I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Do you ever have one of those weeks when you’re stuck emotionally? You feel like your mental energies are drained and you’re shouldering a huge boulder uphill?
Last week was like that for me. Tim and I were at odds. We couldn’t see eye-to-eye on some basic premises about our spending. In tears, I was stuck—that is, downright willie-niverred. (Okay, so I made up that word!)
When I’m angry with people, I’m usually engaging in unhealthy self-talk. My self-esteem is low and I get angry with myself for even the smallest thing.
Here are 6 steps I took to strategize last week’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very-willie-niverred battle:
- Each morning, I wrote out 3 things I was grateful for. I was thankful for a $25 Amazon gift card from my friend Brian. I connected with a new friend-intercessor, Trevor, from England. My friend Vicki, who I hadn’t seen in months, tackled me with an enormous hug when she greeted me. Gratitude shifts our sense of lack to one of substance and abundance.
- I memorized Scripture. I’m committing Romans 12 to memory. I meditate on it when I wait at a red light, do laundry, and drift off to sleep. “The fight doesn’t change the Word of God. The Word of God changes the fight.” (Dr. James Brewton) When I focus on Scripture, it washes over my little gray cells. Stinkin’ thinkin’ gets drowned out by the voice of Scripture. We interact with God’s Word. We talk to it. It talks to us.
- I got help. I had a picnic with my friend Stacie at a park. I told her what was going on. She validated my emotions and listened without judging. I looked up my counselor, Nadine Dody, who reassured me that conflicts over finances were common and gave me concrete steps. Getting help allows us to feel less isolated. Putting our conflicts into words and sorting them out allows us to create an environment of safety that we need to govern our own thoughts.
- Nadine recommended I share with Tim an activity from the Gottman Institute called Dreams Within Conflict. We took turns in two separate sessions asking detailed questions about one another’s dreams. One of us was the dream speaker and the other was the dream catcher, listening without judging. Dreaming together without derailing or interrupting gives you and me a chance to slow down. When we forgive others and speak to them kindly, we can more readily talk to ourselves with self-acceptance. (By the way, I just signed up for the Gottman Institute blog – practical tips on relationships.)
- I got extra sleep. Exhaustion saps my mental energy. I move too early and too easily into offense. Restorative chemicals found in deep sleep give us a chance to see things with a calm heart and a sense of humor. Rest gives us a chance to reframe our situations with physical and mental peace.
- I resolved to slow down. I pushed back a self-imposed deadline for a round of edits on my book on self-forgiveness. I’d rather complete this part of the project slower, with my marriage and sanity intact, than to overpower Tim with my “win.” What kind of a win is that? We asked and extended forgiveness. When we lower the bar with our accomplishments in order to make time for stronger relationships, we set the pace for a healthier mindset. And when we forgive others, we can walk forward confidently accepting ourselves, just as God intended.
Friend, what practical steps do you take when you get willie-niverred?
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