Category Archives: Emotional Health

Assertiveness

 

 

 

“No, I cannot help you, I am not available then,” but in my mind I am saying, I will not do that again. You stepped upon me once before and left me injured there. I will not be in that place again, although you say you care.

Assertiveness is a skill that I am learning how to use. It gives my heart protection and keeps me from being abused. It means that I will say how I feel at the time the event takes place rather than waiting and trying to please, or rather than saving face.

“Do you have a minute? We need to talk,” I said to my colleague and friend. “Just a moment, I’ll be right there,” she said as she rounded the bend. We went into a private room and there discussed the scene that had unfolded just moments before leaving me embarrassed, it seemed.

I will stand and hold my ground, I am just as important as you. I need not cower or run and hide, to myself, I will be true. For I am strong, and I am free to choose how I want to live. And God, He will be with me. For me, new life He did give.

“You say I did this thing to you, you may feel rightly so,” but in my mind I am saying, Your choices you made, you know. I cannot take the credit for making you what you are. The things that you have done before are bringing you this far.

©2017 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe today,  for your emotional health!

Abuse is Never Okay

Abuse

 

 

“You are less than the dust of the earth! You should never have been born! You can’t do anything right! You shouldn’t even be here! You are just a worthless piece of junk!”

We’ve all heard these words before, either from the mouth of someone we love, or from a supposed friend or colleague.  Abuse is all about power. The one in authority demeans, belittles, and intimidates, taking no consideration for the needs of the victim.

Just like a spider spinning a web around its next meal, perpetrators of abuse form a wall around their victims. They limit the person’s ability to access resources and connect with the outside world. Before long, the victim feels like a puppet, only able to act according to the perpetrator’s will and pleasure.

Abuse occurs in many forms: namely physical, emotional, intellectual, sexual, social, and financial. The most difficult form of abuse to identify and eradicate, however, is self-abuse. We hold ourselves hostage under the most cruel and inhumane treatment and end up feeling hopeless and worthless.

No matter the source, the traumatic effects of abuse wound our precious souls, leaving scars that may never heal. How can we tell if we are abusing ourselves or others? Is it possible to stop before it gets to the point of causing irreparable damage?

According to Hidden Hurt, Domestic Abuse Information, victims of abuse have low feelings of self-worth, tend to be emotionally or economically dependent upon others, experience depression, accept blame and guilt easily, are often socially isolated, tend to appear anxious or nervous, and have poor relationship skills.

When we recognize that we are experiencing these types of issues, we would do well to look at how we are treating ourselves. Are we self-critical, self-demeaning, and self-punishing? Do we make ourselves go through extreme measures when we make a mistake or say something we shouldn’t, even to the point of withholding forgiveness?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” we are at high risk of abusing ourselves and others. The expectations we have are so high that we beat ourselves up before we even start. Our relentlessness may spill over into our relationships with others as we hold them to unrealistically high standards rather than providing much needed encouragement for them to grow and blossom.

Our Savior said that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt. 19:19 KJV). When we accept our own personal weaknesses and imperfections and allow the Savior’s atoning sacrifice to be efficacious in our behalf, we feel his unconditional love for us and in turn, are able to love others.

©2015 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe todayfor your emotional health!

Leave a comment – When was the last time you were kind to yourself?

Its Okay to Feel Good

Contentment

 

“I don’t feel good,” we often say when we are under the weather. We get a little bit of extra rest, eat right, and relax from the stress just long enough that we get back on our feet again. But do we really give ourselves permission to feel good?

As Christian men and women, we often get the mistaken notion that it is bad for us to feel good, that if we feel good, we must be doing something wrong. Perhaps we haven’t given enough of our time to help others, we haven’t sacrificed our own needs long enough for our families, or our suffering for the cause of Christ has not yet reached the level of purification that we think we need.

We examine ourselves and find that we come up short; therefore, we dive in once again, overworking ourselves, denying our own needs, and making sure that we give all that we have and then some. Unfortunately, the day comes again where we are physically exhausted. We say, “I don’t feel good” and we take some time off and do what it takes to get back on our feet again.

It is a never ending cycle, the notion that we have to give more and more until we are empty, unfulfilled, and in essence, burned out. Is that what God really meant when he said, as quoted in Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”?

Our motivation to love the Lord tends to slacken when we give so much that we have nothing left. We lose sight of the purpose in what we are doing, and may even turn against those we previously served willingly and ably. We realize that there is a limit to our physical strength, and that we cannot give love when we feel emptiness in our souls.

Christ paid the ultimate price so that we wouldn’t have to. How does this apply in our situations? Our love of the Savior comes as we recognize the personal nature of his atonement. We connect with him when we experience a small portion of the pain that he went through for us individually. Loving him in return motivates us to serve others.

It is not necessary, however, for us to repay the debt that we owe. We cannot be more than we already are. It is our responsibility to set boundaries in our lives to make sure that we do not overextend ourselves. Getting adequate  rest, nutrition, and nurturing allows us to not only feel Christ’s unconditional love, but to share it with others.

Feeling good is not an event; rather a choice that we make. We find contentment as we pause, feel our Savior’s love, and find peace in the process of becoming more like him.

©2015 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe today,  for your emotional health!

Leave a comment – When was the last time you gave yourself permission to feel good?

Back on Solid Ground

Back on Solid Ground

 

 

After 8 days of travel and 4,000 miles, it feels good to have our feet back on solid ground! We enjoyed our holiday excursion around the country, visiting family in Washington state, Utah, and Missouri, before finally returning to North Dakota. We saw all seven of our children and nine grandchildren. Holding them in our arms was like tasting a little bit of heaven!

Although, we had checked the weather, planned a route to take, serviced our vehicle for the drive, and purchased needed supplies, nothing could adequately prepare us for the long trek we had undertaken. Like a ship out of harbor, we left behind the familiar and ventured into the unknown.

With the sights, sounds, and feelings of home far in the distance, we faced the frantic freeways, frustrating fast food restaurants, and fleeting excitement of holiday shoppers. We navigated around semi-trucks stranded in a snowstorm in the mountains of Northern Idaho and sloshed through sand and snow behind plows in Colorado.

Each segment of our journey brought new experiences, unfamiliar faces, and more adjustments. We couldn’t just go blindly forward, hoping for the best. We had to sit down, check the forecast, look at the planned route, and decide when would be the best time to go forward.

Many times in life, whether by choice or by chance, we wander away from the familiar and enter into the realm of the unknown. We think that we have everything ready, that we have thought through all the possibilities, and that we know where we are going, but somewhere, somehow, we face a dilemma that we had not yet considered.

Just like on our trip, we never know when a storm will ensue that leaves us wondering if we are going to make it. We muster all our knowledge, tenacity, and strength to bring about one single goal, that of survival. We gather all who are in the vessel with us to assist in hopes that the combined efforts will somehow be equal to the task.

Unfortunately, sometimes we are unable to come back home, and we must start over again. Our emphasis on meeting our daily physical needs helps us rebuild. Getting sufficient rest, nutrition, and physical activity bring back a sense of normalcy, that familiarity we so desperately need that enables us to re-establish our sense of identity and purpose.

It is in these moments of extremity that we become better acquainted with God. We plead with him to spare us, to allow us one more moment of life, one more day of breath, that we might see our loved ones again. In so doing, we come full circle. In him, we find our home. We put our feet back on solid ground.

©2015 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe todayfor your emotional health!

Leave a comment – Tell about a time when you have ventured into the unknown.

Deep Breathing Brings Calm

Deep Breathing1

 

The teenager had been in my office before, but this time was different. His mother dropped him off at the door, and then was gone. Usually she waited in the car outside. He did not come directly into the room but paced back and forth in the hallway.

I waited for him to slow down a bit and then invited him in. He slunk into the nearest seat, his shoulders hunched over as if warding off a blow. I sat down across the table from him and scattered some colorful magnets onto the surface. I did not say anything, just built a three-dimensional figure with the magnets. Eventually, he felt comfortable enough to join me.

We talked about the problems he was having with school, his part-time employment, and especially his family. The more he talked the more relaxed he became and we were able to address the anxiety he was experiencing. I told him that there was something he could do at home that would help.

I had him lie down on the floor, flat on his back, and bring his knees up to form a tent, or upside down “V” with his feet flat on the floor. I told him to relax his shoulders, and put his hands on his stomach, then breathe in slowly counting to the number five.

His stomach rose with the inhalation, and then when he exhaled, we counted to five again. With each deep breath, his anxiety diminished and his tense muscles relaxed. The more he breathed deeply, the more well-being he felt. After only a few moments, he was ready to go forward and face the day.

We talked about how to use this technique, even if he could not lie down, the key being to breathe slowly, moving the diaphragm down and allowing the stomach area to expand. The vacuum created would bring air into the lungs. Then, as the diaphragm relaxed, the air would be slowly pushed out through the mouth.

This simple action decreases feelings of anxiety by providing the following physical benefits:

  • concentration on the breathing action clears distressing thoughts from the brain
  • the heartbeat slows down, decreasing pressure on arteries and veins
  • blood moves more slowly, allowing greater nutrient absorption in the muscle tissue
  • nerve impulses decrease, dissipating feelings of stress
  • as the body relaxes, the spirit calms

Not only did this young man feel the benefits of decreased anxiety, he was able to have renewed feelings of self-reliance. He had a tool that he could use at any time to help increase his feelings of well-being.

Give your soul a break today. Breathe deeply, for your emotional health!

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe today.

Leave a comment – How has deep breathing been beneficial to you?

Affirmations

Affirmations 1

 

I had never heard of affirmations until my stay in the mental health unit. There, I learned that it is necessary to nurture myself in order to keep my emotional health. Affirmations are one way to do this. They are one sentence statements containing truthful information that speak to our souls. Repeated regularly, they build up our feelings of worth and give us the ammunition we need to fight the distorted thought patterns that try to take over.

A favorite affirmation for me is “I am a worthwhile human being.” I sing it as a vocal exercise starting on a low note with the syllable “Ah” and slurring up an octave higher with “I”, then coming down the scale with the words “am a worthwhile human being.” It gets my heart pumping and my feelings of worth strong.

In Overcoming Fear of the Unknown in the Workplace (see article), I talk about the difference between irrational affirmations and rational ones. When choosing affirmations, we have to be careful that we do not set ourselves up for problems. See the examples below from the article:

Irrational Affirmation – I am in control. Problem:  being in control means we are responsible for the outcome. When the outcome is not good, our self-worth decreases.

Replace with this Rational Affirmation – I am prepared. Benefits: preparation breeds flexibility. When outcomes do not look good, we are able to rethink what is happening, change our course of action, and keep our self-worth intact.

Irrational Affirmation – I am important. Problem: feeling important makes us think that our needs will be met by others. When they are not, our feelings of importance decrease and we loose our self-esteem.

Replace with this Rational Affirmation – I am needed. Benefits:  no matter where we serve, there is always something that needs to be done. As we see these things and act on them, our feelings of self-worth increase, as well as our value to the organization.

When we choose affirmations that build our feelings of self-esteem, we re-enforce the innate worth that we already have. This gold mine in our souls is a never-ending source of strength and stability. It keeps us moving in a positive direction, no matter what happens in life.

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe today, for your emotional health!

Leave a comment – What is your experience with affirmations?

Choosing Life

Choosing Life

Everyone should spend a week in a mental health unit! It is literally a life-changing experience; at least it was for me. The first time I went, the doctor who admitted me swore that I wasn’t like the others there. How little did he know! It had taken years to stuff my bag of emotions and develop the distorted thinking patterns I was using.

I was admitted for other reasons. The medications I was taking for health problems were out of balance, and I was an emotional wreck. The goal was to adjust things gradually until I was back to “normal.” My husband purchased a greeting card that had a picture on the front that looked just like our doctor. It read, “The doctor says that you will be back to normal in no time.” The verse on the inside quipped, “That will be a first!” We both laughed!

Life at our house was anything but normal. We had seven children ranging in age from six months to twelve years. The roller coaster ride I was on affected our entire family. My doctor finally realized that I was going through menopause and started treating me for it, along with my fluctuating thyroid, hypoglycemia, asthma, allergies, and developing arthritis.

The sign on the nurses station said, “What you see here, what we do here, let it stay here when you leave here.”  At the time, I didn’t understand. Now, looking back on the experience, I think differently. If more people had a glimpse of what those with mental illness suffer, perhaps they would get help sooner. I know it made a difference for me.

During my week there, I saw what happens to people who try to commit suicide and don’t succeed. I heard the horror stories of dysfunctional families, problems with the law, and poverty. I saw the scars, both mental and physical, carried like battle trophies from war. It was then that I decided that suicide was not for me, no matter what happened.

The hysterectomy I had five years later allowed my physical health to come back to me. For ten years, I had fought an emotional and physical battle that had occupied every waking moment. Now it was over. Finally, I could do the things I only dreamed of before! I had everything, I had my health! Unfortunately, that was not the case. I did not know how to live.

The day I picked up the handful of paring knives from the drainer and saw them in my mind’s eye going into my chest, I was scared. The sun glinting on the cold steel brought me back to my senses, and I called for help.

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe today.  

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