Archive for March, 2012

Forgiveness as a cognitive behavioral supertool

March 31, 2012

Like a lot of people, I recite the Lord’s Prayer more often than any other prayer. I don’t always put too much thought into the meaning. But I noticed that there is only one expectation put on us in the whole prayer, all the rest is on God. Here it is, with the part where we are expected to act in bold.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom Come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses. As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.

So that’s easy – right? Well, I think we make the mistake of trying to begin to by thinking we have to forgive the biggest hurts and betrayals we have suffered. Lets not be drama kings and queens off the bat.

Better to start small with this forgiveness thing, perhaps? So it being Lent, I have been praying more lately and thinking about repentance and whatnot at times when I usually don’t.  I notice I am particularly challenged at my son’s soccer games by the temptation to sin. I want to scream in frustration and I have on many occasions. It is not nice. I have been trying to stop. But I was thinking about the Lord’s prayer at a game the other day, and how it only asks one thing of me – to forgive. So as silly as it may sound, and it felt silly to do it, I decided to forgive the next player on our team who made a poor play. I said under my breath, ” I forgive you.” And I started to lighten and laugh at myself, which to me signified that God was forgiving me for my crazily critical  mindset in the first place.

So be like God, by forgiving early and often, and you will expose yourself to the forgiveness that you need. You will be putting yourself  in a position to repent. I never knew that repenting could involve giggling at myself, but it did.

This prayer works, and it only asks you to do one thing – forgive. God does the rest. He will show you what to do if you take that first step. And recall, just before God asks you to do something in the prayer, that  one effort you have to make, he gives you your daily bread. Bread is symbolic of everything you need. You have everything you need unless your air supply is being cut off. You can forgive this one time, until the next breath, and you can forgive again.  

So, obviously, you and  I will forget to do this in about 30 seconds. Recall what God has already done as described in the prayer – forgiven us our trespasses. He knows you are going to mess up ahead of time, that is why he put his forgiveness of you before asking you to forgive. Expect to forget, remember you are forgiven, and keep forgiving people.

I have found that forgiving regularly, including stuff I don’t even feel I even have a right to be upset about, and even when I am behaving worse than the person I am forgiving, helps all situations. It also helps to remind myself of God’s grace in the lines before the commandment in the Lord’s Prayer. It has helped me reduce cognitive distortions, deconstruct wild assumptions I make, calm primitive emotional reactions, and overall help me be more selective about how I behave. That’s why I call it a cognitive behavioral supertool.

Break my heart

March 30, 2012

Give it your best shot.

It is hardest to be calm and effective with the ones you love

March 28, 2012

I am referring to how difficult it can be to get along with family, to work out problems and not have it turn into a freak show.  Odd since we are so highly motivated usually to help each other be happy. Motivation is not enough.

I think the problem is that with family we run with a lot of assumptions . We assume we know people and what they think and what they will do.  As a result, we get in trouble. Those assumptions make us careless.

With strangers, we are less liklely to make assumptions. We are more careful and more observant.

So maybe treating everyone like a stranger, especially the ones you love, is the beginning of a remedy.

Fewer aaumptions that way.

Lent ’round here

March 17, 2012

For lent, my wife gave up alcohol. I am giving it up too, and coffee. I get my caffeine from tea though.

My daughter gave up looking in mirror. She found that idea on a website.

I have been reading these books during lent.

What Jesus Meant  by Garry Wills

Simple Christianity by N. T. Wright

I actually am rereading these first two.

Kingdom Man by Tony Evans.

I recommend them all.

Some thoughts on money management

March 10, 2012

I use a product called MONEYCALENDAR to manage my money. You can check it out at www.mwatch.net . Anyways, Tony Coia, the proprietor over at Moneywatch who sells these things, suggested I use cash for weekly expenditures that tend to vary and are a bit of a pain to keep track of. With the Moneycalendar, you need to reconcile once a week in order for it to work for you. He is referring to expenditures such as groceries, eating out, entertainment, gasoline, and corner store expenditures. At first I balked, but I decided to try it.  It worked very well and makes weekly reconciliation much easier. I withdraw a set amount once  a week to cover the weekly expenses I just listed. If I don’t spend it all, so what, I got some extra. If I don’t have enough, I find out quickly, and I am prompted  to adjust quickly. Bad habits don’t get out of hand and I am less likely to delude myself.

One of the downsides of using cash is that you miss out on the cash back deals that credit cards have. I use to cards that put 1-2% into 529 collegeboundfunds for my kids. I have put away several thousand dollars for them. I have also made the occasional mistake of sending my payment late and lost money from these cards. But I discovered that I can get my 1-2% back the old-fashioned way – through change. As long as I put away my change, including a few dollars every time I spend $100, I can still save money in this way.

I hope readers of this post will give Tony a call over at Moneywatch – 401-941-2020.  He will spend 1 to 1 1/2 hours with you on the phone while you watch him using Webex, a remote internet system, keying in your data. Most people buy it once they see how it works and how it will more than pay for itself with in the added proficiency it allows you to have as you make money decisions. But you are not obligated at al. He says it improves things for about 90% of people who try it

I asked my wife to try it with me. She declined but recently agreed to give it a shot. We do our money seperate and reconcile once a month. It works but I think she will find that this will be better for us. We will both be on the same page, literally. If she doesn’t like it, she knows I will have no problem with her doing it the old way.

I hope Reena shares her impressions in the comment section.

Tony said that the program is totally logical. As humans, we are not logical. We make decisons by connecting dots, but the problem is that we can only keep a few dots in our head at one time. Finances are too complicated to rely on just a few dots at a time, but the Moneycalendar connects them all.

As a therapist, many people who present to me have money issues. Couples argue over the dots, and which ones to connect. I have referred a lot of people to Tony for help with these issues, and he has helped any who took the time to contact him. He has worked a lot with Butler Hospital too.

I read on bumper stickers that Jesus is the answer

March 5, 2012

But what is the question?

Actually, I think Jesus is the question.

“Jesus? ”

 


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