Archive for December, 2013


Ten Healthy Ideas: Day 6: Pay off Sleep Debt

December 31, 2013

When the golfer Tiger Woods left Stanford and announced he was turning professional, a reporter asked him what he was looking forward to now that he wasn’t going to college any more. He answered: “I will finally get enough sleep.” Apparently Tiger put himself through the same torture test as most college students. He didn’t get enough sleep.

dementIronically, just across campus at Stanford is the world’s leading expert on sleep. Dr. William Dement, a pioneer in the field of sleep research, founded the Stanford Center for Sleep in order to help people the world over understand the importance of sleep. When asked at a major conference years ago what was the number one problem related to sleep, Dr. Dement immediately answered “Sleep debt!”

According to the Sleep Center’s literature, here is what they define as sleep debt:

To make the long story short, each of us has a certain sleep requirement every night that we need to keep us functioning at our optimal level. When we fall short of the minimal sleep requirementwe incur a sleep debt that prevents us from functioning at our best.This debt, if not addressed, can add up over time, very rapidly, and significantly alter our productivity, mood, and even our safety.

Read more:

Almost every person needs a minimum of 8 hours sleep a night. In his book “The Promise of Sleep” Dr. Dement estimates that most people incur at least one hour’s debt per night–many people have more. This growing sleep debt causes many of our worst health problems: auto-immune problems, inability to fight off viruses, hypertension, cell malformation (sometimes resulting in benign tumors), malabsorption of nutrients–which cause many other health problems–migraine headaches, joint problems, sight difficulties etc. Not only that, but researchers have determined that over 100,000 die every year in car accidents because one driver was either sleep deprived or asleep at the wheel.

But I believe there are emotional and spiritual tolls we pay when we don’t sleep enough. Dr. Jack Hayford, pastor Emeritus of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, teaches regularly that the best spiritual warfare we can do is to get enough sleep. He says that the Enemy really is prowling around like a lion seeking whom he can devour. Those who have a lot of sleep debt find they have trouble resisting temptation, become irritable easier and give in more often to resentment. These things all cause spiritual deterioration.

How do you know if you have sleep debt? Here are some of the main signs that Dr. Dement says we need to look for:

1. Do you get drowsy during the day? Drowsiness is not a condition of your environment–such as a warm room or a difficult work situation–but rather of your tendency to not sleep enough.

2. Do you need caffeine to function efficiently? Dr. Dement is an advocate for eliminating caffeine completely. If you need that boost in the morning, you are not getting enough sleep.

3. Do you fall asleep in less than ten minutes? If you do, you have a sleep debt. Sleep debt causes the mind to shut down much more rapidly. Normally, a person who gets enough sleep should be able to fall asleep in about 10-20 minutes on average. In addition, if you wake up tired on a consistent basis, you are suffering from sleep debt. After a good night’s rest, you should not have trouble waking up. Any trouble waking up is caused by your body trying to get more sleep to make up for the debt.

4. Are there parts of your day when you have virtually no energy at all? This is common with sleep indebted people.

You should be getting at least 8 hours sleep EVERY night. If you are not, then the sleep debt is going to take its toll on you, your relationships, your health, your work output, your joy, your walk with God and your peace of mind. Every hour less than 8 hours a night is a debt you need to pay back as soon as possible. Here are six ideas that can help you get back on the right track.

1. Have absolutely hard established bedtimes and waking dotttimes. Dr. Lydia Dotto, author of “Losing Sleep” suggests that even migraine headaches can be eliminated by training our internal clocks when they are going to go to bed. I did this for a year once…not changing my bedtime at all. By the end of that year, I could go to bed and wake up without looking at the clock and it was always at exactly the same time. Our body clocks, once they are trained, are that accurate. When you establish waking and sleeping times, you are making sleep a much higher priority.

2. Turn off the television after 9 p.m. Television watching may be called “vegging out” by many people, but it doesn’t have that effect on us. The television raises your Alpha waves above the level of relaxation. You are always on a heightened sense of alert when you watch the tube. Unfortunately, most people assume they can watch television at night to help them relax and fall asleep. Nothing could be further from the truth. You would be much better advised to read a book, crochet a sock or write in a journal than watch t.v.

3. Do not exercise before bed. With the advent of many new “super-routines” more and more people are focusing on getting in one more workout before sleep. This raises your glandular output too much. The body’s circadian rhythms start to slow down naturally in the two hours before bedtime. If you cut into that slowdown with exercise, it will make it that much harder to get to sleep.

4. Track your sleep and make up for sleep debt. Everyone has nights where they don’t sleep well. (Note: If that is every night for you, talk to your doctor about a sleep clinic. You should be getting a good night’s rest every night and there are doctors who specialize in finding out why you’re not). If you have a night of less-than-ideal sleep, find times during the week to nap. Also, allow yourself to sleep extra on those days you don’t have to get up early.

5. Get rid of caffeine. If you are getting enough sleep, you don’t need caffeine. The caffeine in soda, coffee and energy drinks messes up your biological clock. Of course, because some people have not slept enough for years, it may seem they cannot function without caffeine. That is probably true. But that is like the person who maxes out their credit cards, spends every cent and needs another credit card because they have no more cash. At some point, the madness has to stop. Caffeine is the enemy to enough sleep. Kick the habit.

6. Plan ahead. When I personally started to get my sleep habit back in order I realized my biggest problem is I never planned my sleep well. I would stay up later than I needed to. I never realized that sleep is something to guard, so I didn’t. Planning ahead means that you are home at a decent hour to get to bed at a decent hour, to wake up at a decent hour having procured a decent amount of sleep. Therefore, the planning must start a long time before you want to sleep. If friends want to stay out late and you cannot sleep in, you may be the first one to go home. It may feel like you are the party pooper, but remember that every party needs one and that might as well be you. At least you will be physically and emotionally healthy to accept the ridicule.

Last year, I advised two different people on their sleep debt. Both of them embarked on a project to get enough sleep. Both of them reported better mental health as a result. Additionally, even though neither of them were overweight, they both reported their weight went down as they started to crave healthier foods. It is known that we often crave sugar and carbs when our energy levels are too low. This is often a function of sleep debt as well.

So for all the wonderful things sleep can do for you, get rid of your sleep debt and make sleep a huge priority for 2014.


Delay in Posts

December 28, 2013

I promised everyone I would be posting ten healthy ideas for the last ten days of 2013.

What I didn’t count on was a virus slowing things down.flu

Never fear; there will still be ten posts by the end of the year. They are all mostly done, but a few will have to come on the same day. I don’t like doing it that way, but I love to keep to deadlines.

So if this virus will allow me, I hope to post at least one tomorrow–and maybe two.


Ten Healthy Ideas – Day 5: Find Gentle Friends

December 26, 2013

Finding Healthy Friends

I have known Lisa for ten years now. Last week, Lisa re-invented herself online. So far, this is the fourth time she has developed a completely new Facebook page. I was her counselor for two of those years, so she always adds me back on her page when it is reconstructed under a different profile. Therefore, I have a front-row seat for the continuing soap opera that is Lisa’s life.

(Just so you don’t hang in suspense, I have Lisa’s permission to share her story. Her name isn’t Lisa. But you already figured that one out.)

Lisa changes her Facebook identity to escape people she used to call friends. I don’t know if she sees it or not, but her friendships often go the same way each time. At first, she and the other person are doing everything together. They go clubbing together, take 100 selfies together, and work out together. They hit “like” for every single status update and remark constantly at how beautiful the other looks in every picture: You get the idea.

Then, after about a year, Lisa treats her BFF like a pariah. She publicly criticizes her for drunken texting, stealing her boyfriend, her car and her money.

Next, she enlists other friends to completely destroy this person’s character. Then, when the other person strikes back–quel surprise!–she goes all paranoid and retreats into her “safe” world. This always ends up with a few weeks of whining at how no one in this world ever treats anyone nicely. That’s when she changes her Facebook page and starts the entire cycle over again.

Lisa doesn’t know how to pick friends. Her 8,000 pictures of drunken escapades with her “friends” and the inevitable complaints of how the world has “done her wrong” bears testimony to this. But I can say with a lot of confidence that Lisa isn’t the only one. Most people have a lot in common with Lisa–she’s just the extreme.

I’ve often taught my counselees that healthy people attract healthy friends and unhealthy people attract unhealthy friends. But these days, I’m not sure which comes first. Do we get healthier with healthier friends or do we choose better because we are becoming better at spotting the healthy ones? It’s probably a little of both.

Have you ever wondered why there is so much drama among your closest friends? If you wonder that, you are not choosing your friends as wisely as you could. Just assuming you want to get healthier and desire to have healthier friends, this essay focuses on how to pick them.

The Standard

In the Gospel of Matthew chapter Ten, Jesus sends out his twelve closest friends and tells them to announce he is going to be visiting the towns surrouding the Sea of Galilee. They are his advance party. Then, he gives them a clue into one of the most difficult skills–how to find out if people are safe to be around. Here’s what he advises the disciples about coming into a new town: (Matthew 10:11-13)

11 “Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. 12 When you enter the home, give it your blessing. 13 If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing.

They were told to “search around” for a worthy person. What this implies is it is not always that easy to find new friends, and we all need to take our time to do so. I speak accurately when I say that the people we make friends with quickly often turn out to be less than desirable. Truly healthy people are mildly skeptical of bringing new people into their life. They like to take their time to choose close friends. Those who do it quickly will probably be gone just as quickly.

Then we see Jesus advising to look for a “worthy” person. The Greek word translated “worthy” truly means “balanced”. These are the people with many interests, not focusing exclusively on one path or idea. Hyperfocused people do not make great friends. If they are totally obsessed with a habit, sport, lifestyle or job you will never be able to compete with it. Worthy friends are those who know they cannot have a lot of friends, but neither can they allow themselves to have too few. They strike a good balance between work and fun, spiritual and physical, family and friends.

Well, all that sounds wonderful, spiritual and godly. But how does  it work in real life? What would a healthy friend look like in my real world situation? Here are four things I would look for in a ‘worthy’ person:

1. Good Reputation: When you introduce this person to your other close friends and family members they are in general agreement this is a good person to have in your life. If all your significant people warn you that there is something wrong with the person–assuming you have people in your life who occasionally tell you the whole truth–you should probably sit up and take notice. Unless you are starting over from scratch with a whole new set of friends, those who know you best can spot the problem people long before you will. That’s why Jesus says to search around for them. The Greek word for “search” means to ask questions and inquire of others.  If people you respect don’t like the person, it’s a good chance they are dangerous for you.

In this article in Psychology Today, the author warns that if friends bring out the worst in you it means you are mirroring the main features of their life. If you find you act better and healthier around someone, most likely they are healthy themselves.

2. They respect boundaries and encourage you to have other friends: If a person is healthy, they do not get jealous easily. They already know they are only a part of your life. Unhealthy people tend to become possessive and controlling when they feel their hold on others is slipping. An unhealthy person calls at all hours of the day or night. They tell stories about you that are inappropriate. By contrast, healthy people are glad that you are spending time with other friends and truly like to see you have your own personal space. When they do call, they often ask permission to speak to you for awhile.

3. How they deal with conflict determines how good a friend they can be. This is the high-water mark for friendships: How you handle conflict reveals how healthy you are. If they are a person who tells you–and only you–how they feel about things you have said or done, then you know they have learned how to do conflict properly. If they listen to your side of the disagreement, take time to understand your point of view and apologize when they are wrong, keep that friend for life. Obviously, the opposite is also true.

Lisa had one “friend” who slashed her tires because she called her a “drunken whore” in a bar one night. Now, I don’t think either of them handled things better than a five-year-old, but when someone resorts to felonies to get their point across, they are toxic.

4. They don’t have a lot of drama in their life. When you talk with them, a worthy friend is more interested in hearing about your life than constantly talking about theirs. Oh, they will eventually reveal lots of stuff from their inner world and will invite you to share in their private life. But they aren’t dealing with four exes who all want to kill them, three friends who have stolen from them, ex drug-dealers who want their money back etc. To some, they may seem boring, but they seem that way because they are careful with their friendships and don’t hitch themselves to losers. If you are their friend, count yourself fortunate.

Lisa and I have talked for hours lately on this issue of healthy friendships. She honestly told me she doesn’t think anyone she knows is healthy. I asked her if she knew what that meant. What she told me was both revealing and insightful.

“I am probably someone who is not healthy enough yet for healthy people to hang with.”

She’s right. But we’re working on it.



Ten Healthy Ideas – Day Four: Habit of Reflection

December 24, 2013


In 2006, a Stanford research team studied two groups of people. One group were self-described as heavy Internet users. The other group didn’t use the Internet very often. The researchers put both groups through a series of tests where they had to come to conclusions by analyzing a very difficult series of statements in a field none of them were familiar with. At the end, they had to make a decision about what course of action they would take. What none of them knew was they weren’t being tested for their decision-making ability, but their ability to mentally stay on task.

Not surprisingly, those who used the Internet a lot were more easily distracted. The researchers found that when they introduced noises, background smells, lights and people moving by the window, the heavy Internet users could not concentrate as well as the light Internet users. At the end of the test, each participant was scored by an independent panel regarding the final decision they came to. Overall, the light Internet users made wiser decisions. 

Here is what they concluded. The heavy Internet users had lost the ability to reflect, to ponder the possibilities. They were more easily distracted and could not keep their minds on one subject. In essence, the could not Reflect

Reflection is the ability to analyze and dissect the events of a person’s life, looking for meaning, purpose and possible courses of action. If a person cannot reflect, they will often act impetuously and unwisely. Unfortunately, most 21st century people no longer take any time to reflect. As Nicholas Carr says in his book “The Shallows”, that our

“online intelligence has weakened our ability to reflect, to examine, to imagine and to analyze. We can maintain more information in our brains and yet we have less ability to make good use of that knowledge”.

74 separate times in the Bible the word “Selah” is found. The word means to “stop and reflect, to see deeply into something”. Most often this word is employed in the Psalms after the writer has made a profound or troubling statement. He wants the reader to stop and reflect on how to proceed now that this truth is presented. This was not hard for someone who grew up governed by the slow pace of an agricultural society. It wouldn’t even be that hard for those who entered our world when there was no television, radio, newspaper or Internet. But now that we have all of those, who has the ability to reflect very long any more.

Ten years ago, I was asked to lead a seminar for young church leaders on the skills involved with meditation and reflection. There were 150 people at the conference and they had four options for their seminar. Only one person chose to attend my reflection teaching. I actually had expected this so my feelings were not wounded too deeply. I told the organizer that the only way we could get people there would be to rename it something that sounded more dynamic. The people of our world no longer desire to spend long moments in reflection. What good is there in completely stopping at various times a day? Actually, reflection and meditation are very helpful to all of us.

Health professionals say that time of reflection each day can lower blood pressure, regulate the body’s ability to fight off disease, eliminate the need for most anxiety medication, reduce the intensity of migraine headaches, help to heal overwrought relationships and reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis. But these are just the physical benefits.

When we have a time of reflection, we can clearly see the patterns of our lives. Recently, I walked a person I am mentoring through exercises where they had to reflect on their life. At one point, the person got agitated and wanted to stop. When I asked them why, they realized that anger was bubbling to the surface and felt overwhelming. I had them focus on what they were angry about. Soon, elements of their marriage relationship came to mind. Piece by piece, this person worked through their anger and sense of defeat. By the end of 20 minutes, they no longer felt the anger. The next day, my mentee called me and expressed shock about something else. They had been suffering with a sense of fatigue mid-morning for several weeks. For the first time in all those days, they felt energized in the middle of the day. They realized that the meditation time had alerted them to an inner anger that was robbing them of energy.

I usually suggest people have at least a ten minute reflection in the morning and the evening. This can be combined with exercises like the Well of Reflection or a few other exercises I am going to mention in upcoming articles. It is good to have a journal around to keep track of insights.

As Socrates so eloquently told us “the unexamined life is not worth living.” When was the last time you examined your life in any depth? Have you observed some subtle motivations that you need to get a grip on? Do you see how your anger and fears are with you more than you would like to admit? Are there dreams you have been shoving down because you haven’t taken the time to process them? How are your relationships really going? Have  you taken stock of your closest friends and loved ones to determine if  you are acting in a healthy way toward them?

All of these are questions that can only be answered if a person takes time to reflect. In order to accomplish a meaningful time of reflection each day, it is necessary to answer the following questions:

  1. What will stand in my way of doing this daily?
  2. What do I need to stop doing so I can reflect?
  3. What do I hope to get out of this?
  4. Why am I not already doing this?
  5. What would be the best time to do this so I will accomplish it every day?

Ten Healthy Ideas – Day 3: Honor To Whom Honor is Due

December 22, 2013
eric liddell

Eric Liddell in the 1924 Olympics

In the 1924 Olympics, U. S. sprinter Jackson Schultz sent a note to British runner Eric Liddell. Both of them were Christians, and Liddell had refused to run on a Sunday because it violated his beliefs that Sunday should be a day set apart for God. (In the movie, Liddell is seen as finding out about his heat being run on the Sunday as he gets on the boat. In reality, he found out months before and pulled out of the competition before being chosen. But his stance was known throughout the world.)

In his note, sent weeks before the Olympics, Schultz told Liddell how he admired him for standing up for what he believed. Schultz also believed this stance would be the deciding factor whether Liddell won his race–the 400 meters. At the end of his letter, he wrote: “As the Good Book says, “He who honors Me, him will I honor.” History records that Liddell did win the 400 meters and beat one of Schultz’s close friends to set the Olympic record.

But was Schultz right? In the note he sends Liddell he quotes 1 Samuel 2:30, which says:

“Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.”

Schultz apparently believed that if someone takes a stand for God, in the end, God will honor that person. I’m not sure I totally agree. Many who have stood for God have seen their dreams shattered and been made fools of by this world. But I also believe that those who do what God commands will make more out of their lives than those who dishonor God.

I think there is a principle here that would certainly do us well to remember. Our relationship with God is a covenant. It requires both parties to maintain an honorable place in order for all the benefits of the relationship to be experienced.

A covenant relationship is one that is supposed to last for the rest of one’s life. There are very few of these because of that. A parent and child, husband and wife, certain lifelong friendships, God and a believer and fellow members of God’s church are examples of true covenant relationships. One of the great benefits of those relationships is the concept of honor.

The word honor means to  show respect to someone, to show how they are important and special in our lives. I believe there are spiritual things which happen when we honor another person. We strengthen the bindings between us and them and we allow for spiritual blessings to come to both parties. But, of course, the same is also true for dishonor. When we dishonor someone with whom we share a deep covenant relationship, we weaken the ties between us and allow spiritual destruction in our lives. I explore this concept in marriage in an earlier article.

The Bible tells children to “honor their parents”. Husbands and wives are supposed to show honor to their spouses. Friends are to honor deep friendship by telling the truth, giving aid when needed, coming to the rescue, keeping confidence and not betraying one another.

In the case of children, we are told it is the first commandment with a promise:

Eph. 6:2, 3 : “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Honoring our parents releases health and life blessings upon us and them.

Jim suffered from multiple ailments all the time. He had over 40 pills he took each day for one problem or another. As he and I worked together in counseling over a year, our goal was to eliminate most of those medications. During therapy, we identified a number of false beliefs he carried with him and other detrimental elements related to unforgiveness. At one point, he had eliminated a good portion of his drugs. That’s when we came to the hardest part of the counseling journey.

“Mike, I want nothing to do with my kids. They are all whiners and they never do anything but bring me grief. I can’t really stand to be around any of them.” I explained to Jim that it was proper to have boundaries so others cannot hurt us. But I also asked Jim if he had ever blessed his children. He had really never spoken blessings over any of them. Had he praised them? He said they had never done anything worth praising. Had he told others how much he appreciated any of them? Had he bragged about them? On the contrary, he often criticized them to anyone who listened.

I explained to him why honor is important. God sets the example for this. Even though we have all treated God poorly, God never gives up on us. He never stops loving us. And God will never curse us. God will warn us and discipline us as children, but he always wants blessings for our lives. But when we refuse to honor those who are in covenant relationships with us, we allow the enemy of our souls to attack us and defeat us. Our bodies, minds, emotions and life goals are often destroyed. Those who are critical and dishonoring of their loved ones will often pay the price in personal destruction.

Jim decided to begin blessing those around him. He stopped putting down his children and wife to other people. He asked God regularly to bless them. He sent them notes encouraging them and telling them why he was proud of each one. He began to keep a journal and wrote down why he appreciated his wife and each of his kids.

Six months later, he didn’t need any more medications. He has seen a remarkable change in his life since then. As he has honored the people in his life, the effects of dishonor are being eliminated.

This works with people at church, our relatives and friends and our spouses. We may not like all they do, and we cannot endorse wicked and misguided schemes. But we can honor them and their relationship to us even if we have to maintain a few boundaries.

If  you do that, you will see health come to you and them.


Ten Healthy Ideas – Day 2: The Well of Resentment

December 21, 2013

deep wellHe had married her 22 years before; and now he stood in my office in front of her and said “I don’t love her any more. I want a divorce.” I actually thought he had asked me to be there so he could reconcile with his wife. Why else would he want his counselor there for what he had to say? But no–he wanted me to be a witness to his final declaration.

I couldn’t leave it at that. I had counseled him for several months and never had any idea he was thinking about divorce. So I asked him to go through his train of thought leading up to this decision. He mentioned a number of grievances he had stored over the years. He chronicled a long line of things which hurt him, annoyed him, bothered him and made him angry. He carried a long list with him.

However, he failed to mention a single thing that most people would associate with marital failure. She had not committed adultery, been violent, lied to him, appeared on a Reality T.V. show, hit the children, poisoned his food, withheld sex, had her mother stay for a year or joined a cult. Even though he carried a laundry list of grievances, none of them were that serious.

The biggest problem he carried with him to the end of his marriage was Resentment. Resentment is the idea that someone has done wrong by us and we refuse to let it go until they apologize or give retribution. We can resent someone for a small infraction or a huge sin. It really doesn’t matter how big or small the resentment is, it has the same effect: It sucks the life out of our love.

I tried to convince him to let go of his resentment and move on in his relationship with his wife, but he was not interested. A year later, their divorce was final and their lives in turmoil. I could have saved him a lot of hassle if he had just dealt with this like an adult.

Children cultivate resentments like a farmer grows corn. They can complain if someone gets a bigger portion of dessert. They will whine if someone bumps into them. They don’t like it when their brother looks at them funny. They will hit back when hit and curse back when cursed. But we expect that out of them–they’re children.

If you want to be a mature adult and have meaningful and long-lasting relationships, then resentments have to go. But that’s a lot easier to say than to do. I believe resentment is the most prominent disease known among mankind. We do not let go of them at all and certainly not easily. But I have an exercise that helps.

In the 4th century, there were a group of men and women called the Desert Fathers and Mothers. They lived in the Egyptian desert and taught many people about the deeper ways of living as a Christian. One of these, Abba Poemen, taught a practice called “The Well of Resentment”. (Note: This is a translation…it has been called the Well of Longing and the Well of Bitterness).

He taught his disciples to do the same thing at the end of every day. He said they were to picture themselves coming to the edge of a large and deep well. As they mentally look into this well, they should consider how things went for them that day. Each person was to probe their soul and see if there was anything that happened which caused any resentment. If a person identified resentment, they were to visualize casting that resentment into the well and watch it fall into the depths. Then they were to keep doing this until all resentments were gone. At the end, they should pray the Kyrie Eliason (“Lord have Mercy, Christ have Mercy on me”).

I have taught hundreds of people to do this the end of every day. I have yet to have someone come to me and tell me it doesn’t work. Rather, I have heard from many that it has revived their love for spouse, parent, child, co-worker, fellow-Christian and others. It is a practice which refuses to allow the little or big resentments from gaining hold. The Well of Resentment is like powerful vitamins which bind to viruses and snuff them out before they get destructive.

Try it for three days and see if it doesn’t begin to change your heart toward others around you.


Ten Healthy Ideas – Day 1: Get Rid of Body Lies

December 20, 2013

rs_634x797-131216100228-5ht7pRecently, “E” Magazine reported on an animated Gif file circulating among Jennifer Lawrence fans. It is an older picture of Lawrence from the cover of Flare Magazine. The animated Gif file reveals that they took Ms. Lawrence’s picture–an actress considered by many to be very beautiful–and then proceeded to photoshop it. Here is the website showing the original photo and then how they doctored it.

They made her skinny in places, more pronounced in others and changed her shape completely. Fans around the world are outraged, mainly because she has been on a crusade against this kind of body image tinkering. Here is an interview she did with BBC Television where she expresses her view that every women needs to have a strong image of who they are. This includes viewing their own bodies realistically.

In counseling, I see hundreds of women obsessed with poor body image. They want to blame others for their personal beliefs–and certainly other people are contributing factors in what they believe–but blaming others does not solve the problem. Each person needs to recognize they chose to believe every thing they hold onto. Until a person owns those false beliefs and discards them, they will not be free.

The media, parents, friends, and enemies–including the enemy of our souls–may all feed us false beliefs about our bodies. Let me identify the three main false beliefs:

1. Shame: This is a belief which says ‘There is something essentially wrong with me’. The idea of “wrongness” is completely subjective and has no real basis in fact. What is “wrong” in one setting is “perfect” in another. This includes body size, body shape, and body parts. One culture prizes Aquiline noses (long and curved) where another culture champions small noses. Which one is right? Neither of course. But the belief that says “there is something wrong with me” goes deeper. This belief destroys the idea that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Since there is no objective standard of the right or wrong body type, then anything we believe about ourselves which ends in us concluding “there is something wrong with me” is completely false. 

2. Fear: This belief focuses on how we are perceived. “I will not be accepted for how I look” gives other people the right to speak into how we should look. No longer do we decide if we our bodies are acceptable–we give that right to others. This fear also centers on the idea that we can accurately predict how others see us. This belief is false because even if we are mostly accurate in our assessments, we cannot be completely accurate. Humans are completely different in their preferences. What 100 people dislike, another 100 people may like. But the fear that “all” people will react the same way to us causes us to change who we are–or wish we could change who we are.

3. Helplessness: This is the idea that our bodies are in charge and we cannot do anything about it. For the most part, helpless beliefs are formed when we tried to change something while not doing so with our entire will. For instance, take a young child who comfort eats. This child eats when they are emotionally stressed. They do this because the food makes them feel better. They may do this enough so they become heavier than their friends. At some point–probably during adolescence–they decide it is time to lose weight. The problem is, even though they want to take charge of their body and lose weight, they don’t want to let go of comfort-eating. Therefore, they hinder their own weight-loss efforts. When they fail at this, they believe they are helpless to change the way their body functions. This can result in them choosing to depress themselves and keep their body behaving differently than their ideal vision of themselves. This helplessness gets seeded into their beliefs and they soon react as if they can never change anything their body is doing.

These three false body beliefs–shame, fear and helplessness–torture so many people. But they don’t need to. The solution is to admit these beliefs are choices you made at some point in your life. They don’t feel like lies because you have fed and cared for them for so long.

The secret to overcoming them is to ask God about them. God made you and knows who you are. He knows how you are perceived. He is the one who says “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”.

I counseled a woman years ago who struggled with being “overweight”. (I put that word in parentheses because I do not accept the concept of “overweight”. I think it is a false concept designed by the enemy to have a false measuring stick of our value). She believed she would never be acceptable to others unless she reached a particular weight value. In our counseling, I asked her to listen to what God had to say about it.

After several weeks of doing this, she stopped dieting and started to find out more about how God saw her. God showed her the problem had nothing to do with her weight. Her life was being ruled by one resentment she had after another. She decided to let go of all her resentments over a 6-month period. Because she no longer held onto her griefs and pain, she started eating differently. She got out of the house more. She dressed differently. Inexplicably, her body began to take on a different shape.

She had no idea if she lost or gained weight because she threw out her bathroom scale. God showed her that the weight was a measurement of gravity, not worth.

When we get to what God has to say about our bodies, we will inevitably change how we see them. And if we change how we see them, we won’t give in to the terror of false beliefs.


10 Days of Teaching: Ten Most Important Things We need to know in 2013

December 20, 2013

During the final ten days of this year, I want to emphasize ten ideas that I believe will add to your emotional and spiritual well-being. Some of these have to do with practical matters (such as body image, working with culture and dreaming) and others of a more sublime nature (such as the Resentment Well, Grace and Forgiveness, and Faith’s expressions). 

Come with me as I empty out some of my more private thoughts from the journals of 2013. journal

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