Life Sucks at Times – Are you Struggling? I Struggle-here’s Hope!

Recently I have had one crisis on top off another in the home and in relationships. To top it all off a very dear friend passed away unexpectedly. It is hard to cope with. Especially when living alone and no one immediately to talk with. I had a major leak in the bathroom rendering it unusable. So I have been busy putting things right again.

One problem is that coupled individuals do not realise the issues that singles face day by day. Its’ not aloneness that is the issue, its the companionship and bouncing ideas off someone you trust. Its helping each other when stuff goes haywire in bathrooms for instance!

In Wales UK, in this past year we have experienced nothing but lockdowns, due to COVID-19. I have been living a lock-down life since March 2020. However, we are told by the UK government that we can not have total freedom of movement until the end of June 2021. That’s a very long time to live a solitary life when you are accustomed to being very social. It’s a house hold arrest- at least it feels like it.

I have said things to people that I regret. But few understand the pressure that the lock downs has put not only myself, but not just on me- but for many others who will feel its effects for years to come.

I thank God for my faith In Jesus Christ, as there would be no purpose or meaning to life otherwise- for me at least. All my work is weekly public speaking and face to face interaction. COVID has taken that away- and in my emotions and thinking, things will never be the same again.

I am sure that you can relate to my lamination to some measure . The problem is, Living on my own during such times, can cause abject loneliness and even depression.

It seems to me, that the pressure that the lockdowns have caused, bring out the worst or the best in people and you discover who your really are. You also discover who your friends are.

Do people regularly phone you to see how you are, or are you the one who must chase them all the time? Do you feel that when you do speak to your friends or family that the telephone conversation is all about them, and when you try to share, they divert the conversation straight back to themselves? During lockdown we feel that our choices have been taken away, our social circle has been diminished or closed, while feeling that our relationships will never regain the traction they once had.

As devastating as all this, we try to face the reality of what our friendships might really be.  Perhaps facing the instability of our social circle and perhaps our family life as well, we see things as they really are. And possibly for the first time, we realise that we are not as strong as we thought we were. Perhaps we are having a self awareness reality check. One of my recent blogs is about resilience in the face of burn out- check that out it will encourage you!

When life goes well, we can be fooled into thinking that we are invincible and there are no changes to be made. Perhaps good times has given us a false sense of security, propping us up, giving us a distorted view of our situation and of who we really are and what we should be.

The advantages of having absolutely everything stripped away, is that we come face-to-face with ourselves. We become self aware. Our lifestyle choices are virtually gone. We are either at the mercy of the tumult of our emotions, or at the mercy of God’s grace.

The Good News!

You may feel that lock down has taken away All your choices possessing no choice in anything at all. This is not true, it is only your perception of things, but not the reality. Even in lockdown, we do have choices. Below I’ve listed some choices that I have come face-to-face with over the past 10 months and maybe they are the same or similar choices that you had during the course of this pandemic.

1. Allow myself to get down were I just stay in my PJs or bed.

2. Eat my way through the lockdown.

3. Watch TV 24/7 and let go of all my exercise routine.

4. Discover new vision and goals.

5. Set new projects to accomplish goals.

6. Take Action on new project

7. Learn more about well-being and fitness and implemented it into my day.

8. Planning for a lock down future in this and be the foreseeable future so I may be productive and successful.

9. Contact my friends and family even when they do not take the initiative to do so.

10. Listen intensely and carefully to the problems of my friends and families even when I am not heard.

Every day when we swing our legs out of our bed and place them firmly on the floor the power of choice begins. We have the power to choose whether we will have an unproductive day, or just another wasted day in lock down; or one that will be full of surprises, twists and turns but by the end of it will be productive in some way.

As I sit on the side of my bed contemplating on this, I have a choice of what my mood will be. I still struggle at times with my mood controlling me instead of me controlling them.

Many years ago, I allowed my emotions to determine how I felt, which influenced every decision I made, influenced every attitude. I would try to relieve the turmoil with negative, unhealthy, and unhelpful practices. Over the years I have learnt that my thoughts are not me, they are things. Thoughts are things that I will allow or disallow into the realms of my thinking.

Dr Andrew Huberman is a neuroscientist, who recently discovered that behaviours have a direct bearing upon our thoughts and not the other way round. The research shows that when we try to gather our thoughts it’s the same as herding cats. Once we allow negative thoughts access, they take on a life of their own. I have come to the conclusion that negative thoughts are like a virus that by nature multiplies and mutates so you never can really get a handle upon it. And before you know it, these thoughts are dictating your emotions, and your overall behaviours and your life.

Here the good news story – address your behaviour first. If you disregard the negative thoughts, and take positive action, you will be in control of your day.  By being aware of your behaviours, we will be better able to control what happens in your day. You can learn how your behaviours dictate our thoughts, and your thoughts will dictate your feelings and mood.

Because I’m a highly sensitive person, I consider that my moods, and feelings are likened to a virus. We know so well during this pandemic, a virus spreads, mutates, while taking hold of the body causing havoc. My emotions can do this too if I allow them. Being aware of it, is more than half the battle, because then I can do something about it. When I am in control of my day, I am happier and content. I cannot control the course of the pandemic, but I can control my day, and therefore my future. As Jim Rohan once said, ‘either let the day run you, or you run your day’.

Getting back to my list of 10 points. There were times where I slipped into points 1 – 3. I soon became frustrated, knowing that if I allowed myself to slide deep into the pit of despair, it would be a long climb – a very long climb indeed to get out that hole. Unless somebody let down a ladder, I would stay in that pit a very long time. Living alone, you have less of a chance of somebody throwing you a ladder to rescue you. So, it’s up to you to encourage yourself to find positive ways forward. I became more aware of my negative emotions and thoughts and stopped the process as I began to slide into the pit of despair and despondency. I jacked my foot up, getting leverage, I hauled myself out before I lost sight of the top. Then I would prayerfully, and intentionally, set about engaging with points 4. – 10.

The scientist tells us that our heightened emotions is something that motivates while propelling us forward. I reflected upon this and knew this to be true because that’s exactly how I accomplished getting my Master of Arts degree in counselling and coaching. Being a high percentile adult dyslexic, and at the time in my mid-50s, the thoughts of achieving an advanced academic level was far removed from me. However, I knew exactly what God had called me to, I wanted to fulfil that, and my university studies was part of Gods plan for me. It was not the love of helping people or even pure faith that propelled me forward – it was anger. At the time, I had people around me who told me that I don’t need to study, others said I can’t do it as I’m not smart enough, while others said it will be a waste of time and money, particularly at my age. There were many other things that was said that proved to be very hurtful and caused me to be so angry that I wanted to rise up and show them. I wanted to show myself, and my God that I could do it. I felt that the God given call upon my life would enable me to go forward in Gods ability no matter how tough things got. I internalised my anger and put it to good use, and over the course of four years, I earned a Master of Arts with a merit.

Be Determined

Now, here, during lockdown I contemplated this deeply.  I knew I needed to get my emotions heightened to be able to propel myself forward. Because emotions dictate behaviour and behaviours dictate my thoughts. But I don’t want to be angry to so it. So at the beginning of each day, I spend time in prayer and reading the Bible, and decide to harness any feelings of emotion good or bad, and direct them as fuel to accomplish my projects.

Be Wise

If we look to favourable circumstances or a special somebody or even something to make you happy and content, you make a huge mistake. If you solely rely upon others, you are affected by their whims and fancies and be left disappointed. If you reply on a favourable circumstance, you will find yourself in a precarious position because circumstances can change or disappear altogether.

Be Happy

Happiness comes from deep within us when we know that God loves us through Christ. When we know that our sins are forgiven, washed whiter than snow.

Deep happiness and contentment come when we are in close relationship with God through Christ. The Holy Spirit of comfort is given to us to walk in us and beside us. If we rely upon God who is the Eternal Now, we find true happiness and profound contentment, even in the middle of our struggles.

During lockdown, although a lot went south, however I reinvented myself by setting goals and learnt how actually to set projects and accomplish them.  Within six months, I had written and published two books, built two websites, and now learning to maintain them. I have done and learnt new things I thought I would never do, although it was really hard. My goal is to create a successful online community dealing with Christian lifestyle issues and wellness.

Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us that God will build his Kingdom independently of us. Through the stories of the Old Testament and Jesus teachings, it is clear that we are co-workers with Christ. In other words, we work with God and God works with us. God does not work independently of us and we do not work independently of God. We can have all the dreams, visions, and mission statements enough to pack out a football field. But It is not going to do you or me a scrap of good unless we take action; unless we move forward, unless we bite the bullet and allow God the Holy Spirit to guide us into brand new realms of our walk with Christ. All the learning and all the abilities and even all the support in the world is not going to do us any good unless we take action.

I remember preaching many years ago in a country Church in Suffolk UK, when afterwards a PhD student approached me. She said that she felt so overwhelmed with her work that she didn’t know what to do. She was researching the effects of using mobile phones has upon the brain. To further her research and to complete her thesis she was accepted as an intern at one of the universities in the USA. She asked me to pray for her and I did. Then I felt a leading of God and advised her via a word of knowledge that the Lord spoke to my heart. I was to tell her these few short words – How do you eat an elephant? Mouthful by mouthful!

 The Lord said to her, through me that ‘as you take one step and accomplish that, then you can take another step and accomplish that, then you take another step, one step at a time.  

Try not to look ahead too far ahead because Jesus says, give no thought for tomorrow because tomorrow is enough trouble of its own. Instead, just look far ahead enough where you can see where your foot is going to land upon the ground and deal with that. In the other words – live mindfully in the moment. Then over time, you will find you have achieved your goals.

Don’t Give Up!

Please – please don’t give up, but look to God for your strength and hope for a better future through Jesus Christ. As you seek God, he will give you a new vision and a new mission or renew an old one, and the desire to fulfil it.

Tomorrow morning, as you swing your legs over the side of your bed and rest your feet upon the floor, make positive choices. Take positive action then and there. Ignore the familiar doubts and fears that whirl about in your head. Remember you are not your thoughts. You can choose what to do that day and what you want to accomplish. You will be able to recover from any distraction and get on with what you need to be doing.

My Friend, You are special person, and the world needs your gifts, abilities, your knowledge, and experience. Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing. I encourage to make a commitment to yourself and to God to learn things new. To learn how your behaviours can rule your negative thoughts. Learning new things each and every day, challenges me and often times frustrates me reducing my to tears. But struggle is part of the process of achievement.  

Remember, you can do all things you Christ who strengthens you. With every breath, every moment that I live, I want this day to count for something in the Kingdom of God. So be blessed my friend during this time of awful lockdown. Look square into the face of loss and despair in name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour and go forward in victory!

I am in the process of writing my new book about Holistic Living, which features Mindfulness and issues around mental health. It will be published and made available to you later in the year – so keep a lookout for that!

If you struggle to make self-care a priority or do not know how to start your mindfulness journey, check out my new course, which will be available in the Summer of 2021- subscribe free to this blog to get updates on this!

I hope this post was helpful. If it was, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me and share any thoughts you have. And if you enjoyed reading this blog, please support it by subscribing to my FREE newsletter and receive your FREE thankyou gift!

 If you feel you would like further support through adding you to my prayer chain, counselling or coaching, please contact me. Details of How to get in touch with me is found in the top menu on my home page.

 HEAD OVER TO YOUTUBE AND CATCH UP WITH MY VIDEOS – it is Free! 

I look forward to your visit to my next blog post!

Paula Rose Parish

Rev Paula

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvdQ4NPTNfXSnwd3pimPh0g

How I started Journaling Mindfully and the struggles I encountered -Part One

Being Mindful means being more intentional in your choices to good mindfulness habits. As I have pointed out in my past blogs, there are also many additional physical and emotional benefits to a  Mindfulness practices

 Mindfulness practices have been researched extensively and shown to: 

· Decrease stress by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 

· Reduce rumination and overthinking. 

· Help maintains owering levels of the stress . Improve relationship happiness. (Yaaa)

· Improve memory, concentration, and performance. 

· Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Improve sleep. (nite, nite)

· Just as exercise habits will change your body, mindfulness habits will literally reshape your mind. (renews your mind)

· Protects against mental illness and provides natural pain relief. 

· With the repetition and consistency, mindfulness creates changes in your brain function and structure. (always a plus)

Probably one of the easiest ways to start your Mindfulness journey is through journaling. The act of reflective journaling is a way of practising Mindfulness, and It is Free!

 Mindfulness journaling is used as an intervention method because it lowers depressive symptoms, anxiety and overwhelm. Mindfulness is so easy to implement. It can be practised anywhere, and only requires your time and consistency.

Despite the ease of implementing Mindfulness, like any new habit, it can be overwhelming for beginners. Where should you start? Should you implement a daily meditation session, mindful eating, mindful exercise, or mindful walking? The answer is you should start small, with one thing at a time. Then when it becomes a Well Habit, you can move to the next thing.

In this post, I share with you how and why I started with reflective mindful journaling, and how I struggled with it at first. This is not about journaling for organising but for self awareness. This is not the whole story but a snippet from my new book about Holistic Living, which features Mindfulness and issues around mental health. I am in the process of writing it. It will be published and made available to you later in the year – so keep a lookout for that! If you struggle to make self-care a priority or do not know how to start your mindfulness journey, check out my course, which will be available in the Summer of 2021- subscribe free to this blog to get updates on this! Maybe you are at the beginning to start a habit. Regardless of where you are on your journey, I hope you will find something useful here- if so, please let me know down in the comments. 

My Struggles

I have been on this planet for a long time now in my 66 years of life. Like you dear reader, I have experienced trauma, joys and much sorrow. I am also very dyslexic, so I shied away from anything to do with writing as much I could. Through the years, I tried journaling but never was consistent with it. Due to my dyslexia, writing caused me GREAT anxiety and overwhelm. So, I would abort my efforts only after a few weeks.

Then I discovered Mindfulness, and everything changed for me. All my life, I have enjoyed practising holistic living but never really ventured into mindfulness territory. I was always busy, busy, busy, and stopping to be mindful of what I was doing seemed almost a waste of my time. 

Then one day, I escaped a very abusive marriage which caused me to be physically ill, developing bodily weakness and I became susceptible to colds and flu. The lifestyle of abuse I was under wreaked my immune system, making me feel like an old lady before my time – not only in my body but in my mind as well. I spend over a year with women’s aid and had weekly counselling. I was still working full time, and no one knew what I was going through. I am the ‘stiff upper lip type of person, which has served me well because I ‘just got on with things’ despite the circumstances. However, although I didn’t want to let that go of my stiff upper lip attitude, I had to acknowledge that being busy, busy, busy, was hindering my recovery.

Then I had an accident that ripped my shoulder, and two of the main tendons snapped. I lost the use of my arm for three months. The divorce went through, now living alone, I was trying to manage one-handed which was not easy. I prayed and cried and repeated that – a lot! I didn’t have a strategy for recovery, I was becoming an invalid and thought of taking early retirement. I lamented about my situation as I crawled up the stairs on my hands and knees. I was so weak. Of course, my tendency to ‘get on with it’ kicked in. I couldn’t allow my life to down the gurgler- or my Lord Jesus would not allow that to happen either. So, I accepted that I had to slow down. I had physically slowed down because I lost the use of my arm. I could not drive and took over 3 months off work. However, my mind was still in work mode; it had not slowed me down permanently at all. So, I surfed the web, bought books to study, researched the mind and its workings, and discovered Mindfulness. From then on, I began to practise mindful journaling and approached everything I did intentionally, including my faith. But it didn’t last. I could not grasp ‘the mindful thing’, and as my shoulder healed, I began to drive again and returned to work.

Then- 

That very same year, I was involved in two car accidents. Neither of them were my fault- thankfully! The first one happened when a bike slammed into the passage side of my car, causing me whiplash and many emotional and financial problems, which added to the trauma. It wiped out the whole side of my car, which was in the workshop for 10 days. After I got my car back, then only three days later, I was sitting at a 6-way roundabout ready to enter the motorway – WHEN – bammm!!!!

A humungous lorry slammed into the back of my newly repaired car- wiping out the back end, sending me into shock! The driver said he didn’t see me- (I didn’t believe it). Everyone was stopped, including me as we gave way to our right, and the guy didn’t see me! Anyway, my car ended up in the same shop, and I then became very ill.

 I obviously didn’t the message slowing down message through my head. Was this God speaking to me? Who knows, This situation was was what caused me to make a vow to myself and God, to slow down physically and mentally (after all I was no spring chicken any more). I asked God to help me to get a grip on this mindfulness thing because I knew that this would be my way to the lasting healing of life.

 So over time, with starts and stops, I began reflective journaling. I did it for six months straight – Amazing! I would sit down at 6am, with coffee in hand and pray, read scripture and then journal. I enjoy it, I found it helped me to get out of bed, looking forward to putting pen to paper. Its was a struggle, but happily I can tell you that the habit continues till today. the journaling habit gave me the confidence to write two books during the COVID lockdown, and I regularly write blog posts, one of which you are reading.

Well, dear reader, this is part of my mindfulness journey, I hope you enjoyed it and was of some help to you. My next post is part two; lookout for that. In that post, I will outline a few basic steps to get you started on your mindfulness journaling journey.

If you are struggling as I have, you’re in good company – just keep going!

Thank you for visiting me here, I hope this post was helpful? Then please like, subscribe or  leave a comment with any questions you may have!

 If feel you would like further support, please contact me. Details of How to get in touch is found in the top menu on my home page.

 HEAD OVER TO YOU TUBE AND CATCH UP WITH MY VIDEOS – its Free!

I look forward your visit to my next blog post!

Paula Rose Parish