Attitude Changes Everything…

positiveattitudechangeseverythingYou ever watch people and wonder why some are successful and others are not? Lately, that’s exactly what I have done.  I am not talking about success only in terms of financial wealth or status. I am talking about how people deal with life, their jobs, families, relationships, or their personal goals.

I have met people who could find one job after another with no problem and others who were always out of work and when they finally landed a good job, they were immediately in conflict with their bosses and let go.  I have known leaders in organizations who were confident and candid, thought of as rude, yet quite successful and other leaders who were thin-skinned and passive-aggressive, who were thought of as nice, yet stuck in place. I have seen strong and independent types as well as weak and co-dependent types.  I think about the people who were genuine and those who were phony. When I think about different people, especially the ones that were not happy or joyful; the ones who were anxiety-ridden and those who were highly insecure, I believe I have found the reasons some people thrive in life and others do not–it’s their Attitude!

First, I believe there are physical and psychological problems people deal with every day. I do not deny that people have real physiological and mental problems. However, I also know that many times success in life has very little to do with a medical issue, it has everything to do with how people see their world.

positiveattitudesmileyfaceHow do you see the world? How is your their attitude towards whatever it is you are dealing with? Do you see the glass half-empty or half-full? Do you see your part in making sure your relationships work or do you rely on others to do all the heavy lifting? What kind of attitude do you have?

Quite frankly, if you are a Believer, I have never understood a “Believer” with a negative attitude.  I just don’t.  A positive attitude is foundational to a Believer. How? Because you have faith in Christ.  That faith translates to trust—you trust that “All things work together for good” or you trust that “If He is for you, who can be against you?” Faith and Trust = Optimism. Optimism is positive. Your positive attitude will not allow you to continue to embrace anger, bitterness, jealousy, anxiety, worry, or pride; which are all negative!  These traits will not allow you to live a successful life. What will help you live a successful life?  Being intentional, understanding that changing from negativity to positivity takes time, and by asking God for help. In Philippians 4:6 we are told: “Do not be anxious for anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  We are also told in Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” 

You want to be successful? Stop being the victim, stop blaming others for what’s happened to you, stop making excuses for not changing your life.  Remember, It’s Your Life, Own It.  It does not matter what has happened in your past, what matters is God can help you change your negative responses to situations to positive ones.  My question is, Do you want Him to help you?

When You Are Scared…Trust…

trustI talk so much about how important it is to go for the gold and to never give up. I am especially good at encouraging others to be all that they can be.  I tell you to take your turmoil and turn them into your testimonies of victory. I truly believe in all that I just said to you, but today I want to take a different approach to encouraging you. I want you to just Trust.

Recently, I visited a place near and dear to me. I saw my friends and just loved seeing and interacting with them.  I saw people who make me feel like running the race and never giving up. I saw people who I have known at least 15 years and others I have known less.  One thing that has actually kept me warm inside has been to reflect on these people as I left them behind.  They are still committed to Christ after sicknesses, deaths, hardships and trials; they are still there, serving Him and His people day after day.

What also struck me while I was visiting was the people I met who were going through very difficult struggles in their lives today; struggles with their health and not knowing what to do next. Scared and afraid that life as they had known it would not be the same anymore.  There were those who had family members struggling with personal issues so difficult that it disrupted the entire family structure and there were others who had to juggle several crises at the same time. I can only imagine the desperation they were going through. Losing your good health; being able to move about freely without aid and now you can barely get up from a chair.  Losing a family member, whether to death or to their desire to separate from the family for extended periods;  these are all scary things to deal with.

How can you be positive when you have so much to deal with? How can you stay “up” when everything in you and around you is telling you to stay “down?”  How do you move forward at all when you want to crawl under the covers and never come out? I tell you how, start telling yourself to just take one day at a time and trust God.

I believe the enemy wants you confused about so many things. First, if you are a Believer, he wants you to question God.   When you lose faith and start questioning God, it won’t be long before you start blaming God. Once you begin blaming God, it’s impossible to hold onto your faith, believing that God cares for you (yes, little old you). We begin to think that all the things happening to us, does not matter to God.

Second, we start to pity ourselves and wonder why these things are happening to us.  That too creates negative images in our minds; we are not strong; we are not good enough; we are not smart and the list goes on. There are plenty of voices in this world that will try to tell you that you aren’t good enough, but the voice of God always says that you are loved. When you stop hearing Him and listen to what others say, it is easy to become disillusioned and down.

If you are feeling lost or insignificant in this world, I challenge you to turn to the words of God. He will remind you that you are neither lost nor insignificant. He loves you and cares about all those things that are burdensome to you. You do matter to Him and everything that affects you, matters to God.

“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”                                                                  (Isaiah 41:13)

Set Healthy Boundaries…

healthy boundaries After watching three specific incidents over the last several months, I decided it was time to write about healthy, personal boundaries. Certain situations started to really bother me, so I talked about what I was experiencing with close confidants and even a professional in the area of psychology.  I thought I would share my observations and offer suggestions that may help you understand how important it is to set boundaries.

I read an article recently and the author stated,  “I used to keep adjusting my boundaries to fit each relationship. Now I understand that boundaries are about your relationship with yourself and your own values, and that they shouldn’t be so fluid.” 

There have been times when my own husband suggested that I was being too closed off and maybe I should let people in. I should just be more friendly.   Also, I have dealt with pressure from others who seemed to pull at me and insert themselves all the time. Their boundaries were clearly opposite mine and I felt pressured to always be available.

I began to experience an internal struggle.  I found myself, asking myself, “What’s wrong with me? or Is it just me?  Am I suppose to adjust to everyone when I don’t want to? Am I being a snob?  If I have to adjust to everyone, and I don’t want to, am I selfish? Well, I was made to feel that I was. I wanted to know if I was just wired wrong.  Maybe I am or maybe I expect others to understand personal boundaries.

You know what I have come to conclude? Some people do not understand boundaries. You know what else I have found? If you do not establish them upfront, it will be hard to establish them later.  Eventually, however, you will have to create them. At first, you may suffer silently, but the more someone steps beyond your boundaries and you stay quiet on the matter, you will become irritated, frustrated and even resentful. If you allow others to push your boundaries and you say nothing, eventually you will fight or go into flight mode.

                             “In work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries lead to                                       resentment, anger, and burnout” (Nelson, 2016).

Boundaries-2-2I get why we don’t say anything; why we let things go—we let things go because we think people will just figure it out somehow.  We think they will know when they are being too pushy, too needy, or too dependent. They don’t see that the constant need for you to be the one to fill all of their needs is emotionally draining.  So they go on  doing what is natural them and in the process they are killing you. It’s hard setting healthy, personal boundaries because people think you are being “mean.” Setting boundaries do not make you “mean,” it helps you stay healthy mentally and emotionally.

Do you know anyone who constantly forces themselves beyond your boundaries?  How do you handle them without hurting them? I am going to share some ways that you can establish boundaries, but I cannot promise you that you won’t hurt their feelings:

  1. Examine the boundaries that already exist (or are lacking) in your life. If you have them, enforce them from the beginning. If you don’t have them established, think about what you will accept, write them down, talk to a therapist if you need to, and live with them. Tell people what you will accept and what you will not accept. (Matthew 18:15-20)
  2. Say “No” simply but firmly to something you do not want to do. Do not feel that you need to explain” (Kairns, 1992). Not over-explaining is a crucial aspect of setting boundaries, as everyone has the right to determine what they do and do not want to do.  (Matthew 5:7)
  3. Keep the focus on oneself (IPFW/Parkview Student Assistance Program). Instead of setting a boundary by saying something like “you have to stop bothering me after work”, one can say “I need some time to myself when I get back from work”.
  4. Set consequences (IPFW/Parkview Student Assistance Program). This means that when setting boundaries, it is important to explicitly state why they are important. For example, someone in an unhealthy relationship might declare that their partner needs to start respecting their career goals more unless they want the relationship to end. It is also crucial to only declare consequences that one is willing to follow through on, or else the boundaries will not be effective.

Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me.  A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins. Although I talked to several friends and confidants, I always go to the Bible to check my thoughts against the Word of God. I have noted scriptures above to help you see that it is good to set boundaries, but read that I read from Bible.org below:

The concept of boundaries is rooted in the nature of God Himself. God defines Himself as a distinct, separate being, and He is responsible for Himself. He defines and takes responsibility for His personality by telling us what He thinks, feels, plans, allows, will not allow, likes and dislikes.” (Bible.org)

 

Dr. LaSharnda Beckwith

 

Works cited:

  1. Positive Psychology program
  2. Bible.org

Pray First…

i hate waitingI am a high achiever. I am all about achieving one thing and moving on to the next. I get a rush out of being able to check another goal accomplished off my list.  If you are the same, you already know that people like us want things done and they want them done now.  We tend to think that the next thing is waiting to be conquered and we are the ones to conquer.  People like us can be high strung and just can’t sit still. We are BIG Picture people continually developing a strategy for the next thing. Time is money, so don’t we don’t believe in wasting time!

Hold on though!  There is a problem with being like us. We can get easily frustrated; especially if things are moving too slow. When I was young, that meant bad news for those around me. Let’s just say, I wasn’t very patient. Now that I am older, I am a lot better. When frustration sets in, I try not to talk much. Maybe I am this way because of how extreme I behaved in my younger days. Anyway, something happened recently, and I realized just how much I have changed.

If you have read anything I have written in the past, you know that I believe in Jesus. You also know that I think when He said in John 14:16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” that He meant it. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to “lead and guide us.”  For me, that scripture means He will help when I feel stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, ticked off,  confused, unsettled or whatever destructive emotion I may experience. God already knows what I need, I just need to give my feelings to Him by releasing them to the Holy Spirit.

prayer-changes-thingsWhen I mention the name, DMV, many of you have the same images come to mind as I do; inefficient, slow, uncaring, paper-pushers, unproductive and the rudest people you can meet!  Maybe that’s why my husband had a problem when he had to deal with them on my behalf.  He was at the DMV all day beginning at 745 that morning. He came home around 3pm. I came home after him, and  when I walked in and said “Hello Darling” and got very little response, I should have guessed something was wrong.  I went to the kitchen to make some food and yelled, “do you want something to eat?” “No,” he replied. I looked and realized I was talking, and he was not talking because he was on the phone.  I sat down at the table and began to eat. When he finally got off the phone, he told me what happened at the DMV. He looked beat! Well, he didn’t get done what I needed. He had all my paperwork and handed it to me and said, “you need to ….”  Well, ok, but I wasn’t happy. After I finished eating, I sat down quietly and began making call after call, from DMV in California to Jaguar USA to Jaguar in Dallas to DMV Headquarters in Sacramento to finally getting the right person that took care of my situation.  Along the way, I heard myself praying and asking the Holy Spirit to keep me calm and patient. He did.  I had finally achieved my goal without blowing up. But it wasn’t over. The next day at the local DMV would be the greatest challenge for the Holy Spirit and me.

Well, he didn’t get done what I needed and deep inside, I was not happy about that. I didn’t say anything though. I saw all my paperwork in his hands and he handed it to me and said, “you need to ….”.  I wasn’t happy. After I finished eating, I sat down quietly and began making call after call, from DMV in California to Jaguar USA to Jaguar in Dallas to DMV Headquarters in Sacramento to finally get the right person on the line who took care of my situation.  Along the way, I heard myself praying and asking the Holy Spirit to keep me calm and patient. He did.  I had finally achieved my goal without blowing up. But it wasn’t over. The next day at the local DMV would be the greatest challenge for the Holy Spirit and me.

I had to get up early to go to a meeting.  I dressed and got out on highway 57 to sit in the morning parking lot of traffic. My goodness, I thought everyone would be on vacation; it is the week before Christmas. At least the traffic was moving. I got to my meeting, we finished up around 1115, and I headed over to DMV without an appointment. I got there, and to my amazement, there were very little people outside (that’s a good sign). I went to the “do not have appointment line” that is usually out the door but was short today. I stood behind a guy that was pleasant, and we talked about our experiences. We were three and four in line! Well, it was his time, I wished him luck, and he did the same. I got to the window, no problem, got my waiting ticket and went to sit down. The entire time I sat there waiting, I prayed “Lord, please make my path straight.” When I was called about an hour later, I walked up to the window, explained my situation, gave the man my papers, he processed them and “BOOM!” I was done! No frustration, no confusion, no annoying conversation.

You may say “so what?” I tell you “so what” I felt from the beginning of the frustration before I got on the phone, if I started with prayer, I would approach the situation with a better attitude. I knew that if I believed and relied on the Holy Spirit to guide me, I would not rush and become impatient. I know that prayer changes things, but more importantly, prayer and the Holy Spirit changes us.

The Power of Words…​

wordshavepowerHow do words affect you? Are there words that immediately turn you off?  They just rub you the wrong way? That’s how I feel about the word “businessman” being used in a meeting of any kind in the 21st century.  I may be wrong, and I pray to not be so easily offended, but in a day and time like now, if you haven’t gotten it, you never will. Your words matter. They can be demeaning or empowering in the context of work. What’s worst is, I hear sexist words more in Christian settings than in others; why?

The truth is, I actually understand why, but my God, enough of living in the dark ages already.  It is time to appreciate the subtleness of your words.  To me, when a person, generally the person is male and holds a level of leadership, makes sexist phrases, first off, it seems ignorant.  Those who do so seem oblivious to the fact that today, in 2017, there are lots of businesswomen. In fact, there are 32 women in CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies. The top 4 are at General Motors, IBM, Pepsico, and Lockheed Martin. Guess what? 2017 holds the record number of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies! That says something.

So, why do I get up in a funk about the word “businessmen?” Because the term is sexist.  It just is.  The proper term that should be used is businessperson or business leader. Why? To work to get rid of stereotypes!

Okay, so I will get off my soapbox for now. Please be patient with me, but I do want to share with you why the word bothers me so much.  When I hear the word being used, typically, the person using it has no idea how much they may be overlooking a businesswoman in the room. This woman in some cases may have far more business experience and a greater understanding of how to cast vision, develop strategy, set goals and use the emotional intelligence she has to build high-performing teams. She knows how to drive for bottom-line results just like the man. But when she is sitting in the room, with a bunch of men and every one of them have no problem with the presenter saying businessman and not correcting him, that is a problem.

sexismRecently, I was at a Christian conference focused on business leaders. The presenter was so refreshing. As he spoke, I listened carefully. What struck me about him was his sensitivity in making sure when he said the word businessmen, he also said businesswomen.  He did this throughout his entire speech. Did he get my attention and my respect? You bet he did.

Words matter. Why? Words can empower or marginalize. I hate being marginalized. Maybe you don’t, but I do.

I feel it’s important to say something so that it does not continue. Now, this may not bother you, and that’s okay, but you know that I am bothered and now you may consider that there are probably others around you who are annoyed too.  Don’t just excuse yourself and say, “They are too touchy, or they are too sensitive.”  Just don’t.  If I say something that may be bothering you, tell me. I would want someone to tell me so that I can stop doing it.  If I care, I will stop. If I don’t care, I will make an excuse and continue with the same behavior.

Little things grow into big ones.  Whether the issue is one that no one ever thought would be a big deal like, you know, sexual harassment?  All the things that were said 20 years ago suddenly have come full circle. I bet some of the people affected look back and wish they had never said or did what they did, now careers are destroyed, reputations ruined and families are in turmoil.

If you are a Believer, the world should not set the standard of how you should behave, whether you are at work or at church, you are to set a tone of fairness, justice, and equality.  I think Jesus would.  When I read the Bible, I don’t see Jesus making distinctions between male and female (some will argue differently, and that’s okay).

Just remember the next time you are in a boardroom, a meeting, sitting on a committee, or in some kind of setting where men and women get to play, men and women are playing equally.  They are both needed, and there is no environment where one is competent, and the other is not. Either can be capable just like either may not be capable.  Your words, though, sends a message; what will your message be?

Remember,  “Let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18)

When I am Weak…

 

whenI am weakMost days I am happy. I wake up thanking God for another day to be alive. I honestly don’t take my being here for granted. Over the last year, I have experienced close and personal losses and they made me consider my own mortality.  There have been days that I sit back and say to myself, “God is still on the throne. Don’t lose heart.”

Most of you know I run each morning. The other morning I was outside, pushing through my run, when I promise you, I heard the voice in my head say, “When I am weak, You are strong. ” For many of you, I don’t have to explain what was happening.  Anyway, I kept running and I continued to hear that phrase.  At one point, I said it out loud. I knew that I needed to say it to God.

I have thought about why that statement came to me. Perhaps I was supposed to share this with someone else.  Not too long after that spiritual interchange, I spoke with a person who had contacted me and her actions suggested that she desperately needed to speak with me. I was on my way out of town, so I said to the person, “if you need to see me, you have to do it today because I fly out tomorrow.” The person made it a point to get over to see me too.  As we sat down to catch up, all of a sudden in the midst of our conversation, I thought I saw her eyes tearing up.  At first I tried to tell myself that I was imagining things, but after a few seconds, it became apparent that she was tearing up and finally crying. I walked over to her, gave her tissue and wrapped my arms around her. After more than an hour of conversation and her sharing some of her deepest frustrations and fears, we parted ways. As I walked towards her to say goodbye, I wrapped my arms around her again, but this time, I would not let her go without praying for her.

For days, I thought of this young woman. I left for my trip and thought about her on the plane. I got back home and thought of her again.  As I recalled all that had happened between us the day she came to see me, the phrase “When I am weak, YOU are strong” came back to me.

I am strongYou see, even the best of us will encounter days that are frustrating and disappointing. We will encounter people who will count us out, not take us seriously, reject our dreams and goals and even tell us that we will never be something that we have always dreamed of becoming. That’s why we are hesitant to share our hopes and dreams with others; we are afraid of their judgment and rejection as this young lady was. As I said to her that day in my office, I will say the same to you.  If you have dreams, go for them. It does not matter what other people think; it matters what you do.  If you don’t go for it, you are saying that they are right about what they think of you. If you go for it and fail, you don’t have to be embarrassed, trust me, the next time you will do better. One thing is certain, if you don’t pursue what’s important to you, you can count on never getting it.

Don’t let others rob you of what God has placed in your heart and mind.  Don’t let them stop you from being what you want to be. When people say things that hurt you, remember, “when you are weak, He is strong.”  He will carry your burdens and He will lift you up above the negativity, the fear and the doubters.  Let the doubters doubt you, but don’t you dare doubt yourself or Him. He believes in you and so do I!

2 Corinthians 12: 9 says, “…But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

It’s In the Quiet Times…

The_Quiet_Time_-_QT1.jpgLately, I have felt unsettled.  No, I didn’t say that I am not content; I said unsettled. There is a big difference.  For days now I have felt this unsettling in me.  I have been praying for a person for weeks now, so that may be the reason why. I moved last year and just experienced the 1 year anniversary of that, so maybe that’s why. I don’t really know. I just feel that way.

In the rush of everyday life, when we are busy moving here and there, working, socializing, and just living life, the noise of life can be overwhelming. In fact, if we aren’t careful, the sounds can drown out what we should be listening to.

That’s why quiet time is so important. We need to set aside time to contemplate, decompress and live quietly.  At least that’s what I need. I do it each day; usually, early mornings with shorter times. Also, I do a bigger block of time each week just to sit quietly and think. Life can be busy and the important things can be easily missed in our rush to achieve the next thing.  I will admit it, I can’t seem to sit still and be satisfied. If I am not working in my office, I am writing a book or an article or a blog. I do several things at once. I work on several emails to various people while I may be working on establishing some new program or I am setting up some kind of meeting, working some marketing strategy or coordinating some speaking engagement. It’s always something.  I push hard to get things done each day, and I will admit, I don’t have patience with what I perceive as “excuses”  for not doing something. You see, I can’t stop striving.

I have to give myself a break though. I know for a fact, God made me this way. He made me passionate, resilient, persistent and strong. As much as I appreciate the woman God has made me, I also know that I can turn my strengths into weaknesses. The same is true for you too. If you are always working, pushing, striving and achieving, do you have time to stop and enjoy the accomplishment? Do you stop and savor the moment in quiet solitude before you jump to begin again?  These are a couple of the questions I have had to ask myself lately. You see if you have always been the kind of person who believed that doing proves your self-worth, you need to rethink that. You know who proves you are worth something?  God. However, you won’t know it, if you never sit down and take the time to hear from Him.

quiet-the-mind-soul-will-speak-life-quotes-sayings-picturesTurn off the music, turn off the television, put away your computer, put down your phone, sit quietly in His presence and open your heart and your ears. Stop thinking about what you have to do next and be fully present to hear why He has you where you are now.  For the unbeliever, this is foolishness the Bible says, but to you who believe, you know what I am talking about.  1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters].”

God needs your attention and your time. Not after you are exhausted but He needs to talk to you when you are alert and ready to hear. He may have been trying to get your attention for a while now. Has He?