Emotional Cancer 4 –  Feeling Inadequate

When I was in high school there was a beautiful girl I had a crush on.  I never tried to date her, because I felt she was out of my league.  Every day, I sat by her in class and we became good friends, but I secretly wanted more.  I never told her.  I watched someone else date her and eventually marry her. Many years later, I learned that she was secretly hoping I would ask her out on a date. I was devasted. I could have asked her out, but I never did.  I missed the opportunity to see what might have become of our relationship.    Luckily for me, I asked out the next beautiful girl I got interested in and she’s now my wife.

Are you limiting your life because you feel inadequate?  Have you accepted a lessor role in life and business because you decided in advance that you are not up to the challenge of a new opportunity?   Did you fail to submit your name for consideration  when that  higher-level position opened up at work?  Do you “chicken out” of asking that attractive person on a date?  Did you fail to sign up for the courses you really want to take in college, because you didn’t think you were smart enough?  These are all habits found in the lives of unsuccessful and unfulfilled people. They don’t do the things mentioned, because they fear they won’t succeed, and even worse, they fear they don’t have what it takes to succeed.  The tragedy is that such feelings are lies.  You don’t know what you can do until you try.  There are powers and skills within you that you haven’t even discovered yet.

Reasons why we feel inadequate:

  • We doubt our training.
  • We doubt our skills.
  • We doubt our experience.
  • We doubt our worthiness.
  • We doubt our vision.
  • We doubt our connections.
  • We doubt ourselves.

It’s time to change all that “stinking thinking” right here and now.  Decide there is more in you than you have manifested up to now. Decide to go for whatever and whoever you want in life.  Start assuming that who you are is enough. Let the people you want to impress make their own decisions about you.   Let potential new employers or new girlfriends make up their own minds about you, instead of rejecting yourself before they get the chance.  Stop limiting yourself.

In my next blog, I’ll tackle some of the myths of inadequacy, but for now, stop your doubting and start going after who and what you want.

 

 

 

 

Emotional Cancer- 3- Fear

So I did this thing.

I went to Africa.  I was invited last year to speak at a conference in Tanzania, Africa and I agreed to go, but, a year later, when it got real that I was scheduled to make this trip, my dark side started working on my confidence.

  • It’s 8,811 miles away!
  • What if you get in an accident?
  • There have been terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.
  • You are getting too old for 15-hour plane rides.
  • What if you get sick while you’re there?

You have to understand that I’ve been on such trips before. In fact, I have made over 20 trips to other countries to speak and minister.  I’ve even been to Africa before.

None the less, I was feeling fear…  not full-blown panic, but anxiety on a minor level.

I am writing this post from the conference in Arusha, Tanzania, and I’m delighted that I came. I’ve once again filled my life with sights, smells, and the people of Africa.  It is amazing! Why did I ignore my fears and take this trip? I did it because of some core mental distinctions I have around fear. These distinctions are:

  • You are only as young as the new experiences you are having. Don’t let fear make you old before your time by limiting your adventures.
  • You will die eventually, why not fill the time doing things that excite and expand you?
  • You must force your imagination to serve you by creating new dreams, not worries that shrink your world.
  • You have a limited “shelf-life.”  Don’t wait too late to take some chances in life.

I constantly encounter people who have allowed fear to limit their lives.  Not justifiable fear, like avoiding dangerous places and people, but imagined fears blown out of proportion. These are the people who die long before they are buried.

Mark Twain said, “I’ve had a long life, full of many dangers, most of which never happened.”

What’s the thing you need to do?  Force your fear into submission and get busy living a life that inspires you and others. Oh, and send me a response in the contact line.  I want to know what fear you conquered.

Kwa Heri – (goodbye in Swahili)

Emotional Cancer

Why am I not happy?


We live in the most prosperous time in human history.  If you are reading this and lucky enough to live in America, you may have become accustomed to a lifestyle that would have boggled the mind of your great grandparents for its ease and comforts.  We live safer, live longer, suffer less disease, eat more meals, live in infinitely more comfortable housing, and drive stylish vehicles of amazing reliability.   We are living in the lap of luxury compared to billions of people around the world.   Yet, many are not happy.

It is a disease of luxury. 

It’s not that we can’t see, but rather that we don’t see.  We have developed a weird tunnel vision that sees only the few things we lack, rather than the abundance of generous things we possess.  We will drive our luxury automobile thru the drive through at Starbucks to purchase a $5 latte after having a full breakfast at home, and instead of feeling blessed, we are annoyed that the wait will be 5 minutes to get through instead of the usual 2 minutes.  Then, we pout because a woman, who walks past our car, is wearing a pair of $400 shoes we can’t afford, conveniently forgetting that the shoes we are wearing are one of dozens of pairs from our closet, which, by the way, is bulging at its seams.

Emotional cancer limits our success.  

Being unhappy is like having a sinus infection. It is not severe enough to cause you to miss work, but you don’t perform at optimum level while there.  Your co-workers notice you withdrawing. You don’t engage in discussions that could produce new growth because you feel off your game. You will skip meetings, because you feel blue. Bottom line… you perform at a subpar level. If you keep these behaviors up for very long, you will be passed over for promotions and probably find yourself on your boss’s blacklist.  Being unhappy for long periods of time will definitely cost your pocketbook.

It is a disease that disables.

In the next few blogs, we’ll look at how to survive emotional cancer.  For now, just diagnosis yourself.   Get honest about your habitual thoughts and start looking for a cure.  

The Master said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly,” You were not meant to waste away in emotional distress.  The answers are on the way.  Freedom is coming.  

It’s Thanksgiving week. Time for turkey, football, family and the giving of thanks.  Thanksgiving is usually my favorite holiday, but this year my wife has cancer.  The annual feast of gratitude takes on a new dimension when you are experiencing life with the number two cause of death in America. Even though she is doing well, and the prognosis is for full recovery, it is a sobering time.  I should be depressed and angry.  Certainly, my wife would have a right to be out of the holiday mood, but… that’s not how we feel.

We feel thankful.  How can we feel gratitude with cancer in our lives?

The question is really bigger than that.  How can you feel gratitude when your life is in a serious downturn?

  • Can you be grateful when someone you love has recently died?
  • Can you be thankful when your child is in prison?
  • Can you be grateful when your family has been shattered by divorce?
  • Can you be thankful when your business is sinking financially?

The answer is yes, and here’s two reasons why:

First of all, if you will access gratitude you will be happier. Why?

  • You will enjoy better relationships with your friends and family.
  • You will enjoy greater success in your work.

Gratitude can not only increase your enjoyment of life, but it will actually make your life more successful.  I just read a wonderful book on developing charisma for personal    success and I was surprised to learn it had a section on developing gratitude.  Here’s a     quote from the book:

“Everyone seems to be preaching gratitude these days. Oprah champions an “attitude of gratitude,” and studies have come out showing that gratitude helps you live longer, healthier, and even happier. The science is compelling, as are the ways in which gratitude can boost your charisma.  If you can access gratitude, an instant change will sweep through your body language from head to toe; your face will soften, your whole body will relax.  Your body language will emanate both warmth and a particular grounded confidence that people will find very appealing.”     Olivia Fox Cabane  “The Charisma Myth”

  • You will enjoy more of the life you have left.

Our pain can narrow our vision.  We can fail to see the good that still abounds in our lives when we are dealing with a   disappointment or pain. The Bible commands us to be thankful in all circumstances, because in almost all situations there remain reasons to rejoice.

Secondly,  the choice of gratitude will protect you from bitterness.I have a friend who lost a beautiful sixteen-year-old daughter in a car accident.  She told me that after a season of nearly unbearable grief and spiritual confusion, she made a decision to give her questions to God and move on.  She said her motivation was selfish.  “I did not want to be a bitter, old woman.”

I choose to be grateful this thanksgiving in spite of my wife having cancer because I want to be happy and I refuse to be bitter.  I hope you will choose gratitude as well this holiday season even if you’re going through a difficult time. So pass the cranberry and the candied yams.   Turn up the volume on the TV and let’s root for the Cowboys.  Oh, and if you ask me to pray, get ready for little bit longer prayer than usual, because I want to thank God for all Barbara and I still have in spite of her cancer.

How to Walk Through Darkness

I don’t like to be scared. I’ve never cared for scary movies or spook houses.  I never understood the appeal of having someone jump out of the dark at you while wearing a frightening mask.  Some people love this kind of thing.  I don’t.  Some spook houses have a room or hallway that is designed to put you in absolute darkness.  It is terrifying because you can’t see what’s coming.  The only way to conquer the darkness is to wait it out or to keep walking till you get to the light.  What keeps you from going crazy with fear is knowing that eventually you’ll get out of the darkness and the night will return to normal.

Life can be like a dark room in a spook house.  You can find yourself in a place of darkness.  Suddenly, you can’t understand what’s happening and even worse you can’t see what’s  going to happen next.  An emotional “dark room” can be terrifying.  To handle it you attempt to shore up your courage with the hope that light will return, things will get better, and hopefully, life will return to normal.

Struggling with the dark has been one of the more difficult parts of my wife’s and my experience with cancer.  Our lives were changed dramatically without warning and we struggled to make sense of it all, kind of like having the lights go off.  The darkness increased as we  faced the complication of medical treatments, the resultant body pain, the loss of control of time, and the steady stream of medical bills kept coming at us.  We fought to keep a positive attitude.

One of the worst aspects of “the dark” is the waiting.  As a friend of mine, whose wife is also struggling with cancer shared with me;           

The whole process is taxing on my wife.  It is all the waiting.  Every time we see one doctor, we have to wait another week or two until   we see the next one.  This weighs on us knowing that she has cancer inside her. The surgery is still probably at least 3-4 weeks out. 

I feel his pain.  Been there, done that, and we have that cancer t-shirt.

Maybe you’re in the dark right now.  Maybe you are facing:

  • The terror of a job loss.
  • The fear of ballooning debt.
  • The fright of a health crisis.
  • The panic of a child that is on drugs.
  • The apprehension of a spouse who is threatening to leave.

What can you do?  You don’t have a lot of choices.

One, you can curl up in a fetal position and cry in the dark.  You can whine incessantly about how unfair life is, and how God has failed you.  Of course, that will change nothing except to shorten the list of friends who will take your phone calls.

Two, you can choose to shore up your courage and keep on walking.   You can choose to believe that God is good, life is worth living even in times of struggle, and that eventually the darkness will end.  You can put a smile on your face as you make the inner determination that you will get through this with your integrity intact, and that the darkness will make you a better person when it is gone.

You can choose not to visit a spook house.  You can’t always choose not to walk through emotional darkness, but you can choose how you get through it.  Keep on walking. Keep on believing.  Next year will be better.  The darkness will eventually lift.

Leave me a comment about how you have dealt with the “dark rooms” of your life.

 

How Long Will You Be Limited by Your Past?

How long do we have to be limited by our past?

Are we ever safe from our failures?   Is there a shelf-life on our mistakes?  Can we overcome painful memories?

Far too often, we suffer internally because of things we remember that we did wrong or past embarrassments.

Memories shape our lives. If they are negative or painful, they become a prison of self-limitation.  The most interesting thing about memories is that they are unreliable.   The longer we have a memory, the more we embellish and color it with nostalgia.

I occasionally visit a home I lived in over 50 years ago.  I love to go by and see where I played as a boy with brothers and friends.  I am always amused by how small everything is compared to my memory.   A small shed still stands that we used to jump off of as boys.   In my memory it was 20 or more feet high.  In reality, it is only about 5 feet and most people would have to stoop down to walk under its low hanging roof.  The discrepancy in my memory is because I was only about four-feet-tall, when I made my daring leaps off its tin roof.   Everything looks different to me now from my current six-feet height.

We also tend to add details to our memories that were not really there.  The more you tell a story, including the more you tell it to yourself, the easier it is to incrementally add to the tale.   This is why your father’s memory of walking to school when he was a child morphs from a couple of city blocks to a couple of country miles. It’s also why his exploits on the baseball and football field become tales of legendary skill and success, when in reality, they were just stories of an average kid making an average team.

The truth is our memories are flawed.  What you remember so vividly probably did not happen exactly as your picture it.

It is time to take the sting out of your painful memories.  When they show up to limit you or shame you, remember they are being blown out of proportion.  When they give you that familiar unpleasantness, remember that you are remembering from who you were, not who you are today.  You wouldn’t make that mistake today.  You wouldn’t choose that bad decision as the person you are today. Don’t let a flawed and exaggerated remembrance trouble your peace of mind.

Good coaches teach us that though the past is always with us, its ability to hurt is a personal choice. Decide today that your memories from years ago are out of date and toss them into the trash.  Move forward, focused on who you are becoming, not limited by who you were.

Make your personal mantra: I’m not who I ought to be, I’m not who I’m going to be, but thank God, I’m not who I was, and quit allowing yourself to be shamed by an out of date past.

When You Get The Worst News

Other families have cancer, not us.”

That’s what my daughter said when my wife, her mother, was recently diagnosed with cancer.  It is a body blow to hear that someone you love has the disease that is the second leading cause of death in America.  You would think that I’d handle the news better.  As a Pastor of many decades,  I have made countless hospital calls and prayed with hundreds of people diagnosed with cancer.  I still struggled to get my mind around it.  Maybe, all my exposure to other people’s battle with the disease made my own acceptance of it more difficult.  Ignorance sometimes really is bliss.  But, cancer is now part of my family’s journey whether we like it or not.

I have to say that our family is as prepared for this challenge as any can be.  We have all the factors for a successful treatment in our favor.  We are blessed with insurance to help with the enormous costs. We are blessed with outstanding physicians and hospitals and are receiving excellent treatment.  We are surrounded by loving family and friends to encourage us.  We are strengthened by an amazing church family that is so supportive.  Most of all, we are people of faith that live in confidence of our God’s active role and plan for our lives, including this cancer.  With all these supporting factors, we are confident of success and moving ahead as bravely as we can manage. Our struggle, compared to those faced by many others, is small.

However, this blog is not about our battle with cancer.  It’s about how to deal with the day when the worst thing you can imagine happens in your life.   All of us will face such a day.  How do you manage it when the prognosis is negative, the balance sheet is shockingly red, and the divorce papers show up in your mailbox?   How do you cope with middle of the night phone call that begins with the words, “I sorry to have to inform you?”

Here are some suggestions I give my coaching clients:

  • Start to prepare now for what you don’t know is coming.
  • Strengthen your bonds now with those who truly care for you.
  • Exercise your problem-solving muscles now with easier issues.
  • Do your best to get your finances ready now for any crisis that may come.
  • Develop your spiritual life now before the crisis appears.
  • MOST OF ALL DON’T PANIC

My family is doing well with our cancer journey.  It’s early on in the struggle.  We’ve had a couple of minor surgeries, and we are reviewing our options as our wonderful doctors lead through this journey.   We are believing for a complete recovery and learning to love each other more every day. But, whatever comes, we know our God will get us through.  May God bless you if you are facing a daunting challenge in your life.   I know you can find the strength to not just, “survive, but thrive,” if you’ll keep your attitude positive and your faith strong.

P.S.  I have been writing a daily devotion, for another cancer sufferer that will hopefully become a book. If you are interested in signing up to receive these devotions contact me on this website.

 

ARE YOU AS LOVEABLE AS DANNY?

TO CLAIM THE REAL YOU – ELIMINATE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK

 

To allow yourself to step forward and claim your worth in the world, you need to overcome lingering beliefs about your self-worth.  How can you boldly put yourself in the public eye if you are being slammed by critical statements within your mind?   Do you have doubts about being worthy of God’s blessings?  Do you fear that you are not good enough, smart enough, talented enough to achieve your goals?  Even worse, do you constantly tell yourself these things?

This negative self-talk has to stop because:

  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • You are the only person exactly like you in the entire universe.
  • You were put here with unique gifts and talents with which to bless the world.
  • You are just as worthy of success as anyone else.

For a primer in self-esteem study, let’s look at the career of actor, Danny DeVito. DeVito’s short stature is the result of a rare genetic disorder that affects bone growth in those afflicted.  This diminutive actor has won the hearts and minds of millions in spite of his unorthodox appearance.  If Danny can refuse limiting beliefs about his success, so can you.

Realize that how you feel about yourself could be putting a “lid” on your success.   Search your mind for any trace of poor self-esteem and commit to purging it from your life.

Things to remember to overcome poor self-esteem:Remember everyone is a jerk sometimes.

  • Remember that your past does not have to predict your future.
  • Remember that you are a work in process and cut yourself some slack.
  • Remember that if you disqualify yourself, someone who needs your gifts will miss out.
  • Remember that mistakes and failures are part of life.

Past mistakes and failures are not disqualifiers for success.  In fact, they are usually a prerequisite for real impact in the world.  Do a quick study of some of the game changing leaders from history and you will see that all of them overcame something on their path to success.

Decide today that you are going to boldly go after your dreams.  Refuse to allow any false beliefs to limit your success.  Danny DeVito has legions of fans.  Why don’t you put yourself out there and see how many people will love you, too?

Surviving Your Vacation with Your Goals Intact

I am republishing this popular blog to celebrate the special time of the year where we get to take a needed vacation.  I hope you enjoy it and I hope you survive your time away with your goals intact.

 

I am probably guilty here of making up a word, but I think every goal oriented person has suffered from this ailment.  Vacationitus- is the depression and grief we feel when we return from a vacation five or ten pounds over our normal body weight and suffering the pain of having to try to reconnect with the pre-vacation disciplines of eating and exercise.  Vacationitus is a setback, a reversal, a loss of ground toward our significant goals, and even worse a feeling of being unable to re-establish the good routines we once were on.  Having just recently gone through this crisis myself, I wanted to share five techniques that helped me over come Vacationitus and shed the excessive weight and get back to work.  Here they are.

1. Remind yourself of how successfully you have been in the past

For instance in the area of weight loss your thinking would go like this:

You lost 35 pounds in the last two years! People were walking up to you and  saying “Boy you’ve lost weight.”   Remind yourself how good those comments felt and remind yourself you have the power to deal with this issue.  The fact is       that since you have already done it once, you can do it again.  Your pep talk  should be,  “You know you can do this… you already have, just get your mind around it and start today.

2.  What are you about?   What are you up to?

It’s time to review your goals. A reversal is a great time to remind yourself of what you really want out of life and why you want it.  Again if the concern is vacation pounds, here are some good questions to ask yourself:

“Why is it necessary to lose the weight? “

“What are the benefits of staying in shape?”

My answers revolve around Self esteem.  I just feel so much better about myself when I am at my goal weight.  It is boost to my sense of personal worth    to control my weight rather than to be controlled by my eating.

I remind myself of that confidence is necessary to reach my goals, and that I am so much more confident when I am working out and my weight is under control.

3.  Start today

Every vacation ends, yours is over, you had a great time, and you ate what you wanted, now’s the time to get back to the real world.  Vacations are not the real world. They are meant to give us a break from reality and to free us from our disciplines long enough to relax, and that’s why we love them.  But vacations are meant to be temporary so grow up, get tough, and get back to the routines that have been bringing you success.

4.  Dealing with a setback.

There are other kinds of reversals than simple weight gain on vacation, but many of the same principles still apply. Maybe you have had an injury that is hindering your physical workouts. This can be very frustrating when you are pursuing physical training goals, but we have to be careful not to let it cause us to simply give up our pursuit of fitness.

I recently have been dealing with a knee injury that has slowed by workouts and led to much frustration on my part.  Here a couple questions I asked myself to get me going again in physical activity.

All right my leg is hindering exercise, but is it eliminating it?

Be honest, Kim, are there some things you can do physically?

Where can I get some good advice?  An injury is the time to invest in the cost of  getting good advice from qualified professionals.  Don’t quibble over spending  a few hundred dollars now, which might save you thousands in medical costs in  years to come.

5.  Others have done this, look to them.

This is the final technique and it’s an “oldie but goody.”  Success leave clues, and if others have overcome vactionitus and reversals in their lives they no doubt  have written or blogged about it.  Find them, read them, and copy them when they make sense.

Vacationitus happens to us all.  Reversals are part of life.  You can get back on track and reach goals.  So put down that doughnut and get out your workout gear and get started again on your dreams.

What’s Intimidating You?

What’s Intimidating You?

Subtitle:  Adventures in Car Hauling

My son-in-law bought my dad’s old truck from my mother.  The truck no longer ran and there was a lot of confusion about what might be wrong with it. But, Charley figured it would make a good starter vehicle for my grandson, who was fast approaching driving age.   He learned that other family members possessed a long bed trailer suitable for car hauling and he decided to drive down and haul the truck back home to Tyler. I decided to go along with him on the 3-hour trip, so I could see my mom, sister, and the rest of the family, and because I had brokered the deal.   We made a boy’s trip.  My son-in-law Charley, myself, and two of my above average grandsons set off on a distinctly, masculine adventure.  How hard could it be?

We thought we could do this. I mean it wasn’t rocket science. But, the more we talked with an experienced person, the more our insecurities mounted.  Neither one of us had ever pulled an 18-foot-long trailer, and we had never hauled anything as large as a truck.   As we learned about the things we needed (tie down straps, come-alongs, and weight-centering strategies, our fears began to mount), we realized this was serious stuff.  If we messed up, at the very least, it could be expensive, and at the worst, someone could get hurt.   But, we did it. We faced our fears, we loaded that truck and safely hauled it back to Tyler. We were feeling pretty proud as we rolled into the Rose City, thinking we had once again earned our “man cards.”

This adventure of car-hauling and the mental gymnastics we went through made me think about how people get intimidated out of attempting things that will take their careers to new levels of success. 

  • They turn down a promotion, because they’re not sure they can handle the stress of leadership.
  • They change their minds about relocating to a dream company, because it’s out of state and they have never moved before.
  • They own a company that is offered the chance to bid on a contract that will pay them the kind of money they have been dreaming of, but turn it down, out of fear they can’t hire enough quality employees to fulfill the contract.
  • They perhaps are encouraged to write a book about a life changing experience, but refuse to take action, because they have never written anything before.

All of these opportunities have the same key factors.  One, they offer tremendous potential for improvement in life. Two, they require the learning of new skills or the need to enter into levels of leadership, not yet experienced. Three, they are fear inducing.

These tips from my car-hauling experience might keep you from missing your opportunity.

  • Refuse to be intimidated. Everything is new the first time you do it.
  • Remind yourself that it can be done. Others have hauled cars, so can you.
  • Seek out good instruction. My brother-in-law provided needed expertise that greatly increased our chance for success.
  • Have confidence in yourself. You have made it to your current level of success through hard work and discipline and you can make it further using the same tools.

I don’t want to encourage you to do anything foolish or dangerous in life.  But, I also don’t want you to get intimidated out of what may be one of your greatest chances for success, because you’ve never done it before.

Take on the task.  Take up the challenge.  Haul a truck if you need to.  You might even earn your “man card.”