Category Archives: Anxiety

Recovery Starts With a Question Being Asked.

Do you like questions being asked of you?

I don’t think any of us like that feeling of potential shame and exposure.

Ever since Adam hid himself from the gentle questions of a loving God we have chosen to avoid, hide and lie to camouflage the obviousness of a problem.

I don’t like my inner world being exposed. I prefer to present an image of acceptability.

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How Relinquishing The Need To Control Can Give Us Freedom From Anxiety

Guest post from Cyndy Lavoie

Years ago I was struggling with anxiety.

It had come on so fast (within just a few months), and so strong that I was seriously considering going to the doctor for some medication to help.


When I am anxious I feel it in the middle of my back. My muscles lock down and it feels as though a band is constricting my torso. The rest of my body feels wired up and ready for an emergency; my fight or flight mode kicks into high gear.

Prior to this I had never been prone to anxiety but life had become exceptionally stressful due to a primary relationship that was becoming increasingly unsafe both emotionally and psychologically and which was leaving my future very uncertain.

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Do your Mottos Serve You or Enslave You?

When I was at school we used to have a crest of arms with a motto. Courage and faith.

 15386792137_8600d636b0_o-1-1024x768 Do your Mottos Serve You or Enslave You?


I also have unspoken mottos and beliefs that I picked up as a children from my parents and my culture. Mostly they are helpful, but some have led me astray.

I have had to review lots of my thinking. Some of the mottos and beliefs that have I unconsciously held on to and have guided me are no longer needed and are actually harmful. I need to replace them with healthier motto’s and beliefs.

Do you have some little motto’s and assumptions that tick along in the background of your thinking?

Perhaps they were drummed into you on a regular basis as a child. These mottos shape your responses, direct your thinking and ultimately can possibly cause you a lot of stress.

Here are a few examples

  • If a jobs worth doing its worth doing well
  • Praise makes proud
  • If its going to be then its up to me
  • Good things are not for us
  • Peace at any price
  • Never trust a female/male
  • Tall poppies need cutting down
  • Don’t rock the boat

These are but some family and parental beliefs and assumptions, spoken and unspoken, that can be handed on to us as children and then reinforced trough experiences as adults.

Not every family motto is negative, but it is the negative ones that need to be reassessed and challenged. Are they creating hope or havoc in you?

There is often a dark side to some of the seemingly good motto’s.

‘If a jobs worth doing its worth doing well’ can lead a to a life of perfectionism. That the job is never quit perfect enough. That others will judge our worth by what we do and so we have to keep to very high standards of performance. If we slip up just a little bit then self loathing can ensue, with depression and anxiety following closely behind.

 Improvement of our lives begins with the renewing of our minds, which is begun in turn by challenging old beliefs and childhood conclusions. David Riddell 

Those family and cultural mottos can keep haunting us like ghosts, shouting at us when we make the slightest mistake. Controlling our every attempt to break out of out current thinking ruts.

  • Never upset mother/father
  • Possessions are more important than people
  • Apologizing equals weakness
  • Sex is a duty
  • It’s us against the world

For a free list of typical family mottos click here 

Do you labour under some heavy family and cultural motto’s? Do you want to come out from under them because they don’t seem to fit anymore.

One day Jesus was talking with people who, just like us, were burdened down by motto’s and rules.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Mathew 11: 28-30 (The Message)

It seems to me that Jesus was offering an alternative way of living. A life where grace was an under girding motto. Jesus was pointing his finger towards heavenly family mottos and beliefs that were supernaturally based and not contrived by humanity. Jesus was one who did not conform to the ‘thinking patterns of this world’.

Paul wrote about it this way

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1,2 (The Message)

How do we come out from the Family cultural motto’s of today and learn to ‘live freely and lightly’?

1. Get away with Jesus. Spend time in prayer, quietly praying for his wisdom and peace.

2. Ask Jesus to reveal the faulty family or cultural beliefs that are ‘heavy or ill-fitting’. We all have them and Jesus wants to give you a new set that are based on grace. Motto’s that will help you to ‘recover your life’.

3. Trace back to where you learnt this faulty way of thinking. When was is that you that you learnt them.

4. Ask your ‘self’ this. Does this belief serve you or enslave you?

5. Prayerfully ask what would be a healthier and balanced alternative motto?

6. Write this new way of thinking down in an insight journal. A little book you can carry around and refer back to time and time again. A book of insights to refresh your thinking.

Family and cultural motto’s don’t have to control your world now. They can replaced by new ways of thinking.


Questions to consider and leave a comment. 

  1. What mottos, both good and bad, guide your thinking?
  2. What cultural mottos are harmful to you?
  3. What cultural mottos are helpful?


Barry Pearman

p.s. For a free list of typical family mottos click here 

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Digging For Dirt Is Not Good For Your Mental Health. 4 Keys To Help You

If you’re digging for dirt then you’re going to miss the Gold
I was watching one of the many T.V. cop shows the other night and they were ‘digging for dirt’. The detectives were scouring over the history of a suspect looking for any dirt they might have. Old evidence, convictions, witness statements all being examined for clues that they could arrest, convict and punish.
What about yourself and the relationships you are in? What the relationship you have with yourself?

Do you dig for dirt?

Do trawl over your life and others examining for any trace of dirt. Knowing that you can then arrest, convict and punish.
Having good Mental health is not keeping a list of wrongs about yourself and others.
There was a “troubled couple who visited a Christian counselor for help. The wife’s physician had advised her to see a counselor because she was developing an ulcer that apparently had no physical cause.
During the session, the wife slammed down on the counselors desk a manuscript ‘one-inch thick, on 8½ by 11 paper, typewritten on both sides…a thirteen-year record of wrongs that her husband had done to her.
The counselor could immediately see that the wife’s resentment of her husband’s many faults and her meticulous documentation of each one had made her bitter.
Keeping a record of her husband’s sins had only made matters worse, to the point of causing this woman to become physically ill.” [Quoted in Alexander Strauch’s Leading with Love, pg. 72]
That is an extreme case of not just a ‘digging for dirt’, but of storing it up for continued consumption.
We may not keep a written list, but do we keep a mental list? ‘She did this, he did that, I did this or that’ just sitting there, in the thought blender, chugging round and round.
Paul in writing about love tells us this.
Love … keeps no record of wrongs 1 Corinthians 13:5
But I want to keep a record of wrongs. I want to prove my case is watertight. If I don’t have the evidence then they might just get off without any consequence.
You see my life is all about me and the hurt done to me. They owe me and I have the evidence. I need to be control of my world, I alone can keep myself safe.
The great distinctive of the love of God is that there are no strings [or records] attached to it. God simply loves humans. God created us for a love relationship with the Divine Self, and nothing that we can do—or not do—changes the love God bears us. God loves sinners, redeems failures, delights in second chances and fresh starts, and never tires of pursuing lost sheep, waiting for prodigal children, or rescuing those damaged by life and left on the sides of its paths. Dr David Benner

4 Keys to Ripping up a ‘Record Book’ Mentality.

  1. Ask yourself why ‘record keeping’ is important for you.

What is driving you to keep account? What fruit does it give you? Unless you know what this behaviour offers you in return then you are bound to repeat it. Trace, face and displace those motivations with Gods truth about you. 
  1. Look for gold and diamonds.

If you’re constantly looking for dirt then guess what you’re going to find – DIRT!
Start right now by looking for gold or diamonds. Look for the positive!
Paul tells us
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8
I wonder what the wife who had the stomach ulcer would have been like if instead of keeping a list of wrongs she wrote a list of rights.
Optimism is a learned skill. I need to encourage myself and tell myself the truth
What I focus on gets me. Focus on the negatives/ challenges will always take me down. Focus on the positive/ good things will always give me hope
  1. Be thankful.

Be thankful for all the gold and diamonds in your life. Turn your gold and diamonds into praise and thanks to God. Make it a habit.
  1. Pray and ask God for an increased supernatural ability to forgive.

We are made in the image of God who has the ability to choose to forgive. That being the case then we can be of the same mindset. Pray, ask God to transform your mind, to change the mental neuron mapping of your brain that habitually goes down that ‘record keeping’ pathway. Together with God you can change the way you think, neuron by neuron.


A few final thoughts

Grace is totally alien to human psychology. We want to get our house in order and then let God love and accept us. Dr David Benner
Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive. C.S. Lewis
Good Mental health is not keeping a list of wrongs. Do you?
Questions to consider and leave a comment
  • Why do people keep a ‘record of wrongs’?
  • Do you think God, in partnership with you, can change your thinking?
  • Why is it that what you focus on will always take you to that place? What do you focus on?
Barry Pearman

Photo Credit: Second-tree via Compfight cc

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p8XwtF4HLkrQ1SkNYl83yWGJwptEAqpFq0GKiMB1U2abCRqtOy9wYbeVkWezKTnFF6NYN-xj19HIvBOeBHGtzFyD5wxaVr8tSwd8bX0S0_M0naugXe00OuAU Digging For Dirt Is Not Good For Your Mental Health. 4 Keys To Help You

For Your Mental Health You Need To Stop ‘Stopping It’ .

Try harder, you can do it, just memorise these verses/insights, pray more, … just STOP IT.

Ever felt frustrated at change in yourself. You try to stop doing the things that annoy you and others. You try and try and try. You have people in your life who think you’re being lazy, naughty, selfish. Labels fly and you seek help from a psychologist.

One definition of the word ‘Stopping’ is to close an opening or hole by covering, filling in, or plugging up. A bottle of wine is stopped by placing a cork in its opening.

Often we put a cork in our mouths to stop ourselves from expressing what is really going on, deep down. We think by ‘stopping it’ the thoughts and feelings will magically resolve themselves. We may have had experiences of talking and expressing our thoughts and feelings only to be put down, ridiculed, gossiped about, shamed.

So we ‘Stop it’.

Give the bottle of our lives enough shaking though and the cork will slowly squeeze up to the top no matter what we do and an explosion of emotion bursts out. Shame, guilt, fear, and embarrassment smear the soul.

So what do we do?

We ‘Stop it’ again.

We repress our deepest thoughts and feelings and hope we can contain it all better next time.

The cycle of bondage to the cork continues.

Some times I think our Church experiences encourage a Band-Aid mentality of superficial soul care.

What is really needed are Safe people.

People who will gently explore the deep (and often dark) caverns of the soul where the corked bottles remain. For some it is a veritable wine cellar of vingerary, out of date, vintage, pus.  Nice metaphor? not really.

Please don’t ‘Stop it’ any longer.

Seek help, find people who are safe. The Pastor, the Counsellor, the Spiritual Director, the friend who listens without judgment and doesn’t reach for ‘quick fix’ band aids.

Questions to Consider and leave a comment.
  • Why do we try and play ‘Stop it’.
  • What makes a person safe?
  • Have you had people tell you ‘Stop it’ either directly or indirectly? Have you done this yourself to yourself?

Barry Pearman
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83080875_314a9c2d2d_o For Your Mental Health You Need To Stop ‘Stopping It’ .


Do you Fear being Discovered?

As a child I played ‘hide and seek’. 
As an adult my inner child can still play that game.

Favourite places to hide were under the bed, behind the couch, in a wardrobe. I could hear my pursuers counting down from 100, and of course missing half the numbers. Then off they would go turning over the furniture and looking behind curtains. Footsteps approach, floorboards creak while I lie quiet as a mouse. The cat moves away and my breathing returns.

Would they return, would they still continue to seek me out, will I be here forever, undiscovered.

A childhood game can lead into an adult lifestyle of discovery fear.

A garden, a fruit tree, a sign ‘Don’t eat’, a bite so small, a toxin so great.
An unknown pain in the belly, a shame, a tree to hide behind.

Snake, satisfied, slithers away.

A game commences, the gardener sings out with puzzlement ‘Where are you?
I appear from behind the tree, naked and fearing rejection.
He clothes me with love mingled with tears of grief.

Do you like being found less than adequate? Do you fear visibility?

Do you keep running and running and running just to keep away from the feelings and echoes of the past?

Jesus was in that garden and he is still in pursuit of the heart.

He is not afraid of your nakedness, he has seen it all before and experienced the shame and mocking himself. He knows the torment of an emotional abandonment storm.

He woos you to present yourself, to come out from hiding in your safe place.

He won’t hurt you, he will embrace you with gentleness and warmth.

Listen to this paraphrase of Matthew 11:28-30

Are any of you ready to admit how tired you are? I know you’re worn out by trying to live right with a husband who hardly ever makes you feel special. You know aren’t doing a very good job of it. And how about all those decisions you face that confuse you? Like whether to visit a sick dad who has failed you miserably.

Have you realised yet how worthless your religion is? Are you burned out on all those principles you’re supposed to follow, all those recovery techniques that are supposed to make you feel good about yourself and live more happily?

“What’s your red dot? Where are you? Come to Me exactly as you are.

Stop trying so hard to be good. Admit you’re not so good. Admit how disappointed you are in what you’ve experienced so far of Me. I know you wonder if I even care. Sometimes you’ve even hated me. Be who you are in My presence. No, its not a pretty sight. But I’ve found a way for me to look at you with excitement. And my Father is singing over you. You won’t hear the music till you come out from hiding.

Come, present yourself to Me.

I’ll walk with you as you present yourself to My Father.

It’ll be all right. Trust Me’
– Larry Crabb – Papa Prayer

We take a step.

We come out from hiding.

Shouts of gleeful anticipation joy ring out through the heavens.

I am discovered, explored, known, touched, and something is released in me.
Barry Pearman

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2265764285_15a5a8985a_o+(1) Do you Fear being Discovered?

5 Steps to take when the Panic button has been pushed

Right out of the blue some words are spoken and thoughts are triggered. Feelings rush in like a flood.

Panic, heart racing, fear, sweat. Your mind is completely caught up in this moment of drama

You trace out the possible future if ‘this’ or ‘that’ happened. Like dominoes falling you are trapped in the endless collapse of your future.
First, let me assure you that you are not alone. Many people struggle with panic attacks.
Some of the characters of the Bible certainly faced anxiety, fear and panic. Jonah ran in panic and fear from God’s calling to go and preach to a city full of murderous God haters. Gideon was hiding in a winepress when God asked him to take on a whole army. Peter denied knowing his best friend Christ when asked.

Fear was shadowing their lives. Does fear shadow yours?

One of the most familiar themes of the Bible, from beginning to end, is that of a ‘With you God’
The statement ‘I am with you’ is mentioned, or inferred, over and over again.
  • I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20
  • Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
  • And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Judges 6:12
  • “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23
  • And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 15:20
  • And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17
  • Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:7-10
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”Deuteronomy 31:6
  • Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
Paul, waiting in a prison cell in Rome for his execution, writes these words to his friends in Philippi.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength. Philippians 4:6, 7, 13
Paul shares his secret of what to do when facing fear.

He prays, expresses both needs and thanks, and lives in Christ Jesus.

Here is what I would like you to do when you are panicking, worrying or living in fear.

5 Steps to take

  1. Take some slow deep gentle breathes
  2. Focus on the breathing flowing in and out of your body
  3. Invite the sense of Jesus ‘being with you’ to surround you like a warm hug
  4. Pray this prayer
I can face  ________________________ (name exactly your deepest fear) if it happens because Christ is with me, by my side, and he will give me strength.
  1. Repeat this over and over again with every fear or worry that comes to your thinking.
You may like to add this prayer to your Thinking Compass.
A Celtic prayer to finish
Prayer of St. Patrick
Christ be beside me, Christ be before me, Christ be behind me, King of my heart.
Christ be within me, Christ be below me, Christ be above me, never to part.
Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left hand, Christ all around me, shield in the strife.
Christ in my sleeping, Christ in my sitting, Christ in my rising, light of my life.
Christ be in all hearts thinking about me, Christ be on all tongues telling of me,
Christ be the vision in eyes that see me, in ears that hear me, Christ ever be.

Questions to Consider and Leave a Comment.

  • How much does the sense of being alone contribute to panic and fear?
  • What scriptures help you when the ‘panic button’ is pushed?
  • How does narrowing down and getting specific on what you are panicking and fearful about help calm things down?
Barry Pearman

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12 Insights in How to Respond when it is Insisted that Mental Unwellness be kept Private.

‘Please don’t tell anybody’

We can get caught with heavy loads at times.

Recently I received a question about how to handle the situation of a teenager insisting their parents keep their mental unwellness private and not to tell anyone.

I don’t know the full extent of the story but I can relate to this as I have been asked of this myself, and then if the person is into any sort of emotional manipulation they might tag on ‘or else I will … kill myself, run away, never talk to you again’.

It doesn’t have to a parent either as it can happen between friends.

What do you do though!

You want to be loyal to the relationship you have with them but you also want them to be well.

12 insights I have learnt.

  1. Know your capabilities. Are you truly capable of giving them the very best of care? The majority of us are not, and even professionals will enlist others to give an opinion on such matters, particularly when there is a personal involvement.
  2. Accept the pivotal role you have. You can be a great family member, parent, friend etc and they will need you for this.
  3. Share the load. People can place incredibly difficult privacy burdens on us. For this situation I advised the family to talk about the situation with some medical professionals, just to get some advice for themselves. Mental health professionals make assessments of wellness all the time. They know what to look for. They also know what is available to help both the person involved and their family and friends. If for no other reason, involve others for your own sake, because you are worth it. You don’t need tell the person involved you are doing this because its actually about you and not them. You need the help.
  4. Don’t tell the whole world. The person does need some privacy. If you are wanting to tell others, who have no real business in knowing, then check out the underlying motivations for doing so. Are you seeking sympathy,support, validation etc…
  5. Get help for yourself. Their recovery is ultimately their responsibility but you will need others around you for your support. It may well be others who have been through similar situations, be might be a pastor, counselor or safe friends. Just someone who can be your confidant and cheerleader.  
  6. Get on with life yourself. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of their unwellness. This can potentially create unhealthy dependencies. They will need to see good role modelling of what life is all about. Self care is not being selfish. It will enable you to ride through many storms without drowning.
  7. Tell them your Boundaries. ‘This is what I can do and this is what I can’t’. You may need to write the boundaries out for them.
  8. Affirm your commitment to them and encourage Hope. Tell them that you care about them and want the very best for them and that sometimes this love and care means making tough calls nobody, especially yourself, likes to make. Tell them that there is an answer out there and together we need to go on a journey of discovery to find it.  
  9. Early Warning Signs. What are the Early Warning Signs of them becoming unwell. Often there are signs that indicate that danger and further unwellness is ahead. What are they? Is it withdrawal, lack of sleep or something even more subtle that they themselves might be totally unaware of. Check out this article. I often put these on a graph asking what happens before/ after eg a lack of sleep etc. A good question to ask them is what needs to happen when these signs appear – call my nurse, Doctor?
  10. Privacy limits. I always say to the person that I will keep what they say as being private unless I consider in my opinion that they are a danger to themselves (self harm etc) or  a danger to others. The weight of carrying the responsibility of someone elses unwellness is too great for anyone.
  11. Create a recovery community. Recovery will involve many different people with many different roles. It may well involve the professional doctor, nurse, therapist, but in the long term it will be the friends, family, work colleagues, church members etc that will be the cheerleaders of recovery.
  12. Ask them what it is that they fear if disclosure is made. They might well fear rejection from family, friends etc. Better to problem solve this and discuss who would be safe people that help can be sought from.

Questions to consider and leave a comment.
  1. Are there other insights you have?
  2. What is the danger for you and them by keeping things too private?
  3. What do people fear if their mental illness is made known?

Barry Pearman
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To get daily insights and quotes Follow me on  Twitter     Facebook      Google+  
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8371699001_0a0d5d1d92_o+(1) 12 Insights in How to Respond when it is Insisted that Mental Unwellness be kept Private.