Mr. Stacey Ellertson, B.TH, M.A.LM, M.A.CM, CCPA Assoc. www.Anxietycentre.com
Author: Stacey K Ellertson
I am a self-employed therapist/counsellor for twenty years. Raised two amazing daughter and married to one incredible woman. WE have three cats (Winnie, Lili & France) and one dog (BO). I love to write and share, hoping to encourage, inspire and challenge. We are all life long learners.
It’s been a chilly week and when I mean chilly, I mean -45 to -50 Celcius. (that’s -49 to -58 F for my American friends). Our furnace has not been able to keep up. So, been burning alot of wood and had our electric heater on all day long. Some of Amerian friends have asked, “how is that even possible?” Trust me. It’s possible. The idea that you can throw a pot of boiling water into the air and it turns to snow, is TRUE.
Despite the extreme cold, we are grateful for our fireplace although my wife is not thrilled in the morning. She’s chilled! By Friday the temperature will start warming up and I look forward to get back on the ice and catch me some perch and walleye.
Have you every been ice fishing? Do you have a “winter story?” What’s the coldest weather you have experienced?
Hard to believe that Spring is just over a month away!
Someone asked me the other day if I miss Fakebook. A little, but not alot. I left Fakebook because of the constant negativity, division and censorship. I no longer want to participate on platforms intent on telling me how to think and to be afraid. I am so grateful I dumped Fakebook and Twitter.
Since leaving these dark platforms I have been committed to exposing myself to narratives, videos and pics that make me smile: weddings, pregnancy announcements, engagements, babies, beauty, vacations, nature and devotionals. I am doing my best to fill my eyes and mind with beauty and joy! I encourage you to try it. Cut out the toxicity in your life. Replace that with what compells you to feel good about yourself and the life we are living.
Being an anxiety disorder recoverer, I have an intimate understanding of worrying destructively. I used to worry about everything: what people thought of me, do they like me, do I have some kind of life threatening disease, am I going to get in trouble etc. I even worried I would die by the time I was thirty (I’m fifty two) for no obvious reason. I just felt like I would die by the time I was thirty.
What exactly is worry? The best definition I know of is this, “using your imagination to make yourself sick.” I could not agree more.
Throughout my recovery from my anxiety disorder I learned a valuable lesson about worry. Most of them with either NEVER happen and/or there is absoluty nothing I can do about them. Those worries I can do something about are actually exceedingly rare.
I have adopted a realisistic yet optimisitc approach to life. The optimist in me expects good things to occur. The realist in me knows I have no clue what the future holds. Only God knows my future. All I can do is imagine what it could be. I have learned to dismiss those worries I can do nothing about and only address those that have a relatively high probability of occuring I can do something about.
There are so many moving parts going on in our world right now. So many things we can get caught up worrying about. I personally choose to dismiss those I have no power to prevent or prepare for. I choose repeatedly to pray those worries over to God.
Spend a little time differentiating between those worries you can actually do something about and those you obviously cannot. Focus only on those that have a high probability of occuring. Let the rest go by the way side. Focus on what you do control. Focus on what you know, NOT what you can imagine.
We are all in this together. Is that really true? Are we all in this together? Are we all on the same page? Do we all agree? NO.
Every day I work with people helping them to find their way through the chaos around us. They suffer terribly from anxiety, stress and depression.
Is it really any wonder why?
We are all being constantly indocrinated to be afraid. Over the last year the rhetoric of fear has been amped up like never before except maybe during World War II.
Fear and division seems to be all powerful. It’s not.
There is so much going on we have no control over, politically or socially. It’s not surprising so many are feeling so powerless, hopeless and trapped.
The only thing most of us have in common is that we all feel the same way. At different levels of course, but generally the same.
Most of us are sick and tired of the constant fear mongering, lockdowns and governmental regulations.
Two weeks to flatten the curve has turned into a year of mandates, regulations, political gamesmanship and disinformation.
With so much out of our control where does our power come from? I suggest it comes for your power to choose. I am in control of my own behaviour. No matter what is going on, I like to focus on what I do control. For example I chose to censor Facebook and Instagram.
In reading my devotional this morning, I was reminded to not become distrated by the world. In every way to focus my attention on Jesus. The message I have been receiving the last several days is to focus on HIM, trust HIM. One day at a time. One step at a time. A renewed mind is a presence focussed mind. I am seeking more and more His voice, His light.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Truth. Where do we find it? It’s nearly impossible to know what is true these days. There is so much corruption, disinformation, deception and bold face lying going on, it’s easy to lose hope. Piled on top of this, is the obvious censorship being imposed upon truth tellers and those who are desperately seeking truth. It is easy to lose hope. Prior to sitting down and writing this blog God reminded me to:
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
As a therapist my goal is to provide a path to healing built upon hope. I wanted to share with you what keeps me strong when all hope seems lost. In a nutshell, it’s my faith. Jesus said,
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. I am the way, the truth, and the life.
John 14:1 & 6
The source of truth and foundation of hope is found in what is unseen NOT what is seen.
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.[a]4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7 For we live by believing and not by seeing. (2 Corinthians 5:1-7)
For we live by believing and not by seeing.
2 Corinthians 5:7
I’m aware we all have our losses and this perspective is not easy. I only want to encourage you to have faith in Gods long term plan. God’s Word is unchanging. Jesus is still the same, yesterday, today and forever. Looking for hope from the world is a hopeless endeavour. Let God be your hope.
Every day we are confronted with the same dilemma. A choice. A difficult choice. A choice that will inevitably pit ourselves against someone who have made a different choice. Why do we make the choices we choose? Decisions are difficult. They require wisdom, courage and conviction. I don’t know about you but there have been several times over the last year when my choices have been criticized by those who have made a different choice.
I have always believed that each person has a right to their own opinion and their own choices; the right to make our own decisions. I also believe we have a responsibility to respect another persons opinion even if we disagree. Lately it seems more and more like this right to our own opinion is one sided. I’m not going to identify which side are disrespecting my opinions or decisions. I will leave that up to the reader. The truth is, there appears to be an all out effort to guilt and shame those who do not support and agree with the public message. For example, if you don’t agree with mask wearing or getting the vaccine you are just an uncaring, insensitive jerk. We have fondly identified these shame makers as “Karens” or “Maskholes.”
I have personally been labeled an “asshole”, “jerk” and “unloving.” I’ve been told to “believe the science” even though the science is different depending on the subject matter. Science sure has become politicized and opinionated. I would love to trust the science, government and medical leaders. Sadly, the evidence over the last year have only validated my distrust.
How do we weather this storm of division?
It’s not easy.
Most often we make decisions based on two sources of data: emotions and/or expectations. Both are valid and important sources of information. The problem with emotional decisions is that our feelings often lie to us. Emotional decisions are often very misleading. The issue with expectations is our inability to please everyone. There will always be someone who holds a different expectation. So we cannot go through life trying to meet everyones expectations. The trick is learning to screen those emotions and expectations through our core values. The problem is we don’t all share the same core values.
Are you clear what your core values are?
If you are clear what your core values are those values become your guide. Not your emotions or the expectations other have of you. I have three core values that inform my decision making: Faith, family and integrity. I refuse to make decisions that require me to compromise these values in any way. The problem with making value based decisions is that not everyone will share those values. So it is inevitable we will meet people who reject what we hold dear. That’s okay. It really is. It means that sometime we have to let those people go. We have to allow them to live with their own decision while we live with ours.
Never allow anyone to shame or guilt you for values that are different than theirs. Stand up for your values because if you do not your life will be miserable. There is nothing worse than bartering away your values for a facade of acceptance and love. That’s not acceptance. That’s called coercion. Guilt and shame are being used to coerce people into submission.
It’s hard. It really is. But, your values are far more valuable than acceptance. The bible says, “You are in the world, NOT of the world.” My friends, the world is trying hard to coerce us into a concept of worldly subservience.
Todays devotion reminded me of Jesus message, “I am with you always.” Presence is a power our world seems hellbent on eliminating.
It was not that long ago (11 months) when we would have heard that people spend too much time on social media, too much time on their phones, too much time on the gaming console. We would laugh at the silly selfies and at each other when we realize we are all on our technology while sitting in the same room together. We would be together but not really present.
It’s amazing what can happen in eleven short agonizing months. Now, all of a sudden we are told to stay home, don’t have friends and family over, and basically live our entire life in isolation on social media. Hmmm. Even school is online.
When I was in bible college, I spent an hour every day for an entire semester sitting with palliative care patients. Most often these were folks unable to speak. You would just sit by their bedside and read a book, watch television or talk to them. The silence was so awkward. But, in those times I learned the power of presence. The power of just being “with” someone.
Human being are not created to live in isolation. Social media and technology is toxic to human development. It stagnates growth, empathy and connection. We need people to be in our life.
Children especially depend on social interactions. Social interaction is a primary source of identity development. Without healthy social (in person) interaction we struggle to know who we are in this world. It is in those social interactions (at least in part) we develop a concept of self. The division, in many ways we see going on in this world is creating more long term damage than Covid19.
We live in a world where we can be more connected than ever but we are so apart.
I thank God every day Jesus is a fundamental part of my life. I try reminding myself that no matter what Jesus is with me. But you know what. It’s not enough.
There is a story of a little girl who had a bad dream. She awoke crying out for her mom, “Mommy mommy, I need you. I had a bad dream.” Her mom replied, “It’s okay, Jesus is with you.” The little girl says, “I know Mommy! I need someone with skin!.”
Yes, Jesus is with us. Praise God! But, God knew how important it was for us to have someone with skin. That’s why God created Eve!