Personal Growth

HOW DO YOU HANDLE "ONE OF THOSE DAYS?"

How Do You handle “One of those days?”

frustration.gif



A three hour traffic jam

A mechanical problem on the plane

An obnoxious drunk

            What do these three have in common?  A common thought -- “oh no, it’s going to be one of those days!”

That’s the day I experienced and the thought I had a couple of days ago.  And the thought was becoming a fast-rushing train hurtling toward my peace of mind.  My day would be derailed if I didn’t gain control of that out-of-control thought. 

I’ll tell you what I did to get back on track, but first let me fill you in on the ingredients of that mess.

             It was one of those days…… Actually, it seemed like a few days.

The first problem – A three-hour traffic jam.  Jerry and I had been on a combination business/pleasure mini-vacation and were headed back to Phoenix when we saw cars lined up ahead of us.  There were no nearby exits; we were stuck.  We sat there, parking-lot style, for three hours. 

The next day we prepared to go home, ready to leave our problems behind.  But no.  We boarded the plane, taxied out to the runway when the pilot announced these dreaded words:  “Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a mechanical problem which requires us to return to the terminal for the mechanics to fix it.”

 We were stuck in the airplane for an additional hour which seemed like three.  It was already late at night, almost midnight, and I thought I’d try to rest a while.  But no.  An obnoxiously and obviously drunk lady behind us very loudly kept proclaiming we were all going to die! Even after we finally took off, she kept loudly cursing and laughing until I wanted to turn around and slap her! (In Christian love, of course)

I can assure you, I got no rest and exhausted, fell into bed after 1 AM 

The next morning at work it was tempting to wonder, “OK, what’s going to go wrong now?“

Well, I decided to change the direction of those thoughts because I know the enemy would love nothing more than for me to live in negativity, worry and defeat.  I think he’d love for all of us to live that way!

But I decided to stop that train and take charge of me.  I took a few minutes to read what God says about renewing our minds.  I took a few minutes to pray.  I took a few minutes to do my “shake and bake exercises and stretches” to change my thoughts, my energy, and my body. 

In just those few minutes. I began to feel calm and was able to focus on all the things I was grateful for in spite of those aggravating incidents.  We did not die.  We got home safely.  I changed my thoughts to joy and anticipation for the next adventure.  Because it is true that while we cannot always prevent what happens to us., we can change how we respond to it.  And sometimes, as in this case, we have to see how quickly we can rebound. 

Life isn’t about how fast you can run or how high you can climb….

It’s all about how well you can bounce! 

How do you handle life’s obstacles and irritants?  How fast and well can you bounce?  You probably have a different “formula” you follow to renew your mind, but contact me by commenting below if you would like more details about the steps I took. 


 

butterflies on weed.jpg

 

Three Things To Stop To Be An Effective Woman

stop light for conference.PNG

3 Things To Start

Three Things To Stop:

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone; the new has come. 

  1.    Stop letting other people dictate how You feel about You.

Can happen – consciously – you’re very aware/hurt, etc. by what someone says about you – like my high school Home Economics teacher who said, “Barbra is an example of the way NOT to do this.” 

        Or unconsciously –which is actually more powerful – When my mother revealed her history of sexual abuse, she also helped me realize why my father held off being affectionate with me. He had promised his new bride, “you will never have to worry about that when we have children.” I recognized that unconsciously, I became “performance minded”  and a “people pleaser.” 

        Results of either/both:  always looking for others to help you feel good or OK about YOU.  You’re not self confident. 

 What is confidence, then? Confidence is not – “They will like me,” aka Sally Field, but rather…

 Confidence is:  “I’ll be fine if they don’t.”

Psychological term – External vs. internal validation

Everybody has their own insecurities about something.

        Look in the mirror – what do you notice?  Usually what’s “wrong” – what you don’t like about yourself.  And then you think everyone ELSE is looking at you.  Ann Landers said it this way many years ago: :

            At age 20, we worry about what other people think of us.

At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us.

At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.

You know what I’ve discovered?  Even if people look at you, within 1-3 seconds, people go back to what they were doing.  Why?

Everyone’s busy with their own problems. 

In my book, “Yes! I Said No! - How To Set Healthy Boundaries and Increase Your Self Esteem,” I talk about developing thick, armor-plated skin and share my own example of this:in Chapter 10- (story of 2 people talking in hallway)

I discovered this truth: 

“Our worries aren’t supported by reality.”

People don’t judge you non-stop.  And even if they did, why do we assume they’d think negatively about us?  It might be good!

        How to STOP?  As I say in my book, 2 rules will help:

1.     If you can’t let the worry go within 24 hours, do something about it.

2.   Choose to assume people don’t think of you all the time and if even if they did, their thoughts would be nothing but positive. 

If you STOP the worry and replace it with a POSITIVE ASSUMPTION, (don’t leave a vacuum) – new neural pathways in your brain develop, taking you down a different track.

The Second STOP


(2)      Stop Looking For What’s Wrong

looking at the bad.jpg

Imagine you’re living in caveman days.  The men are out hunting and the women are left to tend the fire, watch after the kids and also keep an eye out for any hungry animals lurking around, just waiting for a chance to grab a chunk of meat roasting or maybe even to drag away a small child.  You have to be watching for danger all the time!  And women, with their brains wired to do several things at once, rise to the occasion! 

Fast forward to today, add 24-hour news programs focusing on the ills of society, and social media posts which quickly spread the word about others’ success by which we negatively compare ourselves and it’s no wonder we look for what’s wrong!  We assume if we can fix what’s wrong, we’ll be happy. 

        Wrong!  We can’t fix anyone (that includes our husbands and kids) and we wind up feeling disappointed and discouraged.  Marriage studies have revealed an interesting 90:10 ratio in marriages.  90% of the time we like our partner, 90% of the time we appreciate our lives, but what about that 10%?  That’s the hubby who doesn’t get the “honey-do” list done when you think he should, who never learns there’s a “right” way (your way, of course) to load the dishwasher, or other very important “stuff.” 

        I believe that same ratio exists in our world in general, because we’ve been taught to think this way. From the time we’re students who are told that yes, that B is ok but couldn’t you have done a little more and gotten an A?  If we get feedback, even if most of it’s good, what do we gravitate toward?  The one negative comment. 

        Are we doomed to keep looking for what’s wrong?  What’s not enough?  What’s not yet done?  We even complain to God that things are not happening as soon as we think they should! 

        I have to remember something I posted the other day:  “Most things worth having usually take longer than we thought they would, and are more difficult than we think we can endure.” 

        Vow today that you will follow Paul’s advice:  “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:7)
 

BR Dont like yourself.JPG

 3.   Stop being afraid – to face the past, to have a dream, to ask for what you want. 

 

 

Lessons from Bees

bee.jpg

At the beginning of the year, Pastor Toure’ Roberts shared his vision for 2018 –

Thinking Big:

  • We are a big church

  • Focused on the big picture

  • Building big people

  • Making a big impact

Pastor Toure’, of course, was specifically referring to the Potter’s House, but we’re all here to make a difference in the kingdom of God, and there have been and will be many opportunities to do just that. 

I will always remember the woman who said, “I attended class on Tuesday, and I read your daily reflection. Last Sunday I wanted to end it all but I went to church instead.”   A life saved!  Now that’s a big impact!  And no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you influence those around you. 

That’s why we do what we do - and how we impact people’s lives in a big way. And maybe we’ll hear about some of those impactful things we do; others we may never hear about but we serve, and we plant, and we sow. In the end, we’ll be building those big people and making a big impact in our families, our city and our world.

  • Something I read the other day says it well, and I call it “learning from bees.” Every creature in a beehive, every single honey bee, has a purpose — a role it follows its entire life. Guard bees protect the hives, nurse bees take care of the babies, and architect bees build the hive’s hexagon structure, making it mathematically perfect in every way. There are even undertaker bees who remove the dead from the hive and fly 100 yards to dispose of the bodies.

  • Certainly, humans have purpose in their lives. But why are bees so single-minded and committed to that purpose? It isn’t just for the good of the queen. It’s for the good of each other, for their whole community. That’s us — we’re here for the good of each other, for the whole community.

You’re here to make a difference!

Mission To Mars

A Mission To Mars

[By Barbra Russell, MA, LPC, Director, PHD Counseling Ministry]

I remember when I saw the movie, “Hidden Figures,” about three African-American mathematicians who played an integral part in NASA’s space-race success.  It was amazing to learn about these phenomenally intelligent women making a difference at a time when women as a whole, much less, African American women, were not recognized for brilliance, much less for helping out in the space race!

            No, during the decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s, it was often said that “women’s brains aren’t made for mathematics and science.”   And I never heard the story of those “Hidden Figures” until the movie came out in this decade.  How many other women (and men) have remained unknown, unseen and unheard, yet have made a significant contribution, a difference, to society and to our lives?           

            Just think, you might be sitting next to someone at church who has such a story to tell.   Someone like Jessica from The Potter’s House Church of Denver:     

Jessica took part in PHD’s Life Groups lay counseling classes, completed leadership training and the emotionally healthy relationship groups where I had the chance to get acquainted with her.   She is also an ordained elder and obviously has a heart for God and for ministry and not only at church; Jessica is recognized as a leader in the community.  She recently participated in something special through her work and sent me the following note:

jessica davidson at NASA.jpg

            “I just spent the week working with women engineers on the Mars 2020 mission at NASA in Pasadena.

            It was amazing; leadership development for people who are already extremely cool.  God is amazing.  I shared some of my story with them, which included my core, core value of being a child of God, which drives my essential purpose and personality.

            Some of them came up to me after, thankful that I did, because talking about God is usually taboo.  Once I opened the door, they felt safe to set aside the norm and share their same beliefs with each other.  (secretly, of course, don’t tell the astronauts, ha ha!)  I love this gig!”  (signed) Jessica

             In 2020, I’ll think of those women engineers and how The Potter’s House of Denver is now connected to them because of Jessica and the impact she made on a mission to Mars.

            Has there been someone who’s made an impact on your life?  I’d love to hear from you and learn their story as well.  Contact me at:  barb@barbrarussell.com

 

 

             

Healthy Boundaries Class

Yes, I Said No!
Setting Healthy Boundaries

Why We Need: Yes, I said No! Setting Healthy Boundaries:

In this class, participants will discover the answer to such questions as:

●       Have you experienced burnout or find it difficult to have time for both work and family?

●       Do you find it difficult to speak up for yourself?

●       Do you ever feel you have too much to do and not enough time to do it?

●       Is your life controlling you, instead of your being in charge of your own life?

All these concerns, and more, can be solved with proper boundaries to protect work/life balance and the challenges of an overloaded schedule or demands from family and friends. 

     “Setting Healthy Boundaries” is an eight-week class starting March 1 offered at the Potter’s House Church of Denver, 9495 E. Florida Avenue.  There is no charge for this class which will be held on Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:00 p.m. 

      Presented by Barbra Russell, Licensed Professional Counselor and author of the book, Yes! I Said No! – How To Set Healthy Boundaries and Increase Your Self Esteem, these classes will help you regain your passion, excitement and life balance. 

      Class participants will learn how to:

 ·        Say no without blowing up, wimping out or running away

·        Learn how to care for people without carrying them

·        Balance work and life in a healthy manner

     To more information, contact the counseling department at The Potter’s House at 303-369-8514

 

The one most powerful thing you can do for someone

Whether it's in a counseling setting, in your marriage, or if you're visiting with a friend, here's the one most powerful thing you can do for that person.  Check out this short video to find out:

https://www.facebook.com/barbra.e.russell/posts/10210790934112265

 

Brain Power!

For our brain, there's no difference between reality and imagination. Our brain reacts to every thought and cannot tell a fact from a fantasy. This is why people looking at the world through rose colored glasses feel happier, and this is why our body accepts a placebo as a real pharmaceutical product. 

The tree trunk speaks!

J ust Say No! 

Just Say No! 

When it's even carved into tree trunks, you have to pay attention! Say no to the wrong things - the time grabbers, the people who leave you feeling sad and bad, or keep you dependent on them.

You'll then have the energy, passion and self confidence to say yes to risk, growth and things you love

Do you hang on to known misery rather than reach out for unknown happiness?

Do You Hang On To Known Misery Rather Than Reach Out For Unknown Happiness? 

                During July, I watched “The Sons of Liberty,” historical stories about a group of men fighting in the American Colonies for freedom.  It brought to life figures like John Adams, John Hancock, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, those US founding fathers we usually see depicted as older, bewigged and solemn as they’re signing the Declaration of Independence.  

  This series, however, shows young, courageous and seemingly fearless men determined to break away from a far-away king’s rule, British corruption and “taxation without representation.”  They were called “The Sons of Liberty.”  

In the TV depiction Samuel Adams, cousin to the more well-known John Adams, is a hero who found his calling as colonial activist, motivating and inspiring others to rebel against the British.  While admiring his dashing acts of bravery, I was struck by this thought:  today, we might not be physically fighting for our freedom, but we often wage war in our minds.  We need freedom; we metaphorically cry: “give me liberty or give me death!”  We can relate to Samuel Adams and The Sons Of Liberty.

  •          Like us, I imagine Samuel Adams often thought, “I can’t,” “why me?” or “this isn’t fair!” 
  •         Samuel was unsuccessful as a businessman in colonial Boston.  Who among us hasn’t faced defeat in a business opportunity or lost a job?  At those times, we might mumble as perhaps Samuel did, “I tried it and it didn’t work.” 
  •         Samuel experienced dissatisfaction with his life in general.  Perhaps, like us, he woke up one morning to discover he had turned into the wrong person. 
  •         Samuel was driven by desperation – he was broke – when he took on the unpopular task of tax collector for the British.  Although it’s been almost 250 years since the Sons of Liberty spearheaded the cause for liberty, I think at one time or another we all find ourselves feeling desperate.  I know I have.  I remember times filled with hopelessness, anxiety and despair when I was ill and jobless or when I was facing a life without one of my legs.

However, something interesting happened as Samuel Adams reluctantly collected taxes; he began to see a clear pattern of British corruption that did not sit well with him!  That immense dissatisfaction and sense of outrage ultimately led to his playing a significant role in “The Boston Tea Party,” and “The American Revolution.” 

Almost 150 years later, Oswald Chambers penned words that Samuel Adams would undoubtedly have embraced and that we identify with today: “We lose interest and give up when we have no vision, no encouragement, and no improvement, but only experience our every-day life with its trivial tasks.”  Sometimes, like Samuel Adams, we just need a purpose.

In the war of our minds, we also experience times of overwhelming situations and wonder, “what on earth are you doing, God?”  We ask, “what possible good could come from such a horrible break-up, loss of a job, or devastating illness?”  If we’re honest, we get mad at God, upset with the world and are disappointed with ourselves for getting into such a mess. 

With the advantage of hindsight, we’ll later say things like, “Oh! That’s why I got so discouraged!”  Or, “Now I see what God had in mind; it was better for me to go through that situation.”   But usually, the first insight comes as we, like Samuel, start to dislike the way things are.  From that uncomfortable place, when we’ve had enough, we’re ready to do something different. 

That’s the beginning of the battle in our minds.  We long to step out of our comfort zone and react differently or try new things. But the part of our brain which seeks familiarity; which hangs on to known misery rather than seek unknown happiness, demands comfort, not challenge. 

      The first skirmish is the decisive one.  We struggle with how it’s always been, what we’ve always done and who we’ve always thought we were.  But when the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the fear of change, we are ready to brawl. There may be more battles to face, more obstacles to conquer, but we’re on the way. 

And just as Samuel Adams and “The Sons of Liberty” brought freedom to our land, we can bring freedom to our minds. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               

 

True Love, Marriage Advice and Wisdom of the Years

My nephew and niece's daughter (does that make her my grand niece?) is getting married this month and I was asked to provide some marriage advice for the newlyweds.

In my years as a counselor, teacher and married woman myself, I thought this would be good to pass on:

To The Groom: Remember to step up and speak up; it's important to say what's on your mind, whether that's how much you love her or how much something is bothering you. Both pay off in the long run! It's also important to keep doing the things which made her fall in love with you, so if you need to set a reminder on your calendar for 6 months or 6 years from now, you'll still be planning special occasions, or sending flowers or whatever it is you do!

To The Bride: For most women, we have to remember to shut up! Because of the way we're wired, we tend to look for what's wrong and what needs to be fixed and point that out -- and keep pointing it out! But men will begin to shut down and not talk about real things if they feel whatever they say will be criticized or whatever they do is never enough.

Here's wishing you will both experience many years of love, happiness, respect and honor.

#truelove #marriageadvice #wisdomofmanyyears

Transition and Stress

      Everyone will experience change, a transition, at one time or another.  

There is nothing so consistent as change

                During a time of transition, people normally experience stress because our brains and entire beings seek homeostasis, a survival mechanism.  We want things to stay the same.  here are some helpful tips to deal with transitions and the accompanying stress. 

                 We can help others – and us – by doing three things:

1.  Normalize This Time – People are not crazy; it’s normal to feel a whole range of emotions during this time.  From depression, anger, sadness, & disappointment to confusion and triggers which remind us of previous trauma and loss; it’s all normal

2.  Grieving The Loss – We all go through the stages of grief because in transition, we always lose something.  As in the death of a loved one, the stages apply here as well:  Shock and denial, anger and depression come and go as we grieve.  Just when we think we’ve successfully navigated one stage, we find ourselves back in the same feelings.  Again, that’s normal.  Grieving is crazy-making!  We eventuallymove to acceptance with sadness for the loss.

3.  Process The Feelings – It’s important that people don’t stuff all that grief and emotions but rather have opportunity to process, or talk about, the change in a healthy manner.  We can help by using the following skills:

  •  Create Safety – Provide confidentiality; knowing what they share with you won’t go any further.
  •  Listen without judgment – paraphrase the content and feeling; they will feel understood.  “i.e.,  “I hear you saying you feel pretty angry about this.” 
  • What NOT To say: 
     
    • Just trust God
    • Look on the bright side
    • I conquered it this way
    • Just read and pray more
    • Or any other “advice-giving” statements.  Unsolicited advice is like chopped liver – not appreciated. 

Adversity is Difficult but Good

I recently tweeted this:  "Adversity is difficult but good - it makes you develop muscles and resources you didn't know you had."

A reader commented:  "Yes.  My "muscles" are almost on bodybuilder level.  (smile) It's all working for my good though."

I thought that's an excellent way to look at this process -- because bodybuilders are tough, they're toned, they're usually preparing for a contest.  

We daily enter a contest we call life -- the more times we go through adversity and exclaim, "Whew!  Made it," we're usually a little wiser, a little tougher and more prepared for the next challenge in this experience we call life. 

 

The Meltdown

            It was August, and an idea hit me, like lightning striking a lone tree on a hilltop.  I would put on a women’s conference!  And I’d do it in two months!   After all, as one of my favorite authors, Jim Rohn, said: “The time to act is when the idea is hot and the emotion is strong.”    

            I gathered a team around me and we set out to bring that idea to life. The “Highly Effective Women’s” conference was set for October and all worked feverishly to make sure it happened. 

            Chapter nine of my newly completed book, Yes! I Said No! clearly spelled out the steps to “Dream Big; Think Small.”  That was me, right?  If I wrote it, I’d better practice it!  This seminar would be a Joyce Myers, Christine Caine, Beth Moore event, all wrapped in one! 

It was the week before the conference when the meltdown happened. 

            Like hot lava spilling out from an erupting volcano, disturbing thoughts burned my mind, leaving tears and hopelessness in their wake.  “Who do you think you are to do this?  You are definitely not those famous women you admire; you’re just the Great Pretender.”   

            You can’t entertain such thoughts without suffering severe side effects and I spent the day wallowing in self-pity and despair.  The next day, however, the stern schoolmarm part of me stepped in, saying:  “Get a grip, Barbra!  You’re going to do this thing!”  And I set out to do it, to complete the job.  After the “Highly Effective Women’s Conference” was held in October, the participants, the team and I all declared it a success.

            Why do I tell you this story?  Because I bet I’m not the only one who has dreamed a dream that seemed too big to accomplish, not the only person who has doubted their ability to make it all the way to the goal line.  Perhaps you too have heard the echoes of doubters from your past wickedly whispering in your ear, “You never finish what you start, you quitter!”  I bet I’m not the only one who has ever felt those qualms of inadequacy; not the only one who has suffered a meltdown. 

            A few weeks after the conference, I was reflecting on what happened.  Why on earth did I experience that day of panic?  It had been a while since that happened, even though I remembered other times when such mind-attacks would put me in a depressive funk for weeks or maybe even months. 

            This truth then hit me – Even though I had had a bad day, I must be further from the volcano of self-doubt, insecurity and lack of confidence in myself.  Yes, only one day of feeling discouraged equals progress for me!

            When you encounter the inevitable setbacks, discouragement and doubts which beset purpose-driven people, instead of repeating a well-rehearsed mantra such as “well, I can’t do this,” look at the progress you’ve made.  All too often we assume an “all or nothing” attitude.  We look at things as black or white; success or failure.  We need to recognize the shades of gray which represent progress. 

            I imagine if today you carefully measured the distance from your particular volcano of obstacles, you’d see yourself further down the road than you were years ago, months ago or even weeks ago.  Because it’s a fact that if you keep getting up after you fall down, you are going to succeed.  If you keep trying, you will learn and grow.  And if in the process you have a meltdown, you will discover, as I did, that it wasn’t as bad and didn’t last as long as before.  Keep on dreaming those dreams; continue taking action when the idea is hot!   

meltdown.jpg

Barbra Russell, MA, LPC

Counselor/Writer/Speaker

www.BarbraRussell.com