Sunday, November 17, 2013

An Ounce of Prevention: Signs That You're Living a LIE

“So how do you expect me to get any comfort from your nonsense? Your so-called comfort is a tissue of lies.”---Job 21:34(Message)


Take it from me, living a lie is *rough*.  And the thing is, the only way the truth can make you free (John 8:32) is if you actually accept the truth for what it is and unfortunately, a lot of people would rather live in the lies that they tell themselves rather than embrace the reality of the truth (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message).

So in the effort to help us all *see the truth* of some of our current (CURRENT) circumstances, I wanted to share some insights that I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) this evening.

First up. FINANCES.

"5 Signs You're Living a Financial Lie":

Are you living a financial lie? Is keeping the facade going preventing you from finding peace, happiness, and long term security? Here are 5 of the most common signs that you need to rethink your spending habits.

1. You can't make a budget. This was the big wake up call for my family. Every time I sat down to make a budget I found I couldn't make the numbers balance, yet we were getting by every month happily buying what we wanted and paying our bills. I repeatedly decided it was best not to look too closely at how we were making it and let my ignorance be our bliss. The hard truth is that if you're living within your means and working towards your financial goals, you should be able to prove it on paper every single month.

2. You have no savings. Accidents happen. So does retirement, birthdays, vacation, and broken appliances. If you don't have any money leftover each month to put into savings, you're spending too much. A good rule of thumb for savings is to put aside a certain percentage of each dollar as it comes into your household. Don't wait until the end of the month to save what's left over - there will never be anything left over.

3. You use store credit cards. Nothing you buy at a department store should put you into debt. If you're relying on store credit cards for clothing and home goods, chances are you're living beyond your means. These types of purchases are common among people who feel they need to appear to have a certain lifestyle, regardless of what their income actually is. The reality is that no one who matters cares where you buy your clothes or how many times you (or your kids) have worn the same outfit.

4. You lie to your spouse [or others] about purchases. Do you hide shopping bags and remove tags to hide your shopping sprees? Do you stretch the truth about how much something costs? A responsible purchase shouldn't inspire lying or hiding. If you're not telling the whole story about what you've spent, you may be trying to ignore your own inner voice telling you a change is needed. Try sitting down and having an honest conversation about your fears. Think about how you feel when you buy something and how you feel when you don't. You may find you're making impulse buys as an emotional coping mechanism.

5. You don't know how much debt you have. You can't have an accurate and realistic picture of your family's financial health if you don't know exactly how much money you owe. Yes, that includes your mortgage, car loans, student loans, and any other big numbers you're afraid to think about. You can't conquer what you can't see, and ignoring your debt only helps it to grow bigger, faster.

I'll throw two more in for good measure...

6. You shop/buy more than you give. Acts 20:35 tells us that it's more blessed to give than to receive and 2 Corinthians 9:6-8(NKJV) says this: "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." If you believe that getting yourself the umpteenth pair of shoes is more important than meeting the need of your neighbor (I John 3:16-18), you are living a lie.

7. You use shopping as a coping mechanism. If you don't know how to cope with stress other than to spend money, you're also living a financial lie. A costly one, at that. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us how to deal with anxiety. Shopping is not mentioned anywhere in the Scripture.

"9 Warning Signs You’re in Bad Company" (excerpts):

1. They only make time for you when it’s convenient for them. It’s obvious, but any relationship without regular interaction and communication is going to have problems, especially when there’s a lack of commitment.

Don’t waste your time with someone who only wants you around when it’s convenient for them.  You shouldn’t have to force someone to make a space in their life for you, because if they truly care about you they will gladly create space for you.

Being in a relationship with someone who overlooks your worth isn’t loyalty, it’s stupidity.  Never beg someone for attention.  Know your self-worth, and move on if you must.

2. They hold your past against you. Some people will refuse to accept that you are no longer who you used to be – that you’ve made mistakes in the past, learned from them, and moved past them.  They may not be able to stand the fact that you’re growing and moving on with your life, and so they will try to drag your past to catch up with you.  Do not help them by acknowledging their negative behavior.  Keep moving forward.

3. You feel trapped. Healthy relationships keep the doors and windows wide open.  Plenty of air is flowing and no one feels trapped.  Relationships thrive in this kind of unrestricted environment.  You can come and go as you please, but you choose to stay because where you are is where you want to be.

If you want to be a part of someone’s life, all the open doors and windows in the world won’t make you leave.  If someone has closed them all in an effort to trap you into something you don’t want to be a part of, it’s time to find the strength to kick down the door.

4. They discredit your dreams and abilities. If you allow others to define your dreams and abilities, then you enable them to hold you back.  What you’re capable of achieving is not a function of what other people think is possible for you.  What you’re capable of achieving depends on what you choose to do with your time and energy.

5. They have lied to you more than once. Love is a verb, not a noun.  It is ACTIVE in all relationships.  Love is not just feelings of passion and romance between lovers; it is also a behavior among friends and family.  If someone lies to you, they are unlovingly disrespecting you and your relationship.

When you keep someone in your life who is a chronic liar, and you keep giving them new chances to be trusted, you have a lot in common with this person – you’re both lying and being unloving to you!

Bottom line: Those who avoid the truth and tell you only what you want to hear do so for their own benefit, not yours.  Don’t put up with it.
[Shellie here: FORGIVE but give some time to discern a character change before getting back fully involved. Matthew 6:14-15, Colossians 3:12-17]

6. Their negativity is rubbing off on you. The negative people in your life don’t just behave negatively towards you, but towards everyone they interact with.  What they say and do is a projection of their own reality – their own inner issues.  Even if they say something to you that seems personal – even if they insult you directly – it likely has zero to do with you.

This is important to remember because what these negative people say and do shouldn’t be taken to heart.  Although you don’t have control over what they say and do; you do have control over whether or not you allow them to say and do these things to you.  You alone can deny their venomous words and actions from invading your heart and mind.  If you feel like these people are getting to you, take a break and give yourself some space to breathe.

7. They are excessively envious of what you have. A little bit of envy is OK [Shellie here: a "little envy" is like a little pregnant; admiration has its place. Envy? NEVER-Proverbs 14:30], but when someone is excessively envious of what you have, there’s a good chance what they really want is to take it from you.

Excessive envy doesn’t tell you how much someone admires you, it tells you how much they dislike themselves.  If you can, try to help lift them up, but also be careful that they don’t pull you down.  Oftentimes no amount of love, or promises, or proof from you will ever be enough to make them feel better about themselves.  For the broken pieces they carry, are pieces they must mend for themselves.  Happiness, after all, is an inside job.

8. They motivate you to be judgmental or hateful. Truth be told, no human being is superior.  No faith, race, size or shape is inferior.  All collective judgments about others are wrong.  Only judgmental hypocrites make them.

If you judge others by their skin color, their body size, and their outer beauty, you will miss EVERYTHING about who they really are.  It is amazing the quality of people you will learn about and meet in this world if you can simply get past the fact that lots of people are not dressing and living the way you do.

9. They want you to be someone else. Spend time with people who see you the way you are, and not as they wish to think you are.  Spend even more time with those who truly know about you, and who love and respect you anyway.

If someone expects you to be someone you’re not, take a step back.  It’s wiser to lose relationships over being who you are, than to keep them intact by acting like someone you’re not.

"3 Warning Signs You Are Living a Lie" (in General):

Living a lie is to live according to external beliefs and values which don’t sit comfortably with your own beliefs and values.  They might be beliefs inherited from your family or from the social circles in which you move or they may be values imposed by your working environment.  When you soldier on, as I did, you risk developing health problems and an enduring sense of unhappiness because you are suppressing what feels right for you in favor or what somebody else thinks is right.

So how can you tell if you are living a a lie?   Here’s three simple warning signs that you life is less than authentically your own:

#1: You look for happiness in things. Feeling down and find yourself regularly buying a new dress, new shoes or even a new car to “cheer you up”?  It’s a telltale sign that you are living a lie.  When we feel a conflict between our beliefs and values and those in our environment we will often try to wallpaper over the discord by seeking external validation in possessions.  The measure of success and happiness becomes “how much do I own” rather than “how happy am I with what I do/who I am”.  It provides a temporary respite from that nagging feeling that something isn’t right.  I know!  Been there and done that – almost every week I’d go out and buy clothes I didn’t need, shoes I never wore.  I got a buzz from it but it was always fleeting and the very next day I’d be back to feeling unhappy and unsatisfied.

#2:  ”Happy” or “fulfilled”is not how you describe your life. If you’re living a lie your motivation for doing (or not doing) something, whether its work or something in your personal life all comes down to happiness.   “I’m in a wonderful relationship with this person because it makes me happy” or “I work in this job because I get a sense of fulfillment from it” or even “While I don’t feel enthusiastic about my job I do feel enthusiastic about the fact that it gives me the means to pursue what I am passionate about”.  If you’re living an inauthentic life words like enthusiasm, passion, happiness rarely figure in your explanations.  “I’m doing this job because it makes my family proud” or “I have this car because someone in my position is expected to drive a new car”.   When your justification sources expectations and people external to yourself, the chances are that that aspect of your life is not authentically yours.

#3:  You experience an underlying, nagging sense of anxiety or worry. The thing about living a lie is that you are, at a sub-conscious level always trying to “fit in” while worrying that you will be discovered as a fraud.  I’d dress in my business suits and mingle with high profile members of the legal profession in both work and social environments but never felt comfortable in that space, in those clothes.  I dreaded that my peers would somehow discover that I didn’t share their view and values (or dress sense!).  I bought a zippy red sports car because my employer suggested one day that my little yellow car (which was more like a sewing machine on wheels) was not really the mark of a successful lawyer.  I’d drive it around feeling like a fraud because for me, being a successful lawyer had nothing to do with the car I drove.  In short, I wanted desperately to fit in while also wanting desperately not to fit in!  In hindsight I can see that I lived in conflict all day long – a conflict between what was truly important to me and the values and belief systems of my chosen profession.  A conflict between my authentic self and the inauthentic me I had created in order to be considered “successful and happy”.

Does any of this ring true for you?  Are you living a lie?  These are all very clear signs that, at some level, the life you have chosen is not reflective of who you really are.   It’s not only that you aren’t giving yourself the opportunity to express your true self but it also has potentially serious health and financial implications.  We’ll explore that further in our next blog.

"5 Signs You're in a Dead-End Relationship":

Sign 1: Lack of respect. Sure, there are exceptions where we should give people the benefit of the doubt, but there is a difference between a mistake we can of course excuse and forgive and man who simply does not treat you well enough. 

Respect plays a vital role in a relationship because it shows that each person understands the other and doesn't charge through boundaries. If one of you constantly belittles or questions what the other says and does, then "a boundary violation is occurring," warns Annie Bennett, psychotherapist and author of The Love Trap.

"Behavior like this is a sign that one person has stopped acknowledging the other's values and no longer accepts that person for who they are."

This is bad news because without respect, love alone can't hold a relationship together.

What to do:

Tell your partner how their actions are making you feel.
Suggest you both limit teasing, listen more actively and be more positive towards each other.
If your partner doesn't see a problem, you're at a dead end.

Sign 2: No time for each other. Channeling much of your free time into something that's not connected to your partner is a sign you've lost interest in your relationship. No partnership can survive without a time investment from both sides.

"Excessive commitment to distractions that take a person away from giving energy to a relationship is another sign that your relationship is stuck and in need of help," says psychotherapist Annie Bennett.

Distractions could include anything from hobbies and sport to computer games.

What to do:

Set aside time for each other every day. Do this in a clear and structured way.
It may not be spontaneous, but having a plan and sticking to it shows you want to work things out.
If you or your partner won't commit the time, it's a sign that you're at a stalemate.

Sign 3: Incompatible goals. You want more children, he doesn't. He wants marriage, you don't. You'd like to live abroad, he wants to stay put.

Incompatible goals in a relationship can be as vast as these or as small as one of you wanting to spend more time together and your partner wanting more space. In some cases, having mismatched goals is a sign you need to be more open with each other and improving communication can be enough to put things back on track. In other situations, they are a sign of problems that cannot be overcome.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether you can find a middle ground that you're both happy with.

What to do:

"What's important is not to focus on persuading the other to come around to your point of view, but to work out whether or not you can find a compromise together that makes you both happy," says relationship counselor Tracey Williams.

If you do find a compromise, make sure you're both behind it 100 per cent. Otherwise, a blame game will start further down the line that will bring your relationship to an end.

Sign 4: Boredom reigns. You're fed up, you have nothing to say to each other and have fallen into a routine worthy of a couple who have been together forty years or more.

Relationship counselor Tracey Williams says: "All relationships go through a stagnant stage, partly because developing a routine with a partner is comforting in the early stages of a relationship. If the routine lasts too long and couples don't make an effort to change the status quo on a regular basis, boredom will set in."

What to do:

"Stuck in a rut means changes need to be made," says psychotherapist Annie Bennett. "Think about finding new interests or challenges together. Try to introduce variety across different areas of your life. Go to new places to eat, try new ways of being together and turn off distractions when you're together - the TV, computer, mobile phones - and start talking."

If you or your partner are not interested in making changes, this is a sign that your relationship may have run its course.

Sign 5: Bickering and fighting. "Arguing all the time doesn't necessarily mean your relationship has hit a dead end. It depends on what you're arguing about and the nature of your fights," says relationship counselor Tracey Williams.

Constant petty bickering tends to be a habit couples fall into to avoid larger, more painful issues. Angry and abusive fights show that consideration and thoughtfulness have disappeared from your relationship.

What to do:

"If your relationship has become abusive, it's time to call it a day," advises Annie Bennett.

For constant bickerers, take a break from the fighting by calling a truce and see if you can stick to it for a week.

No desire to call a ceasefire? Then you're at a dead end and it's unlikely the relationship can be saved. 

Being Single Again: 8 Coping Strategies:

1. Grieve for what you have lost: ending a relationship is a loss that needs to be worked through, even if being together made you unhappy. Often, we are encouraged to 'forget them and move on', but this will only keep your ex firmly on your mind.

2. Seize the advantages of being single: as a single person, you have total control over what you do and where you go in your life. Start making plans to take advantage of your new freedom.

3. Mobilize your support system: being with friends and family allows you to vent your emotions as you sort through your life. They can also help you see how much you are loved and needed in your own right.

4. Reinvent yourself: get a haircut, change your look or take up something you've always fancied. Just don't do anything rash that you may later regret, such as leaving your job.

5. Sort out your financial affairs: breaking up can be stressful from a financial point of view. You may be left paying the rent or mortgage, or have to find a new place to live. If you're finding things a stretch, get some professional financial advice.

6. Accept you'll have down times: don't expect everything to be fine and dandy. Prepare yourself for some lonely moments, but remind yourself that they will pass and you will be happy again.

7. Set goals: one of the worst things about ending a relationship is seeing your future as a blank slate that was once filled with potential. Set new goals, be they work ones, travel ones or ones that broaden your life.

8. Let yourself be happy: single life may not be your ideal, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. Say yes to invites, make plans for your social life and work on finding a new way of living that pushes you out of your comfort zone now and again.

Truth.  TRUTH.

It's "the true or actual state of a matter". 

It's "conformity with fact or reality; verity".

It's " a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like".

Truth is also living with a healthy dose of common sense: 

"And here’s why: God gives out Wisdom free, is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding. He’s a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well, a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere. He keeps his eye on all who live honestly, and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones."---Proverbs 2:6-8(Message) 

"Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound."---Proverbs 3:21-26(Message)

It is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who once said "A lie cannot live."

Definitely words to live by.



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