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Forgiveness Isn’t An Act; It’s a Process

Forgiveness Isn’t An Act; It’s a Process

Once you have acknowledged the truth of your pain, you must decide to forgive.  What if you understand all the pluses but still don’t feel like forgiving? The first step is to state your truth aloud, even if it’s only to yourself.  Put into words how you are feeling and what has been done to you. Saying the words aloud is a way to let them go.

You might also try these written exercises to help in your journey of forgiveness.

  • Draw what forgiveness looks like with crayons or markers, or paste in representative pictures from magazines.  This may be hard. You have lived with anger for a long time. It is more familiar to you. You may need to remember how you felt when someone forgave you and what that forgiveness meant to you.  Express how that feels in your drawing.
  • After drawing a picture of forgiveness, write a letter to someone who may have hurt you.  This is not an actual letter to send, but a way for you to verbalize in a safe way the forgiveness you need to extend.  Instead of a “You hurt me because” letter, which emphasizes the action of the other person, write an “I forgive you because” letter, which will emphasize the control you are taking back for yourself.  You are no longer the object of the action but the initiator of it.

Forgiveness isn’t an act; it’s a process.  Someone bumps you in the elevator and says, “Oh, I’m sorry.”  “Oh, that’s all right,” you say. You’ve forgiven that person.  But on a subconscious level, you looked at that person and judged the reason why they bumped you and the manner in which they apologizes before you assured them, “Oh, that’s all right.”  Even though the time from their bump to your acceptance of their apology was very short, your forgiveness was still a process that took into account a variety of factors, not the least of which was how you were feeling that day.  If such a small event requires evaluation, think what the process must look like when applied to the incidents of abuse and pain in your past.

Start with prayer.  Forgiveness is a tall order, and the power and strength needed to forgive are formidable.  But remember that nothing is impossible with God. He is able to give you the ability to extend forgiveness.  He is, in fact, an expert at forgiveness: he extends it to us all the time.

While I firmly believe that forgiveness is vital to a successful journey toward healing, don’t pile additional burdens onto yourself if you are unable to give instant forgiveness to yourself or to those who are responsible for your pain.  This isn’t a bump on the elevator. The process of your forgiveness requires time, perspective, and patience.

No matter how hard you’ve tried to suppress your anger, it’s very near the surface.  Any chink in your armor, and it comes exploding outward. Forgiveness is deeper down, harder to get to.  You’ll have to dig for it, like any real treasure.

And while you are working toward this gem of forgiveness, place your wounded heart in God’s hands for safekeeping.  Allow him to provide you comfort and safety. At the start of each day, deliberately turn to God and not to your behavior with food.  

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety or disordered eating, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help.  Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.

 

Look for Ways God Can Speak to You

Look for Ways God Can Speak to You

Turning over your life to God as the navigator is not an easy task.  It requires you to give up control over your life, to listen to God, and pay attention to His answer.  It requires you to commit to being obedient and trust even when you may not like it or understand it.

If you are looking for ways God can speak to you, here is a list of ideas:

  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Read
  • Journal
  • Study
  • Seek counsel
  • Listen

If you’re already doing some of these things, congratulations!  Rededicate yourself to the task.  If one or more of them have become stale or rote, switch it up:

  • Choose a different place or time to pray or meditate.
  • Try using a journal to record your prayers or meditations.
  • Read a different translation of the Bible.  Try one that you’ve never considered before.
  • Be more structured with your study if you haven’t been studying the Bible much, or, if you’ve been very diligent, change your study topics for the next six months; be more spontaneous.  Start opening up the Bible at random, and study from there.
  • Find a wise, godly person who you can be open and transparent with, seeking accountability and a sounding board for spiritual matters.
  • Spend some time, each day, just calming your mind, opening it up, and listening to what God might want to say that day.  Whenever possible, go outside and walk in order to get out of your environment and into His.
  • Pay attention to what God is saying to you.  Write it down as soon as you hear it.  Use your journal or keep a small spiral notebook or pocketbook with you or available so you can make sure not to lose what you hear.  Make sure to put it by your bedside, as God often has used the time of either going to sleep or upon waking to capture my undivided attention.

Look over this list and make note of the things you are currently doing.  Then, consider one or two you have not been doing, but are convicted that you need to start.  Think about any additional ways you understand God and can speak to you that are not listed.  The list above is by no means the definitive one, so if you wish, include any that are a part of your faith tradition.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE, and author of 38 books. The Center creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others. If you or a loved one is struggling with past abuse, The Center is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.

Self-control Requires Practice

Self-control Requires Practice

So many people hit their young-adult years believing control is all about saying yes to those things they were previously denied.  I think it takes us a bit longer to figure out that often the best way to exhibit our control is by choosing to say no to those same things.  I guess you could call this the difference between control and self-control.  So often we think control is about finally making sure we get what we want.  Self-control, however, is more about making sure we get what we need.

Self-control is not easy to come by, requiring the long view over instant gratification and initially appearing harsh, unpleasant, and virtually impossible to employ.  It requires practice, patience, and perseverance.  Self-control presupposes an intimate knowledge of self, knowing what is and is not good and appropriate for you.  It’s the anomaly of the person who is able to put down work and go home at the end of the day, saying no to the urge to stay another hour (when you consistently find yourself – once again – being the last one in the office to lock up).

Self-control in Scripture is interesting and sometimes amusing.  Here are some examples from the Old Testament that talk about what happens when you have self-control and what happens when you don’t:

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. (Prov: 16:32)

The warrior says yes to the battle while the patient man says wait.  Being able to control your temper can be more of a triumph than engaging in the battle.

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.  (Prov. 25:28)

Self-control is a valuable defense against all kinds of problems.  If you lack it, you leave yourself wide open and vulnerable.

A food gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.  (Prov. 29:11)

Giving full vent to anger or any excessity rarely produces the fruit you expect or projects you in a positive light.  Anger may get you what you want, but it robs you of what you need, especially in relationships.

The New Testament is certainly not silent where self-control is involved.  It is listed as one of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.  Its value is recognized and affirmed in 1 Thessalonians 5:6 and 8.  Leaders in the church are to be self-controlled (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8; 2:5).  Self-control is valued across the age spectrum (Titus 2:2, 6).  Each person is instructed to exercise self-control (1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8).

it is obvious that self-control is a virtue and a value.  It can also, sadly, be in short supply in life.  You know it is good.  You want to be able to exercise control over self.  None of us want to admit we aren’t able to control ourselves.  So how do you develop a better grasp of saying no?  The answer, of course, lies within each person.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE, and author of 38 books. The Center creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others. If you or a loved one is struggling with past abuse, The Center is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.

 

Abuse and Parental Authority

Abuse and Parental Authority

Marnie was scared.  She couldn’t believe how mad she’d gotten at the kids just now.  She felt like a stranger, watching herself unleash on them over something stupid.  She’d told herself to stop, that they were just kids, but she hadn’t been able to.  The words and the anger just kept pouring out.  Thank God, she hadn’t hit any of them, though at one point she’d really wanted to.  That’s when she’d felt herself snap out of it.  Dear God, how could she even have thought to do such a thing?

Marnie had looked down at those two terrified little faces and, suddenly, saw herself looking back.  She knew what that felt like.  What was wrong with her?  How had she ever let herself get so out of control?  Dear God, Marnie thought, what if it happens again and I can’t stop?  Who am I?  Who have I become?

As you consider the effect of childhood abuse on your relationship with others, I ask those of you who are parents, or who have access to authority over children, to give thought to how those relationships may be affected.  Do you find yourself doing or saying things you swore you would never do or say when you grew up?  Or do you find yourself giving in to childish requests and behaviors to say no, all to avoid a confrontation?  Do you find yourself trying to be a “nice” parent more than a “good” parent?

If the parenting model you grew up with was fundamentally flawed, you may be at a loss to determine what is normal and what is not, what is helpful and what is harmful.  You may go to the opposite extreme to avoid any semblance of harsh behavior.  You may be terrified of becoming a monster yourself.  You may gain satisfaction from finally being the one in charge.  I implore you not to shy away from examining your own beliefs and behaviors about raising children, especially when it comes to discipline.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE, and author of 37 books. The Center creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others. If you or a loved one is struggling with past abuse, The Center is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.

Perfectionism and Self-Esteem

Perfectionism and Self-Esteem

Perfectionists walk an incredibly narrow road. There can be no deviation from the prescribed path, no sidetracks, and certainly no missteps. There can be no slowing or stopping for others, who are expected to keep up and keep straight, regardless. Perfectionists understand the road is going to be difficult and take great pride in navigating it successfully. They must be constantly on guard for any obstacle in the path, any breath of wind that might knock them off their course. Vigilance and an ongoing state of alertness are key.

With perfectionism, there is no standing down, no acceptable periods of relaxation. Perfectionism is, therefore, both exhausting and unattainable. Addiction can creep in and promise a form of momentary relief from the unrelenting anxiety of trying to be perfect. Addiction can also promise to numb those times when the reality of the unattainable becomes overwhelmingly hard to bear. Addiction promises you can spend a few hours looking away from the shame, blame, and guilt nipping at your heels unless you are perfect. Addiction promises to shield you temporarily from the fear that you are, sadly and tragically, like everyone else—flawed, imperfect, unworthy.

Self-Esteem

Angela felt she didn’t deserve to be happy. After more probing, I discovered she never had. Any success she’d experienced had been a sort of “cheat,” she said. If people really knew who she was or how much work she’d put into it or any number of factors, they would know she didn’t deserve success and it would be taken away. How could anything she did be worthy when she wasn’t worthy herself?

Angela grew up in a household where nothing she did was right. When she brought home good grades, it was assumed the teacher hadn’t applied the proper standards or she’d gotten away with something. Good things were suspect, but bad things were expected because of who she was. She knew who she was—the one who would “never amount to anything.” She was the one who would “never be like [her] sister.” The one who couldn’t “do anything right to save [her] life,” even though she always tried.

Angela was deeply ashamed of her addiction; part of her was also incredibly angry. She was angry because being trapped in the addiction proved she was weak and everything that had been said about her was true. All her life, Angela kept trying to “make up” for the mistakes she’d made, and the addiction kept putting her further and further behind. She’d never catch up, and with the weight of the addiction added in, catching up seemed to take more energy than she had. She’d been foolish to think she could ever do or be anything other than a failure. “What good is today,” she’d asked, “if I can’t have tomorrow?”

Angela’s addiction subverted the positive roles of shame, blame, and guilt and used them to convince her she wasn’t worth a positive tomorrow. She was especially susceptible to this tactic, since shame, blame, and guilt had always been used as weapons against her while she was growing up. Addiction strips away self-esteem. This can be particularly damaging when you started out with little or none in the first place, as Angela did.

For years, I’ve been speaking out against the tremendous damage done, especially to children, through the tactics of emotional abuse. My book Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse has been a pivotal resource in this effort for more than twenty years.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.