  • Get your basic needs met.  Developing a safe support system and using it will satisfy many emotional needs. Physical self-care too honors your body. 
  • Choose kind self-talk. Defending your value and speaking with respect are ways to be courteous to yourself. 
  • Treat yourself.  What nice, healthy gift can you offer to you? 
  • Praise yourself for a job well done. Admit when you make progress, but most of this is to be kept to yourself. Develop the character trait of humility.
  • Honoring ourselves includes honoring our values, because no one likes a phony, especially if that phony is in the mirror. 

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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.

5 Clues that Fear of Rejection is Running Your Life

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Spying

We are Vulnerable to rejection because we naturally want (and need) Validation that we are Valuable and Valued.  These four Vs are at the core of many of our choices.

A fear of rejection might become its own monster if we are not aware it exists. There are clues to consider if we want this deep-seeded fear to lessen its grip on our behavior. What is actually at the root? Insecurity, yes. Our need for unconditional love, yes. Trust issues, a past of pain and betrayal…yes, but look deeper still. Are we not afraid that in some way we might be defective and unlovable?

“I am unlovable” is a terrifying belief. If not addressed appropriately, it will come out in other ways, namely through fear of rejection. Here are five clues that fear of rejection is running your life.

Distrust

We honor our physical personal space, and keeping people emotionally at arms’ length is a form of self-protection too. It is wise to withhold complete trust until time has proven we are safe with someone, however we have a problem if there is never time enough.

Someone once pointed out that I was asking repeatedly for validation that I matter. Although true then (and in my case it had grown into a problem I needed to address therapeutically), clearly affirmation was not powerful enough to chase away my fear of rejection. That is because I did not trust the source regardless of overwhelming evidence that it would be safe to do so.

Mind-reading

We avoid complete honesty because truthfulness and humility are not our top values even if we say they are. Our chief aim is to avoid confrontation. It is much less threatening to assume the thoughts of another person than it is to directly ask.

By mind-reading, we stay in control of our perceptions. Communication has its limits because our fear of rejection overpowers any well-meaning desire for closeness. For example, Sally can assume Sam is mad at her, and in that way avoid a difficult conversation about her needs.  Sam is not mad at her, however a cold evening awaits him.

Unwarranted anger

When our expectations are not met, we experience disappointment and sometimes anger. Ideas about what someone should have known, or should have done may fill our brain. Fact is, we have established silent rules for friendships and other relationships. Because of fear of rejection, we have not shared these thoughts. Yet we are quick to blame and criticize when others fail to meet these standards of our own making.

John feels anger and resentment toward Judy because she did not ask immediately about his first day on a new job. Judy chose to wait until after dinner so they could have a meaningful conversation on the matter. John’s fear of rejection leads him to take her inaction personally instead of telling her what he wants.

Passive – aggressive responses

Snide remarks, sarcasm, implied insults, refusal to cooperate, sabotage – these can result when we are so fearful of rejection that we keep our anger to ourself. Our bodies are not equipped to hold unexpressed anger and bitterness. This is one reason patients develop ulcers, some forms of cancer, and other health problems.

By burying our strong emotions, we force them to slip out some other way. Kania mumbles her dissatisfaction under her breath just within earshot of Paul. He asks her to repeat it because he did not hear. Kania says, “It’s nothing” and walks away in a huff. Paul is left to wonder if she wants him to follow her or not. Passive – aggressive behaviors and comments are the easy yet destructive route to dealing with relationship challenges. Fear of rejection prevents us from healthy confrontation.

Fast commitments and easy break-ups

Too many young people latch on to the first potential partner who appears. Some girls give up their self-esteem, rights, and virginity by trying to hold on to perceived true love. Some boys become obsessive and jealous over a perceived threat of losing a girlfriend. Each manipulates the other. Older people who might know better are not immune, because fear of rejection leads them to compromise their values, and commit to a romance too soon.

Ben is on his fourth marriage. From the outside it may appear he casually tosses wives aside for newer models. Truth is, his fear of rejection leads to “I will dump you before you can dump me.” Some relationships hold little promise because one or both partners is living in fear of rejection.

Does any of this seem familiar?

If you see these behavior and thought patterns in your life, it is possible you too are living in fear of rejection. Ask yourself, “Do I believe wholeheartedly that I am lovable?” If the answer is less than yes, fear of rejection may have more control over your decisions than you would like.

photo-25256993-pretty-teenage-girl-hiking-outside-in-the-summerToday’s Helpful Word

Psalm 90:14

“Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so that we may sing for joy to the end of our days.”

-Prayer of Moses

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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 is yours.

*Picture from Kozzi.com

Hurricane Sandy and Abortion

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2012 Nancy Virden

Hurricane Sandy’s devastation near where I live is horrendous. Families have been without power for days now. People are leaving their homes to stay with friends and relatives.

Those who stay behind to tough it out find themselves threatened, hoping thieves and other criminals stay away. Toilets become unusable. Scared and bored children cry. There are hours long lines for gasoline and food.

Why don’t these people get out of town? They are stuck because cars have no gasoline, other people need them to stay, and paychecks depend on being at work.

Meanwhile, volunteers are entering wrecked cities.  They tell horrific stories of  damage and death. An emergency worker, a police officer, mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandfathers, babies- all suddenly gone. They woke up in the morning, and were in eternity by evening.

While we weep with those who are suffering,  we do not think it would have been better if those who died had never lived. Instead, we celebrate who they were and miss them.

Why is that?  I believe it is because they were here.  We value them because innately we value human life. Tragic loss saddens us.

I was twelve years old when Roe vs. Wade became the catalyst for legal abortions in the United States. Having heard many opinions on both sides of the issue, I was confused for a few years.

Pro-choice arguments sounded reasonable: a woman’s rights over her own body; the need for legal and safe abortion procedures to prevent women from dying in back-alley attempts; the right to end a pregnancy that threatens the life of the mother; and the right to end a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest.

This is why I landed on the pro-life side of the issue.

Imagine a pregnant mother who is having a tough time adjusting to the idea of a child.  Perhaps she feels she is too young, or too old, too unhealthy or ill-equipped. Maybe this is one child too many, or the less preferred gender.

A lack of money is perchance the issue, or the father of the child is urging her to end the pregnancy. Her family does not want to help. It is possible she does not want to lose her figure, her reputation, or her job.

Maybe the baby is an enemy’s child. Perhaps doctors question his or her quality of life due to potential physical or mental challenges. Whatever the reason, the situation may feel impossibly overwhelming. The unknown, unseen baby is not wanted.

Who does this wanted versus unwanted message effect? The mothers.

A victim of sexual abuse needs to know she has value beyond what her tormentor considered.

A promiscuous daughter of a negligent dad deserves to experience lasting love.

An abandoned single mother warrants cherishing.

An unfaithful wife must be able to receive forgiveness.

A prostitute ought to see her significance is more than money.

All women who are not victims or caught in troubling circumstances necessarily need to understand their worth.

Abortion only limits these insights. As mothers are told the life they carry is disposable, they miss the message from God that all life is sacred and wanted.

Even their own.

A watching world sees our society’s reactions. They see us helping Hurricane Sandy’s survivors. One message we are sending is, “We value our people.”

Similarly, if a distressed woman has an abortion, she and her medical team have taught themselves and others a powerful lesson. The message everyone hears is, “The selection of who is wanted or unwanted belongs to people who have something to gain or lose by the decision.”

It does not. We are inherently valuable.

Whether my mother wanted me does not determine my worth. Escape from trauma by preventing their births would not decide my children’s’ potential. The sick, injured, disabled, unviable, and yes, even the unloved deserve to live out their stories.

What we can see and comprehend in our limited capacity does not dictate the worth of human life.  Mothers, preborn children, and the rest of us caught up in the hurricanes of debate over abortion rights are priceless.

We are here. 

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