Updated: Mar 9
It's that time of the year again! Time to make resolutions and pray that THIS year you are going to stick with it. THIS year is going to be different. THIS year you will finally _____ or stop _____ for good! Are you already wondering how long it will last? Or are you still trying to convince yourself that this time you will have enough willpower to muscle through and come out victorious on the other side?
Just stop this madness already! We put so much pressure on ourselves, on our children, on our spouses, on our work to be or do BETTER than ever before in hopes of finally achieving.... WHAT? Happiness? Money? Contentment? Health? Relationships? Peace?
Take the time to ask yourself: What am I searching for?
If you are searching for peace, here are four steps to help this be your most peaceful year yet*
* Maybe not your financially richest, or most problem-free, or healthiest, or even easiest, but certainly your most peaceful!
#1 Start Every Day by Making an Intention
An intention is a statement about something you want to do, rather than something you don’t want to do but feel that you “should“ do.
Write one on a sticky note and place on your bathroom mirror, or make a note of it in your phone, or write it on your calendar. Making and keeping daily (rather than weekly, monthly, or yearly) intentions gives you an opportunity to decrease the stress hormone, cortisol. It is well-documented that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, and increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease. Here are some suggestions of daily intentions to get you started:
"Today I intend to drink five glasses of water."
"Today, I am going to smile and take a deep breath at least three times."
"Today, I intend to see the best, rather than assume the worst, in others."
"Today, I am going to be kind to myself."
"Today, I intend to thank God for the air I breathe."
"Today, I am going to walk around the block and notice what I see without criticism."
Every evening, check in with yourself. How did you do? Keeping your daily intention not only decreases the stress hormone cortisol, but increases your natural mood stabilizer, serotonin - which also helps regulate sleeping and eating - and who doesn't want more regulation of those? However, if you did not do what you intended on doing today, what a great opportunity to show yourself GRACE and KINDNESS!
Remember, you can only give to others what you have in yourself, so if you are not forgiving of yourself, you cannot extend forgiveness to others. Which leads us to our second step:
#2 Recognize You are Only Human - and that's OK!
Face it, the only Perfect One to walk this earth was Jesus the Christ. Those of us who follow Him do the best we can to allow God to do His work in us and through us on a daily basis, leaning on Him for strength and provision. Sometimes, we fall into the "comparison trap" in which we find ourselves unrealistically comparing our (social media) lives with others. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in how things "should" be that we actually miss what IS! And, often this leads to filling the gap between expectations and reality with assuming the worst rather than believing the best (For a five minute mini-training on this, click here). Please, be gracious with yourself. Recognize that your life is not supposed to look like anyone else's life. Know that you are going to make mistakes and forgive yourself - Jesus already has! Which leads us to our third step:
#3 Practice being honest with your feelings
When we are going through a hard time, we are often tempted to hide it from others - or even ourselves. This is not healthy for you or your loved ones. Try taking one minute several times a day to simply answer this question without judgment: "How do I feel right now?" There are so many ways to feel and, contrary to how most of us were conditioned to believe, none of them are "wrong." They are what they are.
Now, this doesn't mean they all have to be expressed, but they all DO need to be recognized. Here are some feeling words for you to read through to get you started answering the question of how you feel right now:
Annoyed, anxious, insecure, disgusted, uneasy, tense, uncomfortable, shocked, trapped, livid, bitter, critical, threatened, jealous, hopeless, miserable, exhausted, overwhelmed
Delighted, joyful, energized, supportive, understood/understanding, friendly, attentive, motivated, curious, focused, confident, eager, productive, inquisitive, intrigued
The next time someone asks how you are doing, answer honestly. You don't have to know WHY you are feeling like you do - that comes in the last step! First, you need to just focus on WHAT you are feeling, and then you can work on having a friendly curiosity about it:
#4 Have a Holy Curiosity About Your Feelings
This kind of curiosity about your feelings picks up after first identifying them, and then asking, "I wonder why I feel this way?" That sounds simple enough, but when you get quiet and think about your feelings, you may notice some internal criticism that sounds like, "You shouldn't feel that way!" or "What's wrong with you? You should be grateful!" or even, "At LEAST you don't have it as bad as _____." I would like to challenge you to kindly and gently tell that inner critic to give you some space to experience the feelings that you are feeling so that you can find out where they're coming from.
Here's a personal story about how this went down for me recently: One Saturday morning my teenagers were playing video games and I was feeling so angry. I stopped to breathe and wondered why I felt so angry....then I began to hear my inner critic say, "Of course you are feeling angry! It's WRONG for them to be playing this long." BUT, rather than feel justified in my anger and go off on my unsuspecting sons, I continued breathing and having a holy curiosity. I asked that my inner critic to give me some space to figure out where this anger was coming from. I asked God to show me where from where this anger was originating. After a bit more friendly probing, I started to feel like if I was a better mother, they wouldn't want to play video games for hour. If I had raised them better, my sons would rather be reading or cleaning....WHAT?!? I never knew that (FALSE) self-talk was the core of my anger! Now: What to do about it....
I am currently reading Boundaries for Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies by Thomas Nelson which has been helping me understand, manage, and connect with my uncomfortable feelings. If this sounds like something you’re willing to try, check it out and be sure to let me know what you think of this book!
Look Moms, the way to make lasting change in your life starts by recognizing you can't do it alone, that you can't be "good enough." So, rather than feeling guilty over your sin, or wearing yourself out trying to be better, just turn it over to Jesus, trusting that He has you, and know He will NEVER let you go. Having peace with God is the foundation for every other area of our lives. Isaiah 9:6 tells us that Jesus is not only the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Everlasting Father but also the "Prince of Peace." It's only through a relationship with Him that we will ever experience true contentment and peace.
Through every success or failure; through your peaceful or chaotic times; through your hits or your misses; through your loss and your gains; He is there. He has always been there. He will never leave or forsake you and, when you are living for His glory and your good, you are going to find the peace you are searching for! I encourage you to continue trusting God even when things don't make sense. It's one sure way to enjoy your life…and experience more peace than ever before.
I'd love to hear how you are using these steps in your life! Please, sign in and leave a comment.
#ConnectPointMoms helps you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you're in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them!