Are you a toxic person?

City built over toxic waste dump

In the 1900’s there was a canal built in the Niagara Falls region. It was originally built as the site for a dream community. The site was called love canal. It was chosen because of it’s location to the falls. This would provide an unlimited source of hydroelectric power. In 1910 Tesla created the alternating current system which allows electrical current to travel great distances. Love canal could not make it past the new technology and thus failed.

In the 1920’s it was turned into a municipal and chemical dumpsite. Company’s dumped and dumped chemicals, waste, and trash at this site for years. One day the filled up the canal with dirt and sold the land for $1. In the 1950’s the city built 100 homes and a school. For a while this worked well. Then in 1978 the proverbial bombshell was dropped.

The EPA Journal posted that many of these canals were nothing more then ticking time bombs. Any moment they could cause massive amounts of sickness and damage. As the story goes, a strong series of rainstorms caused the downward spiral and the leaching began. You could see corroded waste-disposal drums pushing up through the ground in backyards. Trees and garden were turning black and dying. One swimming pool was elevated out of it’s structure and floated on a puddle of chemicals. You could see puddles of toxic chemicals in peoples yards. The worse of it all were that children would return from play with chemical burns on their hands and face.  Children born with birth defects. Sickness and death were abound.

The whole tragedy could have been adverted.

We have become a wasteland 

I think the true story above is a sobering illustration for our own lives. Each of us have dreams and hopes for the future. Each of us desire the best out of life. A great number of us has experienced times when something happened and it derailed us from our purpose and potential.  Something that caused us to stop dead in our tracks.

Instead of thriving after the incident we fell apart. What could have been salvaged is now left to rot. I am speaking about our emotions. That which is under the surface. How many of you guys have had that happen to you? You have had something come into your life that just rocked your world and ultimately derailed you? Something that you never recovered from.

Then we go through life just surviving. We try to build things in our lives to see if we can truly live again. However, so many of us have never dealt with the underlining issues. Instead of building something healthy in our lives we have built a facade. We built something that looks healthy, but underneath is a time bomb waiting for a place to go off.

In truth, the painful emotions that we have been hiding have began to leach out. They are starting to surface and people are starting to get hurt. In essence, we have became a toxic individuals. We have never dealt with the real issues, only hid them, and now they want out.

We all have the potential to be toxic

Before I give you the list of what can potentially make us toxic I would like to give you some encouragement and context. The things in this blog are written from a a decade of ministry, over 3 decades of life experience and observation, and my own junk. These observations are not about any one person, but a series of life experiences.

If you find that many of these things hit home in your life then it is time to seek help. It is time to get before God and ask for His direction in your personal life. Your health depends on it. Your relationships depends on it. Your relationship with God depends on it. It is that important.

Emotionally Toxic people are emotionally and mentally unhealthy and can make other’s unhealthy around them. Ultimately pushing everyone away, blaming it on others, and complaining that they are the only one who gets it. This even goes for their relationship with God.

Here is your guideline to see if you are toxic 

They are very Manipulative

Manipulation is a way to covertly influence someone through indirect, deceptive, or abusive tactics. Manipulation can seem friendly, flattering, or harmless, but in reality it is designed to reach an ulterior motive. This is one of the most prevalent marks of toxicity.

People who are manipulative will oftentimes be people who get close to you, learn about you, become “friends” or some other form of relational connection, and then start to play on your emotions in order to get what they want out of you. This is a very selfish individual who may believe that have your best interest at heart.

Manipulation comes in many forms. I have had people try to emotionally manipulate me. They would either play the victim or they would always be hurt. Why? So I can encourage them and build them up. I have had people read my texts to other people and then come back to me trying to come back to me and play “dumb” as they argued from a position of superiority in attempts to trap me into something. One of the worst manipulation that ever happened to me is when I was in 4th-5th grade. I was in “love” with this girl. She knew it. She played on those emotions. Why? To manipulate me and make me vulnerable. She tore me apart through manipulation and opened me up to some of the most severe bullying I had ever experienced.

They are in a place of extreme desperation 

Desperation is a state of despair that results in rash or extreme behavior.

Desperate people are people who are often very clingy. If something doesn’t go their way they feel like everything in their world is falling apart and they have to do anything they can to save it. I find people who live in desperation are often people who have sever trust issues and little to no self esteem. These are people who will go to great lengths to keep what they have.

One of the best examples I have comes from a few years back. I knew this person who got close to me. There was a steadiness in my pattern of living. We would shoot texts back and forth. We would engage in some decent conversations. Then everything in my life began to change. My life was increasingly putting more and more demands on my time. I had to stop communicating with people as much. This person took it personally. They didn’t trust our relationship. They had little to no self esteem. I would even say that they had co-dependency tendencies.  Long story short, they became desperate. They kept trying to grasp for a relationship that they believed was ending. I would get increased communication. I started getting accusations. It was all a desperate attempt to keep what they believed was a lost relationship. In reality, it wasn’t lost just changing. They couldn’t handle that.

They are shrouded in negative and judgmental emotions. 

A toxic person is shrouded in negative judgmental emotions. If you are a person who is rarely known for giving kind and uplifting words then this is you. If you “think” you are very encouraging and uplifting try asking someone who is willing to be honest with you. You may hear a different story. Bottom line is that toxic people are known to be pessimists who cynically judge the world according to their standards. They judge to the point that it removes the joy out of things.  They create their own storms and then get mad when it rains.

I have known people that have never had nice words to say about people. They have complained to me about people that I have never even met. When you bring up ideas to them you are met with untrusting, uncertain, insecure, and oft times cynical behavior that it becomes very draining to be around them.

The people they deem “worthy” will be spared their verbalization of their judgement, but make no mistake they have still judged you. In their hearts and minds they have passed their judgement. They are only waiting for you to do what they already thought you would.

They are extreme in their emotions and very possessive

One of the possible markers of a toxic person is the unsteadiness of their emotional expressions. One moment they seem happy, but the next they are almost depressed. It could have been triggered by something you said or did. It could also be triggered by a lifetime of pain and hurt brought on by no reason whatsoever.

One of the markers of a healthy individual is consistency and stability in their emotions. Consistency and stability allows trust to be built. Basically, I never have to be afraid of what version of you I am getting in that moment. I should know what to expect when dealing with you. Even when we are emotional, broken, or discouraged there should be a reassurance that I don’t have to be afraid of what you are going to do.

The other side of this is Jealousy and envy.  A toxic person will be insanely jealous of anyone who they feel is getting more time with you are then they did. They will feel very dejected and down when you haven’t contacted them in a short time period. They will become very angry when you are close to someone more then you are close to them.  They will be desperate to know who you are spending your time with, what you are saying, and how they other person responds. Because in reality they believe that you belong to them.

They are there under false pretense

Red flags should be flying when someone approaches you under the pretense that it is their mission to protect you. Their reason? They believe that your judgement is off. This is an indicator that they believe that their judgement somehow is more solid then yours.

Toxic people misrepresent themselves. They are only showing you what they want you to see. There is very little “real” to their story. They have built their lives around a persona that suits their needs and then continually act it out in front of others.

The Skinny

This list isn’t exhaustive.  We could talk about so many other things that could fall into this topic. We could share about how toxic people are full of pride and are good at deflecting blame. We could bring up more on how toxic people do not like the people closest to you.

We could say so much else, but there is 1 bottom line: You need to remove toxic people from your life. It is unloving to yourself to keep them in your life. Don’t feel bad about it. One of two things are going to happen. You are going to change them or they will change you. The reality? I have never really seen a healthy person change a toxic person. Know why? Either the healthy person become unhealthy (Toxic people are good at bringing out the toxic in others) or the toxic individual leaves because they cannot handle being around healthy people.

Truth: people who surround themselves with emotionally toxic friends, but think nothing is wrong with them is living a fantasy. If your circle of friends are unhealthy and toxic individuals you are not the diamond in the rough. You are the coal amongst other pieces of coal. You have just convinced yourself that you are somehow different.

Bonus: If you were offended by this blog chances are you may be toxic!

Blessings!!!

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6 PRACTICAL THOUGHTS ABOUT BOUNDARIES

In my last post I talked about the importance of boundaries as it related to our health. I wanted to give you 6 more thoughts about boundaries. My life revolves around boundaries and trying to be healthy. I am not always successful, but I am a work in progress.

Here is a few thoughts to further the discussion on having boundaries in your life:

  1. You will have boundaries with everyone.

You will. It is just a fact. We live in a world were we are trying to fight our baggage from a lifetime of unresolved pain, unhealed hurts, and unmet needs. While we are fighting through our own struggles everyone else is fighting through their baggage as well. When my struggle meets your struggle unhealthiness is the most likely production of the intertwining. To prevent this we must have boundaries with everyone. This includes your friends, people you meet, your coworkers, your congregation (for my leaders and pastor friends), your spouse, and your children. The healthier you are the more passionate you are about keeping and maintaining boundaries with everyone in your life.

2.    Your boundaries may be different with everyone

Something inside everyone reacts to something in you. The reaction may be positive or negative, but you will experience a reaction of some sort. Some people will bring the best out of you. Some people will bring the worst our in you. Most often the unhealthiness of others brings out the unhealthiness in us. We must guard against that if we are to heal and become healthy.

There is something in everyone that reacts different to something in you. Some people may be codependent and it connects with that people pleasing part of you. Some people may be flirtatious and that connects to your previous addiction to pornography and your struggle with lust. Some people don’t know their boundaries and the part of you that enables people allows them to walk all over you. Some gossip and you join in. Some are critical and judgmental and you find yourself being the same.  It is a never ending cycle without boundaries.

You must evaluate yourself. Evaluate how you react to people. When we do this we can start erecting boundaries in that area of our lives.  Ask yourself: How do I react to them? What does this person bring out in me? How are my actions different with this person then others?

When we ask these question we can start to find the boundaries that match this particular person. Your boundaries with that person make not mimic or even come close to the boundaries you have with others. Each boundary is there to help you with a specific problem.

Guaranteed that you will have some boundaries that are similar. For example: I don’t like being alone with women who are not my wife. It is a boundary I have with every lady.  Then I have boundaries that are different with other people. There are some people I don’t text with. There are some people I only email with. There are some people that I quickly end conversations with because they do not know when to stop certain behaviors. Then there are people that I will only interact with them in certain situation. There are some people I only talk to at church. These are just some of the types of boundaries that I have. They are there so that I do not fall into a place of unhealthiness in my life.

Some boundaries may be stronger then others. Just remember it is not about the strength of the boundary it about the health you are trying to achieve.

3.     Always communicate your boundaries with Love 

Unhealthy people don’t understand boundaries. They try to do anything and everything they can to bring your boundaries down. You can blame them if you want, but that is an unhealthy engagement of your energy. In reality unhealthy people will always do what unhealthy people do. Act unhealthy. They will continue to act this way until they decide to take the leap to become healthy.

In saying this, you must ALWAYS communicate your boundaries in love. If you are a Christian bringing condemnation or shame and guilt towards a person is a sin.  You cannot change how people act. They will always act out their unhealthiness. The greater the unhealthiness in a person the greater they will challenge your journey to become healthy.  Don’t hold it against them. Jesus had compassion for people. We need to have compassion for people. However, compassion doesn’t equate to being a doormat. Remember that.

Time and time again your boundaries are going to be challenged. In the most loving way you can explain to them why the boundary is there. Do not focus on their problems or what you think is wrong with them. Focus on how you respond in these particular situations. Focus on how unhealthy you are in the situation. That is loving. Taking ownership for your actions and then doing something about it.

They will be given a choice. Accept your boundaries or not. If they accept it then harmony will ensure. However, many people who are unhealthy will not accept them. They will think that they are dumb or that you are being unfair. Continue to love them anyway. Stay strong in your boundaries. Just because things may seem better doesn’t mean they are. Appearance doesn’t always equate to reality.

If they stay in your life then it is proof that they want to get healthy, but may not know how. Continue to love them through it, but always communicate your boundaries with love.

4.     Always stand by your boundaries 

The hardest thing that I have ever had to do is stand by my boundaries. My heart is so forgiving that I often forget what unhealthy action was committed. I also have the tendency to downplay the situation. This simply means I tend to think the situation isn’t as serious as people make it out to be. That there is always a silver lining or brighter side to it.

Knowing this about myself I must be vigilant in my boundaries. To drop my boundaries is allow into my life the very things I erected those boundaries to prevent.

Life isn’t always black and white. There are so many shades of gray. Your boundaries are the black and white answers to the gray you cannot decipher. It may hurt your heart or others, but remember the goal and mission is to be as healthy as you can.

5.     People will cheer your boundaries with others and criticize the boundaries you have for them

I have come across this more times then I can count. Here is how it usually goes. You make the decision to be healthy in your life. People encourage you. People applaud you. They are so excited to hear that you are making so many positive life changes. Then you start sharing your plan. You tell people of the boundaries that you are erecting to help you be healthy. You detail each boundary and why. People will sit there and listen. They will become excited. They will agree with you. They will say yes so and so is like that and that is wise of you to have that boundary. Then the conversation will turn to them. You share your boundaries with them. All of a sudden they are no longer happy. They begin to disagree with you. Feelings get hurt. And relationships are strained.

The truth is that people do not like to be confronted with the fact that something about them makes you act in an unhealthy way. People also do not like to be confronted with the fact that there may be something about them that is unhealthy. Most people have built up this self image that denies any problems and promotes only good image building things.

It will happen to you. Trust me. When it does happen just realize that they are acting out of hurt. Hurt will pass. People will either get over it, hold it against you, or they will leave you.  Let them make that decision. You are putting boundaries in your life for reasons. Stick to your reasons. As long as they are Biblical reasons to promote health then don’t be ashamed of them.

6.     People who violate your boundaries are people that don’t truly respect you

You will have people in your life that will try to violate your boundaries. Some will find any way to do it. Some will manipulate the situation to violate your boundaries and pass it off as a joke. These people are playing out their unhealthiness. They are very selfish and do not understand the ramifications of what they are doing or how it makes them look. They see what they want and they go for it regardless of how it makes others feel.

Remember, that they are playing out their unhealthiness. They don’t respect your boundaries because they don’t respect themselves. I know many will try to convince you otherwise. Actions speak louder then words though. When someone is so into what they want, what they feel, and will stop at nothing to get pass your boundaries then it is a representations of the dysfunction and hurt in their own soul. They do not truly respect your boundaries, or you, because they do not have much respect for themselves. A lifestyle of boundaries is a lifestyle of respect.

Love them through it. Your journey to health will make others feel awkward, left out, and hurt. That is not really your problem. I know that sounds harsh, but you cannot take the problems of the world on you. How they respond is up to them. Their response should not determine your direction.

A healthy relationship depends on the emotional space provided by personal boundaries. Be vigilant in creating that space!!

A word of encouragement for my friends who have co-dependent personalities. You will have difficulties in setting such limits. However, defining and protecting boundaries efficiently will be a vital part of regaining your mental and emotional health.

My Heart: 

As I type these words I cannot help but feel a sense of conviction. In my life I have worked hard to maintain boundaries. I have worked hard to stay healthy. However, I have come to realize that recently there as been situations that have challenged my emotional health. The situation has started to drag me back to a place of unhealthy.

Realizing this I have had to get before God. In my prayer time I have come to a simple conclusion. I am going to have to make some hard choices about some of my relationships and then find the courage to follow through with them. Honestly, this scares me. I know it will be awkward, hurtful, and possibly confusing. However, I cannot help but thing of the cost if I do not redefine a couple of my relationships.

I said that to say this: It is not easy, but it is always right to create and maintain boundaries. Create them with grace and love. Share them with grace and love. Live in them with boldness. Never give up the fight!

Some Resources: 

http://www.cloudtownsend.com/scoop-on-boundaries/

http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-When-Take-Control-Your/dp/0310247454

https://bible.org/seriespage/1-boundary-basics

http://thewellpsl.com/media.php?pageID=78

Be Blessed!!!!

Creating Healthy Boundaries

Health. That is the goal. To be healthy and whole in our minds and emotions. We work so hard to have our physical bodies look good while our souls and minds are deteriorating from lack a lifetime of pain and trauma that has never been dealt with.

What you don’t deal with will effect you. Think about it through this illustration. Someone places a bomb in the middle of your living room. It is siting there counting down the time until it explodes. You know it is there. Many others know it is there. Yet you do nothing about it. It just sits there day in and day out waiting to explode. In your heart you know that you have to do something about it. In your head you have convinced yourself that it really won’t hurt you. All the while the bomb is still sitting there waiting to go off.  Then one day the countdown ends and the bomb explodes. Effectively hurting you and everyone within it’s radius.

There is a bomb in your soul. It is sitting there waiting to go off. You are given the choice to deal with it or not. You know it is there. You have lived a painful life and realized that it created this bomb. You have tried to convince yourself that it won’t hurt you or anyone. All the while it is ticking down to the next incident before it explodes and many people get hurt. With this thought it is time to do something about it. It is time to get healthy.

One of the greatest ways to get healthy it to erect boundaries in our lives. Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards him or her and how they will respond when someone steps past those limits (Psychological today definition).

The healthiest people in the world are those who have boundaries. Boundaries are not limitations, but things that show the limits of what a healthy person is willing to engage in. This doesn’t mean you put people into prison! No! This means you are giving them freedom. They know where the line is, and how to operate within your boundaries.

Do you know the most important thing about a boundary? Is that you are putting limits on yourself and others so you can have the opportunity to heal. Think of it this way. I own a home. Around my home is a property line. That is a physical boundary that I can enforce. If I do not want people on my property then they are not allowed on my property. On my property I can do whatever I want (within legal rights).

You are saying the same things to others. This is my line that people cannot cross. This is not to punish people, but a declaration that says I am wanting to get healthy in this area. You may ask about their feelings. Honestly, some people will applaud you, but most will challenge you. It is not about what the feel. It is about what you are willing to do in order to become the healthiest you that you can be.

  1. You need boundaries to get healthy 

This isn’t an option. If you do no have clearly defined boundaries then people will continue to walk all over you.  If people continue to walk all over you then you will never have the space that you desire to finally find healing.

2. Don’t allow anyone else unhealthiness impede your desire to be healthy. 

The world is full of emotionally unhealthy people. Never allow them to rule your life and limit your potential. People will try to violate your boundaries, make you feel bad about your boundaries, and drawing the attention to the importance of themselves over your health.

3.  Defining boundaries will be a challenge. 

Sometimes we really don’t know what we need. One of the greatest challenges will be to evaluate yourself in an honest and objective way. think of it this way. You are not as good as you think you are. Also, you are not as bad as you think you are. Most people fall in the middle of the two extremes. However, there are a very rare few who are extreme in their feelings. Those particular people may need extra help obtain through a professional. I encourage everyone to see a professional at some point in your life.

4.  You are not alone in this. 

We feel lost. We feel alone. We feel like we are not good enough. All of those emotions are false.  There are people around you who are willing to help and be there for you. There are people who are further a long on the journey of health and can give you their wisdom. All you have to do is have the courage to ask.

5.  It will be awkward and hard enforcing your boundaries.

People do not like to be told what to do. Face it. However, do not let that detract you from your mission. Your mission is personal health. In the journey to health you will make people mad. You will make people feel awkward. You will make them want to stop being friends with you. That is ok. If they really cared about you, as they say they do, then their heart will be that you become healthy. Friends who are willing to enter the journey with you will be friends for life. They will always be friends who will try to be healthy themselves. Remember, an unhealthy friend plus a healthy friend still equals an unhealthy relationship.

6.  Have the courage to stay the course.

Enforcing boundaries will be hard. There will be days that you will want to give up. There will be days that you will be stronger then others. You must stay the course. You are creating a lifestyle change. It will take time, but in the end it will become part of who you are. Don’t be afraid. You may lose some friends. That is ok. In the end you will find joy and peace.

My Boundaries:

I have had to work hard over the years to define my boundaries. In fact, I am still working on defining them and redefining them. Let me give you an example of two of the type of boundaries that you may want to have in your life.

Example 1: Throwing in the pillow

My wife and I have a boundary that we created a long time ago in our marriage. Yes you will need boundaries in our marriage. Remember a boundary isn’t bad thing. They are lines in the sand that declare you are ready to be healthy.

When my wife and I were first married we use to argue a lot. We decided that when things got heated that we needed something to allow us to walk away without offending the other person. So we decided to use a pillow. When you throw the pillow into the middle of a heated discussion it signifies that the person who threw the pillow needs to walk away. The response of the other person is to let them walk away. It doesn’t means we won’t ignore the issue. It means we simply need time to regroup, gain peace, and approach it when we are not so combative.

Example 2: Lack of Reply

Over the years I have developed a boundary that helped me in a major way become healthy.  I don’t engage people in unhealthy chatter, negativity, passive aggressive shots, or the persons incessant need to tear everyone else down. I also tend not to give my full attention to who think they are right and have a hard time seeing any point but their own.

When I engage a person through texts, emails, or calls I am always cognizant of the conversational direction. If a person is making unhealthy statements, is overly negative, or passive aggressive I will either end the conversation abruptly or completely ignore the statement.  If a person asks why I will tell them. I tell them the truth in love.

You may think that is hash, but I promise you when people know that you do that it can do a couple things. First, the person contacting you may stop engaging in those behaviors around you. Second, the person may stop contacting you all together. It is ok if a person is unhealthy and doesn’t want to be in your life. That means that you are weeding our people who will either sabotage your healthy or hold you back from being healthy. Finally, it could inspire them to be healthy. Option 3 doesn’t happen often, but it is wonderful when it does.

Closing thoughts:

The types of boundaries are endless. You will have to go through your heart and determine what makes you unhealthy. Then strategize what you will need in order to stop the behavior. Let your driving question be, “What can I do with this person that will all me to be healthy?”

One of the hardest parts of this journey is recognizing that you and I are unhealthy. We have to admit that about ourselves. We also have to recognize how others make us unhealthy as well. Recently, God has shown me in my own life how certain individuals draw out the unhealthy parts of my soul. It was very hard for me to admit. Now I am in prayer to determine what to do about it. Could it hurt the other peopler? Yes. However, my health is my  primary goal. I do not like or want to hurt peoples feelings, but I am desperate to be healthy.

No one will take charge of your personal health but you. Today, get before God and ask Him to give you the courage and direction you need to become healthy.

In my next post I am going to give you a few practical thoughts about boundaries. I will also recommend some good resources that may be able to help you start your journey.

I encourage you to follow me on social media! Also, I encourage you to sign up for email updates, and follow this blog!

Be Blessed!

7 Marks of unhealthy people

Unhealthiness is in us and all around us. Engaging in unhealthy behaviors and leaves us empty. We become devoid of encouragement. We face the danger of being plunged into a life that models despair more then hope.

Knowing the state of your emotional health is paramount to knowing how to become more healthy in your life.

The following are what I call “marks” of emotional unhealthiness. These are signs that you could be emotionally unhealthy. Use them as a reflective tool to determine if you or the person you are engaging with are unhealthy. By no means is this an exuse to judge people, but to help people come to the realization that we need help! We need to find healing.

In my lifetime I can say I have exhibited the following things more times then I like to count. It has only been in recent years where I finally feel like I am gaining victory in my life over the unhealthiness that I have allowed to grow in my soul.

1.  How people talk about other’s to you is how they will talk about you to others.

Listen up! People will share with you their hearts. They may think that they are being guarded and not really telling you anything, but the signs are all there for those who observe.

If a person is trash talking a “type” of person or a “specific” person then they are unhealthy. healthy people do not trash talk others. Healthy people state facts, engage in prayer, and seek ways to become healthy in the midst of an unhealthy situation.

Listen not only to what is being said but how it is being said. If a person is brought up in conversation and the other person only has negative things to say then there is a high level on unhealthiness there.

Now for the hard truth. If a person is very free in how they talk about people to you they will be just as free in talking to others about you. Don’t let the person fool you. They will say I am only telling you this, but in reality they are telling whoever will listen to them.

I have seen this so many times both in my own life and in the lives of others.

For example, even though I saw this sign in someone I trusted them with my heart. You know what happened? Many of those same people are now actively trash talking about me to others. Unhealthiness breads unhealthiness. Listen to how people talk about people. Listen to how you talk about others.

Hear me out. healthy people can be trusted to both listen to and talk about the actions of others. However, healthy people will not tear another person down. They may talk about how things went or how things could be different, but they refuse to engage in diminishing of another person.

If you want to know if you are someone like this then ask someone who will answer you honestly. However, don’t put them in an awkawd position. Seek truth not justification of your actions. A spouse will be the best choice for this question. That is provided that they are healthy individuals.

2.  People will crucify other’s for actions that they will excuse in themselves

Guilty. When I have been hurt I have looked at people and began to pick them apart. I would crucify them in my head. They were the individuals who did this. They were the individuals who sinned. How dare they! All the while I was excusing the same issues in my own life.

It is not easy to admit, but we all do it. When something is done against us it is a huge thing. When we do something against someone else it is no big deal. What hypocrisy.

This is a sign of unhealthiness that many will not see. Why? Because this is one that is covert and often in hiding. This is the one were we think it, but rarely ever speak it. Just because you don’t say it doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be dealt with.

3.  Misery loves company

When people are miserable they do not want people with them who are going to cheer them up. When people are miserable they do not want people with them who will be truthful with them. They want people with them who will agree with them and make them feel better in their misery.

The trustiest sign of this is when we are offended. We do not want people around us who will help us see the truth of our own actions. We want people around us that will agree with our justification. It makes us feel better. It gives us a safe place to hide in the midst of our unhealthiness.

4. Easily Offended

If you are easily offended then you are a prime suspect for someone with an unhealthy soul. Offense will happen to us all. There is no doubt about that. What differentiates someone from health and unhealthiness is the ease by which an individual is offended.

Health individuals do not give into emotionalism. They are not led by it. They are lead by what is right. They are lead by the principal of the situation. Unhealthy people are controlled by their feelings. They are lead by what they perceived to be right and fair.  This can be dangerous because what we feel to be “right” and “fair” can come from a damaged soul. My advice is to listen to what the Bible says about what is right. The Bible is never swayed by emotionalism.

If someone takes something very personally, easily and often, then it is a sign of unhealthiness. An offense is an annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles (dictionary.com). It revolves around what is perceived. If I am someone who has a lot of unhealed hurts then my perception will revolve around that. I will see my world through the eyes of hurt. Thus, opening myself up to easier and greater resentment against others.

5.  Healthy people don’t have time for drama while unhealthy people live in it

Unhealthy people seem to be drama magnets. It may be because misery loves company or it may be that they cause it themselves. Either way unhealthy people seem to continually be at the center of drama.

Drama can be defined as a way of relating to the world in which a person consistently overreacts to or greatly exaggerates the importance of benign events. Typically “drama” is used by people who are chronically bored or those who seek attention (urbandiction.com). I would also include those who are emotionally and mentally unhealthy as well.

People who engage in “drama” will usually attempt to drag other people into their dramatic state, as a way of gaining attention, acting out their brokenness, or making their own lives more exciting.

6.  Unhealthy people believe themselves to be healthy and will often refuse to admit that they need help 

There is a lot that we do to convince ourselves that we are healthier then we really are. We try to live in some sort of reality that allows us to believe that we are right and everyone around us is wrong. This can be a challenge especially when we are confronted with something that we do no want to hear. Many times we ignore it, ignore the person, or leave the situation in hopes that it will just vanish.

Then we debate with ourselves and others about the level of our health. We tell others that we are very healthy. We tell ourselves that we are very healthy. The entire time was we are really doing is trying to convince ourselves of this instead of facing the issue and dealing with the problem.

What if an unhealthy person is a person full of pride. Now you have a person who is either in true denial of their plight or they are so sure that their unhealthiness isn’t an issue and that everyone around them is the problem. Either way it is a challenge and a true mark of an unhealthy individual.

We think, “so what if we have unhealthy tendencies.” The only time they become an issue is when we are not actively admitting them, taking ownership of them, and actively doing doing to try to change them. One of the saddest sights is someone who is clearly unhealthy, and everyone around them knows it, but they refuse to acknowledge it or even do anything to change it. One of the other saddest things to me is someone who acknowledges their unhealthiness, wants to get help, but never actually does anything further then just acknowledge it.

7.  People would rather talk about people then engage or confront them 

This my friends is called passive aggressiveness. I am going to do a whole post about passive aggressive behavior, but I want to make you aware that this is another mark of unhealthiness.

You have people that are talking to everyone else about the issue. Everyone but you. They will talk and talk about this person, their issues, their wrongs, and their ways. They will go so far as to ensure that they themselves are not talked about even though they have no problem talking about another person. Then in the midst of all this mess they never actually talk to the person about the issue.

In the midst of this mark nothing is ever solved or resolved. All that is accomplished is the knowledge that there are many people who are too scared to actually deal with the real issues.

Maturity and health tell us that if I have a problem with a person I go to the person and talk about it to them. Unhealthiness tells us that if I have a problem with a person then I can talk about them and hope the issue is handled by someone else, but never actually deal with the issue.

These marks are by no means the only marks, but they are prominent ones. Read them. Pray about them. Confront them. Don’t blame others for them. Absorb them. Then continue your journey towards health!

Be Blessed!!!

Are you emotionally mature?

Let’s be real. We all have unhealthiness being harbored inside our souls. We all have ways in which we react to certain situations. Some are positive, but many of our reactions are negative.

We have way to much baggage in our lives. Hurt that have never been worked through. Bitterness and unforgiveness that has haunted us for years. Needs that have gone unmet. We are a walking bag of messed up. The quicker we come to grips with this the quicker we can start to heal from it.

In my research and study time I wanted to determine some markers that differentiate between healthy and unhealthy emotions. The following is the fruit of that research. Some of the following is from the Psychological Society studies. Some of the following is my own experiences. All of the following has been prayed about and thought through from a Biblical world view.

Take a moment and read them then ask the tough questions. You will notice that in some situations you respond in very healthy way. You will also notice that in many other situations you can be very unhealthy.

The importance? The greater level of emotional unhealthiness I walk in the great the chances are that I will sabotage my relationships and my potential. Think about emotional healhy as a lid to a jar. If the lid is off you can fill it up until it overflows. If the lid is on it can never overflow. It will also never be able to be filled up with anything else as well.

Emotional unhealthiness is a lid that is put on your life. When we do not work through our emotional baggage. We put a lid on ourselves. The contents of our potential are stuck in the bottle. Plus, we can never truly receive anything new. The Bible tells me that I am suppose to be overflowing with blessing, love, and the such. A Lid prevents that. Time to remove the lid.

Mature Emotions: 

▪The intensity of mature emotions are appropriate to the situation. In everyday situations, it’s usually mild discomfort,        like a warning.

Mature emotions motivate us and give us energy for appropriate action, such as defending our boundaries and    integrity.

▪We usually have no problem expressing mature emotions . Those parts of us were able to mature because they could be recognized and expressed within our families. We might feel problems and tension, though, if our mature emotions  are mixed with unhealthy feelings and guilt. This is most common, since many people learn at an early age to feel guilty if they express their feelings sincerely.

Mature emotions  do not leave behind tension and discomfort left once the situation is resolved.

Mature emotions  allow us to perceive both sides of the story.

Mature emotions do not make us feel humiliated or bad about ourselves, nor do we feel a need to humiliate or hurt others.

Immature Emotions:

          ▪ Immature emotions are either overly intense or suppressed.

          ▪ Immature emotions are followed by an inner conflict, usually between guilt and shame on one side, and anger on the other, accompanied by unpleasant bodily sensations. This conflict can persist long after the unpleasant situation is over. Even if you are objectively right, such emotions can show you that there is a part of you that either is frightened or feels guilty. Some childish emotions can feel good temporarily, but the inner conflict remains.

         ▪ Immature emotions sap your energy and, if prolonged, result in stress and fatigue.

         ▪ Immature emotions convince you that you are primarily right, and the other person primarily wrong. (Sometimes it is the other way around, although that is more common with children or extremely abused people.)

         ▪ Immature emotions make you feel uncomfortable and doubt yourself, which may motivate you to criticize and find even more faults in other people.

After reading these I was able to pinpoint some of the immature (unhealthy) emotions in my own life. That alone is huge. Most people who are immature or unhealthy in their emotions tend to live in a false sense of reality. A reality created to help them cope with their emotions.  A reality that is based on their perceptions as seen through the eyes of their hurt and experiences.

It is not a question of right or wrong. It is a question or health or unhealthiness. If we desire to be healthy then we must dedicate ourselves to removing all that is unhealthy. Part of removing all that is unhealthy is taking an honest look at ourselves. That alone can be one of the most painful experiences. Taking an honest and objective look at ourselves is aboutcoming face to face with the possibility that we are really messed up people emotionally. Don’t be afraid though.  Coming face to face with the truth will ultimately lead to being the most  freeing experience of your life.

What is revealed can be confronted and healed. In other words, what I can see I can deal with. What I can deal with can be placed on a process towards health. Once placed on the process, journey toward health it is only a matter of time before I start becoming healthy. The goal is healthy. The mission is health.  Start the mission by confronting the ugly truth. The truth is we are messed up people needing to become healthy.

Jesus  took care of the SIN problem. The SIN problem is our proclivity to do things that  disobey and dishonor God. Through His death and resurrection we can have life. Also, Jesus set us on a path towards health. He is bringing our spirits back to a place to health. Now He wants to bring your souls, emotions, and minds to come to the same place of health. Start the journey! Push towards the prize! Complete the mission!

Take some time to pray and reflect through your emotional health. Allow God to speak to you. He will direct you to what needs to start to change. In this we can operate at high levels of emotional health.

Be Blessed!!

Emotionally unhealthy characteristics: Which type are you?

The journey to emotional health can be challenging. Each of us suffer from things that need to be healed. It is nothing to be ashamed off. It is something to recognize and overcome.

In this post I am going to quickly chronicle the types of traits that people have that indicate an unhealthy emotional foundation. You will notice that you may have traits in several categories. I think the more traits you see the more emotional damage you may have. It doesn’t necessarily indicate deep emotional damage, but it can point the way to a deep seated damage that is in your subconscious.

Remember this is just what is SHOWN and not the ROOT cause. As we delve deeper into our emotional health series we will start to talk about root causes and how to overcome them!

Also remember that God doesn’t condemn so we shouldn’t either.

Romans 8:1 says this, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”   If you belong to Jesus there is no more condemnation for you. The Holy Spirit will convict you, but He will not condemn you. Only the devil condemns…

Just for fun I gave the traits relatable names.  They are gender neutral, and not meant to be leaning to one side or the other. These are only meant to show the types of ways we deal with emotional damage.

Also, when you go through these please resist the “Oh that is so and so…” thoughts. Use these as a self reflective model to determine where you are in your emotional journey.

The Tough Guy: This reminds me of all the old New Yorker mobster movies. You know the ones. Everyone would go around and hurt people and then chest bump as if they were on top of the world. Throughout the entire movie they were continually hurting people. They either they ignore the real problem or they don’t want to admit that they have a problem. To admit there is a problem is a weakness to them. You will never see vulnerability from these guys. They are too tough for that. So they will continually hurt people, and act as if they are just fine.

The Hero: This is perfectly seen in the movie The Incredibles. It is a story about Mr. Incredible. He has to be the savior. He has to be the Hero. He desperately needs people to look at him as someone who made a difference. However, he is closed off emotionally. He does not want people to see how weak he really is. The entire movie he pushes everyone important to him away. His excuse? “I have to be strong.” The whole movie he uses his savior complex to hide the fact that he is truly a messed up individual.

The Exploder: Some people are a bomb waiting for a place to go off. You know the type. If they feel threatened, attacked, or in anyway backed in a corner they will go on the offensive. The Exploder is someone who will use their offensive ways to defend. If you bring anything up they go into a verbal assault. The exploder will often hide what they truly feel until they explode then you will discover EXACTLY how they truly feel about you. Often times this damages relationships to a point of being unrepairable.

The Brooder:  Sits around and thinks all the time, but does nothing about it. If they get hurt they brood on it, but never want to talk about it. They will hide their true hurts and feelings deep down were no one can see them. The whole time they will continually brood on the issue, justify their actions while condemning yours, and then secretly become overly critical and judgmental. Often times lacking the courage to speak about the hurts that they have.

The Gossip: Did you ever hear the one about the person who…. The gossip will talk to everyone else about you, but never actually talk to you about the issue. The gossip needs to talk about the issues, but the problem with this is that they are not talking to the right people. Deep inside the gossip is a need to feel superior to the person who hurt them. They use their words to tear another down, and make themselves look like the victim. This produces a sense of justification for their gossip. Over the years I have noticed that those who yell about others being gossips are often the biggest gossips.

The Deflector: It is always someone else’s fault. It is never their fault. To take personal responsibility is hard for this type of person. To admit responsibility is to admit weakness and vulnerability. I have also noticed that many who show this type of personality often times deflect everything and anything that approaches their emotional base. They don’t want to talk about anything, because they feel it makes them vulnerable. The deflector avoids vulnerability at all costs.

The Overly Needy: When an individual needs you to the point that they are utterly dependent on you it creates a problem. If you are overly needy it is generally because you feel that your needs were rarely (if ever met) in the course of your life. The overly needy attach themselves to certain people in order to gain what they feel that is lacking. The overly needy person will often times become very jealous of others. This happens when another takes time from the person that the overly needy is attached to.

The Isolator: When someone faces conflict they become emotionally and physically unavailable. They withdraw from the world. They do not want to deal with the issue. They want to run from the issue. They cannot emotionally handle situations so they run from everyone. They may stop coming to events. They may not come to fellowship or functions. They withdraw because they do not want to to deal with emotional overwhelmingness of life.

The Control Freak: They need to exert control in every situation. They truest form of the micromanager. Every aspect of their life must be under their control. They often are very outspoken people who show little to no compassion for others. Their lives have been in such chaos that they need to bring their perception of order to their lives. The control freak struggle just participating. They justify it by saying they are wired to lead, but truth be told they don’t like to be told what to do. They also have a hard time trusting others. So to allow others to be in control is difficult for them.

There are more then these, but I wanted to leave it to a smaller list.

Each of us struggle. Each of us have emotional damage. Each of us deal with a level of unhealthiness. Our job is to recognize them, put them before the Lord, seek counseling, and strive to be the healthiest version of you!!

May your journey to health be filled with victories!

Health for the hurting.

Dysfunctional is the new normal. Years ago being “dysfunctional” or coming from a “dysfunctional” home was not really the social norm. Now a days being dysfunctional is normal.  It is not unusual to hear another’s story that includes abuse, broken families, or a slew of other childhood baggage.

Ignoring our pain has also become normal.  We all have it. Pain that is.  It is deep in our core. It is lurking around our deepest memories waiting to show it’s ugly head. Instead of working through it we have ignored it.  We have convinced ourselves that we are over a certain pain or situation. However, every time certain situations occur we find out very quickly that thing we convinced ourselves that we were over was only being covered up.

If we are honest with ourselves we would recognize how messed up we really are. Somewhere in our minds we want to truly believe that we are healthy individuals. That our emotions, thoughts, actions, and behaviors all match up in a very positive way. The truth is that they often times do not. We struggle to control our emotions. Our thoughts often times are dark and brooding. So much so that we mask our true thoughts with good actions.

The ravages of sin are apparent. The pain, the hurt, the dead feelings we experience, and the denial of truth. All of it raging in our souls. All of it fighting to overtake us. To make matters worse not only are we fighting our own sin and pain we are also dealing with other peoples pain. We are trying to work through our own junk while others are projecting their junk on us. However, the same can be said of us as well. We project our issues and junk onto others.  In truth, we are damaged and unhealthy in our soul.

We would prefer to cover up our damage instead of finding healing. This is the most heartbreaking news. To hide damage and convince ourselves, and others, that we are really okay, but in reality we are not okay. We need healing in our soul.

Soul Health, also known as emotional health, should be the goal we push towards. To work towards finding healing so that we can operate at the potential that God has placed in us. In reality, if we are not healthy then we will continually sabotage our lives and potential. That has to be one of the hardest things to swallow for me. To know I am full of potential, but I can potentially destroy my ability to obtain it, because of the sickness in my soul.

Emotional health is a word that is used often with no definition. So let me define it for you. Emotional health is not the absence of emotions, but it is your ability to understand the value of your emotions and use them to move your life forward in positive directions. The more emotional health you have, the more self-esteem you have. This means you do not frequently react with knee jerk responses, anxiety or panic to the events that occur in your life.  Instead, you are usually calm and patient with yourself and others. You are an emotionally safe person to be around because you feel emotionally secure.

Emotionally healthy people do not judge or criticize others. This is because they have learned not to judge and criticize themselves. Emotional healthy people are able to erect strong boundaries in their lives and not feel insecure about them.

Emotionally healthy people know the value of relationships and do all they can to grow and maintain them. Emotionally healthy people are able to be vulnerable. Emotionally healthy people are able to maintain emotional security in the face of others unhealthy expressions of their brokenness.

We must push towards emotional health. The greater level of soul health the great our contentment with this life.  The reason many of us are so miserable is because our pain continually drags us down. Let me give you a few things that may help you on your journey towards emotional health.

1. Recognize that you need healing.

The hardest step is admitting that you need help. To admit that we need help is to admit that we are not as whole or as good as we want to believe.  Admitting you need help takes courage (lots of it) and vulnerability. Especially when you realize that everything you are going through is truly caused by your responses. Sure others have a part to play in the issue, but you are the master of your response not them.

Let me give you a word of caution. Sometimes our soul is so damaged that we cannot see that we are the problem.  If the same issues are happening over and over no matter where you are at then you are the problem. Let that sink in. You are the source of the problem. Once we can accept that we can move on with our healing.

What is revealed can be healed. Recognizing your weak spot is the key to your inner healing. Once you are aware of your need for healing then you can get on with your healing. If we don’t come to a place of recognition of our need for healing then we will never find the healing that we need.

2. Accept that God is the only one who can heal us.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. God heals all wounds. God uses time. However, we must always remember that it is God who heals and not time. I think this is tough for us to grasp. We hope and pray that time will cover and heal, but all time does is gives us distance from the pain. The greater the distance the more we can ignore it.

God wants you healed more then you do. I think we forget this. God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us. In the crucifixion we can understand that healing is involved in God’s plan for salvation. Not only has God given us access to heaven (ultimate healing), but he also wants us to experience healing (inner healing) in this life. God has sacrificed everything for us.  His desire for us is great then we can comprehend. If God was willing to sacrifice Jesus then we have to know that He is willing to do whatever it takes to bring about our healing.

When we take it out of God’s hands we lose the power needed to find healing. So many of us have the “I can do it” attitude. We think that we don’t need anyone. That God is there as a spectator and not a participator. When we live our life from this perspective then we are left powerless and unable to find healing. God is the creator and sustainer of all life. Through Him we can find healing. God is not a spectator and desires to participate in our lives.

3. Recognize that we have a part in our healing.

God is the healer. There is no greater truth. God expects you and I to take responsibility in the healing process. No one else can do it for you. The greater the degree we own our healing the greater the level of healing we can achieve.

God uses different methods. The interesting thing with Jesus is that you couldn’t pin Him down to a method. He had progressive healing, instant healing, and healed through others. There was consistency in healing, but there was no consistency in the method. Sometimes Jesus spit in people’s eyes and other times He just prayed. The method shifted, but the results (healing) was going to happen.

Our response and ownership of God’s methods can enact or deny our healing. We are naturally rebellious. We don’t want to do anything we haven’t deemed adequate.  We see this best in the story of Naaman. He went to the prophet Elisha with a contagious skin disorder.  Elisha told him to wash in a  certain river. Naaman refused, and was not healed. Then Naaman was c convinced to bath in the river. Naaman was healed. When we  obey God’s ways we will find healing. When we ignore God’s ways we will not find healing.

4. Take practical steps towards that healing.

a. Keep a journal.  One of the most therapeutic methods to find healing is journalling. When I journal I do it prayerfully. Armed with an attitude of prayer I can write my pain and allow my words to intersect with God’s Spirit. This simple act can produce powerful results.

b. Reach out to close friends. You can’t do life alone. We all have to have someone to talk to. I am not saying talk to everyone. That would be unwise. I am saying to find 1 or 2 people that you can trust. If you say “I cannot trust anyone” then that statement should be an indication of how unhealthy you are. We all need to trust someone. We are not an island, but a community.  We all need someone.

c. Don’t be afraid to see a counselor. There is this running fear of counselors. They are trained professionals with the tools we need to move forward. We have to get over our fear and realize God uses doctors. Luke, The Bible writer, was a doctor. If Luke was a doctor, and he wrote a Gospel book, what makes you think God won’t use one now? If you are hitting a wall in your healing then I HIGHLY suggest you see a trained professional.

d. Pray.  Continually stay in contact with the ONE who made you. When we stay in contact with the creator then He can lead the created (us) into the path of healing. With every step we make we have to pray. When choosing friends, doctors, or methods of journaling we need to pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Then pray some more.

Over the next several post I am going to chronicle the difference types of emotionally challenged people. I am also going to help define some ways to overcome each type.

I would love your thoughts! Post a comment! Follow us on Social Media!

Blessings

Jim