Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Overcoming Fear

My very special guest today was Dr. Steve McSwain, award-winning author of The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God. He spoke about how people’s anger against the church has caused many to leave. His observations can also be applied to other areas of life as well, such as reasons why people sever their relationship with family and friends. He spoke about the growing frustration among parishioners for the Church’s failure to accept responsibility for their mistakes. We are all familiar with the scandal plaguing the Church in recent years. When an individual or organization commits an offense, it is vitally important for them to take ownership. People want to know that they fully understand the nature and gravity of the issue for three reasons: one – in order to make amends to those affected. Second – so that the offense will not reoccur. Failure to identify the problem can lead to it repeating itself. And finally – it is human nature to seek justice against those responsible. This holds true in our personal and professional relationships as well.

The other point Steve addressed was dealing with fear. With Americans exposed to a wide array of religions, there is a growing fear in the Church that parishioners will leave what they are unsatisfied with and seek fulfillment elsewhere. Fear is one of the underlying components of anger and can cause one who is insecure to threaten, coerce, bribe or manipulate the other to maintain the status quo. Facing loss and change evoke uncertainty in those who are weak and insecure. Anger becomes a powerful force designed to regain control over the situation or individual.

Powerlessness, the very definition of anger, occurs when people feel as though they have no choice. As Steve pointed out, we always have choice. We may not like the options presented to us but there are always decisions we can make. One can choose to leave an organization they are not happy with or remain, working towards making changes that will benefit them and others.

So, how can one overcome fear? First, accurately identify the source of your fear. This takes awareness and may require the assistance of an outside party. Next, don’t judge yourself saying such things as “You’re just being silly. You shouldn’t be afraid.” Own your feelings. Take a step back and simply observe them. And finally, call upon your faith in God who stands beside you at all times. Having faith does not prevent bad things from occurring. It means God will provide all of the comfort, support, guidance, and assistance we need to survive and thrive in the face of adversity. 

Good points. Lots to think about.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How To Keep Your Cool When Nothing Is Going Right

We all have those days, weeks or even months were everything seems to be working against us.  At times, it feels as though we must have a huge red bulls-eye painted on our head or a sign pinned to our back saying “kick me”. Hard as we try, nothing is going right. I’ve been having one of those months. 

How easily we get frustrated, upset, and angry and want to just pack it all in and quit. Recently, I thought about calling my 88 year-old mom to ask if I could come home and be a little kid again. (She’s say “yes” if I asked.) But we can’t go back in time (and really, who’d want to?) so if would serve us well if we learned how to deal with those “kick me” days.

1.       Whatever situation you’re in, remind yourself that “this too shall pass.” All events are transitory and will eventually give way to a new set of circumstances (although there is no guarantee they will be better).
2.       Put everything into perspective. Most of what we get angry about it insignificant in the whole scheme of things. See the bigger picture.
3.       Remember to breathe. Simple, but a deep breath really does help keep us calm.
4.       Sip water.  Staying hydrated also helps us to stay cool.
5.       Only deal with the issue at hand. Do not concern yourself with other matters until they arrive. This can easily overwhelm you and create added stress.
6.       Talk yourself calm. Self-talk - your internal voice - is the most powerful voice in your world. Keep it positive repeating calming statements such as “I am fine. This is not a big deal. I can figure it out.”
7.       Use humor – it diffuses the situation and lightens the load. Years down the road, you’ll probably laugh about it anyway so why not do it now?
8.       Create a plan of action: what can you do to make the situation better? Do it now.
9.       If the situation will not change, decide how you will handle yourself within the context of the event and how you will allow it to effect you now and in the future.
10.   Remind yourself that your issues are your issues. It is never permissible to take out your anger and frustration on another. Always treat others with kindness, dignity and respect. Be pleased with who you are and become in the face of adversity.

Let it go. Put it to rest. Be grateful it is behind you. Then vow to use the same techniques the next time. (Oh, and there will be a next time, you can count on it!) Peace.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Post below.