Authenticity: Keep it Real With Yourself [Part I]

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Many people say trust and honesty is the most important thing to keep a relationship thriving! The thought of believing a lie has had many individuals uncertain about dating or establishing a friendship with new people. No new friends we say, out of fear that new people will hurt us. So we start off with conversations like “Keep it real with me,” as a FYI memo so that the individual in question knows what is required of them. That is not an issue; the issue is that what we so desperately crave from others we don’t even give to ourselves… trust and honesty.

Many of us are not honest with ourselves. We repress our feelings, deny our needs and put our desires on the shelf. In order to bedaisies honest with yourself, you must trust yourself. How can you trust someone you barely even know? That’s right, I said it! Many of us do not even know who we are! You look in the mirror everyday and yet your reflection is a stranger.

Some of you have healthy relationships with others yet you may not understand that you also have a relationship with yourself. I remember watching a message by Joyce Meyer and she explained that we are with ourselves 24 hours a day… “You can’t get away from you” she said. You might as well be at peace with yourself.

Mr. Shakespeare said it best: “To thine own self be true!” That is the beauty of being authentic. The definition of authenticity is being true to one’s personality, spirit or character (thanks Webster). Many of us have not been authentic for different reasons. It may have been because of fear of rejection, self-doubt or we may feel misunderstood.

Let’s talk about how to be honest with yourself:

Start with writing!  Writing is my refuge. Once I start writing, I tap into my true feelings, I may not want to go there but the more I carry it, the heavier it becomes. Avoiding feelings doesn’t make them go away. I learned that quickly. When I do write, I am honest and uncut. Find an outlet that will help you tap into your thoughts and your feelings. Sometimes we become so skilled at repressing our thoughts and feelings that we disconnect from ourselves.

Accept how you feel and begin to  heal! Authenticity doesn’t mean, Screenshot_2014-01-03-18-04-27-1sugar-plum, fairy dust and gum drops. Every emotion is not tailored with smiles and bursts of joy. Being authentic can also trigger other emotions like: hurt, fear, pain, disappointment, despair and anger! These emotions may be challenging to deal with. I would not suggest dwelling in those emotions for extended periods of time, but pretending as if “all is well” when it is not, will not make the pain disappear either. Some of these emotions can be buried deep in your soul and you don’t even know it!

Pray without ceasing! Prayer is also a lovely place to be. I have learned being honest with God also helped me to be myself. (I will go deeper into this subject in  Authenticity: “Keep it Real with God” Part II).  Being authentic is connected to vulnerability. It may be difficult for you to articulate your thoughts to others at first, that’s okay, as long as you can identify how you feel about yourself. You must have a sense-of-self beyond who others say you are. Your likes, dislikes, values, preferences, opinions and experiences are all important because they are tied into who you are today.

Identify your truths in each realm: self, spirituality, love, career and family

What are your needs, wants, and desires?

What are you afraid of?

What are your core values?

What are your strengths?

What are your vices/weaknesses?

How can you grow?

What are you going to do to change?

Answer these questions privately, and without judgment of yourself. The answers to these questions may change tomorrow, but you have to evaluate yourself. When you start being honest with yourself… freedom will come. You are who you are, that is enough.

When you want to beat yourself up remember:

Grace Card: All in all accept where you are today and where you have been. You are in the human experience and you are becoming! One of my mentors always tells me when I am hard on myself “Progress not Perfection.”

Comment Below:

Why do you think it is difficult for people to be honest with themselves? What do you think holds them back? How are you honest with yourself?

 

Ride or Die

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How many times must you be embarrassed, disappointed, have egg on your face, or have to pick your face up off of the floor, before you realize that you are in several one-sided relationships. Your “boys” are not really there for you, your “girls” are simply using you, or your “man” is not really down for you!

I have had to reevaluate this phrase “ride or die” because interesting enough those who are loyal in many relationships the loyalty is not being reciprocated.

Check this out:

Are you the one your friend calls for moral support after a breakup or a mishap and when you need them they’re always “busy?”

Are you in an emotionally draining friendship with someone who you have to rescue or bail out of trouble all the time?

Are you in a romantic relationship with a man or a woman who demands total commitment and loyalty from you but he/she is clearly unfaithful?

Let’s get to it! START READING Ride or Die

 

Let it Roll: Life Lessons

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We are officially 9 days  into the New Year! Happy 2013!  While I sit and think about my future 2013 adventures, I started to reflect on 2012 and my experiences. 2012 was indeed a roller coaster, I had my ups and downs but thank God we made it through! I wanted to share with you some life lessons I have learned that will roll over into 2013 with me.

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1. Drop the Ball

Everything is not my responsibility

If you know me, you know I am someone who is proactive and takes initiative. What I have learned is that many people begin to expect that I will always come through. Which is great! I love being dependable, but the down side to that is I have been taken advantage of because of this very thing. Team work has become… Vicky’s work! Things that I was asked to “help” with eventually became my whole project. While I was stressed out and pulling my hair out, some people kicked up their feet and relaxed. Why? They KNEW I would “hold it down!” That was not fair!

I remembered what one of my professors told me long ago. She told me to drop the ball! Stop allowing people to take advantage. She was right. In order for some people to step up and take responsibility I had to step back… and drop the ball! I had to stop coming to the rescue by not picking up the slack. I also had to remind myself of what my responsibility was and that meant being honest with my own limitations.

Reflect: Where do you need to “drop the ball?” Are you doing way more than you are supposed to do in a relationship or a job? Are others slacking off while you work hard?

2. VIP seating

Experience has been a great teacher. After several disappointments, I have learned that everyone should not get VIP seating in my life. That was a hard call to make. When I started evaluating some relationships, I realized that I had several one-sided relationships. I realized that I deserve mutually beneficial relationships. One-sided unbalanced relationships will no longer suffice. It is time to assess ALL of your relationships and begin to evaluate the balance level.

Reflect: Do you have one-sided relationships/friendships? Are you giving more in the relationship than you receive?

3. Outlets… break out

2012 was very chaotic for me. One thing that I can say that kept me sane was outlets. I performed in stage productions entitled “Hoztage” and “Hispaniolove.” I enjoyed fun activities and events here and there. I wrote in my journal and performed my Spoken-word pieces. All the activities and things that I did, I called them mini vacations, a break from the everyday stresses in life. Although there was so much going on in my life, while I was “away” I made sure I enjoyed myself and stayed in the moment.

Reflect: What are some outlets, groups and fun activities that you can join to help you break away from the stresses in life?

4. I am Vicky Hear Me Roar

I found that in 2012 I was more comfortable with voicing my opinion to others. In the past I would repress my voice and my feelings by going with the flow. Some of my outlets are Spoken-word poetry and writing. For a long time I would only voice my true emotions on paper, in my journals or perform pieces that would depict how I felt. The past year, I became more and more comfortable with sharing how I felt with others even if others disagreed with me. I have learned that my voice is very important. I may have to roar here and there but I give myself full permission to ruffle some feathers! Besides, I find that it makes conversation spicy and interesting! I will continue roaring in 2013!

Reflect: Are you holding back your thoughts and going with flow? Is your voice being heard by those around you?

5. Pencil myself in

Making myself a part of my life has been a process for me. I started this Journey in 2010 it’s rolled over into 2012. I found that I had everyone else down to a science because I like to learn people and really understand who they are so I could relate to people better. What was happening was although I had everyone else down pat, I didn’t even really understand my needs, wants and desires. I made everyone a priority but I was not even a factor in my own life. So I had to learn to pencil myself in. That meant I had to be more aware of my value and understand that I mattered. I also accepted the fact that taking care of myself is NOT selfish, it’s actually healthy! I had to learn how to say “no” to others and say “yes” to me. This is still a process but it gets better with time.

When I find myself getting caught up in someone else’s situation. I remind myself of things that I need to do for myself. Balance is very important. Whenever I get out of balance, I do things for myself that make my heart smile. I also have great friends that remind me to take care of myself and that really keeps me balanced.

Reflect: Are you a priority in your life or does everyone else get first priority with your time, energy and resources?

Final Thoughts:

Be Sure to reflect on each point and see which areas you can grow in and make 2013 your best year yet!

What are some things that you have learned in 2012 that you would like to share with me? What are some of your 2013 future goals? Be sure to comment below!

Vicky S. Joseph

Vicky is vibrant and vivacious and she exudes versatility. With Her sparkling personality she wants to ignite moral change in individuals through creative expressions such as acting, writing, public speaking and poetry.

 

Be Honest With How You Feel

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What I find interesting is how society’s portrayal of feelings is forbidden. Strength is found in how you do not show emotion. For some, tears are viewed as a sign of weakness. This gives me the perception that some may even feel that we should “man up” and deal with our emotions, repress them, hide them, even lie about them. If we even dare to be real with someone about an injustice, we are being “too sensitive.”  No where do we talk about admittance of wrong doing or giving an apology.

Well, I say, be honest with how you feel. I remember someone hurt my feelings and after this incident.  I pulled them to the side in private and I shared my feelings. Mind you, I made sure no one was present and I poured on the transparency. “I want to be honest with you. I did not like what occurred the other day.” I made sure I gave examples of the offense; I was very clear and I got straight to the point. The response was “Oh Vicky, you’re just being sensitive.” This person immediately came into defense mode and started to pacify my feelings and justify their actions. I was confused, I made sure during the conversation I used my inside voice,  I used eye contact, I was not overly dramatic. I did not understand what was going on. I wanted a back and forth conversation, maybe we could even agree to disagree but I did not receive that. What I did receive was, the topic being dismissed along with my thoughts and feelings. I got a pat on the back and I was sent on my way.

After that situation, I reflected and realized that although the situation did not happen exactly the way I wanted, I was happy that I was honest with how I felt and I did not repress my feelings. This one incident did not stop me from sharing how I felt with others. If anything,  I learned that although someone does not validate my opinions and thoughts, I am still a person of value and so are you, your thoughts and feelings matter.  I also learned that although I fully expressed how I felt, I could not control how the other person received my message.

Having a serious conversation regarding a wrong doing that was done is not an easy conversation. It may even be uncomfortable, but brushing someone’s feelings under the rug does not make the issue disappear.  Furthermore, if there is not a resolution the issue will simply pile up untill the next offense.

Has this ever happened to any of you? You know, when you are being honest with someone and the other party automatically dismisses your feelings and  thoughts?

The Offended

If you want to have an honest conversation with someone regarding an offense, I believe you must first be honest with yourself. If something is bothering you it may be an indication that someone has crossed a boundary line, or may have been inappropriate. Somethings we can let roll off of our back and there may not be a need for discussion, but my issue is when we continue to repress how we feel and pretend that we are not hurt when we actually are.

Freedom to be yourself: Having relationships with individuals who give you the freedom to be yourself is a blessing. I find it interesting how people can be in relationships where they cannot be honest with how they feel, they cannot disagree with their friends, they cannot be themselves. If that is the case in some of your relationships, it is not healthy. If you are not allowed to be your true authentic self, is that relationship worth keeping?

Do not be concerned with the reaction– Sometimes we will not be honest with someone because of the fear of the other party misinterpreting what is being said. I’ve learned a long time ago, where communication is concerned, one cannot control the reaction of the other party. No matter how many times you practice in front of the mirror what you are going to say, your words may still be misconstrued.  Just because someone dismisses your feelings does not mean you should emotionally shut down. Simply present your thoughts as clearly as possible and it helps to find the approach that best suits the person you are going to speak to and go for it.

Timing is everything: If the offender is busy, preoccupied or rushing to get to a destination, that may not be the best time to bring up the issue at hand. Another example, addressing Sr. Michelle in front of the congregation on Sunday morning regarding her being late to usher board meetings may not be the best way to address the issue either. Addressing someone one-on-one, perhaps with a mediator or an objective friend who will not take sides can be helpful.  Some talks can be over the phone whereas other talks need to be face to face. Assess the situation and find out what works best for you and the person.

Forgiveness: Once the issue is out in the open, bringing it up at every potluck and family reunion is not conducive to having a healthy relationship and moving on. No one wants to be reminded everyday about something they did wrong. RT Kendell expresses in the book “Total Forgiveness,” forgiveness does not mean that you have forgotten the offense. When you choose to forgive (forgiveness is a choice) you are well aware of the offense, but you give enough grace to the person to not dwell on what happened. I have also heard recently in the “Employed By My Vision” workshop presented by: Darius Brown, where offense is concerned, We must Forgive and Love the person anyway.

The Offender

I received awesome advice once: People just want to be understood… Do you hear me? Can you feel me? Do you get me?

ListenWhen someone comes to you regarding an offense or a misunderstanding, what I would suggest is to listen clearly. This means when, not to think of a defense and jump into self-preservation mode (even if you disagree). Just hear what is being said without interruption. While watching “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” Iyanla Vanzant expressed clearly that when a tough conversation is taking place we may be so quick to defend our case we miss the important parts of the conversation. Once they have finished their case, reflect what the person has said. Ex ” Let me see if I am understanding you correctly, Yesterday when I corrected you in front of the whole dance team you felt as though I was trying to embarrass you intentionally.” Allow the person to agree with you your interpretation or disagree and give more clarification. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not understand what is being said.

Intention -As the offender it is your time to be honest with your intention. Maybe the person in question is very disruptive and you have corrected them several times privately but to no avail or maybe it was a bad joke and it was not appropriate and you ended up embarrassing the person unintentionally. What ever your intention was be clear, and share from your perspective of what happened. Hopefully there can be a solution. If that means a genuine apology or some cases both parties can agree to disagree. As long as there is a healthy dialogue and both parties are able to share freely there is progress.

Evaluation– Reflect back on the original issue and ask yourself some questions: Did I handle the situation the best way possible? How could I have dealt with the situation differently? What can I learn from this situation? What did I learn about myself? What did I learn about the other person?  From the answers you gather, you can use the experience as a way to grow in your relationship with that person. This does not mean to walk on egg shells, you can still be yourself in the relationship.

I’ve learned that in relationships, platonic and romantic there is a great deal of risk that takes place. You risk being disappointed, vulnerable, hurt, and even misunderstood. There are also great benefits from being in a healthy platonic or romantic relationship  as well, such as sharing common interests, relating to each other, and sharing love with another person.  The fact of the matter is, we can not be an island to ourselves and be completely isolated, we need one another. We simply need to learn how to coexist and communicate effectively. That means to be honest with how you feel and be aware of how our actions can affect each other.

 

Mixed Messages

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I saw this Facebook Status update along the lines of “Men/Women should not verbally claim they are involved with someone romantically when the other party has not confirmed the seriousness  of the relationship.” That statement makes perfect sense. If both parties have not consented to terms in which they both agree with, in terms of being in an “mutually exclusive” relationship, then unfortunately, one party may be sadly disillusioned.

Then I thought to myself. Why would anyone in their right mind ever claim to be  dating someone exclusively if both parties have not expressed that they are together officially? Then it dawned on me. It’s simple! Two words: Mixed Messages. Sometimes people make the mistake of “acting” as though they are completely into someone when they know in their heart of hearts they would never officially pursue a long-term relationship with that person.

We have all seen this case before. A case in which a young womans Facebook relationship status is “in a relationship” and her boyfriend status is “single” or vice versa. I remember an instance where a young man was asked about his girlfriend and he blatantly denied having a girlfriend. On the other hand, the young lady in question was publicly declaring that they were an item. Everyone was confused regarding this relationship. The way he interacted with her, based on the verbal cues, non verbal cues and even the body language we all assumed they were together. According to him they were not.  I wished he would have expressed that same sentiment to the young lady. Men and women alike need to be clear about their intentions when it comes to exploring a romantic relationship with someone, if not emotional scars may be a result.

How do we send mixed messages?

Terms of endearment: Baby, Babe, Boo, Sweetheart, My girl, Hun, Sweetie, My man, and Papi/Mami are more or less “pet names” that can be used for a girlfriend/boyfriend. In using terms of endearment when conversing in platonic relationships, it may change the dynamic of the friendship.

Touching: Keep your hands to yourself. Physical touch may be another way both parties can send mixed messages. Holding hands, arms around the shoulder or around the waist should not be appropriate for a friend. Hugging is okay; there is a thin line between platonic and romantic and whenever those lines get crossed, it causes confusion in the relationship.

Empty Promises: “I see myself spending the rest of my life with you,” “You would make a wonderful father to my children,” “When I get my life together, I am going to “wife” you up.” What is unfair is when people say these empty promises in their platonic relationships, it gives the person on the receiving end false hope that one day this platonic relationship will become romantic when in actuality, in many cases those promises do not pan out the way they were presented.

Boyfriend/Girlfriend Duties: Going to dinner with your “friend”  every night, spending an excessive amount of alone time together, meeting friends and the whole family, sharing of very personal information/items, and the like. In these cases, it is easy for the platonic and romantic lines to be blurred. This occurs when a friend is taking on boyfriend/girlfriend responsibilities when they do not have a title. When asked if this person is your boyfriend/girlfriend, you don’t know what to say because you don’t even know. What happens is because no one has an official title, one person may introduce the other as a friend. In private a conversation may begin along the lines of “What? I’m only a friend?” and that is where the drama begins.

Going to dinner and hanging out with a friend is not the issue, the issue is not having healthy boundaries. Without boundaries with the opposite sex this breeds confusion and hurt emotions, especially if one person assumes they are in a relationship when they are indeed not in a relationship. If there has been an extensive amount of mixed messages sent,  a conversation should be had about the stance of the relationship. The cool thing about being friends is that you can talk to your friend openly and honestly about your feelings. If the feelings are mutual, great! If not, hopefully it doesn’t ruin the friendship and both parties can continue to be friends. Be sure to clear the air so both individuals are on the same page.

 

Value Your Preferences

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I found something very interesting. The other day I was observing an interaction between a father and son. As they walked into the building, the little boy said hello to everyone one who was present. He was very confident and friendly.  Everyone was raving about his new hair cut. The little boy expressed that his hair was cut too short for his liking.  I was in shock. Even the father was surprised by his conviction.  This two-year old knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that his hair cut was too short and he would have preferred something different!

At a young age we knew we hated broccoli, brussel sprouts and the boogie man. We knew we liked Power Rangers, dance music and Blossom (for those who remember that show lol) what happened to us? Now, many of us don’t even know what we want anymore. Somewhere along the line our preference took a back seat.  I want you to know that your preference is very important.

I was at a place where I was so intertwined with others that I didn’t even know what I liked or what I wanted. Who is this Vicky person? Everyone’s issues became my issues; everyone’s wants became my wants. Meanwhile, I was repressing my desires. Eventually, what begins to happen is an internal conflict between what you want and what others want. While listening to a Terri Savelle Foy teaching entitled “Can you Imagine,” she spoke about honoring our preference even in the small details.

Here are some tips that have worked for me!

1. Separate, Explore, and Experiment: Sometimes being in a clique or a group of friends can stifle the “individual” voice. What can happen is everyone in the clique thinks the same, wears the same clothes, and the same hairstyles. All that is fine, but it doesn’t help if you are trying to find your own voice. Having similar interests with friends and family is great! The issue arises when you cannot distinguish your interests apart from your friends/family. Maybe a slight separation may be good. Nothing drastic. Ask yourself: What is your style? What do you like to do? Where would you prefer to eat? Exploration may mean joining a separate group or organization from your friends that sparks your interests. It may mean going to a different school, selecting a separate major. Try something new! Experiment apart from the norm; you’ll begin to learn more about yourself as time progresses.

2. Personality Tests: I love, love, love taking tests! Not the scary, ‘your whole academic career depends on it’ tests. No, I’m talking about personality tests. I love them! They give you a small look into some of your personality traits where  you discover things that you may have overlooked. A personality test won’t be 100% spot on, but it will help you to practice choosing your preference. Other tests that I like to take are career assessment tests, love language tests, and spiritual gifts tests. Each one of these tests, in their own right, will help you discover new things about yourself. It’s interesting that as you grow as a person, your test results may change over time.

3. Ask Your Creator:  (A) Ask God to help you on this journey to discover your preferences and ask God to reveal to you your true self.  (B) You can also interview those you have spent the most time with. You’ll be surprised the great things people can perceive about your character as a person.

4. Brace yourself: If you’re normally a go with the flow, accommodating type of person and you switch it up and start voicing your opinion and “keep it real,” brace yourself. Those who are close to you may be taken aback. It’s okay. When I started being assertive, it made some people uncomfortable. That did not stop me. I hope it doesn’t stop you. Your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and preferences are very valuable to the world; step out and discover your true self! “Dare to be Different!”

 

Moments with God

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I was supposed to go to a church function and my heart was telling me that I have unfinished business so I simply could not attend the church function. I made sure that everything was already set in place since I wouldn’t be there. I sent Powerpoint decks out along with detailed e-mail instructions, so everyone knew what to do in my absence. Nonetheless, I was going through withdrawal symptoms in the process. While sitting in a Wi-Fi café, random thoughts started to surface in my mind: “Who’s going to turn on the light switch if I’m not there? Did they receive my e-mail? Is everything okay?” Lo and behold, I didn’t receive any calls asking where anything was or how to do something. Everyone handled their fair share…business as usual took place. I had to calm down internally and be okay with that. In this café, I was finishing projects that I put on the back burner for a while. I got frustrated in my research and I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I prayed and asked God for help. The researching process became a lot smoother, because I was trusting God to help me.

When I completed my research I started reading the Bible and I was led to Psalm 33 v 16-20.

Psalm 33:16-20 New International Version (NIV) 16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

God was speaking directly to me at this moment. I wasn’t at a service; I was in a Wi-Fi Café. I started to cry. I remember praying to God regarding some of my inadequacies. God was now responding to me. The skills, titles, education will not be the MAIN contributing factor in my success. It is God who is the main contributing factor in my success. I then went on my former blog and started to read old articles I had written. Oh, the tears started rolling again. God wanted me to read examples of how he had given me the victory so many times before. I couldn’t believe it; my own blog was ministering to me. God has taken me so far. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for me next. I felt so close to God at that moment. Nothing in this world could replace that moment I had with God. I started to sing a song in my little corner and thanked God for that revelation. By all means I am not saying to neglect assembling together in a church setting. fellowship is very important. I listened to a Joyce Meyer message once and she said we can go to every conference, buy every sermon on cd, but nothing can equate to spending quality time with God. I heard what she was saying, but I don’t think it resonated with me until now.

Sometimes we get so busy in ministry that we forget about God. It’s crazy how God literally had to snatch me away from my routine just to talk.  Do you want a moment with God? God wants to speak to you as well; break away from the routine and spend quiet time with God.

 

Takers: How many times have you felt used?

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A friend of mine had a Facebook status along the line of, “Why is it that I am always there for people and when I need them, they are never around?!” I know firsthand exactly what she meant. I have been on the receiving end of a “Taker.” Let me tell you, afterwards you feel used, abused and even violated (I will be using the term “Takers” in a different manner from how it is used in the 2010 movie “Takers”).

Unfortunately, we have everyday relationships with “Takers!” “Takers” aren’t always strangers in our lives. Sometimes they are people we love. The Bible refers to a ‘taker’ as a leech. “The leech has two daughters. Give! Give! They cry” (Proverbs 30:15). What is a leech? A leech by its first definition is basically a bloodsucking parasite. The second definition of leech is “a person who clings to another for personal gain, especially without giving anything in return, and usually with the implication or effect of exhausting the other’s resources; parasite”(Dictionary.com).

In this context –> Drum roll please…. Taker = Leech!

As we continue, I want you to do a mental inventory of your relationships. Are there any individuals in your life that leave you drained after interacting with them? Do you experience many one-sided relationships in your life? Example: You Give and He/She takes.

Well, I may have some bad news for you. There is nothing that you can do to change the “Takers” in your life. Only Jesus can do that. All you can do is change your response to the blood thirsty “Takers” in your life. Here are several tactics that work:

(1) Say No!

Identify your true feelings. Many times we create these “Takers!” We are afraid of saying “No.” Be honest! If you really don’t want to let your friend “borrow” $900 (I say “borrow” because you know you will never see that money again. He hasn’t paid you back since 1999) say “No.” I know it’s hard. I am on the “No” Journey as well, so I can relate. Practice makes perfect!

(2) Be prepared

Be prepared for the guilt trips. “I thought we were boys,” “Hey you’re the God mother of my child,” “How could you do this to me?” I know we don’t want to hurt those people we care about, but we have to remember that we must take a stand to be taken seriously.

(3) Find Balance

It is okay to give of ourselves in a healthy manner. There is a thin line between helping and enabling. It is not easy to set boundaries. I have found it hard because I did not want to hurt someone’s feelings. I know how it feels to be used and taken advantage of. What is even worse when you need help those who you’ve readily been available for suddenly are not available to help you. I had to realize that if I am in a relationship where I can’t be honest with my friend, I should not be in that relationship. Learn where your responsibility to that person starts and ends. If you have evaluated your relationships and you notice you are giving way too much, start creating boundaries between you and that friend.

(4) Christians are not Doormats

For some reason, “Takers” like to pull the “Oh I thought you were Christian” card whenever they want to make us feel guilty about standing up for ourselves. In reading the book, “No More Christian Nice Girl,” I learned that Jesus was very straight forward. He said what He meant, and meant what He said. He was honest; when He disagreed with something, He spoke up for what He believed in and He was loving. As we are learning to be more like Christ, remember Jesus had a backbone! Don’t allow others to manipulate you into believing that Christians should Say “Yes” to everything. Let your “Yes” be Yes and your “No” be No (Matthew 5:37).

What I love about Jesus is that He had the perfect Balance. He knew when to speak up for injustices. When he was being bruised for our transgressions, He said nothing. He knew which battles to fight. Ask God for guidance in how to approach every situation.

(4) PRAY!

I can’t guarantee that you will NEVER be used or NEVER be taken advantage of, but the Bible says to pray for those who despitefully use you (Matthew 5:44).

 

Sticks and Stones

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Words are powerful. It was with words that God spoke this world into existence. It is interesting how words that are spoken to us evoke different emotions. I remember listening to a Creflo Dollar teaching discussing the impact of words. A common saying was being evaluated. I know you have heard it! I even remember saying it: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Sounds familiar? This common saying was considered to be misleading. Let’s be honest. If spoken negatively; words do hurt. They sting, they bruise and they penetrate to the depths of our souls. Words can encourage and they can also shatter an individual’s self esteem. Words that have been spoken to us can be a contributing factor to what we believe about ourselves today. Words connect with our core belief system. I remember each humiliating gesture and negative comment that was said to me by some of my peers when I was younger. Words that were spoken so long ago, I still remember clearly. Many of you can relate to what I am saying. Someone may have said some hurtful things to you from your childhood. It could have been a parent, teacher or even as recent as yesterday a coworker or your girlfriend may have said something that really got under your skin. You can either allow those toxic words to paralyze your growth and stay stagnant or replace those painful words with what God says about you. The fact of the matter is those hurtful words that were spoken to you does not determine the sum total of who you are as a person. The Word of God should have more weight than someone else’s opinion of you. Since we are on this journey, fighting to be a better person, we have to fight against the words that were spoken to us. These words may be a hindrance against the progress that God wants for us. Think about it. How did Jesus fight? (Matthew 4:1-11) Jesus fought Satan with words. Use the word of God to counter those negative words that were spoken to you. #Fight

 

New Year, New Me!

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New Year Buzz is usually followed by a “New Year, New Me” declaration. Interesting enough, in order to be a “new you,” a wardrobe change, a new hairstyle, even a new beau cannot bring into your life the instant change that you so desperately desire when a new year begins. Let’s be honest. Who wants to sit there and evaluate personalities and investigate character flaws to deal with hidden issues? (Raises hand) “Not Me!” The fact is, however, it will be difficult to be a “new you” with the same old thoughts.

It takes more than simply writing goals out and declaring what you want to happen differently in your life. The way you think is a huge denominator in determining your outcomes in life. Sometimes you keep repeating the same mistakes without understanding why you do the things you do. You may have to begin with your thoughts and review your core belief system. For instance, if you want to start a new blog, a business venture or an exercise plan, and your core beliefs are,  “I never finish anything I start,” “This will never work,” “Who’s going to invest in me?” or “I am not worthy enough to have success,” then you take yourself out of the fight for becoming a better person.

What is interesting about this concept is, oftentimes, you don’t think you feel this way but deep down you do. You may not say it outright, but you shut yourself out of opportunities because you listen to negative self talk and believe the negative things that people have said. You would rather claim to be “realistic” as opposed to stepping out on faith and trusting God with every step  taken. Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. All you can see is your past and the mistakes that you’ve made. What about the possibilities of being a great writer and perfecting your craft? What about the potential that you have for being a great speaker? You’ll never know if you don’t explore it. I believe that what stops our new years resolutions in their tracks is old belief systems. I even think to myself from time to time about my imperfections, but I have to remember God thinks that I am precious in His sight. If He is rooting for me to make it, I might as well keep my head in the game. To become a “New You,” it takes hard work but you are worth the work!!