Archive for March, 2012


Codependency – What is it?


Are you codependent? Take this short quiz and see if you identify with codependency.

1. I am in a relationship with someone who is addicted to a substance or a behavior, or someone who is depressed.
2. I feel responsible for almost everybody and everything, but I feel guilty much of the time.
3. I can’t say ‘no’ without feeling guilty.
4. I can accurately ‘read’ other people by analyzing their facial expressions and tone of voice.
5. I try very hard to please people, but I seldom measure up.
6. I feel that I have to protect people, especially the addicted or depressed person in my life.
7. I live in such a way that no one can say I’m selfish.
8. I vacillate between defending the irresponsible person and blowing up in anger at them.
9. I often relive situations and conversations to see if I can think of some way I could have done or spoken better.
10. I am overly frightened of angry people.
11. I am terribly offended by personal criticism.
12. To avoid feeling guilt and shame, I seldom stand up to people who disagree with me.
13. I tend to see people and situations as “all good” or “all bad”.
14. Though I try to please people, I often feel isolated and alone.
15. I trust people too much or not at all.
16. I often try to get people I love to change their attitudes and behavior.
17. I tend to believe the addicted or depressed person’s promises, even if he/she has broken countless promises before.
18. Sometimes I have a lot of energy to help people, but sometimes I feel drained, depressed and ambivalent.
19. I often give advice, even when it is not requested.
20. I tend to confuse love with pity, and I tend to love those who need me to rescue them from their problems.
21. I believe I can’t be happy unless others, especially the needy people in my life, are happy.
22. I am often a victim in strained and broken relationships.
23. I am defensive when someone points out my faults.
24. My thoughts are often consumed with the troubles and needs of the addicted or depressed person in my life.
25. I feel wonderful when I can fix other’s problems, but I feel terrible when I can’t.

If you answered yes to 5 or fewer statements, you have relatively healthy boundaries, confidence or wisdom in relationships.

If you answered yes to 6-12 statements, your life is shaped to a significant degree by the demands of needy people in your life. You feel responsible for the choices others make, and you try too hard to help them make the right ones.

If you answered yes to 13 or more statements, you have lost your sense of identity, and you are consumed by the problems of addicted or depressed person’s in your life. You have to take steps to get well whether that person does or not.

Codependency involves a habitual system of thinking, feeling and behaving towards others and ourselves. It is a learned behavior, and again, is one of those side effects of a lack of healthy boundaries in life. Codependent characteristics are demeaning and can cause pain, and the habits become self-destructive.

Some of the common characteristics of codependency are:

1. Care taking – This is where one feels as though they are responsible for other people’s thoughts, opinions, actions, choices, beliefs, well being, etc. If you feel like making a choice that would make someone unhappy with you, not only do you wrestle with codependency, but also enmeshment with another person, which I briefly discussed last Friday I believe.
If you feel compelled to solve another person’s problem, or feel anxiety, pity and guilt over other’s problem’s to the extent that you feel you need to be the one who has to rescue or ‘make it better for them’ at great expense to your own well being, you have adopted a care taking role in someone else’s life. Codependency and enmeshment often go hand in hand.
Do you try to please others instead of yourself? Try to anticipate their needs, feel safer when giving? Do you feel sad when you spend all your energy, resources, and life… giving to other people and feel like nobody ever gives to you? Do you feel bored or empty or worthless when you are NOT helping someone overcome a crisis, or a problem in life, or someone to help?

2. Low self-worth – codependents tend to come from troubled, dysfunctional families. They may deny that their family was/is dysfunctional – after all, if it’s all you knew, it WOULD feel ‘normal’. Do you blame yourself for everything – including taking responsibility for someone else’s displeasure with you or your choices? Are you afraid to make mistakes? Do you reject compliments or praise? Do you feel like you are not good enough? Do you fear rejection? Do you feel ashamed of who you are? Do you often tell yourself you can’t do anything right, or other self critical, self destructive, self hatred type of language? Do you think life is not worth living, or believe that good things will never happen? Do you try and prove that you are good enough for other people? Do you settle for being needed, and diminish your own needs?

3. Repression – Do you push aside your thoughts or feelings because of fear or guilt or to gain someone’s conditional approval that if you perform the way they want that maybe you will finally feel the acceptance you desperately need? I am here to say, if you are pushing yourself aside because someone does not approve of your choices, not only are you harming yourself, you are also accepting conditional acceptance, based on your performance, rather than on genuine, authentic acceptance, that loves you and accepts you regardless if your choices, values, or opinions are different than theirs. This is real love. Anything less than that is settling for enmeshment rather than intimacy, and it is not REAL love. You have great worth and value. Are you afraid to be yourself? Have you lost your sense of self because you have become enmeshed with someone else?

4. Obsession – Do you worry about the smallest things? Are you super careful with what you say and how you present yourself to others? Do you feel anxious and/or responsible for other people’s problems? Are you more concerned with other people’s problems while repressing your own needs and feelings? Do you focus all your energy on other people and their problems? Do you lose sleep over problems or other people’s behavior? Do you worry a lot? What are you worried about? Finding the answer to that might just be the root, or at least the door to understanding the root issue.

5. Dependency – Do you feel unhappy with yourself, or lack peace and contentment? Do you look for happiness outside of yourself, in other people or addictions? Do you find yourself latching on to whoever or whatever you think will provide happiness? Did you feel loved and approved of by your parents? Careful now, before you say yes. Was their love and approval based on how well you performed according to their standards? Ie. if you successfully made it through university or picked the career of their choice for you? Or did they still love and approve of you even if you made decisions different than what they would have chosen for you? Do you feel like you need people more than you want them, like you can’t make it without them? Do you find yourself worrying or wondering or constantly making assumptions about whether people love you or like you or not? Do you believe that people are never there for you?

6. Poor communication – Codependents frequently blame, coerce, beg, advise, don’t say what they mean, don’t mean what they say, don’t know what they mean, or how to communicate it. They tend to not ask for what they need, or ask indirectly, leaving it a guessing game for others to try and interpret their needs. They find it difficult to get to the point they are trying to make, gauge their words carefully to achieve a desired effect, try to say what they think people want to hear. This is where people pleasing comes into play here.

7. Lack of trust – codependents don’t trust themselves, don’t trust their feelings, decisions, or other people.

Many codependents feel very hurt, scared and angry, have weak boundaries, struggle with having allowed themselves to be controlled, and often try to control the outcome of events in their current life. They may struggle with denial, sex issues, be extremely over responsible, or become irresponsible. They may struggle with feeling close to people, or wrestle with depression, among many other symptoms of the same root we have been discussing for the past few weeks -poor boundary development. Many of these symptoms first emerge out of necessity to protect ourselves from harm, and because legitimate needs we had were not met. and
These methods tend to feel like safe coping mechanisms to try and meet our needs indirectly. We think… If I meet someone else’s needs, they will reciprocate and meet mine. But instead, what usually happens, is that they just continue to take what we offer, and do not give back what we are looking for and desperately in need of. We are taking responsibility for them, neglecting our own needs, something we each our responsible for. We need to become safe enough to ask for what we need. We need to take responsibility for our needs and getting them met, rather then expecting others to automatically know, or mind read to try and figure out what it is we need.

This is just to get you thinking. I may need to circle back to this subject at a later time more extensively, but for now, this is an introduction to codependency. The roots of which, stem from, as I mentioned before… Lack of healthy boundary development.

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

————-

How have you felt impacted by codependency?  What have you done that has helped break this cycle?  What resources can you share with the community that has helped you?  If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to identify and break codependency in your life!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

Advertisements

Good morning bloggers!

On Wednesday’s I blog about things that are going on in my life, the struggles, opportunities, memories, joys, etc. Today, I want to share with you about an exciting coaching opportunity that has recently come up for me!

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in an upcoming tele summit as a world class expert on boundary development, to be interviewed by Khama Anku, a life and success coach from California, founder of Spiritual Physique, along with about 25 others to be interviewed on subjects that they excel in. What an exciting opportunity!

The interviews will be airing live for 2 weeks starting April 9th, where you will be able to tune into my interview with Khama, along with all the others represented for this web event! The website is already up announcing the upcoming tele summit if you want to take a look and check it out! Once again, it does not air until the week of the 9th, so this site I am directing you too, is ONLY the advertisement of the event! Here is the website link to check it out and find more info: www.NoLimitsTelesummit.com
I will keep you posted on more upcoming news regarding this event!

This is an incredible opportunity for me to grow my business! The telesummit will be running for 2 weeks, and after that, there will be links posted on Khama’s website with the contact info for all the coaches represented in the telesummit for a year or more after the official launching of this event so people will continue to have access to the coaches participating in this event!

I will be specifically discussing the 4 stages of boundary development that I have recently blogged about, based mostly on the information I have gleaned from the authors Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud. I will also be offering a free gift to those who tune into my interview with Khama. 4 tools of boundary development as well as 1 complementary 30 min. Coaching strategy session with me.

In the next couple weeks you can also be watching for a couple videos of me announcing this event on YouTube and also on my website.  Feel free to check it out, as it is my new main life coaching page. Although you can still connect with me on the following links as well:
On Twitter, follow me as ktmeilleur
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ktmeilleur for my Facebook page, which by the way, I recommend you visit, and ‘like’ my Facebook page before March 31st, to be entered into a draw to win a free book, entitled “boundaries-where you end and I begin”. Hurry!!! Contest closes March 31st! See my facebook page for more details!
You can also connect with me here on WordPress, and search for Katie Meilleur on LinkedIn.

Other exciting stuff coming up for me is a soon to be announced event available to those in the greater Toronto area. I will be hosting a “Developing healthy boundaries” workshop, where people can gather together and learn in more depth how to develop and maintain healthy limits with others, learn what it is they are responsible for and what they are not able to control, while developing a firm sense of self worth and identity as well as seeing when and where the boundary deficiency first emerged in their life in a safe small group setting.

Also I will soon be wrapping up my boundaries series on Fridays here at WordPress, and moving into a new series on abusive relationships. My goal is to take this boundaries series and publish an e-book from it.

These are the current things that I have been diligently working towards! Thanks for checking out my blog! It’s exciting to share with you the goals and dreams and opportunities coming up in my life.
What are some of your goals? I would love for you to interact with me here on WordPress and share your goals and dreams with me as well! And if you don’t know how to make your dream a reality, and would like a little coaching accountability from me, let me know. Visit my website  and send me an email request. I do international coaching!


At the end of the last chapter we find God, alone, on a mission to redeem mankind from the terrible isolation experienced by man at the loss of the most intimate of connections with their divine maker. Alone.

Separated by sin, or the loss of dependence upon God, through misfortune and the terrible lie that penetrated deep within their hearts “God is not good”, mankind assumes and becomes convinced in his mind that God has betrayed them. Not giving God the opportunity to respond, they make their assumptions, believe the lie, and turn away from the God who delivers.

Now, because God is zealous for his people, He already has a plan up his sleeve! But he must somehow prepare his people for his salvation plan!

And so enters the law. The law of God that is. According to the new testament, the purpose of creating the law established in the Old testament, was this:
“therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death though sin, and so death spread to all men, for all had sinned. For until the Law, sin was in the world, but sin was not imputed when there is no law.” Romans 5:12-13. According to the above scripture, the law was set in place by God to set the holy standard of how to live and treat each other, and was used as a tool to show mankind how far away he had slipped from the intimacy of relationship with God.

It was never meant or intended for us to fulfill and become perfect at all the laws and standards he
put in place. Without a moral compass, we don’t know the difference between what is good and what is not good. We simply do as we see fit. And such was the case. The ten commandments were a standard of how we are to take responsibility for ourselves, and how we relate to God and others.

Before God gave Moses the law on Mt. Sinai, we could not determine what was considered sin and what was not, so we needed the law to use as a guideline to living a moral life.
But what happened instead is that it triggered within us an urge to sin, to do what we were told we ought not to do. It also appealed to the other sinful side of nature, for those of us who did want to be in relationship with God, we taught ourselves to perform to the best of our abilities to fulfill God’s laws, and through our performance, we thought somehow, God will be pleased.

In Romans 3:10-18, we see that there is no one righteous, no one who understands, no one who seeks for God. in Romans 11:32 we find that all men are shut up in disobedience, that God might show mercy to us all. We see in Ecclesiastes 7:20, again, that there is no one righteous, who continually does good, and never sins.

and so it is that The Lord “looked and was displeased that there was no justice, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene, so his own arm achieved salvation for him” (Isaiah 59:15-16). God was on the move! He was devising his perfect salvation plan. God was using the law as part of his plan, but it was not the end result he had in mind. But without the law set in place, “I would not have known about coveting, if the law had not said, ‘do not covet’, but sin, taking the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the law sin is dead. And I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died. And this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me, for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. So then, the law is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good for me become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage of sin.” (Romans 7:7-14).

Being sold into bondage to sin was not a part of God’s plan, because it was for freedom he has come to set us free from slavery to anything. This is why God needed to bring a salvation plan to us by his own hand, for none of us were free.

“Just as through one man, (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” So God would bring about salvation through one man as well.

The air is thick with anticipation awaiting the redemption plan to unfold. Until the right moment, we hang in the balance for the savior of mankind to be revealed…


Good morning bloggers! In Toronto today, it’s a bit of a rainy day out, and definitely not as hot as the past few days! But despite the weather, I am feeling great! Heading out in an hour headed to Ottawa, our nation’s capital, for an inner healing training seminar. I hope to bring back some useful tools to offer to my coaching clients out of this conference! Exciting stuff! All that to say, this might be a shorter post than usual for me if I run out of time before I need to leave!! LOL!

Moving right into todays’ subject on Enmeshment vs Intimacy. Most people don’t really know the difference, due in large part likely because enmeshment is not a word we frequently use to describe the nature of our relationships with one another. Intimacy, on the other hand, has often been confused with sex, or lust alone. Going along with the subject we’ve been discussing for the past several weeks, regarding boundaries, this is one of those subjects I promised to delve deeper into. Looking back at my blog about our need for attachment and bondedness, this particular blog should help solve a few dilemmas for you in your thinking about parenting. Were you taught intimacy or enmeshment from your parents? That’s right. Intimacy does not necessarily mean SEX! You can be intimate with your friends, your parents, your partner without sexual involvement being the primary definition of intimacy.

Let’s define intimacy and enmeshment before we go any further:

Intimacy Knowing each other very well, understanding the other’s thought processes, and an awareness of differences and similarities in perspective, opinion, attitute, preference, ideals, values, beliefs, and goals. This intimacy includes the freedom to disagree with someone, to want something different than the other, and to have different needs. It also refers to the closeness desired in a committed relationship including physical and emotional intimacy. If you are looking at this from the perspective of a romantic relationship, this will also include sexual closeness.

Enmeshment is attempting to feel and think as if you were the same person as another. Since quite a bit of uniqeness is missed this way, neither person can really be known – a very different experience from intimacy. Eg. “I gave them so much I didn’t even have a self. And when I finally started developing a “me”, they fought me. They didn’t want me to change. They wanted me to go on living just for them.”              An enmeshed person is not known.                                                                                                    A single word that describes enmeshment well could be, “to entangle”.

If by reading this, you identify just a little, I encourage you to refelct on the definitions of intimacy and enmeshment and try to write down who you are, vs the persons you are intimate/enmeshed with. What are the differences? Are you the same? If you find that you are feeling entagled, enmeshed, like you don’t have a clear sense of self, try the following: Determind the differences between you and the persons you feel enmeshed with. Look at things like your differing strengths and weaknesses, talents, abilities and values that you have and that the other person has. this may help you distinguish the differences between you and them, helping you to identify a clear sense of your ‘true self’.

What do you do with your differences of opinion or your anger? Are you safe enough to express it? Intimacy comes from being ‘known’, and being known requires knowing yourself, having a self to know, and having a sense of your individuality and differences from another, and your valures and thoughts and desires, so that you have something separate to bring to the relationship, Even if you DO have a firm sense of self, intimacy should take time to develop as trust is earned and deepened. We all need to learn whether we are feeling judged or accepted in the relationship, knowing whether it is safe to be open with the other person and be loved for who we are, distinct, and separate, bonding, fully loved. Arguments will happen, communication takes time to work well, mistakes will occur. Clarity of communication needs to be developed. (For further info on communication, see my blog from a couple weeks ago on communication). Are you able to forgive and accept and support the differences in another?

Here is a definition from the free book I’m giving away soon entitled “Boundaries – Where you End and I Begin”, by Anne Katherine on healthy boundaries, and essentially, at the same time, the definition of what it takes to engage in intimacy rather than enmeshment in your relationships:

“So what’s the goal of a person who wants to be healthy? To form boundaries that have some flexibility and some definite limits, boundaries that move appropriately in response to situations – out for strangers, in for intimates. Boundaries should be distinct enough to preserve our individuality, yet open enough to admit new ideas and perspectives. They should be firm enough to keep our values and priorities clear, open enough to communicate our priorities to the right people, yet closed enough to withstand assault from the thoughtlessness and the mean. Healthy boundaries protect without isolating, contain without imprisoning, and preserve identity while permitting external connections.”

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!  I have also created a Relationship Development Program which helps couples build towards a greater life together.

————-

If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


As some of you know by reading previous blogs, I recently trained to become a certified relationship life coach, aligning my work with what my passion in life is. However, as life coaching is relatively a young profession, many people are still largely unaware of what life coaching IS exactly. What do I do? How do I coach people? And what is my specialty? What IS a life coach?
 
So the purpose of today’s blog is to give you a picture of what coaching looks like and what I specialize in.
 
If I were to define my mission statement, I would say that it is ‘to help people discover their life purpose and align their work with their true calling, in order to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life, overcoming the obstacles and setbacks keeping them back from reaching their goals and dreams.
 
I would say that my coaching specialty is that I work with people who have trouble establishing and developing firm boundaries due to boundary development injuries. I coach people to develop a clearer sense of self and overcome traumatic past injuries by developing healthy limits and self worth.
 
What types of things do I coach on? Relationships, taking initiative, healthy boundary development, overcoming depression and anxiety and addictions, trauma, abuse and other boundary related violations.
My biography of what my coaching looks like reads somthing like this:
 
Biography

Do you have a relationship in trouble? Do you feel like your life doesn’t make sense and can’t figure out why? Do you feel like there is something holding you back in your life but don’t know what it is? Do you have a passion in life that is not being fulfilled? A goal or a dream you have not yet reached?
Working with me, you will turn that passion you have into a vision, that goal or dream into actionable steps to help you achieve it!
I will help you see that you already have what it takes to achieve your vision!!
What I can provide is a promise that you will develop a clearer sense of yourself and develop the confidence to meet and overcome the obstacles preventing you from achieving your goals. I will offer relationship tools and skill building concepts to assist you on your way.
Coaching helps you break through your limiting beliefs and self doubt. It unlocks the potential you already have and creates a structure of support and accountability.
As your personal coach, I will be your sounding board, a non-judgmental, objective partner whose goal is to help you realize your dreams. I will bring constructive feedback, motivation and intuition, all focused on helping you to accomplish more with your life and relationships, and be the best you can be.

As your coach I will:
-Encourage you to set goals that you truly want
-Ask you to do more than you may have done on your own
-Help you focus better in order to produce results more quickly
-Provide you with accountability, along with the tools, support, and structure to accomplish more.

I have the ability to encourage, motivate and get excited for others reaching their dreams and personal potential. I am good at drawing out answers from people and to cause them to think in new and challenging ways, outside of the box, by asking questions. I am good at seeing what is beneath the surface, and able to see past the obstacles in people’s way, helping them reach for the stars! I believe I can help people who do not yet know what their purpose, goals or dreams are, and unlock and develop those areas, and help them discover who they were meant to be and what they were meant to pursue in liife.I am a caring person, loyal, committed and trustworthy, a good listener, and empathetic. I have excellent skills at understanding people, boundary issues, self-compassion, and mindfulness skills to offer as well as knowledge pertaining to such issues as abuse, codependency, understanding depression, addictions, and marriage/relationship building skills.
 
If you are still interested and are curious how I actually go about coaching my clients, below you will find my coaching methodology. That is to say, what you and I would actually accomplish together in our sessions if I were to coach you.
 
My Coaching Methodology
 
I use the successful conversion coaching process with my clients.
First, I help you identify your goals and dreams and what it might look like to live a balanced, healthy life, overcoming obstacles standing in your way to achieving the life you want to live. I offer powerful exercises that will help you gain clarity and a very specific picture of your ideal life. We accomplish this together by me helping you to unlock that picture as I help you become clear about what it is that you want.

Next, we identify three goals and action steps you can take right now to begin working towards your goals. Building on that, I help you create your ideal plan. The ideal plan includes specific discussion about the obstacles standing in your way. By evaluating and identifying your setbacks, we work together toward eliminating the things holding you back by looking at past and present contributing factors in your life that are causing fear, anxiety and other problematic symptoms in your life, while discussing and creating new habits, patterns and ways of being that will empower you to move forward.

Then I introduce key concepts, assessment tools, and exercises that will help progress you in a forward motion toward obtaining your goals of a healthier life, in ways of relating to others, and in your relationships, enabling you to move towards your life goals.

After that, we evaluate your sense of satisfaction with your progress and reassess your goals and action steps. I will offer accountability throughout our sessions together as you implement your goals and life plan.

Finally, through our work together, I will help you overcome challenges and setbacks as they arise, enabling you to move steadily forward towards a balanced and fulfilling life.

That about sums it up. This is who I am. This is who I have always been. I have always been passionate about seeing people become who they were meant to be, not restrained by the circumstances in life that have defined them, or the negative voices inside that they have chosen to believe, allowing themselves to live beneath their full potential. I have always wanted to unveil the secret reality… The cage you feel around you holding you back… it’s not really there. You were meant to be free.
 
My life calling is this:
 
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy
instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-4
 
To register now for your Complimentary Strategy Session, please visit my website.
 

Last week I started this two part series on God’s grief and love for us. This is the part two of last weeks’s blog. Another excerpt from the book I’m writing.

” ‘For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.” Romans 11:32

God intends to show us mercy. God has envisioned a plan for our redemption. But before we see this plan unfold, we must take a painful look at God’s side of the story. The anguish and grief, the sorrow and anger that burns within him at our wayward condition, and his desperation to renew a right standing between God and mankind once again.

Let’s take a look at a few more passages so that we have a fuller understanding of this love story unfolding, a love story with a wounded lover, who has lost his wife to her unfaithfulness towards him.

“I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals, your following after me in the wilderness, through a land not sown… what injustice did your fathers find in me, that they went far from me and walked after emptiness and became empty?…Has a nation changed gods when they were not gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, o heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water… you are a swift she-camel running here and there sniffing the wind in her craving – in her heat, who can restrain her? Should I not punish them for this? Should I not avenge myself?” Jeremiah 2:2,5,11-13, 23; 5:9

And again the Lord expresses his frustration:

“You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill, there you went to offer your sacrifices. Behind your doors and doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide and made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked with lust on their naked bodies.” Isaiah 57:7-8

“This is your lot, the portion measured to you from me, declares the Lord, because you have forgotten me and trusted in falsehood. So I myself have also stripped your skirts off over your face, that your shame may be seen. As for your adulteries, and your lustful neighing, the lewdness of your prostitution, on the hills in the field, I have seen your abominations…How long will you remain unclean?” Jer. 13:25-27

Perhaps the most passionate look at how God feels at our idolatry and turning away from him is found in Ezekiel 16:4-26:

“As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing, you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born. When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’… I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall and reached the age for fine ornaments; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare. Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold you were at the time for love; so I spread my skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that became mine, declares the Lord God. Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with embroidered cloth, and put sandals on your feet; and I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dres was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey, and oil, so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth from among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of my splendor which I bestowed upon you, declares the lord. But you trusted in your beauty and you played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing. And you took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors, and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen. You also took your beautiful jewels made of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that might play the harlot with them. Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered my oil and my incense before them. Also, my bread which I gave for you, fine flour, oil and honey, with which I fed you and you would offer before them for a soothing aroma; so it happened, declares the lord. Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to me, and you sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered my children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire. And besides all of your abominations, and harlotries, you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare and squirming in your blood. Then it came about after all your wickedness, that you built yourself a shrine and made yourself a high place in every square. You built yourself a high place at the top of every street and made your beauty abominable, and you spread your legs to every passer by to multiply your harlotry… to make me angry.”

In his anger, he rose up a prophet to experience what He himself experienced concerning our waywardness. The prophet Hosea. The Lord instructed Hosea to marry a prostitute and bring her into his home. Hosea experienced this same rejection as his wife left him after bearing two sons for him, and returned to her harlotry. The Lord instructed Hosea to go after his wife, and bring her back to live with him again, as the Lord has done repeatedly for us, pursuing us each time we are wayward and run off to serve lesser gods, the idols in our lives that replace him in our hearts.

Let’s listen to a little of the imagery once again, of God’s anger and his plan and intention to woo his wayward bride back to himself:

“Contend with your mother, contend, For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. And let her put her harlotry away from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts, lest I strip her naked and expose her as on the day when she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land, and slay her with thirst. Also I will have no compassion on her children, because they are children of harlotry. For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them acted shamefully. For she said, “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths. And she will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; and she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now… therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her… and she will sing there as in the days of her youth…and it will come about in that day, declares the Lord, that she will call me Ishi (husband) and will no longer call me baali (master).”

Hosea 2:2-7, 14, 16

Despite all of this painful imagery of a lover who has lost his loved one to her adulterous behavior in walking away from a beautiful relationship with her beloved, we hear him saying things such as this:

“Return to me, and I will return to you. Yet you have said harsh things about me. You have said, ‘there’s no pay off in this relationship. It’s not worth loving God.”

We also hear him say, ‘return faithless sons, and I will heal your faithlessness.” Jer. 3:22

“for I the lord, do not change… return to me, and I will return to you.” Malachi 3:6,7

“For I will not contend forever, neither will I always be angry, for their spirit would grow faint before me, and the breath of those whom I have made.” Isaiah 58:16

And again; “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

We see a God desperately in pursuit of redeeming a lost relationship, and willing to relent on his anger, seeking to find a way to close the ever widening gap between man and God. But do we see what is going on beneath the surface? Behind the scenes, there is a war going on. This same serpent, the devil, who we were introduced to in the preceding chapter, is on a mission… to woo our hearts away from the Living God. He is the one enticing us into our harlotries, by deceiving us and telling us that what he has to offer is better than what God would offer. We are still under his spell, the one that questions the goodness of the heart of God, which draws us away to lesser loves, and independence, and confidence in our own strengths and abilities. All the while, the real story happening here, is that this enemy is merely playing with us, like the pieces on a chessboard, discarding us when he no longer has need of us, all in the attempt to break the heart of God, because he lost the battle, because he could not overpower God. And we are blissfully unaware of this ongoing assault of the heart of God, nor are we aware of our part in breaking God’s heart. Until now.

At this point, in the divine timeline of a grand narrative underway, God is alone, on a mission to pursue a way to bring us back to his heart, to trust that his heart toward us is good, once again.

But there is hope coming:

“We hope for justice, but there is none, for salvation but it is far from us. For our transgressions have multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us. We know our iniquities, denying the Lord, and turning away from our God… Now the Lord saw and it was displeasing in his sight that there was no justice. And he saw that there was no man and astonished that there was no one to intercede…then his own arm brought salvation.” Isaiah 59:11-13,15,16

And there we have it, in the midst of a situation that looked hopeless, a people shut up in disobedience, unable to even turn to God on their own efforts, we hear the vague sound of a plan unfolding in the heavens… the sound of hope: ‘then his own arm brought salvation.’

As a result of this plan of salvation unfolding to restore mankind to right relationship with their god, we can foreshadow what this salvation would bring: the ability for God to say this to us and forever end the wrath of God toward his creation, because salvation would come in such an extraordinary way. When salvation would come, He would say to us once and for all:

“Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more” Hebrews 10:17″


The performance trap gets us every time when we are so desperately looking to find acceptance, approval, to be noticed, and above all to be loved. No one wants to experience rejection, but what sucks many of us into the performance trap in the first place?

What was lacking, deficient, what need unmet, that somehow we believe that if we just do the right thing, say the right thing, look the right way, we will finally receive that love starved void, and feel happy, successful and complete?

The sheer amount of effort to be ‘on’ all the time, to be the witty performer, the over achiever at work, have the muscular physique, or the super model body just to hope for some sense of worth in what we do, how we perform… Is it really worth it? Do we actually achieve what it is we are really looking for? How many of you even know what’s beneath the surface? How many of you have not even been introduced to the ‘real you’ the one behind the mask?

Most people caught in the people pleasing, performance trap have lost themselves long ago, and merely play the role they think they need to play. But who are they playing for?

The sad reality is that the facade on the outside really robs people from knowing the real person beneath the mask. Worse than that, the performer is so used to putting on and taking off hats and playing different roles, living a compartmentalized life, that there is no room for them to even begin to build their own identity.

What’s worse, is that those who can see through the facade, feel at best, pity for the performer’s lack of ability to be a ‘real’ person. And in an age of hunger for authenticity, people pleasing is not so popular. Those who have been deceived by the external performance, feel robbed and cheated of a ‘real’ relationship with the person hiding behind the mask. They also feel like a fool for being deceived and lied to, and feel like they were treated unfairly by the people pleaser, as if they are not trustworthy enough to know the ‘real’ person behind the scenes. Bottom line is, everyone gets the rotten end of the stick in this game.

The people pleaser loses his or her sense of identity, misses out on knowing who they themselves really are, they don’t know what they like, what they value, what they believe, etc. It’s like that movie from ages ago, the runaway bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, He goes in as a reporter to investigate the woman who bails from marriage after marriage, and in typical romance fashion, falls for her himself. Only, he discovers through his reporting what other’s have missed, that she becomes exactly like the man she is with in each new relationship she is in. Not knowing her own identity, at one point in the movie Richard Gere challenges Julia Robert’s character and tells her she doesn’t even know what kind of eggs she likes. In a subsequent scene as the dawning of realization crosses her that she is a people pleaser, you see her with a counter full of different types of eggs and she individually tries them all to decide what she likes for herself.

Sad, but true for the people pleaser. Keep the peace at all costs, don’t rock the boat, try to make everyone else happy, hoping someone will finally make them happy. Trouble is, it doesn’t work. Those content living with a people pleaser will continue to take more and more, not offering in return the one thing the people pleaser hungers for most: love.

Where does this terrible root lie? Go back several blogs and you will read my article on the ideal vs the real. Once again, a developmental injury, rooted in being praised for performance, what one can do, rather than for who one IS. Or the reverse occurs, everything you do is never enough, and you work harder and harder to earn, finally the praise and approval for your efforts. If it never really comes, you carry these traits with you into adulthood in the attempt to finish the natural development process that was supposed to take place during the child rearing years. What happens is that our growth process gets stunted. And forever after, we look to complete that process in relationship after relationship doing the exact things we were taught and/or believed were necessary to ‘earn’ love and approval.

Tell me if you relate to any of these false beliefs:

  • I must meet certain expectations to feel good about myself
  • I must feel approved of or accepted by others to feel good about myself
  • I am a perfectionist -I feel afraid of failure
  • I become depressed or suffer low self esteem if I fail
  • I am extremely self critical
  • I am critical of others.

Does this math equation sound like you?

  • “Self worth = Performance + other people’s opinions?” -Taken from the book Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee

I am deeply moved and troubled for those who fall into this trap. It can be debilitating, and the things you do to try and make it better only amplify the void. Performance isn’t the answer. The truth is, there is someone out there who will love you just for you. In fact, they are likely to love you the more for it. It is impossible to develop a truly intimate relationship with another person if you cannot bring your whole self into relationship.

But first you need to find yourself, and stop trying to medicate the pain by the excess work you put into putting on the ‘ideal self’ show. You don’t need to be superman or super mom for that matter. Everyone has flaws. If you are not loved despite your flaws, then the relationship is not authentic. True intimacy cannot be fostered if this is the case. You will develop something called enmeshment instead. The merging of two individual identities into one. You will look like, be like, act like and accommodate the person you are merging with while developing a co-dependent/dependent relationship.

It’s time to find out who the real you is. If you struggle with performance and not really knowing your identity, your individuation and sense of separateness as a child was not likely modeled in the proper fashion. Good news is, there is hope. But the hope comes from being honest with yourself, and being honest with those you are closest to and trust the most. And write a list. Determine who you are, what do you like? What do you hate? What do you believe? What do you value? What are your favorite kind of eggs, if you don’t know! Get to know yourself. And stop believing the lies that you are not loveable, that who you are is not good enough, does not measure up, is not smart enough or good looking enough, or whatever the lie whispers in your ear. You are worth being loved. You are worth being valued. Not for what you do, but for who you are. You are loveable. I am empathetic and sorry for the years you have wasted trying to earn mom or dad’s approval and love and acceptance in every relationship you’ve been in. Stop trying to prove yourself worthy.

Tell yourself the truth. You are loveable. God loves you. He made you in his unique image and said that ‘it is good’. Begin to tell yourself new messages that you are loveable for who you are. It IS possible to retrain your habits. Habits are formed over time, as are the habits of people pleasing. Habits can be unlearned and relearned. It is a skill you can build.

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

————-

If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


“A lot of what we do to not feel bad is likely to make us feel worse. It’s like that thought experiment: ‘try not to think about pink elephants – the kind that are very large and very pink!’. Once an idea is planted in our minds, it’s strengthened every time we try not to think about it.” -Christopher K. Germer, PhD

Were you picturing pink elephants there? I have to admit, I did… and I’m not especially gifted at visualization! One time in church, the pastor asked us to close our eyes and visualize something, and my husband, who KNOWS that I basically SUCK at visualization, laughed when I whispered in his ear, “I see black”. LOL But for those of you who ARE good at visualization, the above experiment about thinking about pink elephants might be quite easy, and difficult to NOT think about when someone mentions to not think about it.

Now you may ask, according to my title, what does all this have to do with mindfulness OR anxiety? Good question! I’m glad you asked! The above quote from the book “The mindful path to self compassion” by the above named author, goes on to say this: “Similarily, whatever we throw at our distress to make it go away- relaxation techniques, blocking our thoughts, positive affirmations- will ultimately disappoint, and we’ll have no choice to set off to find another option to feel better.”

Now before I go any further, since this particular blog is supposed to be about me, I need to mention that anxiety is something that seems to run in my family. I have had my bouts of anxiety over the years as well, everything from insomnia and allowing that to cause anxiety, from ordinary stressful life events to traumatic experiences, to allowing anxiety to hold me back from reaching my goals and dreams because the symptoms of anxiety can feel debilitating.

How have I learned to deal with anxiety? What tools have I come up with? What exercises have I tried? Everything from avoiding anything stressful that causes anxiety, to prescription medications to help deal with symptoms, to counseling, etc. And I have learned a lot from my research and have implemented a lot of great techniques since then. But first, let us take a look at what anxiety is, and some of it’s most common symptoms.

Are you constantly tense, worried or on edge? Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school or family responsibilities? Are you plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake? Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way? Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety? Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks and heart-pounding panic? Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?

The above are signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder. The most common symptoms of anxiety include emotional and physical symptoms which are easily identified:

Emotional symptoms of anxiety:

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling tense and jumpy
  • Anticipating the worst
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Watching for signs of danger
  • Feeling like your mind’s gone blank

Physical/Physiological symptoms of anxiety:

  • Pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Stomach upset or dizziness
  • Frequent urination or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tremors and twitches
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Surge of overwhelming panic
  • Feeling of losing control or going crazy
  • Heart palpitations or chest pain
  • Feeling like you are going to pass out
  • Trouble breathing or choking sensation
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea or stomach cramps
  • Feeling detached or unreal

Knowing is half the battle, which is why I am including the above symptoms, as some people don’t recognize anxiety for what it is, or are unaware of most of those symptoms being related to anxiety. For further reading on the subject, I suggest visiting the following website: http://helpguide.org

When I first began investigating tools to help manage anxiety, I came across a lot of great ideas:

  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Adopt healthy eating habits
  • Reduce alcohol and nicotine
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep

I also thought these things were great tools:

1. Create a “worry period”. Choose a set time and place for worrying. Set a start and end time for your worry period. During your worry period, you’re allowed to worry about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.

2. Postpone your worry. If an anxious thought or worry comes into your mind, make a brief note of it and and postpone it until your worry period. Remind yourself you will have time to worry about it later, so you can continue on with your day.

3. Go through your worry list during the worry period. Jot down your worries and anxious thoughts throughout the day, and now is the time you get to worry about them. If the worries don’t seem important anymore, cut your worry period short and enjoy the rest of your day.

They suggest that post-poning worry is effective because it breaks the habit of dwelling on worries in the present moment.

Another worry tip: Ask yourself if the problem is solvable. Is what you are worrying about real or imagined? a ‘what if’ type of worry. If the problem is an imaginary ‘what if’, ask yourself ‘how likely is it to happen? Is your concern realistic? Why? Can you do something about the problem or prepare for it, or is it out of your control?

If the worry is solvable, start brainstorming. Make a list of all possible solutions you can think of.

If the worry is unsolvable, remember that worrying helps you avoid unpleasant emotions.  Worrying keeps you in your head, thinking about how to solve problems rather than allowing yourself to feel the underlying emotions. But you can’t worry your emotions away.  While you are worrying, your feelings are temporarily suppressed, but as soon as you stop, the tension and anxiety bounces back.  The only way out of this cycle is to embrace your feelings.

One of the mindfulness techniques I learned was the practice of nonresistance.  Accept anxiety and that you feel anxious.  Be compassionate to your anxiety and embrace the fact that worry and anxious thoughts are normal.  The more you worry about it, the bigger it gets.  If you are able to practice compassion on yourself, the anxiety itself can diminish, merely by accepting the fact that you feel anxious. But just because you ‘feel’ anxious, doesn’t mean you need to let it control you or hold you back.  You can still accomplish your goals, finish your profects, deal with traumatic situations, by simply accepting the underlying emotions and continuing on anyway, despite the fact that you ‘feel’ anxious.  One suggestion I was given was to look at your feelings as if you were watching the clouds in the sky and watching them pass by.  I am still working on this process, as it is still difficult not to feed the anxious thought with lots of attention.  But I am recognizing that feelings pass.  And to embrace what I am feeling in that moment, no matter how painful, stressful or anxious it is.  Resisting it merely postpones the problem, and often intensifies it.  Not dealing with it and avoiding it, makes it bigger than it really is.  It also causes all sorts of health problems.  The best way to deal with anxiety, is to feel it.  And don’t let it stop you from moving forward anyway.  What’s wrong with doing something you feel anxious about, while feeling anxious? Just do it feeling anxious.  Lots of people do.  If every person who ever felt nervous before going onstage to perform gave way to their anxiety and refused to go onstage and perform, they would be holding back their talent and preventing the audience to hear/watch/observe their show.  They also woudln’t get paid or famous.  Imagine Lady Gaga not going onstage?  She would fade off the popularity charts pretty quickly.

There are many tools for anxiety, some work better than others, some work better for certain types of people.  If you see something here that works for you, feel free to try it!

I have two more tools that I have personally tried that I have found helpful for myself.

First, a cognitive approach, as I am wired to think that way myself:

The above mentioned website resource I sited suggests:

Stop Worry by questioning the worried thought:

  • What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true?
  • Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at the situation?
  • What’s the probability that what I’m scared of will actually happen?
  • If the probability is low, what are some more likely outcomes?
  • Is the thought helpful?
  • How will worrying about it help me and how will it hurt me?
  • What would I say to a friend who had this worry?

Cognitive Distortions that add to Anxiety, Worry and Stress

  • All-or nothing thinking -looking at things in black and white categories, no middle ground
  • Overgeneralization- Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever
  • The mental filter- Focusing only on the negatives while filtering out positives. Dwelling on the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went well.
  • Diminishing the positive- Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count “I did well on the presentation, but it was just luck”
  • Jumping to conclusions- Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. Making assumptions
  • Catastrophizing- Expecting the worst-case secnario to happen
  • Emotional reasoning- Believing the way you feel reflects reality.
  • Shoulds and should-nots- Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do and beating yourself up if you break any of the rules
  • Labeling- Labeling yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings (I’m a failure, an idiot, a loser)
  • Personalization- Assuming responsibility for things that are outside your control (It’s my fault my son got in a car accident. I should have warned him to drive carefully in the rain)

Mindfulness techniques to try:

  • Acknowledge and observe your anxious thoughts and feelings. Don’t try to ignore, fight, or control them, like you usually would. Instead, simply observe them as if from an outsider’s perspective.
  • Let your worries go. Notice that when you don’t try to control the anxious thoughts that pop up, they soon pass, like clouds moving across the sky. It’s only when you engage your worries that you get stuck.
  • Stay focused on the present. Pay attention to the way your body feels, the rhythm of your breathing, your ever-changing emotions, and the thoughts that drift across your mind. If your find yourself getting stuck on a particular thought, bring your attention back to the present moment.

One mindfulness exercise I try is to breathe deeply.  To allow myself to take 5-10 minutes out of my day to just bring all my focus on my breathing.  I count from 1-10 and then from 10-1 backwards.  All I am doing is paying attention to my breath and then gradually, I begin to pay attention to the sounds around me.  When a thought interrupts the process, I give it my attention for a few moments as it is likely trying to point out something I need to pay attention to.  But I gradually bring my focus back to my breath.  If I am interrupted by a random thought, I begin counting again from 1-10.  This helps me notice how frequently I am being distracted in the process.  And throughout the process, I practice self-compassion.  There is no way to do this exercise wrong.  Just have compassion towards the interruptions and keep breathing.

The purpose of the above exercise is that what is happening in our body as we become increasinly more and more anxious, we are triggering the sympathetic nervous system which generally is responsible for activating the fight or flight response in our body, allowing our reaction to perceived danger to intensify physiological symptoms preparing to deal with the situation (most of the symptoms listed at the beginning of this article). Whereas, the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for things like rest and digest. Deep breathing brings heightenedphysiological symptoms of anxiety, back to a state of rest, by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, initiating a sense of calming the body down.

These are some of the things I have studied and applied to my own life when I combat anxiety. Remember, anxiety is normal. It is a part of life. Whenever we try to deny or fight a natural part of life, we upset the body’s normal way of healing itself. I hope some of these tools help you as they have helped me!

One closing scripture verse to leave you with: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” Matthew 6:33-34

And don’t forget, if you are relating to this, and feel like you need some additional help, Sign-Up Today for my monthly webinar on stress management!! If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

Cheers!

————-

If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach


“Here we are, in a desperate state of isolated independence from God, a loss of the relationship and perfect community designed by God. Now, we are living in the age of the fall, the era of mistrust, aloneness, pride, independence, fear, rejection, the pursuit to make a name for oneself, and the list goes on…to somehow deaden the blow of what is felt internally – bankruptcy of enormous proportions, a bankruptcy of the soul. Adam and Eve felt it immediately. Something had changed. They’d been ripped off. And they KNEW it. The eyes of their heart had been opened, and they understood that they had been deceived. They understood that the former intimacy had been robbed from them. Or so they thought. They understood that this knowledge was backfiring somehow. They thought they would be like God, but what had happened is that they had cut themselves off from the former enjoyment with God. But I doubt they fully understood why.
We are blessed that we have the story from beginning to end written out for us in the bible, but even in that, our eyes can remain blinded by deception for a lifetime, that we cannot see, nor understand this grand narrative that I am attempting to describe. (2 Cor. 14-18). Even as Christians it can take us years to finally figure out just how ‘deep the rabbit hole goes’ so to speak, in understanding the human condition, our spiritual bankruptcy, our fallen condition.

We touched on the wrath of God in the last chapter, arising out of a jealous love to protect the ones he loves, and are about to explore a little of God’s frustration, hurt, sense of betrayal and even anger, as he pours out his heart to the ones who have fallen away from him, all the while in a desperate pursuit to win back the heart of the one he loves, as he frequently refers to as his bride, in both the old and the new testament.

You see, our fallen human condition was not merely Adam and Eve alone in this fallen state, but every son and daughter since, has inherited this dreadful condition. As with all things, as a result of the fall, the condition atrophies, it worsens over time. It may have been a simple act of disobedience in the garden of Eden that day, but very soon after, we learn of a murder arising out of the condition of jealousy, among the children of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. And the more you progress in reading the old testament, the greater the atrocities of our sinful human condition emerge. You see King David taking another man’s wife as his own, and having her husband murdered, you see him refuse to do anything for his daughter who was raped, arising an outpouring of wrath among one of his sons adamant for justice, taking justice in his own hands and murdering the one who raped his sister. You see human sacrifices as the people God loved turned away from God and sought other gods and became obedient to the practices of child sacrifices to appease the gods they chose to serve, something that was abominable to the one true God. On and on it goes, the depravity of the human condition, unleashed as man takes matters into his own hands. In our day we see it too, the corruption in our governments, the pursuit of power at the expense of others, the lack of peace in Israel. War and terrorism becoming a real part of our world, and holocausts, killing off whole races of people because one race sees themselves as more superior than another. White supremacy, bringing other races into slavery and abuses of extreme conditions. Human trafficking – the lack of respect for the dignity of human life. Nuclear threats, you name it, not to mention the murders that take place in our own time, due to jealous rage, or racism, or whatever the root cause may be… it all comes back to our sinful, inward condition of waywardness from the intentions God desired for us. It is the result of our falling away from a real and living God who loves us. In our independence, we thought our own human effort was good enough to resolve the condition of the world, ignorant and unaware that coming from a place of fallenness, could not possibly result in a perfect solution.

And so we come to see the grief of God, and his anger at the atrocities he sees in the world.
We first see this great grief expressed in Genesis 6:5: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” In his anger, he said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land… for I am very sorry that I have made them.” This is the cry of a broken heart. For those of you who know the rest of the story, God found a man who was righteous before God, Noah, whom God chose to be the man whom he would rebuild the human race with, after he chose to flood the earth in an attempt to rid the earth of the violence of mankind. When all was said and done, God was again grieved and his anger subsided and he vowed he would never again destroy the whole earth by giving us the sign of the rainbow. But then again… some time later, wickedness arose so desperately in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, that the outcry of their evil deeds arose to God’s attention. He decided to wipe out the whole city. But Abraham interceded to God to spare the city, as he bartered with God from 50 men who were found to be righteous, down to 10. In the end, not 10 were even found righteous, and God allowed the city to burn up in smoke, after allowing the few people in the city who still feared God to flee for their safety.

It is difficult for us to look at these stories and see that God is a loving God that cares for us. When we see his wrath and his anger, we once again, from our fallen condition, reject him still further and wander farther off from him, not seeing his side of the story, his broken heart. His grief at our waywardness. His desire for a community of unity, rather than one that breeds hatred, isolation, and cruelty.

Let us take a closer look at how he feels toward us, this jilted lover, who is broken up over our wandering away from the love and fellowship he desired to share with us.
Listen to his heart:
“I long to be gracious to you. You are precious and honored in my sight, because I love you.”
“From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him” Psalm 103:17
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you. Therefore he will rise to show you compassion. For the lord is a god of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18
“Love each other, as I have loved you.” John 15:12
“For God so loved the world…” John 3:16a
“As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5
“The Lord God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and truth, who keeps his lovingkindness for thousands, and forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. Yet he will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…”
“I have loved you, says the Lord, but you say, “how hast thou loved us?” Malachi 1:2a

Here we see a developing theme of his great unshakeable love for us. But we also see He is equally a God of justice. We complain ever so readily when we feel that God has been unjust, and yet, every time he displays his acts of justice, we assume that he is cruel and lacks mercy. Exactly like this last quote we just read out of Malachi, where the Lord is speaking to us telling us that he has loved us, but complains that we say back to him, ‘how have you loved us?’ because we cannot believe. We are all locked in this state of blindness and hostility toward God, that we cannot turn to him even if we will it, by our own might. “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, and it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh, cannot please God.” Romans 8:7,8.

God intends to show us mercy. God has envisioned a plan for our redemption. But before we see this plan unfold, we must take a painful look at God’s side of the story. The anguish and grief, the sorrow and anger that burns within him at our wayward condition, and his desperation to renew a right standing between God and mankind once again.”

The above is an excerpt from the book I’m writing, called Found Wanting. I think I will leave it there for now.

Next Monday, I will try and attempt to unpack how desperately God loves and longs and yearns for relationship with us.

Identifying Safe People


Wounded by Relationship

Many of us have at best, been wounded in a relationship at one time or another, whether it be by a friend, co-worker, peer, boss, significant other or a family member or friend of the family. At worst, we may have suffered abuse or severe betrayal by someone. Sadly, what often happens as a result of ‘being burned’, we learn not to trust again, or to harden ourselves against further injury elsewhere and are constantly on the lookout for it to happen again. We have endured trauma. We begin to develop coping mechanisms and hiding patterns and build secure walls of protection around our hearts to prevent re-injury, all the while, looking around every corner expecting it to happen again and projecting past injury onto new people in our lives who are unlikely to be exactly the same as the person who initially injured us.

Why Does This Keep Happening?

While it is true that we do psychologically develop patterns that tend to draw the same type of people to us, because of that feeling of familiarity, the good news is, this cycle can be broken, and changed by identifying characteristics of both safe and unsafe people.

Now, before I go any further and dig a hole for myself, I have to clarify that there are no truly perfect people out there, and we all have flaws and potential to harm each other, which literally means there are no perfectly safe people out there. Everyone will fail you at one time or another. No perfect people exist. If you are looking for perfect, I recommend God.

Now that I have prefaced that, there ARE however, characteristics you can look for to find people who treat you differently than those who have harmed you in the past! This is the good news. The bad news is, you might possess characteristics yourself of an unsafe person. Because we all do, or have the potential to at some point or another. Reality suggests ‘hurting people hurt people.’ Meaning, if you are or have been hurt recently, you have the potential to cause injury to those around you while you try to heal yourself. But hopefully by the end of this blog, you will be able to identify several ‘unsafe’ characteristics and have tools to change them if you find yourself identifying with those patterns, and know what to look for to find the ‘safe’ people, and tools to know how to become safe yourself, for others who need you to be a safe person in their life.

Characteristics of an ‘Unsafe’ Person

Here are a few qualities and characteristics of an ‘unsafe’ person:

-People who act like they have it all together
-Self-righteous
-Demand trust without it being earned
-Controlling
-Treat you like you are less or one-down from them
-Abusive (I will do a series on abuse soon to further unpack what this means)
-Manipulative
-Unreliable
-Competitive
-Defensive, not open to constructive criticism or feedback
-People who ‘may’ apologize but never change their behavior, or who simply never apologize
-People who avoid working on and dealing with their problems
-People who don’t take responsibility for what is ‘theirs to own’ (see previous blogs on boundaries to know what each of us is personally responsible for in life)
-People who lack compassion, empathy or concern for others
-People who do not forgive others ever (we all know forgiveness takes time, I am referring to people who never let go of grudges and offenses and hold it over someone else forever!)
-Blame others for their problems
-People who live a continual lifestyle of lying
-People who are not growing, keeping the same unhealthy patterns and don’t want to change.

Characteristics of Safe People

Compare the above list with the characteristics of a ‘safe’ person:

-People who react to you differently than those who have hurt you, over a period of time (even unsafe people can appear ‘safe’ initially until the ‘romance’ phase of any early relationship wears off.)
-People who are loving and who have a good reputation for being loving over time. Watch their actions. Not just what they say.
-People you can watch and observe from an emotional distance and who are gentle with you during the trust earning phase
-People who are willing to earn trust, rather than demand it.
-People who can accept imperfections in others
-People who have grace for imperfections
-People who have endured pain themselves, but are recovering or have recovered, who can be empathetic to your pain
-People who can speak the truth to you lovingly
-People who bear good fruit in your life… If you find you are becoming healthier and are encouraged to grow and your identity and independence and limits are respected, these are good qualities to look for.
-People who can be intimate, who know the difference between intimacy and enmeshment.
-People who can confront gently, with compassion
-Honest
-Not controlling
-Views relationships equally, rather than a one-up, one-down perspective.

Some of you reading may say to yourselves “where are these people?” And you may be right. They are fewer and farther between. But don’t give up looking. Perhaps you should look in different places than you usually do to find safe people. If you still have trouble finding them, look for a support group you can join in your area in the meantime, so that you can learn to become a safe person yourself. “like attracts like” they say. If you become healthier and ‘safer’ in the way you interact with others, you will begin to attract safe people, and will become less attracted to the ‘unsafe people’ as you begin to value the attributes of what a safe person possesses within them.

How to Become a Safe Person

1. Learn to ask for help, ask for what you need. Asking develops humility, it develops the skill of taking initiative and ownership and responsibility for yourself. It produces an attitude of gratitude when we have received what we asked for. Asking also increases the possibility that your need will be met.

2. Learn to need. Confess how difficult it is, or your inability to express need. This next step is hard… But necessary. Confess the need. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive. People are not mind readers. Here are a couple examples to help you along:
I need to know I matter to you.
I need to know you love me.
I need to know you understand.
I need to know you won’t reject me when I express who I am.
I need to know you will accept that I have different opinions than you sometimes.

3. What evokes your hunger? What is that ache that is unfulfilled? Learn to identify your feelings so you can express your needs. Learn what you like and dislike, and ask for more of what you like.

4. Work through resistances. “Resistance is our tendency to avoid growth”. (Drs..Henry Cloud and John Townsend, authors of ‘Safe People’, where I have gleaned from for this material)
A) Identify your resistances to love. What are you doing when someone is expressing love to you? Are you diminishing it? Dismissing it? Disbelieving it? These are examples of resistances to love.
B) Bring these resistances into relationship.
C) Allow the needs beneath the resistance to get met.
D) do the opposite of what the resistance tells you to do.
Ie. the resistance says “handle it yourself. You don’t need help.” instead, ask for help. Delegate responsibilities, etc.
E) Be open to truth
F) learn to give and receive forgiveness. Both from others and yourself. Forgive yourself!

5. Give something back.
Understand what you have gained from the above exercises and learn how to identify your friends’ and family’s need signals. Ask to help others. Learn to ‘be there’ for others. Be a truth teller, and someone who loves truth.

Many thanks go out to Dr’s Henry Cloud and John Townsend for their extensive work on the subject of boundaries and healthy relationships. I have learned much from their resources over the years. I highly recommend their literature on these subjects.

————-

Need help with breaking the cycle and identifying safe people?

Check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program and bring control back into your life!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

%d bloggers like this: