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Posts tagged ‘taking responsibility’

How do you know when someone is truly sorry?

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds.

Hosea 7:14

As biblical counselors, sometimes it’s hard to discern if someone is truly repentant.

Tears are often the language of the heart, but when one is crying in the counseling office, it’s important to hear what the person’s heart is really saying.  The apostle Paul speaks of two kinds of sorrow, worldly sorrow that leads to death and godly sorrow that brings repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).  As Christian counselors, it is crucial that we learn to distinguish between the two especially when we are doing couples work.

Worldly sorrow is a self-focused sorrow. It may contain great emotion, tears, and apologies, but the grief expressed is for one’s self. The person mourns the consequences of his or her sin and what she has lost. This may be a marriage, a job, a reputation, friends and/or family, or can even be one’s own idea of who they thought they were. Here are some of the things we often hear a person say when they are sorrowing unto death.

·         I can’t believe I did such a thing.

·         Why is this happening to me?

·         Please forgive me. – Implying, please don’t make me suffer the  consequences of my sin.

·         Why won’t he/she forgive me? (In other words, why can’t reconciliation be easy and quick?)

·         I’m so sorry (sad).

·         I’m a horrible person.

·         I wish I were dead.

·         I hate myself.

Judas is a good example of this type of sorrow (Matthew 27:3-5).  After he betrayed Christ, he was seized with remorse yet it did not lead to godly repentance, but self-hatred and suicide.

It is natural that we feel compassion for the person suffering such emotional and spiritual pain. However, it’s crucial that we not confuse this kind of sorrow with the kind that leads to biblical repentance, especially when we are working with both the sorrowing sinner and the one who has been sinned against.

Godly sorrow demonstrates grief over one’s sinfulness toward God as well as the pain it has caused others. John the Baptist said, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8).

Below are eight things I have found that demonstrate those fruits of genuine repentance.

·         Accepts full responsibility for actions and attitudes, doesn’t blame others or situations.

·         Acknowledges sinfulness (instead of “I can’t believe I could do such a thing”).

·         Recognizes the effects of actions on others and shows empathy for the pain he/she’s caused.

·         Able to identify brokenness in detail such as abusive tactics, attitudes of entitlement, and/or areas of chronic deceit.

·         Accepts consequences without demands or conditions.

·         Makes amends for damages.

·         Is willing to make consistent changes over the long term such as new behaviors and attitudes characteristic of healthy relationships.

·         Is willing to be accountable and if needed, long term.

In my work with couples who have experienced grievous sin, I have found that it is not their sin that destroys most relationships. All couples experience sin. The destruction comes when we refuse to acknowledge it. It is our blindness to it and our unwillingness to humble ourselves to get help, be accountable, and repent that makes reconciliation and healing impossible.

Four Things You Need To Know About Addiction

SOURCE:   Published September 13, 2011  | FoxNews.com

In 1971 President Richard Nixondeclared a war on drugs. The motivation? Not the ghettos with their drug dealers, nor the hippies invading Woodstock, the embrace of Rock ‘n Roll, free love and getting high. No, it was the rampant addiction among U.S. soldiers in Vietnam that had him concerned. He told Congress this addiction was “public enemy number one,” and so the war on drugs began. Years later, First Lady Nancy Reagan rebranded the campaign as “Just Say No.”

Forty years ago seems like a lifetime, doesn’t it? Back then the perception was that treatment was all about the strength to say “no,” and that those who could not shake their addiction simply did not have the willpower; they were weak.

Today we know that genetics, brain chemistry and upbringing all play a role in addiction, and it’s commonly accepted as a disease of the brain among professionals. So, does this mean that willpower no longer plays a role in the recovery from alcohol and drug abuse?

Here are four things you need to know about addiction:

1) Genetics Play a Role: This where it all begins. Researchers look for “addiction genes,” which means they’re looking for gene similarities between parent and offspring when addiction strikes. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics warn that children of addicted parents are the highest at-risk group to become an addict, themselves.

Children are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction if their parent is an addict. Interestingly, the chances for the son of an addict becoming an addict is four times greater than a daughter. Also, children of alcoholics are more likely to marry alcoholics than the general population thus leading to an even greater likelihood of alcoholic children — a vicious cycle indeed.

The Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center stated, “… our data suggests there may be a cognitive difference in people with addictions. Their brains may not fully process the long-term consequences of their choices. They may compute information less efficiently.” The study continues, “The genetic findings raise the hopeful possibility that treatments aimed at raising dopamine levels could be effective treatments for some individuals with addictive disorders.”

2) Biology Also Plays a Role: If genetics play a big role in addiction, it’s reasonable to assume that brain chemistry does, as well. The addict has a craving for alcohol or drugs that may trump the love of their children, spouse and work. It rules their world, and often the need is too intense to easily resist.

Dr. Peter Kalivas, a Charleston researcher, has actually pinpointed changes in the brains of cocaine-addicted rats. Cocaine increases dopamine (a pleasure/reward chemical in the brain) which causes changes in brain DNA. Thus doing cocaine actually changes brain function and this causes cravings.

Dr. Kalivas’ research is now testing how to reverse that change in order to make treatment more efficient and effective.

3) Motivation Is Key: Health Psychology, a peer-reviewed journal, will soon be publishing a study sponsored by the Society for the Study of Motivation, which reports brain scans can actually predict if a person has the propensity to be motivated to overcome their addiction.

There are two aspects of motivation: recognizing you have a problem and wanting to correct it.

Every journey begins with that first step. In every recovery program, the first step is always the same — admitting you have a problem. If you don’t think you problem, how can you possibly fix it?

Once you realize you have a problem then what? If you remain on the same path, you may lose your spouse, your family, job, friends, perhaps freedom itself — whatever it is you value most, is at risk. This is the motivation that many need to finally make the decision that it’s time to get sober. And if this study is as promising as it appears then we can be able to scientifically determine who has motivation and who doesn’t. The next step is to figure out why and then see what can be done to increase it.

4) Taking Personal Responsibility Is Still Very Important: Everyone should be responsible for their actions, and the addict is no different.

Take the diabetic, for example. This is a medical illness which may be treated with medication. The diabetics that manage their illness the best also take charge — they exercise, eat properly, test their blood sugar levels and get the proper amount of sleep. Those that are proactive with their health will have a longer, healthier life as opposed to those that say, “Poor me, I’m a diabetic and there’s nothing I can do except take my insulin.”

The same personal responsibility applies to the addict: Attending meetings, consulting with sponsors, abstaining from alcohol and drugs, attending 12 step programs and the desire to stay sober are all conscious decisions that must be made in order to remain clean. The addict must also choose friends wisely, and get rid of the enablers and the users. To get/stay sober is a 24/7 job and the addict must be responsible for his life and lifestyle.

We live in a world where many do not want to take responsibility for their life, health or happiness. It’s so much easier to say, “Woe is me, I’m an addict, it’s not my fault that I can’t stop. I have a disease!” However, instead of the victim saying, “poor little me,” the responsible person says, “Yes, I have a disease, but I’m in charge of me and will do my part to overcome it.”

So, in 2011, while we understand that addiction is genetic and biologic, yet we cannot fall prey completely to the, “There’s nothing I can do, it’s a disease,” way of thinking. As much as many would try to tell you otherwise , motivation and willpower are still important. Just ask anyone who has cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis or any other severe medical illness, the will to persevere and overcome is everything.

Dr. Dale Archer is a psychiatrist and Distinguished Fellow of The American Psychiatric Association. He  specializes in analyzing and understanding human behavior across a wide variety of fields and is a frequent guest on FoxNews.com’s “The Strategy Room.” For more, visit his website: Dr.DaleArcher.com.

Turning Failure To Your Advantage

SOURCE:  Michael Hyatt

In 1991 I, along with my business partner, suffered a financial meltdown. We had built a successful publishing company, but our growth outstripped our working capital. We simply ran out of cash.

For a while our distributor funded us in the form of cash advances on our sales. But eventually, their parent company wanted those advances back. Although we didn’t officially go bankrupt, the distributor essentially foreclosed on us and took over all our assets.

This was a difficult time personally. I was confused, frustrated, and very angry. Initially, I blamed the distributor. If they had only sold more, as they had promised us, none of this would have happened, I thought. It’s their fault.

But eventually I looked in the mirror and had to acknowledge that I could not move on until I learned from this experience. Though incredibly difficult and humbling, I am now thankful for this period in my life. I learned some critical, life-changing lessons. I am convinced that I would not be where I am today if I had not had this failure.

But not every failure ends so well. Sometimes, people suffer a setback and never recover. I don’t think it has to be this way. It is all in how you process it. I am convinced, that if you are going to succeed, you must learn to deal powerfully with failure.

I think there are at least five components to turning failure to your advantage:

  1. Acknowledge the failure. This is where it begins. To my knowledge, I have never fired anyone for failing per se. Failure is natural if you are striving to deliver big results. The problem comes when you fail and then refuse to acknowledge it.Several years ago, I had an employee who was floundering. He wasn’t delivering the results we expected. That was certainly a problem, but it wasn’t the primary problem. The problem was that he refused to acknowledge that he had a problem. He kept defending himself. In doing so, he only convinced us that he didn’t “get it.” As a result, we had no choice but to let him go.

    Once you acknowledge failure, you take away it’s power. You can then begin to turn it into something positive.

  2. Take full responsibility. You won’t get anywhere as long as you blame others for your failure. As long as the responsibility is external—outside of you—you are a victim. Why? Because you can’t control others. You can only control yourself.But when you take responsibility for the failure and become fully accountable for it, you take back control. Suddenly you realize that you could have done things differently. You open the door to possibility—and to creating a different outcome in the future. But this can only happen when you acknowledge the failure and own it.
  3. Mourn the failure. I am not simply exhorting you to have a positive attitude. Failure stings. It hurts—sometimes deeply. Many times there are very real and serious losses. Often times there is collateral damage. Other people are hurt. Sometimes innocent people.It’s okay to feel sad about these things. Sometimes it takes a while to recover. When I had my financial setback in the early 90s, I mourned for weeks. It couldn’t be rushed. In fact, I think the reason I was able to bounce back relatively quickly was because I mourned the loss so deeply. I dealt with it throughly and got it behind me.
  4. Learn from the experience. Even failure can be redemptive if you learn something from it. It doesn’t have to be career-ending. In fact, it can be career-building—if you take the time to wring all the juice out of the lemon.Honestly, there are just some things you can’t learn—or won’t learn—without failing. I wish it were different. But pain is a powerful teacher. Like Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th century German philosopher, once said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” So true.

    But it only makes us stronger if we thoroughly process the experience and determine what we could have done differently and will do differently next time around.

    As Ilene Muething of Gap International has taught me, it is helpful to ask “What was missing?” rather than “What went wrong?” The former shuts down possibility and often results in blaming. The latter opens up possibility and results in learning.

  5. Change your behavior. George Santayana, another philosopher, said, “Those who cannot learn from history are destined to repeat it.” And we really haven’t learnedanything until it affects our behavior.If we keep doing the same things that led to the failure, we are destined to get more failure. We have to be willing to change. And it really does start with us. This is the one thing we have control over.
  6. Enter whole-heartedly into the next project. You can’t allow failure to hold you back from the next venture. If you fall off the horse or a bicycle, you have to get back on—immediately.If you don’t do this, the failure gets magnified in your mind. Wait long enough and you might never get on at all! Instead, you have to put the past behind you and move forward.

Again, failure is inevitable if you are going to tackle significant goals. You have to learn to make it work for you. In doing so, you are planting the seeds of your eventual success.

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