Have you ever tried and tried to use your willpower to help you overcome something or to quit something? You found yourself trying over and over again, and you told yourself: This time I will do it for sure! Or, this time is the last time...but it wasn't? Perhaps you are trying to quit smoking, end a relationship, or even start one? Perhaps you have an addiction to food, drugs or alcohol? Or maybe you are depressed and you can't seem to will yourself into happiness? I don't know about you, but my willpower has failed me time and time again...even now! I long to get in better physical shape and to have a healthier lifestyle, but no matter how uncomfortable or dissatisfied I am with the way things are and no matter how many times I talk myself into a frenzy, swearing that I'll make a change...I do nothing! My willpower simply is not strong enough to do the job. However, as I reflect back to when I made the most lasting and positive changes in my life, I realized something. I realized that I didn't use willpower in those instances. I used prayer instead. I know... most people hear about prayer and they run for the hills. Maybe that's because they think to pray is laborious and that you have to pull out a list of impressive vocabulary words. Or maybe some feel like you have to be a perfect religious person in order to pray. NOT! I used to think that way too. First of all, simple is always best. There's no need to try to impress anyone and you don't have to be religious or perfect. NO ONE IS PERFECT...and I'm not just saying that to make you feel better. It even says that in the bible. Anyway, just have a conversation about what you're going through and ask for help. I find that thanking God for the blessings I already have is a good way to start. Prayer has helped me out of some really big battles. For example: I was really depressed for years and no matter what I did I couldn't snap out of it. It's only when I prayed about it and believed that things would change, that it finally did. It was much simpler and less exhausting...not to mention effective. As I write this, I am informing you but also reminding myself as well. As there are several areas in my life that I need to and will apply this to. The bottom line is that some battles require a little spiritual help and there's no shame in that. It's like asking your parent who would do anything for you, to help. There's a reason why 12-step programs start off with the Serenity Prayer. Willpower is great, but sometimes it just isn't enough. So, what will you do the next time your willpower fails you? Will you give up and throw in the towel? Will you keep trying even though you keep getting the same results? Or will you try something new? As for me, I know what I need to do.
Do you remember what it was like to be a teenage girl? So many changes happening all at once! Remember when your hormones took over and your emotions and body changed? Remember when your friends were experimenting with cigarettes, alcohol and maybe even drugs and they told you how cool it was; right before they asked you to try some? Remember the boys that said anything and everything including "I love you", in hopes that they could convince you to have sex with them? What about the adult men that gawked at you on the street, or worse yet, tried to pick you up...offering to buy you things? Remember the lessons you learned about relationships from what your parents taught you with their actions as opposed to their words? Meanwhile, the only thing your parents told you was to stay in school, get good grades and don't have sex before marriage. If navigating through the teen years was not so easy for you, can you imagine how difficult it is for your daughters? So...I'll ask you again. Are you talking to your daughters? It is so important that our daughters are able to come to us as their mothers, to help them make sense of their world. We cannot sit back and allow them to fend for themselves. Otherwise, there is a great possibility that they will learn the wrong things from the wrong people. What happens if your daughter finds herself in a place where she is not supposed to be and in a predicament that she is unable to handle? Will she feel comfortable enough to call you to help her get out of it? Or will she be more fearful of your reaction? Will she be so fearful, that she would rather remain and deal with the situation the best way she can despite the consequences? Think about it...and be honest. I work with families everyday and there are so many teens who have big secrets: They are in domestic violence relationships; they have or have had STD's; they have had abortions; they have had multiple sex partners; they think oral sex is not sex; they know what it is to get high and drunk from drugs and alcohol; they've exchanged sex for money and/or gifts from older men; they have been raped or molested by the mother's boyfriend or a relative...and believe me the list goes on and on. All of these experiences are taking place right under their parents' noses. Which means, just because they still look like your baby, that doesn't mean they aren't having adult experiences. And when I say teen, I don't mean 16-17 yrs old, I'm talking about 12-13 yrs old and sometimes younger. So wake up! Please... talk to your daughters, and be careful how you do it. Remember, the objective is to bring them closer to you so that you can help guide them in the right direction; instead of pushing them further into harms way.
Have you ever been in a relationship that literally sucked the life out of you? Maybe there's too much arguing and/or name calling going on; maybe he hits you; maybe you're the one with all of the financial responsibility or perhaps he is repeatedly and/or blatantly unfaithful? Perhaps you are the one he is unfaithful with. Perhaps he misuses alcohol or drugs...and you have to rescue him. Clearly I can go on, but I'm sure you get the point. Does any one or more of these scenarios ring a bell? Do you have more to add to the list? If your answer is yes, then you couldn't possibly be happy...right? So why are you sticking around? There is no black and white answer here, because relationships can be very complex. People remain in relationships that are dysfunctional for reasons that make sense to them. However, why would you want to remain in a relationship that is killing you? What are you getting out of it? Who will you become after your life and love has been depleted? Will you have anything left over for yourself? Love does not drain or destroy, it nurtures and promotes growth. A loving relationship is supposed to make both parties better and stronger as opposed to one suffering at the hand of another. So... what do you do? This is a touchy area, as we as individuals don't like to be told what to do. Friends and Family can talk to you until they're blue in the face and it wouldn't matter right? I know, I've been there. However, I will leave you with this. At night, just after your head rests on your pillow, pay attention to what your gut is telling you. There lies the truth... a truth that even you can't deny. What happens after that, is entirely up to you.
Doubt is one of the most powerful tools of defeat in my opinion. Doubt is like a seed implanted in your mind, and the more you nurture it, the bigger and more expansive it will grow until it has control of your life. How many of us have failed to act because of those two little words...what if? What is it about the fear of the unknown that keeps us bound to familiarity even if familiarity is killing us? Why do we fail to act when we already know that the present circumstance is not what's best for us? Sometimes what stands between us and a better and/or happier version of ourselves is nothing at all. Nothing except for us, because most of the time, we are the only things standing in our own way! We sometimes create these scary scenarios in our minds that make the possibility of change seem laborious, frightening and even impossible. Have you ever done that? For example: "If I leave him, I won't find anyone else to love me. If I get up and sing...they will laugh at me. If I go back to school...I'll fail. If I try to lose weight, I'll give in just like the other 10 times. If I ask her out...she'll reject me. If I leave this job...I won't find a better one" The list can go on and on. We all at some point have given in or have been bound by doubt whether it was momentary or for many years. I've learned over the years that most of the time when I did decide to act, it was much easier than I thought and the outcome was far better than I could have ever imagined. So what if...today was the day that you got out of that toxic relationship that was killing you? What if today was the day you took a chance on your future by going back to school or getting a better job? What if today is the day you ask that girl or guy out? What if today is the day you decide to get in shape and live a healthier lifestyle? What if today is the day you stop self-medicating and deal with what is really bothering you? What if today is the day you say you're sorry? What if today is your day?
For most of us, the choice is clear. Of course you'd choose the daughter! However, you would be very alarmed to discover that it is more common than you think, that some mothers choose the boyfriend. If your daughter approached you and told you "mommy, he touched me..." what would you do? Would it matter how many years you were with this person or how much you loved him? Is the topic of sexual molestation still so taboo that people would rather ignore it, than to face it and help the victims heal from it? I can't tell you how many little girls I've met who have not been chosen. Not only are they not being chosen, but they are also being blamed. Imagine how it must be for a girl to know that her parent didn't believe her. Imagine how that choice shapes the rest of her life. If you can't imagine, allow me to enlighten you. The girl grows up with shame, confusion, hyper-sexual behavior, relationship issues, depression and/ or other forms of Mental Health issues. Yes, of course there are exceptions...but this is not about those exceptions. This is about the girls and even the many adult women I've encountered that are still wrestling with the demons associated with this type of crime. Oh yes, it is a crime! I make no apologies for this topic. It must be brought to the light because it is still very prevalent. I will say this, talk to your daughters. Give them the confidence to talk to you about anything. Provide them with the love and security they will need in order to take on an already harsh world. Oh and by the way, while you're talking to them, let them know that predators can be ANYONE! So when a teacher, priest, next door neighbor..or relative etc..attempts to steal her youth, they'll know how to deal with the situation. So...please don't let them fend for themselves out there. The end result is not a pretty one. Prevention is way better than a cure. Oh and by the way, this also applies to your sons.