Loneliness is a Choice

This was a breakthrough discovery for me.  There were so many times in my younger years that I felt lonely.  In my teens and twenties, it seemed as if I were surrounded by people all the time but no one understood me…at school, at home nor at work.  How can one be lonely with people on every side? It made no sense to me yet, I was lonely, until I learned that loneliness is a choice. I needed to make better choices.

My biggest fault was in choosing not to see myself as a person of value. Once known, who could really value me?  I chose not to share what was going on with me emotionally with people.  You know, if you don’t share your thoughts, no one can reject them.  I chose not to be committed to friends…I was very flaky.  I chose not to call and see how people were doing or to ask them to hang out.  I chose not to go to prom or really any social event during my high school years.  I always thought that I didn’t go because no one asked me to go but you know what?  I had choices too.  I could have gone and had a great time.  I knew people…I just didn’t really know them intimately and they didn’t know me.  But, that was by my choice.  I may have said this before but it bears repeating, life isn’t happening to you and I.  We have choices so, choose wisely.  Even in your not choosing, you are exercising choice.  You might as well be an active voice in the matter.

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely.  I believe that to be lonely is an unhealthy state of mind to be in.  It is in loneliness that a person makes very detrimental decisions for their life.  They choose out of desperation to flee the loneliness rather than choosing what is actually good for themselves.  Being alone on the other hand is the physical state of being alone.  The mentality that one has when they are alone can be healthy, depending on their state of mind.  Today, I like being alone.  I enjoy my own company, I know what I like and what I do not like and I value myself.  That is not to say I don’t like being with others, in fact I do!  However, when I am with others, I know how to express my likes, wants, desires and I know how to accept theirs. Being comfortable with being alone has made me a better companion to other people when I interact with them.  It’s not selfish to like what you like, especially if you are willing to work with other people when differences arise.

I know people who are terrified and embarrassed to do anything alone.  That’s not healthy.  Go out and enjoy the world alone…on your own.  Figure out what you enjoy and what you don’t so that you can share that knowledge with the people you love and that love you.  It is in that interaction that intimacy is built, if you can respect one another’s opinions and desires.  It’s not a guarantee of course that a person will accept your thoughts or consider your opinions but, you will never know if you don’t try to share them.  If they don’t accept you, guess what?  You are still okay.  You move on.  You are not lonely, you are just alone at the moment until you choose to engage with another person or other people.

This blog is written for the lonely person and the one who struggles to have intimacy in different areas of their lives.  I hope this article is helpful for you to determine where you are on the spectrum of lonely to alone and for you to get to a healthy place.  So cheers to you!  You are valuable so, enjoy getting in touch with your own thoughts, talents and desires. Please do comment or send me a message.

And… Be encouraged.

Latice Devonne

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Brick Wall

Hello folks,

It’s been about a month since I’ve last written.  I took a little time off, in fact, I may do so this month as well.  I’m taking the time to reassess and regroup my strategy and marketing focus for this blog.  At the same time, I am reassessing my strategy in my efforts to change my career.  I thought it would be kind of neat to do this on the blog as an example of how to journal reflectively.  I must say, if you didn’t utilize the Mind Tools website as a resource from my Jan 25, 2015 blog, entitled The Power of Reflection, you are surely missing out.  You can find it listed in the resources at the end of that blog entry.  What a wonderful website it is!  The site really breaks down the benefits and how-to’s of reflective journaling.  Below, I will demonstrate a snippet of a reflection using some of the questions that I took right out of what I read on their site.  

You may be wondering why I titled this blog entry, brick wall.  About a week ago I was able to go on an interview at USC.  They have some lovely brick buildings located all over the campus.  I found something about all those brick structures to be so beautiful, full of history and culture.  On the flip side, it seemed to represent something traditional, rigid and unchanging.  At the current time, I feel that my life has run up against this scenic and impenetrable brick wall.  As beautiful as it is, it’s a barricade that I want to get past.  I must get past.  I need a break through so, I thought I would journal about it.  Here we go…

breakthrough

Reflect on Your Experiences

“Effective journaling combines a clear narrative about recent events with critical thinking  about what you have learned, and what behaviors, if any, you can change or improve.

To help you write your journal, think about the following questions:

  • What has happened since you last journaled?
  • What have you learned since your last entry? What mistakes have you made?
  • What difficult or painful events have occurred?
  • If you could repeat a recent event, what would you do differently, and why?

When you write, think carefully about the most important thing that’s happened to you since you last wrote in your journal. Keep in mind that this event can be subtle.

For example, you might have pulled off a great presentation, but this isn’t necessarily your most important event. It may be more important to note that you were upset with your assistant before the presentation, and that you said something that damaged his trust in you. This is the event you need to write about in detail, exploring why you were upset and why you were cross. Only then can you learn from the experience.

As well as this, it’s important to write down any small or quick wins   that you’ve achieved. When you don’t make a point of thinking about these, they might slip out of your memory. But it’s important to reflect on them, so that you can boost your motivation and self-confidence.”

-excerpt from the Mind Tools website

  • Since I last journaled about my career, well, I can’t remember when the last time was.  I know at the beginning of the year, January 2014, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish but, I am pretty sure that was not considered a journal.  In reality then, it’s been at least a year since I’ve truly journaled about where I am and where I want to go in my career.
  • Since my last entry, I have learned that it is possible to change my career.  I have absolutely gotten a grasp on the importance of furthering my education for a few reasons.  One because my first degree doesn’t open up many doors for me career wise.  Although I love Art, it has not been very versatile nor has it made me marketable.  I need education in another field.  I have also learned that when a door is opened to me, I should not turn around and walk out.  Sometimes you will have to walk quite a while before you get to the room that you want to be in.  In other words, sometimes the process is slower than I might have anticipated but, if I keep my eyes open and keep moving forward eventually, I will get there.  Lastly, I need to have a plan and a back up plan at all times.  When I moved back home my plan was unrealistic and I wasn’t clear on how to move forward.  I did have a backup plan but, it was one that was moving me backward rather than forward.  I was trying to go back to old job moves.  Today, I have to try something different.
  • The painful events were paying more than a few bucks to renew a credential I don’t want to use but, felt I had to.  Also, joining a tutoring agency were I had to go to people’s homes and driving in unfamiliar territory to get there.  That was a terrible idea.  These pursuits have been expensive, uncomfortable and a waste of my time.  I can’t get those things back. So, now, I evaluate if the effort I am about to embark in is worth my time or my financial investment before I do it.  How much do I have to put out?  How much of a return will I get on the investment of my time/money? Does this choice move me closer to my purpose?  Those are three key things I ask myself before making a move now days.  Everything is carefully thought out because I just can’t afford anymore costly mistakes.
  •  If I could repeat any event, I would not have renewed my credential or paid to get a background check.  Waste of money.  I also would not have signed up with that tutoring agency.  I would have spent more time and effort with getting signed up with temp agencies while I pursued full time work at some college, anywhere.  My goal is to work at a community college or ground campus.  I would apply for some job that I could do mindlessly and with little stress just to bring in a little money while I wait on the thing that is the perfect opportunity for me.  Hmm…what is that job?  I think I will do better at interviewing if my mind isn’t preoccupied with how much I need the job but, rather with the fact that I just, want the job.  My quick win, is that the most money I’ve made since I’ve been home is with a temp job.  Hopefully, I get some more of those.        My other “win” is that my spirit is happier when I stay true to doing something “different” than returning to teaching, my prior career.

I hope this open look at my reflective journal regarding career moves is helpful for someone when it comes to how to journal.  I think I need to do another one where I focus on this blog and how to make improvements on it but, I will do that on my own private time.  Let me know if this was helpful or whatever you think.

Until next time…be encouraged.

Latice Devonne

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The Power of Reflection

writing-a-book

As the end of January approaches, I have to admit folks that I have been tempted to quit the things that I have resolved that I will do in 2015.  I know I am not the only one.  The gym industry makes thousands of dollars off of us with all of our good intentions which seem to fade a month or two after we figure out, “This is hard!”  I’d like to end this month by reminding us that, nothing worth having comes easy.  Keep the faith.  One tool that I’ve found incredibly helpful in staying on track is journaling.  

I mentioned journaling regarding the weightless journey to my mother and she immediately had a look of disdain upon her face.  It took me a few minutes to figure out that her impression of journaling was writing down all her food for each day.  Well, that is not quite what I mean by journaling.  What I’m speaking of is more writing about your thoughts and actions to make you aware of your feelings, thoughts and choices.  This is called reflection.  The goal of writing in a journal is to reflect on your life periodically.  For those of us that are completely out of touch with ourselves this is an amazing tool.  I want you to write about how you felt when you just had to have that ice-cream or when you were compelled to keep eating, even though you were full.  I just want you to be aware of why you are doing what you are doing.  Ask yourself in the moment…how am I feeling?  Or what feeling am I trying to avoid having?  Just write about it.  You don’t have to preoccupy your mind with how to change the feeling in the moment.  The key is to get at the root of the matter.  Once get into the habit of identifying the feeling in the moment we can then begin to think about what happens next.

Personally, I advise that this is a good time to connect with creator God in your spirit.  Now is a good time to ask for revelation as to why these feelings keep coming up.  Now is a good time to ask what is a better course of action than stuffing the feeling with food, sex, work, television or alcohol.  These things are often what is hindering us from getting to our desired outcome for whatever our resolution is anyway.  I often end my time of reflective journaling with prayer.  Sometimes you will get clarity about what you need to change during the course of journal writing but, sometimes you will need a little divine guidance.

The other nice thing about writing your reflections down is that it serves as a constant reminder of the things that had us bound.  This month, when I was tempted to give up, I was able to think back over my life and consider the alternative.  I was able to remember how miserable I felt when I was led by my gut and then, make a better choice.  I was able to remember how absolutely fed up I was with that job that was easy to get.  I hated it and therefore, I push forward with the better direction for my life.  Along with struggling with your own thoughts and feelings, there will be people in your life that love you who don’t understand your vision or your purpose.  They will give you “helpful” advise for an easier way but, they will get you off track to your destiny.  What is that thing that is sitting in your spirit that you desire to do?  I once heard Dr. Myles Munroe speak at a business conference in Atlanta.  He said, “If you hate going to work, you shouldn’t go another day.”  It is a radical thought and one that requires much faith but, today, I live by those words.  I have found that I am a much happier person because of it.

The third thing that I believe journaling is good for is to inspire you as you remember all the good things that have happened.  Look how far you’ve come!  Write about your triumphs or about the inspirational things that have happened to you.  There may be no other greater motivation than to see the universe make way for you to move down the path to your desired outcome.  As I remember how the Lord opened doors for me into the world of student services and how that led to another position and another, closer to what I want to do…it reminds me that if I stay the course, doors will continue to be opened for me.  I just have to stay the course.

Definition & Resources:

What Is Reflective Journaling? (according to teacher vision.com)

Reflective journals are notebooks or pieces of paper that students use when writing about and reflecting on their own thoughts.  The act of reflecting on thoughts, ideas, feelings, and their own learning encourages the development of metacognitive skills by helping students self-evaluate and sort what they know from what they don’t know.  The process of examining one’s own thoughts and feelings is particularly helpful for students who are learning new concepts or beginning to grapple with complex issues that go beyond right and wrong answers.

Mind Tools has an excellent website to help you get started;

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/journaling.htm

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Love Yourself to Life

An older women recently told me that she didn’t have any daughters but, if she had, she would’ve shared a few things with them.  She said, “Love yourself. Once you love yourself,” she went on to explain, “you are able to love others.”  When a family member, friend or coworkers is getting under your skin…ask God to show you how to love them.”  Let’s take care of ourselves so that we can truly have something left to give to others when they need a little love.  Also, studies show that self-care increases job satisfaction, lowers depression, burn-out and many other positive effects. (ahna.org) (utdallas.edu)  I’m using the terms self-care and self-love synonymously for the purposes of relating to the research.  Now that we know the benefits, let’s look at what it means to love ourselves and how to carry it out.

As I took my morning walk around the neighborhood, I got great clarity on this topic.  It is a topic I have been struggling to write about because there are a million things to say about self-love.  My heart was pumping, my mind was focused and spirit was joyful.  Then it dawns on me that this is self-love!  If I had to say it in one concise statement, self-love is not settling for less than.  An overweight, sick body is “less than” I should have.  A frazzled and confused mind is “less than” I would have if I would only renew my mind daily.  A disconnected spirit is absolutely “less than” what Yahweh has in store for me. Let me summarize what I am saying just to make it plain.  Self-love is each of us individuals focusing on taking care of our body, our mind and our spirit.  We are triune beings. Made in the image of our Creator.  That is a heavy, involved discussion in and of itself so, I will come back to that idea at a later time.  For now, let’s look at some ways that we can strive for the best or, at minimum, not settle in each of the areas that makes us alive.

self-care

Body.

One obvious way to take care of the body is to exercise.  This can be a morning walk, a jog, lifting weights, dancing…any aerobic movement of your body.  This is a start for those who tend lead a sedentary life style. Let me challenge those of us who do a minimum level of exercise to then up your workout game.  I have to be honest, although I walk 40-60 minutes a few days a week quite routinely, this is a bare minimum for me.  Lately I have been trying to pick it up a bit by adding isometric exercises like chair lifts, push-ups and sit-ups. I won’t suggest to you what you should add but, simply that we should challenge ourselves to do more progressively over time.  When I first started walking about 10 years ago, it was because a friend of mine kept pestering me to get up an hour early and walk before going to work.  I was very reluctant to do so because it was cold and I was not a morning person. However, I did it and soon learned to love it.  I was more energetic and got more accomplished during the day…not to mention the discipline that came as another pleasant side effect.  Who would have thunk that in 2013, I would be able to walk a half marathon, 13.5 miles?  You can do this!  One step at a time.

Another thing we can do for the body is to prevent damage.  This is another area of opportunity for me as well.  We can prevent damage by not putting toxins in or on our bodies as much as possible.  Now those of us that live in the western hemisphere have some things that we can’t avoid like smoggy air and chemically laden tap water.  We come into contact with elements full of chemicals and toxins that enter our bodies by simply breathing and bathing.  Many people don’t stop to think about what we touch and put on our skin because it appears to be outside of our body but, we are porous beings.  Everything put on the outside seeps in at least a little bit.  For this reason we should strive to use non-toxic household and body products whenever possible.  Did you know that you can clean almost anything with a vinegar and water solution?  We can also prevent damage by eating whole foods as opposed to processed food crap.  As a rule of thumb, the less sugar and artificial ingredients in the food the better it is for you.  You may think you are depriving yourself but, when everyone around you is sick and you feel great you will change the way you think.  I say,  “Boo!” on being sick all the time and taking a bag full of medicine, which by the way is adding more toxins!  In my humble opinion, medicine generally covers up symptoms and damages your liver unnecessarily.  It is only in extreme cases that people benefit from medicine.  I avoid it at all cost.  I typically try to find a natural whole herb, whole food solution to the things that bother me.  In eastern medicine and naturopathy, food is healing.  I would of course seek a naturopathic doctor, or expert, whom can make you aware of any things to watch out for or avoid based on your health history.  Better safe than sorry.  I highly recommend a book called, “The Great Physician’s Rx.”  In it the doctor describes many things and lists many resources you can do to detoxify and heal the body.

Mind...some people call this our soul.

I think an explanation here is in order because the difference between soul and spirit can be slightly confusing.  According to biblestudyinteractive.com, sometimes the terms are used interchangeably.  This is why I am very specific to describe the soul as our “minds.”  It’s just an easier concept to wrap the mind around.  No pun intended.  The body is shaped by our genetics and our effort to nurture the body, similar to the development of our minds.  The mind or, our thoughts, are intangible but, works in tandem with the body.  The body is always telling the mind what it needs and wants.  The body always wants to have it’s needs met and the mind seeks the most pleasurable way possible.  For example, when I am hungry my stomach growls and sends signals to my brain that it wants to be fed.  The mind then determines the best choice to appease the body.  What will make the body feel better? The mind comes up with a plan of action and sets the body in motion to achieve the desired outcome.  The mind tells the body to get up and make a hamburger as the best solution for this level of hunger.  If the body is sleeping the mind often remains active.  This is when we dream, which I believe is our minds showing us things that we tend not to pay attention to when we are awake.  In our wake state the body and mind tends to be over-stimulated and distracted.  One thing we can do is intentionally quiet our minds.  I don’t mean that we should be sleeping all the time but, we can go to a quiet place to meditate and pray.  We can stop watching television before bed or even take the TV out of the bedroom.  This gives our minds a chance to get settled and not to be filled with garbage. The less garbage filling our minds the more clarity we get.  Truthfully, we should guard what we allow our eyes to look at, our ears to listen and our hands to do because all these things leave lasting impressions on our minds.  Lastly, we can purposefully put the good things into our minds through reading holy scriptures, engaging in conversations with wise people, taking academic classes and things such as this.  The mind doesn’t figure this out on it’s own but, is regulated by the spirit that lives within us.

Spirit.

Our spirit is the core of our being.  This is the part of us that continues living when our body and our minds are inactive.  Our spirit is the part of you and I that desires to know and connect with God on an intimate level.  Our spirit can connect with God and is not limited to our genetic make-up.  When our spirit is at it’s best, our mind and our body are able to function at a higher level.  One barrier that I had to overcome in training for the marathon was the “roadblock” in my own mind.  I thought I couldn’t do it even though my body gave me no indication that I could not.  Once I decided to listen to my spirit, it became possible.  As much as the marathon triumph was a physical and mental victory, it was even more so a spiritual journey.  I enjoyed bonding with my teammates during our training.  The spirit within us desires to connect with the spirit in other people on an intimate level as well.  That is why it can be so perplexing to connect with someone in a physical sense but, not have a deep and true connection in a spiritual sense.  Your body gets affiliated with that other person but, you have no idea who their spirit is.  You find yourself “sleeping with the enemy.”  The spirit of a man houses their character and true identity.  The proverbial sage once said, “Guard your heart for it is the well-spring of life.” (Proverbs 4)  I believe he was telling us to guard our spirit, for it is the well-spring of life! Real life happens here, in your spirit.  If we are careful to pay attention to and strengthen our spirit within us, we very well are caring for our physical man as well.  Our spirit regulates the behavior of the mind, and the mind controls the behavior of the body.  My spirit communicates with the Spirit of God and then is able to explain things to my mind.  That’s why you can’t worship God in your mind.  Your mind will never understand the things of God.  It is in your spirit that you recognized the sovereignty of God and are able to worship.  Some people try to worship in their minds…doesn’t work.  They take their body to a place of worship each week hoping that something will “rub off” but, it’s not until our spirit is humbly submitted to the Spirit of God that we can receive what the Lord has to give.  We grow in the spiritual realm through humility, prayer and faith.  Through prayer, we tell the Lord we will submit our all, our body, our mind and our spirit to Him (Spirit) and ask Him to lead us and guide us in His will and His ways.  There may be a definitive point in your life where you begin to do this however, it is a continuous thing that we should do.  When we keep our spiritual “ears” open to the directions we are given, we are exercising our faith.

In the resource section below is a chart you can print out to make a strategic plan about what you will do to strengthen each area; mind, body and spirit.  Until next time…

Love yourself and each other.

Latice Devonne

Resources:

Social-Work-Tech-Self-Care-Plan

American Holistic Nurses Association

http://www.ahna.org/Membership/Member-Advantage/Self-care

UT Dallas Counseling

http://www.utdallas.edu/counseling/selfcare/

Bible Study Interactive; “The Difference Between Soul & Spirit”

http://www.biblestudyinteractive.com/difference-between-soul-spirit/

Romans 12 (NASB)

http://biblehub.com/nasb/romans/12.htm

Proverbs 4 (NASB)

http://biblehub.com/nasb/proverbs/4.htm

 

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 8 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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12 Steps: The Path to Inner Healing

In the previous blog, I alluded to the fact that sharing your thoughts and fears with the select individuals you are intimate with is an action that you and I can take to help us confront our fear of intimacy and to move past it.  A fear of intimacy is just one of the fears, or behaviors, that causes distance between others and ourselves.  There is fear of rejection, fear of loss of control, co-dependecy, low self-esteem, approval seeking, misappropriated anger, fear of authority, resentment, isolation and inappropriately expressed sexuality to name a few things.  I would love to tell you these ideas were developed from the inner genius of my own mind…but they are not.  I got these ideas from one of the best books I’ve ever read.  It’s called, A Spiritual Journey: A Working Guide for Healing,” by RPI Publishing Inc.  Well, it’s more of a workbook actually and it’s not meant to go through it alone but with an accountability partner or a mentor to facilitate the experience.  What I love about this workbook is that it systematically moves you through the process of healing, as the title suggest.  So many of us are able to rehash our pain and who is to blame for it but, where we struggle is at accepting our responsibility in the matter and changing its’ negative effects on our current circumstance.  I’m so glad that someone has walked the road to freedom before me and was so inclined as to come back to get me and show me the way out.  I strongly believe that we were not meant to walk alone on the journey to freedom so, my intent this week is to share with you a variety of ways to get with a group or at least one other person who knows the way.  At the very least, my desire for you is to connect with a group of people with similar hang-ups so that you can come out of hiding and denial about where you are mentally and emotionally.  James tells us that there is healing in our confession and prayer for one another! (James 5:16, ESV)

This spiritual journey book I spoke of is a valuable resource.  It is to be facilitated by someone.  The principles in this book are biblical and based on the 12-Steps.  The Twelve Step process came about when a man, William Wilson, had a drunken stooper and found himself dying in a hospital bed when he regained consciousness.  It was here, at his lowest point, where he had an epiphany.  Four years later, under the influence of the teachings of the Oxford Group, William and his associate Smith, published the book Alcoholics Anonymous.  The Oxford Group evangelical however, founded with the idea in mind to rekindle living faith while steering clear of institutionalism and religiosity.  I love that about the 12-Steps!  I am constantly reminded to apply the principles not because I am trying to follow a set of rules but, because it encourages me to exercise my faith and develop my character. I have given you a brief history of how the 12-Steps came about.

Below is a list of 12-Step groups that fall in line with the teachings of the 12-Steps of AA but, with a different target audience in mind.  Each group has a website and their own reading material that can be rented at any local library or, may be purchased through the groups website.  The websites are a good place to answer some questions that will help you to explore if the group is the right group for you.  There is a nation-wide list of locations and you can find the location nearest you when you put in your zip code.  Each of the groups usually meets as a whole large group to listen to a testimony or a principal of recovery then proceeds to break out into smaller, more specialized groups based on gender or issue where you are allowed to share if you choose to.  It is in the small group that the real work begins.  All the best on the journey to those who choose to walk the path.

About the Group: Alcoholics Anonymous

Target Audience: Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.

Website: http://www.aa.org

About the Group: Co-Dependents Anonymous

Target Audience: They offer no definition on the website but suggest that you check their list of patterns and characteristics to determine for yourself. These include a list of questions regarding avoidance, control, low self-esteem and denial patterns.

Website: http://coda.org

About the Group: Sex Addicts Anonymous

Target Audience: Men and women who desire to find freedom from addictive sexual behavior.

Website: https://saa-recovery.org

About the Group: Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous

Target Audience: Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, or S.L.A.A., is a program for anyone who suffers from an addictive compulsion to engage in or avoid sex, love, or emotional attachment. (Has women only groups)

Website: http://www.slaafws.org

About the Group: Overeaters Anonymous

Target Audience: Everyone who wants to stop eating compulsively.

Website: http://www.oa.org

About the Group: Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery is a biblical and balanced program that helps us overcome our hurts, hang-ups, and habits.  It is based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory.

Target Audience: Anyone with hurts, habits or hang-ups.

Website: http://www.celebraterecovery.com

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Naked and Unashamed

The fear of intimacy leaves me feeling like I am naked in a very spacious, public building. There is nowhere to hide or blend in with my surroundings.  It’s just me at my bare essence.  I’m left out here waiting and wondering how I will be weighed and measured by the passers-by.  All my dimples, wrinkles and scars…I am exposed.  My thoughts, my flaws, my past and my present hang-ups all out there for the world to see.  I hate this space and I tend to avoid it at all cost, even though my hearts desire is to be united with someone someday.  The very thing that I desire to move toward has at times had me paralyzed with fear.  My avoidance tactics are many.  My solutions are few.  This week reader, I hope to take us on a journey to discover how to move past this fear of intimacy that often besets us.

I did some research to try to help us get an understanding of what a fear of intimacy actually is.  According to Psych alive.org article, “Fear of Intimacy: Understanding Why People Fear Intimacy”:

“Most of us say that we want to find a loving partner, but many of us have deep-seated fears of intimacy that make it difficult to be in a close relationship. The experience of real love often threatens our self-defenses and raises our anxiety as we become vulnerable and open ourselves up to another person. This leads to a fear of intimacy. Falling in love not only brings excitement and fulfillment; it also creates anxiety and fears of rejection and potential loss. For this reason many people shy away from loving relationships. Fear of intimacy begins to develop early in life. As kids, when we experience rejection and/or emotional pain, we often shut down. We learn not to rely on others as a coping mechanism. We may even begin to rely on fantasy gratification rather actual interactions with other people; unlike people, fantasies cannot hurt us. Overtime, we may prefer the fantasy over actual personal interactions and real positive acknowledgment or affection. After being hurt in our earliest relationships, we fear being hurt again. We are reluctant to take another chance on being loved. If we felt unseen or misunderstood as children, we may have a hard time believing that someone could really love and value us. The negative feelings we developed toward ourselves in our early years, became a deeply embedded part of who we think we are. Therefore, when someone is loving and reacts positively toward us, we experience a conflict within ourselves. We don’t know whether to believe this new person’s kind and loving point of view of us or our old, familiar sense of our identity. So, we often react with suspicion and distrust when someone loves us, because our fear of intimacy has been aroused.”

This is only a brief snippet of the information that is out there.  I know I’m just touching the surface of this topic and may need to take a deeper look at this.  For today, let’s just look at the few things that are talked about in the above article.  I must also add that this fear can be a hinderance to friendships as well as romantic relationships.  Fear can be crippling, if you allow it to be.  Those of us who have experienced any of the above feelings must realize that there is a definitive course of action to move past this fear.  Yes, the triggers may still come but, yes, it’s also possible to not let those issues control your life and rob you of the happiness and intimate relationships that we were made to have.  Here are a few tips…

Anxiety and fear of rejection or loss:

I know I am no different than your average Joe but, some days I feel like I have had a disproportionate amount of rejection from friends, loved ones and enemies as well.  This is a hard pill for me to swallow.  I went from being the girl who didn’t care about anyone at any time to the girl that cared about everyone, all the time.  The latter seemed like the better option to me in my younger years.  At least I didn’t hate everyone all the time and there was no ever-looming chip on my shoulder.  The problem though, was that there really was a lack of commitment from me to anyone in particular.  Although it would appear that I had all these “friends” none of them really knew me.  It was easy to hop from one thing to the next and feel no sense of loss because I was never really connected or emotionally invested in anything. Today, I try focus on making real connections and living in the moment.  I used to be so preoccupied with what was going to happen and how things were going to turn out in the end, that I was unable to enjoy the moment that I was living.  As I shared with you in a previous blog post, I came to know that each connection I’ve had was for “a reason, a season or a lifetime.”  This allows me to relax enough to embrace the present, one day at a time.  I don’t want to miss out on gleaning the reason or enjoying the season that I am living in.

Fantasy gratification rather than actual interactions:

This one is a doozy.  You know when you are crippled with fear you become immobile.  There is no movement.  That means a person is just physically or mentally “sitting” in the same place day in and day out numbing-out on whatever “substance” would keep them in this lethargic state.  Some of us zone out on TV, some of us food, drugs, sex, internet chatrooms or whatever our preferred numbing agent, all to avoid real interactions with real people.  Real people are so unpredictable and at times so hurtful.  Sometimes it just appears easier to go it alone.  After all, “I’m not going to hurt me.”  Lies that we fool ourselves into believing.  This behavior is indeed, us hurting ourselves.  The most helpful thing I can say to help you out of this one is, log off!  Turn the TV off!  Go outside, join an interest group, call or visit someone instead of texting or emailing, interact with real people in real-time whom you can be your real self around.  For some of us this entails joining a support group to help us break free of the addictive, fantasy behavior.  I know that concept may sound crazy to you right now but, trust me, there is an amazing sense of comfort and healing that comes from fellowshipping with people who understand you and accept you just as you are.

 Negative self-image:

This one is difficult to grasp because your whole life you have been with you.  And you have seen yourself from this one perspective the entire time. Probably the perspective of one or both of your parents.  If you had affectionate, affirming parents that’s great!  However, for a large percentage of us, we were left with the hurts and hang-ups that we inherited.  To think of yourself any differently means that you would have no idea exactly who you were.  The first time I went through the process of healing, I remember thinking, “Well if these things are not true about me, then what is true?  Or, if I stop operating under the direction of this negative character trait, then I don’t know how else to conduct myself.”  I felt an utter sense of loss of identity.  The good news is that the negative traits you have acquired can be unlearned and replaced with positive ones.  There are beautiful things that God put in you from the time of your conception…ask God to help you see those things.  They are present in you right now!  As you discover them, write them down or say the affirmations to yourself in the mirror.  Whatever works for you to remind yourself of who you are.

Today, I live and I love in a more authentic way.  The goal is to get to the place where I can be naked and unashamed. (Genesis 2:25)  I mean to use this as a metaphor or, perhaps literally, for husbands and wives.  There are a few relationships that I am currently building that are the trigger of grief for me for different reasons.  I’ve shared my fears and my thoughts with those I am in relationship with.  That’s a good thing.  As I write this, I’m realizing that the grief is also a good thing.  These emotions let me know that I am living my life in a more exposed and vulnerable manner than I ever have before.  That’s growth! Don’t miss out on all the positive interactions you could have just to avoid the few negative things that may or, may not take place.  Live in the present and be intentional in your relationships reader.  Be encouraged.

Latice Devonne

Sources:

Holy Bible, Genesis 2:25 

www.psychalive.org/fear-of-intimacy

 

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Last Night I Cried: Environmental Changes

The previous post was about friendship with an emphasis on developing ones inner man to become the type of friend you’d like to have. I discussed all the basic types of relationships, or friendships, that a person should have at any given point in their lives. There are certain underlying attitudes and behaviors that support the creation of healthy relationships. However, the truth is, even the best relationships are subject to factors beyond our control. I am going to call these things environmental factors. There are many environmental factors that affect relationships. Environmental factors can either strengthen or destroy a relationship. One thing is true though, the nature of change dictates that things can never stay exactly the same. However, people like for things to remain constant. Consistency offers us a false sense of security because, the reality is, change is inevitable.

To be completely open with you, reader, this topic is on my heart at the moment because I will be moving out-of-state soon.  While I am moving closer to my family support system, I can’t help but reflect on my present friendships.  Also, I have been thinking about my past friendships and what occurred when I moved to a different state.  Environmental factors…that’s what happened!  Most of my friends had gotten married or moved out of the city/state, I had lost my job,  I was dating “Mr. Right Now” because I really didn’t want to deal with my feelings of loss and loneliness.  And, you know that only added more drama to my life when I should have been working on getting myself together.  When I left, I was running away from something that I was missing in my life and as I return home, I am walking towards something that I already have.  I have been so concerned about other people’s feelings concerning my move that I neglected to pay attention to my own process of this impending change.  Last night I cried.  Although, I am certain that this is the best choice for me at this point in my life, there is still a level of grief at the thought of leaving my friends and the surroundings I have become accustomed to.

There are other environmental factors that change the dynamics of a relationship even if two friends reside in close proximity.  Marriage, children, changing life philosophies, disrespect or distrust, sickness and tragedy are a few things that can pose  major challenges in a friendship.  When I moved out here, I never thought about how my life would affect others because I perceived that everyone had moved on with their lives and I was still stuck in the same-old thing.  Boy, was I mistaken.  In the coming years, some of my friends didn’t stay in touch nor did I want them to, with others our friendship was strengthened and some still, I discovered, although we don’t talk as much, when we do we jump right back into the closeness of friendship that we had previously.  Stepping out on faith and embracing change is worth it though because you learn so much about yourself and those that you are connected with.  I believe the one thing that has bound my best friends and I together for life is the fact that we discuss our feelings and honor each others feelings as it relates to the changes, we are committed to one another and we say that to each other often and last but not least, our actions match our words.  Best friends are more like family than friends.  I know this is corny and overused but, friends truly are the family we choose.

That’s it for me this month.  Cherish your friends people and, as usual, I’d love to hear from you.  Leave a comment or send me a note.

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It Takes One to Know One

In my teens and early twenties, like many people, I struggled with the maintenance of friendships.  I want to discuss the very important topic of friendship.  Let’s talk about some of the areas that cause us mental anguish and cause us to put up walls that are sometimes necessary but, sometimes isolating.  There are some behaviors and attitudes regarding friendship that I have come to know are very healthy for us to have in our personal toolboxes.  I had such a terrible time figuring friendship out that I have read many books about the topic, some of which I have shared with you on my “Friendship Builders” page of this website.  Other things I have learned by observation of others and lastly, the most powerful teacher…experience.  Experience is scary because it requires a bit of faith in order to trust the process and walk through the process.  One of the best nuggets of advice which came from a friend of mine was to let me know that there are different reasons for friendship.  There are friends that may be in your life she said, “for a reason, a season or a lifetime.”  That has stuck with me all these years and allowed me to open up my heart.

You may be wondering why my heart was closed.  Well, let me tell you two out of my laundry list of reasons.  I had a “best friend” in middle school who, in my opinion, did something treacherous to me.  Looking back it’s kind of funny.  She didn’t vote for me for some student body position that I had run for.  If I had a little more wisdom it the matter, I would have said “Hey, maybe this isn’t the best person to befriend,” or perhaps I would’ve understood her reasoning behind her choice and forgiven her.  However, at the time, I was devastated.  How could she say she was my best friend and not have my back?  Friendship, I thought was overrated.  Around that time, I had a family member also betray my trust by telling my mother something that I had shared in confidence.  That family member doesn’t even remember it to this day but, for me, it was a life altering incident.  From then on, I began to think that no one could be trusted with my thoughts.  No one could be trusted to actually support me.  Nope, I could only rely on myself.  I only needed me.  I became an island unto myself.  Now, I will not have you think that these two people were the cause of my behavior but, these events did add fuel to the fire.

friendship-day-images-for-girlfriends

I didn’t like myself very much and I didn’t like most other people at all really.  I didn’t have any real friends in high school and when I got to college, I would say I had a few but, I was a terrible friend to them so I use the term “friend” loosely.  I used my sense of humor primarily because everyone enjoys a good laugh but, also to avoid sharing the things that made me cry.  I was a chameleon, taking on the likes and dislikes of whomever I was with for the most part.  I would break commitments I had made at the drop of a hat if something else I’d rather do came up, even if it was at the last-minute.  Of course, I wanted people to like me so I had to come up with some lame excuse as to why I was being unreliable yet again.  I would cut people off in mid-sentence and forget what they were talking about.  I had poor active listening skills.  I was a bit of a self-centered, jerk to tell you the truth and it is no surprise why I didn’t have many real friends. I have discovered that if you want to have good friends, you should probably try to be a good friend.

“It takes one, to know one.”  When I say this, I must offer a word of precaution because, I know some people can get this twisted.  I’m not meaning to do things for people to manipulate them into doing something back for you…that’s codependency.  It’s also not good to expect that all your friends give support and love in the same exact way that you do.  However, real friends do give back in their own way so, keep your mind and heart open to receive that.  Be very clear here that I am saying, you give love and support as you are led by your inner-man to do so.  You give of your time (service), talent (skill/gifting) and treasure (finances) as you see fit and you don’t expect anything in return.  One of three things will happen.  A person will take the blessing and run,  they will receive it and express gratitude or they will take the blessing, be grateful and at some point reciprocate the blessing.  Today, I try to be the friend that I would like to  have and to consistently be me despite all else.  I enjoy the process of being friendly, or friend like, regardless of the response I get.  Trust the process, the more you practice these behaviors the more it, genuine friendship, will come back to you.

One last thing of extreme importance when it comes to friendship is to have a balance of types of friends in your life.  Everyone should have at least one person in each of the following categories; mentor, co-laborer and a mentee.  The mentor is your Ruth & Naomi relationship, or for the guys, your Moses & Jethro relationship.  This is the relationship where one person, usually more seasoned that you, takes the time to pour into your life.  They share from their experiences with you, they spend time with you and serve as a guide in your life.  You may have multiple mentors for different areas such as your spiritual walk,  your career or maybe even marriage advice.  The co-laborer, for lack of a better term, is your Mary & Martha, or your David & Johnathan, type relationship.  This relationship is more of a give and take when it comes to encouraging one another.  You can learn from each other in different areas.  Iron sharpens iron so to speak.  Lastly, after all this sharpening and being poured into, you have an obligation to pay it forward.  Identify the young men, for the guys, and young women, for the ladies, who have been placed in your life that may need a little guidance.  Be careful here because just because they need guidance, doesn’t mean they want it…and they may not want it from you.  The mentee/mentor relationship must be one of mutual choosing.  It may take you both some quality time to decide wether or not the relationship is one that you should engage in.

That’s it folks.  In a matter of paragraphs, I have shared with you much of what I have learned from years of experience, conferences and a whole lot of reading.  I hope this helps someone.  If you like the read…join the following through email or by WordPress.

– Latice Devonne 2014

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Artificial Me

Hello all,

I am so happy to be able to chit-chat with you for the second time in September.  It is a personal goal of mine to blog about relationships twice a month.  I also would like to have at least 700 site visits and 50 subscribers by January 2015, which is more than double of what I have at the present time.  Go big or go home right?  Of course, if you enjoy the read, I welcome you to follow me by email or by WordPress.

Today’s topic is concerning how one feels about themselves.  Some people call this self-esteem.  Does wearing make-up help or hinder a person’s sense of self-esteem?  I had a friend of mine ask me why I dislike make-up so much and I had to answer, “There are multiple reasons.”  One reason is because when I put on eye shadow, eye liner and things like that my eyes itch!  What the heck?  Why would I torture myself to “enhance” my beauty?  After she told me about the hypoallergenic option, I had to reveal my second reason.  Make-up is full of parabens, or toxic preservative agents, that may or may not cause cancer…but often traces of parabens are found in cancerous masses.  No thanks!  I prefer to use 100% pure shea butter, tea tree oil and other things like this for skin moisturizer or to correct skin blemishes.  Now, lastly, I have to admit that I think make-up is like putting on a mask.  It’s like a Halloween costume to me an I feel artificial when I have on full facial armor.  It appears like I am trying to become something that I am not just to impress people I don’t know.  Now, on the flip side, I am not ashamed to admit that I do believe in enhancing one’s own natural beauty and pampering oneself to arrive at feeling your absolute best for yourself.  I believe that women should give themselves beauty treatments, exfoliation of dead skin cells, soak in a mineral baths and things like that but, I just can’t get down with the cover up.  Ultimately, I believe it’s a personal choice.  What makes you feel at your personal best?  You should do what makes you feel like you can give your best to yourself, your loved ones and to the world.

A few years ago, I wrote a little poem about all the artificial things we do to ourselves.  It’s not necessarily about make-up but, it somewhat relates to this topic.  This is a good time to share it.  (Disclaimer: This is an original work that cannot be shared without the written permission of the author.)

Keeping it Real

How can you “keep it real,”

when you’re comprised of all fake parts?

If I hadn’t checked your pulse myself,

I wouldn’t know you had a heart.

I thought you were more savvy than a peacock,

But then again…maybe not.

Why do you need bells & whistles, gimmicks & frills?

What’s even more hilarious still,

Is to hear you express the frustration you feel.

A direct connect to stereotypes perceived,

Due to your artificial attachments.

Yet & still, you try to convince me

To tuck this & to weave that…

Never let it be known that your hair is kinky

& a natural home for beady bees.

With no flower in my hair, nor relaxer to lay it down…

No thong to announce a night out on the town…

Whether black-lace or granny underwear…

I am very much a lady here…

From my smooth skin to luxurious locks

Pass my round parts and my buttocks

To my power calves that call a man’s name.

It’s all me and it’s always the same.

Who bypasses orange juice to drink tang?

I’m just keeping it real.

Latice Devonne Copyright 2014

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