What can I say about rest?
Well it's something I've never been great at. Even after ten years I'm still learning to rest. Probably even more of a lesson that I'm learning is being content. Somehow those two are inextricably linked. Rest and contentment.
Over the course of the last ten years there has been lots of accomplishment, lots of pain and growth. All of which were and still are blessings by the grace of God. Probably the hardest thing to do is sit be quiet and be content. My mind is constantly moving thinking about the next step or five. But nevertheless this is where God has called me. Being content means I get to actually enjoy what I've accomplished. I get to enjoy what I've bought. I get to enjoy what I've been given.
This concept of contentment has been tremendously helpful for my anxiety and depression. By taking an inventory of my life on what's positive and what God has given me, I'm able to slow down and enjoy the day. This has become an invaluable lesson. My wife has commented that I'm a better husband when I practice contentment. My daughters benefit more from their dad when he is focused on them and not accomplishing or acquiring something all the time.
Rest has been another critical component to my mental health, really overall health. This has been a hard fought lesson. Rest has not been something I do very easily. I've always thought if I wasn't doing something, I was being lazy. This thinking has led to me being more tired, getting sick more often, being angry, having no energy to do anything.
So, here I sit writing this piece while celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary. I can officially say that I rest better and practice contentment more often, but certainly have more to learn. Rest and contentment is a choice and not something to be approached from an obligatory place. You get to rest, not you have to rest. You get to be content, not you have to be content.
Is it possible that when you shift your thinking to choose to rest and be content you impact your anxiety and depression in a positive way? Possibly? Maybe there's not a one-size-fits all answer to this, but should be an on-going dialogue.
Well, that's all for now. Till next time
Christian Bringolf MA LMHC
The Poison of Comparison
Maybe it's worth noting that all of us are guilty of trying to keep up with the Joneses. Maybe you've convinced yourself that you don't care what others think of you or that you are individualistic.
For many of us we spend an inordinate amount of our thought life comparing ourselves to others. We measure ourselves in terms of money, accomplishments and wealth. We delude ourselves into thinking we are Type A personalities and we are just being "goal oriented"
But that's not really what's going on. We are slowly poisoning ourselves through comparison. We must have what is popular and in. We must be liked. We must accomplish. We must be powerful. We must be loved and admired.
How many of us are responsible for creating anxiety because we are trying to create an image that we believe others will like? How insane is that thought?! We create the very cognitive audience to which we bow down and say, "yes masters", I will change my actions, behaviors and even physical image to make you happy.
Who among us is left with depression because the cognitive distortions of what others expect of us are relentless. They are never satiated, because they are often fragments and insecurities that have been given too much power in our lives....by us.
It is not advantageous for you to compare!your life to someone else's. To look upon someone else's existence and believe they have it better simply because they seem to have a more favorable outward appearance. Solomon, credited as the wisest man in history was famous for saying in the book of Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. Comparison is nothing new. Yet we are surprised at when it causes clinical anxiety, depression or a variety of mental health issues.
Our desire to please is a core issue that simply isn't being addressed. Be real with yourself and ask tough questions. Am I poisoning myself my constantly comparing myself to others? Am I creating the perfect environment for anxiety and depression to grow?
Not being a people pleaser and being content with what you have and who Christ made you to be is a life long journey. But at some point you have to make the first step and begin that journey.
Stop drinking poison. Look to Christ
Christian Bringolf MA LMHC
Do you remember every little interaction and words people say? Do you often give friends family and co-workers the "cold shoulder? Do you often explode without much notice? Do others describe you as a bitter angry person? Do you lack community in your life, because you've burned all of your relational bridges?
Do you think you are often right and others are wrong? Can others call you out on your BS?
If you identified with any of these questions you might be an emotionally aggressive person. People in your life don't know what to do with you. They won't be honest with you because they fear you will have a hostile response. They are tired of being the target of your passive aggressive emotional tirades.
Now I understand that you may feel that there is legitimacy in your anger. You may even feel victimized, because your friends and family don't understand you or for some other reason, that you likely don't even remember.
But is that reality, is that what is really going on? Step back and take an objective evaluation of your behavior and responses. If people in your life cannot be truthful with you, ask "why". If your friends and family keep interactions brief with you and the conversation topics light, there is a good possibility that you've abused them with your emotional immaturity.
Now some bad stuff may have happened in your life and you got dealt a terrible hand, but does that give you license to victimize the people that care about you with your emotions?
That's a rhetorical question, the answer is unequivocally No. You have a responsibility to treat others fairly and lovingly.
You likely have emotional baggage and need professional support to sort it out. You cannot expect the people you're abusing with your emotions to be your counselors. That is ridiculous and inappropriate. They are there to support you, love you and listen. They are not meant to psychiatrically and therapeutically treat you.
You owe it to yourself and those around you to find a good therapist and start working on your issues. You don't want or need to spend the rest of your life being bitter, believing you're a victim and holding others emotionally hostage.
Take responsibility, seek help today so you can have better relationships. Being angry is no way to live.
Christian Bringolf MA LMHC
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