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Author: Michelle Louise

Healthy Thinking: Why YOU Aren’t the Problem (Free Printable)

Healthy Thinking: Why YOU Aren’t the Problem (Free Printable)

Do you ever feel down in the dumps?

What Road Rage Taught Me About Life - http://hopemire.comLast week, I wrote a post called What Road Rage Taught Me About Life, where I discussed unhealthy thinking patterns related to the Fundamental Attribution Error.

Gosh, what is the Fundamental Attribution Error?

Well… go back and read my post! It explains the science behind this powerful principle.

In today’s post, we’re going to discuss how to apply that science. And I have a printable worksheet you can use to work through these principles in your own life. You’re welcome!

You can download the printable at the bottom of this post.

Unhealthy Thought Patterns

For people who struggle with depression or anxiety, when something goes wrong, it’s easy to blame ourselves. We attribute the situation to our own low self-worth, saying things like:

  • I’m just not good enough
  • I’m not smart enough
  • I’ll always be a failure

The problem is, that kind of thinking is self-defeating and doesn’t provide any room for hope or self-development. For example:

  • If I’m just not good enough, that must mean I don’t have what it takes to be successful.
  • If I’m not smart enough, how will I ever learn the skills I need in order to move forward?
  • If I’ll always be a failure, then why even try?

A Healthier Approach

When experiencing a challenging situation, instead of jumping to negative conclusions about our own character or personality, what if we explored the situation more fully and recognized that there are several factors at play, and not all of them are even under our control?

What if we focused more on what we can do, than on how defeated we feel?

I understand that can be a hard step to take…. It’s not easy to stop the train wreck of racing negative thoughts. I know that from experience. But, friend, it’s worth a try!

Getting Out of the Rut

Learn healthy thinking patterns at www.hopemire.comOur thoughts are like wagon wheels that develop deep grooves in the ground. The more we think a certain way, the deeper those grooves become. Over time, it feels impossible to change our thinking patterns. We no longer have to even steer the wagon. It will still follow the path of those grooves.

But, with the help of friends and sheer determination, it is possible to lift the wagon out of those grooves and start it on a new path. It will take time and effort, but it can be done.

About Your Free Printable

In this post, I’ve included a free printable worksheet on the attribution error topic. It can be downloaded below.

This worksheet takes you through five steps in recognizing the attribution error in your personal life and using it to improve your thought patterns. It follows these five steps:

  1. Internal context: What negative emotions am I feeling?
  2. External Context: What situation triggered these emotions?
  3. Internal Attributes: What do these emotions reveal about how I view myself?
  4. External Attributes: What external (outside of myself) factors contributed to the situation? How can I use that knowledge to shift my thought patterns in a healthier direction?
  5. Accountability: Who will I invite into the conversation, for an outside perspective, and to hold me accountable in practicing this healthier thought pattern?

For Example, Here is How I’ve Used This Printable

1.) Internal Context: What did I experience emotionally?

Frustration, self-doubt, dread, self-hate

www.hopemire.com2.) External Context: What situation triggered those negative emotions?

I had to come back early from a two-year mission stint in Peru, but several of my friends were successfully staying long-term on the overseas mission assignments. I was comparing myself to them.

3.) Internal Attributes: What negative thoughts did I believe about myself in the midst of that situation?

I must be a failure. They’re successful, but I just can’t make it. I’m not good enough.

4.) External Attributes: What was a healthier explanation of the situation?

They had significant training for their mission work, whereas I had no training in long-term mission work.

They were participating in a much more like-minded ministry experience, where as I had teamed up with people who did not share all of my beliefs and values. In such a situation, conflict is natural and to be expected. That does not mean there is something inherently wrong with me.

I thought I’d been a failure, but that wasn’t true. I had followed through with what God called me to do. That means it was a success. Some of the other stuff leading to my premature departure was simply due to factors outside of my control, and I cannot penalize myself for that.

5.) Accountability: Who can I call and talk with for support and an outside perspective?

The situation I’m describing above happened several years ago. When this took place, I shared my fears and emotions with a few key friends: Piccola, Janet, and Millie. They helped me walk through the process and provided emotional support as I sought a healthy, constructive perspective on what had happened.

Practice Self-Compassion

"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." Arthur Ashe Quote

When you struggle with negative thought patterns and low self-esteem, it can be very challenging to treat yourself with compassion.

You would have no problem loving on a friend who’s going through a difficult season, but when you go through the exact same circumstances, you beat yourself up.

C’mon, that’s just not necessary!

You are a beautiful human being, made in the image of God Himself. That doesn’t mean you’re perfect. But it does mean that you have an inherent dignity given to you by God.

Your Healthy-Thinking Homework

Ok! At long last, here it is:

Download your free printable here!

For practice, go ahead and work through one recent situation where you experienced negative self-talk or other unhealthy thought patterns. Practice filling out those answers.

If you need help, feel free to shoot me an email with questions about this printable, at hopemireblog@gmail.com. Or you can talk to a trusted friend about the situation, one who loves you and will speak truth over you.

Then I’d encourage you to print out a few copies of this (front and back) and keep these pages somewhere handy.

That way, when you experience a negative situation, you can easily pull out one of these sheets and start processing where your thoughts and emotions are with regards to that situation.

I truly hope this worksheet will help you develop newer, healthier thinking patterns! Remember that it takes time and effort though.

Keep working at it, and don’t give up.

After some time, you might just find that you’ve created new “wagon wheel grooves” along a healthier path.

For Further Reading:

For the Weak Pretender

For the Weak Pretender

I’m a wreck.

Deep within me, there’s this desire to be perfect, and perfectly independent. I don’t want to have to rely on anyone.

Because deep down, there’s very few people I actually trust….

So… just let me take care of myself.

I mean, be my friend, yes! And hang out with me. Because I need to know that I’m loved.

Buuut… just don’t make me have to rely on you…. I know the day will inevitably come when you let me down, and that’s painful, so it’s just easier if we keep our emotional distance and I can maintain some sense of control….

But the problem is, so very often, I let my own self down.

I want to be strong, but find that I am weak.

I want to be smart, but realize I missed something when I was planning.

I want to be responsible, but then can’t find the energy to take care of myself or my home.

I want to be loved, but then isolate myself, because I’m too afraid to take the risk of finding that I’m not loved.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 reads:

“Our bodies are made of clay, yet we have the treasure of the Good News in them. This shows that the superior power of this treasure belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. In every way we’re troubled, but we aren’t crushed by our troubles. We’re frustrated, but we don’t give up. We’re persecuted, but we’re not abandoned. We’re captured, but we’re not killed. We always carry around the death of Jesus in our bodies so that the life of Jesus is also shown in our bodies. “

This does a few things for me:

  • I am not alone in feeling weak. The apostle Paul felt it too. He felt troubled and frustrated. He was persecuted and captured. He experienced weakness and challenges on various levels.
  • My weakness is actually a reminder of God’s presence, and His surpassing power. The power of the Gospel lies within me, but my weakness reminds me that this power doesn’t come from me. It comes from God. And if the power that comes from God lives inside me, that means God lives inside me. He is helping me overcome!
  • It’s when we’re in the hardest situations, that we can see the greatest miracles! When I am at my whit’s end, I have a promise that I will see the life of Jesus Christ revealed in me. It’s challenging feeling weak, troubled, and frustrated. I hate feeling that way. But, when things get the hardest, I often feel Christ the closest. And that is a sweet, gentle blessing!

Child, don’t give up. Keep pressing onward, by the power of Christ! Remember that, in your weakness, you are strong. His power is made perfect in our weakness.

If you feel weak, it’s ok. You don’t have to pretend you’re something you are not.

When you feel weak, just talk to Jesus, and know that He doesn’t judge you. He sees you where you’re at, and He loves you all the same.

Pray something like this:

Jesus, if I were to be honest, I’d say that I’m feeling pretty weak right now. I’m not sure what to do or where to go.

But I believe that Your strength is more vast than the depths of my weakness, and You have everything I need to make it through this season.

I trust Your love for me and I choose to have faith — to believe that, even when I can’t see myself making it through this season, Your love and power are still enough to carry me through.

Thank You that, with You, I can be honest, and I don’t have to pretend I’m someone I’m not. Thank You for loving and accepting me just the way I am! For providing grace on a basis of faith, not works.

Help me love You better and trust You more completely! Help me, and carry me through this season. I trust in You!

 


 

Thanks for reading! May you find grace and encouragement for your journey!

If you liked this devotional, here are some others you might enjoy:

Grace, peace, hope,

–Michelle Louise

http://hopemire.com

Peace and Faith in God

Peace and Faith in God

Hello friends!

Thanks for joining me for another devotional time. I’m starting to really enjoy these, and I hope you are too!

Today’s reading: 2 Timothy 1:6-10

I enjoy asking myself a key question as I meditate on Scripture. It often brings a passage to life in fresh ways! So today, I look at this passage and ask myself:

What does this passage say about peace and faith in God?

Here were a few thoughts that came to mind:

v. 6 – “…fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…”

This calls us to trust what God has done in our lives and to follow the calling He has placed on our lives. Afterall, we won’t seek to fan our giftings into flames (grow, practice, cultivate them) if we don’t trust God who gave us those gifts. Now, sometimes we don’t know what our calling is, but other times we do. And when we do, we should trust God and start moving in that direction, preparing, praying,  and ultimately taking the leap. It’s hard to take that leap, but it’s so worth it!

v. 7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

This is a very commonly quoted verse. Today, I look at it and see a description of what faith can empower us to do! Faith enables us to move outside of fear. Perhaps fear still attacks us, but fear does not come from God. Perhaps we may never stop experiencing or encountering fear, but God has given us those three unique gifts to help us withstand and overcome the fear we experience. Those three gifts are: power, love, and self-discipline. Faith tells me that, even when I struggle with fear, I can still be bold, care for others, and care for myself. I can still find strength in the midst of fear, because fear doesn’t come from God. But strength does!

v. 9 – “…but because that was His plan from before the beginning of time.”

Wow, think about that! He had a plan from before the beginning of time, and He followed through with that plan. I’m lucky if I follow through with my plan from this morning! I am so thankful that God is dependable and that He follows through with His commitments. When He promises you something, you can trust it, because He will follow through with His plan. It might not look like what we think and it might not be when we want, but it will be good and perfect in His way. And I am thankful for that! What a huge relief that He is dependable!

Questions to ask yourself today:

  • Do I have a sense of what my giftings are? If so, how can I put those into practice today? If not, who can I ask (a mature person that I trust) to speak into my life about the giftings they see in me?
  • In what areas of my life have I been experiencing fear? How can I shift my perspective on God’s ability to give me power, love, and self-discipline in the midst of those situations? Where can I trust God more?
  • Where have I seen God to be dependable in my life? Where do I need greater trust in His faithfulness?
  • Who can I share this lesson with today? Who needs to hear this message?

Thanks for reading!

If you liked this devotional, here are some others you might enjoy:

Grace, peace, hope,

Michelle Louise

http://hopemire.com

What Road Rage Taught Me About Life

What Road Rage Taught Me About Life

Honestly, I have never struggled with road rage. Ever. I follow all the rules and I’m a complete saint on the road. In fact, people adore me, and Matthew West even once wrote a love song dedicated to my gorgeous driving skills!

… …. yeeeah… If you’ve ever ridden in the car with me, you know that’s not true!

I can’t count the number of times someone has cut me off in traffic and then slowed down, forcing me to hit the brakes like a mad woman! And what comes out of my mouth?

Feeling Overwhelmed“Oh, you poor thing! You must not know where you’re going!”

Of course not! Obviously, I’m gonna shout:

“IDIOT!!! What are you DOING?!?!”

Side note to reader: I’m not very godly in my car….

Have You Heard of the Fundamental Attribution Error (F.A.E.)?

It works in two parts:

1.) When someone else does something I don’t like, I tend to attribute it to his or her character and personality. She must be stupid. He clearly must be a jerk. I mean, c’mon, they are both so idiotic that I’d nominate them for admission into the Idiots’ Hall of Fame!

2.) But when I do something that others don’t like, I rationalize it. Cuz… clearly it’s not my fault! I was running late and missed my coffee, so obviously I can’t be expected to act like a normal coffee-enriched human being, right? 

Here’s another example:

Fundamental Attribution Error
A chart taken from this social psychology blog.

 

How Depression Hijacks the Fundamental Attribution Error

Depression affects us in many ways. Read more at http://hopemire.comIsn’t it ironic that, in cases of depression, the fundamental attribution error is often reversed? I may rationalize what others do, but when I make a mistake, gosh, I’m such an idiot! What was I thinking?!

My Gen. Psych. professor talked about this phenomenon in class last semester.

I found it fascinating! I had never questioned those thought processes before.

…Geez, I’m such a goober!

(F.A.E. alert there!) 

Now I have an option to identify my unhealthy thinking patterns when I’m in a low episode and try shifting them in a more positive direction.

Personal Failure and the Keys to Responding Well

First, you should check out my follow-up post on this topic, where I discuss healthy thinking patterns with respect to the attribution error. That post includes a free printable worksheet to help you process through different situations.

Now, there are many factors that affect behavior, including personality and value systems, but our external environment (what’s going on around us) also plays a significant role.

When we experience failure, we have two options:

1.) We could choose to look only at internal factors (“I messed up, so I must be a failure”) and therefore believe there is something inherently wrong with us.

2.) Or, we could look at the full context of the situation, including internal as well as external factors (“I messed up, but that’s because I didn’t have all the information I needed, or I got distracted by something”) and decide what we choose to learn from it!

I also love asking these three questions when I have experienced a failure:

  1. What did I do well?
  2. What can I improve?
  3. What will I do differently next time?

Notice that “what did I do wrong?” is not on the list!! Asking that question can reinforce unhealthy, self-deprecating thought patterns.

Learn healthy thinking patterns at www.hopemire.comFriends, let’s stop our negative thinking before it gets to the point of assuming we are worthless.

Let’s not go the route of believing there is something inherently wrong with us.

If we get on that trail, we’re driving an ice cream truck straight into a minefield, and that’s bound to  get messy!

Instead, let’s see what we can learn from that failure and how we’d approach the same situation differently in the future.  

Aaaand… when others do something that drives us batty, let’s practice some rational empathy and continue loving them, even if we’d rather give them a high-five… in the face!


Sharing is Caring!

Did you enjoy or benefit from this post?  Please share it on your social media!  That helps get the word out about my blog, and it provides encouragement for your friends too!  

Thanks in advance!

“Worrying Doesn’t Help”

“Worrying Doesn’t Help”

“Can any of you add a single hour to your life by worrying?” -Matthew 6:27

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus encourages us not to worry. But sometimes, after reading that passage, I find myself worrying even more. I’m so performance driven, that I worry about my ability to not worry. Geez, we are silly creatures!!

Verse 27 above became real to me this past weekend. I had published a blog post and was concerned how someone might respond to it. And I couldn’t stop worrying and worrying about it….

Finally, I asked myself three questions:

  • Do I know how this person will respond to that post?
  • Can I control the when this person will respond?
  • Do I even know if this person will respond?

The answer to all three of those questions, of course, was a big, emphatic no!

So the next logical question?

Then why worry? What will worrying do for me in this situation? Will it add a single hour to my life? It’s just stressing me out more!

A reflection from www.hopemire.com on Matthew 6:27After going through that thought process, I instantly remembered Matthew 6:27. Wow! What a blessing that Jesus gave me this moment to see a practical application of His own words!

As you go through your day today, I’d challenge you to ask those questions when you’re tempted to worry. Do you know for sure whether that thing you dread will happen? Can you control when it will happen? Will worrying help or hinder you in this situation? Then give it over to Jesus!


Thanks for reading! I hope this post was a blessing for you today.

If you liked this devotional, here are some others you might enjoy:

Many blessings on your day,

Michelle Louise

http://hopemire.com

Monday Montage – My Favorite Posts from This Week’s Problogger Challenge

Monday Montage – My Favorite Posts from This Week’s Problogger Challenge

Hi friends!

This past week, I have been participating in a 7-day blogging challenge with ProBlogger. It’s a super awesome blogging tutorial website, and creator Darren Rowse is the best!! Anyway, that’s why my blog appears to have come back to life after several months of near silence!

I’ve enjoyed this blogging challenge so much. We’ve been part of a Facebook group, and the camaraderie has been simply amazing! I’ve met so many new friends, explored many new blogging styles, and I’ve read a lot of amazing blog posts!

Today’s the last day of our challenge (sad face), and our goal today is to write a “link post,” where we link to at least one other blog. As I said above, I’ve really enjoyed the people and blogs I’ve met this past week, soooo… I thought I’d share some love, and list my top five favorite posts from this challenge that were relevant to our niche.

I hope you enjoy!

 

How to Have a Sunday Morning Retreat for People Who Think They’re Too Busy

This is a fun, short little post on Instagram. I didn’t know people could do blogging on Instagram, so that was cool to see! With a focus on self care, this post lists a few steps you can take to pamper yourself. I can’t wait for Sunday to roll around, so I can have my Sunday morning retreat! Or maybe I’ll just do it now!

 

How to Manage Stress When Your Work is an All-of-Life Thing

This article shares lots of great ideas on how to manage stress, when work and life are highly integrated. It was an interesting read for me, because I used to work in community development. There’s a trend in neighborhood revitalization where you go live in the neighborhood where you’re working. One of the consequences of that trend is, you think about work all the time, because you live where you work. That is also a problem for missionaries, pastors, and members of other similar ministries. When your job overlaps with what you view as your life calling, it can be hard to set healthy boundaries. This post has some good tips on managing that stress.

 

How to Be a Friend to An Autism Parent During a Child’s Meltdown

This is an excellent post with tips on how to respond when you see an autism mom (or dad) working with her (or his) child through a meltdown.

If you are an autism parent, this is a great one to share with your friends, should they ever ask how they can better support you. Jenny is also working on a survival guide for autism parents, so make sure you subscribe to her blog, so you can access that guide once it comes out.

If you are not an autism parent, please read this! It’s easy to respond in a hurtful way.

Ripples in Mirror Lake – a short story

This is a nicely written, fictitious story about a hiking trip, with a beautiful life metaphor. Well worth the read! It explores themes of life perspective and blame, as well as looking beyond just the surface. It’s a quick read, and quite enjoyable!

 

Empathy and Communication: The Dynamic Duo

This is an interesting article that explores how empathy and communication are related. When dealing with conflict, empathy is an important step in the process, allowing you to understand what the other person is experiencing and connect it to some of your own experiences, so that true communication can take place.

 

Called Out of Darkness

Called Out of Darkness

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
–1 Peter 2:9-10

How amazing that, as Christians, we have been rescued from darkness!

Except that some of us still feel trapped there…. Life can be seriously hard. I have those days when I simply don’t know what to do, and I just want to curl up in my bed and close my eyes.

Yet He loves me! And He calls me a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own possession.

He loves me! He has called me out of darkness, and transferred me into His Kingdom of light!

Oh yes, He loves me! Once, I was not accepted, but then He came and accepted me! Once I was without hope, but then He came and gave me hope!

He loves me. And He loves you.

How encouraging that He is the One who calls us out of darkness. It’s not some evil being who is calling us out, for judgment and chastisement for all our sins. Instead, it’s an amazing, beautiful Father who calls us in, forgives us (if we have Christ in our hearts), and ushers us into His Kingdom!

How much peace does that bring?

I mean, the deep peace. There will still be anxieties and fears in this life. But we have a kind Father to whom we can bring those things. And He will help us.

Friend, He is leading us away from the darkness. It’s a journey we’re all on. For some, the journey will be fast and breakthrough will come in an instant. For others, the journey will be long and arduous, and true breakthrough might not come until we break through the veil into the Kingdom of Heaven. But either way, breakthrough is coming!

Don’t lose hope, my friend. You can make it. Because He is with you and Jesus will never leave you, not one step of the way.

If it helps, picture His hand holding yours. He will gently lead you beside still waters and, little by little, He will help you on your way!


Thanks for reading! I hope this devotional was a blessing for you!

Feel free to check out some of these other devotionals I’ve written, and as always, please share with your friends!

Peace, my friend!

–Michelle Louise

http://hopemire.com

What is Your Bedtime Routine?

What is Your Bedtime Routine?

Back in April, I wrote a blog post in which I shared my bedtime routine. Since I struggle with anxiety and had a high stress job at the time, I really needed a routine to help establish a sense of normality. Preparing my lunches and picking out my outfit the night before also helped me go to bed with a greater sense of peace, because I knew things would be ready in the morning.

I must confess, I haven’t been great about keeping up with that routine, especially since I moved, changed jobs, and went back to school. It’s been hard finding my new normal. Life is much less structured, and sometimes a bit unpredictable.

In many ways, that’s great! I’ve had more time for me, for blogging, for dreaming, and I’ve been able to catch up on sleep! But sometimes I really miss the routine.

Anyway, I’m participating in a 7-day blogging challenge today, from www.problogger.net. It has been awesome! Today is day 6, and our challenge today was to create a piece of content that is a “discussion starter.” We’re supposed to ask a question of our audience.

So my question to you is this:

What is your bedtime routine?

Please leave a comment below and let me know what you do for your bedtime routine (or what you wish you did!) I’d love tips and fresh ideas, and I’m sure we can all learn from one another!

If you don’t have a bedtime routine, feel free to take a look at my post on what I do (or used to do, lol!) each night. It might get your juices flowin’!

How to Find a Therapist

How to Find a Therapist

One common question I hear is: how do I find a therapist?

Maybe you’ve finally decided to get some counseling, but you just don’t know where to start.

Here are some simple steps you can follow:

1. What kind of therapist should I see?

  • Psychiatrist – a medical doctor who specializes in psychiatric illness. Their main function is to diagnose and prescribe medicine. Once this is complete, they often refer you to a psychologist or LPC for counseling.
  • Psychologist – typically has a doctorate degree in psychology, which includes extensive training in human psychology, behavior, and evaluation. They provide counseling, including a range of treatment options, and can also perform psychological testing and evaluations.
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) – a counselor who has a Masters degree in Counseling, passed an exam, and completed 3,000 hours of supervised counseling work, in order to receive the LPC credentials.
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – social workers specialize in case management, helping clients connect to local resources with the goal of improving overall quality of life. A social worker with LCSW credentials has a specialty in mental health and can do some counseling.

2. How do I find someone in my area?

Option 1: Seek referrals from your primary care physician, as well as family members and friends who see a counselor

Option 2: Use Psychology Today’s therapist search page:

A.  Go to this website: https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/
B.  Enter your zip code
C.  You can filter results by insurance carrier, specialty, language, faith tradition, etc.
D.  Review the results and make a short list of therapists in which you might be interested
E.  In reading each therapist’s description, look for professionalism and treatment philosophy

3. Call them and do an interview (yes, that’s allowed!):

  • How long have they been a counselor?
  • What credentials / license do they have?
  • What is their counseling philosophy?
  • Do they have any specialties?
  • How much do they charge and do they take your insurance?
    • If you like the therapist but can’t afford him or her, ask for a referral. Some might even let you send them your short list from step 2 above, and they can then give you feed back on those therapists you’re interested in.

4. After your first meeting with a therapist, ask yourself some questions:

  • How comfortable did you feel with the therapist? You shouldn’t expect to feel absolutely comfortable because, by nature, therapy is challenging, especially the first session. However, you should feel comfortable enough with a therapist that you’re willing to share your deep anxieties and emotional issues.
  • Did the therapist treat you with respect and dignity? If not, then that therapist might not be a good fit. You want someone who is going to help your self-perception, not hurt it.
  • Did the therapist truly listen and ask questions? You’re paying a lot of money for that appointment and you’re investing time into it. You want someone who will listen to you and seek to help you improve.

5. Select a therapist, set some goals, and stick with it!

Based on your research, interviews, and initial experiences, select a therapist. Work with that individual and set some goals. Then I’d encourage you to stick with it! Don’t give up on seeing improvement! You owe it to yourself!

The Day I Wanted to Die

The Day I Wanted to Die

I remember the first time I truly considered ending my life.

I was sitting in my bedroom, remembering a confrontation that had taken place at work a day or two previously. And I couldn’t get the racing thoughts out of my head.

Confrontations scare me. So many memories and challenging emotions from my childhood always race back into my head when conflict happens.

There is an underlying sense of “not safe” that hides at the edge of my consciousness. Most days, I’m able to ignore it, but when confrontation happens, that “unsafe” mindset rears its ugly head and abducts my brain. All I want to do is run and hide.

The Conflict that Sent Me Over the Edge

I was training a co-worker on how to complete a month-end financial report. It was a very complicated, manual Excel spreadsheet. I had shown her how to do it the previous month, but wanted to check her work this month, because it was her first time completing the report on her own. I wanted to make sure she had everything she needed to succeed and confirm that I had done all I needed to do in training her.

Apparently she didn’t like that. After I asked to review her work, she scheduled a meeting with me and spent several minutes practically shouting at me. “I know how to do my job! I don’t need you hovering over me and watching my every step. Stop treating me like one of our office assistants!”

My mind began reeling. She was basically yelling at me. Her eyes were angry and bulging. My heart beat increased and I felt that tension rising in my gut… I wanted to run. I needed to get out of there! But I also knew that, as an adult and a professional, I needed to somehow try and work through this conflict in a constructive way.

So, after listening to her for a few minutes, I began explaining my perspective. This was her first time doing the report on her own. I only wanted to make sure I had done a good job training her and that she would be prepared for success. I emphasized that I was not going to do that every month, but just wanted to give her some further details this month on the portions she hadn’t completed properly, so that she would have all the tools she needed to perform well in the future.

No matter what I said or how lovingly I tried to phrase it, she kept shouting the same thing, over and over. “I know how to do my job! You don’t need to be reviewing my work! Don’t treat me like a child!”

Finally, I got up and left the room. We were getting no where. If she didn’t want my help, then I would just let her fail. I wasn’t going to try working through it with her any longer.

What My Brain Told Me

How do you forgive when you have been so deeply hurt?I couldn’t stop thinking about that confrontation for the rest of the day. I think I even left work early, because I was so upset and couldn’t get anything done.

The thing is, I had spent the whole previous year working on my ability to keep my head in the midst of conflict. I’d thought I was making progress, but apparently I wasn’t. Once again, that fear response had risen in my body, and once again, my mind had shut down. I’d gotten up and left.

At home, I continued thinking about the event. Perhaps I would never be able to handle conflict. Except, isn’t that a pivotal part of being a leader? My whole life, I’d wanted to do something great… make some great contribution. But… if I couldn’t handle conflict, what would I ever be able to contribute to society?

There must be something inherently broken about me… out-of-order. Some part of my spirit that just doesn’t work properly, and can’t be fixed. I’ll never be able to live out my calling. I’ll never be able to truly live!

So… why try?

What My Friend Told Me

Those thoughts crippled my mind for the next several days and, for the first time, I was actually considering whether or not I wanted to end it all.

Then my friend Millie came over. She asked how I was doing and I told her I was just crashing. I shared the above story with her and how disappointed I’d been in my reaction.

She was like, “What? Why? You handled the conflict just fine. Your co-worker was the one who didn’t handle the conflict well.”

That took me off guard, so I asked her what she meant.

“You handled the conflict. You listened to your co-worker’s side of the story and then shared your side. You were looking to communicate and understand one another, so that you could both move forward in a positive way. She is the one who wouldn’t listen. She repeated the same thing over and over again, and never even heard what you were trying to say. She is the one who didn’t handle the conflict well. You did fine.”

I was shocked. I hadn’t even considered that perspective, but it made perfect sense.

What I Learned Through This Experience

I don’t share this story to bash my co-worker. Nor am I trying to say I’m such a saint, because I’m not. I wasn’t blameless in that event and there were things I could have done better, especially leading up to the conflict.

However, I do share this story with the goal of demonstrating that we need other people (like my friend Millie) to help speak hope into our lives.

Sometimes our minds play tricks on us. When we struggle with unhealthy thinking, it’s easy to filter out all of the positive evidence and hone in on the negative evidence, contributing to a low self-esteem and an unhealthy view of the world. That’s what makes some of us want to give up.

I’m thankful for my friend Millie and the conversation we had that day. It changed my perspective on a few things.

  1. Handling conflict well doesn’t mean being the smartest, most commanding person in the room. It means aiming to love and serve well. It’s about the heart, not being in control.

  2.  Conflict and confrontation are hard for me. That probably won’t ever change. I may never be able to handle conflict without some level of fear. But I can learn, and am learning, positive coping methods to manage those stress levels. I will continue getting better, as long as I don’t give up.

  3. We can’t always trust our own interpretation of an event, especially if it’s causing us to plummet into hopelessness. It’s always worth it to open up to a trusted friend and get an outside opinion.

  4. Suicide is never the option. Don’t give up. There is always a way to find hope!


Thanks for reading!

May you be blessed and find fresh hope in your journey!

–Michelle Louise

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