Why So Damn Critical?


The world, the people in the world, maybe even you have become so damn critical about everyone and everything. All day long it’s what you don’t like, who gets on your nerves, who did you wrong, what you didn’t get, what drives you nuts, what makes your blood boil and on and on and on. It seems the world as we know it has officially gone crazy. That criticism; that ever-present fault finding doesn’t come from nowhere, it comes from you. It is developed within the confines of your own mind and the things you are saying to yourself. Criticism towards others always begins with criticism towards yourself. Why so damn critical? Take a look within…

I think that people being critical of themselves has been around for as long as people have been around. But, it seems someone has added an accelerant; something is fueling the fire. Never before have people had so much access to information. There’s a YouTube video for everything. You can self-diagnose, self-administer, self-study and self-start. You can literally learn anything you want to learn simply by owning a computer and having access to the Internet. However, there is another dark side to the information machine. The same system that offers you help also offers you standards, artificial standards about how you should look, how successful you should be, where you should live, what toys you should own, what credentials you should possess and how popular you should be. The system measures your likes, your comments and defines your level of acceptance in the world. But, like Hollywood it is ultimately an illusion. It’s a false portrayal of life. All day and night you are being fed images of successful people without any real problems or challenges, living a life of luxury, planning trips, having plastic surgeries, being made beautiful and slim and sexy. They are called influencers who influence your life, not to enhance it, but rather to carefully and subtly point out what is wrong with you, what you lack, what you need to be happy, what you need to purchase to achieve your life dreams. Buy the makeup. Buy the weight loss package. Buy the skin cream. Buy the hair restorer. Buy the medicine. Buy something damn it and buy it now. Ultimately it is all a carefully crafted lie.

There is nothing wrong with you! Your life is not defined by how slim you can become. You are not failing at life because you are not yet rich! (Have you ever noticed how we equate a successful life with how much money a person has, despite whatever else they have going on.) You are not weird, odd, a failure, incompetent or dumb. You are not falling behind. (Behind what?) You are allowing the world, the media, other people, to define who you are and what you should be. How could someone else possibly define what your life should be? You are uniquely you! What is important to you may not be important to me. How insane it becomes to try to live your life according to another person’s priorities. How much money you need should be how much money helps you to be happy. I’ve often said that if you had about $50,000 in your checking account (not millions) you would feel like you were rich. Good Lord, how much stuff do you want to buy? Seriously! And, all of this absolute madness concerning being slim. How slim do you have to be? And, what is all the slimness going to get you? What nirvana state accompanies being slim? Look, at the end of the day there is nothing wrong with getting healthy and there is nothing wrong with being wealthy. But, if getting something important to you means sacrificing your own well-being and happiness, it’s not worth it! If the goal you seek does nothing but make you perpetually down on yourself or causes you to  insult yourself in the bathroom mirror, something is amiss. People ultimately do the things that are most important to them. Maybe that goal you never seem to reach really isn’t that important to you after all.

If you really think about it, what happened to you that led to you being so critical concerning yourself? You only have one self with which to live. As far as you are concerned, you are it! What dastardly treachery convinced you not to like your very own self. What evil, rotten being talked you into being in a battle against your own self; your own best interests? Who convinced you that you are not worth anything; that you cannot trust your own judgments; your own opinions? Indeed who? The things you say to yourself that no-one else can hear, ghastly! How quickly and easily you are thrown off center, shook up, full of doubt. Someone doesn’t like your shirt or your shoes and you never wear them again. Someone dismisses your great idea and you cast it aside like a dirty diaper. Can’t you see what is going on? You are being led astray. You are getting perpetually talked out of who you are and what you have to offer the world. You worship and harbor and cleave to your shortcomings and failures like religious relics instead of focusing on all of your excellent parts! You don’t think the people you admire have their share of shortcomings? I can assure you that they have just as many as you do, the only difference being in their refusal to allow them to hold such a place of high esteem!

Do you want to really help the world? Do you want to have a positive impact on people? Do you want to win at life? Then get off your own back! Decide today that you are going to stop saying negative things about yourself to yourself and to other people (even if cloaked in jest). Be kind to yourself. Nurture yourself. Give yourself a break. Learn to love and respect yourself again and see how differently you will feel about other people. People need your love, not a lecture. People need someone who believes in them until they can believe in themselves. Don’t be so damn critical. Be kind and it starts with you…

Just some good thoughts…

What I Learned Playing Golf…


I had the privilege this past weekend to host our annual golf challenge for the Utah brothers and sisters. The challenge was renamed the Steven B. Kelly Memorial Challenge to forever memorialize by brother in law, Big Steve, who is gone from us way too soon. Having finally gotten serious about learning the game, I had been taking some lessons and felt like I might actually escape the beginner phase and play some legitimate golf. Boy was I wrong! I was arguably almost the worst player out there. One brother suggested that I might want to get my money back from the golf pro! (smile) But, I learned something on that fateful day and it’s worth writing about here…

Golf is only as hard as you tell yourself it will be. You cannot take lessons and commit yourself to a game and at the same time verbalize repeatedly how much you suck; how unlikely it is that you will make the shot; how challenging the damn game is and on and on and on. What you think is what you say and what you say is exactly how it is going to play out. No sport, upon your early encounters, is easy and to assign yourself failure before you fail is to work against your own best interests. Golf, like any sport, has fundamentals you have to master. Once you have mastered the fundamentals, which never happens overnight, you will gain confidence in your abilities to do it right. But, dogging yourself for not having mastered them yet is foolish and serves only to ensure you will continue to lose. The reason you do so much better at the driving range is because you have not assigned the same importance to every shot and instead relax and swing the damn club! Life is very similar in that you are only going to learn when you decide to just swing the damn club!

The things you tell yourself have a huge impact on how things are going to play out. When you are learning something new, things will be difficult and feel uncomfortable. You are going to flub up and foul up and f*** up! That is how life works. You may have spent your whole life thinking something is true or reliable, that isn’t true at all. It’s not knowing how everything works that matters, but rather your ability to adjust, change and learn something new. The real measure of your success is not how well you do in the things you have mastered, but how willing you are to learn something new and master that as well. The best things in life aren’t the things you may have thought they were. There are principles and mindsets and behaviors that accompany the best life and those things are not at all what the world says they are. The world’s offerings are shiny toys that glisten and shine and promise, but fail to deliver. They are sparkling bundles of nothingness that leave you hungry, empty, unsatisfied. You have to persevere with right principles (the right swing) until you have mastered them, leading to unending joy and happiness.

In addition to the affliction you put upon yourself is the affliction you allow from others due to your over reliance on their opinions of you. Once you become concerned about what others may think about you, you quickly lose sight of what you think about yourself. You become a performer in someone else’s contest. The moment you look for your competitors, you lose the race. You don’t play for the crowd, you play for yourself. You are competing both for and against yourself. Once you have entertained the mistake, the mistake is about to occur. Your job, your responsibility, your necessity is to not play against yourself. You have to prove to you that you can do! Your challenge is not with others, it is with yourself. Your job is to win yourself. If others ridicule you or take shots at you or doubt you, you don’t endeavor to prove them wrong, you prove yourself right! You own your own failures and mistakes fully and completely. You allow yourself to not know yet while committing yourself to know eventually. It’s not where you are now, but where you end up. You seek for the mastery of yourself and whether the crowd approves or disapproves matters little. You have to answer to yourself!

You will find, if you are paying attention, that you are not fighting the world, you are fighting what it is you are thinking about yourself. The world cannot make you into anything without your consent. It’s the man staring back at you in the mirror whose opinion counts most. Do not allow circumstances or situations to define who you are what it is you are capable of in life. It’s not the crowds or your best friend or your husband or wife who decides who and what you are, it is you! Fight for you. Believe in you. Stand for you! You can do or be anything you want no matter what has gone on in the past. The only limitation is you…

Life, like golf, can be a very challenging game. You are going to hit some balls into the water. You are going to whiff on some of your drives and the ball will only travel about fifteen feet. You are going to sail some ten foot chip shots into the abyss. You are going to three putt and four putt and have a scorecard worthy of the garbage can. But, the real essence of life isn’t found in your failures, but rather in what it is you learn from your failures and where you go from there. Golf is only as hard as you think it is and you owe it to yourself to recognize your progress and determine in yourself to finally figure it out! Don’t be seduced into working against your own best interests. The enemy you are fighting against is you! Win the fight.

See you on the links…

Just some good thoughts…

Getting Out of Your Funk…


If you’ve spent enough time dwelling on terra firma, you know that at certain times in your life you find yourself deeply entrenched in a funk; an americanism for feeling down in the dumps; which is related to a dutch word meaning a mental haze; and in German a word for gloomy or depressed. No matter the language or the usage, all you know is that it sucks. It sucks away your life and enthusiasm for living. It’s no happiness, no inspiration, nothing to look forward to, blah, blah, blah…Blah! But, there is something you can do about it! No matter how far down the rabbit hole you are, there is always a way out…

The place to begin when attempting to understand your feelings is first to examine your thoughts. Thoughts precede feelings. You don’t wake up in a bad mood. Your bad mood follows where your mind has been. Most folks pay very little attention to their thoughts. They sort of let them come and go like the weather. They consider themselves blessed when their mental environment is sunny and cursed when it is gloomy. The weather never stays gloomy and you don’t have to either. However, you do have to take some initiative with your thoughts. Letting your thoughts run makes you a victim to whatever circumstance is being engineered against you. Please read that sentence again! There are forces at work in the world plotting and scheming, persuading and manipulating to lead you and your thoughts to a certain place. You cannot see them, but instead only register their effects. They gain access to you by the thoughts you allow and encourage. They cannot overtake your freedom of will (at first), but they can get you off track; way off track! They begin by getting you to consider some negative aspect of life, then work out circumstances and situations that corroborate your wrong thinking.  And, if you remain stuck there long enough, you find yourself submerged and engulfed in heaviness from which it becomes very difficult to escape.

Life is spiritual in nature. It is not made up solely of the things which do appear. Ignorance concerning this will mire you in futility chasing your own tail, searching yourself and your own feelings for a remedy. Yet, you won’t find your solution in your own thoughts because the problem didn’t originate in your own thoughts. You are not fighting against yourself, though it may feel like it, you are fighting against a negative spiritual opponent working behind the scenes to control you. To defeat this spiritual foe (behind all of the misery of mankind) you have to learn how to compete spiritually. You have to learn how to fight back. And, amazingly, the arena of competition is in your mind. You see, it’s not as simple as deciding to be happy, though that is a good start. It is learning how and what to think and holding on to those thoughts though a monument of resistance be placed in front of you. If you find yourself today steeped in misery or unending gloominess, it is a good indicator that you are not winning the fight. You never want to get comfortable with those negative emotions or embrace them as some incredulously purport. Instead you fight them and you fight them and you fight them with spiritual words that negate and overpower their authority. Refusing to fight back only leads to defeat. Or worse, explaining away those insidious attacks with man’s wisdom will only serve to prolong the fight. You only win a fight by being stronger or tapping into something stronger than whomever or whatever you are fighting against. Evil has power but it is no match for God’s power.

It certainly doesn’t make for light conversation to learn about standing against evil. It probably won’t be found in the self-help section of the bookstore. Public opinion poo poo’s the notion of evil altogether or portrays it as a construct of man. The movie media displays it as frightening and ghastly. But, no matter the babblings of the naysayers, it does exist and it is your problem. God does not want you to be ignorant concerning evil, nor does He want you to be afraid of it. Instead He wants you understand what is actually going on so you can direct your efforts appropriately and with great and lasting impact. People are stuck today ensconced in difficulties because they no longer understand or acknowledge spiritual realties. When Jesus stood against all the forces of hell, he did so simply, though not easily, by quoting and cleaving to what God’s Word said. It is God’s Word quoted on the lips of believing that defeats the powers of darkness. It is the only way.

You can be delivered today, rescued, set free by learning how to tap into God’s power for your life. It doesn’t matter how low you may have sunk or how entrenched you may have become. All you need is a little humility and a willingness to learn about spiritual realities. You can escape any of the chains that have been binding you; break free from any bondage; break out of the bands and fetters that have been controlling your life. You can learn again how to live and enjoy and be blessed. You can return to happiness and joy and peace and love. You can escape from the prisons that have been holding you in. Stop thinking that something is wrong with you or that you are somehow deserving of the misery you have been living. Stop settling for less than the best in your life. You don’t need more medicine or more treatment or more of the expertise of men. You need God and His Word.

Finding yourself in a deep funk; down in the dumps; in a mental haze; gloomy and depressed is a horrible way to experience life and you do not have to live that way. There are answers and solutions for any malady that challenges your life. Won’t you be willing to find your way out of your funk? I sure hope so…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Let’s Talk About God…


I recognize the obvious audacity in attempting to consider such a vast, important, indeed life changing topic, but I will focus on what I know for sure. God is very likely not who you have been taught He is. You can learn who He really is according to His Word, but that’s not a book you are just going to pick up and immediately understand. But, make no mistake, you can understand and that is the purpose of today’s one thousand words, give or take…

The largest point of misperception seems to center around this notion that God is somehow the moral police whose job it is to point out your sins and faults. I vividly recall taking some marketing clients to a college basketball game in Philadelphia, when the topic of God somehow came up. I explained I was a part of a local Christian fellowship. Immediately, both of them apologized for ordering beers and seemed distraught over how many times they may have cussed. What a shame! (I was buying – smile). You see, how silly? As if God would somehow be opposed to having beers? Or, was God really offended about how they communicated with me? Really? I think we need to give God a little credit here. You don’t think He understands the creatures he made? You think your use of an expletive is beyond God’s tolerance level? It may surprise you to hear this, but all of that accusation and judgment you experience both inside your own head and at the hands of other people does not come from God. It comes from His opponent the adversary who has done a spectacular job of convincing you otherwise. God has already seen your whole life through, so what surprises do you have for Him? God is not the moral police. God is not reminding you about  your sins nor pointing out where you come up short. God sent His son to die for your sins so the subject would never be brought up again. That is love. That is who God really is…

Another great error in thought is the idea that you can be accepted before God according to your good works. In other words, if your good can somehow outweigh your bad before death you will “make” heaven. Or, if you can work hard enough to be accepted by God, maybe, just maybe He will help you out in life. You may not realize it, but that is a dangerous trap you will find it very hard from which to escape. Let’s say something makes you afraid. Maybe it is fear that your children won’t be okay. So, in order to earn a little protection from God you resolve yourself to “clean up” your life. “From now I’m not doing this or that anymore!” Then, because you are a human you are going to mess up again (trust me). You are going to feel real, real bad about messing up and resolve yourself to work harder to make God love you; to protect you. The harder you work, the more you will fail. Enter vicious cycle! In reality, God doesn’t protect you because you are so good, but rather because He is so good! He is a loving Father. Don’t you love your kids? Well, what shenanigans do they have to perform for you to love them? To watch over them? I’m guessing none! God isn’t after your fear based love, He is after your free-will love! You love Him because He first loved you!

Our God is a God of grace; unmerited, unearned divine favor. He is the God of all mercy! He already knows you are going to come up short on your own and has made a way for you to win and that way doesn’t have a blessed thing to do with how good or bad you are! That’s grace my friends. God isn’t your problem, He is your solution. He is the answers you’ve been searching for your whole life. He understands what you are up against in life and wants you to know how to do life successfully. And, by successfully I sure as hell am not referring to all of the heaviness and misery associated with trying so damn hard to be good! Don’t let anyone put you on that treadmill! All that behavior and wrong thinking does is force you to dwell on the world of sin and wrong and as such have no opportunity to change. It’s a deception of unparalleled proportions. No-one ever gets better or does better by focusing on everything they do wrong. Instead more and more wrong is produced. You do not have to live that way no matter how much you were taught otherwise. God has already forgiven you!

How we ever let the enemy convince us that all fun and enjoyment in life is reserved for evil and that God’s way is a way of perpetual boredom and avoidance of life, is beyond me. Where do you think the notion of enjoyment and happiness came from? From evil? From darkness? From error?  I can assure you that life with God is chock full of happiness and freedom and peace. God’s job is to help you get rid of fear, not be the source of it. God wants to heal you, not make you sick or abandon you when you when you need Him the most. God does not want you to run from life, but rather embrace it and enjoy it to the full. Life with God produces joy! It is error and evil that is the source of ALL of your misery. God wants you to understand that and will lead you in the best way; the way that avoids it. Like any Father worth his salt, God wants you to know what’s going on in life. He is willing to teach you if you want to learn. Don’t spend another moment under the opinions and ideas of men, but rather seek the truth. The truth really will set you free.

God is life…

Just some good thoughts…

Relationship Rescue…


Nothing can get you more twisted up than being in a relationship that isn’t going well. People talk about falling in and out of love as if love involves gravity. In some homes the tension is so thick you can feel the chill in the air. What happens in a relationship that makes it go so terribly wrong? What changed from the original proposition? What the heck happened? And, how can you rescue it from the danger of failing altogether?

In order for any relationship to work successfully there has to be some underlying form of goodwill; a willingness to make it good. Spending all that time engaged in pitiful diatribes about what the other person isn’t doing to make you feel a certain way is a frightful waste of time. Although your feelings are no doubt sincere in every way, it fails to address the real issue. The real question is why is your partner acting the way they are acting? Why are they ignoring you? Why don’t they want to talk with you? What thoughts and feelings are they carrying around concerning you? You began on the sound footing of goodwill; a sincere desire to make the other person happy, then something happened to change the dynamic. You need to find out what changed the dynamic. It always amazes me when engaging in relationship counseling how clear and obvious the issues are when completely alien to the people involved. Somewhere along the way, each person began developing a narrative about who or what the other person is (or became) and they are loathe to let go of their narrative. And, the narrative they have created for the other person always, always, always fails to include the part they are playing in the story! Step one in rescuing your relationship is acknowledging the part you personally are playing! You can’t send out rejection vibes and expect love vibes to return. You can’t discourage honest conversations by getting all outraged and angry then complain that your partner won’t talk! If you want love you have to give love. If you want kindness you have to give kindness. Waiting for your partner to go first will be a very long wait…

Warm, loving feelings follow warm, loving thoughts. Dragging around the world history of everything your partner ever did that you don’t like or how they wronged you or don’t get you (whatever that means…) or how different they are than you is a surefire recipe for disaster. People do wrong things, ever notice? Surely you have done a few blunders in your days, haven’t you? Rehearsing the time they did this to me or when they said that to me is relationship poison. It was evil enough the first time it happened, was it not? So, why on earth would you drag about that corpse of a memory with you now? Forgiveness means stop bringing that bullshit back up! Further, if you really want your partner to get you, you have to do a good job of communicating who you are to get. Feeling like they should somehow instinctively know who you are is madness. Say what you love and do not hide your aversions. If you spend your days modifying yourself for others; hiding the real you, the real you will be real hard to get. Get it? Surprisingly, relationships thrive more on differences than on similarities. Fretting over not having all the same interests is equally insane. Relationships aren’t about turning into each other. How weird? Relationships are about two people with different backgrounds and different upbringings coming together to form a union that works together. Relationships compliment each other by one strong area compensating for one weaker area in the other and we all have both involved.

Love is not something you fall into or fall out of over time. Love isn’t some magical spell someone casts on you that is only as good as the spell lasts. Love is a decision. Your soul-mate is simply someone who meets most of the expectations you have set for yourself. I’m certainly not trying to take away the beauty or the romance of love. Rather I’m trying to point out that true love is a decision you make and keep making. When things go south it isn’t that mythical love has left the situation, but rather you have left the situation. Instead of good thoughts towards your partner, you harbor wrong thoughts. You are no longer focused on making them happy or helping them feel good, but focused instead on how you are feeling and where you suffer lack. Your feelings are valid and matter much, but harboring the wrong thoughts about your significant other are making the decision to love no longer. You may proclaim the magic is gone, but it wasn’t magic to begin with. If you want to rescue your relationship, get back to your decision to love.

I often muse that any relationship could be brought back to life if both people simply acted as if it was brand new again. Instead of carrying around all of those preconceived notions, start fresh. I can assure you, just because you have been together for twenty five years does not mean you already know where the other person is coming from. You barely know where you are coming from, right? How often do you allow yourself the privilege of changing? Can you not put aside the undesirable parts of yourself and go another direction? Well, can’t they as well? Don’t you see it? We all need the opportunity of a new day. We all need the chance to reinvent ourselves. We all need a fresh start; many, many fresh starts. Just because your wife always does such and such doesn’t mean she always has to do such and such. Just because you struggled early on with such and such doesn’t mean you have to struggle with such and such now.

Maybe you can’t rescue every relationship given whatever may have occurred, but you can surely rescue yours if you really want to do it. Take your long time partner on a date and find out what they like. Hey, they may just surprise you! Put some love in the air, it just feels better.

Just some good thoughts…