Simple Strategies for Bringing Your Personal Goals to Life

Remember when you woke up on New Year’s Day and immediately sprang into action on all those realistic goals you set forth the week before?  Yeah, neither do I!  I recall waking up on New Year’s Day, sipping coffee in my pajamas, scrolling through Netflix, munching on something from Hickory Farms and half-heartedly proclaiming, “I’ll start tomorrow.  Tomorrow is the first REAL day of 2019.”   I had good intentions, but zero direction on that first day of this fresh new season.  Thomas Edison once said, “A vision without execution is hallucination.”  I suppose that means I was borderline psychotic for the first several hours of this year, but lucky for me I quickly found my way into remission!

During my first Sunday church service of the year, our beloved Pastor Craig Groeschel reminded us that “our life is the sum total of all the small decisions that we make.”  This made me realize that most of us approach our resolutions and personal goals in all the WRONG ways!  We’ve been told much of our life to focus on the BIG picture.  “Keep your eye on the goal!”  “Focus on the prize!”  However, with our eyes exclusively on the reward, we overlook the individual steps it takes to get there, and then we wonder why we never made it.  In his book “Atomic Habits,” James Clear says, “You do not rise to the level of your goals.  You fall to the level of your systems.”  So in order to simplify our strategies for bringing our personal goals to life, we must first take a look at our systems.  Let’s identify what we tend to do wrong when approaching our personal goals, then let’s visualize the improved version of ourselves and choose one small new system for getting there.

MOVE AWAY FROM BIG, BROAD AND BEST

I believe the problem we often make when approaching our goals is that we focus on BIG, BROAD and BEST.  For example, “I’m going to rise to the top this year!”  Too big – Too broad!  Or perhaps we say, “I’m going to get my life together.”   Your LIFE entails no less than 100,000 different things, so how and where exactly does one begin?  Too broad!  You might even say, “I’m ready to be the BEST version of myself!”  Unfortunately, BETTER must come before BEST, so if you only focus on the best, you might miss all the small, meaningful victories along the way and then give up prematurely.

Voltaire said, “The best is the enemy of the good.”  Smart guy, that Voltaire!  If we set our personal goals around big, broad or best, we don’t know where to begin, we miss small (but important) achievements and we give up too soon!

START SMALL, SPECIFIC, AND SATISFYING

So if we aren’t supposed to start BIG, BROAD or BEST – then what are we supposed to do?  You guessed it!  We should start small, specific and satisfying.  The Bible says, in Job Chapter 8, “Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous your future will be”.   Small beginnings are the key to realistic outcomes!  Specific beginnings are the arrows on the map.  If I am going to save more money, I need an exact amount per week (or month) to get started.  If I am going to lose weight, I need an exact macro count, calorie count or fitness plan to execute each day.  If I am going to pray more often, I need to identify the exact number of minutes I’m striving for.  Finally, why must it be satisfying?  Because let’s face it, we live in a generation of immediate gratification.  If I need information, Google answers the call in less than one second.  If I want something but don’t have the cash for it, Capitol One Venture Rewards Card!  Amazon delivers things to your doorstep faster than you can press “buy now,” and Uber shows up quicker than I can walk to my driveway and engage the ignition of my own car.  We must choose small steps that are satisfying because if we don’t get some type of gratification fairly quickly, we are more likely to give up.  If I choose “pray 3 minutes each morning after I wake up” as my faith-seeking goal, then it will only take 3 minutes before I feel the satisfaction of completing that goal (and likely, God will reward me with answers!)  Satisfying steps keep us moving!

START AND RESTART

Identify a specific area of your life that needs work.  If you aren’t sure where to begin, I recommend praying about it and asking God to direct you to the area that needs your attention right now.  He says in Psalms 32:8, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.”  So ask Him!  And listen for answers!  Another strategy is consulting what ThriveTime Business Coach, Clay Clark calls the “F6 Goals”:  Family, Faith, Fitness, Finances, Friendships and Fun!  These are the primary 6 areas of our life that contribute to whole-hearted living.  Look over these and decide which area you might want to tackle first.  Next, visualize what we EMDR therapists call a “future template.”  Get comfortable in a quiet place, close your eyes, and run a movie in your mind of you operating exactly as you would if your chosen focus area was “on point.”  For example, if I choose faith as the area I’d like to work on:  When I’m running my future template of ‘me living with strong faith,’ I might see myself waking up each morning and reading a few scriptures, spending a few minutes in prayer, attending church on Sunday, and possibly engaging in a small group or Bible study.   After I finish my mind-movie, I should then ask myself: “What is one thing that I saw myself doing in that visualization that I am NOT doing now?”  Choose one that is small, specific and will be satisfying shortly after you do it, commit to that one thing, and begin doing it every single day.  Gretchen Rubin said, “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”  So start your small action, and then restart the next day, and restart again the next day.  THAT will be a small, specific, satisfying thing that leads you to your big, broad, best-self goal.  Before you know it, it will simply be something you DO, and it will be time to identify the next thing to START! You will be proud of each new healthy habit you create, and each will be a building block in the tower of your personal success.  Your tenacity and repetition will pay off.  If you get bored or discouraged on your small-stepping journey, remember these words from Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap harvest if we do not give up.”

Shawn Maguire has been trained in EMDR, NLP, and CBT (to name a few) and uses these techniques with an emphasis on Christian Counseling.

3 Ways to Create a Vision Statement for Relationships with Your Kids

My shoulders had tension that no amount of yoga or deep breathing would cure, the grip on my steering wheel would undoubtedly break any stress ball, and a puddle was quickly forming beneath my sweating palms.  The GPS on my phone repeated, “re-routing” over and over through the speakers of my car.

Yes, I was lost.  Hopelessly, lost.

You see, I’d just moved to a big city.  It was dark.  I was in the middle of traffic on a bridge in an area of the city that did not look safe to stop and ask for directions.  The only hope I had for the drive was that I would eventually be able to get off the bridge and park long enough to look at a map—well, cry and then look at a map.

Have you ever been that lost?

If not, I have news for you: without a vision for your kids, you will eventually end up just as lost.  On my ridiculous drive, I didn’t have a destination or a vision.  I was just aimlessly driving around the city to learn it better.  The GPS on my phone had no way of helping me because it didn’t know where I was going.  Creating a vision statement for relationships with your kids is as important as identifying a destination for your drive.  You can’t expect to get anywhere if you don’t know where you want to go.

So how do you do that exactly?

First, make the vision statement kid-friendly. 

When downloading a map app for my phone, I always choose the English version. Why? Because I only speak English. While there’s a chance that I could look at pictures and decipher where to go in an Arabic version of a map, any specific instructions would be entirely lost because I do not speak that language.

Yet, we expect kids to understand our grown-up jargon—and we punish them when they don’t.

When creating a vision statement for your family regarding relationships, it is essential that it uses kid-friendly language.  For example, your kid-friendly vision statement might be, “God made humans to treat each other like we would want to be treated.” This statement makes sense and is easy to apply.  For younger kids your statement might be, “God made us to be nice.”

A good way to determine whether your vision statement is kid-friendly is whether it can be chanted.  Kids love to be silly and chant with their family.  You can’t chant, “Relationships are an entity God designed to display His glory to the world.” That statement may be a good place you and your spouse to begin brainstorming, but it can’t be the final version for your kids. 

In addition to chanting your kid-friendly vision statement, making a hand motion can be a fun way to help kids really learn the vision you’re casting for your family.  If your vision statement is “God made us to be nice,” you could use two cupped hands moving upward for the hand motion.

Having trouble thinking of a statement, chant, or hand motion? No problem, have your kids help you! The more they are involved, the more likely they are to engage. 

Second, don’t be afraid to initiate hard conversations. 

The birds and the bees is without-a-doubt the conversation I hear parents worry about the most.  Afterall, who wants to talk about sex with their child?

Like the dreaded sex talk, most hard conversations with children involve relationships.  Whether it is explaining why the family dog can’t come back after that tear-filled vet appointment or why a kid on the playground didn’t invite them to a birthday party, each of these conversations is made difficult by the feelings surrounding relationships.  Your child was designed to be in relationship with others and they are going to seek relationship with others, regardless of the instruction they receive from you. 

The best way to help your children have a godly vision for relationships is to initiate the conversation first, before the kids on the playground or the Internet taints their view of relationships.

Kids on the playground might say, “my older brother told me sex is for grown-ups and is a lot of fun.” While both of those statements are true, you might prefer your children know about sex from God’s perspective before knowing that sex is fun.  Let’s explore how having a vision statement for relationships can make equipping your kids with that information easier.

I’ve seen some families come up with a specific vision statement for sex.  For example, “God made sex for grown-ups in marriage.” For younger kids, this can be helpful because it helps answer those questions like, “Where do babies come from?” Instead of responding with a deer-in-the-headlights look, a parent could respond by explaining that God designed babies to come from two married people having sex.  For older kids, parents can use this statement to talk about how sex is purposeful but it is also pleasurable.  Initiating the conversation about sex being pleasurable can help preteens and teenagers feel safer to talk to their parents about sex rather than trying to find out the pleasures of sex on their own.

Other families might be inclined to incorporate the sex vision statement into their original vision statement for relationships.  For example, “God made humans to treat each other like we would want to be treated” can be a good basis for sex also.  This vision statement helps begin conversations about respecting our bodies and other people’s bodies.  Regarding sex, this could include, “God designed sex for marriage.  With sex, we treat each other like we would want to be treated by not having sex with someone until marriage.” This can also be a good opportunity to have conversations to prevent childhood sexual abuse and talk about respecting each other’s bodies.

Finally, live out relationships the way you want your kids to relate to others.

Has your child ever said or done something completely inappropriate that you know they learned from you? You are not alone.  Anyone with kids has experienced the gut-wrenching moment of their child imitating language or behavior not intended to pass on. 

As you chant your vision statement, make sure that you do what the chant says.  The vision statement, “God made us to be nice” means that your kids need to see you being nice to people.  This statement should challenge you as much as it challenges your kids.  Whether it is in heavy traffic, a long line at the grocery store, or to your spouse after a long day, let your children see what you want them to learn.

New Vision Counseling offers a unique Christian approach with proven therapy techniques. Call (405) 921-7776 today.

3 Ways to Be Present: Tis the Season to be Present, Part 2

In the first part of this blog we discussed being present in all the chaos of life. If we wait until everything is calm and peaceful before we can become present, we will either wait a long time (maybe forever) or rarely be present in our lives.

Most importantly, when we are present, we are able to experience the presence of God in powerful ways. We slow down enough to realize God is with us and wants us to look to him.

Imagine having God right by your side to guide you through life, but never taking the time to listen to him or ask him for anything. Crazy, right? But we are all guilty of this because instead of being consumed by God in the present, we are consumed with everything else.

How do we practice being present so we can experience a closer connection with God?

By Ben Thompson

 

“Be still, and know that I am God…”
          Psalm 46:10a

In the first part of this blog we discussed being present in all the chaos of life. If we wait until everything is calm and peaceful before we can become present, we will either wait a longtime (maybe forever) or rarely be present in our lives.

Most importantly, when we are present, we are able to experience the presence of God in powerful ways. We slow down enough to realize God is with us and wants us to look to him.

Imagine having God right by your side to guide you through life, but never taking the time to listen to him or ask him for anything. Crazy, right? But we are all guilty of this because instead of being consumed by God in the present, we are consumed with everything else.

How do we practice being present so we can experience a closer connection with God?

Here are three simple things you can start doing today:

  1. Breathe! Breathing is the quickest and easiest way to reorient our bodies and minds to the present moment. I recommend taking slightly deeper breaths than normal and simply focus on the in and out of your breath. As you are more connected to your breathing and to the moment, you can then feel the presence of God more fully.
  2. Be quiet and listen. This is especially important in times you are having a heated conversation with someone or find yourself mentally obsessing over something. Simply tell yourself to slow down and pay attention to what is going on around you and inside you. Your body, for example, may be trying to tell you, “Hey there, I’m getting pretty hot and frustrated here. I need a break!” Then, you can take the little break that your heart, body, and probably everyone around you knows you need to take. As you quiet down, this will allow you to listen better to God in whatever ways he is speaking to you.
  3. Surrender. Don’t confuse this with giving up or giving in to your feelings. Surrender means accepting that your thoughts and feelings are currently too hard to let go of and you must give them over to God before they take you over (see Psalm 55:22). The next time you find yourself frustrated and getting angry tell yourself, “Surrender to this. You are upset and feeling out of control. God I am giving you control,” and allow yourself to experience God taking care of you and your emotions.

Being present takes practice. At New Vision we are here to help you become more present in your life and more connected to God. If we can help in any way, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We have great therapists who want you to experience a more present and connected life with God, yourself, and others.

Tis the Season to be Present, Part 1

“Be present” is something we’re hearing more and more these days, which is great advice, but who has the time? Sure, I’ll be present when the kids are quiet, it’s peaceful, and the last present is bought. If you are like me, that leaves little time to be present unless you are willing to get up at 2:30 in the morning.

Fortunately, God did not wait for everything to be calm before he sent his son, Jesus, to be present with us on earth. God did not wait for conditions to be perfect. As you read in the Bible, Jesus presence on earth started in the midst of scandal, serious danger, Roman rule, and potential death from King Herod that we read about in Matthew 2.

By Ben Thompson

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Matthew 1:23

“Be present”is something we’re hearing more and more these days, which is great advice, but who has the time? Sure, I’ll be present when the kids are quiet, it’s peaceful,and the last present is bought. If you are like me, that leaves little time to be present unless you are willing to get up at 2:30 in the morning.

Fortunately, God did not wait for everything to be calm before he sent his son, Jesus, to be present with us on earth. God did not wait for conditions to be perfect. As you read in the Bible, Jesus presence on earth started in the midst of scandal,serious danger, Roman rule, and potential death from King Herod that we read about in Matthew 2.

God showed us that peace was not a prerequisite to being present.

How peaceful and present are you feeling this holiday season? We find ourselves worried about getting the right presents, frustrated with our overspending, and getting angry with our loved ones. We are more concerned with buying presents than we are about being present. Ironically, we are in a season of year focused on the presence of God on earth, and it is one of the hardest times to be present.

Being present means being in this moment, peaceful or not.

It means taking a breath right now and calming down. It means stopping in the middle of a fight with your spouse or your kids, taking a breath, and asking yourself, “What’s most important to me right now?” When you slow down and pay attention to your body, mind, and soul, you are present.Then, you can make better decisions for yourself and those around you.

There is no better time than to be present than right now. Jesus presence on earth brought peace to a chaotic world. Likewise, our presence can bring peace on earth,peace to our families, and peace to ourselves in spite of all that is going on around us.

 In the next part of this blog series, I’ll teach you more ways you can become present in your everyday life.

How to Embrace the Season That You’re In

Most therapists would describe fear of letting go of the past as depression and fear of what’s to come in the future as anxiety. All that lies between the past and the future is a single day--today.

Listen, I know how difficult it is to let go of the good-ole days, and I know first-hand how a coming deadline or the loss of income can send your mind spinning into hyper drive. How many fully-present days do we ever get to enjoy without fear of yesterday or tomorrow creeping in? Not very many.

We have to fight hard to embrace each day and remember they are each gifts. There is no guarantee of tomorrow, and entire lifetimes can be wasted fixated on what’s to come without ever getting to fully experience the here and now.

When our eyes are fixed on the days behind us or ahead of us, we lose sight of the gifts God has tucked away for us here, today! When we look at the day we’ve been given and accept it for exactly as it is instead of wondering what it could or should be, our hearts will be filled with gratitude and our minds will finally be at peace.

Accept Your Season

If you are living in a difficult season, it’s okay to acknowledge the challenges you’re facing!

I had a client once who was the mother to young twins, and she was so worn out that she felt this enormous guilt for not enjoying the season she was in. She tried her hardest to be as productive as she was before she had two babies to take care of and ended up driving herself into to the point of depression.

Once she accepted her new season along with the limitations that came with it, she was able to give herself more grace and pay attention to the gifts of motherhood at a much slower pace.

Are you in a new season where you have to give up the standards and perfection you’ve held in the past?

Accept Your Challenges

With every season comes challenges. Just like the mother I mentioned earlier, you may be hard-pressed for time or energy. Maybe you just lost your job and the greatest challenge you are facing is a lack of income as the holidays quickly approach. Maybe someone in your family was just diagnosed with a chronic illness and you are now having to change your lifestyle to accommodate it.

The reality is that every season, whether good or bad, comes with its fair share of challenges. The sooner you are able to name and accept those challenges, the easier it will be to stop looking back at how life used to be and you can live in confidence that you will one day step out of this season into something better.

Know Where Your Mind Wanders

I am someone who constantly looks to the future. I’m a visionary. That happens to be one of my strengths, but it also means that anxiety creeps in if I don’t constantly push against it and make every effort to keep my mind fixed on the present.

Maybe you are the sort of person who by default always has your eye on the rear-view mirror. Knowing where our minds tend to fixate will help us fight against these temptations. If you are unsure of where your mind seems to wander, ask someone who knows you well and they can help you shed some light on the situation.

As we enter the holiday season, it is so easy to lose ourselves in the hustle and bustle of travel, family, and vacations. Remember, there are so many gifts in store for you each day, and unless you take time to pay attention and see what God has hidden away from you, you could miss out on what makes the holiday season so special!

Here are some questions for you to consider this holiday season:

  1. What season are you in and what challenges come with the territory?
  2. What challenges do you need to accept as the way of life for now?
  3. Where does your mind wander if you allow it? Does it slip into anxiety of the future or does it look longingly to the past?



Finding the Blessing Behind Every Curse

Have you ever been stuck inside on a rainy day feeling sorry for yourself and like the world is out to get you? Of course you have! You work hard during the week and you want nothing more than a beautiful, sunny day to enjoy with your friends and family.

It’s human nature to be bummed out about plans that went awry or for catching a cold when it’s most inconvenient. But if we allow our circumstances to make us happy then we are tying our happiness to something way too inconsistent.

We have to instead tie our happiness to God because He is always consistent. The Bible assures us He never changes! Not yesterday, today, or tomorrow! So practically speaking, how exactly do we do that?

Look for the Blessing Behind Every Curse

Sure it’s raining outside when you’d rather it be sunny. But you know what? That means you get to spend valuable time indoors with your family. It means your lawn will be all the greener. It even gives you a chance to slow down and curl up with a good book you’ve been meaning to read.

Rather than cursing the rain, we can thank God for the blessings He has tucked away for us in every circumstance.

Shift Your mindset from Disappointment to Gratitude

One of the best practices you can do to shift your mindset from disappointment to gratitude is to make a gratitude journal. Each morning when you wake up, challenge yourself to  write down 10 things you are grateful for.

Eventually this mindset will become a habit and you will be able to see the world through gracious eyes.

Distance Yourself from Negative People

Some people are bent on being negative and bummed no matter what. You need to remember you cannot control their mindset, but you can control yours.

Being around negativity will breed more negativity, but by surrounding yourself with joyful, gracious people, you can’t help but let a little positivity rub off on you!

So to help you get to a place of gratitude and joy today, let’s take some time to apply these steps. I promise you won’t regret it! Here are three questions to help you gauge your mindset:

  1. What are you disappointed by today?
  2. What hidden blessings has God tucked away in these disappointments that you could focus on today?
  3. Are there any negative or toxic people in your life that you need to create distance from?



Blessed to Be a Blessing

This month at New Vision, we are talking about all things gratitude!

We love that the holiday season offers a chance to slow down and take a look at the gifts God has blessed us with over the years. God loves His children and it gives Him great joy, just as it would give any father, to bless his kids.

And while we believe that God loves to bless His children, if we stop there and think that His blessings are intended for us and us alone, we actually miss one of the greatest blessings of all!

The Bible is full of examples of how God blesses His people and then commands them to use those blessings to be a blessing to others who do not yet know Him. It’s one of the sweetest forms of evangelism! By sharing the blessings God has provided us and our families, we are pointing others to see that there is a good and loving Father who will love, care for, and provide for those who choose to follow Him.

So rather than simply focusing on the blessings God has given us this holiday season, how can we take inventory and intentionally share these blessings with those who do not know God yet?

Say for example you received a gift card to your favorite restaurant recently. Rather than using it for yourself, maybe there is someone who you feel the Lord is tugging your heart to get to know and show love and grace to. Then share that blessing by taking this person to lunch. This kind gesture could go a long way in building a relationship which God could use to alter this person’s story.

What could be a better blessing than knowing that you could play a part in the salvation story of a friend, neighbor, or coworker? And what a great way to show God gratitude for all that He has blessed you with!

Let’s try an exercise together and commit to taking intentional steps in sharing our blessings this holiday season!

Blessings Exercise:

  1. Take a sheet of paper and fold it down the middle from top to bottom.
  2. Consider what gifts God given you in this season. Write those gifts in the left-column of the paper.
  3. Consider how each of these gifts could bless someone else who does not know the Lord. List these in the right-hand column next to each gift.
  4. Look at the list and see if any specific faces or names come to mind that you could bless. Jot down those names next to each blessing in parentheses.
  5. Now it’s time to take action! Place a star next to a blessing you can share this week. Then write it on your weekly calendar.

For more resources and to stay connected to the New Vision Counseling team, be sure to include your email in the subscription box below!



The Fear of Setting Boundaries

Do you find it difficult to say the word, “no?” I’ve met very few in my life, especially in ministry, who admit the word “no” slips seamlessly off of their lips. There’s something about the word “no” that just feels wrong or selfish. In many cases, it feels like the word “no” communicates weakness. While very few of us think someone is weak when they tell us “no,” (often it’s the opposite) we all have this rooted fear that by saying “no” we will appear not organized enough, not dedicated enough, or not strong enough. How do we fight this fear and start to view boundaries as an act of strength and health for ourselves and our relationships?

Write a List of Your Current Responsibilities

If you sat down to list all of the tasks and people you are currently responsible for, chances are you might be a bit surprised by how many things are currently on your plate. If you’ve been feeling tired or worn thin lately and your list appears long, well guess what! You’ve found the culprit! It’s tempting to pack our days with so many responsibilities that we are spread too thin to do any of them well. Before we can create boundaries and remove items off of our plates, it’s important we take inventory first to become fully aware of the mental and physical loads we are carrying.

Pray and Consider what God has Called you To in This Season of Life

It’s simple math--there is only one you, and only so many hours in the day--so the longer the to-do list, the less energy, attention, and time you can dedicate to each task. The problem is, some responsibilities can afford less attention and time, while others, such as your family or your relationship with God, can’t afford to be neglected.

You may be familiar  with the rubber or glass ball analogy. Consider each responsibility or task in your day as either a rubber or a glass ball. If the rubber ball gets dropped (work, laundry, golfing with your friends, etc) it will rebound and bounce back safely in your hands. The glass ball, however, cannot afford to be dropped (God, family, finances, etc) because it will inevitably shatter.

Looking at the list of responsibilities you just made, consider which responsibilities are rubber balls which can be placed on the back-burner if necessary, and which ones are glass and should be made top priority.

Set Priorities and Cut-Out Any Areas You Can’t Afford to Uphold Right Now

Now that you know which responsibilities you cannot afford to neglect, it’s time to protect those items and take proactive steps to ensure you are able to do those tasks well. This doesn’t mean that you create a list of good things to say yes to and a list of bad things to say no to. Serving in the church is a very good thing! But if saying yes to every single request for your time and service by the church starts to eat away at the foundation of your marriage, then it’s vital that you say, “no.”

Don’t Apologize for Saying No and Holding those Priorities Firmly

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you need to apologize for taking charge of the tasks God has called you to oversee. So what  if your boss has a hard time understanding why you can’t work late every night when you have a family to go home to. At the end of your life, you won’t have to stand before your boss and give an account of how well you treated your wife, how much time you spent with your kids, or how well you led the family you’ve been entrusted with. You will have to give an account to God, though, so don’t feel the need to be apologetic to the call God placed on your life. Once you realize that saying “no” is an act of obedience to God, it becomes easier to see it as an act of courage and strength, rather than of fear or weakness.

 

Learning to say, “no,” and holding firm to healthy boundaries is not an easy thing to learn. It takes practice, effort, and a whole lot of prayer. As you begin to evaluate your own list of responsibilities, ask God to give you clarity. I promise He will! And feel free to use the following questions as a starting point:

  1. What has God called you to in this season?
  2. What is keeping you from investing fully into those responsibilities?
  3. What do you need to say “no” to this week?

Safe-Guarding Against a Spirit of Fear

Chances are that after you set-up the coffee machine and turn off all the lights before going to bed each night, you instinctively walk to the doors and windows to see that they are shut tight and locked. If you have a security system, you likely set the code as well. Many houses have floodlights installed in their yards to expose threats and make it clear that intruders are not welcome. We go to great extents to keep our loved ones and property safe. Our mental or spiritual well-being, however, is often overlooked. Sometimes we allow ourselves to be around toxic people who hold unhealthy control over our lives. Sometimes we watch scary movies that keep us wide-awake at night, unable to get the dark images from our minds. When it comes to threats that are unseen, there are several precautions that we can take to ensure we are safeguarding ourselves from a spirit of fear. It is important that we identify easy access points where threats and intruders could enter our minds, and take steps to lock those doors and windows tight!

Identify Easy Access Points

The two easiest access points for fear to creep in and plant roots are the eyes and the ears. Current studies estimate that the average person spends between 5-9 hours on social media each day, listens to approximately four hours music of music a day, and watches anywhere from 22-29 hours of television a week! We can no longer fool ourselves into thinking that what we watch and listen to that many hours of our lives has no influence on our minds. Yes, watching a scary movie with friends from time to time might be an adrenaline rush, but if it affects the way we think or makes us less firm in our faith or more prone to fear, we should limit the amount of access we give to these influences.

Evaluate Your Influences

It may be easy to limit the number of scary movies we watch or find more wholesome music to listen to, but the greatest influences in our lives are the people we surround ourselves with. If you fill your inner-circle with people who are positive, faithful, courageous, and hard-working, you will naturally glean these qualities yourself. However, if your closest influences are negative, doubtful, discouraging, or fearful, then you will find your courage and faith slowly erode away. This doesn’t mean you cannot be friends with or love these people, but be cautious when deciding how much access you want to give them to your mental well-being.

Make a Security Plan

Only you can know for sure what influences cause the most damage to your spiritual health. Therefore, only you can create a security plan that works for you! The trick is to be completely honest with yourself and consider the long-term effects of the music, videos, and friends you allow into your life. So when you go to bed each night and walk from room to room checking the windows and doors, take this time to visualize shutting and locking the doors to your mind as well. Identify new threats that could cause unease, and consider how you can protect yourself from those threats in the future.

When it comes to protecting yourself and your loved ones, don’t just settle for protecting your physical health. Make the emotional, mental, and spiritual health of your family a priority as well. Soon you’ll see first-hand just how much fear in your life was a result of the influences around you, and you’ll be able to live life in a more positive light! You can take the first step today by answering the following questions:

  1. What steps are you taking to safeguard your mind and your spirit?
  2. Are there any influences you are allowing in that are carving away at your faith and making room for fear?
  3. What doors do you need to bolt shut to ensure you and your family are living healthy lives free from the control of fear?