Friday, February 12, 2016

Women and Self-Esteem

Women and Self-Esteem

Self esteem issues can target men or women, but the alarming researched results showed that women, on average, have approximately thirteen daily negative body image thoughts related to themselves.  If you break that down to the hours an average person is awake, that amounts to nearly one negative thought during each one of those waking hours.

The world throws images of enhanced and photo-shopped pictures of beautiful men and women.  They surround us in our everyday life.  While negative body issues are the culprit in many women's low self-esteem, they are not the only factor.  Truth be known, the way in which you were raised, the community and cultural efforts of our family and friends, and even our thoughts can all work against a person to lower our self esteem.

With all this surrounding evidence to confirm suspicions of self esteem lack, it is wonderful to receive some Biblical assurance from such verses like Romans 12:3 (King James Version).  It states, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."

We need to take ownership of the issue and not cast it out as an issue that cannot be resolved, simply because we do not control the world.  It is true, we do not control the world, but we serve a loving God that wants peace, abundance and prosperity.  We can channel that negative data that we have been given and have believed, and focus on the ways in which we might have allowed that into our lives.  We are not destined to live with low self-esteem, but we do need to act on it before we can truly "listen" and apply that scripture's truth.

Comparing ourselves to others can be detrimental to one's self esteem.  We were all blessed with gifts and areas where we soar, but all too often it becomes easier to focus on our lack in comparison to our counterparts.  Then, there is the all-too-often inability to believe and graciously accept flattery or compliments.  We tend to turn down the kind words making the giver of compliments feeling disregarded and eventually the persistent put downs become the new truth.

Doubting ourselves and our ability to have an accurate idea of who we are or what we believe to be true can also be a hang up to women.  The moment our truth that we believe is challenged, we sometimes fall into the trap and doubt ourselves.  These hang ups may not be identified with in full, but there might be a tendency towards one or two of the aforementioned.

Turn those doubts and reclaim and rebuild that self esteem by going to the Creator that 'wonderfully made you'.  Capture those negative and destructive thoughts and give them to God and pray in agreement to stand on the firm truth of His promises.  The Lord does not make junk and when He created you, He wanted you to see the beauty and wonder of his creation.  Align yourself in prayer and stand on the evidence of His amazing masterful works.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Putting the Fun Back in the Marriage

There are images of marriage scattered throughout our world that encourages its viewers to see married life as this blissful, picture-perfect, Cheshire cat-grinning happy life.  One might begin to take a look at their spouse and then the image of worldly marriage perfection and think, 'Well, I don't have that.' and 'Why is our marriage so unhappy?'

The reality of experiencing those marital ups and downs is not unique to you.  You and your spouse, like all couples, navigate through the ebbs and flows natural to a marriage relationship.  The secret is in the commitment you have to each other and to the relationship.  Stemming from the commitment you make together is the joy of wanting to grow and learn about your partner for life.  When you work together through the hurdles thrown your way, but stand together and appreciate your differences, this charts the course for a committed and even a blissful marriage.

Take, for instance, the individual that has been smoking for years.  Perhaps a health scare or a concerned family member prompted the person to quit smoking.  While those prompts might have encouraged the individual to think of quitting, the fact remains that those outside efforts would not have caused the smoker to quit until he or she actually decided, within themselves, to stop the habit of smoking.  In this same vein, you can also start the chain effect of deciding to enjoy  your partner and to enjoy your marriage.

Possibly you are muttering to yourself that you do not know your spouse and the idea of deciding to enjoy your marriage seems more like an impossibility.  My question to you is, have you truly made the decision to enjoy your marriage?  Just like the term for a game of cards when you choose to 'go all in', have you fully invested of yourself and decided to 'go all in'?  This might mean experiencing some discomfort when your knee-jerk reaction would be to give up.  It might mean displaying greater patience despite the urge to throw in the towel.  But, if you never commit within yourself to 'go all in', and you continue to do what you have always done, then you will get the same return that you have always gotten.

The fun that was mentioned will also work most effectively if you choose to avoid the rut of the same routine. Perhaps dinner and a movie is your go-to choice for a date night or possibly you have not had a date night for as long as you can remember.  Put some action behind your words and change your routine.  These changes do not have to be more costly or time consuming.  Some of the best ideas are born from trying a new activity together.  Have you ever canoed?  How about a snorkeling lesson?  Maybe you always go away for a vacation so you could spice it up by having a stay-cation and cooking a gourmet meal together.  Take a look at the restaurant in town which offers a new cuisine that you both have never tried.

Capture fifteen to twenty uninterrupted minutes to slow down and appreciate the one with which you made a commitment.  You may know your partner's every quirk but 'knowing' him or her is a lifelong venture that needs regular attention.  Change may start with you, but it is a start and the rewards are plentiful.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Success and Marriage

When entering a marriage, the idea of it ever ending or being less than blissful is felt differently by each individual.  The basic factors such as the way in which each individual was raised, how interactive their parents were with each other and the nature of the relationship going into marriage can have an effect. Unfortunately, the world also poses its own set of rules and predictions for what marriage will last forever or what one is doomed from the start.

Despite these tendencies, predictions and worldly interpretations, some solid foundations need to be in place before the wedding bells toll. Here are some helpful tips to remember.

*Be committed to putting in that extra effort even when it is not fun or comfortable.  All too often, the "D" word is thrown around and placed in the back of the mind for when the going gets too rough.  Use those tough experiences to grow and broaden your marriage.  The gift of time can give the couple an opportunity to work through hurdles with reduced stress and challenge.

*Keep a marital random act of kindness bank account.  Similar to a bank account that operates on deposits and withdrawals, a marriage mirrors that routine.  It is all too easy to snap and lose your cool and mutter an unkind word or unloving gesture.  These are the withdrawals of the marital bank account.  Deposits need to regularly generate to keep the bank account, or marriage, alive and thriving and in the black.  Be creative with your deposits and when you are tempted to fire back in the midst of strife, try to release the trigger and opt instead for a deposit.  The rewards, while not always immediate, will eventually pay out generously.

*Change it up.  Stagnate anything eventually rots.  If your mode of operation is so predictable then change it up.  Get out of the rut and get out of the mindset that it has always been done this way. The only constant is change and if you desire for things to be different, it can start with you.  With each moment we are given this life to share with someone else, you are given a chance to grease the wheel of positive change which produces results.

*Lay down your lives.  This can be confused with protection, however it is far more than just protection.  Husbands, protecting your wife from an intruder and laying down your life to protect her is honorable.  It also includes the day to day examples of laying down your interests to be present for her.  The gift of your attention and presence for her when she needs it and you offer it to her, despite the sometimes inopportune timing, can offer a return on your selfless gesture with large dividends.  That event or thing which previously captured your attention will be forgotten, but the gift of laying down your life will be remembered for some time.

*Communicate.  This word is tossed around and yet is quick to fall off the marital beaten path.  We know we need to communicate and we know how easily misinterpretations happen and communication barriers.  The path of disagreements due to lack of communication is well-paved.  But this can be worked on and improved.  The key is to be consistent and regularly work the communication muscle.  The finger is often pointed at the women to resist the temptation of expecting mind-reading to take place.  If this is hurdle in your marriage, work on it.  Communicate your needs and be open to what your spouse is saying.  Receive what he or she is saying as an opportunity to improve and grow the marriage.