4 Tell-Tale Signs That You’ve Become Your Own Worst Enemy

I’m afraid I’ve created a monster when it comes to the dinner table. Allow me to elaborate…my childhood habits and the genetics I’ve passed on to my child have come back to bite me! When I was a small child, my mother and I battled every single night; the source of our epic conflict? Me….completing the daunting task of eating the food on my plate. Such a simple thing to ask a child right? Wrong….not when that child was me. I would sit at the table for hours in front of my plate full of food, while my poor mother tried everything in her power to convince her stubborn child to eat. I pulled out all the stops; scooting all the food to one side of the plate, hiding it in my napkin and under the placemat, even taking a bite and going to the “bathroom” where I would throw it away in the trash can.

Dylan at the Dinner Table 2015Fast-forward thirty years; except this time I’m the frustrated mom trying to convince my sweet three year old son to at least eat two bites of his dinner. I mean really! I’m not even asking him to finish his plate!  I just want him to swallow his food!

Much to my dismay, the child would rather sit at the table for an hour with his food stuffed in one cheek, with tears streaming down his face, instead of chewing it up, swallowing it, and being done with it. Hmmm….he gets his stubborn disposition from someone….I wonder who…..

As I watched my little guy torture himself in our most recent dinner table confrontation,  by refusing to chew his food, making his predicament so much more painful than it needed to be,  I couldn’t help but relate his struggle to the ones we can all face from time to time in our lives.

The struggle I am referring to is the one we seem to have with the person who can be our biggest, most powerful nemesis….ourselves.

Have you ever known someone who is struggling in a situation in their life, and you, being the “objective party” can see clearly that they are their own worst enemy. Their habits, their mindset, or even their actions are working against the end-goal, but there’s no way to reason with them.

No doubt, this is a horrible situation to be in….but have you ever taken the time to take the astute observations you made with someone else, and apply them to yourself? Have you ever taken the time to look at your own circumstances and see if you could potentially be doing the same thing to yourself?

We’re all human, which means we all struggle in life from time to time, and it also means we have the potential to become our own worst enemy and make situations much harder than what they need to be. Not sure how to tell?  Here are some signs to look for.

4 Tell-Tale Signs That You’ve Become Your Own Worst Enemy

1.  You Constantly Find Yourself Hiding Behind Excuses When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Intuitively, it may make sense to us  to make excuses for why we fail, or things don’t work out the way we’d hoped, or why mistakes were made. It’s self preservation at its finest…right? Wrong. By hiding behind excuses, we allow ourselves to escape the accountability that is so necessary for us to move on and grow from the circumstances we experience.

The next time you find yourself in an unfavorable situation, instead of making excuses for why things happened the way they did, look for the real reason things went south and address it head on. Face the demons so to speak. When you can be real with yourself, you can make real progress in moving forward.

2.  You Notoriously Blame Others for Your Misfortunes

It’s so easy and convenient to point the finger at everyone else around you instead of owning your own responsibility in a situation. No matter how much wrong someone else may have done, there is always an opportunity to own your role in things. If we don’t, we develop a toxic state of mind called “victim mentality.”

The bottom line is simple. No matter what external forces are working against us, the person ultimately responsible for how all of them influence your thoughts, actions, and beliefs is you.

3.  You Fill Your Vocabulary with “If Only’s”

Two words that can ultimately be the catalyst to your demise. Life is never perfect, there is always going to be a better option, an easier path, or a more feasible way. “If only” never goes away, because things could always be potentially better when those two words consume your vocabulary. So, get rid of them. Learn the value of adapting and overcoming with what you have. Trust that the resources that are available to you are exactly what you need to make it work. The bigger purpose to things may not present itself right away…but eventually it will, as long as you don’t clutter your perspective with those two little words…

4.  You’re Habitually Overly Critical of Yourself

Being transparent, this is where I personally struggle the most. If I’m not careful, I can easily become my own worst critic. This is a slippery slope; while it’s healthy to be open to ways to improve, if you’re so critical of your actions that you don’t recognize growth and achievement, then you never  allow yourself to be “good enough.” The danger in this is stealing your own joy. It’s impossible to be perfect, so why hold yourself to an impossible standard? Strive for excellence, and be happy with your very best, even when it falls short of perfection.

Life is filled with many opportunities to go to battle with the all-powerful worst enemy named “Self.” You will surely meet this infamous villain once or twice along the way, and when you do, remember to arm yourself with the tools to recognize the biggest weapons he or she may use against you. When you do, you’ll walk away the champion of one of the most difficult battles to fight.

Is there a time in your life when you recognized you were your own worst enemy?

3 Resources to Help You Through Challenging Times

With two weeks of being a Texan under my belt, I can personally confirm that everything in Texas in indeed much bigger! What a whirlwind this move has been. Leaving the comfort of the familiar, and having to acclimate to the ways of a big city has certainly been a challenge.

It’s been much harder than I imagined, leaving my close friends and family, my home, and my life in Florida; but it didn’t hit me just how hard it was until my husband had to return to Florida. My job started first, so I had to go first. I was lucky to have Greg here with me for the first week while I got settled in, but when he left, it opened the floodgates of all the emotion that was building up.

Being separated is never fun, but unfortunately it’s our reality for the next several months. Even though we’ve been separated several times before, I’ve become rather spoiled having a partner in crime readily available for all life throws at me. While he’s still only a phone call away, and still ever present at heart, it’s a lot different not having him here.

This situation has been hard, and I’ve had moments where I’ve felt so alone, despite the love and support of my family and friends. Have you ever been there? Feeling like it was you against the world? Sometimes life leads us to these moments that force us into reflection. Those moments, as challenging as they are, can often bring us priceless insight.peir

Perhaps you’re in a similar situation, or you know someone that is. If that’s the case, don’t let the discouragement take over. Instead, focus on the value you can gain from the experience.

3  Resources to Help You Through Challenging Times

The Value of You

While clearly not my ideal scenario, this situation has forced me to focus more on someone I notoriously neglect….myself.  We all know how important it is to take care of ourselves; yet we often make that our last priority after everyone and everything else.

As a mom, wife, career woman…you can call me “guilty as charged” in this case. Now, I have a lot more time available to fill. I could sit around and feel sorry for myself (which I admit I did initially) or I can use it to my advantage. I’ve gotten back on track with some personal goals that I’ve let slide for a long time. It’s been a healthy reminder of how beneficial spending some time on yourself is.

The Value of Where You’ve Been

Being in a completely new situation, I am constantly reminded of the value of where I’ve been. The experience I’ve gained and the people I’ve known have been such an integral part of who I am today. Sometimes we don’t realize how much our past prepares us for our present. The life experience, invaluable friendships, and special memories are something you carry with you forever.

Those things serve as a compass of sorts when it comes to what’s next. Lessons learned are some of the most valuable tools we have for shaping our future.

The Value of Where You’re Going

Change is incredibly scary sometimes. The fear of the unknown can often overwhelm us. What if, instead of looking at it like a big scary open space of unknown, you see an enormous blank canvas in front of you instead? Black hole of doubt and uncertainty….or a canvas of opportunity? I know which one I choose!

The point is,  don’t forget to see the amazing opportunity that comes with change. You get to paint the future with new memories and experiences. Why not do everything you can to make it the most beautiful piece of art?

Remember, every day is a gift, even the challenging ones. When you have those days, remember the valuable things that can help keep you focused on what’s important.

Today’s Challenge: Make every moment count…especially the challenging ones!

The 3 Essential G’s that Make a “Good” Goodbye

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.”~Ivy Baker Priest

saying goodbye to floridaAfter eight years filled with some of the most significant moments of my life, it’s time for me to say goodbye to Panama City, Florida. Over the last several weeks, I’ve found myself in many moments of deep reflection of the times I’ve had here. It’s where my husband Greg and I started our marriage, where we bought our first house, where I started my career as a Physician Assistant, and where our children were born. It’s been our home; a place where some incredible people have crossed my path and had such profound impact on my life.

Saying goodbye; moving on to the next chapter, has been far from easy. To be frank, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. Often times we don’t realize the significance others bring to our lives, or even the influence we have on theirs…until we face that moment when we part ways.

When it comes to goodbyes, there is one thing that is certain; we all have to deal with them at some time. Whether it be due to a relocation or the loss of a loved one, we all face  it.

As I deal with it myself in this particular time in my life, sure it’s painful, but I’ve found comfort in knowing three essential things that should come with every goodbye.

The 3 Essential G’s that Make a “Good” Goodbye

1. Grace

To have grace is to love, to forgive, and to extend kindness. There are some times when perhaps we actually welcome saying goodbye. It’s something to look forward to because it means you no longer have to exist in your current situation, or you no longer have to deal with difficult individuals or stressful circumstances. In this case, the change is a great thing; however, that doesn’t mean you should leave on a bad note. Leave with grace. Remember the Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you.”

No matter what the circumstance may be, extend grace. End it on a good note. Forgive. Let go. Move on. By doing so, your heart becomes lighter. The pain of a bad experience isn’t nearly as heavy, and you prepare yourself to be in the right state of mind for whatever comes along next.

2. Gratitude

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie

Such a powerful thought isn’t it? When it’s time to say goodbye to a part of your life, take the time to be grateful for the value it’s brought to you. Be grateful for the people you met, the connections you made, the influences you benefited from, the experiences you endured and the memories you made. All of these things have played an important role in a part of your life.

To acknowledge the blessings despite the pain of letting go helps ease the transition. Allow yourself to feel grateful; let the joy outshine the sadness.

3. Growth

Every moment of life is an opportunity to grow. Every failure, every victory, every smile, every tear, and every goodbye brings us the precious gift of growth. We have an opportunity to become the best version of ourselves through all that we experience.   Take with you the knowing that goodbye brings with it the chance to not only reflect on the lessons learned through those experiences, but also to apply it.

As we start the next chapters of our lives in Texas, I want to extend the most genuine and heartfelt thanks to our friends and family in Florida. You have made our time here the most memorable and important years of my life. You will always have a special place in my heart and your impact will never be forgotten. I look forward to sharing a new Texas perspective with each and every one of you. What a blessing to have such incredible people to miss. Until we meet again my friends….

How has “goodbye” impacted your life?

Have an amazing day and please feel free to share!

Please Forgive a Temporary Hiatus

change_aheadI need a huge favor from you! I need you to excuse my temporary hiatus over the last couple of weeks. My family and I are undergoing some very big change; we are in the midst of relocating to Texas!

It is a huge blessing for us, and we are very excited, but it has been a whirlwind of logistics and details. I’ve tried to sit and focus on creating a new post, but my mind honestly seems to be stuck in boxes and packing tape right now.

There is a lot brewing in my head, and fresh new material for the blog is on the horizon; but I will need to get through the next week before it happens.

In the meantime, I’d like to point you back to the series I posted recently on Change. I’ve had to remind myself of my own advice recently, and in doing such, I think it’s a great opportunity to do the same for you.

So thank you for your patience and be rest assured this whole experience will generate some great new material.

I hope everyone has a great week!

3 Critical Areas for Healthy Habits

Delilah and Cone of Shame 2015Meet my pug Delilah. Yes, I do realize she has a very large, ridiculous, blue inflatable device around her neck. Believe me, that thing is pretty unavoidable. We’ve lovingly dubbed it her “cone of shame,” courtesy of the Disney movie “Up.”

The most logical next question bouncing around in your head has got to be; “Why?”

Well, allow me to explain. My sweet little pug Delilah has apparently developed allergies over the last several years, which cause her skin to get irritated and itchy. When she has a flare up she will lick, scratch, and bite her paws until they bleed.

After a course of oral steroids, antibiotics, topical anti-allergy shampoo and lotion, and a hefty vet bill, we can get her skin under control. Here’s the problem; over time, flare up or not, her licking and biting has become a habit. The minute her “cone of shame” comes off, she starts going at it; the right paw being her most frequent target.

As silly as she looks, we know without the cone she would continue to hurt herself. So, there you have it; a pug with a beautiful, and permanent new accessory. Believe me, settling on the blue thing was no easy decision. She literally chew threw and broke about five previous cones. Thankfully, we seem to have found one that works….at least for now.

Delilah, her cone, and her harmful habit got me thinking; perhaps we humans could benefit from such a protective device? Think about all the self-destructive habits we seem to acquire over the years. Could you imagine us all walking around with big blue inflatable “cones” to protect us from ourselves?

Ok….maybe not such a good idea, but it certainly argues a good point. Since a cone is out of the question, perhaps awareness of three areas in our lives we need to be protective of our habits will have to suffice.

3 Critical Areas for Healthy Habits

Your Influences

Influence manifests through many different resources; the material you read, the television you watch, the people you surround yourself with to name a few. Our influences can shape our opinions and thoughts which in turn shape our actions.

Be protective of what you expose yourself to. Remember the importance of being selective with who and what you decide to let influence you. Ensure the people you invest the most of yourself with are those that bring value to your life, and you to theirs. Surround yourself with things that motivate you to be awesome.

How You Spend Your Time

How many times have we all been reminded by our elders just how precious our time is? As we age, we all recognize how true that really is, yet we still tend to forget to heed the advice of those much wiser than us. We can waste the precious hours of the day so easily by spending it doing things that have no value or purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, we all need our “down time,” but the point is to be intentional about it. Don’t waste a day in front of the television or video games when you could be enjoying the beautiful outdoors, or having a great conversation with someone you love. Don’t spend your time feeling sorry for yourself for all the unfortunate things in your life, instead, spend it trying to make positive change.

The one thing we all have an equal amount of is time. Make yours something you’ve spent wisely.

What You Put Into and Do to Your Body

Maintaining healthy habits when it comes to our bodies can be incredibly difficult. We are a society that likes instant gratification, which means we don’t always make good decisions on what we consume. We do things like smoke cigarettes, drink too much alcohol, and eat unhealthy foods. Sometimes, we ingest even worse things.

In addition to the bad things we like to consume, we can easily fall into a rut when it comes to our physical health. We stop taking care of our bodies by not exercising, poor posture, not watching our weight, or not taking the necessary preventative measures to avoid long term health problems.

Here’s the thing; your body is your vessel. The better you take care of it, the more farther it can take you. If you remember to get the oil in your car changed every 3,000 miles, then there are no excuses why you can’t invest in some healthy habits to maintain your physical health.

Habits shape who we’ve been, who we are now, and who we become tomorrow. Make sure you’re developing and nurturing the ones that will help you be the best version of you. Be protective of your influences, how you spend your time, and how you take care of your body.

How are your habits impacting your life?

Know someone who would enjoy reading this? Please share!

2 Secrets to Catapult You to Greatness

Recently I took a trip to Montgomery, Alabama. While I was there I had the honor of walking through the house that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once lived in. Our tour guide was an amazing lady who was once part of his congregation and knew him personally. IMG_0815I found myself in awe listening to her tell us stories of this man, his family, and many others that were so influential in our nation’s Civil Rights Movement. I enjoyed each and every room we saw,  but it was in the kitchen that I found myself speechless.

It was in the kitchen she told us the story of a defining moment in Dr. King’s life. It happened while he sat at the very table I stood in front of. He had been actively leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott for about a month, which prompted multiple death threats daily. All the calls and letters began to take a toll on him; his courage began to waiver and he began to question his role in the movement.

That evening he’d been out late at a meeting arriving home around midnight. Exhausted after a long day, he began to get ready for bed and the phone rang. The voice on the other end spat out cold and threatening words saying, “N…., we’re tired of your mess. Leave town in three days or else we’ll blow up your house and blow your brains out.” When he heard this, Dr. King hung up the phone immediately.

He tried to go to sleep, but understandably shaken, he couldn’t. He walked into the kitchen, put on a pot of coffee and sat at the table with his head in his hands. Then something happened. He began to pray, and suddenly heard a very distinct voice speak to him, “Martin Luther! You must stand up for the truth, you must stand up for justice, and you must lead these people to righteousness.”

The guide explained that it was in that moment he regained the strength he needed to continue on. He knew it was his purpose. Three days later, the house was bombed. Thankfully no one was injured, and as we all know, Dr. King stayed the course and our country was forever changed because of it.

I left the tour feeling so blessed to have heard this story. It stayed with me for quite some time. I really thought about Dr. King and the things he accomplished in his life. He lived his life with such purpose and perseverance despite so much adversity.

We each have such unique and important things to offer in our own right, but all too easily we can become blind to the greatness we all have the potential to reach. We can let the weight of the world weigh us down and tempt us to remain in the “status quo” where it’s safe. If only we had the strength and courage to move past our struggles and into a place where we can bring greatness to the world.

The Two Things that Can Catapult You to Greatness

Recognize and Fulfill Your Purpose

The older we get the faster time seems to go by. The days can seem to run together as we become consumed by our routines. While this is a natural occurrence, it’s so important to make those days count.  I completely and wholeheartedly believe that each and every one of us has something special to offer, a purpose that we are meant to fulfill with the precious life we are given. When you can recognize what it is that you can offer to bring value to the world around you, then you begin to look at life with a whole new perspective and focus.

Recognizing your purpose is hard enough, but actually fulfilling it can be even harder.  It can be quite intimidating…even scary. Can you imagine the fear that Dr. King battled every single day? A great friend and mentor of mine once told me,

Courage comes from a sense of destiny.  The secret to your destiny is being able to surrender to God’s plan for you.”

When you have purpose you gain focus. When you have focus you gain courage. When you have courage you take action. From action, greatness can occur.

Don’t Let the World’s Opinion of the Life You’re Meant to Live Dictate the One You Do

There’s a fine line to walk when it comes to the influence of other people’s opinions; on one had they can help you to grow, but on the other, it’s easy to fall victim to them. When we listen to the “world” and what it has to say, it can be quite disheartening. It fills our minds with discouragement, self doubt, and negativity that can paralyze us from moving forward. Can you imagine if Dr. King let the world dictate the life he was meant to live instead of fulfilling his purpose?

When the world gets loud, remember what’s important. Remember that you get to decide what you do with the experiences given to you in life. We gain significant value from the things we encounter as we grow; but when situations and the influence of others begins to feel heavy and unhealthy, protect your heart.

Live with a purpose. Don’t let the negativity of the world dictate the greatness you can offer to those around you.

We all have an opportunity to bring greatness to the world in our unique ways. Recognize and fulfill your purpose and avoid letting the negativity of the world paralyze you.  Life is a gift, and how we live it is how we show our gratitude.

Go make the most of this day! Please feel free to share with a friend!

 

Please Take the 2015 Back to Center Reader Survey

cropped-webpage-logo21.pngHey guys! I’m so humbled by the growing number of people that are reading my blog since I started it in October 2013. I want to continue to make it even better. My goal is to create content that is relevant and inspiring to you. In order to do this, I need to know more about YOU.

To help, I’ve created a reader survey.

Would you mind taking a few minutes to fill out this quick 10 question survey? By doing so, you will help me continue to create blogs that impact you. All of your answers are completely anonymous and will be used solely for the purposes I just mentioned.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Back to Center Reader Survey


2 Insights to Help Us Have Faith in the Bigger Purpose

Tera and Jenn Conference June 2015In 2009 I was in a very dark place. I’d returned from a deployment to Afghanistan that left me broken;  questioning everything about who I thought I was. After enduring six months of the horrible realities of war,  I felt like a shell of who I used to be.

I lived in a state of denial for over a year after I came home, but eventually my efforts to avoid facing the truth were no longer effective. I felt like I was drowning in an endless abyss of the anger, sadness, rage, and emptiness inside of me.

Eventually, I sought help, and was then diagnosed with PTSD. After the diagnosis was made, I began the long and painful road to recovery. If you’d told me then, that there was a much bigger purpose to my pain, I’m fairly confident I would’ve rolled my eyes in disbelief and promptly removed myself from the conversation.

I was recently reminded of that stage in my life, when I spoke in Alabama with the very special lady sitting next to me in this picture. Allow me to introduce you to Tera, a psychologist, and dear friend.

I’ve often referred to her as my “flashlight” during that painful time of my life.  In fact, if you’ve read my book 166 Days My Journey Through the Darkness, you’ve seen a special dedication to her on the first page. Tera helped me through my struggles with PTSD and equipped me with the tools I needed to find myself again.

Since my recovery, I’ve done quite a bit of speaking about my experience.  I’ve shared my story with thousands of people, and in doing so, I’ve been able to re-purpose all of the pain into helping others. This particular speaking event was extra special for me; because I was doing it with Tera. As I sat on stage with my friend, and we prepared to deliver our message, I found myself overwhelmed with a profound sense of gratitude.  It was amazing, and quite humbling, to be able to impact the lives of others with the person at my side who helped me through such a horrible time in my own life.

That deployment, dealing with PTSD, and many more struggles in my life, have taught me to have faith in the bigger purpose. Life can throw some big curve balls which can leave us searching desperately for a way to understand why things happen the way they do.  Often, the answer doesn’t appear as quickly as we’d like it to. But, when we can trust that there is a reason, a purpose to what we go through, we gain peace.

When you question life’s happenings, here are two insights to serve as a reminder that there’s a much bigger purpose:

The Power of Influence

The interactions that we have with each other are so powerful. Even the smallest moments we share in passing can have an incredible influence. Have you ever met someone who left a lasting impression on you? Has someone ever touched your life in way that prompted you to make a big change for the better?

To realize that our relationships have such an impact is quite humbling. Knowing this, imagine what a difference your experiences can make for someone else. The impact your story can have on another person can be profound. Use your experiences to mentor and grow others around you. When you do, you realize how much bigger than you that experience was.

Growth in Strength and Character

Growth does not occur from status quo, it requires a catalyst. Just like a plant will not grow without water, a person does not develop strength and character without challenges and adversity. In the midst of our struggles it can be almost impossible to see this, but when you can look back on them, and how we come through them,we  can appreciate the value they bring. When we can grow into better people from the circumstances we face, we can have a much bigger impact on the world around us.

 

Life is a gift. Trust that your experiences are about something much bigger that what we may be able to comprehend in the moment.

Have you had challenging moments in your life that have served a bigger purpose?

Valuable Insight On How To Approach Life’s Flat Tires

Yesterday on my way out the door from work I gave my husband Greg a quick call letting him know I was on my way home. His voice sounded frustrated, and as he spoke I quickly learned why. He’d been out training for an upcoming triathlon and was stuck on the side of the road with his bike changing a flat tire. I instantly offered to come and pick him up but he declined the offer stating “Nope, I’ve almost got it.”

About an hour went by and I finally got a call from him letting me know he was on his way home. I was relieved to know he was safe, but at the same time I wondered which version of my husband would be walking through that door. Greg is an amazing guy who openly admits sometimes his Irish temper can get the best of him. I braced myself for an earful of his frustrations as I heard the car pull into the garage. He walked into the house a few minutes later covered in sweat and dirt.  He looked exhausted and I chose my words carefully.

“Hi honey, how are you?”

He looked up and said simply “I’m better now, thanks.” He washed up and sat down at the table with the rest of the family and ate dinner, his mood was surprisingly pleasant. He laughed as he told me of his two hour struggle with learning how not to change a bike tire. He had been riding for just over 30 miles when his rear tire went out. He’d never had to change the rear tire before and couldn’t for the life of him figure out how to detach the wheel from the chains. He struggled for over an hour before he finally resorted to YouTube.

“Thank God for iPhones!” he joked, “The lady on the video made it so easy! The bright side is,  I know now I won’t be joining any Nascar pit crews anytime soon.” He went on to tell me of his frustrations at the time, but how he was able to move past them. He reminded himself throughout the situation to focus on the positive.  “It could’ve always been worse. I was only three miles from the car, it could’ve been farther. I wasn’t hurt, and while I didn’t ride as much as I intended, I was still productive with my workout. And hey! Now I know how to change a rear tire!”

greg bike

I was so proud as I listened to his insights. He reminded me of how life constantly throws unexpected challenges at us, often leaving us feeling frustrated and disheartened. So much of what happens in life is out of our control; but how we choose to handle those challenges is an incredible gift. We get to decide how we move forward and grow from it. There’s always a reason, a lesson, an opportunity for growth. If we are intentional about finding it, life becomes filled with purpose.

How can you make lemonade out of lemons?

Do You Know the 5 Types of Negativity That Can Steal Your Happy?

Griff and Jenn cleaning the poolThe past several weekends, my stepson Griffen and I have been working on a very tedious task. We have a saltwater pool, and it has developed quite a bit of calcium build up along the tiles. The only way to really get that stuff off is to scrape it with a putty knife. Not too big of a deal, until it came to the tiles on the bottom of the pool. Diving down to the bottom, scraping, coming up for air, and diving down again for several hours can get really old.

The more we scraped, the harder it seemed to become. And then, once we completed the bottom tiles, we moved on to the never-ending ones along the sides. Once they were all completely scraped, all the calcium we’d scraped collected on the bottom of the pool, making it look even worse than when we started. So, then I had to sweep it all up and finally get rid of it once and for all by vacuuming.

Needless to say, we did it; but it took us several days filled with several exhausting hours to complete the task. Despite the pain, once it was finally complete, it felt great to have accomplished what we did. As hard as it was, it’s nice to start the new pool season with a nice clean slate.

My pool tile maintenance adventure is not that different than the many aspects of our lives we have to maintain. Negativity can build up in our worlds just like the calcium can build up on the tiles.

If we let it continue to build, eventually it can take over and begin to consume our thoughts, actions and words. If we’re not careful, as we move into new seasons of our lives, we’ll carry all the negativity with us. To avoid this, we must maintain our hearts similarly to the way I had to maintain my pool. We have to learn to scrape off the build up of negativity and prevent it from weighing us down.

Talk about a daunting and tedious task! This chore makes  scraping the tiles of my pool look easy! And yes, it can be even messier. But, we have to find a way to let go of the things that muddy up the waters of our livelihood.

Pastor Andy Stanley has a similar comparison; he uses the analogy of re-painting a car or furniture. We all know what happens if you just add a new coat of paint on top of the old, peeling and cracked surface. So, as much as we don’t want to, we have to do the work of sanding it down, accepting that it will look a whole lot worse before it gets better. We know that if we don’t, we won’t get the outcome we desire.

Let’s look at the key areas we need to avoid excessive build up in.

The 5 Types of Negativity That Can Steal Your Happy

 1. Guilt

Guilt is one of those things that can eat away at the soul. When things don’t turn out as we plan, we immediately think of all the should’ve, would’ve, could’ve scenarios. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Looking at a situation retrospectively and evaluating how it could have been handled differently is healthy. But, when you let these things make you feel like a failure, and you alone begin to bear all the weight of a bad outcome,  it will bring you down to a place you don’t want to go. Instead, own and learn from your mistakes and let them go.

2. Resentment

To forgive is one of the hardest things we have to do. But, it’s also one of the most necessary. When we harbor resentment for someone who has hurt us, in a sense we let them win. If we continue to carry the pain of a wrong doing with us, we surrender to it.  To forgive allows you freedom to move on. It allows you to be purposeful with the pain you’ve endured.

3. Disappointment

If you ask any person of sound mind whether or not we should expect to experience disappointment at some point in our lives, every one of them will answer with a “Yes.” Yet, disappointment seems to continue to catch us off guard and has a tendency to steal our motivation. We try, fail, and often times because the disappointment can be so overwhelming, we quit. Don’t let disappointment make you stop, let it be your fuel to keep moving forward. To try and fail, no matter how painful, is still a step in the right direction. Regroup, and keep moving forward.  That may mean you take a detour, but don’t let it make you quit.

4. Bad Relationships

The influence people have on one another is profound. We see it so clearly in our children, especially as they enter into the teenage years and “peer pressure” begins to be on the forefront of discussions between parents and teens. Yet, sometimes as adults we lose sight of how dangerous bad relationships are in our lives. A bad influence can steal your happiness like nothing else. Be protective of who you let in your heart. Don’t be afraid to keep people at a distance. That doesn’t mean you aren’t kind and generous, but it means you don’t let them have an advantage point when it comes to your wellbeing.

5. Unhealthy Habits

We are indeed creatures of habit. When we develop unhealthy ones, it can become a catalyst to one bad decision after another. Be intentional with how you spend your time. We all have that little voice deep inside telling us if something doesn’t feel right. Listen to it. Your body, your mind, your soul, are the only ones you’ve got. Take care of them like they are the most precious thing you own…..because they are.

We all need to perform maintenance on the things that mean the most to us. Today, and everyday after, I hope you learn to recognize these areas where negativity can come in and steal your happy. When you do, you identify the areas you need to scrape away at the build up. Yes, the process can be tedious and even messy, but the being able to free yourself from what’s weighing you down makes it all worth it.

How does the negativity in your life influence you?

Thanks for reading! Have an amazing day and please share!