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!

Help! My Job is Killing Me!


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message.

I recently stopped at a local discount store to pick up a few things. When I went to check out, the cashier looked very familiar. He must have seen the question in my eyes because he smiled and said, “It’s good to see you, Mrs. Southerland.” When I heard his voice, I immediately recognized him as the manager of a local grocery store where I frequently shopped. Before I could say one word, he explained, “I lost my job at the grocery store. Evidently, I needed to change mission fields for a while.” Now that is what I call a heavenly perspective of an earthly job.

God uses our work as one of His tools to mold us into who He wants us to be. Stress comes when we view our job as our main life mission. It isn’t. It is the God-given opportunity to provide the tools we need to accomplish our life mission.

The apostle Paul writes, “Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love” (Acts 20:24, LB).

Paul worked as a tentmaker, a church planter, and an author. His purpose never changed, but his work certainly did. Many of us do not need a different job. We just need a different attitude and a new point of view about the job we have.

How do we make that happen?

Start by envisioning Jesus standing in the midst of your work place as your real boss. Then look for the life lessons God provides through your work.

God uses our work to teach us responsibility. Meeting deadlines, completing assigned tasks with excellence, showing respect for co-workers (even the abrasive ones) and working without supervision are all valuable life lessons learned on the job. When we try to cut corners, stress steps in and wreaks havoc in our attitude about work.

God uses people at work to teach us valuable lessons about relationships. Cooperation, fairness, flexibility, humility, and patience are relationship skills of a successful worker. Stress comes when we stray from the guidelines God gives us for godly relationships. Our workplace is not only one of our God-ordained mission fields, but it is also a classroom for learning to love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable. You may very well be the only sermon your co-workers ever hear.

God uses our work to teach us how to serve. The way we serve God is by serving others. God wants us to grow spiritually at work by becoming a servant to those with whom we work. It is easy to serve the people who sit beside us in a worship service each Sunday, but a real servant serves on the job … every single day. God asks us to accept others unconditionally, encourage other continually, forgive others freely, and help others willingly.

Attitudes never sit still. They constantly move and change.

An attitude is a pattern of thinking and a filter through which we view life.

We can choose to be honest about our attitude at work, and we can choose to change our attitude about work, but most importantly, we can choose to pray for God’s attitude about our work. When we can’t change our attitude, the One who lives in us can. He can give us His attitude. Exchanging our attitude for His always eliminates stress.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Give Yourself Permission to Make a Change

 

Change – it’s not something which is easy for me – or most people.  I am again learning how I can’t change the past, I can’t go back an get a new beginning.  BUT what I can do is start a new start today and make a new ending.

At the ripe old age of 61 with MS kicking my butt a lot of days, I wonder if it is to late to make changes.  I think back to the many changes I made in my career – I started out looking at law school to fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves, then it was off to Atlantic City to work in the hotel/casinos.  As my addiction progressed and finally sent me to my knees, a new passion emerged and my life as a social worker was born.  A career I would not change for the world.  I learned so much and it gave me a chance to make difference in the lives of others.  I know I am squirreling…..

How often have you asked yourself if it is too late to change careers and pursue something you are  more passionate about.  The truth is “It’s never too late,”!  If you feel led in a new direction, make a plan to transition and go for it!

Whether you are in your twenties, or  in your sixties — it is never too late.  Life is too short to settle and be unhappy.  So whether you want to change jobs, save a relationship or start planning for retirement – DO IT!  I know, easier said then done, right?

The first thing you need to do is LET GO of the idea it’s too late to change the course of your life.  Stop comparing yourself to others and where they are.  Give up the shoulda, coulda and woulda.  The world pressures us to believe everything has to happen in a certain time frame, and when we want to go a different route, FEAR steps in.  It can feel as though it is “against the rules” to follow a path outside the norm.  Who is to say what the “norm” is?   Fear will keep you stuck where you are, thinking it is wrong to change your mind about what you want in life. God will often lead you in a new direction when you have learned all you were supposed to learn at a particular stage of your life.  Have you learned everything you could for your current stage of life?

Our experiences develop us into a unique person and our path doesn’t look like anyone else’s and it shouldn’t. Believe it or not, the mistakes you’ve made – you can learn from them and use those lessons to make a change sometimes for the better..

Is it time to reconsider the things you had decided it was too late to do?  Why not rekindle your desire for change.  Give yourself permission to dream a bigger dream,  walking a divinely inspired path which is uniquely yours.  It’s not too late to try something new.  In fact, life becomes stale when you get stuck in a rut.  I know, it’s tempting to give up on the idea you could have what you really want in your life, but you don’t have to give in to temptation. Your journey becomes richer and more joyful when you remain open to your possibilities.

Here are some things it’s not too late for you to do:

  • Change careers
  • Go back to school
  • Fall in love
  • Apologize to someone you hurt
  • Forgive someone who hurt you
  • Plan a trip to your dream destination
  • Have children (even if it’s biologically impossible, the child you were meant to have may be waiting to be adopted by you)
  • Start saving for retirement
  • Get fit
  • Start taking better care of yourself
  • Turn your finances around
  • Deepen your relationship with God
  • Change your attitude or your perspective on life

Today is a NEW day and I am letting go of the thoughts of “it’s too late”.  Just for today, I am going to focus on the positive and where I want to be in my life.  I am going to open my mind to new possibilities. I’m going to take a step in the direction to achieve my potential.

Share with us, what you decided it’s too late to do.  Then tell us what steps you are going to take to move toward it? You are not alone… We can do this together.

Have ThirtyOne-derful day!

Is Impatience Your Problem? –

Patience can be developed with practice. 

As a recovering addict, patience has not been one of my strong points.  Sure I had patience (most of the time) with my daughter as a single mom BUT not when it came to other things it was non-existant.

What about you?  Is there a goal or desire are you rushing toward? What is the one thing in your life you just can’t wait to see happen?  I’m usually an “instant gratification” person but I’m working on changing which takes time (and patience).  Are you getting the vicious circle?  LOL.  It is usually the thing we want the most which take the longest like the struggle to reach your goal weight.

And while we’re waiting for things to happen, we are usually tempted to make things happen — we want the magic wand for things to happen NOW!  In most cases, the solution we find to the problem or desire is not a perfect fit and as a result we muck things up.  We get a SMACK to remind us it is time to practice patience!

The truth is a lack of patience is often a sign of fear and those inner gremlins called fear are waiting to squash your  goals and desires.  We want what we want now!  I know I am not alone, right?   We get anxious and worried then begin pushing for things to happen before their time (remember it is His time, not ours).  We need to learn to slow down.  We need to trust.  We need to breathe. Patience is an act of faith, even when we don’t know when or how things will work out.

Here are four key areas of your life where you may need to practice more patience…

Relationships

Are you short-tempered with people? Does waiting in line at the store irritate you?  Do you get impatient with someone who is trying to do something especially when they don’t live up to your expectations?  Are you scared your dream relationship will never happen?  If you are single, have you pushed a relationship to be “serious” when it may not have been meant to be.  Why?  Because you fear someone special won’t come along, or maybe you think you’re getting too old to get married, or your choices are limited so you are tempted to marry the wrong person.   Love happens when you least expect.  I was one of those who always rushed a relationship.  It was when I made the decision to let things happen it did.  In fact, I told hubby I didn’t want a relationship.  Here we are almost 16 years later and still together.  Don’t rush into things.  Be patient. Trust. I am a definite believer of when you relax about things, the door to love (and other things) will open. Are you willing to wait?

Work

Patience was a lot tougher when I worked in an office. I found my lack of patience sabotaged my relationships with coworkers and clients who came into the office.  Now with my own business, on days I have no patience, my relationships with my customers are in jeopardy.  I was a job-hopper for many years because I thought it was the way to advance in my career.  Then in recovery, I learned some patience and VIOLA things changed.  I worked for 9 years at the Aids Alliance before moving into a consultant position. Then I was with Bethel for about 7 years – both of these long term positions allowed me to put my skills to use.  Is your job hopping depriving you of the chance to let you sparkle?

Finances

The lack of patience and the need for instant gratification leads to consumer debt.  For those, with no patience, we also tend to have a sense of entitlement because we think we deserve things even if we can’t afford them.  The result is we rack up credit card debt instead of saving for things we really want.    Yup, I have been guilty of this which is another part of my addictive personality. We often play the comparison game too.  We want to be like everyone else but never realize we are probably comparing their end to our beginning or middle.  When you have a little patience in fulfilling material desires, you might be able rein in your spending.

Health

If there is one thing which takes patience and perseverance, it’s eating healthy and exercising. It took me 7 years to reach my goal weight and it takes LOTS of perseverance to maintain it.  I lost and gained the same weight many times because I wanted the quick fix.  It wasn’t until I joined Weight Watchers where I learned patience.  The results were slow and steady and before long the changes were noticeable!   Are you looking for shortcuts to good health? There aren’t any. Make a commitment to start making one change on at a time and you’ll build up good habits which lead to good health and better looks.

This week I challenge you to practice patience in an area of your life where you are struggling.  What are you afraid will happen if you are patient instead of racing to the goal line?  Practice patience. Good things do come to those who wait.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Reflection on Accountability in 2017

My word for 2017 was “accountable”. I was determined to be more accountable in all aspects of my life to reach my goals.  Let’s see how it went….

As I look back on 2017, I see so many ways in which I was blessed.  My goal was to start fresh – a new me for a new year.  By being accountable, I wanted to take responsibility for my actions – willing accepting praise and constructive criticism.

I will admit I was apprehensive about having this as “my word”,  Fear of failing. Fear of having to explain my actions. Fear of letting others down. You get it, right? Being accountable would mean I needed to be willing to share my dreams, and my plans.  I would need to share my successes and my failures.  I love helping others achieve their goals BUT honestly, I am not the best at taking my own advice. This word meant I needed to be utterly transparent, stepping further out of my comfort zone then ever before. It meant learning to love myself (the good, the bad and the ugly) unconditionally.  It meant being accountable in every aspect of my life which was scary as HELL!

I used the letters as an acronym which helped me to break things down into manageable steps.  I had the help of an AWESOME accountability partner and although may not have always communicated, we were there for each other.  Thank you Amber for helping me to let down the walls so I could grow  in my business.

Let’s look at the goals for 2017:

  1. Reach my goal weight by maintaining the new eating plan. DONE!  The doctor set a goal weight for me and I am maintaing it.  I am 95% of the time gluten free and feeling much better.
  2. Be consistent in my business with book, sell, recruit.  Consistency in my business paid off.  I earned the Leadership Incentive Trip for the first time.  My personal sales increased by 18%, and my team’s sales increased by 24%.  My recruiting was down from last year BUT I maintained the same team members throughout the year.
  3. Nurture my relationships with my hubby, family and friends.  This is an ongoing process but I am blessed to have strengthened of my relationships.
  4. Pay off some of my credit card debt.  Well, this goal wasn’t achieved but I am not giving up.

For those who set goals in 2017 (or on a regular basis), you may say – these aren’t good goals. They are not measurable nor do they have a time frame attached to them and you are right. I have found those types of goals (resolutions) fall by the wayside and are never obtained. So, this year I tried by laying out my general goals, set a plan each month to achieve them and then was accountable for each step I take. The overall results were – GOALS MET (mostly)!

Have you selected a word for 2018? What drew you to the word and what does it mean to you? Share your word with us…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!