Tag Archives: values

“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


In Political Turmoil Love is a Moral Value

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2015 Nancy Virden

politics, heartsSo how did politics slip into a blog on mental health? Our values guide us and our politics. Even in political turmoil, love is a moral value. and we all know that without it we cannot be whole.

First, a definition of love

Love is action. It is caring enough about a person or nation to sacrifice for their wellbeing. When a war veteran says he or she loves America, it means something different than corrupt leader’s glib, “Gotta love America” as he or she rakes money into their greedy arms.

Love is superior to romance.  Romance is often only lust and warm fuzzy feelings. These are focused on one’s pleasure.  Romance matures when love is the overseer and leads to kindness, patience, acceptance, honesty, and consideration of each other’s feelings and needs. 

Love is a choice. In minor interactions as well as deeper connections, it is our decision whom to love.  We can treat waiters and cashiers as persons worthy of respect or as nonentities. It is up to us to forgive family members or retaliate. Applying effort to know someone is an option as is making superficial judgments. 

Politics and love

Valuing love will guide political opinions and votes. Of course I have political opinions but am much more concerned about how Jesus’ words, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”  are ignored in this world.

Plenty of self-love is evident from political leaders to the average citizen. For example, why does a populace vote on economics rather than moral character or skill? Why are innocent people in prison in the era of DNA testing? Why is there homelessness in this affluent country? 

Love is not voiceless and demands I stand up against injustice whenever possible. Nonetheless, while speaking out, my job as a follower of Jesus is to accept those who disagree and to refuse hate. Love tops politics every time.

Love and Learn

Respectful dialogue is vital. Truth on either side of an issue can withstand scrutiny. Hollering, arguing, and stubborn close-mindedness drive people further apart until no progress can occur. Learning from each other does not change the truth, it teaches us how to love each other as we love ourselves.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT)

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’


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 can be yours.

 *picture by LUSI from rgbstock.com


Gain a Mindset of Hope

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013  Nancy Virden

We Can Develop a Mindset of Hope While It Seems There is None

100_2388I have felt so hopeless I tried to die. No one could have convinced me that life was worth carrying on, although several tried. Was hope there anyway?

When was the last time you heard someone say, “Happiness is the most important thing in life”?  A business man who has devoted his career to helping others find happiness, recently said that to me. If we look at happiness as a temporal feeling that can be switched off in an instant by circumstances, it seems rather unimpressive as a goal.

I propose that hope is an important foundation in life because its existence allows for love, faith, and strength during unavoidable suffering.  

Hopelessness (I am referring to no hope at all) cannot produce love because it is too self-absorbed. Hopelessness negates the power of faith because it believes only what it sees in the moment. Hopelessness cannot produce strength when life gets hard, for there is no understanding of purpose.

When any of us struggles with major depression, we need hope for life, for feeling better, and for change to come from the inside-out.

One of the goals we hear about often these days is that of sustainability. Using renewable energy sources, training families and even nations how to be self-sufficient – it makes sense. Sustainability of hope is also important. Hope can seem as if it is just there, available, and at other times we have to reach for it. It is in those situations in which hope seems elusive that we need to know how to find it, gain it back, and hang onto it.

What is hope?

Which of the following are statements of hope?

*I cannot get back on that old spiral. I can’t go around again.

*My life could produce good,  I’m just not sure it’s worth all the pain

*People care about me, they are just focused on their own issues.

*Nothing will ever stop hurting.

*I know I have some control over how I feel

Hope tends to sound more powerful; the person with hope speaks less like a victim. With hope we know we have choices and some options concerning how much we suffer. Hope and a sense of self-worth work together. If our belief is that we are valuable, then the idea of life having meaning is more likely to be part of our thinking, yes?

Hope turns our desire for freedom from pain into teachability and positive action. Hope provides some energy to help face the next moment, hour, and day when it is tough to care. Hope allows change to come one step at a time. Hope waits for the process to work, for the miracle to arrive.

Hope feels better! Hope in its fullness allows us to smile sincerely, to love without an agenda; it is the bottom line for gratitude and happiness. A mindset of hope protects us from being swallowed up in overwhelming discouragement.100_3812

How can we achieve and sustain a mindset of hope?

Hope begins to appear when we decide to believe for it. Hope can be deferred or chosen. We can delay it because we fear that by allowing hope we will be disappointed later on.

For instance, after applying for a job, I waited to hear back.  I went through a typical process of anyone in this situation, with worry, anxiety, trying not to think about it, and trying not to raise my expectations. It was unsettling, and hurt. Nothing else took precedent over my mind while I waited. Will they call? Will there be a contract? Maybe there’s a chance they will say yes? Oh I’d better not think that, I’ll experience a greater disappointment if I allow that thought. So I put hope off – or tried to.

Does that ever actually work? The effort it takes to squelch hope will usually require far more energy and take more enjoyment out of each day than the final disappointment if it even comes to that. Our reasoning can be, if I don’t hope anymore I won’t hurt. However, pushing down hope or not getting our hopes up – that’s painful.

A few weeks later, the phone rang. The job was mine.  What a difference hope would have made those weeks. There is peace, calm, and rest in hope. What if I’d been turned down? It would have been hard. Disappointment is not worse or better because of what we do with hope. The loss is the loss, it will hurt anyway. By hoping, we have shortened the hours, days, months, and years of the pain that deferring it causes.

Most of us have lived long enough to know we do not know much. I sure have. There came a time when hope for hope was all I had, and that only periodically. Hope for hope came with an attitude of teachability. In front of me were highly trained professionals, who maybe, just maybe, knew things I did not know. They had been around this particular block many times with numbers of patients, perhaps they could see ahead where I could not. Oh, trust me, depression told me they were wrong in my case! However, teachability kicked in despite this false belief. Hope for hope whispered, I can learn from these people.

Here are some strategies taught to me that effectively grow my hope when practiced.  These have been life-saving for many people.

1. Motivating Values. When I was 26, I thought I wanted to go back to school and finish my degree. I said to a man in his forties who had just completed his doctorate, “I don’t know if I want to go back to school. By the time I graduate, I’ll be thirty!”  He said, “You’ll be thirty anyway. Do you want to be thirty with a degree or without one?”

Thinking about our values, who we want to be, is a guide for our choices. Writing down what is important to us and keeping this list available where it can be seen forces us to make one decision each day- to stick to the status quo or read the list. If we are depressed, do we want to be hopeful or would we rather stay depressed? Do we want to enjoy life, or maybe spend it hiding? Maybe we are feeling other emotions we do not like, or are behaving in a manner we do not prefer. What would motivate us to change? Do we want change?

When I see depression symptoms activating, I know it is time to challenge negative thinking and beliefs. This proactivity may not be immediate, and I may struggle to care. However, I can start turning my focus by asking, What kind of person do I want to be? What step can I take today toward becoming that person?

2. Acting Something old something newOpposite.  I felt insulted when I was told I live according to my emotions. That doesn’t happen to be true all the time, nonetheless it has been more often than I like. Hope can grow in strength as we practice acting opposite of how negative emotions are suggesting we act. Here are some ideas, most of which I have tried and found to be helpful.

Act opposite by reaching out:  Isolation is one of the first choices a depressed person will make. Ignoring emails, texts, or calls, skipping work and staying in the house, shutting the bedroom door and sleeping, cancelling plans with friends, avoiding regular social activities – all very common among those of us with depressive mood disorders. Here are some healthy opposites.

*Call 1-800 273-TALK, the national suicide hotline.

*Go to the store and say hello to people you pass.

*Say yes to social invitations and keep your word.

*Volunteer to do a job that will require regular interaction with people.

*Sit in the Living Room with the rest of the family. Just be there.

*Attend a support group.

*Make one phone call that is not a conversation about depression.

*Send an email to someone you are fairly certain will answer. Ask them to answer.

*Use phrases like, “I need from you” or “please help me with.” Talk about how you feel with a willing listener.

Act opposite by allowing support:  Decades of “Smile, you’re on ‘Make an Impression’,”  has made changing that practice a daily challenge. Problem is, that old game has no winners, and there are no rewards. Answering, “fine” when sincere friends ask how I am doing, making sure to change the subject or to ignore those who inquire, and not allowing anyone to be aware of my specific needs always leads to loneliness and reinforcement of negative beliefs about myself and the world. This common,self-defeating cycle can be bested for any of us when we bravely accept support, even just a tiny bit. Today, tomorrow, or next week, we can try again.

Talk therapy is a safer means of opening up to feelings and discovering balance. Psychotropic medications such as antidepressants  are also therapy. No, they are not happy pills and cannot produce hope. However, they make it possible for an irrational and ill mind to reason again. Then we are capable of choosing to make wise decisions, and working with a therapist can move us forward.

Act opposite by facing emotions: What do food, alcohol, drugs, sex, porn, gambling, smoking, shopping, hoarding, television, video games, and the internet have in common? Compulsions teach us that any and all addictions have similar brain reactions. What else they have in common is denial and avoidance of real issues and feelings.  I’ve observed that for these reasons, overcoming addiction is usually best done with professional and organized support.

There is an emptiness and numbness that often accompanies depression. A struggling person may feel emotionally or spiritually dead.  Then there are those who have made it a lifelong effort to not feel anything, while some have learned to turn emotions on and off.  In developing the mindset of hope, taking the time to find out what it is we are working so hard not to feel can lead to uncomfortable challenges before we become healthier. This process has played out best for me in the context of available support.

Act opposite by accepting a different perspective:  When I was raising toddlers, one Christmastime a  grandfather and grandmother were in a toy aisle with me. I heard him say as he pushed all the buttons, “This firetruck is great! Look, it lights up and listen to this!”

“Uh hmm” said his wife.

He picked up another potential gift for a lucky grandchild and said “This is huge, wow, see what it can do?” He was obviously enthusiastic, but it went beyond making a child happy as he played with toy after toy.

I turned to him and said with a grin, ”You know the toys are for the children.”

He and his wife laughed hard. He’d been caught! It’s true, is it not? We share childhood with our kids, and we see it again through their eyes. Our playfulness may light up!

A different perspective on why life has hope may chase a shadow or two out of our negative thinking.  Asking a trusted friend what they see in us that is worthy, or running our fears passed an understanding soul and listening to their response can lead to a renewing vibrancy of hope. We can decide to accept and take in their positive feedback.

Whenever my mind screams, They don’t care!! and My life doesn’t matter!, there is a quieter, barely distinguishable voice advocating for me to stay alive and rediscover hope. That is God. Accepting God’s perspective brings hope for the best life, the one we all dream about where we are loved unconditionally.

3. Change words.  Our own statements can be defeating. They can keep us stuck.  When I was sixteen, I traveled to Europe with a choir representing Ohio. Most of the trip was lovely; we stayed in local homes and sang in some of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. Language was a bit of an issue. My friend Rhonda and I were running around the Rykes Museum in Amsterdam when we saw a sign with foreign words and an arrow pointing down a long empty hallway. We followed it expecting something grand at the end, only to wind up in the middle of the men’s room. A red-faced gentleman started shouting at us, but in that context any language barrier was overcome and we hightailed it out of there!

Silly of an analogy as this may be, it applies to hope because when we are at a loss to understand the power words have, they can lead us to emotions and experiences we do not want. Using healthier terms aids in our quest for hope simply by allowing it to be an option. By replacing black and white language we gain some possibilities. Helpful exchanges include:

  • should to could
  • can’t to it will be difficult 
  • never to unlikely
  • must to have an option 
  • always to often or sometimes
  • I’m useless to I’m fragile right now
  • Taking giant leaps like hopeless to hopeful may not always reflect the truth. Instead, changing hopeless to challenged may be more realistic.

Using “Yes, and” statements validates us and allows for hope as supposed to  “Yes, but” statements which negate any good. For example, “Did you get your work done?”  “Yes, and tomorrow morning I will present my proposal to the board,”  versus, “Did you get your work done?”  “Yes, but tomorrow I have to present the proposal.”

All of these strategies: knowing our values; acting opposite; reaching out; allowing support; facing our feelings; gaining a fresh perspective; changing our words; and more, are never easy while in the midst of hopelessness and despair. They are doable. From the bottom of the pit all look doubtful at best. They are possible.breaking through

Buying into hope

I was asked, “How did you get there? How did you get to the point you could know who you are?” Anyone who reads my first book will see that as I wrote it I was in the process of discovering hope. The biggest leap was when I made a deliberate decision to not assume death to be the answer anymore and to search for life – to not glance back at suicide longing for escape but to discover what enjoying being alive means. The first step of any change is to let go.

Consider a man who is working in someone else’s field. He discovers a pearl of great price. Will he not go sell everything he owns and buy that field?  Let’s put this old story into a modern context.  A man has worked hard at triumphing over his emotional pain. He has done what he knows to do, maybe those efforts were positive, maybe they were unhealthy. Either way, hope is slipping away fast these days, and he questions why he should keep on trying. Change will cost money, time, painful conversations, digging up festering wounds of the heart, vulnerability, and the release of familiar patterns. Will he choose to invest in his mental health?  Or will he continue down the path of despair repeating those efforts that never worked?

I chose to figuratively sell everything I had and buy the field. It was not a quick decision, and to use the analogy a bit more, negotiations took over a year. Hope can be found. In our darkest times, we can choose to hope for hope or refuse it. And then we’re back at the beginning. What kind of person do I want to be? What kind of life do I want to live? How can I start today?

Hope for permanent transformation comes from watching little changes work. One step at a time hope grows as we experience positive reactions to our pain. Recognizing what we do and do not control, we learn to let go, and hang on. It is my desire that those who are struggling will find this website to be a kind of helping hand for pulling just a bit away from hopelessness.

There is a future for each of us, and we make a difference in this world. I am one who was certain those possibilities did not exist or were not worth the pain of loss. Still, holding on however weakly to the hope of other people gave me a more stable under-girding until I found it for myself.

Now I offer my hope as a lifeline to anyone who wants to reach for it.


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 thoughts on “Gain a Mindset of Hope”

(Gain a Mindset of Hope has changed location. These comments were copied from the previous post/page.  You can still comment using the button below!)

Thank you.

Nancy Virden  October 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm 

You are so welcome. I wish you the best.

Ann March 13, 2014 at 9:39 pm 

Nancy, I appreciate you in different ways: Thank you for writing on the topic of HOPE. Thank you for your practical doable challenging strategies and action steps. Thank you for your tranparency on the emotional and spiritual sides of the prism.


Nancy Virden  March 13, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Ann, Thank you, I appreciate you read my article! Nancy


It’s Time to Say NO!

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

Hand writing No with red marker on transparent wipe board.NO!

Setting boundaries is not how you stop others from acting hurtful toward you. That’s because you cannot control someone else’s choices.

Setting boundaries is taking charge of yourself! You get to decide what you will put up with and how you will respond. You have options.

Let’s use a few possible scenarios:

–An acquaintance is negative and critical of your decisions. From what you wear to your career choice, this “friend” seems to always have an opinion. You don’t like it, but assume the role of sacrificial lamb.

–You are in a demanding career. People call you during off-hours and expect immediate responses. Energy and compassion have drained from you, but so far only you are aware of it.

–Your spouse seems to look for opportunities to humiliate you in front of your friends. You carry the weight of shame and begin to believe you deserve it.

–Your child is a smart mouth and doesn’t listen to your instructions. You tire of the arguing, and so leave him alone.

Experiences like these happen every day. If you feel trapped in an impossible situation, boundaries will help! Here’s how to make the kinds of decisions that set you free regardless of how anyone else behaves.


  1. What do you want? If you want someone else to change, this goal will not be met. I am asking you to decide what you want in life, from relationships, and for yourself.
  2. Think about what you must have to know joy. For me, it is creativity. When I let art, writing, or creative processing go untapped for a few weeks I feel old and more stressed. What do you need to be happy?
  3. Write out your values. What is important to you? What kind of person do you want to be?
  4. List specific goals and priorities that will support your answers to the above questions. Make certain self-care, including the nurture of your mind, body, and soul, is at the top of your list. Without self-care, nothing else will produce best results.

Now you have a clearer picture of who you are and what has to happen for your dreams to come true. You are in a position to draw healthy boundaries.


Caucasian businesswoman putting her hand on front to say stop

I once had a friend like the one described in the first example. In the few years we spent time together, I learned much about my incapabilities, bad taste, and lack of wisdom. Unfortunately, initially I accepted the criticism and premise that I needed this person to “fix” me.  Later, after requesting a certain behavior stop and being blatantly ignored,  I had to address the question, is this the relationship I want? It was up to me to decide what was most important – protecting my mental health or retaining the damaging friendship.

Sometimes a situation is more complicated, and it is not simple to walk away. Still, you have power. Abusive spouses,  disrespectful teenagers, and demanding clientele do not own your decisions. Are you who you want to be in this relationship? Are you living up to your values and able to know joy?

In a case of belligerence from a son or daughter, is it the arguing you hate? Then do not engage in it.  Allow firm consequences be the “words” you wish to express. If your spouse is abusive, what is keeping you in the marriage? You have options – start asking for help.  People asking too much of you? Set time constraints with those who would take advantage of your flexibility. Turn off the phone, screen your calls, let people know you are off-duty.


The strength you will need to stick to your boundaries comes from your answers to questions 1-4. You are responsible for finding ways to get your needs met; it is not anyone else’s job. It is not selfish to say no because you are not able to supplant the responsibility of other people toward themselves. Can your spirit be broken by a toxic relationship? Only if you buy the negative message and stick around for more.

You are in charge.


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.

-Pictures from Kozzi.com




It’s OK to Honor You, You Have Value

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2015 Nancy Virden

“It’s okphoto-24769692-guy-in-loveay to honor you. You have value.” I will never forget the day a psychologist said this to me. 

I rolled my eyes. Outwardly I joked, but his words had almost knocked me off my seat, and made me feel uncomfortable. What is there to honor? What does honor look like?

My family of origin did not practice honor amongst each other. It was not a safe place to show fear, sadness, doubt, excitement, or love. What does honor look like? For over two years I wondered if that statement could be true. Is it actually permissible to honor me because I have value?

Thanks youportrait of a mid adult female with heart shape balloons,  gifts, and special moments- these are some ways we honor others. Respecting people’s boundaries and speaking courteously are two other honoring characteristics. How about we each learn to do these things for ourselves?

Need support? We can ask for it. Affirmations lacking? We can look for healthy people who can offer some, or better yet be courteous in our self-talk. Have a special source of joy? We can make sure it is a regular part of our life.

Does this sound selfish?

Truth is, we will struggle to show honor to anyone else if we do not believe in self-worth. How will we ever believe in God’s infinite love? 

Honoring ourselves includes honoring our values, because no one likes a phony (especially if that phony is in the mirror.)  What is important to you? Who do you want to be?

I still ponder the statement,  It is ok to honor you. You have value.  Perhaps I will always wrestle with this idea. Nevertheless I try to  practice it. That is one gift I offer to myself. 


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.

-pictures from Qualitystockphotos.com

Compassionate Boundaries: Values and Family (Third in Series)

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Mike wants to help. He genuinely cares that his co-worker Michelle is stressed-out with a dinner party, busy with sick children, has to run her mother to the airport, and will be late to this week’s meeting. She asked him if he would start the meeting for her, which involves more than just being in attendance.

If he says yes to Michelle, Mike will be gathering notebooks and pens, a laptop and projector, making the coffee, and greeting 20 people. It will be his job to help everyone feel comfortable.

Normally, Mike is shy. He is quite good at shaking the hand of a customer, easily discussing business, weather, and sports scores. It’s a different challenge altogether to make small talk with people he barely knows. While Michelle is fun on every occasion, he is more reserved. 

Already he is apprehensive with the meeting two days away! I should say yes, he thinks. Besides, she has no one else to ask.

Michelle thanks him profusely. Mike feels pleased. I’m doing the right thing, he reassures himself. 

He calls his wife, Gloria. The phone rings for some time. She’s slowing down. He pictures her easing out of bed and across the room.

“Hello?” She sounds weak.

“Hi Honey!” Mike sounds as positive as possible. “I will be unable to go to the doctor with you Thursday. Don’t worry, I’m sure Margie can give you a ride.”

Silence lingers for half a minute. “Mike, you said you would go.”

“I know, but Michelle needs me to start the meeting and I couldn’t let her down. You understand.”

“I need you too.”

“Honey, call Margie and she’ll take you. She enjoys helping out.” Mike feels angry that his wife is not simply letting him off the hook.

More silence, then a short sigh. “OK.”

Two days of busyness and worry finally land Mike in the meeting room.  He’d spent the past evening going over the list in his head of attendees, and imagining what he could say to each.  Sure, he’d told his son to wait when he said he had something important to talk about. Matt can hold off.  It can’t be that urgent, he whispers to his conflicted heart. 

Everyone sits. Mike is ready with his opening statements when his cellphone goes off. He sees it is Matt calling. Turning the phone off with a stab of guilt, he apologizes for the interruption and continues.

That evening at home, he notices his son is later than usual. “What is Matt up to?” he asks Gloria.

“He’s taking the entrance exam.”

Confused, Mike says, “Entrance to what?”

“Matt decided to attend Cambridge University.”

“Cambridge! But that’s all the way over in England! What makes him think he can get into that prestigious school?”

“Mike, he has top honors in mathematics.”

“I know that.”

“In the state.” Gloria watches Mike’s reaction as surprise and pride cross his face, then dissolve into a troubled look.

“When did all this happen?” he says.

“Mike, you are gone so much. Matt wanted to tell you. He wanted to discuss schools with you. In the last few months it seems you have been rarely available to him.”

“I helped Mr. Franklin with closing his business, been taking you to your treatments, teaching Sunday School, not to mention my job…” Mike’s words fade at Gloria’s answer.

“You haven’t taken me to the doctor in six months.  Mike, I’m fighting this disease alone.”

Our values shape our boundaries

Look over your priorities. What, and whom, do you value most? Decide this, and be aware of your time. By knowing what we must and want to say yes to, we will know where to draw healthy boundaries.

Saying yes is the same as saying no because an exchange has to happen. Do you want to say no to your highest values by answering yes to everything other than? 

Draw careful boundaries    

The best yeses fold out of thoughtful consideration. Put effort into this. No matter how noble a kind act of service may seem, it is not so wonderful if it leaves behind those who matter most.  


Other posts in this series: Friendship (1) ; God’s Example (2) Self-Care (4) ;  How to Say No (5) ; Motives Beware! (6)Refuse Blame (7) ; Refer to Experts (8)  ; How to Say Yes (9)



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.