How Dare You Speak to Me That Way! (Only I Can Do That)

I’m going to be a little vulnerable here today. If you’ve ever read my blog before, you’re probably wondering how much more vulnerable can a sista get? I’m really pushing that envelope, aren’t I? But I have this deep feeling that there are people out there that need to hear what I have to say. People who feel like they’re alone in their struggles. People who feel like no one understands. I’ve been there. It’s by the grace of God that I made it through. So I consider it my duty and my privilege to help someone else do the same.

Which is why I feel the need to discuss negative self-talk. In case you’ve never heard of the term, I’ll explain what it is. You know how you have a bad day, you get home and maybe you think, “I’ve had a horrible day. I’m going to bed.” And that’s exactly what you do. You know tomorrow is probably going to be better, the day’s behind you and you move on. Someone who has a problem with negative self-talk might think, “I can’t believe I spaced out like that during that meeting. And everyone knew it. Plus, Martha from accounting didn’t say good morning back to me. I’m such an idiot. What’s wrong with me?” And so it would go for hours and hours. That’s negative self-talk with a big dose of rumination to go along with it.

Nobody likes to admit they have weaknesses. Especially in a society like ours where confidence is prized and egos are celebrated. Some people can’t even fathom that anyone can be so overly critical of themselves that it becomes dogma. Something that haunts them and slowly erodes at their self-esteem. It get’s to the point where there’s no disputing it and what they think about themselves is the absolute truth. As you can probably tell by now, I’m highly familiar with the phenomenon.

I first began to struggle with negative self-talk when I was about 10-years-old. Despite its descriptive name, negative self-talk does not originate from within. The seeds of it are typically planted by someone in a position of authority, such as a parent, teacher, older sibling, etc., who is highly critical of an already extremely sensitive person. Eventually, the outside opinions and voices develop into an inner critic. It gets to the point where even when no one else is perpetuating the abuse, the victim does it for them.

I’m not explaining all of this to put you in a ‘woe is me’ frame of mind. I’m telling you this because getting to the root of things helps me figure out how to get over them. Or even better, through them. Once you understand that the anxiety and criticism you feel is not who you are, but simply an outcome of circumstances, you can let those feelings go, making space for what was truly meant to be a part of you in the first place.

This is a mantra that I say to myself now, “Make sure that the language with which you speak to yourself is reflective of your intent.” I decided to live my life with intention. For me, that means living out the goodness and mercy that I know God promised to me. He intends only good for my life, so that is what I accept. And I make sure that the way I speak to and about myself, reflects those intentions.

When you believe that you deserve goodness and kindness, you change the way that you think of yourself. It’s wasn’t easy, and trust me, it didn’t happen overnight. It took a major overhauling of my life to get to a place where I refused to be anyone’s victim anymore. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way because now my life, and the people who are in it, reflect my intent. And so does the way with which I speak to myself.

If you struggle with negative self-talk or low self-esteem, I really think you should look into this challenge. It involves a simple 30 day exercise to help you see the value in you. It’s a start in the right direction. I promise you won’t regret it!

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Confessions of Faith: How I Fell Into (And Got Out Of) The Comparison Trap

The other day, I came across this post by one of my writer friends on Instagram.

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And then, last week, I came across this AMAZING blog on identity by my good friend Simone. Seriously, click the link. You’ll thank me later.

They both spoke to me and reminded me of a time not too long ago when I fell into the horrible habit of comparing myself to others. I thought I had kicked that nasty pesky inclination in high school. But there it was again, rearing its ugly head in my 30’s.

And this time, it wasn’t about anything superficial like my looks or fashion sense. This was intense and deeply personal. This time I was comparing my God-given talent for writing to other authors. This time, the whole situation was personal.

I’m the type of person who is genuinely happy when good things happen to other people. I don’t have a hateful bone in my body. The way I see it, if God did it for them, He will certainly do it for me. So don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t mad at them for succeeding. I was mad at myself for not doing all that I thought I was supposed to be doing.

You see, I kept thinking that having one full length novel published wasn’t good enough. My author buddies were putting out books left and right, and I was still struggling through the first draft of my sophomoric effort. I kept thinking ‘what’s wrong with me?’

When comparison takes root, despondency is not far behind it. I went from wondering how other authors were able to do so much, to beating myself up for not doing enough, to wondering if I’m really cut out for this author thing after all.

That’s when God’s counsel stepped in and told me in no uncertain terms to pump my breaks. Who did I think I was questioning His plan and His pace? How dare I even consider neglecting my gift simply because things weren’t progressing the way I thought they should?

God’s conviction is so much lighter than our conscience’s condemnation. Because His conviction comes with clear instruction and hope for the future.

God's conviction is so much lighter than our conscience's condemnation. Because His conviction comes with clear instruction and

I stopped comparing myself to other writers and started reminding myself of who God says that I am and what He promised me for my future. Long before I ever had the courage to pursue this writing dream, I stood on the promises of God for years. He said that my gift would make room for me and bring me before great men.

He’s been faithful to that, so it’s only right that I remain faithful to Him.

My point is this: don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. You don’t know what it cost them to get where they are and you don’t know how hard it may be for them to keep going. Focus on you and what you were purposed here to do, and then do it with all your might.

I promise that the payoff will far exceed your wildest dreams.

XoXo,

Faith

A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. Proverbs 18:16 

Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go. Ecclesiastes 9:10

Confessions of Faith: A Child, A Quarter and A Cheating Man

What does a child, a quarter and a cheating man have in common? No, this is not a riddle or a dirty joke. It’s something to think about.Quarter

Since this is my blog and I can do what I want, I’ve decided to start posting some of the random thoughts I have on a variety of subjects. They won’t always be pretty, but I promise they’ll be one hundred percent real. I’m all about encouragement and inspiration, so today I’d like to talk to women that have had the unfortunate experience of being cheated on and/or left by a man. As in played for a fool. As in dumped. I told you it wouldn’t be pretty. It happened to me. I also told you I’d keep it real.

Having lived through the betrayal of an unfaithful spouse, I can personally identify with the feelings of low self-worth that come along with it. I know what it’s like to question your value as a woman when you’ve given the most sacred and beloved parts of yourself to someone who essentially treated you like rubbish at a yard sale. More than the pain that comes with having your heart broken by a stab in the back, is the lingering doubt about what you have to offer long after the bleeding stops and the wounds heal.

It took me while, but I got over it and fell in love. With myself, that is. I had to treat myself with tenderness. I had to remember my own individual dreams and goals. I had to show myself that life does indeed go on. Somewhere in the process of nurturing me, I started to celebrate me as well. The two go hand in hand. My self-esteem increased and so did my standards. I surrounded myself with people who love and celebrate me.

Which leads me to the scenario I thought of as I ate lunch under the shade of an oak tree yesterday. If you give a young child a choice between a shiny new quarter and a crisp one hundred-dollar bill, the child will most likely choose the quarter every time. They see it as sparkling and holding weight. It glimmers and beckons to them. They have no idea that the one hundred-dollar bill is of far greater value. They’ll happily collect dozens of quarters and ignorantly shun the bill. Anyone observing would probably smile ruefully and shake their head.  After all, it’s just a child and he doesn’t know any better. What they wouldn’t do was get angry at the child or start questioning the value of the bill themselves.

The same is true of a good woman. She holds her value whether other’s recognize it or not. If a woman is the crisp one hundred-dollar bill and a cheating man is the child, why should she question her value simply because he didn’t see it? Why should she allow herself to become bitter and angry? For all intents and purposes he is just an ignorant child playing with quarters, unable to see that they are of little value. Distracted by pretty packaging without the desire or where with all to look deeper. And while he’s busy playing with quarters, a man will come along that knows the value of what the child overlooked. He’ll be a man that appreciates the finer things in life and fully understands the responsibilities that go along with having them.

Ladies if you’ve been overlooked by a child playing games with shiny things, don’t despair. You’re still worth being faithful to. You’re still desirable. You’re still valuable. You still matter.

XOXO,

Faith

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.—1 Cor. 13:11 NIV

Photo credit: korafotomorgana / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

You Are Beautiful!!!!

Get ready to go on an emotional ride with Mike Young as he delivers a passionate and exceedingly powerful message via the art of spoken word from a spiritual perspective. You are all beautiful!

Did this poem speak to your heart? I LOVE hearing from my readers! Please feel free to comment below.

H.A.L.T.

He was the kind of lover that made you want to thank him at the close of every rendezvous; to absolutely and definitively express gratitude towards him for his ability to give pleasure; to humbly praise his skill and his tangible way of physically bringing you to a place of bliss and then allowing you to dwell there. Yes, he was that good. All he did was give.

Until he didn’t anymore, and then all he did was take. I should have seen it coming. The whole yin and yang of life is not new to me. If our lovemaking was unbalanced, it only made sense that the pleasure he should have rightfully received, after giving me so much, should be taken from some other aspect of our relationship. An unbalanced debt is an unbalanced debt, no matter what the currency. Bills always come due.

It wasn’t until much later that I came to understand that perhaps it was all a set up. That maybe he used his rare talent as a way of achieving personal gain. In other words, he was a gigolo and I was his mark.  Maybe it wasn’t so much that I was selfish and did not try to give back, it was that he was determined to take his pleasure elsewhere and feel justified in doing so.  Or maybe it was just karma. Either way, I’ll never know.

I do know that I have been taught better, both figuratively and literally. On my first day of college a professor of a kindly paternal disposition set out to give sage advice to a classroom full of hopeful and naïve freshmen. He scribbled an acronym across the dry erase board and stated that we should make all of our decisions over the next few years with it in mind.

H.A.L.T.

 This meant stop and consider your personal state before making any type of choice. The professor succinctly said, “Never make a decision when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Always remember to halt.” He went on to actually teach the subject we were all there to study, but my mind stayed stuck on his introductory speech.

It was a moment that changed my life, but not in the way that I think the well-meaning instructor intended. I spent the rest of the class contemplating the simple acronym and the meaning behind it. Eventually, I concluded that if I waited until I was in such an ideal frame of being to make choices, I would live out the entirety of my life without making a single decision. Because my reality was that I had never lived a single moment of my life without feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

This revelation could have easily caused me to make a life change by working to create an existence where I was not feeling at least one of those sensations at all times. Instead I used it as an excuse to recklessly make decisions with dire consequences.

You see I was always hungry for an ever-elusive craving. An indefinable something that, if received, would satisfy me in a way that nothing else ever had. It was this insatiable hunger that caused me to latch on to him and take, take, take without any consideration of the phrase, “payback is a mother-“.

As a result, I was so familiar with anger as a constant companion that I was incapable of distinguishing between my everyday jacket of anger and a justifiable mink coat of rage. He did things that deserved violent fury and I let it slide, convincing myself it was the former and that I was overreacting.

Don’t get me started on the loneliness. It is the worst kind of isolation to feel lonely when you are in a relationship with someone. Again, I blamed myself. I berated myself for being such an ice queen that I could not let someone else in. It did not occur to me that a sincere relationship should gently chip away at the frostiness of loneliness with constant warmth in the form of passion, kindness and caring.

I thought I was world weary before, but I hadn’t seen anything until my debt came due. He sucked me dry. I was the kind of tired that made me lay awake at night staring at the ceiling. I was the kind of tired that caused friends to do a double take and express concern over my well-being. I was the kind of tired that caused my supervisor to suggest a leave of absence. I was the kind of tired that caused me to take that leave of absence thereby enabling me to expand my nocturnal ceiling watching to daylight hours as well.

Then I got tired of him. Ending it was by no means easy. He had so methodically captured me that it took a major crisis of conscious to free my mind from the luxurious prison he had created. And yes you are right, supposedly there is no such thing as a luxurious prison. The two don’t mix. That’s about the same as a cold love affair. Both metaphors are a complete contradiction in terms and hell to live through.

So now here I am, thinking over that wise instructor’s advice. Meditating on his attempt to give me and my classmates a local’s perspective in our newly foreign world. Finally I have made a decision worth the effort. I decided when I was hungry, angry, lonely and tired to not stay that way. I’ve come to a halt…and I’m changing the game.

 

Do you write short stories or essays? How do you create a distinct voice when writing in first person?

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