By: jennifer mCclellan, ma, ncc, apc
During a recent Church service, the pastor spoke about ‘giving our best’. In other words, is it ok to settle for ‘just ok’? That sermon spoke to me and had me really thinking about the patterns we create for ourselves. It also brought up the word perfection. Our expectations to see immediate results and striving for perfection. Which often have us leaning toward being self-critical, setting unachievable goals, and creating negative self-talk. Sounds overwhelming and stressful, doesn’t it? The sermon inspired me to give this topic some more thought…
Thoughts on Perfection:
Many years ago, someone asked me if I could remove the word perfection from my vocabulary. So, I tried it. I replaced the word perfection with other words and phrases such as “great, awesome, sounds amazing, that’s beautiful”. What a difference that made in my own communication with others and to myself. It’s validating!
So where is your threshold of perfection?
Thoughts on Self-Criticizing:
Have you ever noticed how you felt when you did not meet a goal or felt disappointed in yourself when your plan or situation did not work out? Did you tell yourself some really negative things? Your brain probably held onto to those negative words! (Huge negative pattern developer).
Thoughts on Mistakes:
Showing up for Yourself and Others:
My pastor used John 2:1-11 in that sermon I mentioned as an example of showing up for others. Jesus showed up and met the needs of others. He turned water into wine in order for the wedding celebration in Cana to continue. He did that for the people as they mattered to him. Jesus was doing more than ‘just ok’ – he was giving his best and he gave it to others too!
By: Amanda Carter, MA, LP
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:7
On the morning of July 4th, my husband and I got up in the wee hours of the morning to make our way to Buckhead in order to run the Peachtree Road Race. We have made this an annual tradition, us and 35,000 of our closest and smelliest friends.
I’ve noticed we have the same “mood” surrounding the race each year…meaning the night before we ask each other ‘Do we really want to get up at 5 am?’, then when we hear our alarm go off there is a strong inclination to just turn it off, roll over, sleep in, and have a lazy holiday.
However, once we arrive at MARTA, we see other runners with their bibs on and some in super fun red, white, and blue attire. Our moods begin to improve a bit. When the race begins, there’s lots of music, laughter and fanfare. Many people are on the sidelines cheering runners in their own unique ways from offering water, holding encouraging signs and billboards, and – our favorites -the priests throwing holy water on you and shouting, ‘Blessings’!
All this energy helps us keep up the momentum towards the finish line. We start to pay more attention to our surroundings and less attention to the sweat dripping down us. Then, when the race is finished, we wait in line to pick up the coveted Peachtree Road Race t-shirt - the PRIMARY reason we got up at 5 am. Well, the t-shirt and the brunch we eat as soon as the race is over.
And - you know what - the t-shirt and the brunch are much more appreciated having successfully finished the race instead of staying in bed.
Whether literal or figurative, we all have our races to run. And, truth be told, most of us have thought about turning that alarm button off and just sitting the race out because somewhere along the way the race gets hard. Certainly, just like in a physical race, we need to be wise and take rests, notice the things that keep us “hydrated”, surround ourselves with encouragers, but it is important to not quit!
Every day, each of us does ‘hard things.’ We just forget about those, and then when some big thing or race pops up, we think we aren’t prepared. We don’t have what it takes…
But, most of us are stronger than we think we are; we may just need someone to encourage us to keep going.
By: Jennifer McClellan, MA, NCC, APC
On a recent short trip to the beach with family, we rushed out to the beach each evening to catch the sunset. It’s always a brilliant pink even after the sun comes down behind the trees. We stay til every bit of sunlight is gone. If a boat had been readily available – being on the water chasing the sunset each night would have been on the agenda. Settling on the beach view, I watched people set up small campfires, take family photos, create social media posts. You know what seemed missing? Folks enjoying the actual sunset.
Don’t get me wrong, our family took photos and enjoyed being silly. But then we sat down in the cool sand, toes and all. We enjoyed God’s display of nature, listened to the waves hit the shore, and enjoyed the hoodie worthy ocean breeze. Savoring some silence at that point, I reflected on the day and planned on some downtime for the next couple of days instead of doing “all the things” expected on vacations.
So now I’m wondering if we are enjoying our vacations, birthdays, graduations, weddings, holidays or are we checking off more to do lists?
I encourage us all to spend some time reflecting…
What needs to change, stay the same, or can we look at a situation from a different point of view. Instead of looking for perfection, enjoy the moment the way it is – Just Be. Be in the moment, chasing the sunset, enjoying the view.
“When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it will be righteousness for you before the Lord your God.”
BY Chip Carter, MA, LPC
Last October, my wife and I were on a hike in the Shenandoah Valley. It was cool. All the fall colors that people hope and wait to see were on full display. We were trekking up a sharp incline, and the higher we climbed the views just got better and better. Each step taken had more to see, more beauty to be in awe of, and more to be grateful for.
But I wasn’t feeling any of those emotions. I wasn’t in awe. I sure wasn’t in a grateful mood. The best word to describe that mood at the time was ticked.
Leave it to me to have some of my most frustrating moments at ten thousand feet with God’s majesty in all directions. To the North – annoyance. To the South – anger. East – outrage. And west – righteous indignation.
I started sharing with Amanda (that’s my wife) about what was on my heart, including a good bit of anger towards someone who I felt had both hurt me and left a void since. This wasn’t the first time she had listened to my frustrations regarding this same person. Nor the second. Nor the third.
Amanda’s words that came next are something I hope I don’t ever forget. She compassionately and directly said – “You’ve got to stop doing this to yourself - torturing yourself. You can either go and tell them what they did that has you so upset, or you can (with God’s help) make peace with them in your heart, forgive them and move on. But what you’re doing to yourself right now isn’t good…”
That wasn’t the mountain top experience I thought I would have that day, but time and time again I have thought about her words and their implications. Here’s how I’ve summarized it in my head:
The middle is often a comfortable place to be. If you’re the middle child, you have someone older to protect you and someone younger to look out for. If you’re middle class, you typically have a roof over your head and enough food to eat. Middle America is a desired place to live for a lot of folks who want a simple and less hassled way of life.
But this ‘middle’ was different, and definitely not comfortable. It was more akin to being in the middle seat of a cross county plane ride and on both sides of you are two WWE wrestlers who take up all the air and hog the armrests. Cozy and comfortable – uh, no. Claustrophobic and miserable – yes and amen.
We can’t avoid or navigate around pain and hurt in our lives. We’re all prone to hurt others and be hurt as well. But I believe God has given us a clear plan on how to reconcile our hurts and frustrations with each other. It can be hard and take a lot of sacrifice…
But it sure beats being stuck in the middle seat…
BY: Tray Tankersley, APC, NCC, ThM
Years ago, the medical field coined a phrase to describe symptoms pediatric nurses and doctors sadly encountered with their young patients. The medical workers noted weight or rate of weight gain that was significantly below that of children of the same age and sex. These observations were summarized in the phrase, failure to thrive.
Often the cause of failure to thrive is organic, tied to not taking in enough calories because of poor nutrition. However, the medical field also discovered non-organic (unrelated to nutrition) causes of failure to thrive. Research showed that even when children’s basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, diaper changes, baths) are met, if the child does not have an emotional connection (an attachment or bond) with another human being, the child will not thrive and sometimes, the child will not survive.
Think about that!
A child needs an emotional connection just as much as she needs food, shelter and clothing! What is connection?
Think of connection as an emotional bonding that keeps loved ones close so that they will “be there” for us, emotionally, when we are in need. Sue Johnson (creator of Emotion Focused Therapy) writes, “In order to fully thrive, we all need someone to depend on, a loved one who can offer reliable emotional connection and comfort.”
To develop cognitively, emotionally and physically, children need a strong, predictable, stable emotional connection. He needs this as much as he needs food, shelter and clothing.
Adults also need emotional connection! We NEVER grow out of our need for connection. We do not become adults and then all of a sudden don’t need to feel safe, loved and bonded to another. We are hardwired for connection…and this hardwiring and need never goes away, no matter how old we are!
Obviously, as adults, we do not need to fed with bottles and we no longer need diapers.
But the need to feel close to, connected with, bonded to, attached to another person…that need never goes away, no matter your age.
Every conflict in a marriage relationship is really about ONE thing…
Conflicts about dishes, parenting differences, sex, sharing details of life are really about being seen, being heard, being taken seriously, being considered. All of us want to know the same things about our spouse: does he care about me, does she appreciate how stressed I feel, does he really know how I am doing and how deeply this (behavior) affects me, does she listen to my concerns.
Conflicts are cries for connection! And we all NEED connection!
Legacy strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.