CONFRONTING YOUR INFLEXIBLE ATTITUDE
Excerpted from 30 Days to a Great Attitude by Deborah Smith Pegues, Harvest House Publishers, 2009
“A flexible person is a happy person,” my husband said, mimicking the expression I always use to adjust my attitude when my precious plans go awry. This was his way is letting me know that something had just gone wrong but that he was putting forth an effort to “go with the flow”. While I haven’t “arrived”, I have made great strides in overcoming my rigid attitude. I used to put my plans in cement, and woe unto anybody who changed them. I would mostly likely strike their names off my list for any future interaction. Thank God for deliverance. Over twenty years ago, the wife of a long time friend of mine joined him on one of his revival trips to Los Angeles. When her flight arrived, she learned that her luggage had been lost. The revival service would start shortly. I’m sure she had planned to wear a special outfit and all eyes would be on her as the speaker’s wife; however, she showed no frustration or disappointment with the course of events. Her flexibility and peacefulness affected me in a profound way. I decided then that I would make every effort to become a flexible person. In fact, I renew my commitment each time I observe someone at the height of frustration simply because he refuses to be flexible. Ray is a typical example. His job as a city maintenance worker requires him to share a truck with another man whom I’ll call Jack. Jack tends to get extremely hot and requires the windows in the vehicle to remain down-even when it’s quite chilly outside. Ray often finds the discomfort unbearable and infuriating. He has confronted Jack several times about the issue; company management refuses to get involved. When I counseled him recently, I simply asked, “Why don’t you just take a heavier jacket to work since it’s easier to peel off layers of clothes? Jack obviously has a medical condition that causes his problem and there is a limit to the level of clothing he can peel off.”At first, Ray was stuck on the fact that it just “should not be so”. When I pointed out that it was he–typical of inflexible people–who seemed to be experiencing the most emotional turmoil, he realized that he could continue to live in “Shouldville” where everything happens at it “should”, or he could simply make the necessary changes. Someone once said, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Such was the case with Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, who was afflicted with leprosy. His wife’s maid, a Jewish captive, suggested that he visit the prophet Elisha to seek healing. He had envisioned the healing scenario before he left home. However, when he arrived, Elisha didn’t even bother to come out and greet him.
But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy. But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage”(2 Kings 5:10-12 NLT).
Even in his needy condition, Naaman clung to his rigid attitude. Had it not been for the wise intervention his servants who encouraged him to at least try what the prophet had said, he would not have received his healing. Fortunately, he adjusted his attitude and after his seventh dip in the dirty Jordan River, his leprosy disappeared.
Do you resist change and insist on your expectations? If so, find a quiet place and reflect on the following questions:
- What are the unknowns that I fear about this change or deviation on plans?
- If none of the things I fear could happen, how could this change improve the quality of my life spiritually, relationally, emotionally, financially, or physically?
- Am I willing to risk God’s perfect will by resisting a change he is orchestrating? (Know that your inflexibility is an attempt to control an outcome. Many miss God’s best because, like Naaman, they have put him in a box and are only looking inside the box for their answer. Force yourself to look “outside the box”by being flexible.)
- Am I being lazy or complacent and not wanting to invest the necessary time and effort into the change?
- Start to embrace a different way of doing something–even simple things–each day (e.g., go a different way to work, sit in a different section at church, interact with a person you don’t know, etc.) Also, try meditating on these quotes from great men regarding change:
- “Every human has four endowments: self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom – the power to choose, to respond, to change” (Steven Covey).
- “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”(John Fitzgerald Kennedy).
- “The world hates change yet it is the only thing that has brought progress” (Charles Franklin Kettering).
- One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it (Peter F. Drucker).
Lord, help me to acknowledge you in all my ways so you can direct my path. Give me the emotional and spiritual strength to embrace every change that you have destined for me to achieve your purpose. In the name of Jesus, I pray Amen.
STEPS TO EASING YOUR STRESS
By Tricia Whitcomb
Yes, it is inevitable! With each new day there are new demands, opportunities or even let downs that will lead to stress. Conflicts, finances, family issues, work demands, illness, loss, desires, mistakes, insecurities, unfulfilled expectations, fear, marriage, divorce, moving, debt and more are all samples of stressors that can directly affect our internal peace and joy. So, how do we handle this juggling act? What can we do to cope with the many demands that could ultimately increase our risk of disease and cost us happiness and even jobs or relationships? Books have been written on this and studies have been done over and over. Below are a few ideas many of which I learned from reading the book, 30 Days to Taming Your Stress by Deborah Smith Pegues which could help to serve you in easing your stress.
1) Detect your stressors-List them and prioritize them and attack only the ones you can deal with one by one. The ones that are beyond your control you will have to let go of.
2) Rest-Get your sleep and hold a regular schedule as much as you can control. Our bodies thrive on a schedule and need regular consistent sleep. Americans are sleep deprived and this directly impacts our ability to cope and to recover. Proper sleep is necessary for good health (6-8 hours a night).
3) Over-indulgence-Avoid over-indulging: over eating, over-training, or consuming too much alcohol. All of which can have a negative impact on our health by compromising our immune systems and more. Eat healthy!
4) Move your body-Get involved in a regular exercise program which will serve to give your body the boost it needs by not only increasing strength and by improving cardiovascular function but by also improving coping ability and mental efficiency and memory. Did you know that 80% of diseases are preventable with proper exercise and nutrition? And, that stress can lead to short term memory loss?
5) Govern your finances-Save 10% off the top of what you make and have enough in savings to be able to cover your bases in case you are ever out of work for at least two months; preferably six months. Avoid frivolous spending and purchases which you can not afford.
6) Resolve any conflicts-Many studies have been done which prove that those who do not forgive others or hold a grudge are at higher ricks of disease.
7) Enjoy the here and now-”Tomorrow. . .tomorrow. . .I love ya’ tomorrow. . .you’re only a day away”-Little Orphan Annie. Well, that song is great for little Orphan Annie who couldn’t wait for tomorrow and having tomorrow to look forward to is great. It is true that we do need to plan for the future, but it is important to remember to live in the present. Living too much in the future can rob us of our joy today. Enjoy today. . .plan for tomorrow!
8) Do the right things-There is nothing worse than a guilty conscience to cause stress. If you have to make things right in your family, work place, etc. . ..clear your conscience and do so. Guilt robs us of our peace.
9) Just say no-Know when to commit and when to say no. Over extending yourself can lead to great stress. Saying no when needed can be a stress reducer.
10) Be flexible-Allow room for change in plans. I can’t tell you how many times I have had an appointment and hit traffic on the way or had plans which were forfeited due to unforeseen events. Being flexible will allow you to cope with change and be more tolerant. Plan for traffic in life!
11) Delegate often-Any task that you effectively delegate to others whether it is at home or work, do so! Ease your burden. Just remember to inspect what you expect.
12) Clarify your desires-Many people have expectations which are never fulfilled because they simply don’t ask. Make your needs and wants clear to those around you. Of course, evaluating properly which ones are realistic and necessary is important. Clear communication is the key!
13) Let go of the past-Living in the past or being dragged down by it will lead to stress and even rob us of joy, happiness, creativity and possibly success. Look at the past long enough to learn from it and move on! I have heard it put this way. Look in your rearview mirror long enough to see and learn from what is behind you (remember how small that mirror is), but then look forward through the windshield to see what is ahead for it is a much bigger picture!
14) Limit contact with those who produce stress -Some people are toxic to our health and peace of mind. You may love them but that does not mean it is healthy to be around them.
15) Laugh often-Laughter indeed is the best medicine. Take time to remember fun times and collaborate with friends and family for moments and hours of laughter.
16) Acknowledge your mistakes and shortcomings-Yes, you! We all have them and the better we are able to admit our faults and shortcomings the sooner we will be able to make improvements and be more approachable. Others generally respect hose who openly admit their weaknesses.
17) Release your tension-Get a massage, exercise, go for a run or walk, or take a drive. Make sure you have a healthy way of releasing your tension. (Stay away from the fridge!)
18) Nourish your body-Eat healthy whole foods. Stay away from high sugary or processed foods.
19) Be positive and schedule your day wisely-Nobody wants to be around a negative person. Don’t let them knock you off your perch. Keep whistling! Also, be sure to plan and schedule your day so that you allow room for a break or for unforeseen events.
20) Pick your peers or people of influence-Surround yourself with supportive people who share the same morals and outlook on life. Peers directly impact our lives. Our innate need for acceptance can at times tempt us to lower our standards. Choose in advance the kind of people you wish to associate with and then do not lower your standards. Avoid negative or toxic people, unless you are strong enough not to be influenced by them and have the time and energy to positively impact them and help them.
21) Change the way your speak-Talking in stressful terms leads to more stress not only for us but for those around us. For example, instead of saying, “I have to hurry and get you that report.” Say, “I will get that report to you as soon as I can.” Or, “Let’s grab lunch.” say, “Let’s get together for lunch.” Or, “I’ll get to that ASAP.” Say, “I will get to that as soon as I can.” Our own words can either create more stress or decrease our stress. Not just with yourself, but with others as well. Watch your words!
22) Solitude-Lastly, there is a need for time off. There should be time each day where you can break away from the chaos even if for a few moments to have some solitude. Furthermore, weekly you should allow for a day off. And, then plan small getaways monthly or quarterly to allow for much needed rest and relaxation.