ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING

LEADING AN INTENTIONAL LIFESTYLE


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Fear Drives Us Away From What We Love

We all have our fears. Whether it’s being rejected for who we truly are, failing to meet expectations, or being afraid that you will never be able to accomplish your dreams… we all have something we are afraid of. What are you afraid of?

Intimacy

Being willing to put yourself out there—to be fully known—is hard. When we open up and let someone see who you truly are we open give people the opportunity to accept or reject us. This means being real and not putting up walls. That’s hard. Really hard. It’s so much easier to preempt the possibility of rejection by not allowing people to see who you truly are or to place certain limits on the relationship to keep yourself safe. We tend to do this because of past experiences at times.

Your past.

Maybe you have already experienced the harsh rejection and feelings of immense failure because of a past relationship or risk you had taken. Maybe you actually tried for that position but weren’t even considered. Maybe that special someone broke your heart by telling you they didn’t really care about you and were just using you. You just can’t bare the thought of going through something that painful again.

Loss.

Maybe you love your job so much that you’re afraid to take risks which might result in you losing your position.
Maybe you care too much about a relationship and are stifling the other person because you are anxious and afraid that you will lose them.
Maybe you are afraid that your values might change and you will lose something that was once important to you; what if you lose a part of who you are? Identity is something many of struggle with when we are afraid of losing something, because often we build ourselves (who we are) on our past accomplishments, who we hang out with, and what we do. When things change we might lose who we are, and that can be downright terrifying.

Failure.

Sometimes if we feel that if things don’t work out that something is wrong with us. We don’t want to accept that so we don’t even bother taking a risk. When things get serious, we back down and step away from the challenge. When it comes to relationships people jump ship before it has started taking on water. It’s much easier to walk away knowing that we have not failed because we have not tried rather than to accept the idea of trying.

Control.

Life is unpredictable certainty is something that is hard to come by. When something or someone begins to encroach on our plans it can feel suffocating and make us feel like we don’t have the space we need to be ourselves. We feel like we’re losing control and we don’t have the power to do what we want. This feeling can leave us crushed feeling like we cannot meet our needs and accomplish our goals.

So what?

What do all these fears have in common? Self-fulfilling prophesy, “If you believe it is happening/going to happen, you will react in a way that will cause it to happen…

Relationships are often cyclical in behavior:
When somebody pushes for more distance, the other person usually attempts to close the gap to reassure themselves of the relationship.
When you fear that your past will repeat itself you begin to treat the other person as if it already has happened.
When you are afraid of rejection, you will come off less confident and are more likely to be rejected.
If you are afraid of losing something, you probably wont take the necessary risks and it will be lost.

If you live by fear, you will find yourself in the passenger seat of life heading to a destination you don’t want to go—it doesn’t have to be that way.

There is hope.

In the same way Self-fulfilling prophecy can work against you; if you believe that something good will happen you will respond in a way that will encourage it to happen.
Live your life seeing possibility and hope there is no need for fear. Sure, everything won’t go according to plan, but things can be better when you believe that things will be different this time.

Trust people and let them get to know you for who you truly are and you will find people who accept you for your authenticity.
Give people the space they need and see that they will respect you and want to keep the relationship
Take those risks and you’ll be able to live life to the fullest.
Accept that sometimes you lose people and parts of who you are, and that’s okay.
Understand that your past is in the past and whatever you strive for is what you can have.

There will be times we all experience fear, just remind yourself the truth that fear is there to encourage you to reflect on the decision you are going to make. Just don’t let fear make the decision for you.

In all things and pray for wisdom and comfort.

God is big enough to handle all of this (and more.)


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What Valentines Should Be About

Today is valentines day.

A day to recognize the significance and importance of any and all relationships, both present and past.
A time to reflect on those who have made an impact and let them know the significance of impact they have had in your life. Many people often single out a spouse, fiance, significant other, or best friend, but today is about more than just one person—today is about a multitude of people.

Today is about showing gratitude to those who support you (both past and present). Valentines day is about telling your family how much you love and appreciate them being there for you when you failed a college course or lost somebody you love. It’s about their support when you learned to fly, leaving the nest and jumping off into the air of possibility when your wings were not yet strong enough to carry you; you fell to the ground. Your delicate dreams may have been shattered and broken, knocked from the pedestal by the academics you pursue. They helped you put the pieces things back together. They loved and accepted you regardless of your performance.

The only person valentines day is not about, is you. Though valentines day is supposed to be about someone else, ultimately we wind up focusing on ourselves. We may concern ourselves with whether or not we will be anyone else’s valentine. We concern ourselves with how other people will receive the gifts we give them on this special day; whether they will really appreciate the thought and effort that went into the gift you gave them. Or perhaps we will not be grateful for the gratitude that is shown to us because they did not give us a gift, their gift wasn’t what we wanted, or even because we think that the gift does not signify the importance of the relationship.

If you are bitter, jealous, angry, or sad today, take a moment to step back from your perception of the world and think about what it looks like to others. What does your brother consider loving? How does your mother feel appreciated? What really shows your peers, co-workers, or mentors what they mean to you? The real take home is asking yourself, “What does this person perceive as loving and how can I do that?” I don’t do this as often as I should, it can be really hard—emotionally draining in fact—not to mention it takes a great deal of vulnerability.

Love everybody. Does this seem a bit disingenuous? We tend to ascribe value to things based on scarcity. If a lot of people love someone, however, that person in return only loves a few, it really means something to be loved by that individual because they only share it with a few. On the other hand, if a lot of people love someone, and in return they love everyone back, their love is considered as less valuable. I find myself attempting to place a value on the relationship I share with someone based on how much support I receive, how often we talk, or even how much we are alike… but the reality is every relationship is different. You can’t really compare your relationship between you and your mother and you and your best friend. There is nothing for you to measure the value of the relationship against. We should show everyone how much we love or care about them—no matter what.

Love in a way that they can see. If you asked a thousand people what love is, you might get a thousand different answers; everyone has their unique take on things. We tend to forget that we as a people are different. We don’t all share the same definitions, values, beliefs or passions. We all have our differences, and it is out of those differences that our  world is built. Love them in a way that really connects and shows your understanding about them. Take their interests into account, as well as yours, blending together a unique flavor of love.

So as you go about today, remember to show gratitude to everyone in a way that they can see.


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Platonic Relationships

(This post is co-written by Luke Dehart and myself)

Growing up I was not your typical boy. I didn’t like to spit, wasn’t interested in sports, nor did I adapt many of the habits other boys did at my age. Not to say I didn’t have male friends, I did, but in a group setting it just seemed so much easier to fit in with girls. I think there were a few reasons for this, the big one being emotionally availability. In small groups at church there is this feeling of expectation, a pressure to share. But when I was in groups of women because of the perceived gender difference it was expected that I be “the tough guy”, allowing me to safely remain emotionally closed off in attempts to protect myself.

They did not ask about how my life was, where my spiritual journey was, or if I was experiencing any difficulties—perhaps because they didn’t think I would respond— feelings are supposed to be discussed with other men, not women.

In church we tend to polarize guy-girl relationships. If we talk to a member of the opposite sex about feelings, we should only do so in pursuing a romantic relationship (with the goal of marriage). If we are hanging out with too many girls, we may be called flirtatious and told to get more guy friends.

Shouldn’t women be able to trust the men that are in their life to be supportive? I think we can do better at this — I can do better at this — Platonic relationships are tricky. Because men and women were created different, communicating effectively and making sure you are on the same page is no easy task.

If you’re interested in having platonic relationships, then there are some guidelines/rules that  you might find helpful. Maintain a safe emotional distance between the other person by deciding not to talk about breakups, romantic interests, or whatever it is that might stir up feelings and jeopardize  the [platonic] relationship.

When platonic relationships bloom, they can be a truly beautiful and beneficial thing, but, how do you know whether or not you should pursue a platonic relationship with some one? Below are some thoughts that may help guide your decision.

  1. Can men and women be friends? You first have to believe it is possible. It wont matter what I tell you, because what you believe, you will.
  2. Why do you want to be friends?  Are you are trying to fulfill an unmet desire for intimacy? I suggest you to fulfill that need elsewhere or else you might find yourself in a one-sided friendship. Forming a friendship with someone you work with is a logical reason.
  3. Do you have the right circumstances? Do you have class, athletics, service, work, or some other point of contact? If the circumstances are not present, it wont work no matter how hard you try. In a non relationally focused way
  4. Be accountable. Accountability is important in all areas of our lives, however, having it is crucial that you are accountable if you plan on being in (or maintaining) a platonic relationship. Create an accountable environment to ensure success. Hang out in group settings, always stay in the public eye, and have those (same-sex) friends who call you out if they believe you act inappropriately, never hang out alone.
  5. History has influence. Have you been friends? Were you romantically involved at one point in time? If so how has your friendship changed, developed, and matured?  Have you found yourself wishing for a romantic relationship with this person? It is difficult to form/maintain a platonic relationship with past romance. Time may heal wounds, but it does not wash memories away. Old feelings usually resurface in some form and will have to be dealt with.
  6. Be honest, at some point in time you will have friends of the opposite sex in which feelings start developing and you will have to decide if you would like to pursue a deeper relationship with that person and date them or not. If you do decide you would like to date the other person, talk to them about it that way you both are on the same page.
  7. Be mature. The biggest problem when it comes to opposite sex friendships (or relationships of any sort) is immaturity. Try to understand why the other person is behaving the way they are. What are they feeling? What has been going on in their life? Use those critical thinking skills that are so often lacking in society, because if you don’t, you probably will end up with a lot of frustration.

    —If you have friendships that do not line up with the guidelines above, I would seriously recommend re-evaluating those relationships and why you are in them.