Archive for the ‘Positive Attitude’ Category

How Are You Pitching Your Message?

I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan and have been all my life. And although I don’t sit and watch a game very often, I always, thanks to my husband, keep up on their standings (which are pretty depressing, right now!). And it has occurred to me that communication is a lot like baseball. Allow me to explain . . .

Let’s say that the communicator is like the pitcher. He has a lot of control over how the ball or message is received by the listener or batter. If the pitcher puts just a little spin on the ball, coupled with high velocity speed, the batter might end up striking out!

In the same way, when we send a message, we need to be extremely aware of how we are “pitching it” to our listener or we may end up striking out in our conversations!

Now, imagine someone telling you, “You look great!” Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy all over? But what if you knew that the message was sent with a sarcastic and angry tone? Would that change the way you received the message? Sure it would! Non-verbal communication puts a powerful spin on the words we say.

Communication studies have shown that words alone account for only 7% of the message we convey. The majority of our message (93%) is through non-verbal cues, (55% is based on body language, and 38% is on our tone of voice).

Generally speaking, if you find that you or someone you know often sends negative non-verbal cues, you might want to consider looking at whether anger is the underlying issue. If you are the angry one, then consider reading the series of posts I did called, “What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t” (Parts 1 – 4) and really give yourself to the forgiveness process.

If the anger is coming from the other person, then try to avoid negative non-verbals whenever you talk with this person. Very often when you positively model the right non-verbals, you can influence the conversation for the better.

Now, normally I would want to offer positive tips on non-verbal communication, but I think that identifying the negative non-verbal cues is more revealing and relevant.

So here’s what to avoid:

  • Crossed arms or legs
  • Clenched hands
  • Sudden hand, head or arm movements
  • Poor eye contact
  • Eye contact that is too intense or threatening
  • Rolling your eyes
  • Laughing at inappropriate times
  • Stepping or leaning away
  • Leaning in too close
  • Frowning or smirking
  • Loud, angry or sarcastic tone

Next time you find yourself feeling misunderstood, frustrated, or in an unintentional argument, check to see if you may be pitching your message with a negative spin! Oh, and as far as my beloved Cardinals are concerned–watch out for us next year!

What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t – Truth #1

What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t – Truth #2

What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t – Truth #3

What forgiveness Is and Isn’t – Truth #4

Today’s post is linked to Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chattingatthesky blog

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

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Do You Need a Pep Talk?

Are you a “cup-is-half-empty” kind of person or “cup-is-half full?”

I have found that the person that I’ll refer to as the “Half-Empty” tends to be more negative, more critical, more depressed, and often is more of a perfectionist.

Just about everyone knows that if we focus on the negative, we tend to feel worse. Conversely, if we focus on the positive, we feel better. So if it were that simple, then none of us would be “Half-Empties,” right?

Obviously, it’s never easy to change the way we think and respond. If our pattern is to trouble-shoot or over-analyze and find all the flaws, then taking a step back and looking for the good in our situation, ourselves, or others can be challenging.

After all, patterns don’t develop randomly. Often negativity has had a “positive” purpose in our lives. It provides the “Half-Empty” comfort in the familiar. It often gives the “Half-Empty” a feeling of vindication or righteous indignation. Many times, the “Half-Empty” approach is reinforced by others who applaud the perfectionism that has driven it. But what I see most often in others, including myself, is that the “Half-Empty” gains a sense of control. (Yes, I very often can be a “Half-Empty” with “Control Freak” tendencies. It’s actually the worst kind!)

So how do we change a habit that is so ingrained and reinforced?

  • First of all, we need to realize that the pay-off isn’t as good as the rip-off is bad. In other words, we may get what we want by being a “Half-Empty,” but we will pay for it dearly in the end, and the middle, and the beginning, well, actually all along the way!
  • Second of all, we need to replace the bad habit of being a “Half-Empty” with the good habit of being a “Half-Full.” That means we need to intentionally look for the good in our lives. We need to be thankful every single day, even in the bad things knowing that God will ultimately use those to bring about good in our lives.

Here’s my challenge to you (and myself): Begin a Prayer/Gratitude journal that focuses on prayers of thanksgiving for the good things in your life. Then stretch yourself to try to see how some of the bad things in your life did or will someday evolve into good things as you persevere in the situation and trust God to bring about His best.

Let me know if you plan to take this challenge with me. And in a future post, I hope to give you an opportunity to let everyone know about some of the good things that you focused on and how it made you feel more hopeful and encouraged.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:4-6 (NLT)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

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Marriage Mistake #5 – Negative Focus

Have you ever tried to tend a garden? If you don’t have the plastic weed barrier firmly in place, then you might as well resign yourself to a long-term battle with your finger on the trigger of Round-Up—aiming to kill.  In the same way that weeds can take over a flower garden, I allowed “weeds” to invade my marriage garden.

In the early years of my marriage, I tried to avoid dealing with conflict, (Marriage Mistake #3). Often when this is the method a person chooses, it comes out somewhere.  The person either complains to friends and family about the offender, or complains internally. I did both, but more often than not, I did the latter.

At the time, I thought that this was a great way to manage my anger. I was able to dwell on all the bad things I thought my husband was doing, enjoying the rush that comes from feeling justified and indignant, and I never had to face his anger.  Well, at least that’s how I thought it worked.

Actually, the negative thoughts, like weeds, began to take over and warp my view of reality. I began to think my husband was the biggest villain of all time, and I was his poor pitiful victim—strapped to the railroad tracks and all! This approach not only made my anger grow, but also my defensiveness, since I couldn’t imagine that my bad attitude had anything to do with me!

When I look back on it now, I’m embarrassed to admit that I believed that all that garbage could remain underground.  Eventually, the weeds of my mind made me an angry, bitter woman who could get ticked off by the slightest provocation. It was at that point, that I went down that path of “fighting fire with fire,” (Marriage Mistake # 4) another ridiculous strategy.

Thankfully, God intervened in my madness. He convicted me that my negative thoughts were not benign little contemplations that I could pull out and play with like evil Lincoln Logs.  So I began to train myself to notice when those delicious, but very destructive, thoughts wanted to surface. And in those moments, I made a choice to focus on the positive.

Almost immediately I felt a difference. I didn’t feel as angry or irritated. And there was an added bonus for my husband, who didn’t feel as defensive or rejected.  With consistency and time, I knew I had found an important strategy that clearly improved the love and positive feelings within my marriage. Now, every once in a while I notice that I’ve let one slide under the radar undetected, but believe me, it doesn’t stay alive long.  I “Round-Up” that thought and aim to kill!

So, what’s on your mind?

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

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Take This Job and Shove It? Not Me!

https://i1.wp.com/d.yimg.com/a/p/ap/20100810/capt.b229acfa82004f44a807a21d3fa697e8-0ec6d93e55ba41a095bf6d15d9e30408-0.jpgRecently, the world has turned its attention to the “Take-this-job-and-shove-it” fiasco with Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant. If you don’t already know (and I don’t know how you could not), a JetBlue customer was rude and confrontational with Steven, who decided he’d had enough. So he grabbed a beer and exited the plane and his job on the escape slide of the plane. Talk about going out with a bang!

The reason I bring this up is not to discuss the rightness or wrongness of the flight attendant’s actions, but to consider the mind-set that we all can fall into at times. We grow discouraged by the difficulties we face or the persecution we are receiving, and decide to let our feelings and other people’s bad attitudes determine our choices.

Today I was reading in Nehemiah, chapter four. If you’re not familiar, it is the account of how Nehemiah rallied the people of Israel to rebuild the crumbled wall around Jerusalem. But that wasn’t even half of the story. The Israelites faced fierce persecution and criticism from a man named, Sanballat. Sadly, Sanballat and his friends decided to shout out insults to the people about their work and their God. This reminded me of Steven Slater’s situation, however, the response of the Israelites was vastly different.

Don’t get me wrong. There were many Israelites who wanted to give up. There were people who specifically came to Nehemiah wanting to “take this job and shove it.” But Nehemiah encouraged them to “Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious,” and to continue to persevere in the face of hardship. Thankfully, the people listened to Nehemiah and trusted God to protect and provide for them. So what about you?

  • Is there a situation where you are discouraged by the problems that keep cropping up?
  • Is there a person who continues to put you down or discourage you in an area of your life?

Honestly, I can relate to the flight attendant’s frustration.  But I want to be a person who does not let other people’s bad behavior determine my response. And in order to do that, I need God to help me to rise above the fray. Are you willing to make that hard, but right commitment?

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Powerful Thoughts

“But what comes out of the mouth . . .

gets its start in the heart.”

Matthew 15:18 (MSG)

Don’t ya just love the way The Message version of the Bible says things sometimes?  It’s almost like a great rap lyric or commercial slogan or a saying on a magnet that you want to hang on your fridge. Okay, okay, it may seem like I’m making light of this verse, but I really think it packs a punch.  In fact, it hits me right between the eyes!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the power of what I think. I know that what I think doesn’t just stay in my brain like radio static. Once I dwell on it, consider it or mull it over, it seems to take on a life of its own.

So I’ve decided I’m going to ask myself a question whenever one of those run-away-train thoughts courses through my brain: Will this help me or hurt me? Sure that sounds easy, but it’s really quite tricky because we can rationalize away our thought-life. For example:

You might reason that to go “window shopping” won’t hurt you . . .

But if you know that you might give in to the temptation to buy something you don’t have the money for, then suddenly that idle shopping trip can take a big hit to your budget.

You might decide that to think about how miserable you are with your boss won’t hurt you and might even relieve some frustration . . .

But if you feel worse about him after you’ve ruminated all day on his badness, then before you know it, you won’t be able to stand him or even look him in the eye.

You might feel that dreaming about your good-looking co-worker only passes the time and actually puts you in a good mood . . .

But if you start having feelings for that same guy, even though you have a ring on your finger, then in a flash you’re tormented by a frustrating fantasy life or you’re breaking your vows because you decided to make your fantasy a reality.

Thoughts are powerful. They “get their start in the heart.” And they never remain limited to the confines of our brains.  If they’re left unattended, like little gremlins, they will always find a way out.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

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4 Ways to Handle the Crazy-maker in Your Life

Is there someone in your life who drives you crazy?  If so, I can relate.  Here are 10 tips that I hope are helpful to dealing with that crazy-maker in your life.

1. Pray about your attitude.

Tell God exactly how you feel about this crazy-maker. He already knows, so you might as well be honest with him.  And the need to vent about your stress and frustration will be released into the arms of the only person who can do something about it!   In other words, ask God to change and rearrange the crazy-maker in your life, and more than anything, ask God to change your heart too!

2.  Stop expecting the other person to change.

The sad facts are that we cannot change someone else.  We can influence the other person, but we cannot change the crazy-maker in our life.  But if we adjust our expectations when the crazy-maker makes us . . . crazy, then the dynamic shifts.  Often the irritation we are feeling is drastically reduced simply because we’ve adjusted our expectations of the other person.

3. Journal about your feelings.

Yeah, yeah, I know some of you are groaning out there!  But even though every counselor recommends journaling, it really does help!  And of those of you who groaned—how many of you know that exercising is important to your physical health?  Well, journaling is like the exercise of your heart, mind and relationships, and is necessary to bring and maintain that health.  I like to address my journalings to God.  But you can simply write out your thoughts and feelings about the crazy-maker in your life, and it will help you to feel better and, most importantly, help you to gain perspective.  We all need more perspective in our relationships—especially with the crazy-makers in our lives.

4.  Find one or two ways you can positively impact the situation.

It may seem hopeless at times, but often there is at least one thing that you can do to improve the way you feel.  For example, if the other person resists doing things your way, then stop suggesting ideas for him or her.  Instead, ask “What are some strategies you think we should try to deal with this problem?”  Of course, that means you might have to give up control of how the situation is handled, and that can be harder than dealing with resistance! But often the other person comes up with at least one solution that you both can agree on and do.  This also can ignite personal responsibility in the other person, who may have needed that vote of confidence from you in the first place.  As the other person feels you are listening to his or her concerns or just sharing the decision-making, you may see the crazy-maker’s fears and resistances transforming into cooperation. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!

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The Key to Rising Out of Suffering

This post is dedicated to all of those I know who are weary in their suffering and difficulty (and yes, sometimes that includes me, too!).

Who wants to suffer?  Who wants to go toward pain?  No one in their right mind wants that unless they are masochistic.  But there is a curious challenge that we, as Christians, are given all throughout the New Testament.  In Philippians 4:4 the Bible says,

“Rejoice always . . .”

In James 1:2 it says,

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers (and sisters), whenever you face trials of many kinds, . .”

In Romans 5:3ff it tells us why we should rejoice,

“We also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit . . .”

I think we often miss the key we need when we are pounded by the storm.  I know that I do not want to “rejoice” when I am suffering.  All I want to do is ask, “Why, Lord?” I want to find an escape.  I want Him to make my life easier.  But that is not what we are called to experience, if we are following Christ.

If I rejoiced in my suffering it wouldn’t be because I am in pain.  If I rejoiced it would be because God is doing something in me that He cannot do when I am at ease.  I would be rejoicing because rejoicing builds my trust in Him, and puts to death the “me” I don’t want to be.  I become His beautiful new creation.*

Remember that even a caterpillar needs the struggle of pushing out of the cocoon in order to have the strength to fly as a butterfly.  We need the struggle too.  We need the pain, but we also need to rejoice or we will be consumed by our pain.

If you are experiencing God chipping away the rough edges in your life—or even jack-hammering the foundation—then lift up your eyes and rejoice.  God is still good, loving and a Savior even in your pain, especially in the pain.

* “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

(All Bible verses are quoted from the New International Version)

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