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Redirecting Our Problems Into Challenges

Typically, I have a lot of energy. I wake up in the morning and I’m ready to go! Literally, if I don’t wake up before my alarm goes off, I’m up as soon I hear the first bell. Out of bed, I make up my side of the bed, rub Prince and tell him lets go ‘potty’. Brush my teeth, wash my face, start my prayers/affirmations for the day, take Prince for his mile walk, workout, make breakfast, and get ready for work. On my drive to work I’m playing whatever music my spirit needs to feel, and sometimes I listen to the same song for the entire drive! But then there are moments when out of nowhere it’s as if my energy has been sucked away, and I just don’t ‘feel’ like doing anything. Now, at my lowest point in my life I would do the bare minimum to get through the moment, climb back in bed, and just try to sleep the day away. But what I know to be true is that if you stay in that dark place that it’ll take you forever to get out. 

Which brings me to today’s topic, ‘redirecting our problems into challenges’. Every depressive episode, period of low self-esteem, procrastination, or feelings of laziness… they all require some trigger. It could be as simple as sleeping in one morning, skipping one workout, deciding not to send out your typical good morning messages, or allowing that one scenario to consume to much of your mental energy.  When that trigger goes off your body senses this event as either a problem or a challenge. A significant amount of research has been done to try and determine what happens inside of our bodies when we are under negative forms of stress. 

The research shows that when we see something as a problem, internally, and I mean down to a cellular level, we begin to negative process the event. Our thoughts get dark, our mood shifts, our energy begins to lower, we begin to see the situation as the destination, and often we settle into the pace of the ‘problem’. How scary is it to see that the way we ‘perceive or think’ about something has so much control over how our body responds? The brain cannot tell the difference between an imagined scenario and a true event. Seriously, the brain sees that scenario that you dreamt up as a real thing, and the body goes into fight or flight mode all the same. 

On the other hand, research has shown that when we see something as a challenge our bodies begin to light up, we find purpose, meaning, enthusiasm, we start looking for solutions, we become creative. Why is that? Because people love to be challenged. When we get challenged and we ‘overcome’ the challenge we have this amazing story to tell. Think about some of your favorite movies, people, comics, shows, music, artist, etc. They all generally have some story of struggle and triumph that resonates with you. Their story is in alignment with the energy that you’re seeking. People love Sarah Jakes Roberts because she’s down to earth, relatable, and carry’s herself well. But it is her story that attracts people to those traits. She overcame teen pregnancy, being a high school dropout, and divorce! What a powerful story to not only tell, but to show the world how it has helped to shape her into the mighty woman that she is today. 

Alegebra:

Before I understood what a problem was, I used to get really stressed when it came to money, time management, productivity, and meeting expectations. Everything I listed is something that as a functioning adult in society is something that we have to perform daily. When I changed my way of thinking and began to see these things as challenges that if I overcame them, they would help me get to the life I wanted to live, whew! My GOD the results. In high school I took pre-calculus in 9th grade. I did well, I think I made mostly B’s and C’s in that class. In 10th grade I took Algebra 2. I could follow the steps during the class, I took great notes, I could help my friends do their work, I could do my homework, but when it was time to take our tests, I would miss one step and that would throw off the entire problem. If you know anything about math you know that once you miss a step, it usually means that you’re not going to get the right answer. So, I began failing the test. After maybe the 3rd or 4th test, my self-esteem and confidence began to drop. I could not understand how I could do this work at home, help people around me get their work done, and then fail these freaking tests. 

In 11th grade I started taking College Algebra, and it went about the same. Several years later in undergrad, I had to take college algebra again to get though my studies. My professor’s name was Chad Money, he was a great guy, good teacher, and was patient. Listen, I still think I failed that class. Seriously, I believe he gave me a few extra points because I showed up early every day, I sat in the front of the room, I went to his office hours, and I came back after every test and asked where I went off track. I’m not a person that gets test anxiety. When I get ready to take a test I relax, answer what I know, go back and look at the things I skipped, and I don’t stress once I’ve finished the exam. So, it really had me baffled when I was failing these math test! What I know to be true now is that the reason I kept making mistakes is not because I couldn’t do the math, I had proven that I could do the math, I kept messing up because I defeated myself before I even started the test.

In high school I considered math to be a problem for me, and I really wish that I had never done that. Because from that moment forward, I wanted to stay away from math. Math detracted from my smarts, I was the guy with the answers, I had always been known as the sharp student, and math made me seem stupid. But in reality, math brought up an area for improvement, and if I had been able to look at it that way, I could have learned this life lesson a long time ago. Today, I don’t shy away from complicated math. I balance budgets, write and review contracts, handle consultations, and most of all I track and predict my paid time off.

Relatability: 

My experience is relatable for a lot of people. Most of us have given up on something because of an experience we had as a child that left us scarred and embarrassed. But today we’re serving notice on our inner child, we’re letting that inner child know that we see them, we acknowledge them, but we can’t stay in that place. To stay in that place is to give up what your life could be. Some people had a bad experience and refuse to leave broken relationships, they don’t trust that if they leave that dead-end job that the next place they work will value them more, they never saw their parents apologize when they were wrong, so they don’t believe it’ll work with kids, and they were never taught how to speak up for themselves, so they don’t want to come off as offensive. 

The good thing about this meeting space is that we are not meeting in our shared trauma. I refuse to let you sit and sulk in that space, you’ve given too much energy and time to a dead space. 

Let me help you understand what a problem can be:

  1. A natural disaster has occurred, and my home was destroyed. 
  2. I was just diagnosed with a terminal illness. 
  3. I had a bad accident, and I lost a limb. 

A challenge can be:

  1. I’m rebuilding my life after a natural disaster.
  2. I have stage 1 cancer and I’m beginning treatment. 
  3. I started physical therapy to learn to walk again. I want to get ready for a marathon. 

When people experience a problem and they become consumed by it they become powerless, they stop believing in possibility, they start turning on people, they become bitter. We’ve seen it time and time again. Especially if you’ve ever been in the workforce. When someone is dead set to be solely focused on the problem, they lack any desire to see any other outcome. Personally, I hate being around people who only see and focus on problems. I’m the kind of person that enjoys a good challenge. Before, I wanted a challenge that was hard enough to make me work, but still doable. I didn’t want to do something that had too high of a probability of failure. Going back to doing higher levels of math, I could get it done through the first half of the textbook, now the second half of the textbook…. Hmmmm. But what I’ve learned is that math/life is not the problem, it is the way that I think about myself and how choose to expand my belief in myself. I have to support me first. 

When I first started telling people I was gonna do an IRONMAN, people who didn’t know me well questioned if “I” believed that I could do it. I honestly believed that I could do it. Tired, dogged, grim, beat down, limping, I always believed that I could do it. Now, during the event I told you that I had a dark moment, in that moment I saw the IRONMAN as a problem! As I began to see the marathon portion as a problem, it got harder and harder. After meeting Jon, and him reminding me that this event was a challenge, that helped me to get back into an objective mindset. From there I was able to visualize myself once again crossing the finish line. Just like with math, I began visualizing myself failing those tests and guess what, I continued failing those tests. When I began training for the IRONMAN, when I joined the police department, when I started college, when I competed in karate tournaments, when I have speaking engagements, when I started coaching, I always visualized myself as a successful person! Why? Because you have to see it for it to become a reality. 

I share these stories with you because I want you to be able to learn faster. To see things quicker. To see that everything that has come into my life, the things that held me back, the things that moved me forward, it was all for my highest good. That the important thing is that I was not afraid to pivot, to see myself as a success, to fail, to have some down days, to speak words of encouragement to myself. I was never afraid to believe that it was possible. When the doors kept closing around me, when the lights kept going off around me, and in my head all I saw was this timid little boy wandering by himself, do you know that I reached into the depths of my mind, and I snatched him out of there. I replaced that timid little boy with a proficient, smart, and adaptable man. You have to do the same! If you continue to perceive things in your life as a problem, you are weakening your body. You have to see these things happening in your life as a challenge to jumpstart your creativity and get your body back into alignment. 

Tips for transforming: 

  1. Begin with the end in mind. Think about the intended result and that will help guide your actions. 
  2. Your habits need to be in alignment with the outcome you’re looking for. You cannot want to become wealthy and still be wasteful. You cannot want to be the best in your field but never make time to study, to rehearse, to define your craft. 
  3. You have to go through the process of trial and error. This process is what helps to expand your creativity, to expand your knowledge base, to harden your resolve. 
  4. You have to grind on the days you don’t feel like it. Especially on the days you don’t feel like it! It is easy to be disciplined, to be motivated, to be ambitious on the days that you feel good. When you are having a down day, get the hell up and go after it!!! 
  5. Stop referring to yourself with negative words: procrastinator, lazy, weak, easily angered. Success is available to you! I need you to be ready to wow yourself. I need you to be expecting this transformation to be amazing! Release that sense of disbelief and allow all of these great and exceptional things to flow into your life. 
  6. You are in charge of the pace of your life. Focus on your mindset and you will whip everything else into shape. Strive for progress not perfection.
  7. HAVE A VALUED GOAL. When you have a goal that you value and it’s attached to your life, you feel better as you continue to see change occurring in your life. 

I hope that this episode today has helped you to understand something, to be validated that you are not alone in your way of thinking, to see that you have the control to change the direction and the pace of your life. January is about balancing our mind, and today’s episode really focused on the way that how we think and feel broadcast energy into our life. Until we change the energy we are circulating in our life, we do not change. 

Self-Rejection

Self-rejection is a form of self-sabotage and usually centers around us telling ourselves that we are not good enough. This type of thinking might start out in reminiscing about times you’ve failed at something, or you’ll think about a time when you tried to do something, and someone told you that you weren’t good enough. Self-rejection is a form of self-sabotage and limiting beliefs. Often, we are not even the creators of these thoughts, they are projected onto us by our caregivers or role models. So how do they play out? Well, often you’ll decide to quit while you’re ahead. Or maybe you’ll decide to never even start because nothing good happens for you anyway. Maybe you honestly believe that you aren’t worthy of the good things that could be happening in your life. Once we begin to tap into this negative thinking cycle, it becomes easier and easier to shy away from challenges and to give up. Life in all of its various lessons, shows us time and time again that we receive what we attract. We can be hoping for good and bountiful blessing, but if in our minds and habits, we aren’t living those actions out, then we’re going to receive the things that we’ve aligned ourselves for. 

How these things affect us:

I have always said “I’ll never talk myself out of something, whoever is in charge of the hiring or selection process will have to tell me no!”, and I’ve always meant that. Regardless of whether or not you’re a risk a taker, you’ve experienced some form of external rejection. Maybe you wanted to give someone a gift and they didn’t respond the way you planned, maybe you expected a discussion to go a different way, or maybe you shot your shot and baby you struck out. The external rejection that we experience can change the way that we view ourselves and cause us to second guess. I recently learned this new term called “paralysis by analysis”, which means that after we’ve thought about doing something, we start analyzing the risk, the reward, our skillset, past failures, and future regrets. The goal of today’s episode is to help you understand how self-rejection shows up, how it affects our decision making, and how we can overcome it.

Introduction: (Keith Khronicles Crossover) 

  1. As a child your feelings were invalidated: 
  2. Caregivers did not make you feel safe in expressing yourself. 
  3. To express yourself was seen as disrespectful.
  4. Caregivers didn’t apologize to you when they were wrong.
  5. Caregivers did not protect you from harm.
  6. You did not learn how to expand on describing your emotions. 
  • You don’t believe you’re worthy of good things:
  • When good things happen, you’re waiting for the shoe to drop. 
  • Abandonment issues 
  • You prefer familiarity over comfort 
  • You’re expecting things to not work out: 
  • Past failures cloud your judgement 
  • Having a negative social circle 
  • Imposter Syndrome: Internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. 
  • Superhero: overwork themselves to make up for how inadequate they are. 
  • Natural Genius: Sets exceedingly high goals, feels crushed when they don’t meet them. 
  • Expert: Never satisfied with their level of understanding, always trying to learn more. 
  • Perfectionist: Never completely happy with their work, fixated on flaws instead of strengths. 
  • Soloist: Prefer to work along, won’t ask for help for fear of appearing weak or incompetent. 
  • Life has discouraged you in the past: 
  • Paralysis by analysis: state of overthinking or over-analyzing any circumstances so that a decision or action gets too much delayed or never taken and paralyzes the outcome.
  • You tried to step out on faith, you ‘failed’, you fear future failures. 

Resolution: 

  1. Call it out. 
  2. Identify how it shows up in your life.
  3. Start working with the easiest way it shows up and build up from there. 
  4. Celebrate your small victories. 
  5. When the small voice creeps in, challenge it. 
  6. Execute. 
  7. Confront it to break the cycle of it!

For the video please visit CoachLatham_PHD over at the YouTube channel!

Until next time, be kind to yourself, and be kind to others.

Sincerely,

Demetrius

Wrestling For The Blessing

Good afternoon and Merry belated Christmas! If you are someone you know is struggling through this holiday season, I urge you to visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/call, you can also call 1-800-273-8255. You can also use the online chat service through the website provide. Both the phone line and the chat service are monitored 24/7, there will always be someone standing by to help you. The service is free and confidential. Please be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, and know that even in your darkest place, there is a resource available to you. 

Today’s episode is based on the story of Jacob and his night wrestling with the angel on the bank of the river. I had it in my mind that I wanted this episode to be about self-rejection, but as fate would have it, I awoke this morning and for some reason the story of Jacob kept playing out in my head. Then I got a notification from my Facebook memories and 11 years ago on this day, I referenced the story of Jacob as my great-grandmother wrestled with her angel for a blessing during her surgery to remove cancer from her body. So, I must be obedient to the word and the will of God because there is someone who is going to hear and see this message that new life might be breathed into them. Today, I am asking that you allow me to enter into your dark places, that you might bring me into the recess of your spirit where you hide all of those things that embarrass you, those things that make you feel unworthy, those things that cause you to labor in your sleep. My objective today is to bring you out of the dark, to stand with you while your vision adjusts, and to set you on your way. 

Prayer: Visit the podcast links.

Backstory:

Jacob was a ruthless man. A con artist. A liar. A manipulator. His name in fact meant “deceiver” It’s said that his name also meant “grabber”. To know Jacob is to know frustration, have you ever known someone that made you want to hurt them? Someone that hurt you so bad, you couldn’t even imagine God blessing them? Jacob’s life was one of never-ending struggles. Self-induced struggles. God only wanted to bless him. But Jacob was bound and determined, Jacob could help himself in spite of himself.  The story of Jacob wrestling the angel takes place at a pivotal point in Jacob’s life. He is set to meet with his brother Esau who has vowed to kill Jacob. Jacob had fled from his father-in law, only to cross paths with his brother who had sworn to kill him. 

Instead of turning to God, instead of reaching out to ask for forgiveness, instead of trying to repay his debts, Jacob developed a bribe that he hoped would spare his life. So, he sent a caravan of gifts, his women, and his children across the river in an attempt to win favor from his brother. Jacob had sent all of worldly possessions over the river, he was exhausted, he was in the wilderness, if he had to stay out there any longer, he would surely die. A man who had always been able to connive and con his way in to and out of anything, no longer had control over his fate. Jacob literally only had the clothes on his back. His father-in law chasing him from the rear, his brother before him, Jacob could struggle no longer and so he collapses into a deep sleep on the banks of the river. 

I want to put a pin in the message right here. Jacob was a worldly man. He had all of the riches, women, land, etc. But you see the world passes by, we are but strangers in this place. We are not meant to be here forever. Jacob had spent all the days of his life so far doing anything and everything to everybody. If you had spent any time around him you would think that surely God could not be in him. Jacob, running scared, death behind him, death in front him, no rest available to him, no possessions left, lonely. I wonder, if you’ve ever felt this in your life. Have you ever been running scared? Fighting scared? Going to work scared? Warming your car up scared? Paying bills scared? Making dinner scared? Sending your kids off to school scared? Fighting for your relationship scared? Asking for a promotion scared? Cleaning up your home scared? Sitting on the front row of a funeral scared? Have you ever been showing up to church scared? When I say scared, I’m talking about not knowing how you’ve made it this far, but a way continues to be made! 

From personal experience I want you to know that I use to live my life scared. My mother used to be married to an abusive and violent man. He didn’t care about anybody but himself. I watched him strangle my mother, break her nose repeatedly, he tried to run over with a car, he would cuss her, and talk down to her. He would lock us out of the house or put us out of the car. For years under his thumb, we lived scared and afraid. A ticking timebomb. One day my mama gathered us up and we left. We never went back. We slept on the floors of family members homes, we would get an apartment and be able to stay for a few months, then we’d have to go somewhere else. We used public assistance to get food, to pay utilities to have Christmas gifts, we wore old clothes to church, we didn’t have many shoes, we didn’t have a bunch of uniforms. We didn’t have the other kids over to our house. And we did all of this scared. We didn’t know how the bills would be paid sometimes, but a single mom raising five boys, a way always seemed to be made. So, when I’m asking if you’ve ever had to do something scared, this is what I mean. To be walking by faith and not by sight. 

Let me get back on Jacob… Jacob was down on his luck; he was down bad. Jacob was down so bad that God had to come and see him personally. Jacob and the angel began wrestling. It was fight that took everything Jacob had. Jacob, who had been brought to his knees knew that in order to make it out of this situation he would have to receive a blessing from no one but God. The Bible says that the angel tried to “disentangle” himself from Jacob, but he could not. In fact, it says that he could not overpower Jacob. Jacob, wrestling for his life was overpowering the might of the angel. So, the story goes that the angel touched Jacob’s hip joint and caused it to dislocate so that he might be freed. Even this was not enough, Jacob and the angel wrestled all through the night and into the morning. The angel began to beg to be released, at which point Jacob tells him that “I will not let go until you bless me!”. At the conclusion of the struggle, it is written “And there he blessed him”. 

  • Why are we wrestling:

The critical thing to understand from this story is that Jacob is forced to wrestle with the angel because of his own decisions. Jacob’s behaviors, habits, and customs led him to this point in his life. For some of you listening today, you are the victim of someone else’s actions, there are things you are wrestling with that you did not cause. The unfortunate truth is that those things happened, and no one can take them back. You will have to work towards your healing, and wrestle with that pain until you are healed. The thing about maturing as an adult, is understanding that many of the people we encounter have been hurt in their youth, they were never taught or took the time to work through what happened, and it manifest in their behaviors. Maybe you’re wrestling with a sexual addiction, alcoholism, drug abuse, it could be depression, it could be anxiety, maybe you feel unworthy of a good life, maybe you’ve gotten yourself into a bad financial situation. All of it is going to work out, I can confidently tell you this because for just about anything we have going on in life, there is a resource available to us that can help us not only learn how to heal from what hurt us, but we can also learn how to encourage others to seek their own healing. 

  • The situation is not your destination:

This is so important to remember and repeat to yourself. Many times, we can go through something, and it can feel and be so bad that we can’t even see beyond it. Someone hurt us years ago and we never healed from what THEY did to us and were angry about what THEY did to us. I mean we’re really jacked up about it. In fact, the person that hurt is carrying on like they ain’t did us wrong! But if you stay in that mindset, you will allow that minute situation to remain your destination, and I want you to know that is not the case. You have to reclaim your power, reclaim your mind, reclaim your space, reclaim your worthiness. Many years ago, my heart was broken by a family member. Let me tell you, when I got abandoned my little ole heart just broke into a million pieces. Chest tight. Crying at night. Feelings hurt. I could not understand why. How could you not love me? My cousin Janet recognized that my heart was broken. But the thing is, I can never expect an apology. I can’t live my life in the waiting room, waiting for that person to see the err of their ways and ask for my forgiveness. It may never happen. And God is still blessing me any how! God done blessed me so good that I would be a fool to spend any time crying about someone that doesn’t’ want to be in my space. I tell you this to remind you that despite what is going on around you, I need you to stay focused on the intended outcome, everything else is a distraction. Learn the lesson along the way but keep after the anointing. Jacob was in a bad situation, death was in front of him, behind him, and in fact closing in from above as well. But in the midnight hour, he got to wrestling with the angel and refused to let him go until he got a blessing from the Lord. You have to live with that same conviction! 

In our modern times what does it look like to wrestle with the angel? It means to pray, pray when life is good, pray when life is bad, pray when things feel stale, pray when things are alright. Pray often. It means to keep working. To keep being a blessing to those around you. Your life might not be the best thing popping, but you have a story, you have an anointing, a gift that can be shared, and if you want to see increase in your life, then you have to be willing to pour into someone else. To wrestle with the angel means to be in a state of expectation. To recognize that God can bless you at any time, not just in conventional measures. Recently, I needed to replenish my bank account, I had some bills I needed to pay. I prayed and asked God to manifest a blessing for me, to continue to give me the provisions I need to be an effective vessel. Not only did I wake up to an unexpected direct deposit, I got clarification that I would be getting the job I have now. I don’t know how long you might have to wrestle to get your blessing, but do not give up. Often, the blessing is on the other side of the dry place. So many people give up just before they get the blessing. The angel, dislocated Jacob’s hip. A powerful blow. The dislocation was Jacob’s dry place, can you imagine being in a fight for your life and your hip is dislocated! But Jacob knew that his blessing was on the other side of that fight and so he kept digging, he kept fighting. 

  • Keep developing your toolkit and upgrading your war room:

The last thing that I want to hit on is the importance of continuously developing your toolkit and upgrading your war room. The toolkit are the things are your immediate disposal to combat anything happening in your life. The affirmations, the mantras, the helpful social media pages, therapists, life coaches, mentors, family, friends, spiritual leaders, books, music, nature, pets, journaling, etc. It’s critical to keep developing and refining the toolkit because sometimes what worked during one episode, might not work during the next. When I was at my lowest and my depression was at its highest, I could not use some of the old tools that worked for me. Do you know that in the midst of my depression I had to come up with some new ways to climb out of that dark place? When I got out, I told myself that I never want to go back. Staying in the light requires consistent and constant effort. There are so many negative influences around us, that if you wanted to be a sad and depressed person it would be a lot easier. But I love living, I love traveling, I love smiling, I love showing these teeth that my dentist worked so hard to get together, I love transferring my energy to friend’s families through my hugs and words of encouragement, and I love being a positive voice with stuff like the podcast and daily affirmations. In order to make that happen, I also have to dig deep and create spaces that speak to the light inside of me. 

The war room is a tactical term. It is usually the place where all of the maps and troop placements can be located. In the war room, the generals, advisors, and other important people meet to strategize about how they can not only win upcoming battles, but how they can win the war! I am always upgrading my war room! I have the best people in my war room. We use the best technology, and we honor ourselves with transparent communication. In my group chat titled “The War Counsel”, I have my best friend and cousin. In that chat we hash out disagreements, share laughs, tears, and healing. I want you to take some time and consider who is in your war counsel? I have a couple different war counsels for different things. Sometimes tactics from one counsel might be useful in another counsel. Life is not about being isolated on an island and no war has ever been won by one man or woman. 

Closing:

This is the conclusion of our time together today. I hope that this word has blessed you today. There is a reason that I could not get my thoughts wrapped around the self-rejection content. As we go into the last days of 2021. Consider what it is that you are wrestling with? What blessing is that you need? Are you willing to wrestle with the angel, for however long it takes? Are you willing to fight for your blessing? We have to make some changes so that 2022 is a more fulfilling and bountiful year for us. If you are struggling with depression, suicidal ideations, or any other dark thoughts, please consider visiting www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/call, you can also call 1-800-273-8255. You can also use the online chat service through the website provide. Both the phone line and the chat service are monitored 24/7, there will always be someone standing by to help you. The service is free and confidential. Please be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, and know that even in your darkest place, there is a resource available to you. 

Protecting Your Gift

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Alright, so listen, I want to jump right into this topic today! We’re going to spend our time together talking about protecting your gifts. As I was developing the content for today, I realized that it’s December, which means its Christmas, which means people are out shopping for gifts, and I promise I did not wake up this morning and say “I hope people” know how to protect their Christmas gifts. Today, we’re going to be focusing on your spiritual gifts, the things that are given us to by God, that we may often try to run from out of fear of being “too great”. It’s best if we first define what a gift is. In a literal term it’s defined as something given to you without the expectation of repayment. But our spiritual gifts are the things that God gives us to add value to our lives, to make things better for not only the world around us, but also the world within us.

This is my second time building the written portion of this episode. I was nearing the end, when I stopped to take a short break and collaborate on some stuff with a friend. When I finished making the edits for him, I closed out Microsoft word, and without taking a second thought when it asked if I wanted to close all screens I hit “yes”. THEN I was ready to get back to my own project, and guess what it was gone!!! I did not practice my own saying from high school, “save early, save often”. I’m not gonna lie for about 12 minutes I was furious with myself. But this episode is about protecting our gifts right! And so, while I was in love with my first draft, and it was packed with some amazing content, my gift is to inspire, to create, to transform.

So, if I did it once, just moments ago, I can bring it back again, so while in my mind I said, “that was good work”, God is setting this episode to be “better”, and with that I began drafting the second take. As you proceed, I want you to consider these words from 2 Timothy 1:6 “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you”. 

What is it and why do I have it?

I brought up some of the gifts that I possess. You may possess one gift or a multitude of gifts. You may be blessed with the gift of compassion, the gift of speech, the gift of prayer, the gift of visions, the gift of hearing (being able to truly hear someone’s heart, mind, and spirit), you may be blessed with the gift of spiritual intuition, or anything that God has created for us to be gifted with. You have to identify your gift, and then begin considering why you have it. God gives us gifts for several of the following reasons: so that we may understand God’s will for our lives, our gifts help us to understand how the Holy Spirits operates through us, our gifts help to know what God HAS NOT called us to do, our gifts help us to not others out of a sense of duty, our gifts help us to be and feel fulfilled, our gifts help us to bring others together, our gifts help to equip for the life we are instructed to live, when we know our gifts we are better able to accept who we are and live a more abundant life. 

This leads me into a discussion about how we train ourselves to better develop, understand, and use our gifts. Your training may require you to read a number of books, it may require you to practice yoga several times a week, it may require you to mediate, it may require you to go into schools or some other academic setting that positions you to be around out inspirational people, it may require you to listen to podcast, read blogs, or watch inspirational YouTube videos, it may require you to work with at-risk youth, it may require you to sing in a choir, or work in a cafeteria. There is no limit to the ways in which you can develop your gift. Why? Because the gifts are uniquely given to the receiver. No one can mimic your gift. They cannot copy your gifts. They can’t deliver a gift for you. You cannot give your gift. Some people spend their lives running from their gifts, terrified of the person the gift will cause them to be. But we’re gonna get into that later. For now, I want you to understand that your gift is meant specifically for you, and God will align you for the spaces, places, and people who will help you to develop that gift. 

Why do lessons come to us?

The next thing I want you to understand is that your gift will require you to learn some lessons along the way. Some of these lessons will be difficult, lonely, frustrating, stressful, and any other emotion you can name. But these lessons are not luggage for you to carry around with hate on your heart. They are not shackles that keep you bound to the past. They are designed to give you momentum. Designed to show you how you’ve grown. How the former you has passed away, and the new you is here to stay. These lessons are designed to nudge you forward. The lesson may come with a detour, a distraction, and a sense of failure. But hear me on this, the devil does not mess with anything that does not have the potential to be valuable. Distractions come to those who are in alignment with their anointing. 

I use the word anointing instead of passion, because your passion is man-made, it is born out of a desire. But the anointing comes from God. You see, your passion might be to teach at a big institution, so you spend all your time focused on fulfilling that passion, but the anointing on your life is to teach. If you spend all your time upset that you’re not at the big institution, you will miss out on the fact that you’re teaching and changing lives for high school students, or Sunday school, or at a community college. You see the anointing is not based on your proximity to riches or status. The anointing is based on your proximity to the calling that God has placed on your life. When you’re out of alignment, things will not work out in your favor. There won’t even be a little sprinkle of blessing. You’ll know when you’re not in alignment with the anointing because your gift will feel and be stifled. As I close out on this point, I want to remind you that the lessons are sent to help us identify our strengths, and to develop upon our weaknesses. 

How to protect your Gifts?

  1. The first step to protect your gift is to identify your gift and learn why you have it. We talked about this extensively already. 
  2. Know that your gift will make room for you. This means that you have to confidently and knowingly walk in the light that your gift will get you wherever it is that you need to be. So many people are afraid of the exposure their gift brings, they’re afraid of the potential consequences of pursuing their gifts, afraid of the potential for failure, and the certainty that things will be uncertain for a period of time. Hear me, all of it will be ok. Your gift will open doors for you that you would never be able to open, even with all of your might. There was a time I used to shrink myself down and dull my gifts as well, even had some people recommend that I downplay my gift in the short-term to obtain a desire. But you cannot downplay your gifts, and anywhere you cannot be your authentic self is a not a place you need to be. God will align you in the spaces, in the places, and with the people who will speak to your gifts. 
  3. You need to determine what your calling requires of your gift. The gift is the vehicle to get you wherever your calling takes you. If the gift is the vehicle, then the calling is the journey. Many times, people are terrified of the journey, because the journey will take them into the wilderness, down roads they’ve never been, into places that make them uncomfortable, and around people whose names they don’t know. Know that all of it is working for your highest good. 
  4. Stand in the authenticity of your gift. You do not want to be just like anyone else, but you do want to be model some of their positive behaviors. I enjoy listening to Eric Thomas, Les Brown, and T.D. Jakes, but I don’t want to be them. First of all, do you know what they had to endure to honor the calling that God placed on their lives? My life has already been hard and challenging enough, why would I want to add on that extra stress. No, I want to see them using their gifts to support the calling God has placed on their lives, and I want to learn and reproduced those positive behaviors that led me to see them as inspirational. This way, other people see my gift, my calling, my anointing, and they’re drawn to me. Not to be just like me, but to learn from me, to find their own sense of discipline and self-worth, and then to continue replicating the process. 
  5. Practice the power of “I AM”. Every day when you rise you have to begin with “I AM”. Build it into your life, get up earlier if you have to, so that you can take 15 minutes to yourself, by yourself, and affirm to yourself that “I AM WORTHY”, “I AM NOT MY PAST”, “I AM STRONGER THAN MY ADDICTION”, “I AM STRONGER THAN MY FEAR”, “I AM CAPABLE OF GETTING THROUGH THIS”. Once you get through “I AM”, you may have to get into “I FORGIVE”, “I FORGIVE MY PAST SELF FOR SHRINKING”, “I FORGIVE THOSE WHO TOOK MY CAPACITY FOR LOVE AND HURT ME”, “I FORGIVE THOSE WHO DID NOT SEE MY GIFTS AND ABUSED ME”, I FORGIVE MYSELF FOR BEING SO NEGATIVE”. I need you to forgive yourself for what you did not know. For what you did know but decided to do it anyway. For the things you did not do that you feel like have held you back. For what you had to give up. After “I FORGIVE” you need to tap into “I LOVE”. “I LOVE MY LIFE”, “I LOVE WHO I’M BECOMING”, “I LOVE FEELING HEALED”, “I LOVE HONORING MYSELF”, “I LOVE MY STORY”.  The unconscious mind is a powerful thing. Even if it hasn’t happened for you yet, just by practicing affirmation and saying, “I AM….”, it causes the unconscious mind to see it as already done! 
  6. On the heels of affirmations, I must remind you to be careful of silently sabotaging yourself. Silent sabotage exists when you make little excuses that speak to your fear of growth, of development, of change, of existing in bigger spaces, of expanding your territory, of gaining more capacity for even bigger blessings. You gift is ready to grow, but you’ve become fearful of the requirement. Of the consequences. Of the cost. Of the time. You might refer to your fear as exhaustion, fatigue, being tired, be anxious, be angry, be depressed, or any other number of things. These things are symptoms of fear and manifest in us when we become stressed. You will have to see yourself as the imperfect person you are. You will have step into your mess and make the needed adjustments. You will have to fall in love with your journey because the secret that no one likes to talk about is that people actually enjoy transparency. People enjoy to authentically be themselves. What happens is that over time they are betrayed, hurt, and their emotional side is beaten so badly that they hide what makes them special. 
  7. You will have to be prepared to do some of this on our own. Maybe a large part of it. You may have to leave your tribe for a bit. This might make you feel like your gift is changing you, guess what, it is! Your gift is making room for you! I cannot deny the overwhelming feeling of leaving all that you know, to go after something that is not promised. There is no definitive knowledge of how it will work out, who you’ll meet along the way, what your journey will be like, or how long it might take to work out. I had spent several years doing great work at my old police department, and when I moved to Florida, I thought I had job lined up. As a matter of fact, I was about a week away from starting when they told me that they were not going to hire me. I immediately said to myself, good Lord what have I done! That small voice that I had stifled when I made the decision to move, was loud and booming.  As I continued to apply places, I kept getting rejection emails. With every e-mail that voice got louder and louder. It always seemed that as I was headed out on a trip out of the country I would get a rejection e-mail, and then I’d have to make a decision, would I let this e-mail ruin my mood, or would I continue to enjoy this new experience. I remember in Dubai when I got a rejection email from Fort Lauderdale PD, we were out having a good time (maybe don’t check those e-mails when you’re out and about), and it was like someone hit me hard in the chest, but I put the phone up, told Jamari I didn’t get the job and kept it moving. I applied to over 30 agencies, and in my last interview I spoke so passionately about my philosophy on policing, and why I had selected this agency that it captivated the room. After nearly 11 months and being on the cusp of giving up, I finally got hired. I tell you this to say that, even those of us who are qualified, have trouble getting in the door at places we are not called to be. Anything that has ever been for me, God has made a way and has made it clear that this was where He called me to be. So even when the lights seem to be off, the road is full of trouble, and your spirit is weary, I’m telling you that if it’s for you and it speaks to your calling, it speaks to your gifts, it speaks to your anointing, you have got to keep after it. Keep chasing it down, because along the way God will give you small wins that will help to renew your strength. 
  8. You will have to make some tough decisions on your own. Sometimes you will have one good decision and one bad decision, those are usually easy ones to make. But there are times when you will be presented with two equally good decisions, and in those moments, you will have to submit to the authority of God and ask to be placed or remain in alignment with the calling over your life. 
  9. Align yourself where you will grow. This means you need to center yourself in a place that will allow you to grow, to nurture your growth, and to release yourself from anything and anyone that is blocks, disrupts, or distracts you from your gift. Be okay with everything that takes to grow your gift exponentially. 
  10. All of it is working for your highest good. Someone will see you on your worst day and be inspired by integrity, by your work ethic, by your drive, by your enthusiasm. You might feel like all your giving is a solid 70%, and that 70% took everything you had in the tank, but to someone on the outside, who might have had one interaction with you, they saw your 70% and felt like it was 110%. They were captivated by your 70% because, they needed whatever it is that you gave them that day. That is the way that gifts work, they are not inherently for us. They are for those that we come into contact with. That is why you have favorite actors, singers, preachers, athletes, friends, teachers, etc. The gifts that they have are not for them, they are for those who are blessed to experience them. So on the days you feel imperfect and are confused as to why God has given you this special gift, whatever it may be, recognize that your gift is meant for someone else to experience, and you never know when you will come across them. 

As I close out this episode I want to remind you that you can follow me on IG, Twitter, and Tiktok at COACHLATHAM_PHD. There are daily affirmations, videos, and other weekly content posted on IG and twitter. 

The blog has been updated as well, which you can find that by visiting my website www.empoweringlifechanges.net you can also use the website to book life coaching sessions, and you can find the link to all of these services and platforms on my IG account. 

I hope that this word has helped you and blessed you in the way that it ministered to my own spirit. Be kind to yourself. 

Sincerely,

Demetrius

Handling The Turbulence

Photo by C. Cagnin on Pexels.com

As we head into the final months of the year, it’s important to have this discussion on turbulence. If you’ve never flown before, turbulence can be explained as the plane kind of bouncing around. For first time flyers it can be very scary. You’ll see children begin to call for their parents, and adults who will begin to pray, other times you’ll see more veteran flyers who just continue on as if nothing is even occurring. This last month I’ve made several flights back home to KY and for some reason or another there was turbulence on each flight, on my last flight it was so bad that the seat belt sign was never turned off. In fact, the pilot came over the PA and told us that we would be seated the entire flight and to expect excessive turbulence. Now over my time in the air, I’ve learned to look at the flight attendants. If they don’t look panicked, then it’s all good. The day I see a panicked flight attendant, then I know it’s time for me to start praying too, because the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availath much. 

Let’s get into how we can view turbulence in our life: it can come to us as trouble on the job. Problems with our children. Disagreements with our significant others. Sickness. Death. Grief. Financial setbacks. Self-doubt. Self-sabotaging behaviors. Unplanned pregnancies. Academic setbacks. Depression. Sometimes turbulence will come to us when we are trying to do better. We see it the most just before we’re about to be blessed. Just before the manifestation of the blessing, we hit the greatest amount of turbulence. Before we get too deep, I want you to understand that the presence of turbulence does not mean God is not present. If you practice another form of spirituality or religion then you’ll have to substitute God, I was raised in a Baptist household, and an Apostolic household, so my religious belief in a higher power helps me to walk through some of life’s difficulties.  

As we continue today, I want you think about the turbulence you’ve experienced in the past, and what you’re experiencing right now. I don’t want you to think about upcoming turbulence, just focus on the past and the present. How did you overcome, and how you’re about to overcome. Hear me on this, if you get to worrying about the future, that’s something that hasn’t even occurred yet. The past is not for you to beat yourself, but to reaffirm that despite my worst, I can, I will, I must, I shall, I have to make it. Once you’ve reaffirmed your stance, you’ll be more prepared to weather the present. Right now, in this moment God is calling out to you and telling you to pick up the pace. Pick up the pace. Pick up the pace. You’re going through something, and you just been letting that thing wear you down and wear you out, and maybe you’re not sleeping well at night. Tossing and turning, having bad dreams, waking up exhausted, living on autopilot. Whew. When are you going to stand up to that ole devil and do battle? God is ready to bless you! I promise you He’s ready to bless you! But you have got to pick up the pace. Sometimes things will happen in your life that cause you to pick up the pace. A death, a breakup, a termination, a discharge, God is shifting things in your favor, and you have to pick up the pace or you’re going to let the blessing out run you. 

The Child on the Plane:

Most children on the plane are terrified of turbulence. I mean let the plane a jolt just a little to the side and they think it’s about to spiral down to the ground. Kids have such wild imaginations that they can almost imagine anything. They lack experience, and so because of this they fill their head up with the next best thing, what they’ve seen on TV. There are adults who live their lives like this. They’ve failed to develop any kind of internal integrity for themselves and when they come up against a challenge they begin to panic. They expect to be saved, they need someone to comfort them, they need someone to let them know that it’s going to be alright. The problem with this mindset is that no one is coming to save you. Yea, there may be some support groups out there that will go around and offer minor assistance, but if you don’t put up a little effort you can die out here. I come from a state that can experience harsh winters. Every year at least one or two homeless people are found frozen to death downtown. There is a significant number of the population that goes to bed hungry at night, and if they don’t go to a local pantry they are at risk of starving. 

The child on the plane needs to be coddled. They need to have their back rubbed, my granny would call it soothing. There are certain life events that will break you, no doubt about it, the death of certain family members, suddenly losing your job, and things of that nature have the propensity to take a stable adult and break them. But it is critical that we have the skills in place to work through the trauma, because life does not stop. We have some safeguards in place so that we can tend to our needs, but life most certainly without a doubt goes on. 

The Panicked Adult:

The panicked adult on the plane recognizes that what’s happening with the plane is not entirely the way the flight should be going. The unnatural movement of the plane causes concern because in their mind they had the route mapped out, they had an idea of what kind of air they would be flying in, they probably picked a direct flight to avoid any complications, probably didn’t check a bag to save time once they landed, may have even booked an exit row seat so they could stretch out a bit. So, this unplanned turbulence is really messing up the flight for them. The cabin crew having to be seated, the seat belt light being illuminated, and the constant bouncing of the plane is really throwing them off course. You might see them trying to brace themselves on the seat in front of them every so often. They may clutch the arm rest for a sense of false security. If it’s really pressing, they may close their eyes and force their head into the head rest. 

If you’ve ever seen the show ‘Monk’ then you probably have a great idea of the person we’re talking about. I have a love hate relationship with people who are seriously OCD. They are painstakingly meticulous in how they do things, sometimes it is just certain things. Everything must be down to the inch! But what happens when something is out of place, for the OCD person this mimics a loss of control. For some, that loss of control can send them in a panic, with real psychological and physiological setbacks. Which leads us to the relaxed flyer. 

The Relaxed and Confident Flyer: 

This is by far my favorite type of person on the plane. Much like the flight crew you’ll only see this person panic when the turbulence is real. Typically, on the flight this person might be asleep, may be reading a book, might even be drinking coffee, or an adult beverage. Sometimes you’ll see them say a quiet prayer and rest it over in God’s hands. This flyer understood that although they knew the flight path, they could not control the journey. They’re trusting in the experience of the pilots and crew to get them where they intend to be. In a past episode, we talked about the trajectory of life, how we can sometimes find ourselves wading through a valley, and other times we get to stand breathless at the view from the mountaintop. But in order to get to the mountaintop we have to climb the mountain. 

 Everything is a Process: 

You have to understand that everything in life is a process. There is something to be learned from everything and anyone we encounter. Let’s stay with the airport. In order to purchase a plane ticket, you have to know what airport you’re going to fly from, what airport you’re going to fly to, your flight dates, flight times, how much baggage you may or may not have, whether you’ll need and ID or passport, a credit or debit card, and transportation to and from both airports. This is all before you even understand that you may not know the layout of the airport. Can you imagine landing late in a connecting city, having to run through an unknown airport, hoping to make your connection so you don’t have to wait or stay their overnight? Such is life! We are all treading on unfamiliar territory, with every decision we make we are navigating life the best way we each know how. 

Conclusion:

I don’t want to be before you too long so let me say these things:

  1. Feeling depleted does not mean that God is not with you. 
  2. The presence of doubt does not mean that you’re not capable. 
  3. The way that you see yourself will speak volumes to how you care for or beat yourself up. 
  4. Just because there are problems where you’re at does not mean that God does not want you there. There will be problems everywhere.
  5. God means for our journey to be tough at times.
  6. Through our interactions with our enemies, who dig into the sensitive areas of our lives, we are made stronger. 
  7. The walk of faith is tough. You might get beat up on the fight. Life can be rough and unfair. But it is through these hardships that we become fortified and wiser. 
  8. The closer you come to the promise the more difficult the opposition will become. 

T.D. Jakes made this illustration: The woman knows the baby is about to come because of the intensity of the pain. When the labor pains are greatest the woman is told to push. I’m telling you this because this portion of his message dealt with being in close proximity to your promise. When I went hiking up to the volcano in El Salvador, we first had to travel down into the valley, go through the valley, and then climb up a winding path to get to the mouth of the volcano. It was a hard task, and the closer we got to the top, the steeper the climb became. So, you have to understand that your rewards, your promise, your blessings will require you to labor. Sometimes the conditions will be unfavorable, and you’ll be uncomfortable but labor anyway. Everything that we encounter is working for our higher good in some way or another. 

Today’s message was about the turbulence of life. It comes in many ways and at many times. Sometimes you can be going through one thing, and boom here is something else to deal with. The old folks would say “if it ain’t one thing it’s another”. But as these “things” keep occurring, and things will keep occurring, be mindful to keep a record of how you’ve been handling yourself and negotiating the turbulence in your own life. Remember to reaffirm that from your past experiences you can, and you will make it. Focus on your present and be like the relaxed and confident flyer. Short of being in a life or death situation, just about everything else that we deal with in life can be resolved in a few months. When you start to reshape how you view these challenges, you’ll be better suited to handle them. 

Thank you so much for tuning in. Remember you can always follow me on IG or twitter at COACHLATHAM_PHD for daily affirmations and to book life coaching sessions. Be kind to yourself, and be kind to others. 

Please leave a comment, subscribe to the blog, or send an e-mail to demetrius@empoweringlifechangesllc.com

You can book your life coaching session at http://www.empoweringlifechanges.net

Sincerely, 

Demetrius

The Essence of A Good Relationship

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There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. There is no perfect man or perfect woman. No perfect pet. No perfect job. No perfect thing that will make everything better for eternity. Rather, there are good relationships. Good jobs. Good pets. Good situations. Each of these is developed not through perfection, but through imperfection. The idea that something can be perfect is a false standard created by someone that never achieved it. People have died in the pursuit of perfection. Literally people have died. But also, they’ve died spiritually. Some couldn’t achieve perfection, and their goals died with them at a young age. Imagine being 25 or younger and feeling that your life no longer had any purpose. Now look through the people you know and consider how many of them are talented but are not acting on that talent, never having known their full potential. That should scare you. It should scare you that it is so easy to give up. It should scare you that it is easy to sit back and choose to “go with the flow”. It should scare you that a person’s desire to tap into their purpose can be buried in the rubble of “what could’ve been”.  That brings us to today’s topic, The Essence of a “Good Relationship”. This episode is not just for couples or those who are married. It’s for friends, parents, and family members. For co-workers and colleagues. We are all entering and exiting relationships throughout our lives and sometimes we have no idea that it’s occurring. 

Boundaries and Realistic Expectations: 

Did you now that we first start to experience boundaries in our infancy? Crying when we get left alone. Trusting that our caregivers would feed us, change us, and make us feel safe. Do you remember the first time your parent sent you to daycare or to school? Do you know why they typically start crying? It’s because this is a new experience for the both of you. Entrusting other people to provide for your safety and care. Recognizing that it won’t be at the level of your parents but hoping that it would be in some way worthy. In our adult lives we practice setting boundaries in how transparent we are about our lives. How much we choose to share and when we want to share. When we are first comfortable within ourselves and then with someone else, we can begin to relax our guard and give them access to our boundaries. Submitting to the relationship if you will. Think of a time when someone overshared information with you. Did you immediately size up the person as a risk, metaphorically build a wall in your head, and start planning how you would exit this person from your life? 

In your adult life it will be critical to set rational boundaries, things that will keep you safe and progressing. It will also be important that these boundaries are followed up with clear and realistic expectations. For example, as an entrepreneur you are in control of your time and money. You may feel that since you work from home or for yourself that you should maximize your time by always working. Consecutive 16-hour days will reap a reward at some point, right? But then you notice that your work or business consumes up more of your life than you initially anticipated. A boundary needs to be set here. Especially if you have a family. There is no perfect formula to determine how much time you should invest in different areas of your life, but always remember that it is the people closest to you who will be there when you’re sick or in a vulnerable state. Not your money, your business, or your job. This section can really be its own episode, and in the next season of the podcast I anticipate covering it more. 

Vulnerability and Trust: 

To extend a boundary to someone we must feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable, to trust ourselves and then be able to trust the other person. Typically, people only know how to be vulnerable during the initial stage of dating, in sickness, in death, during sex, in times of anger, and in times of happiness. That’s a very limiting range. Relationships are about continuously developing, exhibiting, and sharing vulnerability. Vulnerability is defined as “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” Look at how powerful that definition is. The state of being “exposed” to the possibility of “attack’ or “harm”. Do you see that a healthy relationship means that you can trust the other person with the knowledge of things about you that could damage you? Think of your relationship with coworkers, for the most part it’s superficial, and things are relatively cordial. But think of the relationship you have (or have had) with intimate partners or close friends, it should’ve been much easier to share personal information about one another. 

When we enter into “meaningful” relationships with others we have to be willing to be vulnerable. At one time or another each of my best or close friends have seen me cry. They have seen me through a terrible crisis. They’ve been there to witness a major success in my life. They’ve helped me home when I had one too many drinks. At 3 A.M., on a cold January morning, one of my friends got out of his bed, loaded his weekend bag into my car, helped me drive 16 hours to my new home with my dog in the backseat, went to the airport with me to pick up another friend and they both spent the weekend with me to help settle in to my new normal. Over the course of the weekend, we tapped into levels of our friendship that most people unfortunately never get to experience. But that relationship was not built there in that moment, it was built over 4-15 years of check-ins, dinners, family events, birthday parties, memes, gripes, and laughs. We made a social contract with one another to be accountable, to be transparent, and most importantly to show up. 

If there is no vulnerability within the foundation of your relationship, then it will fail. We are vulnerable with those whom we trust. What is a relationship with no trust? The truth about real life is that in order to feel truly connected to someone you have to be authentic. The person you become when you’re alone with your thoughts is the version that the closest people to your heart should know. 

Honesty and Forgiveness:

Undoubtedly honesty is a major building block of any real relationship. Through your actions your words are given life. Honesty keeps everyone on the same page and coincides with vulnerability. Honesty begins with you first, being honest about what you desire, what you need, what you’re willing to compromise on, what you’re willing to accept, and what you’re willing to give. Relationships about the continuous cycles of learning and unlearning. As we all grow and mature, we change. This requires our partners to shed some of the old ideas they had about us and to learn us all over again. In a healthy relationship this change won’t be a shock because you’ll have been checking in and keeping open lines of communication. So, as you’re picking one another’s brain and putting the puzzle together, you’ll have an idea of the paradigm shift happening within your partner. Your relationship will mature and grow regardless of the work either of you devout, the direction the relationship goes is directly related to your efforts. 

So where does forgiveness fit into all of this? In a healthy relationship, everyone is on the same page, problems are handled swiftly, there are no breaks in trust, and things are running so smooth that any serious problems are a surprise. We couldn’t be more wrong. In a healthy relationship there will still be arguments, disagreements, moments when old habits resurface, and moments when we stray from the healthy coping skills we’ve learned. But the true testament of success is when people recognize the deficiency and decide to work through it. Often, when it is stressful, it can be much easier to walk away from a good relationship, than to try and stay and work things out. Working things out is messy business. Working things out requires a level of reflection and introspection that many are not comfortable doing. So, throughout the course of the relationship, you must be prepared to forgive, over and over. Changed behavior is the result we strive for, and remember we’re setting our clear boundaries and expectations, but if your partner doesn’t squeeze the toothpaste the way you like, leaves caps half-twisted, or forgets to check the mailbox, don’t blow a gasket. Give some grace and be thankful for their presence in your life for the things they get right. 

Healthy Relationship Markers:

As we conclude consider these things as some healthy relationship markers to help you determine if your relationship is moving in the right direction. A hallmark of a good and steady relationship is an open, clear, and honest line of communication. Merely checking the boxes with the standard “how was work?” isn’t going to cut it in year 3 of your relationship. People need, crave and desire more. Ask them what they learned about themselves today, or what did they learn about someone else today. Ask if they had a moment during their day when they could be of service to someone else, and follow-up by asking them how that act of service made them feel. Communication is the bedrock of the relationship, stop talking or dumb-down the communication and everyone involved will feel lost, hurt, and exhausted. Open communication means that it works both ways and the role of sender/receiver is shared between all parties. Clear communication means that you’re conveying your message wholly and truthfully, even if it requires you to restate or institute boundaries. Honest communication means that you’re not telling half-truths, lies, or talking in circles. While we are responsible for the way we deliver our message, we are not protecting the listener by withholding it. 

Stay on the same page. If you’ve ever played a musical instrument and know how to read music, then you know how jacked up a song can sound if even one member of the band is playing a different sheet of music. Much like in relationships, it may not become apparent to the outside world right away, but eventually it will expose itself. Sometimes romantic partners even miss the signs, but this still comes from a lapse in communication. When we get back to the communication piece and hash out what’s happening internally, we can usually resolve or at a minimum get a better sense of understanding. 

It’s critical to follow up our loving words with loving acts. Beyond procreation there are no hard-set gender roles in relationships. As you communicate and understand one another more, find routine or different ways to express your love, gratitude, or appreciation. In my romantic relationship I order a bouquet of flowers every month. For my close friends I like to get them gifts that they can use throughout the year. For my mom I like to get her shoes or pandora charms. You get the drift, the gift, and the nature of how it’s given will shift with each relationship, but the overall objective is the same. It is an expression of my love and adoration for the recipient. Likewise, our loving acts should be followed up with loving words, the two go together. 

We’ve already discussed the false idea of perfection. A false idea of perfection strips the relationship participants of their freedom, and without freedom, well you don’t really have a relationship. It is through this freedom and the identification of “self” that all parties involved learn to work as a team. Fully observing their separate and combined strengths and weaknesses. The healthiest relationships are rarely a 50/50 spread, in fact the scales are hardly if ever balanced! A real down-to-earth relationship is about people being willing to make adjustments in real time and being willing to give more when the other(s) can’t. That can be a hard pill to swallow, right? What if other people find out that your partner is not pulling their weight and you’re covering for them? That’s perfectly fine! The next point is about maintaining the integrity and privacy of your relationship anyway. 

You are the people in the relationship and therefore you hold the cards and make the moves. It’s good to vent to another person, to ask for advice here and there, to even get some different perspectives. But ultimately you must remember that you are the architect of your own life, and as such you are the one responsible for framing this relationship as you want it to go. While you can’t control what the other players do, you can control your contributions and your responses. My last marker is that regardless of the nature of any relationship you should learn to do efficient and effective check-ins. They have the potential to make all the difference. The company that I’ve had the most success with is known as the Happy Partners Project. What I really enjoy about these cards is that the process is structured, it begins with both players reading and agreeing to the rules. It provides information about negative words or phrases and gives us relationship building words to use instead. You don’t need this deck of cards to have a check-in, but if it’s something you’ve never done then it helps to have some structure. 

I did check-ins in my friendships back in the day, but I didn’t know what they were called.  I didn’t see very many healthy relationships growing up so when it came time for my own romantic relationships, I often imitated what I saw. As you can imagine that didn’t work out all that well for me. But over the last few years I really made a commitment to get better, to do better, and to expect better. My friend Lindsey Wagner is well-known for saying that “nothing is more powerful than a made-up mind”. When seriously decide that better is what you want, the universe will conform to your desires. Be well, be kind to yourself, be kind to others.  

Please leave a comment, subscribe to the blog, or send an e-mail to demetrius@empoweringlifechangesllc.com

Book your life coaching session at http://www.empoweringlifechanges.net

Sincerely, 

Demetrius

How We Wall Ourselves In

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We all have the ability to create various spaces for ourselves. These spaces have the potential to be similar to a thriving and comfortable home, or they can be volatile and debilitating. So recently I’ve been watching the show “Hoarders”, and it always fascinates me how people can accumulate so much stuff. If you’ve ever seen the show, you’ll notice that most of these people, in the most extreme cases, have filled up every room of their home with “stuff”, and they assign meaning, value, and/or purpose to each and every item.

Each item is connected to a memory, a person, or a feeling. Whenever they think about throwing something away, they are unable to do so. It makes them feel like they are experiencing a tragic loss. They hyperventilate, they become irrational, they become angry, they become distant, they cry, they shout, they curse, they lash out, they shutdown, they revert back to old habits, and at times they find it within themselves to grow. From the outside looking in, the hoarding is absolutely disgusting. The trash, the infestations of insects and rodents. The piles upon piles of junk that has collected, all manner of bacterial growth and residue. The rancid smells. Homes that have fallen into despair. Relationships that have been destroyed. But on a deeper level the hoarding of the items represents something bigger. It represents for the hoarder that they are creating a space in which they feel safe, they feel protected, and they feel in control.

By never releasing anything, they maintain their power. By building up these impossible mounds of “stuff”, they have created a fortress of sorts. As I watched hour after hour of this show, I really started to look at the family dynamics, and then at the patient. I would routinely ask myself, “what was the trigger?”. Most stuff in life is cyclical, or in other words, we see things occurring in cycles. Such is the case with hoarding. Something happens that negatively triggers the hoarder, and they respond by “walling” themselves in. In a similar fashion, people can hoard emotions, ideas, desires, limiting beliefs, stress, uncertainty, and doubt. Today, we’re going to discuss how we wall ourselves in, and take a look at how we can begin the process of redefining the spaces that we occupy. 

Let’s build a wall 

When we are growing, especially as children, we are seeing the world and learning how to move through life. We can each experience the same or similar things and have very different and real opinions. Success and the feeling of winning, are great teachers. Right, they help us to lock in that sensation of overcoming. But the real teacher, the one that makes the most lasting impression is pain and defeat. When something hurts us, we try to figure out every way that we can avoid that sensation again. The feeling of pain is the body’s way of attempting to protect itself. We hear the analogy of the child touching the hot stove. Once they touch it and get burned, they usually are a lot more careful not only around the stove, but anything that generates heat or a flame. The pain taught this significant lesson, and that can just be from a very mild burn. We can even learn from the pain or fear of others, and we can translate that into our own lives if we’re not. careful. If my parents were afraid of water, because they nearly drowned as kids, I too might be fearful of water and drowning. So, I never take the time to learn to swim.

Other types of pain that we can experience can be spiritual, mental, or emotional. There can be pain through our decision making. This causes us to doubt ourselves, leads us to practice self-sabotage, leads us to reduce our life goals, leads us to enter a state of hypersensitivity. Hypersensitivity is when we become excessively aware of everything happening around us. Growing up in an area that was prone to street robberies, I don’t walk down dark alleys. I don’t walk through groups of people. I try to time when I’m about to reach a street corner with the right time to be able to cross it, so I don’t have to stop. If I hear people arguing in the distance, I try to keep track of where they’re going in case they start shooting. I’m always ready to run because my life depends on my ability to perceive and accurately react to danger. 

The way that we build walls is much like the way that people begin hoarding. Something bad happens to us. We decide we’re never going to let that happen again. To prevent it we have to be a certain way. We choose behaviors that we believe will deliver safety, stability, and love. And we repeat them over and over again. What begins to happen is that we are sheltering in place, so that we can protect ourselves from what we perceive “might” happen. I place a lot of emphasis on “might” because while it is good to plan for multiple outcomes, sometimes we have to scale that down to what is reasonable. The brain does not recognize what is real and what we’ve imagined. That big ole movie factory in our head just gets stressed out all the same. There are good walls to be built such as love, compassion, gratitude, humility, knowledge, and service. This is the type of home I work to create, maintain, and move within in my mind. I am the observer, and I am what is permanent. The scenery is everything else, and the scenery is ever-changing. As you take inventory of your life, your goals, your dreams, the reality of where you are versus where you could be, you really have to consider what kind of walls you’ve built up inside of your head. 

Maybe you are or will be the first in your family to do something, do it anyway! Do it scared. Do it nervous. Do it anxious. Do it frustrated. Do it with joy. Do it with passion. Do it with purpose. Do it with the mindset that it’s working for your higher good. Do it with the understanding that even if you fail, you’re failing forward. You’re learning and developing yourself along the way, so that when it’s time for you to do it again, you’re not starting from scratch. It is so much harder to build those self-affirming walls. The negative walls go right up, even if you’ve never been good with your hands, those negative walls just go right up.

Soon as you start to think about developing yourself, educating yourself, investing in yourself, stretching who you are, here come those negative walls. Reminding you that it’s never worked before. You don’t know anyone doing this. If it doesn’t work out everyone will laugh at you. This could be the biggest failure of your life. What is that you think you’re really going to change anyway. The negative thoughts can be endless! I promise if you gave yourself 45 seconds to right down everything that has, is, or will go wrong in your life you might get a hand cramp before you run out of time. But on the flip-side, if I asked you to do the same thing but talk about all the good that has, is or will happen in your life, you’d really have to do a lot of thinking to get that list knocked out. And that is the purpose of today’s message, we have to redefine the way that we see ourselves, and the life that we are trying to create. No one is going to come along and just make your life better. There are people that we can attach ourselves to, that can help us to get into rooms we wouldn’t have been invited in, and we can ride their coattails. But there is nothing, and I promise you this, there is nothing like experiencing success when you know you’ve done your best work. When you know you’ve reached down, deep deep deep, almost to an ancestral place to affirm, manifest, and produce some of the best work of your life. That is a profound accomplishment. 

Many people will never experience this. The first reason is that you have to be willing to enter uncharted territory. Uncharted territory comes with risks and no guarantee of a reward. Can you imagine giving something your all and not knowing how it would turn out? I mean really going all out, not worried about any sacrifices, not worried about anything, if you could just sink yourself into your life’s purpose, but the only catch is you won’t know if it works out until the end. Would you be able to do that? Would you be able to commit to that? Could you be that invested in what it could take to get you from where you are to where you want to be? The reality is that this is not that far from your reach, it’s just something you’ve never done before, so it seems so big. Most people fall into two categories: they know what they want, but not how to get it. Or they don’t know what they want. 

Both of these realities can be perplexing. Almost paralyzing. So, when in doubt ask the following: what is the dream? What am I trying to build? What do I want? 

When you define your dream/vision/purpose, it brings things back into focus. Helping you realize and actualize what it is you’re after. 

When you define what you’re trying to build, it helps you to hone in on what is necessary for the fulfillment of your dream. 

When you define what you want, if helps you to ensure your desires are in alignment with your divine purpose. 

The last thing I want to talk about is “capacity”. Capacity refers to our ability to handle something. In leadership we have a term called “span of control”, and that refers to a commanders maximum capacity to effectively lead their people. Now on average, a leader can effectively lead 3-6 individuals. You will find people who have the capacity to do more, and you’ll find people who have the capacity to do less. If you take a person who has the capacity to lead 500 people and you give them 300, they’ll do great. They may even boost their numbers because of their leadership capabilities. But if you take a person who has the capacity to lead 100 people, and you give them 500, well you’re probably going to be losing 400 people. Growth is not only about attaining the things, the places, or positions that we want. It also requires us to have the capacity to retain these things as well. Without the capacity, we would surely lose them. So as you work towards your growth, and you work towards being better, be sure to focus on developing the capacity of your surroundings. 

As you move through this week, consider what kinds of walls you’ve built up around your life. Are you inviting in growth and expanding your capacity for it. Or have you shut it out?

Please leave a comment, subscribe to the blog, or send an e-mail to demetrius@empoweringlifechangesllc.com

To book your life coaching session please visit www.empoweringlifechanges.net

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. 

Sincerely, 

Demetrius

The “Aha Moment”

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The other day I was doing a normal household task, vacuuming the floors, and using one of the attachments to vacuum the lint and other particles from the headboard. This is something I typically do 1-2 times a week without any serious reflection. But for some reason I became fixated on the amount of lint and particles that had accumulated since the last time this task was completed. I have an older German Shepherd; we’ve been together since he was 6 weeks. I’m used to seeing his hair around the house, and especially in the upholstery of the headboard (hence the special attachment). However, he hasn’t been in the bedroom for quite some time. Yet, these particles still accumulated high up on the headboard. In that moment, I had what Oprah calls an “Aha Moment”. Looking at the dust and other particles, I was surprised by the way the accumulation occurred. 

You see, I clean the metal ceiling fan blades and the window blinds often. Yet, this dust and these other particles still made a way onto the headboard. When we lose sight of something, and don’t bring our focus back to it for some time there are things can unknowingly begin to accumulate. We tend to become weighed down by self-doubt. The longer it takes for our goal to come into focus we feel like the rope is slipping out of our hands. We do a little maintenance here and there, but if you know anything about sustained effort, then you know that over time that little fire starts to die down. You find yourself trying to find new ways to get things going again. For me this was symbolic of the vacuum. 

I had a goal that I set for myself this year and I haven’t hit it yet. I’ve done all the necessary things to get prepared. I completed the required course, I studied the material and passed the state exam on the first go around, I applied to every agency I could think of, I filled out all of the packets sent to me, I showed up ready for every interview, I nailed every interview, I blocked out time to make every testing appointment, some test I had to do over and over, but I showed up with a smile and a renewed sense of self-worth each time. When it got hard and I saw myself spiraling into a depression, I tried to do some maintenance work, but I needed more help than I anticipated. I made some poor impulsive decisions that only further caused more tension, a common thing that occurs when we’re battling depression.

But then I got back to my roots, and I started doing the things that made me great, and that has made all the difference! The tools have always been within me, but during this season of waiting and rejection, even I battled with self-doubt. Although the fire was dying, I never let it die. My friends and family never let it die. God never let it die. It was challenged, yes. It was put to the test, yes. It would have felt good to go ahead and call it, yes. But I remembered and I had been reminded many times that I had done all that I could do. I had showed up for all that I could show up for. I had come ready with an extensive resume and years of street-tested experience. So, it was never about me, I was not the ideal candidate for what these agencies had in mind. And that was a form of protection. I would have never felt a sense of fulfillment had I been hired on where “I” thought “I” wanted to work at. 

So how does this tie into that “Aha Moment”, well, it is because lint accumulates in due to things from the outside environment. Self-doubt, fear of failure, playing it safe, making yourself small, settling. All these things come from outside influences, as children we were brave and bold. The old folks always say, “if you want the truth ask that baby”. Why? Because a child will tell you the unfiltered truth until they are taught or experience otherwise. As a child we filled any room with our presence. The floor was lava. The trampoline could throw us into space. The swimming pool was the ocean. Our dolls and action figures were alive, and we could imagine up any set of possibilities for them. At some point in our growth cycle, we became aware of the outside world and its influences, and we began to balance things with a “risk v. reward” mindset. The “Aha Moment” for me was recognizing that when we allow negative influences from the outside world, no matter how small, over time they can accumulate and begin to cover us. Every day we are in a fight to stay in the light. In a fight to stay where the sun keeps us warm, and vibrant, and optimistic. While we do need to accept our feelings and work with them, we can’t afford to dwell in a negative state. 

So, think about the areas of your life that may have been unknowingly covered by lint and start dusting them off. Your best self deserves to have the best version of you showing up each and every day. I always what I preach and when I find myself flirting with negative thoughts, I immediately work to begin changing the narrative. If I don’t know how to do something I’m going to find out. If I don’t have the energy right now maybe a short nap is in order or an energy drink, but I’m not going to let this task get away from me. I shift from saying, “oh, I don’t have time for that”, and I acknowledge whether it is a priority for me. On my advertisement it says, “The fundamental truth is that you have to want better.” It closes out with, “You are the architect of your life.” As we close today, sincerely think about these two statements. 

When you want better for yourself, you instinctively begin aligning with this manifestation. You will begin to see the universe open possibilities that had never occurred to you before. Growth is very intimidating. Scary even. But in order to get to that side of greatness you really do have to step outside of your comfort zone and be okay with the “pain of growth”. Nothing is worse than waking up weeks, months, or years later and realizing that you had the power to change your situation, but instead you decided to remain in what made you comfortable. 

This concludes the blog on the aha moment. Please leave a comment, subscribe to the blog, or send an e-mail to demetrius@empoweringlifechangesllc.com.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. 

Sincerely,

Demetrius