ag·o·ra·pho·bi·a

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Checking the dictionary it says this about agoraphobia:

“An abnormal fear of being in crowds, public places, or open areas, sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks.”

This isn’t a definitive article on this condition. I honestly don’t know lots about it. I can say that it’s often misunderstood due to TV and movies that suggest it’s just a fear of being outside or around people. Basically, a person can experience this at any place or area, even one’s own home.

Check this out:

This is 87 Avenue, just east of 170 Street in Edmonton, Alberta. Up until a few weeks ago, we lived in this area. Due to a journey we took with a wonderful young person, I had a full on encounter with a psychologically abusive person who came after me. It wasn’t the fault of the person we welcomed into our life but it was related to that time. The person that came after me, lives in the area off to the right.

After we moved, we came back a few days later to do one last check for mail (just in case anything got missed by the post office forward). As we crossed over 170 Street, my heart was gripped with anxiety.  My heart rate shot up and I just had this sense of fear. This wasn’t the first time I had this experience in this area, it’s happened most every day when passing this area and don’t get me started on what it’s like to walk here rather than drive) but it was the first time it hit me – I had developed a mild agoraphobia. My hope is, over time and not being in the area for a long time, I will have healing and be free from that person’s impact on me.

Not Without You

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I recently heard an apparently true story about a man urgently needing to catch a plane home from a business trip. He was desperate to get home because his toddler grandson lay in a coma, the victim of terrible child abuse at the hands of his mom’s live in boyfriend. The little boy wasn’t going to live; he was to be disconnected from life support. After he died, his organs would be donated so others might live. The man wanted to get home to see his grandson one more time.

While he was on the way to the Los Angeles airport, his wife called Southwestern airlines to find the fastest flight home. As she bought the ticket she explained their desperate situation. Unfortunately, her husband ran into delay after delay – a traffic jam on the freeway, a congested airport, delays in security.

When the man finally reached the gate for his flight, he realized he was 15 minutes late, he was sure the plane had left.

An airline employee at the gate approached him and asked his name and if he was the one trying to get home to his grandson. The man confirmed who he was.

Then the man at the gate said:

“Well, I’m the pilot and the plane isn’t going anywhere without me.
And I’m not going anywhere without you.”

That story reminds me of one of my most favourite Bible passages:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You believe in God; believe also in me.
My Father’s house has many rooms;
if that were not so, would I have told you
that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back and take you to be with me
that you also may be where I am.”
(John 14:1-3 New International Version)

Jesus’ promise is loaded with hope, love and acceptance. He is making this promise to his friends who, in just hours while he is in his greatest struggle, will desert him, betray him, deny him. He’s saying, despite all your failures, hang on to me, hang on to me because I want you to be with me. It’s a promise we can personally claim today. Isn’t that pretty outrageous grace?

Because Jesus’ promise can be counted on, we know that he will prepare those places and he will return. The Bible vividly describes this event – Jesus will arrive with all his angels, the dead in Christ will be resurrected, the living in Christ will be transformed and all will be gathered by the angels – he will take us to be with him.

I hear Jesus’ promise echo to you and to me in the pilot’s words:

“I’m the pilot and the angels aren’t going anywhere without me.
And I’m not
going anywhere
without
you.”

 

Shields Up!

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How would you feel if I told you something about yourself that you didn’t want to hear? Maybe it’s a complaint about something you said. Maybe I am angry or hurt about something you did. What would you do?

When this happens to me, I listen attentively and respond with appreciation for the feedback. If it’s appropriate, I try to own it, apologize and seek to make amends.

Ha ha, just kidding. I usually get a little, sometimes a lot, defensive. I try not to. I honestly strive for the ideal response. There’s just that part of me that says, “Shields up! Load torpedoes!”giphy

The thing is, defensiveness is really damaging to relationships. Dr. John Gottman has noted that it’s one of the four relationship killers. If you want to have a healthy thriving relationship, how do you get out of the defensiveness trap?

I found a short article from his group on Listening Without Getting Defensive. I recommend you check it out. Here are a few snippets…

“While it’s important for the speaker to complain without blame and state a positive need to prevent the listener from flooding or responding defensively, it’s also vital for the listener to learn to self-soothe.”

“Dr. Gottman suggests using a notepad to write down everything your partner says, which is especially helpful when you’re feeling defensive. This also helps you remember what was said when you reflect back what you hear or it’s your turn to speak.”

“During tough conversations it’s helpful to focus on your affection and respect for your partner.”

 

Remember to postpone your agenda and focus on understanding your partner.”

“Look inward and see what you are telling yourself about what this conflict means and how it may impact you.”

Ask yourself, Why am I getting defensive? What am I trying to protect? Your partner’s complaint is about their needs, not yours, so soothe your defensiveness so you can be there for them.”

“If your partner is saying something that is triggering, ask them to say it in a different way.”

 

“Long-lasting love requires courage. The courage to be vulnerable and to listen non-defensively, even in the heat of conflict. Especially when we are hurt and angry.”

 

2 Word Good News

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Have you ever really blown it? I mean you did or said something that so damaged a relationship that it still hasn’t recovered? Maybe you messed up so bad you’ve lost your connection in your family or community?

Yeah, me too.

If you are familiar with the apostles in the Good News, you might now about Peter. He was loud and brash; quick to speak and slow to listen. He seems to have been a leader in that he tends to get listed first among Jesus closest friends. Like the other disciples, he was given the ability to heal people and set people free from possession. He preached boldly and hundreds committed their lives to God. Eventually he would be imprisoned for his faith.

And yet, he blew it. Big time.

After Jesus had been captured and his trials had begun, Peter was being questioned about his relationship with Jesus. After denying he knows Jesus a couple times, he gets asked one more time and we’re told, “Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!””

Can you picture it? Peter spewing out cuss words and swearing on God’s name (super serious back then) that he doesn’t know his best friend Jesus, who is the Christ, the Son of God. You just know that word of this spread like wildfire among the other apostles. Can you imagine how he felt? Do you remember how you felt when you did something so bad you felt disqualified from everything?

But here’s the thing.

After the cross, on resurrection morning, the women coming to finish embalming Jesus, discover he has risen and they encounter an angel and the story goes like this:

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16:6-7 New International Version (NIV)

At a time when the disciples thought the hope of Jesus had ended in disaster, when they were scattered and afraid, they discover Jesus isn’t dead, the mission is still on, they are called to press forward and stay hopeful.

But did you catch it? The Good News in just two words?

And Peter.

To the one who had blown it, ran scared, and denied his best friend with angry curses, is still welcome at the table, still invited to be a part of the movement, and will still be used to turn the world upside with Good News; the Good News that despite his failures he was still loved and accepted, still valued and worthy.

And so are you.

 

Building Bridges 

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Do you know your love language? Do you know what love languages are? I’m a fan of the love language concept and I’ve shared it with others. Maybe check them out and discover what is your language.

Recently I received an email from them with some examples and I think they will be a blessing to you. This is quoted directly from their email.

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION:

Compliments sometimes mean extra when given in the presence of others. Make sure to let your loved ones know how much you care for them in front of other people, too!

ACTS OF SERVICE:

What if you switch the way you think about nagging: instead of being annoyed, learn to hear it as, “This is a task that is really important to me, and I will feel so loved when it is completed.” Use nagging as a simple reminder from your partner to love him or her better!

RECEIVING GIFTS:

Give your partner a gift every day for a week. Whether extremely creative or sweetly simple, the flow of gifts will make an impact and will create a week to be remembered by both of you!

QUALITY TIME:

Instead of asking your loved one, “How was your day?” ask a fresh question, like, “What was the best part of your day?” “What was a success you had today?” or “What did you struggle with today?” Make sure to create enough time to truly listen and care.

PHYSICAL TOUCH:

Research has shown that babies who are held, hugged, and kissed develop more healthily than those who are neglected. But people never outgrow their need for physical affection! Remember to hug your loved ones this week.

What do you think? Can you speak these love languages? Have you ever taken an assessment to determine your own love language? If so, what is your primary language?

 

Five Ways We Rationalize Abuse And Why We Need To Stop — Self-Care Haven by Shahida Arabi

This is a powerful revelation by Shahida Arabi. I hope that it gives you strength but also compassion for those still struggling with abuse.

A common abusive tactic is gaslighting the victim into thinking the abuse they are suffering isn’t real. By casting doubt onto the victim’s sanity and perceptions of the abuse, the abuser is then able to distort and manipulate the victim into thinking that the abuse didn’t exist or that it wasn’t abuse at all. Another painful […]

via Five Ways We Rationalize Abuse And Why We Need To Stop — Self-Care Haven by Shahida Arabi

The Love Letter

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Rules are hard to follow. Sure the ones we directly benefit from are easier to keep but generally we try to bend them here and there. I mean, have you seen what people do at stop signs? Have you noticed that the best motivation is love?

One of the most beautiful parts of the Bible is God’s testimony*, a revelation of his character, what most people call the ten commandments or in other words, rules. People struggle to keep these rules – even those that believe they’re valid. Others, thinking they are hard rules, ignore or undermine them. What we miss is that they’re not rules. This testimony is beautiful because it’s an invitation into a loving relationship. My friend José Sánchez recently shared God’s testimony this way:

Today, my personal love letter to Jesus based on Exodus 20 says:

Jesus, as I meditate on what you did at the cross for me, my heart overwhelms with joy
and love.
1. I can’t imagine living without you!
2. Nothing can replace you!
3. I’ll never take you for granted.
4. I’m looking forward to spending quality time with you.
5. I’ll treat my parents as you treat your Father.
6. I’ll love others as you love me.
7. I’ll love my spouse as you love your church.
8. I’ll be content with the blessings you provide for me.
9. I’ll be just to others as you are with me.
10. I’ll rejoice when I see how you’ve blessed my friends.
Thank you for your love, Jesus. I love you, too.

Isn’t that beautiful?

*Over and over the Bible refers to what we call the ten commandments as God’s testimony. Even the box they were held in was called the ark of the testimony. 

 

3 Steps to Create a Self-Care Plan — MakeItUltra™

Have you ever been helping someone only to find yourself burnt out, emotionally compromised, and maybe even struggling with some trauma as a result?

Yeah, me too.

You and I both need to read this really good post from MakeItUltra. Simple and straightforward steps to practice each day.

 

Written by Eric C., MA., PhD Candidate Audio version available | Click here “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” ~Oscar Wilde In one way or another we are all caretakers. Care taking can be found in all aspects of life. Some of us are care takers in the professional sense and work in […]

via 3 Steps to Create a Self-Care Plan — MakeItUltra™

The Exploitation By “To The Bone” — BeautyBeyondBones

If you’re into Netflix, check out this perspective on one of their upcoming programs.

Before tonight’s zinger..which…I’m fired up tonight, so get ready…. But first, I have some incredibly exciting news to share. I just found out that BeautyBeyondBones was ranked in the Top 25 Eating Disorder Recovery Websites on the World Wide Web! So thank you with all my heart for taking the time out of your […]

via The Exploitation By “To The Bone” — BeautyBeyondBones

4 Ways To Overcome Naysayers

This is a great little article from Jay Colby but the first thought that came to mind was how it can help with the worst Naysayers of all – ourselves! How often do we talk ourselves out of our dreams?

No matter what your goals or ambitions whether for business, family or self-improvement. Majority of the time it always seems to be someone who has negative opinions on whatever you’re trying to do. This may be people who are close to you i.e. family or significant others. Often times we don’t realize how naysayers can […]

via 4 Ways To Overcome Naysayers