Archive for the ‘Accountability’ Category

5 Ways to Make Your Resolution Stick

It’s easy to make a New Years resolution. The tough part is being able to make it last. So I thought I’d offer a few suggestions that have worked for me.

1.  Commit your resolution to God to help you stay on track

Willpower, shm-illpower! There’s no human way to persevere in our own strength.  And I hate to disrupt the enthusiastic flow of your January juices, but no one is the Energizer Bunny either. Just remember:

“But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.” –Romans 7:17-19 (MSG)

And . . .

“No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” –Matthew 19:26 (MSG)

2.  Put your commitment in writing

Write up a contract and sign it. Or make up a chart and post it where you are reminded daily of your goals. It may seem silly, but it really helps.

3.  Make your resolution measurable

This simply means you can’t say, “I want to lose ten pounds” without spelling out specific, concrete goals that help you reach your ultimate goal.

For example, you might want to eat healthier foods like lots of veggies and whole grains. You might want to cut out any sweets, fried foods and soft drinks from your diet. You might also include a specific exercise plan. All of these mini-concrete goals can help you to get to your ultimate goal. (So sorry for the food imagery in that last sentence. I hope I haven’t sent any of you dieters rushing out to Dairy Queen!)

4.  Seek accountability

This is simply another way to establish your commitment. You might commit to giving a daily update of your Facebook or Twitter status by posting your latest efforts. Or even better, you might enlist the help of a friend to ask you each day how you’re doing on your goals. I promise, if and when you do, you’ll be much more inclined to fend off any temptation to go rogue.

5.  If at first you don’t succeed . . .

Yes, we all blow it from time to time. Often this is when most resolutions go in the slush pile until the following January. But if you set out with the expectation that when you fail, you will “try, try again,” you’ll find that success is not far behind. After all, perseverance isn’t the absence of failures, it is the using of failures as stepping stones on your way to success!

Is Venting Your Anger Unhealthy?

Have you ever had an infestation of ants or roaches or . . . what about those dreaded bed bugs? Yuck! I hope not! But if you have, then you know that those little buggers can find the smallest places to hide or invade. And you wouldn’t try to get rid of them by locking all your doors and windows, would you? Of course, not!

Unfortunately, anger manifests in our hearts and minds very much like an infestation of bugs. When that happens, we may try to ignore our anger or lock it down tight. That won’t work for real bugs, so why do we think it will work with our anger?

Unless we squash or exterminate our anger directly, it will find a way out—either through our actions, words, or unfortunately, through physical or psychological problems. That explains why venting is often the first line of defense we turn to in order to get rid of this “bug.” But if we do that in a destructive way, it’s sort of like burning our house down to kill a few cockroaches!

I believe there are some misconceptions about what venting may involve. So if by venting you mean you are criticizing and degrading whomever you are angry with (to them or to others), then venting is absolutely destructive. But if by venting you mean you are simply looking for an outlet to respectfully process your anger with a positive purpose in mind, then I’m all for it!

We all, from time to time, need to process our angry feelings with at least God, but also with a trusted friend, and sometimes even with a trained counselor. BTW, the idea of meeting with a friend to process anger should not be to gossip or indulge in a gripe session. It is about finding a safe, confidential place to express our hurt and disappointment with the goal of gaining perspective in order to better respond to the one who offended us.

In my experience (because I am very prone to self-deception), God has used many a truth-telling friend to help me see how I’ve been thinking wrong. I thank God for those Divine moments, because God is using someone to help me to turn from my sin and face my responsibility. When I do that, I am doing the “One anothers” of the Bible like, “Carry one another’s burdens . . .” (Gal. 6:2a HCSB)

Venting or dumping our anger can be unhealthy, but we all need to find healthy outlets or we’ll just end up, as my late father used to say, “With ants in our pants!”

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Are You Vulnerable or Simply Open?

People hide behind their words. We do it with each other whenever we simply answer, “I’m fine” to the ever-popular question, “How are you?” On a grander scale we do it every day with our spouses and loved ones when we share our feelings, but not our vulnerabilities.

It’s not unusual for me to be open with my husband about my irritation when he hogs the remote. And I never hold back my disappointment with my kids if they don’t appreciate my help.  In fact, sometimes I’m even open with my friends about my fears and worries. But am I ever vulnerable with these same people?  Not as much as you might think.  In fact, I think most of us delude ourselves into thinking we are more vulnerable than we really are.

It’s interesting to note that the definition of vulnerable is: “Susceptible to physical or emotional injury; susceptible to attack; open to censure or criticism.” It’s not simply a run-down of what we think and how we feel. It involves a deep surrender and personal sacrifice.

In other words, we can say that we are open about how we feel, but if we do not open ourselves to inspection, or even worse, criticism, then we are not being vulnerable. Being open about your feelings is like opening your door and greeting a friend.  But being vulnerable is like opening the door to that same friend, asking him to come in, look around, and then letting him rearrange the furniture!

We can be open by simply being aware of our feelings and being honest enough to share them.  Of course, that means that I can edit out certain feelings that might not be as flattering to me. I can share openly about what I want the hearer to hear, and avoid the trouble spots.

But to be vulnerable, we must be willing to reveal parts of ourselves that might be considered weak and inferior.  Being vulnerable requires humility and a willingness to face pain and rejection. That’s why vulnerability is so hard and so rare.

I say all this because vulnerability, not just openness, is a requirement for any worthwhile and deep relationship.  I’ll go one further, in my experience, vulnerability is a requirement for a fulfilled life.

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Dear Beth-E: Should I stay or should I go or should I grow?

Anonymous wrote:

I recently ended my relationship with my ex-husband. I had felt strongly to do so for some time. Unfortunately, I have moved on to yet another relationship that does not uphold my Christian values. I know I need to move from this relationship, but my question is, How do I guard myself from attaching to someone because of fear of being alone? I know to trust God. That’s why I took that leap to leave my ex.But I then convinced myself that God must have sent the other individual. I am quickly learning that is not the case. What do I do?

Dear Anonymous,

It sounds as if there are many factors that I would need to know in order to make a fully informed suggestion.  But based upon the facts you’ve provided, I will give it my best shot.  My first observation is that it sounds like you already know what you need to do!  The Bible is very clear about being unequally yoked, whether married or dating (2 Cor. 6:14).  If you are married to him, then you must choose a different course of action to honor your vow.  But if you are simply dating him, maybe you just need someone to encourage you to end the relationship.  But if that’s not enough to move you in the right direction, then here are some more specific suggestions.

If there are major problems cropping up because he is an unbeliever, then as time goes on those problems will not get any better.  In fact, you can count on them to get worse–not just stay the same. I’m assuming you are not married to him, since you have referred to him as this “individual” rather than as your spouse.  If that is the case, then you can pull away from the relationship, although it sounds as if you have difficulty doing that once you’re emotionally involved.  If you cannot take the steps necessary to pull away, then I would suggest getting into a support group of some kind, or maybe even seeking a Christian counselor or Christian accountability partner to walk through the issues with you. The very fact that you recognize that you have a problem attaching to men in a premature or unhealthy way indicates that you need to seek additional support and perspective.

I would also say that those issues probably stem from two main areas: unresolved issues from your relationship with your ex-husband and unmet needs that probably began in your childhood.  You will need to “process through them” or even “grieve them” in order to adjust that inner drive to attach in unhealthy ways.  Working on that can take months and even years, so I would suggest getting down to work as soon as possible!  In addition to the emotional/psychological end of things, I would reinforce your spiritual support as well.  If you are not actively involved in your church and a Bible study, then now would be the time to commit to all of the above.  Hope this helps!

If anyone has other questions, please click on the comment box attached to this post and I will reply when I can.