I’ve had a good day! Have you had a good day? I read lots of articles, blogs, newsletters, books, and professional journals about a whole assortment of things, from apathy to zoology. I mostly read what helps me stay current in my counseling and coaching practice. But there is part of me that is disappointed in how these media blurbs are written. They’re not bad, per se, but most of them are “how to feel good” and “how to beat depression” or “how to make life not suck.” That’s great. That’s what I do too. But my post today is going to be about what its like when you accept your own advice and apply it. I want to share with you what it actually feels like to do those things these many articles are suggesting.
My practice focuses on helping others discover and address the actual problems in life rather than helping them suppress symptoms so that they artificially feel better. That has its place at times, but I want to work with a whole person, not just one little part of them. I’m at a point in my life that I cannot separate the different parts of the human life and help a problem from just one access point.
Remember the song that goes, “The leg bone’s connected to the …?” A human life, in its complexity, is very much like that song. Our bodies connect to our minds; our minds connect to our emotions and our spirit; and so on.
Just as God is three in one, we are as well. The apostle Paul identifies us as “body, soul, and spirit.” But in Mark 12.29-31, as Jesus answers the question of “what is the greatest commandment?” he uses four words to refer to our wholeness: heart, soul, mind, and strength (which is in order of importance: spirit, socio-emotional state, mind, and body). Those three (or four, if you go with Jesus’ explanation) must always be in balance and do so through love (which is a whole other post in the future).
“I think; therefore I am” is a common philosophical truth and mantra of many today. It is also a very biblical truth. Man’s joy and his suffering begin with thought. My thoughts affect what I know and understand; they affect the decisions I make. My thoughts also include my perceptions (or misperceptions sometimes). My thoughts can persuade what I believe about literally everything in life. My beliefs and knowledge affect how I take care of my physical body, how much I trust my emotions, and how I care for myself spiritually as well.
So I’m working on reinventing myself. Even though change can be a little scary sometimes, its healthy and exciting too. I’m revising my career; I’m changing what kind of exercise is best for me; I’m changing my bedtime, what I eat , when and how I eat, changing how I think and perceive, and a myriad of other changes within myself, all through God’s guidance. I’m excited!
“Life seems out of control sometimes because there is an area that still needs some domestication.”
After having begun even some of the modifications to my life plan, I can already tell a difference, and it’s only day one! Already a better attitude, a better outlook on most everything, physically more energetic and active; I’m more in control of myself, because I’ve chosen what is right for me.
You see, anything in your life can cause an imbalance of some kind. Eat the wrong food, think the wrong thought. Exercise the wrong way, be injured and laid up. One thing is always connected in some way to another. We are integrated, whole beings and we are responsible for maintaining it as a whole unit rather than a bunch of different parts.
I feel great! It’s all about self-control, according to the God of the Bible. But what is self-control, really? I’ll give you a hint: it’s about more than controlling the self! Self-control is about discipline: Preventive discipline (like the discipline of prayer or fasting or like the discipline of keeping my mouth shut when I really want to say what I think, which would be disastrous sometimes!) and corrective discipline (like the discipline most people think of when a child is in trouble for wrongdoing). Discipline is simply training (i.e., domestication) toward a certain direction or standard.
Do you have a pet? I have two — a dog and a cat. They are very much adopted members of the family and they treat each other like brother and sister. They haven’t always understood the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior in our house. With teaching, they have both learned well, for the most part. They have been domesticated.
That’s what we have to do with our own lives — just as the Apostle Paul struggled to get his body to behave, we must do the same. He was domesticating his entire existence by training. Life seems out of control sometimes because there is an area that still needs some domestication. That’s what true counseling and life coaching is about — coming alongside someone else and helping, assisting, them with their process of domestication. In the end, after some good old hard work, some sweat, a grunt, a sigh, and laugh or two, we emerge from our personal chrysalis a transformed being, something of usefulness; something of beauty; and someone better than you ever thought possible!
Just a little change can make a whole lot of difference. I feel great! How does “great” feel? It feels like relief, freedom, excitement, challenge. I had reached a point in my life that I didn’t feel like me anymore. In the end, I’m accepting of God’s redefining “me,” and I’m loving it!