Category Archives: Empowerment

Wake up! There is No Santa Claus for Mental Health

Neither is there a tooth fairy, superman, or even dare I say a ‘Jesus’ who will wave a magic wand, sprinkle fairy dust, heal you, and make all your problems disappear for you to have better mental health.

We all like to get involved in stories where there is a hero or heroine with a white horse, Aston Martin or some sort of super power. In reality though the story we are involved in everyday is non fiction. Its real, and made up of earthly problems. Continue reading

Do You Have A Rhythm of Nourishment?

I almost overlooked it. There it was, a small little camellia flower. Deep pink, just beginning to burst out of its green cocoon.

I had almost walked passed it without noticing its gift to me. While I was busy pruning and looking at some straggly looking shrubs, I saw this little flower. Here amongst the overgrowth was a small camellia, starving for light but desiring to express its beauty out to the world. I stopped, looked and took in nourishment for the soul.

This gift of beauty was for me, right here right now. I studied its beauty and imbibed its petite delicateness.

Do you take time to smell the roses/camellias?

Continue reading

Do You Have A Rhythm of Alignment?

The steering wheel was dancing around in hands like it seemed it had a mind of its own.

Vibrating in little jolts, this way then that, I knew exactly what the problem was. My steering wheels were out of alignment. It was like one wheel wanted to go one way whilst the other wheel wanted the car to go in another direction.

Back and forth the battle continued until I limped into the tyre shop for a wheel alignment.

Continue reading

Are You In Sync With The Rhythm?

I’m not a dancer, but I am a musician. I believe that our Mental Health is closely linked to the rhythms we keep.

I have played guitar since I was thirteen and one of the little practice exercises I used to do in the early days was to play a piece of music either really slow or really fast, but it had to make sense.

As I progressed on in my learning I began to join with others.

I quickly learnt that if I was going to part of some ‘good music happening’ then I needed to learn the rhythm of not just the music, but the people as well.

Continue reading

Step 11 Is A Step You May Either Love Or Hate

Step 11 in the 12 Step Recovery tradition brings some challenges.

For many people who try to follow the 12 Steps, Step 11 is a step they either love or hate:

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Perhaps “hate” is a particularly strong word; yet some followers of the Recovery program have some difficulty getting in touch with the spiritual side of Recovery. Continue reading

What Opens The Door To Joy?

It was so delightful that you could smell the perfume of joy sweep the room.

What-Opens-The-Door-To-Joy- What Opens The Door To Joy?

She was in her 30’s and had been diagnosed with a psychotic illness. Voices in her head were her constant companion. She was into some New Age stuff mixed with Catholic teachings and a liberal dose of Joyce Meyer. It was a happy meal combo that suited her.

So when I asked for people to give a message or sermon on one of the Beatitudes she jumped at the opportunity. She chose to speak about what it means to be meek.

With a couple of photocopied sheets from easy to read commentaries and devotionals she went off to study and pray.

I met with her a couple of weeks later to discuss what she had written.

She had read and mulled over the topic to where she decided that meekness was all about being in control. She discovered that the classical Greek word used to translate meekness was that for a horse that had been tamed and bridled. She instantly connected this with her voices. That there was an element of being disciplined, of being under the direction of a master tamer, that the voices needed to be brought under submission. That with Jesus, the help needed, would be there.

So the evening came when  she was to deliver her message. I had sat with her and we had crafted the words together. She stood there and read them out to an astonished  group of fellow struggler’s. She had nailed it.

There was joy. Joy in my heart for what she had done. Joy in her heart for the achievement and for the connectedness with her friends.

She shared this message with her family and friends. Photocopy after photocopy was made and distributed.

When I recall this story I remember a Jesus story where he describes a woman filled with joy.

“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.” Luke 15: 8-10

Joy comes as  by-product of something that was lost, now found.

Joy comes as a by-product of empowerment of a gift.

Joy comes from those things and those people who most would consider small and insignificant.

You see, something within her was given the outlet to express itself. Something deep that was hidden under all the labels and symptoms. It was a gift that needed to be given.

There is a party going on and you’re invited. Not to be a wall flower spectator, but to be a participant in joy.

How do you get to that party? What opens the door to joy?

Be still and take notice of the small.

Quotes to consider

  • Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. Marianne Williamson
  • I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for Joy. C.S. Lewis,
  • Joy isn’t simply a feeling. Joy is a response to a certain states of affairs that have been changed, created, to which there is a particular way of responding. Miroslav Volv

Questions to consider and leave a comment.

  1. Where have you found joy in the small?
  2. What is required to find joy?
  3. Have you ever discounted a moment of joy? Why?

Barry Pearman

What is the Gift Your Wound Has Given You?

‘Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me’ is a fallacy.

Words can hurt. They can cut right to the core of your being and can echo around and around in your mind and drive you to despair.

Just think of the abuse of text bullying. A few choice words here and there, and cuts are made to the heart and maybe to the skin. I wonder how many suicides and suicide attempts have a few words as the catalyst of destruction.

A barrage of abuse on a weakened spirit can break the will to go on. Words like nails are hammered into your psyche.

I think of Jesus and the barrage of words rained down upon him in his trial. Matthew 26.

Words can drown out life.

Words can also be the soothing balm needed on a wounded heart.

Little phrases like

Well done
Thank you
You’re going to make it
I’m going to help you

I am with you

Words and gestures from ‘Big people’ in your life. That older person, that person with the street cred, mana, wisdom, grey hair. That one, for reasons unknown to yourself, who just whispers to the heart ‘you’re going to be ok’.

I listen to many words through a range of podcasts.

I discovered Nadia Bolz-Weber on the Podcast Onbeing where she was interviewed by the host Krista Tippet.

In the podcast Nadia states these words.

I have this thing about being a preacher who reveals things about herself, and it’s that I always try to preach from my scars and not my wounds. So, talking about depression is not in any way a wound for me.

When I heard this I felt connected with her journey, her depression, wounds and scars.


So I created a meme, and now it has been my most repined image on Pinterest.

938cdd843e984659903a50d29d0cdcfb What is the Gift Your Wound Has Given You?

Why has this been so incredibly popular?

I think that the image grabs you because it’s a real person, like us. Not some model, superstar or icon, and yes I know they are real too.

The words I think touch down on some core pain points. Our wounds and our scars.

They give us a sense of hope that wounds can, in time, become scars. That we don’t have to be stuck as wounded forever and that out of those battles there can come a gift.

For Nadia Bolz – Weber, as a pastor, the gift is preaching. For others it could writing, singing, teaching, listening etc…

What is your gift?

Today I listened to a an interview with Rob Bell. He was talking about a time where he was speaking in Miami and a women in the audience stood up and asked this question.

What do you say to somebody whose young daughter has just died from a mysterious illness that only a few people get. What do you say to me, because I have just lost my daughter.

I said first off in the ancient wisdom tradition in some suffering there are no words, there’s silence.

So first off I would begin with that any one that does give you nice clear-cut answers for why your daughter died, I don’t know.

Secondly I do know this, that some point down the road your going to meet up with a women who has also lost her young daughter and your going to look at her in the eyes and your going to say ‘me too’ and in that moment that you’ll be standing on some holy ground. Solidarity is divine. When someone stands with you.

Here is what happens. The woman standing next to her starts gushing and says ‘My young daughter is really sick and they have only given her a little bit of time to live and this woman turns to her.  Rob Bell – How to Practice and Understand Faith and Spirituality

Words, solidarity, hope.


Barry Pearman

8 Steps To Discovering Wellness Through Knowing Your Early Warning Signs

Often I travel over some sharp twisty roads. One of these roads has a large hill and just on the other side there is a beautiful view with a fence that has been driven through.

There are signs to tell drivers to slow down, but for this driver the signs were ignored, boundaries were crossed and lives put in danger. If you know the signs then you can avoid the catastrophe. Continue reading

Saying ‘Yes’ empowers your saying ‘No’

Inviting your ‘Yes’ to be ‘YES’ encourages your ‘No’ to be ‘NO’.

photo-1417024321782-1375735f8987-3 Saying 'Yes' empowers your saying 'No'

Some boundaries are easy to defend with the word ‘No’ whilst other boundaries you feel like they get walked over all the time.

The other day I was offered a piece of very yummy looking chocolate cake. I very quickly and easily said ‘No’. The person begged me, and even pleaded with me to take it. They didn’t want to see it go to waste (or maybe their waist!), but I was easily able to say ‘No’, yet again.

The reason why I was able to say ‘No’ was because I have an allergy to egg and having that tempting delicious piece of poison was just out of bounds. I was saying ‘Yes’ to health and ‘No’ to being sick or even death. I have had to say ‘No’ probably thousands of times to various delicacies offered to me, but I just know the consequences.

Saying ‘No’ to something, where there is a very clear and dangerous outcome, is easy compared to saying ‘No’ in a relationship which you are emotionally connected into. Saying ‘No’ may just mean violence, abuse, subtle and not so subtle manipulations, isolation, punishment.

Saying ‘Yes’ to them when you really want to say ‘No’ can leave you feeling like you’re a doormat with them walking over you, stopping to rub there dirty shoes into your passiveness. Then anger creeps in, resentment builds, self loathing but still you remain the doormat.

I think of Jesus and how he said ‘No’ to so many different things because he had decided to say ‘Yes’ to something greater. Jesus was no doormat for others walk all over. He knew where the boundaries, the lines of Love and Respect, were drawn.

Jesus said ‘No’ to ministering to the poor and needy at times because there was a greater ‘Yes’ alluring him to spending time alone with the Father. Jesus said ‘No’ to avoiding certain geographical areas (Samaria) and outcasts (lepers, poor, tax collectors) to the alluring appeal of all mankind. Learning to say ‘No’ is good. You don’t have to be a servant or slave to someone else’s demands.

I like what Bill Gaultiere of Soul Shepherding has to say.

Tired care-givers often have trouble saying no and avoid speaking the truth in love. They are more readily drawn into trying to rescue other people and without realizing it may end up enabling selfish or irresponsible behavior in the people they’re trying to help.

They may get so enmeshed with the people they care for, trying to continually to please them and walking on eggshells for fear of upsetting them, that they “lose themselves.”

They lose track of what they need and what’s important to them or what God has called them to do. At some point they may realize that they’re not being their true, God created and God redeemed self. Bill Gaultiere

Some questions

Are you a rescuer? Do you avoid conflict? Are you an enabler of the behaviours of others? Are you so enmeshed with someone else that you have lost your ‘self’?

Recently I wrote about the Lines if Love and Respect. Those pencil thin lines that exist between the ‘I’, ‘We’ and ‘Work’. Boundary lines that call for us to choose to say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’

The will power to saying ‘No’ comes from discovering and nurturing what your deep ‘Yes’ is.

As a follower of Christ I find within him a strong model of saying ‘No’ at times so as to nurture his deep ‘Yes’

Jesus’ deep ‘yes’ was found within the eternal love relationship he had with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He knew what perfect love, relationship and presence was like. This deep alluring ‘Yes’ was the one thing that kept him going. Therefore it was the unwillingness to bend or flex away from this path and conviction that got him into so much confrontation.

What is your ‘Yes’? Like a deep satisfying long desired breath of pleasured relief – ‘Yes’. What allures, excites and compels your inner self to a love beyond understanding.

I want that. That is my ‘Yes’ and so anything or anyone that gets in my way to that ‘Yes’ I will be saying ‘No’. The stronger conviction I have of my ‘yes’ the stronger will be the conviction of my ‘No’.

Inviting your ‘Yes’ to be ‘YES’ encourages your ‘No’ to be ‘NO’.

Barry Pearman

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Do you care for your ‘I’?

I need space.
I could put this another way in that my ‘I’ needs space.
I need space away from all the pressures of life.

As I begin to write this I am sitting in my truck on the way to work. It is dark outside but I am alone and enjoying the opportunity to write. It’s a habit I have building into my life this year of writing 100 woulds everyday.

Life can be so busy, frantic and rushed that often we can just skip taking care of the ‘self’. Perhaps we under value our ‘self’, we havent yet learned to love and respect ourselves enough to draw a line in our busy schedules to just stop and take care of our needs.

This deficit leads to tiredness, fatigue, anger, and frustration with ourselves and others. We care for others but give little concern for our own needs.

We can also spiritualise this by believing that caring for others is more important than for ourselves. This is what Jesus would do, supposedly. I remember in Sunday School learning, what I would now call a hideous little song, ‘J.O.Y.’ sung to the tune of jingle bells. The J.O.Y. being an acronym for Jesus first, Yourself last and Others in between.

This is a song that can set one up for a life

of slavery to the needs of others.

Jesus never sang this song and not because he didn’t know the tune. Instead he said to love others as you love yourself. He also rested and took care of his needs so he could continue to minister. He ministered out of a cup replenished from spending self care time alone with God.

Years ago a psychologist Renier Greef showed me a model called ‘I, We, Work’.

‘I, We, Work’

Basically it is three equal sized circles joined together to form over lapping intersections. A circle representing time, energy, focus.

2015-03-05-06.18.58-1024x622 Do you care for your 'I'?

The ‘I’ being all about you. What you like and dislike. Who you are specifically. How you are different to everyone else. That you are special, unique, and have qualities that unique to you.

The ‘We’ are those relationships close to you. Family and friends.

The ‘Work’ is all those work activities you do. Paid, unpaid, housework, voluntary.

I would also add another circle around all three of the other circles to have God encompassing all areas of your life.

A balanced diagram would have all three circles equal in size.

Life isn’t that straight forward though is it. Typically either the ‘We’ or the ‘Work’ circles get over inflated with the ‘I’ circle being sucked dry.

2015-03-05-06.18.58-1024x622 Do you care for your 'I'?

If you are supporting someone close to you with an illness then the ‘We’ circle can expand and gain dominance with the other circles shrinking. With lots of work and activity in your life then this circle grows and the ‘I’ suffers.

If you have narcissistic tendencies then perhaps the ‘I’ circle swells and sucks the life out of the ‘We’ and ‘Work’.

The struggle point is in keeping the ‘I’ circle inflated appropriately and to not let the other areas of your life dominate or suck the life out of the ‘I’.

Its all about Love and Respect. Loving yourself and others, respecting yourself and others. Keeping your life in wholeness balance with an all encompassing God who loves and respects you.

 Do you love and respect yourself enough to draw lines or boundaries

around what you can and cannot do?

The healthiest people I know are those that take care of their ‘I’. They keep the ‘We’ and the ‘Work’ in balance to their own needs. They don’t allow others to suck the life out of them. They have come to realise, often through hard lessons, that if you want to give to others then you have give to yourself first. That you can’t give from an empty cup. 

Just because you ‘could’ doesn’t mean you ‘should’.

So they plan for healthy life giving ‘I’ activities. They place their own needs as being just as important as anyone elses. Here are a few examples

  • Gardening
  • Movies
  • Reading
  • Walking
  • Painting
  • Cooking
  • Scrapbooking
  • Surfing

Whatever regenerates you, then it is special for you.

Don’t let others define what is special for you! 

It doesn’t matter what others may think of it. If it fills your emotional ‘I’ tank then make plans to do it.

By now you are probably thinking of all the ‘but’s’.

But I don’t have enough time, but what will … think or do, but I’m not worthy of this.

This is called resistance. Its what you face into whenever you are going to make a change. Please kick your ‘but’s’ in the butt and make some plans to care for yourself. You may just setting a great example and role model to others that they need to take personal responsibility for themselves.

Here is what I want you to do.


Do one special activity for your ‘I’ today. Take at least 5 minutes to do something special just for you. It is special for you, no one else. What would your soul most enjoy? A walk, some time reading, smelling some flowers, putting on your favourite music that nobody else likes. For this moment its all about you and caring for that dry and thirsty soul.

Then come back and share in the comments what you did and how you found it.

Barry Pearman

Surf photo from Unsplash

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