How Do You Build Relationships?


Today I work up with the realization I suffer from “self-centeredness” on any given day.  SMACK!  When I walked back into recovery, I was unaware of how often I actually did this.  I rationalized and justified everything I did.  I thought I was being responsible.  I thought I was hard working (in other words a workaholic).  Slowly but surely I have found out what the true meaning of “self-centeredness” is and how selfish I truly was (or can be).

Self-centered is defined as “concerned solely with one’s own desires, needs, or interests”I used to say this wasn’t me!  Then I looked at some other words for self-centeredness and they included egotistical, narcissistic, self-absorbed, selfish, self-involved, and I didn’t think I was any of those either.  Yes, I was an only-child.  Yes, I was spoiled – I was an only child, an only grandchild and an only niece BUT….. You know what they say “everything that comes after the word “but” is BS!  When I thought of egotistical or narcissistic, I thought of people who were so full of themselves, I mean they actually loved themselves.  Most days I don’t love myself and there are even the occasional days when I don’t like myself so how could I be self-centered?

My first time around in recovery, I didn’t grasp this concept.  I became a workaholic and as I was recently told – “I thought your clients came before us, even though you were there for the important things”.  SMACK!  So, this is a concept I am trying hard to understand.

“I choose relationships wisely and nurture them intentionally.”

Okay, so I may choose relationships wisely but I definitely didn’t nurture them.  WHY?  Because I didn’t know how.  YIKES!  Think about it. When there is turmoil in your relationships, it impacts your whole life.  As a result, my relapse and road to being totally self-centered has effected my business, and my personal life.  It has ruined friendships, it has left me sitting on a “pity pot” and struggling to figure out the difference between being self-centered and being responsible.  You would think at the ripe old age of 61, I would know the difference.

The truth is I struggle with building strong relationships and maintaining them. Even in the relationships I didn’t  choose – family members or coworkers – I mean they need to be nurtured in order to be strong and healthy too.  So, I went from people pleasing (pre-recovery), to workaholic (recovery) to self-centeredness (relapse) to relearning the things I learned in kindergarten about making friends.  Talk about a roller coaster.  Along the way has been filled with a lack of confidence and fear which causes me to become (or at least appear to be) self-involved.  I may not always say “ME, ME, ME” although I am grateful for people in my life who lovingly point out to me when I am being “self-centered”.  It is always like a lightbulb going off.

I know this is totally a ramble and for some they will tune out because they have healthy relationships.  They are able to make the best of those relationships by setting strong boundaries, building trust where they can, and expressing gratitude when others are a blessing to them. For those few people who may relate, take it from one who has learned the hard way….. self-centeredness doesn’t always mean we say “me” or “I”, it can come out through our actions.  Do you justify and rationalize everything you do to make sure your plans stay in take?

So, for today I challenge you to ask yourself this powerful question:

What one gesture could I make today to strengthen one of my important relationships?

Are you already feeling the panic?  What if if you made a simple phone call of support to encourage someone?  What if you wrote a thank you note to someone for something that touched your heart?  What if you put your phone away and gave your undivided attention to the person you are sitting next to?  My simple gesture lately has been to put my phone away and be present in the moment.  Is it tough, without a doubt!

Believe it or not these small gestures strengthen the bonds of a relationship, any relationship. We can’t achieve our goals or meet our needs alone –  we need people. And people need us.  So, if you think any of these may be you…. step out of your comfort zone and make a gesture – no matter how small.

Wonder why you are struggling in your business?  Wonder why you scroll through social media thinking the grass is always greener? The truth is those who are most resilient and successful have strong relationships.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How To Turn Challenges into Opportunities

I have been talking a lot lately about my struggles.  Of trying to decide if the glass is half empty or half full?  My vision has been blurred (and not just by the glaucoma) with the struggle to process thoughts, find my passion and to stay focused. Do you look at the world through rose-colored glasses? Some days I do.

We’ve all heard those sayings, right?  We may have actually felt the distinct difference between viewing life with a positive perspective and viewing it with a negative one.  Positive beliefs draw more positive things, right?

My struggles with emotions is real… some days I want to curl up in a ball and cry for no apparent reason.  Then there are days when I feel like the movie “50 Dates”, you know the one where she keeps reliving the same day and is always happy.  All of these challenges hold opportunity but the key is learning how to change the mindset.

When it comes to facing life’s challenges—because we all have them—we have the change to reframe them,  appreciating how struggles help us build strength and resilience. I could be a world-class weight lifter if that was the case.  LOL.  The key is to train our minds to view these challenges in a more positive light by first reflecting on our lives, identifying those tough times, and understanding how they shaped us and made us stronger.

As I reflect on the past challenges, those I can remember, I struggle with understanding them but I do see how they have made a huge impact on my life.  I can see how the negative mindset has led me on the path of relapse and had me looking at life as if I was a victim.  As I moved into recovery, I am slowly able to embrace the positive in all of life’s challenges and move forward.

In every challenge—and in the time which follows—we build strength and resilience. We don’t have the power to change the past, but we do have the power to find the positive within the past and use it to create a greater impact today.

Thank you for sticking with me during these challenges… my blog posts tend to ramble, my Thirty One business continues despite my bad days, and The Angel Connection is starting to grow.  I guess you are wondering where is the challenge, right?  For me, the challenge in finding my passion and deciding where I want to head in the future.  How am I moving forward?  I am reflecting on these key questions:

What are you learning? How are you growing?

I’m looking for the growth from each difficulty especially in my relapse and my MS diagnosis.  I’m trying to identify new knowledge I’ve gained, relationships I’ve built, or personal growth I’ve experienced. The truth is I’m moving forward despite these challenges, which means I’m strong and resilient, right? I need to open my eyes to the positive outcomes.  I know the lessons I have learned will help me to find my passion again and decide the direction for my business.

How does this challenge reinforce what you are grateful for in your life?

Practicing gratitude has been BIG during my recovery.  I have felt ungrateful for all of the problems which came from my relapse.  I felt resentful.  I needed to find gratitude for what it’s given me and what it’s shown me. As I  look at everything in my life—the big and little things—and learn to appreciate them, it is those things which will help me during the tough times.

What boundaries will you put in place in your life to avoid future challenges and allow yourself to grow?

With the lessons you learn and the strength you build, consider whether there are ways you can adjust your mindset or actions to prevent future challenges. Sometimes life events are out of your control, but other times, you can make changes to move you toward a life of growth, positivity, and purpose.  My MS may be out of my control but continuing in recovery is something I can work on daily.

Today’s post has been a ramble, a way for me to share not only my personal struggles but to try and reframe it to help someone else.  It you are struggling to discover your strength and resilience today, try these simple steps:

  • Use the above questions to look at a challenge from your past. How has this challenge made you stronger and more resilient?  Believe it or not, it has!
  • Make a list of things you’re grateful for. Focus on the positive in your life, no matter what the circumstances. Large or small, it doesn’t matter.

Now, think about one way you can live out your purpose today—and then do it! It could be as simple as a random act of kindness or buying someone a coffee.  Living with purpose requires strength and resilience. Tap into those and challenge yourself to grow further.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Worry Wastes Life

Thank you  Sharon Jaynes for today’s message…..

Not all fear is bad. It is good to be afraid of sticking your hand in a fire, crossing a busy street with your eyes closed, or jumping off a cliff. That is good healthy fear.

Bad fear is fear of present circumstances and future events that may or may never happen. Being too afraid to step out and do what God has called you to do. Being so worried about the consequences that you throw trusting God out the window. That’s an unhealthy fear.

The Holy Spirit will warn you with a healthy sense of fear to protect you, but He will never stir up worry to stymie your faith. I’ve often heard it said that worry is a down payment on a problem you may never have. And it’s true! Rehearsing your troubles before they even happen causes you to experience them many times, whereas you were not meant to experience them but once—when or if they actually occur.

Most of the biggest challenges you will ever face will be the result of things you never even thought to worry about or even crossed your mind. They will blindside you on a Thursday afternoon at 2:00, when you never saw it coming. You will not even have known that you should have worried about the possibility! (Now, don’t let that get you worried.)

We waste valuable time and forfeit the thriving faith when we allow “what ifs” to hold us captive.

  • What if I’m embarrassed?
  • What if I’m rejected?
    What if I fall flat on my face?
  • What if I fail?

What if one or all of these things do happen when I step forward in obedience? I’ll live. God will be right there with me.

Here’s the bigger question: What if I don’t step forward in obedience? What if I ignore God’s prompting? I might miss out on one of His greatest blessings of my life.

Do you believe God loves you? I’m thinking you just answered yes. Then why do you worry that He doesn’t have your best interest in mind? He will not allow or initiate any circumstance in your life that is not filtered through His sovereign love for you. You will make it! Life might not unfold as you imagined, but when you place your hand in His and trust in His love, you will survive and most likely thrive.

Paul had an incredible attitude about the “what ifs” in his life. He had the mind-set of bring it on. The Pharisees couldn’t stand him, but they found his attitude made it impossible to stop him. They threw him in prison and he said, “That’s OK. Give me some parchment and ink. I’ll write some letters to the churches. I’ll write to them about how to have joy in all circumstances.”

They chained him to a prison guard and he said, “That’s OK. I’ll tell him about Jesus. As a matter-of-fact, I’ll bring his whole family to Christ!”

They threatened to kill him and he said, “That’s OK. I’ll get to go to heaven and be with Jesus. What could be better?”

Paul faced his fears and booted them out the door with the love of God. What do you do to a guy like that?

He wasn’t worried or concerned about his future. Paul was at peace with whatever happened on his faith journey because He trusted in the character and love of God. And with a faith like that, the natural consequence is to live bold. And that’s what we can do today

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

This Isn’t How You Planned It

Is your life going the way you planned it?  Are you living out your dreams?  Or are you on the verge of giving up? Are you working at a job which seems fruitless?  Is your relationship hitting a brick wall?   Do you get a little extra money, and then an unexpected expense saps the money as quickly as you got it?

I’ve been there and some days I’m still there.  Sometimes life is all about moving ahead when the road is long and hard. When you’re exhausted and weary, it’s essential you take charge before you burn out or give up.

Like you, I’ve been there, done that!  I never planned to reconnect with the love of my life 16 years ago. I never planned on leaving my dream job.  I never planned on being diagnosed with MS.  Life happens and the plan changes.

The best skill you can gain in life is the ability to navigate unexpected turns and setbacks life throws your way. NEWS FLASH!!!! Life doesn’t always go the way we plan it. The truth is, it rarely does.  So, let your challenges build character and perseverance to empower you to stay the course and win your race.

Here are some tips from the amazing Valerie Burton on just how to do this:

1. Stop expecting things to be easy.

The quickest way to become discouraged is to expect life to unfold just the way you planned it, with few or no obstacles or opposition. Raise your hand if this is you?  I know I’m not alone here.  Life is so much easier when the expected challenges appear –  you know, the ones you planned for.   Don’t get caught up in feeling sorry for yourself when hard times come.  This is the perfect opportunity to tap into your strengths, character, and faith to courageously face whatever life throws your way.

2. Get some fresh air.

When your inner gremlins get the best of you, and you start traveling down that dark tunnel, it might mean you need a break.  Have you been focusing on your problems, rehashing them over and over in your mind? Remember, focusing on the negative brings us more negative.  Take a walk. Do something different. Get out of your normal environment. It can energize you and redirect your thoughts.

3. Get some perspective.

Fresh air will give you perspective and clear out some of the cobwebs or maybe even blow away the inner gremlins.  The greatest difference comes when we focus on someone else’s life. When you start focusing too much on what’s wrong in your life, force yourself to notice what’s right. STOP and think of three things you’re grateful for. Believe me, you probably can’t stop at three! Now, open your eyes to others’ stories about determination and strength.  Despite what we may think, we are not the first person to face our challenges.  Look for someone who has gone through them with strength and grace? When you realize you are not alone, you will feel the rush of power. In face, you may discover someone who has triumphed through far greater challenges and can be a source of inspiration.

4. Commit to running your race to the best of your ability.

Who knows why you are going through what you are going through? It may not even be worth the energy of attempting to figure it out. What is worth your energy is expanding your character and capacity in the process.  Think about the ways will you become a better person by persevering through this? What growth do you intend to glean through it all?

5. Be an inspiration.

Yes, you can be an inspiration for someone else.  Your story may be just the thing someone else needs to hear to overcome their obstacle.  Every person who has faced a challenge has overcome them with their attitude, determination, and faith. Tackle your challenges in a way your children, friends, family, and coworkers will be inspired by your example. You can give others hope by simply acting with the courage to live and love fully in the face of fear and disappointment.

The first time I was told I was an inspiration, I laughed because the truth is, I never believed I could inspire anyone.  My life was my life full of challenges and obstacles.  Some I have overcome and some inner gremlins I still do battle with.  About 2 years ago, when the diagnosis of MS was “unofficially” given, I made a decision to allow my setbacks to build character and perseverance. Truth was my life’s journey had brought me to where I was today.  The challenges were actually a blessing in disguise.  Do I always understand it? NO!  Do I always like it? NO!

If you are struggling, I challenge you to stop feeling sorry for yourself.  It is time to gain  some perspective which will inspire and empower you.   When you get discouraged, what thought will lift you up?  Share it with us, maybe you can inspire someone else…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

What Lesson is Your Life Offering Now?

I want you to take a minute and think about what lessons your life is offering you right now.  The truth is when we change the way we look at situations, good and bad, we can actually learn from them.

God offers lessons everyday and it is up to us to learn from them.  If you are anything like me, you are hard headed (a typical Taurus trait) and may need to go through things multiple times before you actually learn the lesson. As a result, the same lessons are offered over and over again. Whether you are going through a frustrating or exciting time, there is something to learn which will prepare you for greater opportunities on your horizon.

Today, I want you to be intentional about looking for those lessons and finding ways to apply them to the daily challenges you face.  Here are five lessons you may have learned on your journey. If so, consider these a reminder today:

1. Nothing is permanent.

Believe it or not, change is good.  The first change I remember was moving from my childhood home to a new neighborhood at the age of 11.  It took me awhile but I adjusted.  Over the years of going to college, and changing jobs, I quickly learned to adapt to new circumstances, new people, and new surroundings. Nothing in life is permanent.  This fact should encourage you to revel in the joy your life is bringing right now.  It will help lessen your frustration when you encounter circumstances you don’t like. For some change is not easy, for others they have learned to roll with the punches.  Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a new job, or a chronic illness, there is a lesson to be learned.  If there is something or someone you love, in what ways could you embrace and enjoy them more? If it is something you don’t think you can handle, just hold on a little longer. This too shall pass.

2. You are either living on purpose or living by accident.

Too many people wander through life haphazardly, for the last few years I have been one of them.  I latched onto acquaintances, jobs, and life situations just because they crossed my path. I lived by accident.  It wasn’t my plan nor did I actually think I was.  I struggled to find my purpose.  A course called “Fit Within” is helping me to create a fulfilling life where I am purposeful in my decisions. Don’t make a decision without reflecting on what long-term impact it will have on you and the people you love. Pursue the things which empower you to express your values and talents. Choose to be around people you feel good being around—inspiring, supportive people who are moving in the same direction you are. Know your purpose and live in it every day in your work, relationships, health, finances, and spiritual life. Strive not to end up anywhere by accident—just because it was convenient.

3. Fear does not necessarily mean stop.

Does FEAR cripple you?  Do you want to run away or are you ready to roar like a lion and face it head on?  Fear is as powerful as you allow it to be. Most of us feel fear and take it as a warning to stop moving forward. Been there, done that and have more t-shirts then I can count!  We should see fear as a natural emotion which pops up every time we venture outside of our comfort zone. When you feel fear, keep moving. Step out of your comfort zone.  It will help you to grow AND get you closer to your goals. What are you afraid of right now which is keeping you from living your best life? Will you make a decision to move forward despite your fear?

4. Less is more.

Are you someone who shows their worth through money and material possessions?  Are you all about keeping up with the Jones’?  Do you play the comparison game?  The simple truth about self-empowerment is it comes from knowing nothing material will ever prove your worth. This is a lesson I need to be reminded of periodically.  Your worth comes from your identity as a child of God and the impact you make in the lives of others. Don’t worry about impressing everyone else. If you are a people pleaser, this might be a tough pill to swallow.  Focus on impressing God (or your Higher Power) by living the purpose for which He created you—serving and blessing others in the way only you can.

5. The power to change your life is in the choices you make.

SMACK!  This is perhaps the most powerful and toughest of lessons. Better choices create better circumstances. It’s not what happens to you which most impacts your life; it is how you respond to it. Your choices create your future. What kind of future are you creating with the choices you are making today? You can choose to enjoy your life or to be miserable. You can choose to be flexible or keep hitting a brick wall at work or in a relationship. You can choose to pursue your dreams or keep making excuses for why you can’t achieve them. The choice is yours.

What is the most important lesson your life is offering you right now? How will you apply this lesson in your future?

Today I challenge you to take an action in the next 48 hours which will enrich your life in a positive, meaningful way.  Share it with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!