Q: It's apparent that some people seem to be handling the recent societal upheaval better than others. Whatever it is they have, I want it. Do you have any thoughts?
Jim: Let me start with a hometown illustration. If you visit Colorado Springs and ask for directions, there's a good chance you'll hear something like this: "Head toward the mountains and take a right." Our city's entire western border is the Rocky Mountains. Not only are the peaks beautiful, they're how we locals find our way around here. You can always get to where you want to go by figuring out where you are in relation to the mountains.
You probably do something similar where you live. You judge your location according to a landmark — usually something like a water tower or a tall building.
Here's the point: An unchanging, fixed point of reference can help you do a lot more than find your way around town. It can help you find your way through life, too.
Even under "normal" circumstances, everything about the world around us is constantly changing: from fashion to technology to opinions about what's right and wrong. And of course, recent events have knocked the props out from under the things that many people have turned to for security and meaning.
That's a lot of upheaval and confusion. So, my advice is to head toward the mountains and take a right. In other words, steady yourself in a world of confusion by anchoring yourself in values that are eternal and unchanging.
As a Christian, I find that fixed reference point in my close relationship with the One who created me and stands above anything I will ever encounter in this life. You can find that, too. We have resources to help at FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: I have really struggled emotionally the past couple of months as our lives have been disrupted. I know I've been taking it all out on my husband. How can I change this pattern?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Think about the preflight safety instructions the attendant gives on an airliner: If the oxygen masks deploy, put yours on first before helping others. In other words, appropriate self-care positions you to care for others.
Now, with that background: Our emotions are like water in a glass. Normally, you wouldn't fill a glass to the brim. You'd leave a bit of room for the water to slosh around. If you get bumped, some water might spill out ... but that's OK. It's not a big problem. Now, imagine the glass filled to overflowing. You have a problem. The water is spilling everywhere and making a mess. If you tried pouring more water in the glass, you'd only make an even bigger mess.
Our emotions — like the water in the glass — spill over when life overwhelms us. Emotional self-care is learning when to turn off the water before the glass overflows.
Think about all the challenges you've faced during the past few weeks. Is your glass full? Is it overflowing with stress and negative emotions? Sometimes those emotions spill over into your marriage and affect your relationship with your spouse. That's why emotional self-care is important.
Self-care is about two things: doing what brings you rest and doing what brings you life. For example, putting puzzles together, reading or having a deep conversation might give you rest — while something as simple as taking a walk can bring you life. Self-care can also include day-to-day activities such as:
• Recognizing negative thoughts and challenging them with truth
• Breathing deeply to relax
• Praying and meditating on Scripture
If your emotional "glass" is full-to-overflowing, appropriate self-care can help you drain a little off the top.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.