Have you ever felt victimized? You may have been taken advantage of by someone you trusted, felt cheated out of an opportunity, or perhaps physically harmed in some way.

Unfortunately, at least one of these possible scenarios may seem all-too-familiar to you. Much of what happens in our lives is a direct result of our choices, though more often than not with most people the choices are unconscious ones.

There’s another area that brings up the situation of looking like a victim. Scripture tells us that “time and unforeseen circumstances befall us all.” We all know that in spite of our best plans and actions, shit happens.

Right now in the world there are events occurring to concern or infuriate us perhaps more than any time in the past. Dwelling on the tragedies may cause us to fear the unknown to such an extent that it stops us from even leaving our homes without anxiety.

In spite of the unthinkable situations we’ve seen, we’ve also repeatedly heard of communities that have been the target of a terrorist attack and have healed through their own tenacity. The people do not stop living their lives or refuse to live in fear. They continue to hold onto the ideals that define them.

It’s in group and individual situations like these that we choose being the victor over being the victim. Even if we don’t have a clue how to move forward after a community, family or personal challenge has come to us, the very fact that we are willing to get up the next morning and go about our life shows we possess the power to heal.

If you have moments of despair due to world or local conditions, immediately start to do something small to change your perception. One way is to stop the constant flow of news reports – often conflicting – that may be flowing through your mobile device.

Another way is to decide what YOU want out of life, instead of being engrossed, as it’s so easy to do on social media, with the “tragedies” of others. Seriously, compared to world peace, do you really give a rip about her broken fingernail or the fact that the barista misspelled his name on the latté cup?

Don’t let the media and the “sky is falling” mentality stop you from living. The uninformed and uneducated will continue to freak out; and, there are plenty of people who purposely attempt to mislead us for their own gain. Stand up for what you believe in. Refuse to set aside your principles, ethics, and morals. BE the type of person you say others should be.

I’m committed to stop blaming my problems on the actions or inactions of others. Will you join me in being a victor? Together, we CAN have a world that works for everyone.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.

What Not to Say

I was trained as a hospital support person early in my ministerial career. One of the things I was taught, and eventually shared with nearly 100 volunteers over the years, is that to support a person we must determine how we are to do that. There’s really only one sure-fire way to do that:  Ask the person we desire to help.

When we support a friend or a stranger our purpose is to act in such a way that fully encourages and serves that person. As a minister and counselor I’ve seen so many people try their best to make a horrible situation better by saying the most outrageous things. People don’t try to be unkind or uncaring. It is, in fact, this very reason that causes us to say the things we do:  We’re genuinely trying to help.

In the April 15, 2017, issue of BottomLine Personal magazine, Editor Karen Astrid Larson give a list of four things NOT to say to someone with cancer. However, her advice is applicable to almost any given scenario when tragedy or hard times hit. Here’s what she wrote, as suggested by Nikhil Joshi, MD, author of The End of Suffering, and a Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer survivor:

  • “You’re going to be fine.” This could be taken as dismissive of a very serious situation.
  • “You’re strong, so you’re going to beat this.” Surviving cancer is not about the strength of the patient. It’s about the type of cancer … how advanced it is … and the effectiveness of the treatments.
  • “Have you tried praying/the latest alternative treatment/organic foods/quitting smoking?” This is not the time for lectures or proselytizing.
  • “How are you feeling?” Asking a cancer patient this forces [the person] to think about how bad [s/he] feels.

One of the reasons we grasp at straws when faced with serious issues like a friend or colleague diagnosed with cancer is that we want to help. More than that, we just want to do something. We want to fix it. The fact is, however, it’s not our job to do any of that.

The way we can support a person with cancer or anyone going through difficult times is to listen. Be there and listen. Someone going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments feels like crap warmed over and often looks worse. That’s not being unkind; it’s the experience most cancer survivors have gone through. It’s also not the way one wants to present oneself to even their closest friends, let alone the world.

Each of us goes through challenges differently. The important factor to remember in supporting others is that if we are truly desirous of supporting them it must be on their terms, not ours. We also have to be willing to admit that we might not be the perfect person to help at any given time.

As long as we are coming from unconditional love – and not judgment or trying to take charge – we have a pretty good chance of the other person understanding our good intentions. In the case of going through cancer treatments, people are poked and prodded with unending zeal by technicians and physicians alike. It can appear everything is being done to them, not for them. Because of this it’s important to emphasize that they are in charge of everything, including how they are served by those of us who seek to help.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

Is It Time to Quit?

Are you a quitter? “Of course not!” you might exclaim as if being classified as a quitter is worse than being a murderer. In some ways, you’d be right.

We are taught never quit, never give up. It’s drilled into our heads that quitters are losers. However, recent studies indicate that quitting a job, a relationship, a project or any number of other things might be one of the more healthy actions we can take.

Economist tells us that there is a point where we must cut our losses and move on; we have to sell the stock or take the loss on the investment. To get out of an investment is hard enough; relationships – another area hard to quit – can be even more problematic.

As Ennis says to Jack in the film Brokeback Mountain, “I wish I knew how to quit you.” We decide we need the guy to provide for us since we haven’t worked in decades. We determine that she’s only violent when she drinks and she’s always remorseful. After all, those partners have “so much potential.”

The problem with sticking with anything after its expiration date is that we only make ourselves sick, miserable and feeling like a victim. If only jobs and relationships had a “sell by” or “discard by” date like our milk products and other perishable food items do.

We wouldn’t drink curdled, tainted milk or think twice about tossing moldy leftovers found in the refrigerator. Yet we continue to stick it out in life situations hoping, without any logic and historical perspective to the contrary, that s/he/they will change or this time our horse will win.

Quitting a losing battle by moving to a job we love or leaving a relationship that is abusive or has a “past due to discard” date is empowering, energizing and freeing for everyone concerned. If you think you have something like this in your own life at this time please take the time to put your thoughts down on paper. List all the positive aspects of your situation, as well as the more negative circumstances. How does this list balance out?

Take this into prayer and meditation over the next two or three weeks. It’s seldom wise to make a snap decision on affairs of the heart or when we are feeling like making a change will brand us a quitter. But change is the only constant in the universe. Nothing stays the same.

Give quitting a chance. Realize that leaving what no longer serves us signals to the universe that we are willing to live dynamically and in new ways. In doing so, we bless ourselves and all those around us.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.

Looking Forward to a Good Whine?

What do you look forward to in life? Have you noticed how you may be excited to see some friends, but dread running into other people? One reason might be the energy and attitude those people bring to the party, regardless of it being encouraging or depressing.

Granted, we all have those times when we’ve over-planned and over-scheduled our lives. We may be living the life we love, but have gotten out of balance by too much work and not enough relaxation time. That can lead to us becoming cranky and irritable, with a tendency of leaning toward having a good whine.

It starts out innocently enough. Someone asks us about our day and before we know it the flood gates of all that bothers us come surging forward. We go into excruciating detail – most of it unnecessary – and the bottom line is that we just want someone to feel sorry for us.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that we’re asking the other person to validate our own actions, the over-planning and over-scheduling, that got us into the situation in the first place.

We want someone else to pity us and, like it or not, we can slip into being very whiny … and VERY annoying. We become the type of person we ourselves don’t want to be around. But don’t we have the right to whine now and then?

I used to have a prayer partner years ago. If one of us had the need to whine the other one would set a timer. We had five minutes to verbally hurl all over the other one. But when five minutes was reached that conversation stopped. “I’m not done yet!” one might exclaim, but the other would counter with, “Yes, you are. Now what’s the Truth?”

Whining and other less productive ways of complaining are examples of two actions:  focusing on the problem and playing the victim. What we focus on increases; focus on the problems, the injustice, or the inequities and we get more of the same. But turn our full attention to solutions and violá – those appear.

And, while we may be a victim from time-to-time through unforeseen circumstances or our own doing, we do ourselves a disservice by staying in that mindset any longer than is necessary. One might ask if it’s ever necessary. That’s something for each of us to determine. Everything we do – whether it seems productive or destructive, positive or negative – has a measure of value for some reason in the scheme of things we call life.

Perhaps having a good whine every so often is like having a good cry. Our whining might just lead to a good laugh when we realize how ridiculous we sound, just like a good cry can rid our body of toxic chemicals through the release of our tears. Would you be willing to observe your own whining today? Don’t judge yourself, just observe whether or not you’d like to listen to what you’re saying or thinking. Oh, yeah, forgot that part. Most of our whining is in our own heads. Cool – nothing like setting ourselves up to lose without the help of anyone else, right?

Here’s a great note from the wise Mike Dooley. It speaks to how we seem to have a bit more to whine about these days than ever before:

What we're seeing is the "storm before the calm," spontaneous and unpredictable flares of individual and collective angst, caused by a pent up demand for a more fair and just world. The temporary blockage, however, has come from many expecting a broken system to fix itself, instead of realizing only individuals can do that.

Our choice. Our decision. Our life. All we have to do to change our experience is change our thoughts and actions. Let’s be less concerned about what others are doing that we view as wrong, and be more concerned about what actions we are taking to affect the changes we desire.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.