Category Archives: Fearless

From Freeze to Free

Like Queen Elsa in Disney’s animated film, “Frozen” we can “Let it Go.” Fear, that is. And, being frozen.

But, we will need to do more than stomp our feet, wave our hands in the air, and sing a hit tune. It’s time for a real breakthrough to no longer live under the heaviness of traumatic events that have us stuck.

Experiencing fearful events cause us to respond in one of three ways: fight, flight or freeze. Experts say that the “freeze” response is overcome with the help of a professional. With the fight or flight response, the trauma, fear, or painful experience is processed at the time. By freezing, the trauma is internalized and frozen. We can get stuck here.

Flight, Fight, or Freeze

If you’re hiking in the mountains and come face-to-furry face with a grizzly bear, you’d better allow the automatic switch for flight to engage and protect yourself from harm. (To avoid experiencing this fear, hike in groups of three or more. 91% of bear attacks happen to lone hikers.)

If someone tries to steal your bag or your bike, you’ll most likely engage the fight mechanism and hit or chase that person.

If you’ve been abused as a child or adult, betrayed by your spouse, or some other trauma that caused you to freeze, don’t fear the future.

The Future is Yours

It may be tempting to stay stuck in this frozen state. Don’t. The freeze response debilitates us from actually feeling the fear. If we have traumatic experiences that have caused us to freeze, we most likely need to seek professional help to thaw out and move forward.

You can live freely.

Recognize the trauma that caused you to freeze. Talk with someone. Face the fear, process it, and move into a fearless way of life. I’m not suggesting that we forsake caution, or that this process is a quick and easy one, but we can get free from what caused us to freeze.

I know this from experience and I live more freely today than ever (and, yes, I had professional help to get free).

So can you.

Creating Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

Relationships are hard. Coworkers, bosses, friends, family, children, neighbors, can challenge our personal boundaries.  How do you cope with the frustrations? What are healthy boundaries and how do you create them?

When I need some space and time to think, I drive to an abandoned place. I considered driving forever one day, found this place, and return to vent, pray, cry, be angry, and sort myself out. I always leave feeling clearer and lighter.

This place used to be home for someone who made memories, celebrated holidays, and lived life there. Now it lacks boundaries and reveals remnants of what used to exist. Sometimes my life looks like that.

Without maintaining structure or boundaries we deteriorate, much like this old house. We hold resentments, anger, frustration, self-pity, and a host of other emotions that break us down. We feel lost, used, and hopeless.

Do any of these statements resonate with you?

  • I keep the peace at all costs
  • I try to be perfect
  • I feel guilty for taking time alone
  • I focus on what the other person is doing wrong
  • I’m afraid to disagree
  • I stay in unhealthy relationships
  • I say yes when I need/want to say no
  • I’ve forgotten what I enjoy doing

If so, you may struggle to create and maintain boundaries. Your wants and needs in relationships erode so slowly you don’t notice it happening. You wake up one day and find yourself doing things you don’t want to do and resenting people you care about.

And, you’re tired.

Here’s what I found helpful in establishing boundaries:

  • Take time away, just for the purpose of seeing where you need to build or rebuild healthy boundaries.
  • Write it down – your thoughts, prayers, feelings, expectations of yourself and others.
  • Assess your relationships – who you pour into and who pours into you.
  • Balance those relationships – seek out mentors and women you respect who will build you up and pray for you.
  • Once you’ve created some new boundaries, or resurrected old ones, communicate those to the people they affect.

People will walk all over you, and you won’t know where you stand in relationships without boundaries. You’ll know what’s your responsibility and what belongs to others with healthy boundaries. The “takers” in your life will respect your boundaries or move along to someone else they can walk all over when you don’t allow it anymore.

Either way, with or without boundaries, life is hard. Choose to live within healthy boundaries and you’ll be happier.

Additional Resources:

  • Take the Boundaries Quiz . I highly recommend reading any of the “Boundaries” books and watch videos and read articles on the website.
  • Check out Leslie Vernick’s website. She has load of info about how to deal with destructive relationships and plenty of free resources.
  • Allison Botke has written several books about setting boundaries with difficult people. She offers free downloads, too!

Relational Betrayal Recovery – Grief Retreat

A grief retreat?

Although the focus of this blog post is for betrayed spouses, a grief retreat is helpful for anyone processing grief.

I’ve heard many betrayed spouses say they’ve been told to “just get over it.” When you’ve been betrayed by your partner’s infidelity, that’s not something you just “get over.” It’s a journey.

In “Beyond Betrayal” Lisa Taylor clarifies that “grieving is a necessary precursor to forgiving. Forgiving, as it so happens, is a necessary precursor to our (personal) healing.”

In part two of the three-part series, “Trauma Recovery,” a grief retreat is recommended. Odd to suggest getting away to grieve, but it allows you designated and distraction-free time to grieve your losses.

What to take

  • A journal, pen or pencil
  • Bible
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Soothing, meditative music
  • Tissues
  • Healthy snacks
  • Coloring book, markers or colored pencils (I recommend “The Journal of an Insane Woman” coloring book. Contact me for details.)

Helpful Questions

Here is a list of helpful questions for you to consider as you begin the grieving part of your journey. Make sure you answer spontaneously, don’t overthink the questions. Write the answers in your journal.

  • What would my life, including my spiritual life, be like today if it had not been for my husband’s addiction and the resulting trauma?
  • What normal adult life experiences did I get robbed of?
  • What life opportunities were stolen from me?
  • How would my life be different without his addiction?
  • What parts of me have had to be buried or underdeveloped because of the addiction/the trauma?
  • What relationships have I lost?
  • What life dreams have I given up or put on hold?
  • What have I lost spiritually?
  • How much trust, faith, or hope has been drained from me by the addiction/trauma?
  • How would my relationship with God be different now?
  • To what degree have I, for now, lost my ability to feel valued and loved by God?
  • How has the addiction/ trauma affected my relationship with prayer, worship or church communities?
  • What have the addiction and resulting trauma taken from my life-vision and sense of personal life-purpose?

Make the most of this retreat time by staying off social media, getting plenty of sleep, and focusing on your relationship with God. He has the power and knowledge to bring you through this phase. Trust him, and have grace for yourself.

You can purchase a copy of “Journal of an Insane Woman” from me by sending me a message

From Fear to Courage in Four Steps

When you hear devastating news regarding a significant relationship, a major health diagnosis, or when beginning a new job or moving to a new neighborhood, often the first thing you feel is fear. You may be fearful of the unknown, the worst case scenario, or perhaps something you can’t even describe.

I’ve felt fear in big and small ways because of all of the reasons listed in the previous paragraph. At times, it had me paralyzed — I didn’t know what to do. Other times the fear is smaller, like a nagging fly buzzing around my head. Whatever the case, fear was present and I needed to find some courage.

Here are a few steps I plan to implement next time I’m struggling with fear, maybe you can too.

STEP 1. INTERROGATE YOUR FEAR


Digging in will reveal what’s really scaring you, the root of the fear. Then you can reframe it into more positive potential.

STEP 2. DEFUSE YOUR FEAR


With fear front and center, your emotions are probably running high — which fogs your ability to reason. Talk about your fear with a trusted friend, that reduces its hold on you.

STEP 3. TRANSFORM YOUR FEAR

Once you’ve tamed your fear, take a step toward fully accepting it and your own vulnerability. Mastering the emotion means learning to experience it, release it, and move on.

STEP 4. TACKLE YOUR FEAR

Time to get things done! In your calmer, more motivated state, break down your challenge into bite-size problems to solve. Pick one to tackle and ignore the rest. Then just do it. Repeat.

I hope these help you (and me) the next time we feel afraid. We can find courage. Just remember that setbacks will come. We must have grace for ourselves and work through the process of discovering and overcoming our fears to live a more courageous life.

(To see the expanded version of these four steps, click here.)