When it gets Toxic~

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Toxic people defy logic.

According to Travis Bradbury, Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, ” Toxic people are blissfully unaware  of the negative impact they have on those around them and often times they thrive on creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way they create unnecessary strife and worst of all stress!”

Most people have known or worked with (or are related to) someone who just seems to spread negativity everywhere. Examples include a work associate who constantly complains about how poorly the company is run or a friend who can never seem to see the good in anything (and who never hesitates to tell you all about it). These are the toxic people in your life.

After a conversation with a toxic person, your mood probably will be lower.  Does this bring anyone or any situation to mind?

So how do you spot a toxic person?

Do you know someone who always make brings you down? Think about this person. Is he or she a complainer? Someone who always expects things to go wrong? Someone who constantly finds fault with you and others? Does he or she always seem more cheerful once they’ve gotten their frustrations off their chest and into your ear?

If any one or more of these is true, you likely interacting with a toxic person.

Truly, if that toxic person (people) are family members and friends, it’s likely to be more difficult to avoid challenging interactions altogether. We all rub shoulders with toxic people.  So, we have some choices to make!  Do we allow ourselves to be silent sufferers under the weight of their regular negativity? OR do we learn to navigate them wisely as to protect and preserve our own emotional health and well-being?  If you choose the latter, here are a few tips:

Set limits on time and proximity with a toxic person, have boundaries. – A toxic person wants you to listen to them and often we do because we don’t want to be rude, but there is a fine line between being sympathetic and getting sucked into their emotional vortex.  Travis Bradbury uses the example that “IF the toxic person were smoking would you stay there and breathe in their 2nd hand smoke?  Of course not, we would all find away to excuse ourselves as quickly as possible!! ”  We should use that same urgency with toxic people.

Keep your EQ (ability to rise above) high when interacting with toxic people. – Toxic people tend to be reactive and emotionally irrational. They may have a need to win every verbal battle and find it pleasurable when they can see they’ve brought you down to their level. Rise above!!  Is this really a battleground you want to die on? Is this an argument worth winning? Walk away from the chaos before getting sucked into their negative dialogue.

Don’t let toxic people limit your Joy! – When toxic people see “boats rise”, when they see ongoing success and joy in others they often become opinionated, sarcastic, or just simply negative. Don’t let them steal your joy from you!  That age-old term “consider the source” would apply here!  In times of celebration surround yourself with life-giving people who are for you!! Call in the troops!! But never allow a toxic person to have the power in your life to squelch your joy!

Lastly, be kind. – we all have a story and I have learned one thing to be true about toxic people,  many of them have a mountain of baggage, disappointment, and rejection hooked to their souls like a ball and chain.  YES, we need boundaries, YES, we need to stay out of toxic conversations, and YES we need to not allow them to steal our joy…..but showing grace and kindness may give a toxic person something to ponder.  It’s possible!

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Warning Signs~

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Heading down the elevator I saw a sign warning visitors that the oceans temperature was especially warm and there had been an influx of jelly fish.  We were being encouraged to consider using the pool for the day rather than swimming in the ocean.

Vacationing on Maui and swim in the pool rather than the ocean?  Not me! I headed to the beach.  After successfully enjoying a few hours of ocean fun I felt a sharp stinging pain across my entire back!  I had been stung by a jelly fish ~ a sting that went on to become a large welt across my lower back creating much discomfort for the remainder of my trip.

The day before we flew from Maui to Kauai we visited a beach located in front of one of the larger resorts on the island.  Located at key points along the beach there were red flags warning beachgoers of strong waves and an aggressive undertow.  Nevertheless, the ocean water was full of swimmers.

Sitting on the shore I watched a toddler getting pulled from her mothers hands and getting yanked out toward the crashing waves, a senior citizen getting tossed to and fro unable to get up time and time again, and a grandpa frolicking with his grand-daughter getting pummeled by a huge wave pulling them  both under the water unable to get their faces up for air.  I was full of anxiety watching these scenarios!!

In both stories warnings had been posted, these swimmers assumed, as I had, that they would miss the harm that they had been warned about!!

I have been pondering the whole Idea of “Warning Signs”  over the past few days and I wonder if, even in our day-to-day lives, we ignore warning signs all around us? Whether the warnings involve an activity, a personal choice, a relationship, the use of finances, or numerous other decisions, I wonder if we end up paying a high price for ignoring the “warnings” we receive from those we trust, things we read, or even the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

In the early days of ministry I really wanted to “help” people.  In my desire to help I would blow past internal and external warning signs and engage in “high need” relationships thinking that I would certainly be able to make a difference even though others had been greatly challenged in those same situations.  In my misguided heart to help I would find myself pulled into the emotionally charged lives of unwise people who completely wore me out!  If I had paid attention to the warning signs I would not have faced the fall out of my involvement.  The warning signs WERE there!

What about you?  Are there decisions you are making where you have chosen to ignore the warning signs, the cautions that are right in front of you?  Are you thinking that YOU will be able to “make it through” without any repercussions?

Heeding warning signs breeds wisdom.  If I had made a wiser choice on my vacation I would not have been stung by that ol’ jelly fish!! I was warned!! 🙂

When Life Feels Uncertain~

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Our lives are full of uncertainty. Pick up a newspaper, watch your evening news!  There’s change and challenge all over the world.  Weather, finances, government policies, and global conflicts swirl around our lives every day. For some, uncertainty at this level has left them paralyzed with anxiety and fear of the future.   Uncertainty is so uncomfortable; our minds want clarity and good closure.  Certainty is almost always preferrable to the unknown!

Yet, we all experience uncertainty in our lives in a more personal way; health diagnosis, job changes, relational challenges, and financial transitions just to name a few.  Times of uncertainty are really challenging to navigate because our head and emotions tend to respond negatively to the discomfort; thus anxiety can set in and hold us captive.

So, how can we find a way to thrive amidst uncertainty?  Is it even possible?  In her blog on uncertainty, Katherine McHugh says “disorienting storms of life are not just about survival, they are about learning to thrive.  It is not in spite of daunting circumstances that we grow, but because of them.”

Scripture puts is this way:

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2

There are many moments of uncertainty in life. There always have been and there always will be. Sometimes things turn out the way you want them to, sometimes they don’t. Yet, accepting the uncertainty rather than trying to fight it, trusting God to guide and lead you, remembering that you cannot predict the outcomes, and watching for opportunities to grow and learn in the middle of uncertain times really helps.

My life has been full of seasons of uncertainty.  I’ve moved 11 times in my marriage, lived in 5 different cities, we pastored in 5 different churches, served 9 years in a non-profit organization, and have built our own Coaching Company from the ground up.  We have faced physical challenges, family changes, and relational transitions.  Many of these seasons of uncertainty left me anxious, fearful, and discouraged as I walked them out.  However, now that I’m older I am able to look back and see how all these situations have played a big part in who I am today.  Some situations turned out as I’d hoped, some disappointed me, and some were a complete surprise to me!

If I could speak into the life of my “younger self” amidst a season of uncertainty I would encourage her to catch her breath, spend time with God, look for the good that can be gleaned, spend time with life-giving people, and fight the urge to need to know NOW!  If I had consistently made those choices I can only imagine that my experience would have been a bit different!

Are you sitting in a season of uncertainty? If you are then it is my prayer that you will begin to walk in greater confidence that there will be a resolve and that there will be “nuggets of wisdom” to pocket in the days ahead.

Remember:

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

 

 

We need Sage Seniors~

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Last night my husband and I led a marriage event at our local church. We were teaching couples in the “Art” of Active Listening.  I had imagined that the bulk of our attendance would be younger couples eager to tackle the challenges of  newer marriages.  Imagine my surprise when numerous mature couples began to fill the building.  I was very blessed to recognize that these older folks still wanted to work on their marriages! wow!  I can only imagine the example this set for our younger generation.  We need our sage seniors in our lives!

I was tickled that my own parents who have been married 60 years attended this event led by us, their own kids!  In talking with them they expressed sincerely that they felt the tool we were teaching would bring value to them as well.  The interesting twist here is this:  one of the couples at our table whose relationship has been a very difficult one, made the effort to come but had nowhere for their 4 month old baby.  My mother, sensing the need for this couple to have an opportunity to grow, asked to hold this little girl who fell asleep in her arms for 90 minutes, giving them a chance to focus on their relationship. The young mom cried tears of gratefulness for the love she had been shown.  We need sage seniors in our lives!

I am certain that God intended us to have impact far into our twilight years.  I believe our impact can only be richer, wiser, and more valuable.   For those of you who are presently Sage Seniors I ask that you continue to pour into our lives. Pray for us and speak wisdom into our life situations.  For those of us who are knocking on the door of our seniors years I ask that we keep looking for places to have impact, to mentor, to use the lessons we’ve learned to help others.  For the younger generation I would challenge you to seek out the wisdom of those seniors in your sphere of life.  In areas of finances, marriage, or faith, these sage seniors in your life can help you to miss some of the mistakes others have made.

Psalm 92:14

They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green.

Job 12:12

Wisdom is with aged people, With long life comes understanding.

Such a great reminder! 🙂

It’s all a matter of perspective~

Every one of us sees life though our own personal filter.  Our past experiences, hurts, persuasions, faith, and traditions can lead us to come to conclusions in our minds about people or situations around us.   Remember the saying ” there are two sides to every story?”.  It’s true.

Sometimes we come to conclusions or judgements based on what we “think we see”.  However, when seeing a picture of a small iceberg we may fail to recognize  the magnitude of what’s truly there.  Remember the Titanic?

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All of us interact with people and information daily and I imagine we all want to have good clarity and clear understanding. However, sometimes we are too close to the situation to have a balanced perspective.  The statement ” you cannot see the forest for the trees”  expresses this challenge.  Google Earth is so interesting because it can give you a macro perspective and yet also visually take you to a specific address on the planet! Very cool!  Yet, this exemplifies 2 very different perspectives.

Perhaps this year, before we find ourselves making “snap judgements” or coming to conclusions about people or situations too hastily we could take a little extra time to gather fresh information, look through a new lens, and seek to be mindful that we may not have all the information needed; there just might be elements we simply do not see.

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People who look through keyholes are apt to get the idea that most things are keyhole shaped.  ~Author Unknown

Enjoy a fresh perspective today!! 🙂

Proverbs 18:15 says:  Intelligent people are always eager and ready to learn.