Perfection: How is it destroying your life? and what can you do about it!

perfection

Is it better to be loved because you are perfect? Or loved despite your imperfections?

So often I feel the pressure to be perfect:

  • Perfect mother;
  • Perfect wife;
  • Perfect friend;
  • Perfect employee, and the list goes on!

It’s tiring and absolutely exhausting. Not only this, it is also incredibly distracting which does not help my efforts to be perfect, I stumble and fall whenever I strive to move forward while constantly looking in the rear-view mirror. Even in Scripture we are told that “no-one is righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). That’s right, not even Mary Poppins!

If no-one can be perfect – what makes me think that I can be perfect?

Through thinking over the stresses that seeking perfection causes, I wonder if it is worth the cost?

Perfection seeking can lead to:

  • Depression;
  • Anxiety;
  • Addictions;
  • Failed relationships – personal and work related;
  • Utter despair which can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions.

So it is not achievable and comes at a high cost – not a wise investment if you ask me!

So what gives me hope despite not being perfect?

Romans 5:8 sums it up nicely. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It means much more to me that I am loved despite my flaws, as that shows I am a real person of value. This also means that you are too.

I am still loved despite my flaws; and you know what? 

  • My daughter still loves me;
  • As does my husband;
  • I still have friends and family in relationship with me;
  • I love my field of employment;
  • And I have an identity that I continue to desire to grow and nurture into a person of excellence.

Looking at these points, I can see that I have everything perfectionism promises, though never delivers. What’s more, I can breathe, relax, and enjoy this life on earth.

It means much more to me that I am loved despite my flaws, as that shows I am a real person of value. This also means that you are too.

Do yourself a favour and stop seeking perfectionism, rather strive for excellence.

What areas do you find yourself seeking perfectionism? Share in the comments your plans to change direction!

Advertisements

Live a life worth living

A life worth living

“You are not a priority”

“You can wait”

“You are not important”

Did I hear you getting annoyed reading that? This is because they are not true, and you know they aren’t true.
Though, these are all the messages we send ourselves when we fill our days with tick lists and commitments.

What is the problem with sending these messages to yourself?

Well, sooner or later, you start believing them. For those who found themselves agreeing with those points, chances are this has already taken place. Though I can hear you desperately wanting to believe the opposite – which then means that you don’t really believe those messages to be true – because they are FALSE!

Believing these messages can affect how your children behave, how you can discipline them effectively, and instilling value in themselves.

So, how can you change them?

Usually we look at the behaviour to change our thinking, though this is the hardest way. First we need to identify our values – as it is our values that direct our behaviour.

As you are desiring to believe those messages, chances are they are values you hold; as you are finding yourself in a internal debate, the odds are high that you are just not seeing them as a high priority.

Life will have a purpose once again, for we were created with a purpose, we are not accidents, and our creator desires to see us to live abundantly in the peace He offers.

Think on this:

If you are not seeing yourself as a priority, how can you have the energy to meet your other commitments?

If you believe your needs can wait, how long will they need to wait for?

If you don’t see yourself as important, what gives your commitments value? After all, if this is the case, then you aren’t needed for those tasks to carry out, even more for the loved ones in your care.

There is one very simple thing you can do today, in fact everyday – because ultimately you are the one who sets your daily agenda.

Take a moment for you

That’s it, just a moment.

Gradually this moment will grow, you will find that you are meeting your deadlines more effectively and with more joy.

That internal debate will quieten down, giving more focus to your loved ones.

Life will have a purpose once again, for we were created with a purpose, we are not accidents, and our creator desires to see us to live abundantly in the peace He offers.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 ESV

 

What moment can you take today? Share your plans in the comments below!

What do pre-schoolers need to learn before their ABC’s?

Teach to feel

2017 is the big year for us! We put 2016 off, with the excuse of “she’s too close to the cut-off”, though really we felt a lot of relief that there is still one more year before our little girl starts Big School!

In all honesty, I think she could have handled the workload; maybe not sitting still for so long, though the workload yes. Children truly are sponges – it is amazing the things they learn and remember. We have had to change our approach of “No, we can’t do that right now because…” to just “No” as she could always think of logical ways to overcome the very barriers “preventing” us from meeting her requests.

Though, at age 4 years and 6 months, is she really ready to attend school at this point in time? Ignoring the Mum in me desiring to slow down time, the counsellor part of me feels that we have made the best choice. Our daughter is determined, witty, creative and great at problem-solving – though she is still getting a grip on her emotions.

What does this have to do with pre-schoolers not needing to read?

Well, by this I don’t mean they don’t need to be read to – certainly there are a tonne of benefits children can experience by having Mum or Dad spend quiet time in imagination land, as well as supporting the key purpose of this blog.

No, what the title is saying is that children of this age do not have to start learning how to read books by themselves right now to get a head start in life. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that, it is more so that there is something incredibly more important that they need to intentionally learn – and that is about emotions.

Ok, who here has watched “Inside out”? Don’t worry, I won’t ask how many times you willingly watched it or coerced your child to watch it!

There was an absolute critical part that really struck a chord with me. At the end, just before their big family embrace, Riley (the little girl in case you haven’t watched it), said:

“I know you don’t want me to, but I miss my old home. You need me to be happy, but I want my old friends…..please don’t be mad”


This little girl has just gone through a major trauma of packing up the only home she has ever known, moved to the other side of the country, left her friends and hobbies behind – and on top of that she feels the responsibility to be happy for her parent’s sake. Heartbreaking for any parent to hear!

We can so often get consumed with helping our children succeed in life, that we bypass the foundational work, and start them straight on the adult work.

Showing my age or youth here, you choose! I am reminded of Curly Sue. The 1991 film starring Jim Belushi and Alisan Porter, a homeless duo that create cons and scams to scrape by with enough to eat. In order to show off to a well-to-do lawyer they met during one of their cons, Bill (Jim) instructs Sue (Alisan) to spell asphyxiate (which she does perfectly!). Later, the lawyer asks Sue to spell a smaller word, like cat, to which Sue confesses she doesn’t know how.


As with Riley and Sue, they were both indirectly and directly put in positions where they had to act as adults without the foundations they needed.

If you are reading this, chances are you are like me and want to set your child up for success. To do this, we need to have the patience to lay the foundations and wait for them to set properly.

We are a society of empowerment – yet too much too early can be detrimental. Children are growing up with the belief that they need to conquer the world, but are too anxious to know where to start. This is a key factor in addictions. Addictions start off by trying to find something that takes away the bad feelings – though the best they can do is mask them, creating a destructive cycle as the feelings get stronger to get the correct solution.

So why is emotional intelligence so important?

Feelings help us to work out if things are ok, or, most importantly, if something is wrong. We can usually very easily work out if things are ok, though if things aren’t, and we don’t know why, it can get very scary – and that is what we experience! Imagine being a child again, knowing something is wrong but not sure what – it is impossible to ask and receive the help we need if we can’t even explain the problem!

How can we start developing our child’s emotional vocabulary?

A really helpful first step you can start right away with, is building up your child’s emotional vocabulary. This isn’t just giving them words, but helping them to link the word to the feeling. This will involve taking opportunities as they come, and expressing your feelings as they come up. The more words you use, the more you add to what your child can use.

Another way to add feeling words to their vocabulary is by reading books! Along with the previously mentioned benefits, children can learn new words by hearing you read to them with emphasis – sad, happy, scared, etc. Stopping every now and then to explain words can help encourage interaction to process the new words.

What are the benefits?

You will actually find yourself feeling more in control as you give so much more intentional focus to your own emotions – allowing you to communicate your needs more effectively. You will also find your child will be feeling empowered in a healthy way – not in the way that they take on adult responsibility, but in a childlike way so they can really enjoy this time in their life – slowing it down for both them and us, which I personally, am very thankful for.

Drugs and the addict: A destructive relationship

Addict

“There’s a phrase, “the elephant in the living room”, which purports to describe what it’s like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, “How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?” And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; “I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.” There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.”
Stephen King

Have you ever heard of anyone that began taking drugs with the intentions of becoming an addict? Addictions often start slowly, just one use at a time, then before we know it, a person is hooked. There are many different reasons one may try drugs in the first place, whether it is curiosity or a pain so intense nothing so far has been able to dull the intensity.

For whatever reason, one thing is certain. The person begins to rely on the drug to the point where it feels normal. Like Stephen King’s quote, it feels like it fits where it is. It doesn’t feel like anything is wrong, a perfect dream – until it is too difficult to tell the dream apart from reality. Suddenly the fog begins to lift alongside a whole heap of undesirable consequences and the harsh reality of the control the drug has begins to become clear, though at this point, life without the drug feels incomprehensible. It is no longer a choice, but a necessity for survival.

Unless we have been in that place, it is difficult to appreciate the complexity of the situation. The most commonly asked question is “why don’t you just stop?”. Good question, though don’t expect the answer to be simple or straightforward.

The decision to say good-bye to addiction needs to be made by the addict themselves. No amount of begging, pleading, desperate actions, or harsh words can possibly cause the addict to change their lives around. This is because the addiction has a toxic hold, it promises to make everything better, to treat them the way they are supposed to be treated – not the way their family and friends are treating them by trying to stop them from feeling good.

No. It is an entwined, toxic relationship. One in which there is only one person who can end it.

So what can you do to help your loved one with their addiction?

This will feel like it is totally in the wrong direction. Though the biggest thing we can do, is to support them. Now I don’t mean enable them. What real support looks like is giving them what they need – not what they physically feel like they need. So what is this?

Well, what do you need as a person?

  • Respect?
  • Love?
  • Relationships?
  • Encouragement?

Everything the drug provides. If the addict can see they can get what they need elsewhere, consistently and genuinely, they will feel safer and more empowered to make that life-changing choice.

Though again, it is still up to them. You cannot take responsibility for their decisions. Once you accept that you are powerless to change them, you can then freely provide what they need from you in the way they need it.

Mental Illness: What does it mean?

 Freedom Mental Health
With all the promotion and education going around, a lot of us have a basic understanding of what mental illness is, though unless we have experienced it, it is generally on a factual basis. This is good, we need to know facts, facts are powerful. Though what does it mean if I am diagnosed with a mental illness?
There are 2 points we need to look at here:

  • What does it mean for me?; and,
  • What does it not mean for me?

What does it mean for me?

It means I have been diagnosed with an unseen illness. Mental illness is serious and does affect life as we know it. Our bodies are designed amazingly well, when one of our five senses are no longer functioning well, our bodies and mind included, compensate. If it wasn’t for the four year old eye sight check, my daughter would be going another year without apparently much needed glasses. Since receiving her glasses last week, her behaviour has been much more co-operative; not that she always misbehaved, rather she would become tired and moody quite quickly. This is because her mind and body was working overtime to compensate for the difficulties she had seeing – though she didn’t know what she was missing out on and she compensated so well that I didn’t even consider eye problems.

Very similar to mental illness, the mind and body compensates in different areas depending on what is needed, this takes extra resources and can mean that some things are not as easy as they used to be or what we see others do.

Relationships are usually the most difficult of all challenges, these are incredibly taxing on emotions that, and in situations of mental illness, are often running in overdrive as it is. In recognising this, it would be really helpful to consider employing a third person to help mediate between relationship difficulties. We all need relationships, though we don’t always have them running in the way they need to.

Like myself and my daughter, I couldn’t see what was wrong with her, I put it down to typical four-year old behaviour with a stubborn streak that would pay off when she became an adult. Instead we actually needed a third person to help bridge the gap with facts, which changed our understanding which meant we can approach any issues with resources that would actually help our relationship.

What does it not mean for me?

It does not mean life has ended. As demonstrated above, we seek knowledge and understanding; we use this knowledge and understanding to explain issues. I was quick to put an explanation to my daughter’s behaviour down to information I received from all over the place that her behaviour was normal. Though this did little to help either of us.

As with mental illness, we often try to reason away any difficulties observed and experienced based on the knowledge and facts that we have acquired along the way. Thanks to previous messages, these often include:

  • “I should be locked up”
  • “I am not good enough”
  • “I can’t do anything right”
  • “I am fake”
  • “I am weak”

These are all false.

You may not be able to do things in the same way others do or the way you used to, though in all honesty we rarely do things exactly the same anyway. Sometimes we need to ask for help and sometimes we need medication to give us a boost so we have the resources to complete the required activities. I don’t know about you, but for me to ask for help takes a lot of strength and willpower but the benefits outweigh the initial cost.

Being diagnosed with mental illness doesn’t have to be a life sentence – if anything it can be life-giving. The diagnosis isn’t what causes the illness, it is recognition that it isn’t because you are weak or a failure, it simply means you need a different approach to overcome obstacles. This can give you direction to explore different options that will work so you can actually live life to the full.

Toxic Mom Toolkit on Boundaries: If Any Other Adult…

Boundaries are so important. As parents need to allow their children to grow up as individuals, so do children need to learn to set healthy boundaries with all adults, including their parents.

If you have experienced life with toxic parenting, visit Toxic Mom Toolkit for more resources, support and encouragement from others in similar circumstances.

There is now a book available for you to purchase through Amazon.com that is full of personalised pieces to help walk you through your journey of healing.
Check it out here.

Toxic Mom Toolkit

39e569aa81a5769fbdaf42c51d67c216    

If any other adult treated you the way your Toxic Mother treats you,

what would you do?

Think of the office colleague who rolls her eyes at your suggestions in meetings, but later re-presents them to praise from management — how do you behave socially with that person?

The gym rat who asks you about your weight and diet and then snickers a little when you say you are focusing on your overall health — how much interaction do you really want?

The ex-spouse or former in-laws who are tracking you for slip-ups, who are constantly checking with mutual friends to pick up any sort of dirt about your life – when do you need to spend time near or with them?

If another adult treated you in such a way that you sought private psychological therapy to recover your emotional equilibrium and sense of personal power —…

View original post 943 more words

Recommended Reading

Swimming Against the Tide: A refreshingly real blog about life, faith, and mental health.

I love to swim against the tide and ride waves full frontal. After a lifetime of Office Management in administration and finance, I find myself wanting to finally engage in my passion of writing and empowering others for the betterment of society. As a Christian, writer (new to blogging) trainer, gardener and photographer I want to use my faith and skills for the common good…

Mental Health Week: 5 ways you can respond 

5 ways to respond to Mental Health WeekToday is the beginning of Mental Health Week, though how does it affect you? Does it cause you to stop and think? Or do you find you continue on your day-to-day routine, forgetting until you see that post on Facebook?

Just like mental illnesses, this week can often be unseen – either because we do not see, or because we do not wish to see (now I am quoting  Dreamworks – The Prince of Egypt!). It isn’t nice to be reminded of issues that we would prefer to avoid, that make us feel uncomfortable, that remind us we might need to do something about it.
Sometimes it just seem like there is nothing we can do about mental health issues – the whole situation can feel really out of control.

So how can we respond to this week?

Here are 5, simple, yet effective ways we could respond with:

1. Research: There is so much out there that we do not realise we don’t know about mental health! We hear the basics and think we have been given everything we need to know. As the internet is so advanced, and I am assuming you have the internet to read this, you could choose just one mental health issue to research. Preferably one that is close to you or you know someone who lives with that illness. Another way of researching, is talking with others. You will be amazed to hear the wealth of knowledge others have about the illness they are living with or have researched themselves. This can be really empowering and uplifting for both of you!

2. Self-care: This is a really powerful tool to help prevent mental health issues, and it is much easier to prevent than to treat. If you are living with high-stress each day, it will take its toll and affect you in ways you could not imagine. Taking an hour out of your busy schedule to spend on yourself, perhaps some gardening, or walk the dog, take the bus or ride a bike; can repay you ten-fold.

3. Examine: Examine yourself. We get caught up in the busyness of life that we can lose sight of our identity. If we feel that we need to chase after the next best thing, we can turn off the beaten track we are on and get entirely lost! Examining ourselves frequently is an easy, yet effective way of checking into where we are up to. If we start to feel agitated, instead of band-aiding it – look at why we are feeling like that in the first place. We need to continually examine our bodies for signs of skin cancer, likewise we need to examine our minds for signs of illness.

4. Sleep hygiene: This is a tough one for me! Having a good sleep hygiene routine is really important and yet so hard in this switched on world! – I have personally experienced both sides and having a healthy sleep pattern is definitely the way to go. Though I do admit I struggle with keeping to a good bedtime each night, it is also difficult to retreat from electronics before and during being in bed. It is best to have a routine and stick to it, avoiding using devices while in bed can be really helpful to allow your mind to begin switching off, otherwise you will find you are too wired up to actually sleep well! Stay tuned for my journey of healthy sleep hygiene, I will be keeping a journal on what I did and how helpful it was which I will share with you over the next few weeks.

5. Coffee (or tea!): (Such an important one!) This is great for relationships. In order to help others and yourself, have hot/cold beverage together! Many a word of wisdom, encouragement, affirmation can be shared over the dainty little tea cup and a sense of togetherness that we often leave last on the priority list. There is real safety in number, the more connected you feel, the more supported you will be – and vice-versa. Besides, it is a great way to push those fluids into our thirsty bodies!

So instead of letting this week pass you by, try implementing some of these things, just in small doses, and take note of any changes you experience.

Helping others: 5 questions to boost your helping productivity

Helping OthersGrowing up I dreamed of having 6 kids, going to Africa to help with missions, explored every opportunity to sponsor kids, I jumped at every opportunity to help others before considering what was involved.

I still do mind you, though I have improved a lot.

A lot of my desire to help others, was actually to feel good about myself; that I was contributing to the lives of others, to be seen as a hero.

It felt great when I did actually help others, though when there was a lull, when no one needed me, I felt really low. I couldn’t see my purpose.

The big question is: was I actually helping people?

It felt fake, it felt like I wasn’t helping people because they needed it, it felt like I was helping people because I needed it.

What was I doing wrong? I wanted to genuinely help people because I see everyone as valuable.
Through challenging myself, I came up with 5 questions to genuinely help people – and they all involved looking at myself:

• Do they actually need my help?
Usually we are in conversation when I hear of a need and my usual pattern involves me starting to think about what I could do to help. Though too often they are actually needing someone else to do something about it. They may need a social worker, counsellor or doctor? They may need their spouse, family member or friend to specifically help them. In that case, am I content to refer them on to someone more appropriate? Leading to my next point…

• Have I understood what they need help with?
Are they actually asking for practical help? Or are they just wanting the opportunity to explore things, get outside of their head and just vent to think clearly?

• Do I have the resources?
In times when they are actually asking for help, I need to consider if I have the resources. This does not necessarily mean can I carry out the task, it also includes how much is it going to cost me and those around me. Have I said yes to a number of different people recently? Do I have any looming deadlines that need priority? Have I had enough me time? Sleep, exercise and rest. If I don’t, I need to explore the next point…

• Is it urgent?
Can the request wait? I might have the resources available soon, can I say yes at a certain time? If the request can wait, I do not need to jump in with the help straight away and do a half job, I can wait and do my best job which would be more helpful in the long run.

• What does it mean for me if I say no?
Finally the biggest question of all. If I say no, what does that say about me? Does it mean I am a bad person? Or am I being genuine in wanting the best help for the other person and not promising myself when I am not able to?

After all, it is only when I say ‘no’ that my ‘yes’ truly has value.

As you can see, we can only help others when we invest in ourselves.

Foundations for Discipline

Children and Tantrums

We were all set to enjoy a leisurely afternoon wandering the many aisles filled with many helpful and unnecessary items for sale. It was the first week of the school holidays, the shopping center was packed with bustling bodies all there for various reasons.

Though we were only there for five minutes when the first “I want” demand was announced. After trying many different tactics for 20 minutes (bargaining, distracting, demanding, physically removing from the item in question) – we found ourselves heading straight back to the car, admitting defeat and feeling embarrassed by the loud, obnoxious scene that was right there in full view of the public.

As parents, we expect that children’s behaviour will be difficult, and yet when it comes to our own children, we are often shocked at this unruly, disrespectful behaviour.

Why the shock? When we see bad behaviour we often put it down to either difficult children or bad parenting.

It is the “bad parenting” that scares us. I don’t believe that people deliberately decide to be bad parents; we do the best with what we know. However when our child starts acting out especially in front of strangers; our guard goes up and we desperately try to curtail the screams of a child’s tantrum, which often just ends up causing more noise and pain than it would have if we just ignored the situation.

Though we cannot ignore all tantrums. This is the important point – people often say “ignore them, they just want attention”, when the opposite is needed! We actually need to pay attention because they need direction. How far will they push the limits to make us teach them where their boundaries are?

Children cannot be held at the same level as adults, the way children learn their boundaries is to push them – can they be trusted? will the safety net fail? are they allowed to go there?

So how does this affect our approach when it comes to discipline?

1. When your child misbehaves, isn’t a pure reflection on your parenting – so try hard not to take it personally.

2. Misbehaviour may be an indication that there are boundaries that the child is unclear about – this comes back to not taking it personally – if we take this personally chances are we will not notice what the boundary is which needs to be addressed – adding confusion to the child and therefore increasing the chance that they may push that boundary once again (if not many more times).

3. Create clear family rules (broad rules, e.g. is it kind, is it safe, is it fair) and ensure the child is familiar with them.

4. Stick to those family rules – before reacting to certain behaviour, identify which rule has actually been broken, if the rule had not been addressed, consider does it actually need to be included and revise the rules accordingly.

5. This is the hardest point – Ensure you have self-control yourself. Discipline is ultimately training a child in the way they are to go, by correcting them in anger and frustration is not just teaching them that what they did was wrong, it is actually teaching them how to communicate when they are not happy.
Instead, take time to calm yourself so you can send your message clearly and correctly. This is still a work in progress for myself, and I dare say it will continue to be for a long time yet.

Discipline is not just an act of correction – it is a lifetime of direction. By keeping these five basic points in mind, we can start to see a difference in both our children and ourselves.