Dr Bev Smallwood

Articles Library: Coping

Thin Ice

This morning I watched as Katie Couric unfolded the tragic story of six young boys who ventured out onto a frozen (Lake/pond). The ice broke, and four of them drowned in the icy waters.

A horrible incident, but unfortunately, one which I believe has an impact and message beyond the obvious concern and compassion we feel for the families of the victims.

If we are honest, most of us must acknowledge that we are walking on thin ice in some important areas of our lives. All this month, in preparation for the New Year, I’ve been reflecting on various aspects of my life and asking myself questions like:

Right now, how would you rate yourself in these major life areas? (Use a 1-10 scale.)

  1. Spiritual
  2. Physical
  3. Relational
  4. Professional
  5. Personal
  6. Financial

1. Am I staying true to my purpose…those things I say are my core values and mission?

2. Does the time I devote to these areas reflect the importance I claim to place on it?

3. Relational. Do you have nourishing relationships in your life? In your significant relationships, is there an open flow of honest and affirming communication? Are you able to resolve differences constructively and promptly? In your relationships, are you able to "be yourself" and to accept others as they are?

4. Professional. How satisfied are you with the career path you are traveling? Do you continue to experience positive challenges? Do you have opportunities for growth? Are you feeling symptoms of burnout? Do you feel that what you are doing is "making a difference?"

5. Personal. When you get past the façade that others see, what is happening deep inside you? Are you at peace with yourself? How do you talk to yourself? Do you constantly criticize and judge yourself, or do you look for what you do right and the progress you make, and affirm that? Do you actively engage in activities that help you grow personally?

6. Financial. Good time to look at this one...before the seasonal credit cards are maxed! Do you actually know what's happening in your finances, or are you in denial? Are you spending and saving systematically? What does the future look like?

If you are not satisfied with any of these areas, what will it take to "up the rating" a notch or two or three in the coming year? What realistic actions can you take to improve the picture you see?

Before you answer that, I'd like to challenge you to reflect even more deeply, as I have been doing. All this month, in preparation for the New Year, I've been asking myself tough questions about these areas of my life. Here are some of them.

  1. How are things going, REALLY?
  2. What have you been pretending not to know? (Thanks to my new friend and colleague Dick Lewis for that one.)
  3. What commitments have you made to yourself, but failed to keep?
  4. What commitments have you made to others, but failed to keep?
  5. What messes have you made that, if you were willing to bite the bullet and do what it takes to clean them up, your energy and productivity would soar?
  6. What important things have you put off until a more convenient time?
  7. What "whispers in your heart" have you ignored or shoved into the background with busyness?
  8. If you keep doing exactly what you are doing now, what will the future look like?

Yep, I warned you that they were tough questions.

Negative questions? No, that's not my style. Facing my struggles gives me valuable instruction about how to improve. That's the reason to ask tough questions.

Honest questions? Yes, and very important ones. Important enough to ponder seriously as 2002 nears its end.

Don't wait 'til January 1, 2003, to hurriedly write the list of resolutions you are "supposed" to make, knowing in your heart that they may not last until the ink is dry, much less throughout the year. Or, don't be among the many others who just blow off the whole idea of goal-setting because of their failures in the past.

Do some soul-searching and PREPARE NOW. Prepare yourself for genuine success by facing the facts as they are, not as you fantasize that they are. Then you'll be able to see how to take the next realistic next steps.

We're about to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jesus gave us the truth about TRUTH. He said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

In my life, my faith infuses the genuine hope that my past doesn't have to dictate my future. Clear insight, followed by solid plans, laser-like focus, and courageous action can turn THIN ICE into a rock-solid foundation for change.

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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