How can I let go of my fear of what others think of me?

Choosing to do something or not do something based on what we “think” others would say about our choice prevents us from having the freedom to make the best choices. Having to first “check in” with a panel of judges, internal or external adds confusion to the decision-making process.

Accountability and support are extremely important. And the folks in our life, who are committed to our well-being without attempting to control us, can provide excellent guidance for us. Having listened to our hearts and shared in our joys and sorrows, they are in the best position to offer objective advice.

A good indicator of these supportive relationships is that we feel valued and not judged, when sharing our thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams with them. When we are making choices that align with our overall direction in life, those who support us are willing to cheerlead and urge us on. And, if we are considering a choice that may not appear to be the best for us, they have the courage and our permission to remind us of our values and question us on the choices we may be considering.

The key difference in someone who believes in us, respects our choices and our right to make them, is that they will ASK questions as opposed to TELLING us what they think we should do.

To get over believing what other people think about us, it is wise to remember that their opinions of us are really none of our business.

A possible reason for listening to the panel of judges is a fear of failure. However, consider the fact that we never truly “fail” unless we quit trying to find a way that satisfies the pursuit we are on.

An effective way to face the fear of failure is to visualize the worst case scenario and ask ourselves what would we do if it were to happen?

My grandmother always said, “when people are talking about ‘you’ they’re leaving someone else alone”.

Yet, the truth is that people will always be talking; they will always be judging. This is something we have no power to change. But we do have the power to choose what we believe is best for ourselves!

Sheri

In Simplifying My Life, How Can I Learn Contentment?

Contentment is the fundamental pursuit in each area of life. We want to get the house painted or our certification completed or the kids grown or something that we are convinced will enable us to finally be content. However, it is really a condition of our inner person. Sort of an at-peace-with-me feeling. It is also a foundation to enjoying life and being intentional in the moment. Can it be done? If so, how?

1 – Practice delaying gratification. When you consider making a purchase, use patience and consider postponing the ones that are simply for convenience. If you end up purchasing the item later, it will be well thought out. If not, you’ll be happier to have saved the time and money.

2 – Evaluate the important areas of your life: spirituality, mate, family, work, friends, finances, health, personal development, rest / recreation, etc., and determine what defines your values in each of these categories. Such as, “for R & R, I need to be out in the fresh air and sunshine and I need unstructured blocks of time…”. This will enable you to establish a thought pattern around the way you make decisions in the important issues of life. The process for making better choices is made simpler because your values are defined and explain why you do things the way you do them.

3 – Make a focused effort to remain inspired and to be inspiring. Spend 10+ minutes each day reading something that inspires you. Journal what you glean from what you read, personal encounters, a movie you watch or just what comes to mind while you are in the shower. You will be amazed at how you can gain such positive perspective from your quiet times. Invest in others by offering an encouraging word in the way of a note, text or call to them when they are working on a particular endeavor or are facing a personal trial.

4 – Unplug from the technology of life and plug in to the simpler paths. Change gears for half an hour each day by taking a walk or a bubble bath. Find a neat little hobby such as painting or woodworking that you can enjoy and de-stress from the working hours in your day. Write a blog — oh, I resemble that! — on something that you have learned in an effort to enlighten others.

5 – Get a mentor – be a mentor. Spend time with people you admire and learn about their lives and interests. They can offer guidance in learning how to do things in a different, possibly more efficient way. Find ways that you can share things or teach a class around what you have learned with others who will benefit from your time. Show appreciation for what you learn and for the opportunity to share.

6 – Reach out and get to know a neighbor at home or work. Don’t worry, if you’re the new-bee you can still take the initiative. Every friend we have was once a stranger. Be observant in watching for common interests. Maybe you both have kids the same age or at work it may be someone who goes to lunch at the same time as you.

7 – Practice learning to be a great listener. By doing so, you will learn the true art of emotional intelligence and the high quality of “likeability”. When you work to listen to others at deeper levels, you communicate to them that you place high value on them and the time they spend with you. You will also learn how to take the focus off of your own personal challenges and you may very well find that you have a great friend and listening ear in place when you are in need of encouragement.

By putting these steps into routine practice for 30 days, you will be able to determine if your life can be defined as being more content. And, in turn, you can inspire others to do the same!

Sheri

If we are unable to completely avoid regret, what can we do when we experience it?

We often hope we will never have to experience regret. Our response to it will determine whether we are strengthened during the process, or if we crash and burn and then have to pick up the pieces and begin again.

Even having a sincere desire to do our best in life, we will likely make some choices that we may later regret.

If Regret is Unavoidable, What Choices Do We Have?

Avoid indulging it. Imagine you are swimming in the ocean and your feet have become entangled in seaweed. The seaweed is “regret” (apply this reflection to anywhere you may feel stuck). You tug and swim harder, yet you are still unable to move forward with the seaweed wrapped heavily around your feet. Indulging a regret, means we go over and over it, analyzing every detail, and becoming more tangled by replaying in our minds all the “woulda-shoulda-and-coulda(s)”. We may hold on to it becoming identified with it which can cause us to feel paralyzed or victimized.

Be honest with where we are and learn to make new choices. We have the choice to simply look at it, feel it, accept it, learn from it, and when ready, untie it and swim on. Repressing our regrets, on the other hand, creates a different problem because we believe we are actually “getting on with life”. Yet, by ignoring the feelings that need to be felt, we tend to harden our hearts over time. Acknowledging our regrets, helps us face and feel them, learn from them and make good wherever possible. We can then forgive ourselves and others and find healing, rather than be held hostage to our past.

Just do the work without worrying about the timing. We like to have timelines attached to transformation, want to know when we will finally be done with a particular regret and freely swimming on. The best way to gain what we need from the situation is to focus on shedding layers of remorse that get in the way of living and showing up fully. Any time it may arise, we can simply notice it, allow it to deepen our experience of vulnerability and humility, and grow in integrity.

You don’t have to do it alone. Speak your regret out loud to someone close who supports you or write it in a journal between you and God. There is something inherently restorative in either of these acts. At times, if we are able to reflect on the respective journeys we have taken in life with a close friend, it builds a strong bond. It’s where we can learn there is a place beyond regret.

Once we allow regret to change from something that drags us down and overwhelms us, we can grow more sensitive, kind and caring… a true refreshing breath to others.

Regret may linger for a season, but it loses its sting!

Sheri

How Do I Know if My Feelings are Telling Me the Truth?

“How are you feeling today?”

“My feelings were hurt.”

“I’m not feeling it.”

It would be easier to respond to the “facts” about our life situations if people asked, “What is true about your life today?”, or “What can you do today that will make a positive difference?”

We can easily become overly concerned about what we ‘think” someone else is ‘thinking’ regarding us. When, in actuality, we may be the furthest thing from their minds.  When I begin thinking like this, I chuckle and remind myself that I am onlykind of a big deal’ in my own mind. 🙂

Picture a train, the engine is the power that drives it and the caboose (when they were used) served to house the crew responsible for track switching and acting as lookouts for load shifting or other concerns.  If we regard the TRUTH about our lives as the engine of the train that drives us, we can move along empowered by making decisions based on what we know to be right. If, on the other hand, we are led by our FEELINGS, it is as if we are letting the caboose engineer our life train and we become disempowered because we can be on a roller coaster driven by emotions and not truth. It is stressful and chaotic at best and ultimately results in, you guessed it, a train wreck!

Avoiding this mindset of feelings-driven living, requires us to be intentional in cultivating a belief system that is grounded in the truth about any given situation. By recognizing the things we have the power to change as well as the ones we need to accept, we can be empowered to put our efforts where we can make the most difference.

When I struggle with determining the facts vs. my feelings, I ask myself, “What am I feeling about the current situation I am facing?” And then, “What is true about the current situation I am facing?”

Feelings are merely assumptions we make, often based on past experiences, and can impact what we believe about the way something is likely to turn out.

It is much less stressful to focus on the facts and adjust to what is true than it is to be carried on the winds of our feelings, emotionally going up and down and never really sure what is true and what to expect.

Regardless of our feelings or emotions, we can choose to remind ourselves that our feelings follow our actions, so choose what is the next best thing you need to do and do it… the right feelings will come along in due time!

Sheri 

What is a Heart Makeover?

Most of you who have followed my Blog for a while know that I am a diehard Minimalist… Mama used to say that if I owned two of anything I wanted to give one away! 🙂 I mostly agree; however, I do like both shoes, earrings, and gloves. And don’t forget the socks… two of those work, also!

In all of the Ordering of My Life… something I’ve done all my life, from lining up my dolls to making my bed each day (yep, pretty much for all 60 years), as I get out of it. I. Like. Order. Actually, it’s a Love Affair that I have with Order.

Imagine my surprise when I began to study that our attitudes are matters of the heart… Proverbs 27:19 tells us, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart”. Wow, my attitude reflects my heart. Need to do a little minimizing here… Yep, a little less resentment (or a lot less), grudge-holding, anger, un-forgiveness, fear, doubt…quite a bit of “ordering” needs to be happening inside my heart.

Here’s what I’m learning…

The word heart is used in different ways all the way through the Scriptures.  The Bible says that “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). When God looks at us, He doesn’t look at the color of our skin, or at the kind of clothes we wear. Nor does He consider our position in society. The Bible says that God looks upon our hearts to see what we are on the inside—the thoughts, motives and intents of our heart.

We can go to church, lead small groups and have the sticker on our vehicles, but our hearts may be far from Him. This happens when our hearts—our real selves—are taken up with (overly consumed by) the things of this world.  This results in us having a worldly view of life, people and things. In order to gain God’s perspective, our focus must be centered on Him. 

The Bible teaches that our hearts can be hardened. The sun shines on clay and hardens it, yet the same sun melts butter. The Truth of the Gospel can soften the hearts of some who choose to align with Jesus, yet, it can harden those who rebel against Him. So, what is God’s attitude toward our hearts? Our secrets are not hidden from God; He knows every single thing that goes on there.

Scripture also teaches us that God ponders the heart. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord ponders the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2). We can attempt to justify and  rationalize the way we live and the choices we make. But the intent of our heart is abundantly clear to God.

The Bible talks about the heart of Jesus, and illustrates His compassion and His love, laying down His life on the cross for our sinful hearts. His pure heart, His perfect heart, His glorious heart, His loving heart, His tender heart, His compassionate heart—bled on the cross, in our place… so that our hearts could be reconciled to God and enjoy the gift of His Eternal Life. That is the True Heart of all that Matters!

Lastly, the Bible encourages us with this glorious promise—that God will give us a new heart. When we come to Christ and surrender our heart to Him, God says, “I’ll take out the old heart and I’ll put in a new one.”  This is ‘Regeneration’, and it means that God will give us a new life—a new direction for our life, new thoughts, new energies, new ambitions, and as He transforms us from he inside out… He is perfecting all that concerns us according to His purposes. This just makes my Heart Happy!

Invest in things today that bring lasting value…….. Sheri