Archive for June, 2012



Here are some common tactics used for coping with stress. Keep track of behavior that is characteristic for you in how you respond to stressful situations,

1. I ignore my own needs and just work harder and faster.
2. I seek out friends for conversation and support.
3. I eat more than usual.
4. I engage in some type of physical exercise.
5. I get irritable and take it out on those around me.
6. I take a little time to relax, breathe, and unwind.
7. I smoke a cigarette or drink a caffeinated beverage.
8. I confront my source of stress and work to change it.
9. I withdraw emotionally and just go through the motions of my day.
10. I change my outlook on the problem and put it in a better perspective.
11. I sleep more than I really need to.
12. I take some time off and get away from my working life (and/or other stressor).
13. I go shopping and buy something to make myself feel good.
14. I joke with my friends and use humor to take the edge off.
15. I drink more alcohol than usual.
16. I get involved in a hobby or interest that helps me unwind and enjoy myself.
17. I take medicine to help me relax or sleep better.
18. I maintain a healthy diet.
19. I just ignore the problem and hope it will go away.
20. I pray, meditate, or enhance my spiritual life.
21. I worry about the problem and am afraid to do something about it.
22. I try to focus on the things I can control and accept the things I can’t.

Scoring:
The even numbered items tend to be more constructive tactics and the odd numbered items tend to be less constructive tactics for coping with stress.
(Taken from “The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook 6th edition, Martha Davis, PhD, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, MSW, Matthew McKay, PhD)

Here are some other great tips for effectively managing stress:

Mindfulness exercises, like deep breathing, focusing on the moment, and the sounds you hear around you, are a good starting point. The reactions in your physical body and noticing what is going on in your body while taking inventory of which parts of your body feel stressed, and doing a visualization exercise where you are calming those tense areas of your body are helpful tools as well.

Take a few moments now and just breathe in and out deeply, count to five in, and exhale. Do this a few times and see where you feel some tension. Allow yourself to relax for a few moments as you drink in the moment. We cannot control the past, or the future, all we have is now. A worried, stressed out you is going to be less productive by stressing and worrying.

Take the few minutes to center yourself and feel the moment. Pay attention to the sounds around you, take them in. Breathe in fresh, clean air, breathe out the stress. You may think of a word that calms you to say while breathing in, like, peace, or calm, or God. Like we discussed in a previous blog on stress, the fight and flight response is triggered by our stress. The rest and digest response is triggered by our intentional effort to take deep breaths to calm ourselves down.

Another technique you may find helpful is to pray and meditate. Think good thoughts. Think about some things you are grateful for, to deliberately get your mind off the all or nothing belief that you will never get the project done on time, or will never resolve that conflict with your co-worker or friend.

Take a break. Get out of the office. Go for a walk and unwind for a few minutes.

Schedule vacations!!!!

Exercise as often as you can! It can be really great to help you unwind and release endorphins to help you feel better! And it’s good for you!

Don’t forget to eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep. All of these things help our brains adapt to the stressor with more energy and clarity. If you are not getting enough sleep, you are likely grumpy anyway, or less productive, which can catapult your stress level through the roof!

Don’t procrastinate! Get organized, and complete tasks in an ordered and timely manner. What is the most pressing, urgent items that need to be taken care of first? Prioritize, and delegate when you can! Ask for additional help if you feel you need it!

If it’s a situation you need to confront that is causing you great stress, learn some assertiveness skills or effective confrontation skills! Ask me for more info and resources I can recommend if this applies to you! I also offer a Personal Development Life Coaching Program that deals with setting healthy boundaries, facing conflict, assertiveness and motivation in a six month program if you feel you need additional support in your endeavors! Stay tuned also for my Free Stress Management Webinar  on the 3rd Tuesday of every Month if you need some extra tools to get you on the right track.

These are some great skills to get you started! Don’t let stress master you! Live your best life! Stress does not need to dictate the circumstances of how well you enjoy your life!

One final piece of advice: Get your priorities straight! Don’t let work be your slave master…. Remember when you are at the end of your life, you cannot take wealth with you. Your successes stay behind, but the moments you treasured, the love you showed, the compassion, the strength, the support you gave, your character will remain with your loved ones long after you are gone!

Love is life. Without love, we are nothing! Is it time to recall, rate and determine the order of importance of people and things in your life to get back on track so that you are living for the right reasons, and not allowing circumstances to dictate your level of joy in life?

Our bodies are not meant to maintain a sustained and constant level of stress. Find your map to overcome the roadblocks of stress that are getting in the way of living your life more abundantly!
Rest your way to de-stress! Eat your way to a healthier life! Exercise to release the stress, pray, take breaks… What works for you? Find it and get started to living life with less stress!

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Believe it or not, worry can actually be beneficial and even helpful if it moved us to take action to solve a problem, or gives us the motivation to complete a task by the deadline. But sadly, and most unfortunately, worry can also be the very cause of decreasing your ability to complete the task at hand, especially when you become centered around your worry, and pre-occupied with the worried thought that cripples your ability to do anything BUT worry!

You can become paralyzed by worry, and almost make a full time profession out of it! Sadly, it doesn’t pay well when it comes to salary! In fact the physical payoffs of worry can be really quite difficult to deal with and can become harmful to our bodies over prolonged worry. Some of us worriers are so used to worry, that we seek stressful situations out, because we don’t know how to function when not in a crisis.

Constant worrying can disrupt healthy sleeping patterns, keep you tense, edgy and jumpy during the day, and interfere with normal day to day routines.

Negative beliefs are often the culprit underneath the worry. It might be useful to dig a little deeper about what is just beneath the surface of your worry. Worrying about your worry only adds to the problem at hand. Worrying may feel like a form of protection to you, but it isn’t true, especially for chronic worriers, when worry leaves you less productive than you could be without it! But we love our coping mechanisms and we are used to them. And they are familiar to us, and what is familiar feels comfortable, even if it leaves you feeling the uncomfortable side effects of the worry habit.

Once you realize worry is the problem, you are halfway there to winning the battle of worry and taking back control over what you allow your mind to dwell on. The Bible has useful advice when it says do not worry about tomorrow for each day has enough trouble of its own!

I personally believe that worry largely has to do with the felt need to control something outside of your ability to control. Don’t mistake my opinion as being one from a distant observer of worry. I have wrestled with worry and anxiety at varying occasions and seasons of my life. I wrestle with anxiety currently in fact, and I need to frequently use tools to manage my emotions, thoughts and physical symptoms during this season of repair in my life. I will touch on some great tips next week for worry and anxiety.

Let me just touch on what is considered to be generalized anxiety vs an anxiety attack to clarify the differences, and help you chart whether you have occasional worry that is useful to you or harmful, and how to know when worry becomes anxiety and what type.

Generalized anxiety consists of chronic worry, like we just talked about, and nervousness and tension in the body. Generalized anxiety is quite simply stated: generalized. It is a general feeling of dread or feeling uneasy but not having a clearly stated aggressor. It just affects your whole life and it affects all areas of your life, everything from finances to career, to relationships, health issues, you name it! It is mentally and physically exhausting and drains you of energy you need throughout the day! It is difficult, almost nearly impossible to feel calm and relaxed. It disrupts normal life… But you have known it long enough to feel like it is normal.

You may have an anxiety disorder if you identify with the following symptoms:

Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?

Does your anxiety interfere with work, school or family responsibilities?

Are you plagued by irrational fears but can’t get rid of them anyway?

Do you avoid every day situations because they cause you anxiety?

Do you believe something bad will happen if things aren’t done a certain way?

Do you feel like catastrophe or danger are lurking around every corner?

Do you experience sudden unexpected attacks of panic?

Symptoms of anxiety attacks include:

Surges of overwhelming panic

Feeling a loss of control

Feeling like you are going crazy

Hyperventilation

Heart palpitations & chest pain

Trouble breathing

Hot flashes or chills

Trembling or shaking

Nausea or stomach cramps

Feeling detached, unreal, numb, or removed from the present, stuck in a past traumatizing event.

Post traumatic stress occurs after a traumatic or life threatening event. It does not only include those who have suffered from an extreme accident, physical or sexual abuse, living in a war torn country, or being in the military exposed to traumatic war experiences. It can include anything that brings about the same symptoms. Some people experience extreme trauma after a break up of a significant relationship, or when they become aware of their partner’s cheating, rape, kidnapping, natural disasters etc.

If you feel a lessened awareness of yourself (dissociation, or experience flashbacks of a painful or traumatic event, experience changes in how you think or feel about yourself, disruptions in your level of feeling safe, loss of trust in yourself, anger, loss of self esteem, feelings of chronic emptiness, and feelings of helplessness, are withdrawn from other’s as a result, avoid situations or places that remind you of the event, experience changes in eating habits (weight gain or weight loss) just to name a few, you may be experiencing trauma of some sort. See the attached picture for some more common symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. To be diagnosed as having PTSD you must be experiencing your symptoms for more than 1 month in each of the following categories:

– Re-experiencing symptoms -flashbacks, nightmares, surging heart rate
– Avoidance and Numbing – avoiding places that remind you of the event, feeling distant or numb, difficulty feeling positive feelings such as love, happiness etc.
– Hyper arousal symptoms – outbursts of anger, being ‘jumpy’ or easily startled, difficulty concentrating
– Acute stress disorder – experiencing your symptoms for more than a month
– Your symptoms are negatively interfering with you work or relationships

Only a trained professional can truly diagnose you with PTSD, but if you identify with the summary of symptoms it might be time to make an appointment with your doctor and a PTSD therapist!

Stay tuned next Friday for tips on managing stress, worry and anxiety!

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 or my Trauma Recovery Program for training on tools to help cope with past trauma! And don’t forget, I also have a free monthly webinar on stress management, Sign-Up Today!! 

Cheers!

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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


Hi all, Hope you had a fabulous weekend! I know I did! I had the privilege of being part of a highly intensive, interactive, annual writer’s conference hosted in Guelph Ontario, called Write Canada!

This was my second time going to this conference, but I must say it is highly addictive, leaving you both energized and renewed, with fresh vigor towards your writing goals, as well as leaving exhausted and overwhelmed by the massive amount if content taken in from the varying speakers in their seminars. Not to mention the incredible connections you make, and the opportunity to meet and promote your work to editors, agents and publishers represented at the conference!

It is also amazing to have the opportunity to have your work critiqued and see the areas you need to work on and grow in your writing skills, and to come away with fresh new ideas and new missions toward reaching your goals!

I was extremely thrilled to find out I am already tracking as I should be in my social media circles, building the ever so important platform for my writing. It was also incredibly helpful to get some tips that I have not yet applied, which gives me some great take-away for the next steps in my writing career!

It is awesome to see the opportunities that come out of it, and to hear those words all writer’s long to hear: “Send me a book proposal” for the latest piece of work you are working on, or to submit some articles to a journal, magazine or paper, to get the added exposure in your writing! Those are joyous moments to be sure, accompanied by the weight of responsibility, knowing all that that entails to get your information together for the proposal!

It is interesting as well to connect with each writer and hear the stories of their journeys in their writing career, everything from the “I never wanted to be a writer” perspective but who have multiple books published now, to those who are fulfilling a lifetime dream…. All they wanted to do is see their name in print, having published one book, maybe as a kind of bucket list item to check off the many things they want to fulfill of their dreams in life, to those who are writing out of the trials and painful journeys they have been through and have lived to tell the tale!

It was awesome to get a sneak peak at the whole writing process from start to finish in Steve Laube’s (pronounced ‘lobby’ like the hotel) continuing class this weekend! By the way, he mentioned that those of us who were in his class were supposed to tell everyone we were given a publishing contract from him! (Although it was only to show us what to look for in the agreement of the contract! Lol! Sorry for giving away your secret Steve!) it was awesome to hear him speak with such integrity and concern for the writer, rather than to serve his own agenda, which he mentioned is important to look for when you are interviewing an agent or editor to ensure they ‘mesh’ well with your vision and can help work toward your goals as a writer! We got the opportunity to pitch our book ideas in 40 words or less in the class for the practice and critique of our classmates! Fun exercise!

And then there were the effective blog tips that were extremely useful and the social media tips, and the bookstore, and the faculty one-one appointments were you could ask your specific questions and get advice for your next steps!

All in all it was another exciting and awesome conference, and as one long time attendee mentioned, it’s addictive! Once you start going, you always want to go back the following year! Amen to that! I wholeheartedly agree! Though I am overwhelmed with a flood of content from the incredible material offered this weekend, while I quiet,y sit and absorb it all, the air of excitement for the journey ahead is bubbling up within my heart!

What a great conference! I’m going back next year for sure!


Have you ever paid too much attention to your breathing patterns when you are feeling stressed or anxious? Likely not in the moment at least, as your mind is preoccupied with the stress you are feeling, increasing the shallow breathing, and increased heart rate and muscle tension developing in your body. The reason all these physiological sensations are occurring in your body is simply because you have activated the sympathetic nervous system in your body which prepares you for fight or flight. It is busy readying the body to take whatever needed action is required urgently. It’s instinctual nature is preparing you for some sort of danger and knows you need to be ready to respond at a moments notice. And perhaps your adrenaline has kicked in too, as you are overloaded at work, have deadlines that you know you cannot possibly meet because all sorts of other issues came up at the office distracting your time and attention away from your current project, and now you feel the mounting stress in your neck and shoulders and the headache or the knots in your stomach as you imagine the worst case scenario, and fear is kicking in about what will happen if you miss this important deadline. Or maybe it’s a person you don’t get along with and there is mounting stress developing between you and this person. You hate working with them, and are afraid of confrontation, because they have a more strong-willed personality than you or they are that workplace bully that you know you will suffer their wrath if you confront the issues you are having with them and the stress builds slowly, like water in a pot on a hot stove, slowly coming to a boil and finally overflowing because of the mounting tension.

These and other situations can cause massive amounts of stress in life. And our sympathetic nervous system, bless it’s soul, readies us for action we need to take. However, our bodies were not meant to maintain constant stress, as all sorts of physical problems arise as a result. But what do you do with the pesky symptoms of stress in order to calm down? Have you ever noticed that most of these symptoms meant to help us take immediate action also have the tendency to backfire on us as well, say for instance by decreasing our concentration or productivity, or even our ability to perform at all? Perfect case in point… Needing to do a presentation in front of a group of people, and you have a fear of public speaking and more than the nervous butterflies in your stomach, you feel frozen in fear, unable to do your job? Sometimes we need to take action and require that boost of adrenaline or increase of oxygen to the heart to take flight or fight. But often the stressors we face inducing the fight, flight or freeze response tend to be counter productive.

What does breathing have anything to do with what I have been talking about this whole time? Some of you may already know, those of you who practice mindfulness exercises will already be familiar with what I am about to say, but for those of you who are curious about what is going on in the body and why what i am about to tell you actually works, will be well informed in just a moment! Deep breathing… Not shallow or even regular breathing, but breathing in deeply to at least a 5 count and then breathing out slowly and deeply as well, triggers what is known as the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the body responsible for the rest and digest functions in the body. Deep breathing activates the part of our brain that tells us to calm down, to rest, to relax, to unwind. You may not be able to take tons of time at work to sit back, put your feet up on your desk and take a nap to get that renewed vigor to carry on, but taking deep breaths for 5-10 minutes (or whatever time you have) can quite possibly be the very trick to enable you to complete that project on time! Once you are breathing deeply, you are deactivating the nervous stress energy in your body which is decreasing your functional ability by flooding your emotions with fear or panic. Once you are breathing more deeply, and less labored, you may find you suddenly have more concentration available to complete the task at hand. Now your energy is being devoted to the project, rather than spending so much effort on worrying about the project!

Stay tuned for more stress tips next Friday!

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!

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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


For the past few weeks on Wednesdays, I have been blogging about varying things that I have been learning about and reading up on the subjects that most interest me. Today is no different. The avid reader that I am, I am excited to share some of what I have been reading up on. I wanted to touch on the subject of abandonment or feelings of abandonment and rejection that we experience from time to time in our life. I also want to touch on some of the core things going on inside us that pre-disposition us for abandonment patterns throughout life, that leave us feeling like, “Will I ever be good enough?” “Am I lovable?” “Why do the people I love always leave?” or, “why do I feel so empty, like nothing ever fills me?” or “Why do I always doubt myself?”

Chances are, if you wrestle with those questions, you have felt abandoned at some point in your life. I would even hedge a bet that it has occurred more than once, like a repeating cycle, or a record re-playing over and over the same song, because there is a scratch on the record. I know we don’t use records these days, we barely use cd’s anymore, just download it from iTunes on your iPhone or iPad, or whatever the latest MAC technology is offering! But I like the concept, because it is very much true of us. Like the old record player that can’t get past the scratch on the record, and repeats over and over… Much of our life is the same. There is a wound, a scratch per say, an injury incurred in a current or past relationship. And as much as we want, we try so hard to overcome it and be drawn to different types of people, the kind that won’t abandon, or betray or who can actually connect emotionally, but for whatever reason, we keep going through the same issues over and over and over. Different face, same problem, or varying form of abandonment, but nonetheless…it IS abandonment.

I’ve had what I refer to as my fair share of abandonment experiences in life. Perhaps more than my fair share. In fact, I might even go so far as to say, I don’t think my poor little heart can take another fall like that again! I always say of myself, that I am nothing without love. If I stop loving, I have no purpose left on this earth. What happens when you go through something so traumatic that you reach that point? You think… I just can’t handle one more betrayal, one more abandonment… I don’t know if love can survive in my heart, as if the candle inside of you is about to be snuffed out.

I’d say if you have reached that point, as I have, it’s time to learn how to stop going around the same mountain and figure out what’s at the root! It’s time to mend the wounds and fill the holes that just leak and leak every time anything tries to fill it.

There is this one passage of scripture I truly love as I identify with it so well! It goes something like this:

“My People have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13

I like this verse because it reminds me personally that the source of my life does not, nor should not come from a person, but that God, the giver of life, has an abundance of life he lavishly is ready to bestow on me at a moments notice, whenever I allow myself to trust him enough to meet that deep need no one else can perfectly fill. It also reminds me of my independence, and how I go to other things and people to try to fill the empty voids inside my soul. It is no secret that women have a never ending need for connection and intimacy, and we need it constantly, and consume it like we are starving. Why? Because there is a cistern we have dug for ourselves, going to other things and people and places trying to fill the emptiness ourselves. But what we are largely unaware of, is that our cisterns are broken, and cannot hold the water that represents life. It’s sinking out of the cisterns we built for ourselves out of that crack in the cistern into the ground beneath us, leaving us cracked and dry and continually feeling empty, and continually searching for something else to fill us.

Now I know I am mostly speaking on a spiritual level, and it is true that nothing can ever fill us more than that divine connection to our creator, but there are other natural contributors as well. I am a realist. I know we were created to connect deeply, that we were not meant to be alone or abandoned… No wonder solitary confinement is the cruelest of punishments, for no one was meant to be alone. We were made for relationships. But as humans, we are flawed and we can be self-seeking, or wounded ourselves and unable or incapable of being what someone else needs us to be. All kinds of circumstances and backgrounds cause our brokenness in how we connect to each other, injure each other, and break each other’s hearts. It was not meant to be this way.

But the reality we live in is tainted with flawed individuals all trying to connect to each other and find fulfilling and lasting meaningful relationships. Intuitively, we KNOW that is what we were made for, and we search for it our whole lives. Now because we experience trials and errors in our patterns of relating to each other, inevitably, someone is left wounded, abandoned by another from time to time. Hurting people hurt people. It’s just the way it is.

Looking at some possible roots of abandonment, we can often go back to childhood and find an ‘absent parent’, unavailable to the needs of the child, an alcoholic perhaps that neglects the child’s needs due to drunkenness, if not worse, engaging in some form of abuse. Perhaps your parents simply could not figure out how to effectively communicate with each other and the marriage broke down and one parent left, these are real scenarios not to be discarded by pat answers from some holy religious book. But the fact remains, God never meant for us to connect only to Him, but to each other as well. Those needs to connect intimately with others in our life are God-given as well. It was His plan to begin with. But he never desired the pain we experience as a result of living in a broken world. But though we are broken, there is healing, and God generously desires to bandage our wounds. In fact, Jesus not only died on the cross for our sins, he also took all of our wounds and injuries, and sickness on himself too, caring so deeply for us marred by the fallen condition of human nature.

But there is hope! There is light at the end of the tunnel! There is a chance, a real chance to heal, restore, mend the wounds and move on, healed and whole and complete! Believe it or not!

I recently read a book called “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing”, by Susan Anderson. If you have ever felt abandoned, dismissed, washed up or thrown away and discarded like the trash from a significant relationship in you life, tell me if you do not identify with this quote from her book:

“People going through the anguish of love loss often feel that their lives have been permanently altered, that they will never be the same, will never love again. I’m writing to assure you that as devastated as you may be right now, your feelings of despair and hopelessness are in fact temporary, and they are a normal part of grieving over a relationship. In fact, only by grappling with the feeling that your life is over can you begin to rebuild…Anyone who feels this pain is in a legitimate crisis. Many feel as if they have been stabbed in the heart so many times that they don’t know which hole to plug up first. But these overwhelming feelings do not in any way imply that you are weak, dependent, or undeserving. In spite of the intensity of your feelings, you are still the competent, responsible person you thought you were. Your breakup, with all of its emotional excess, has not diminished you. In fact, being able to feel so deeply is a testament to your strength and tenacity. Only by giving yourself over to your feelings can you find your way out of them.”

We cannot simply ignore the pain and try and go on. It goes with us whether we deny it or not. In fact, studies show the importance of not resisting your emotions, because the more you resist dealing with them, the more intense they get, the more deeply ingrained they become and begin to produce toxins that harm us further. We were meant to let it go, by acknowledging it, feeling it, releasing it, and allowing ourselves to be lifted by peace through the process of time. Does time heal all wounds? I don’t know. It depends on what you do with it. What I do know for sure, is that God is able to heal the brokenness inside us, and there is a part we can take to participate in the work of healing as well. This blog is looking like another two part series, so stay tuned for next Wednesday’s completion on the things I’m learning about abandonment and the ways to bind up those wounds, pour healing balm on them, and be lifted to a place of resilience and healing!

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

God bless!

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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


On Mondays, I have been blogging excerpts from one of the books I’m writing, called “Found Wanting”, exploring a God who loves us and relentlessly pursues a deep and engaging relationship with us. We have looked at the first portion of the book which discusses a position of inward bankruptcy in our souls as a result of sin and it’s consequences. Why do bad things happen in the world? Not because God doesn’t care and doesn’t want to do anything, for sure… But because sin separated us from a position of trusting in, and having intimate connection with God. Because we were sinners, separated from God by our own move away from him, refusing to trust his good intentions toward us, we decided we needed to look out for ourselves, instead of allowing him to protect, defend and care for us. With this newfound independence from God in place in our lives, ample room for self centeredness brought about lawlessness. Every one did as they saw fit. This allowing sin to enter the world. Instead of allowing God to be judge, and decide fairly on the outcome of situations in our lives, we took matters into our own hands. You see it today. From the simplest example of trusting ourselves and questioning the character and goodness of God… Simply because we ask the question, “Why does a ‘good’ God allow suffering in the world?” the very question itself questions the character of God, proving our suspicion of his goodness or concern or involvement in human affairs. Now I could answer that God delights in freedom for us, which is why He gave us free will, and that out of that free will he longs for us to connect to him, because he knows love cannot exist where there is no choice… And maybe you buy it and maybe you don’t. But the example still stands that there is something blocking our ability to believe in God. Free will presents another side to it as well, sadly. Just as we can freely choose to love God and each other, we can also choose to not love. Or to love selfishly… Loving what suits us best. Why is it that we desperately want to take justice in our own hands? An eye for an eye, that sort of thing. When someone has been wronged, and the authorities do not satisfy the hunger for justice, sometimes people take matters into their own hands. Why do people murder each other? Because they have taken matters into their own hands, not because God does not love us. Bad things happen to good people, because free will exists. On the one hand, it is a brilliant plan when it is used for good and not for evil, but free will backfires when we are serving our own interests above all else.

In the second half of the book, I discuss the incredible state of being ‘found wanting’ as in desiring after God as a result of recognizing His great love for us, and once we have felt it, experienced it, embraced the love of God, we are now enabled to love as He does -putting the needs of other’s above our own, or at least not exalting ourselves above another, as a good place to start! When we have truly been loved by God, received his live, tasted and seen that He really IS a good God, we experience the desire to give back. Not out of compulsion, but out of joy!! So how do we give back what we have freely received from God? The forgiveness of sins, and the invitation back to intimate fellowship with him… Then what?

“We were designed to respond to God’s love. We were designed to love. It is our first nature. But what does this nature look like? What does it involve? What does it entail? It is the nature of love to be ever expanding, not to horde love to itself, but to feel the warmth of the embrace of real and genuine love and to desire to give it away, knowing ‘there is more where that came from!’ When you hear of some really incredible sale at your favorite store, do you want to keep it to yourself or tell all your friends so they can find a great deal to? If you were on your death bed and suddenly were completely made whole and are perfectly well, would you not be so excited and bursting at the seams to tell everyone you know about your sudden, miraculous healing? Or would you keep it to yourself? When you are having the best day in the world, and feel like celebrating, do you not want to call as many of your friends as possible to go out and paint the town red and do something exciting to celebrate the moment, or a big victory? Love is like this too! When we are in love, we want to tell everyone of our newfound love. Why? Because love was created to express it, and to bring joy to those around you. That is the purpose of love- to expand, to spread the news! To share something wonderful!

Those who have come to know and understand and receive the love of God participate in the mission of God, by spreading the greatest news imaginable – that God is love! That God DOES indeed love us! We are not alone here, left to fend for ourselves, lurking in the dark, grasping the wind, struggling to find a purpose in life or for the meaning of why we are here. Those who have understood his love, KNOW. They know that the mission of God is to spread his love to everyone, because his heart grieves for all of us who have wavered in our confidence in his goodness, those of us who were disillusioned, or gave up hope in God because of some travesty we experienced in life that we thought was God’s fault, when in reality, was the result of free will and sin nature expressing itself in independence and rebellion against God, all because we believed the biggest lie of all: “God’s heart for us is not good!” So sad this reality of our condition, such incredible news when we believe again… God’s heart for you is good! God loves you. God is love! Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friend. He has called us his friends and invites us to be friends of God, believing on his kindness, his goodness, his plans for us to give us hope and a future, and vision, and purpose in life. Do you want to join this incredible adventure? If you know and have experienced the love of God for you, do you want to participate in the mission of God? To remind people of his great love for them, to tell them of his goodness, and that he wants to be their friend too? He wants them to ecstatically experience the incredible love of God! If you have not experienced the love of God in your own life, you can! It is the easiest and hardest thing you will ever do! Believe. Believe in his goodness. Receive his love. Confess your independence from him and ask for him to help you depend on him and trust in him. He will empower you to do this. He loves you so much!

The mission of God has always been the same: to pursue mankind relentlessly and passionately with his love to draw us into a fulfilling and meaningful relationship with him, and to love each other as we love ourselves, preferring each other above our own interests, and enjoying the community of oneness that is experienced among the triune God. We are invited to be part of this family, to be sons and daughters to a good king, the King over all the world!”

I hope you enjoyed today’s excerpt from my book! There is so much to be excited about when we truly understand and come to believe and trust in the goodness of His heart toward us!

Have a great day!


Last Friday I blogged about Stress Management by introducing some common symptoms that occur when one is under a lot of stress. Today I want to touch on what is happening in our physical bodies that brings about the symptoms we discussed last week.

The fight, flight or freeze response is how the body prepares itself to deal with stress and anxiety and even fear. Your cerebral cortex (the thinking part of the brain) sends an alarm to the hypothalamus, which then stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to make changes in the body to prepare itself for action -primarily, fight, flight or freeze.

The changes that occur are things like heart rate increase, muscle tension, blood pressure increases, metabolism. Blood is directed away from the digestive system and the extremities and re-directed toward major muscle groups that can help to fight or run.

In each stressful situation we face, our instinctual reptilian brain (which is the oldest part of the brain, responsible for instincts such as fight, flight or freeze) is activated and we instinctually respond with a course of action to deal with the situation, seemingly without thinking about it, as it seems to occur automatically, in a matter of seconds the fight, flight or freeze response is in action, directed by the hypothalamus to trigger the sympathetic nervous system to ready us for attack, alarm, or a perceived attack, readying us to fight the stressor, flee and avoid the stressor, or freeze up, unable to fight or flee.

We may not always freeze up, we may not always automatically fight, just as we may not always take flight from the stressful situation. It depends on each circumstance we face.

If you are afraid of public speaking for instance, once you get up to the podium, you might freeze up, unable to speak. Or perhaps you dance around the subject with your boss, trying to get out of having to do the speech (flight), or you face it head on and fight the butterflies in your stomach and do the speech.

Or if you need to confront a co-worker who is a bully at your work, perhaps you want to avoid the stressor and avoid taking shifts where you work with that person, or you simply feel anxiety the whole time you work with this person unable to confront the situation out of fear. Perhaps you decide enough is enough, I am going to report this bully and take action.

I am not saying ‘fighting’ is always the best choice in dealing with a stressful situation. For instance, if you do not have healthy confrontational skills and you end up verbally or even physically assaulting your irritating co-worker, perhaps fighting the situation via direct confrontation is not the best solution for you, and perhaps you should involve the management team instead.

In a situation where a burglar has entered your home with a gun and already shot someone in your home and he has not seen you, perhaps freezing is the best course of action to preserve your life. If he doesn’t see you and leaves, you can then contact the police and ‘fight’ the situation by taking action. But if the burger enters the area where you have chosen to freeze, it might be useful to look for options to get out and flee the area to avoid getting shot. This is a perfect example where all three responses may be needed at varying times in one situation, and your instinct will tell you what you ought to do. Perhaps you have the upper hand, and are able to come behind the burgled unaware and are able to knock him out and tie him up and take his gun away from him and call the police…. Another example of a fight response.

The point is, our bodies ready us for response and give us the extra boost of adrenaline and energy to face the stressful situation.

Long term stress can be very harmful to our bodies, over time, indicating that it is time for us to figure out how to manage anxiety and stress.

The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for ‘rest and digest’ and is the part of the nervous system that needs to be activated to bring our bodies back to a state of calm after a stressful episode. I will blog more about how the parasympathetic nervous system comes into play next week as we begin to look at simple ways to manage our stress level.

And don’t forget, if you are relating to this, and feel like you need some additional help, Sign-Up Today for my montly 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!

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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


“From the brain and brain alone arise our pleasures, joys, laughter and jests, as well as our sorrows, pains and griefs.”

 – Hippocrates

Last Wednesday I blogged about some cognitive distortions, or lies that we tell ourselves, that when told repeatedly, become a pattern that eventually forms a belief. What we think about and dwell on, really DOES affect our beliefs! I also mentioned that I would discuss this week a little more in depth the research and studying I have been doing on the brain and how to rewire our brains from negative beliefs to become happier overall!

Breakthroughs In Modern Science

“Until recently, scientists believed that the human brain and it’s structures were formed during gestation and infancy and remained pretty much unchanged through childhood. You had a given number of neurons in a specific brain structure and…once you were done with childhood development, you were set in a mold. Your connections were already made, and the learning period of your brain was now over. In the last decade, however, researchers have found significant evidence that this is not so, and that something called neuroplasticity continues throughout our lives.” – Teresa Aubele, PhD, Stan Wenck, EdD, and Susan Reynolds. (Train Your Brain to Get Happy).

Neuroscientists now believe that the brain has the ability to change, to be molded, to repair damaged regions, grow new neurons and and get rid of old ones, to rezone regions that performed one task and give them the ability to assume new tasks and change the circuitry that weaves neurons into networks that allow us to remember, feel, suffer, think, imagine, and dream. Basically, our brains can continue to learn and achieve throughout the duration of our lives.

The part of my research I found most interesting was the recognition that we can rewire our brains from depression, worry, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disease etc. to becoming happier. For instance, if you worry a lot, you are accessing certsin types of pathways due to habit. But habits can change! I guess old dogs can learn new tricks! You can learn to retrain your brain to quiet the nervous pathways and strengthen others so that you don’t automatically go down the worry path!

If your typical pattern to facing problems is to feel depressed, your brain will continue that habit. However, we can instruct our brain to come up with creative solutions to our problems, thereby opening new pathways for our brains to use instead. If you program your mind with images of you being happy, and visualize the desired images long enough, your brain will associate happiness with them as the brain is not completely reliable at distinguishing actual events from fantasy or perception.

“The more you ask your brain to think happy thoughts, the more your brain responds by forging new…neural circuitry to light up your happy board, and by weakening the neuronal pathways that drain your happy thoughts.” (Train Your Brain To Get Happy).

 “If you routinely dwell on your resentments, regrets, and other negative emotions, the neurons involved in that particular mental activity will fire busily at the same time and automatically start wiring together as well. This process will add one more bit of neural structure to feeling discontented, angry or sad. On the other hand, if you regularly focus on the good feelings around you and inside you, like kindness, compassion, empathy, and patience, then the neurons involved in those thoughts will wire together and take up more space, stitching together more hopefulness, confidence, and happiness into the fabric of your brain and yourself (and taking away space from the negative paths!).

Last week i talked about negative thinking. Here’s what happens when we get stuck in negative thought patterns. Negative thoughts literally can make our brains dysfunctional! Certain brain configurations cause people’s emotions to repeat themselves, without decreasing in intensity. If the thoughts and feelings involve sadness or despair, it can lead to depression. Our brains were not meant to function for prolonged periods of time on negative thinking. Getting stuck in negative thought patterns makes it harder for a person to rebound from negative thoughts and emotions which makes it difficult to control these responses.

It is important to think about what we are thinking about! As I mentioned last Wednesday, the bible was onto something when it says of our thought life that

“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 4:7-9

The authors of the book “Train your brain to get happy” most certainly agree that “on the flip side, being focused on positive, happy, hopeful, optimistic, joyful thoughts produces chemicals that create a sense of well-being, which helps your brain function at peak capacity.”

“Negative thinking slows down brain coordination, making it difficult to process thoughts and find solutions. Feeling frightened, which often happens when focused on negative outcomes, has been shown to decrease activity in the cerebellum, which slows the brain’s ability to process new information, and the left temporal lobe, which affects mood, memory, and impulse control.” (Train Your brain to get happy).

I can certainly identify with this. Whenever I am down in the dumps, it is more difficult to think of anything positive. In such times, when I try a “gratitude exercise” of trying to find 5 things I am grateful for that day, I struggle to come up with even one or two. But on a good day, I can think of so many things to be grateful for! As Napolean Hill said:

“As a man thinketh, so is he.”

Our minds have the ability to control what type of thinking we allow to go on. So go ahead… Get happy! Think some happy thoughts today! Dwell on the good things in life, even if it is a simple pleasure, like your favorite dessert, or a day at the beach, or your last vacation… Ahhh!!! Summer! Sleeping in, going out for breakfast with a good friend, reading a good book, watching a great movie, doing something kind for someone else, sitting by a fireplace in the winter, campfires in the summer, good uplifting music….

Think your way to happiness, feel your way to happiness, sleep well, eat well… Things will start to look up!

Some quick tips on good brain foods before I sign off for today… Whole grains, bananas, tuna, beans, barley, sweet potatoes, nutrient rich fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts. Dark green vegetables and dark orange vegetables like carrots and yams are excellent choices. Red peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, even red wine are powerful antioxidants!

Cancer preventing veggies: Bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, rutabagas, turnips, and watercress.

Brain superfoods: Salmon, blueberries, apples, nuts, quinoa, oats, soy, chocolate!!!!

On that note… I’m getting hungry! Gonna go raid the fridge and see what I can eat to get my brain happier!

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Personal Development Program which will help you overcome depression, unhealthy thought patterns and so much more!

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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


It is not really until we come to understand the meaning of the bible as a grand narrative, a love story of God’s pursuit of mankind -the first love, the evil intruder attempting to destroy love and woo the heart of God’s beloved away from him towards anything else, and the lies that were believed of the goodness of God, the turning away, and His radical love to pursue a wayward wife that we can even begin to understand the love of God.

If we merely see the bible as a religious book of bedtime fairy tales, or the Christian religion as rote rituals and spiritual disciplines than we are likely to miss the point. We are likely to gloss over the whole point to the story:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him, might be saved.” John 3:16

God loved us, and when we wandered off from him questioning his goodness, bandaging our wounds, believing the lie that God had indeed forsaken us and left us to our own devices, oblivious to the true fact of his never ending love for us, he still sought us out to repair the relationship torn apart because true love cannot exist without trust. And we thought God was holding out on us, keeping secrets from us, not to be trusted, when all this time, he has merely been pursuing us with his love to win back our hearts to him, hearts that were broken because his love was called into question.

He had to do something radical to show us his unconditional love, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, taking all of our sin and shame on himself, so we could live free, and that our eyes may be opened to believe that he loves us.

“I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…” Ephesians 3:17-19

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

“God IS love” 1 John 4:8b

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neighbor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God, that is on Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.

These are only a few of the many passages of scripture that present the great unfailing love of God for us… Yet, unless we open our minds to see it, and our ears to hearing the truth of His love for us, we sadly stay locked away in a prison we created for ourselves, and miss the point: God is love. God IS love. Love comes from God, it abides in us, and we are able to love others because he has first loved us! He is the one that imparted within us the ability to love each other, and the insatiable hunger for it. We all need to be loved!

Understanding God’s love is a lifelong pursuit as he corrects our distorted thinking and beliefs about him. When we get those ‘aha’ moments, where we sense his divine presence… And we just ‘know’ God is good, it is in those moments where he is inviting us to know and encounter and experience the great love of God, a love that fills like no other can!


Today, I am simply going to discuss some common symptoms of stress & burnout and include a symptoms checklist at the end.

Cognitive symptoms may include:

  • Memory Trouble
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxious thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Seeing only the negative

Emotional symptoms can include:

  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Depression or general unhappiness
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Inability to relax
  • Feelings of agitation

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Procrastinating
  • Isolating yourself from other’s
  • Neglecting or avoiding responsibility
  • Using alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms
  • Nervous physical habits such as pacing, inability to sit still, nail biting, etc.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Trembling, shakiness
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of sex drive

Now let’s take a quick look at burnout.

Here are some common symptoms:

  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time
  • Frequent headaches
  • Sense of failure or self doubt
  • Loss of motivation or interest in your work &/or your usual interests
  • Feeling extremely cynical or negative
  • Sense of dissatisfaction
  • Feeling helpless
  • Detached or numb
  • Feeling alone
  • Procrastinating or taking longer doing tasks or performing responsibilities
  • Getting easily frustrated at others
  • Skipping work or leaving early
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope
  • Feeling like you have little or no control
  • Getting sick more frequently
  • Constantly exhausted
  • Neglecting your own needs
  • Feeling like you just don’t care anymore
  • Irritability toward people you are are responsible to care for
  • Feeling overwhelmed all the time

Symptoms Checklist:

Instructions: Rate your stress related symptoms below for the degree of discomfort that the following situations would cause you.

Scoring:
1-3 Slight discomfort
4-7 Moderate discomfort
8-10 Extreme discomfort

Symptom.                                                                             Degree of Discomfort.

Anxiety in specific Situations:

Tests
Deadlines
Competing priorities
Interviews
Public speaking

Anxiety in personal
Relationships:

Spouse
Parents
Children
Friends
Other

Worry
Depression
Anxiety
Anger
Irritability
Resentment
Phobias
Fears
Muscular Tension
High blood pressure
Neck pain
Backaches
Indigestion
Muscle spasms
Insomnia
Sleeping difficulties
Work stress

How do you rate yourself on each of the above categories. Record the number for each of the above. What is your stress level? Slight? Moderate? Severe? Do you know effective tools to reduce your stress?

If you are relating to this, and feel like you need some additional help, Sign-Up Today for my montly 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 Life Coach

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