Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

11 Signs You May Be in an Unhealthy Relationship

Remember the last time someone blew up at you? Hung up on you? Lost their temper out of the blue? Said something that really hurt you?  How about finding out someone is not who you thought they were? You could be dealing with an unsafe person.

So how do we spot unsafe people? Here is a list of some, but not all, of the signs to help us identify the unsafe people in our lives. 

1. Wears a fake smile
2. Is moody much of the time and goes for long periods of disconnection
3. Doesn't reciprocate your friendship, return calls, extend invitations, etc.
4. Only comes to you when they need you
5. Gets defensive when confronted
6. Focuses on the negative
7. Gossips
8. Condemns and judges rather than forgives
9. Is unreliable
10. Is self-absorbed
11. Denies the impact of their behavior on you and others 

A sure sign you've touched on a problem in the relationship is #5 - he or she gets defensive when confronted. Here's a personal story.

I called a friend who had been in a lot of physical pain to see how she was doing. During the conversation, she made what I'll call "one of her comments". You know the kind - the stabbing but subtle so you're not really sure how to take it kind of comment That day, I decided it was time to say something to her.  One never knows how the other person is going to react, but I was prepared. As I held the phone away from my ear, she went on and on and finally hung up. Red flag! Now this woman appeared to be meek, soft-spoken and kind so I was quite surprised at her reaction. She never called back to apologize. This is an example of an unsafe person.

Safe people care about your feelings. They don't minimize them. They take responsibility for their actions. Not only do they apologize sincerely, they make an effort to change their behavior. Everyone has their sensitivities and if we value the relationship we will put forth the effort.

Unsafe people are inauthentic and spiritually immature. They are not comfortable in who they are so they pretend to be someone they are not. They react rather than respond. They break off relationships rather than set boundaries and deal with differences.  They cannot handle confrontation without getting defensive. Confrontation takes courage and energy. It is a way of preserving and improving the relationship when handled correctly.

If you are in an unhealthy relationship, you will often feel uncomfortable. Pay attention to your feelings. They are trying to tell you something. They are warning you that something is not quite right. It is only a matter of time before the true person emerges. Sadly, many people have pretended for so long, they are good at hiding behind a mask. It takes time to see the real person. Often we have developed an emotional attachment to the other person or we so want to be in relationship, our neediness prevents us from seeing and dealing with the problem. No relationship is worth losing your self-respect over. 

A more healthy and safe response from my friend would have sounded something like this. "Gee, I am sorry I said that. I didn't mean to offend you. I will be more careful in the future to not say/do things like that." See the difference? A safe person CARES about your feelings and their impact on you. This person has taken ownership of their actions. They do not judge, blame, or defend themselves. They can accept criticism however it is delivered. Safe people care about maintaining a healthy and authentic relationship.

It is important to realize that we all have areas where we can come up higher and behaviors that are unsafe which emerge from time to time.  Proverbs 27:17 says "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." We are meant to be in community, not live isolated lives. We must also be willing and able to handle confrontation. None of us is perfect but ignoring problems only allows them to persist. Relationships cannot grow unless problems are addressed in a healthy manner. This includes self-reflection, confrontation, and the willingness to change.

What relationship difficulties have you experienced? Reflect upon a situation where you felt uncomfortable. How did you handle the situation? If you have spotted any other unsafe behaviors, feel free to share them with us either in the comments below or on Facebook.

We're all on a spiritual journey whether we realize it or not. We are here on this earth to grow and to become whole. If you'd like to join our blog community and receive my bi-weekly posts, enter your email in the box provided and I'll send you my free guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, be authentic, be caring and keep looking up!


Ariel




Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Not to Let Your Feelings Get the Best of You

Ever get caught up in the heat of the moment, do or say something mean and then regret it later? Who hasn't? Dierks Bentley, one of my favorite country singers, has a song that goes "I knew what I was feeling, but what was I thinking?"

Emotions and feelings cause us to say and do the most stupid even deadly things sometimes. One of the strongest emotions is anger, and we have recently seen what pent-up anger can provoke one to do as evidenced by the Newtown killings, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Orlando shootings to name just a few.


What really happens when we get emotional? 
The two sides of our brain compete for control. The left hemisphere controls logical, analytical, rational thinking. The right side controls our creativity, intuition, and expression of emotions. When our emotions take over, our rational logic thinking goes out the window. An example is when we fall in love, those butterflies make us completely oblivious to the reality and flaws of the other person. All we can think about, is how we feel. In a similiar way, when we are angry, our feelings take control and cause people to strike out in harmful, hurtful, and even deadly ways.

Emotions and feelings need to be expressed. 
Not unlike a volcanic eruption, unexpressed feelings can result in tumultuous explosion and then after the fact we wonder "What was I thinking?" or "What were they thinking?" The truth is we weren't thinking because the thinking side of our brain gets overruled. To a lesser degree, unexpressed anger can result in a multitude of physical ailments such as skin problems like cystic acne, boils, headaches, digestive issues, weight gain. Our bodies try to speak to us and if we don't process negative emotions either by surpressing or ignoring them, we will suffer physically as well as emotionally.

Negative thought patterns also affect our emotional well-being.  As psychologist James Allen says in his book, "As a Man Thinketh", our thoughts control our not only our destiny but our bodies and feelings as well.  If we start thinking negative thoughts, we will soon feel depressed, anxious and down. The more we dwell on negative thoughts the more power we give them. 

Did you know that the simple act of of smiling can put you in a better mood?  Studies have proven smiling improves how we feel. I'm wondering if the reverse is also true. If we go around with a frown do we feel more grumpy? Try wearing a smile more, and see what it does to your mood. An extra plus - it's FREE!

Here are some techniques I've discovered to help maintain my equilibrium and stay in control of my actions despite how I'm feeling. Give them a try and see if they help you too.

1) Tune in to my body 
     Pay attention to signals my body is sending such as a fluttering stomach, tightness,      headache. Also behaviors such as over-eating, over-drinking, shopping, and excoriation are all
     signs of emotional distress.

2) Take a time out
     Distance myself from the person or situation to difuse rather than escalate it.
     Give myself alone time to calm down and get in touch with what it bothering me.
     Walk away or go into another room, Don't allow myself to get drawn into an emotionally-charged battle.
    
3) Be aware of your thoughts
    Notice the thoughts going through my mind. What am I thinking? Is it true or is it fear-based?
    Practice mindfulness.
    Refuse to dwell on negative or fear-based thoughts.
    Give the other person the benefit of the doubt.
    Clarify misunderstandings by asking questions.

4) Look for the positive. 
    Choose to think healthy positive thoughts.
    Find something positive about a negative situation.
    Read inspirational books and material like this blog :)
    Listen to uplifting music.
    Dance.

5) Journal.
     Writing my thoughts and feelings on a daily basis helps me to
     a) be aware of my thoughts and emotions
     b) helps me to distance myself from them so I can look at them objectively and unemotionally
     c) helps get them out of my body and onto paper

6) Practice prayer and meditation
     Connect with your inner self and with the God of your understanding.
     Listen to what the still small voice is telling me
     When we settle down enough to pray and meditate, we calm the mind which in turn, calms the
     body. Calming the mind also helps quench any fear or anxiety we may experiencing.

The more we understand about the connection between our thoughts and our feelings, the better we will be able to control both and the stronger our personal power will become. What do you think about these ideas? Can you recall a situation where your emotions got the better of you? Feel free to comment on this post and share your thoughts.

If you'd like to join our community and receive a copy of my free e-book entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path", please enter your email in the box provided and I'll get it right out to you.

 Until next time, stay turned for more practical and spiritual wisdom and remember, keep looking up!

Ariel 









Tuesday, January 17, 2017

7 Tips to Prevent a Cold This Winter

Do you get a cold every winter? Sinus infections a regular occurrence? Are you susceptible to the flu bug? Being sick is no fun and besides that it makes us grouchy and hard to get along with. Don't let that be you this winter. There are several natural preventive ways to keep your immune system strong and prevent you from getting sick this winter and today I'm sharing some of my favorite ones with you. Do write and share your favorite healthy tips too.

1. Get more sleep. 
    With the holidays and end of year work duties it's easy to get run down and overly exhausted. Enough sleep is vital for restoring our bodily systems and keeping our immune system in fighting order.  Don't resist the urge to catch a cat nap unless of course, you're at work. Naps are good for the heart and the brain.

"If you're tired when you wake up in the morning, you're not getting enough sleep, or maybe not enough quality sleep. Either way, your immunity is probably compromised. Poor sleep is associated with lower immune system function and reduced numbers of killer cells that fight germs. Killer cells are also the part of the immune system that combats cells that divide too rapidly, as they do in cancer. Lower their numbers and you may be at greater risk for illness." (Prevention, Mazo, Dec.2, 2011)


2. Drink plenty of water
     Water oxygenates the blood and flushes out toxins. It also helps the production of lymph which help circulate those infection-fighting white blood cells as well as nutrients. For more benefits of water on the immune system, check out this article. 

3. Use a neti pot daily. 
     In case you don't know what a neti pot is, check one out here . I have seen them at Walmart and Walgreen's as well as natural health food stores. Don't overpay. This is a great price. Anyway, a neti pot is used to cleanse the sinuses and, as we all know, the sinuses can get congested very easily, especially in the winter. The cilia in the nasal passages catch all sorts of bacteria to protect the entry to the inner parts of the sinuses so it is important to rinse the nasal passages daily to prevent buildup and decongest the sinus passages. I like to use mine in the mornings as I am usually stuffy when I wake up. It is such a great feeling to breath clear.

4. Eat your vitamin C.
    I prefer to eat as many of my vitamins as I can. Oranges, grapefruit, and clementines contain large amounts of anti-oxidant vitamin C as do brightly colored peppers. If you don't like citrus, grab yourself a bottle of time-released vitamin C capsules that will dissolve over time and nourish your immune system. Vitamin C is also great for the skin, ladies.

5. Wash your hands often and keep them off your face and eyes. 
    At the office, after the gym, the grocery store, whereever you have exposure to external stuff and people. I carry a small bottle of those liquid sanitizer gels in my purse, although I know some people don't care for them. It's also a good idea to keep your hands off your face and out of your eyes. Germs and bacteria spread through touch so it's easy to infect oneself.

6. Disinfect the house regularly.
     Okay, so I'm a Lysol gal, I admit it. I know it's probably loaded with chemicals but hey, it does the job and it beats getting sick. The germs are getting stronger and more resistant these days and I don't know any natural products that do as good a job at killing those pesky microbes. Spray the doorknobs, the fridge doors, the light switches as these all get touched often.

7. Watch the sugars.
    You might not know that sugar lowers the immune system. Here's a good explanation of how sugar competes with vitamin C for white blood cell absorption. So all those cookies, candy and sweets that abound during the holidays besides putting weight on, also make us more susceptible to catchy a nasty winter cold or flu bug. Enjoy the season, but be sure to increase your vitamin C along with your sugar intake.

Nobody enjoys being sick, and no one else enjoys being around someone who is sick. So as as public service message, if you are sick and have a cough or cold, stay home. You're not doing anyone any favors by toughing it out and spreading your germs around.

When I was working in an office, every year for several years my next door cube mate would come into the office coughing and hacking and spreading germs all over the place. Inevitably, I would catch her cold. I tried bringing in a can of Lysol and spraying it to get her to take the hint. Finally, I said to her one day "You know, we can work from home when we're sick instead of coming into the office and spreading the germs,". She looked at me like "Wow, now there's an idea I hadn't thought of."

Okay, friends, these are my 7 tips for staying healthy this winter. If you do get sick, don't beat yourself up about it. Take plenty of liquids, hot tea, and give your body the rest it deserves and needs. Take good care of your body and it will take good care of you.

If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful, stay tuned for my bi-weekly posts by entering your email address in the box provided. I'll send you out a copy of my free e-guide, "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

In the meantime, stay well and keep looking up!

Ariel 




Thursday, January 12, 2017

Make Space for the New: One Key to Decluttering Your Life

Let's face it. Most of us have too much - too much stuff, too many projects, too much activity. If we are honest with ourselves we will admit it. We pack too much into every minute, every day, every year. As a  result, we never really truly enjoy  the present moment and what we do have. I was on a trip recently and a woman was complaining about how she barely remembers all the trips she's taken. That they've all kind of melted into one. Wow!

It's not our fault. We live in a non-stop world. The pace is frenetic and the outside world constantly barrages us with news, noise, and negativity. It's all too easy to get sucked up in the whirlpool of it all; a downward spiral of never ending things to do, places to go, and stuff to take care of resulting in constant activity and very little downtime.

But wait. There is an answer. One key we can apply to every area of our lives. One principle that we all know but often fail to implement and the principle is this:

Keep it simple.



Start with your wardrobe perhaps. Downsize. What haven't you worn in the past year? What don't you feel good in? What makes you look fat, old, or dated? Chuck it - give it to a friend, Goodwill, or a shelter.

Next move on to your house. Same idea. Start with one room at a time. Do you really need all those items to clean, dust, and insure? When was the last time you used whatever? If you don't love the stuff you have, pitch it. Ok, I get it. Some things have sentimental value. Keep one or two and donate the rest. Live in today instead of the past. Today is a gift, that is why they call it the present.

Personally, I can't stand clutter. It smothers me. I need space and light. It seems like stuff multiplies like rabbits: gifts from friends we don't need, use, or want, old items we are saving for some sentimental reason, books, records, and photo albums we rarely even look at or listen to. Live in the present and have done with old stuff from the past. Chances are pretty good your kids aren't going to want anything old you may be saving anyway.

Jesus himself modeled this principle.
How much stuff did he have? Did he have to schedule everything in a calendar? He made time for people, healing, and speaking words of faith and encouragement. When we are ruled for the stuff of this world, what time do we have for the things that really matter? Perhaps we can learn from him.

When we declutter our lives and get rid of stuff that no longer bears fruit or serves us, we make room for God to bring in something new. Like preparing for the birth of a new baby, we must make space for the new.

What is cluttering up your life? What are you holding on to that no longer serves its purpose? It may be material possessions but it could also be old patterns of thinking that clutter our mind and prevent us from seeing life in new ways. Simplify your life and see what new thing shows up. I can't wait to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join my blog, enter your email address in the box provided. I'll send you out a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, leave a comment and remember - keep looking up!

Ariel 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ignite the Power Within: Step 1: How to Open Your Heart

Are you ready to move forward in life? See your goals and dreams come true? Make those changes you've been wanting to make once and for all? Are you ready to leave behind the status quo? If so, then it's time to develop your personal power and ignite the power within. 

You've probably read books on self empowerment before. They usually focus on interpersonal and communication skills and techniques you have to implement in order to be successful in business. What they don't address are the emotional and spiritual components that are the root causes of most failures in business and in our lives. So today, I'm going to share with you the FIRST STEP to igniting your personal power. It will transform not only your business but your entire life and it starts with what may be the most important part of our being - our heart.

We've all been hurt in the past, some of us more deeply than others. We may be holding on to unforgiveness, bitterness, or resentment. Perhaps we are holding on to jealousy, anger, or disappointment. Oftern, we are not even be aware we are holding on to these negative feelings. If we want to move forward in life, we must free ourselves of any negative feelings or thoughts. The heart is the center of our being and that is why the first step to igniting the power within is to have an open heart.

So how do we do this?

1. Make time to get quiet.
This means getting away someplace you can experience solitude. It may be your home. It may be the library, Starbuck's, or a walk in nature. Someplace where you can completely disconnect from distractions and connect with your innermost being. Where you can actually hear yourself think.

2. Search within. 
Ask yourself if there is any situation or person towards whom you may be harboring negative feelings such as anger, unforgiveness, or hostility. Really reflect on this. It might be something that happened to us a few days ago or many years ago. Often, we unconsciously bury these painful emotions without processing them, and like a thorn in a finger, they continue to hurt us and cause us pain. If we are courageous and honest with ourselves, they will soon bubble up to the surface where we can deal with them. It is like shining a light onto a dark cave to see what is hidden there. We might be afraid at first, but when we shine the light we see we have nothing to fear.

3. Process your negative emotions. 
Negative emotions do not go away on their own. I have found that it helps me to name what I am feeling. I usually have an "Aha!" moment when I realize just exactly what has been bothering me and why. It is like a weight has been lifted off me and I can see clearly. Now, I confess, this sometimes takes days for me to get clear but I have learned to wait till I get the clarity before pursuing something else. Ignoring our feelings does us no good. In fact, ignoring them keeps us from moving forward in our lives. What's more, when left to linger, negative emotions will usually result in some kind of physical manifestation or illness. It's like they are begging for attention and will do whatever it takes to get us to pay attention to them.

4. Deal with any grief or sadness.
Although I wouldn't consider grief and sadness exactly negative emotions, they certainly are lower energy emotions. Grief may well be one of the deepest emotions to process so it is crucial to work through it. If there is any unprocessed grief or sorrow, make sure you take time to work through your feelings and heal. This is all part of the work we are called to do in this life. It is about healing our souls and becoming whole. If you have lost interest in activities that you normally enjoy you may be grieving about a loss. Be kind to yourself during the healing process but also be cognizant of how long it has been and seek professional help if necessary.

So there you have it - the first step to igniting the power within - have an open heart. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post. Please comment here or on Facebook. If you'd like to receive my bi-weekly posts and a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path", enter your email address in the box provided.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at arielpaz8@gmail.com. Stay tuned for Step 2 to igniting the power within and discovering your destiny.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Making Room for What Really Matters

Most of us lead pretty full lives, yes? We are always on the go. Our to do lists are never ending and the activities never ceasing. But yet, in those still quiet moments, we get that gnawing feeling that somehow we are unfulfilled - something needs to change. Ever feel that way?

It happens to most of us from time to time. It's kind of like when our closets are bulging with clothes or the attic or tool shed is so packed we can't find anything. We stand there in confusion wondering how to find what it is we're looking for.  Do we really know?

If the rooms of our lives are so full with stuff i.e activities, how can we possibly know and then make room for what truly matters to us? Begin by throwing out what is no longer useful.

Every 6 months or so, I ask myself this question "What am I holding on to that I no longer need? and then I begin an inventory of my life. I start with the easy and mundane like my kitchen drawers and cabinets. Then I move on to the house and closets. Then it's time to analyze the deeper things like my priorities, my beliefs and thought patterns, and my relationships. Which of these are no longer useful or bearing fruit?

To be honest, I have been guilty of holding on to cars, jobs, and some relationships for far too long. I've held on to thinking patterns as well. The result of trying to hold on to something or someone that God was trying to get me to let go of was stress and anxiety and who needs more of that in our lives?

The key is to realize when I am holding on to something that is non-productive sooner rather than later, and then - let it go! When we let go of something negative or unproductive in our life, we make room for something better to come along. It comes back to that ugly four-letter word - fear. Remember, we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7). Let's not shrink back in fear of letting go of something or someone that is not good for us. God always has something better He is waiting to give us, but we must have open hands to receive it.

Today, I encourage you to take a step of faith to let go of whatever it is that is holding you back from receiving what really matters to you. Write me and let me know what it is that you are ready to let go of. I'm in your corner, and so is God. "For if God is for us, who can stand against us?" (Romans 8:31).

If you enjoyed this post and like to read more, please enter your email address in the box provided. I'll also send you my free guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

Ariel 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

It's Time to SOAR!

2016 is now a page in the history book. Did you accomplish the goals and dreams you planned? Are you better off today than you were a year ago? Or are you feel stuck in the same rut, the same nowhere relationship, doing the same boring things, and unhappy with who and where you are in life?

If this is you, get ready. When we start feeling stale, that is a good thing. It means we are on the brink of  a forward leap and the New Year is a perfect time for leaps. But first, there is one thing we must do.

In order to move forward, we have to leave some things behind. Change means trading the old for something new and - ideally - something better.  We leave behind  people and activities that have become stale and unfruitful to open the door for new opportunities, new people, and new activities that will bring us joy. It's a letting go kind of thing. We only have so much time, energy, and money and it is important to be mindful of just how and where we spend these treasures.

Sometimes letting go means making tough choices. This is where the rubber hits the road and we have to really dig deep to find out what matters most to us.  Here are a few examples.

Recently, several friends have married. They sold their homes and moved to new cities, two of them out of the country. They left behind their friends and families to pursue a new life with their chosen mate. Life's choices become more difficult the closer we get to what we truly want from life.

Are you pursuing your dreams and aspirations? Rising to new levels? Or are you content with the status quo? The same old same old? Status quo is when boredom sets in and we lose our joy and zest for life. We were meant to fly like eagles and SOAR!

You have more power than you realize. You were meant for more than status quo! We each have a destiny to fulfill. I love the way author Marianne Williamson puts it when she says, "You began as a thought in the mind of God". If we want to soar like the eagle, we must ignite our personal power.

In the coming weeks,  I will be sharing with you the ten steps to igniting the power within so stay tuned. Pass this on to a friend and come join me for the adventure of a lifetime.

If you enjoy these posts and would like to receive them weekly, enter your email in the box provided. I'll also send you a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, keep looking up and get ready to SOAR!

Ariel