Tag Archives: forgiveness

Want to Forgive-compassion-mental-health

Want to Forgive? You’ll Unlock it with Compassion

You think you have forgiven, but now and then anger bubbles up. You try and stuff it back in its box, but you know that its whisper is still fuming around your heart. Perhaps you need to discover compassion.

A step that is unusual and not what you naturally want to offer, but contains a promise of release that I’ve experienced and you can too if you pray a dangerous prayer.

Meet Smudge.
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Confession-Step-Towards-Harmony-mental-health

Confession, A Step Towards Harmony

Confession can take the pressure off ourselves and give an opportunity for harmony to come into our relationships.

Six things we need to learn about confession for our Mental Health.

‘I need help with my husband, wife, child, friend.’

I have an anonymous survey here on Turning the Page where people can share with me what they are struggling with. I don’t share what people write, but I do take notice and look for topics to write about. One of the most interesting trends I am seeing is the stress that comes about from the relationships we have. Continue reading

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.

Words.

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

7 Steps to Help Those who Ruminate.

Sometimes I think I am like a cow. I ruminate over things.

15248194507_2995f253e1_o-1 7 Steps to Help Those who Ruminate.

 

Much of my life I have spent time working on farms, I even have a University degree in agriculture. I humorously call this my degree in pastoral care.

Cows sit out in the field and chew the cud. With their mouth’s moving from side to side they chew food that has already eaten. Cows and sheep are ruminants and have 4 stomachs, so they eat their fill then they chew it later, colloquially known as ‘Chewing the cud’.

Rumination according to Wiki is defined in this way

Rumination is the compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions. Rumination is similar to worry except rumination focuses on bad feelings and experiences from the past, whereas worry is concerned with potential bad events in the future. Both rumination and worry are associated with anxiety and other negative emotional states.

Do you ruminate?

I know you don’t re chew your food, well at least I hope you don’t, but do you go over and over issues all the time?

What I had been taught all my life was not true: experience is not the best teacher! It’s what you do with that experience that matters. John Maxwell

I think we all have a tendency to do this, some more than others, but if you are always looking back then you are going to stumble in any efforts to going forward.

It’s like we chew over things. Round and around and around. ‘Woulda’, ‘coulda’ and ‘shoulda’ are echoed self talk sound bites leaving you malnourished of hope.

Why do we ruminate?

  1. To feel like we are doing something about the problem. We want to change a situation, so we keep going over and over and over it, looking for a solution. This feeling of doing something can just be a subtle downward delusional spiral to the depressing reality is that there is nothing you can do. The brain, in trying to resolve its tension, looks for the answer. Any activity, including rumination, feels good. We hate ambiguity, that sense of uncertainty and lacking of clarity. We want to solve the mystery.  So like a good detective on T.V. we hunt out the clues to solve the murder and eliminate the mystery. Know that you will never know everything and chasing the past for purpose is like chasing the clouds for pleasure. It will leave you exhausted and lost.
  2. To Self deprecate. Perhaps it is a way of punishing ourselves. That below the surface of our thinking there is a deeper trail of chewing. ‘I did those things, so now I have to punish myself’… ‘This is the consequence of my actions’ … ‘This is the reaping of what has been sown’. So we stew in this cud as punishment. Any sense of forgiveness, grace or loving fathers embrace (Story of Loving father – Prodigal son) is not allowed to touch our lips.
  3.  To potentially learn. We chew over the situation to glean some wisdom from the situation. We consider experience is the best teacher yet only considered experience teaches us wisdom. Rumination can be helpful, as long as it leads to action and not just stewing and

So what are you going to do with that experience.

Are you just going to keep ruminating on it forever?

7 steps to Help those who Ruminate.

  1. Write it out. Get what you’re ruminating in your mind out of the head and on to some paper. I think writing in a journal is one of the most powerful of all mental health disciplines you can have. Here is a link to some a post I have written on journaling.

    Learning to write is learning to think. You don’t know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing. S.I. Hayakawa

  2. Problem solve it. This where writing it down comes in really helpful. Get together with someone you trust and talk about what you have written down.Tease it out to find the problem. Find one concrete solution you can (not should, could or would) do to overcome what you are ruminating about.
  3. Engage in activities that promote the positive. What activities fill your mind with other thoughts preferably positive thoughts. Hobbies, mediation, reading, running, cooking. The main point is to get your mind out of the rumination rut for a while.
  4. Can them.  Get yourself a tin can, and as the questions come up write them down on a piece of paper and prayerfully place them in the can. Imagine yourself placing them in Gods hand to hold them for you. God has big hands! Place the can up on a shelf and leave it there. After a while take that can off the shelf and see if any of your questions have been answered in the intervening time. Add more questions when they come up. see more here
  5. Schedule them. Tell your brain this ‘I do not have time to think about that at this moment. I will think about it tomorrow at 3pm’. Its telling your brain that yes what you are presenting to me is worthy of time and thought so I therefore will make space for it. If you remember to think about at 3 pm so be it, but I have found quite often that this little technique will slowly deflate the rumination balloon of any sense of self-importance
  6. Place them. Do you have a place where rumination is worse? Look for patterns of where your rumination seems to occur more frequently and/ or more powerfully. ‘When I found a place to think my thoughts my thoughts found a place in me.’ John Maxwell
  7. Displace them. I often use truth coaches to get my thinking back on track. These are little powerful insights, quotes, verses that speak truth into my thinking. Find out more here.

Remember this. Whatever you dwell on, it will get you, in the end.

It will create thinking tracks in your brain the size of the grand canyon where every situational event will tumble into.

Quotes to consider and share
  • Monitor your thinking and deliberately dwell on the virtues of your difficult friend, or negative feelings will surely follow. David Riddell
  • What you focus on gets you. Focus on the negatives/ challenges will always take you down. Focus on the positive/ good things will always give me hope.
  • I choose to ruminate, ponder and toss over in my mind good things.
  • Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips. Dawson Trotman
  • The thoughts I indulge grow stronger. The thoughts I acknowledge and put in their place lose their power to discourage me
  • The tricky thing about rumination is that it feels like it’s helpful, but there’s no action taken, and you don’t move forward to some sort of solution. Carla Grayson
  • He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality. Anwar Sadat
  •  To change your emotions, first get control of your thoughts. Ruts of the mind become moods of the heart. David Riddell
  •  To achieve radical change, I need to call some of my feelings ‘liars’ and choose to side with truth, against my own emotions, until my feelings come around. David Riddell
  • 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 (The Message)

 

Exercises
  1. Use a journal to write out what you’re ruminating on. Share it with a trusted friend, counsellor or pastor and problem solve anything that needs addressing
  2. Find some truth coaches and write them out in an easily accessible place such as a small notebook you can carry at all times. When you feel the ruminations coming on, spend time reading your truth coaches.
  3. Get yourself a tin can and can the questions you are ruminating over.

Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: bogers via Compfight cc

p.s. what did you think about this post! Leave me a comment or tweet me at @barrypearman 

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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

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

How to Develop a Compass for the Brain

I am lost and need a sense of true North. A focal point, a direction, a ‘something’ to aid my progress out of the fog. 

Mental Illness is one of the worst fog generating experiences you can have.

Your brain can play tricks on you.

Your perceptions can change, some times quite dramatically, to being vastly different to everyone else’s.

I well remember someone pointing out to me the ‘Little spacemen in the tree’. Psychosis was fogging his thinking, he was unwell, but in his mind he was perfectly well.

Perhaps though the more subtle and less overt effects of mental illness can be more damaging. The thinking habits nurtured over many years in a watery soup of unawareness.

When the stress becomes too much for the fragile brain, we become disoriented, confused, and truly lost.

The fog has closed in and it’s black.

Mental illness often fog’s out a true perception of life. The perspective you have gets fogged by the interpretations you have made about events.

Event + Response = Outcome (E+R=O).

When the Response is effected by an illness then the Outcome can be disastrous.

When the stress loading becomes too much it is very easy to lose your way.

What we need is some sort of Thinking Compass. 

Something that we can refer back to time and time again, and that will always point towards true North. Always to healthy thinking and hope.

We don’t need some huge massive compass, too big to carry, too heavy to bear, and too incomprehensible to take in. When you are unwell you don’t want to be overloaded with information and unrealistic expectations.

Even previous learning experiences can hinder your uptake of new information.

It’s not so much that the client is unable to grasp the info, as he or she is easily discouraged, based on a fund of previous negative experiences in school. C. Scott McMillin

Do you have a compass for the brain? 

I have a handy-dandy little notebook (apologies to Blues Clues fans). It is small enough to fit in my back pocket and easy enough to pull out when I need a sense of direction.

I have a little notebook that is my Thinking Compass. I use a physical book, not an electronic recording device. I just think something quite tangible happens in the brain when you put the pen to paper.

Into this compass goes all sorts of material for me to keep training and coaching my brain.

  • Quotes. These maybe quotes I have gleaned out of books, podcasts, social media etc. Short and pithy, powerful and true.
  • Empowering and Challenging questions. Questions that stop you and make you think and consider some tough choices. e.g. Am I truly taking responsibility for my own life, today? In what ways am I going to help someone else today?
  • Scripture verses. The Bible is full of verses that speak truth in the innermost being. Read it and glean goodness.
  • Counselling insights. If you are getting counselling perhaps your counsellor can write down some the keys insights they want you to think and consider.
The criteria for material getting into my Thinking Compass is that there has to have some sort of ‘ah hah’ moment attached to it. There has to be a ‘light bulb turning on experience’ when I read it.
Basically my brain needs some sort of new learning experience for it to make a new pathway.
Making new pathways in our thinking is hard work, much like building a rope bridge over a chasm. Many repeated journeys back and forth in the brain will make a new thinking bridge strong and secure.
Going back to the Thinking Compass time and time again is needed.
The thicker the fog, the more times you will have to refer to the compass.
Question to Consider and leave a Comment.
  • Do you have some favourite verses or quotes that are like a compass to you? Why them and would you like to share them in the comments section?
  • Have you had an experience of a Mental Illness being like a fog around you, disorienting you, affecting your judgements? What helped you? 
  • Can you have too much information? How can you discern what is most helpful and disregard the rest?
Barry Pearman
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