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An Old Blog Has a New Beginning

It’s only the beginning now
…a pathway yet unknown
At times the sound of other steps
…sometimes we walk alone

The best beginnings of our lives
May sometimes end in sorrow
But even on our darkest days
The sun will shine tomorrow.

So we must do our very best
Whatever life may bring
And look beyond the winter chill
To smell the breath of spring.

Into each life will always come
A time to start anew
A new beginning for each heart
As fresh as morning dew.

Although the cares of life are great
And hands are bowed so low
The storms of life will leave behind
The wonder of a rainbow.

The years will never take away
Our chance to start anew
It’s only the beginning now
So dreams can still come true.

New Beginnings by Gertrude B. McClain

You can call it a hiatus if you want.

Blogging doesn’t come naturally to me. I love to write. I am overly analytical, and I love to get my creative juices flowing through the act of writing. Writing a consistent blog even enabled me to view the world from a different angle as I was constantly looking for inspiration. What lessons am I gaining from day to day life? Thoughts that ordinarily might spark a conversation suddenly had me taking notes for a future blog post.

I’m not going to list the dozens of reasons (excuses) that I quit writing. I will say it became difficult to write without a clear focus. I was also writing before as a way to cope with a life unemployed. And I was practicing developing a brand and an audience. Suddenly online marketing and search engine optimization became important to me. Content creation became the driving force, more so than creativity or writing from the heart.

It ceased being fun.

In the meantime, I got into another relationship, started working full time again, and ended up leaving the aforementioned relationship. Oh, and took some time to make a few mistakes, and lose a grandfather. Life hasn’t been easy. But when is it ever easy?

So why have I decided to resume blogging?

I guess simply as an outlet.

I could give several reasons. But basically my mind is so active I need to do something to occupy it. Writing is as positive an outlet as anything I’ve done in the past, so why NOT resurrect an old hobby that was both enjoyable and provided an opportunity for growth.

So I am resuming the blog to talk about whatever I want to talk about. I don’t care who reads it, or if anyone reads it. Knowing me, you can expect the following:

  • Baseball opinion essays
  • Bible discussion (theology, history, apologetics)
  • Book reviews (anything I read)
  • Psychology discussions (addiction, relationships, depression, etc.)

As always, I will include pieces of poetry, infographics, links, and plenty of photographs. Try to at least make it appealing to the eye. If I maintain writing consistently, the blog should take shape all on its own.

Time and inspiration will determine the quantity and quality of my writing. I’m putting that in God’s hands. I won’t be doing advertising on the blog, and will respond to any comments as I am able.

My priority as of today (April 13, 2014), is simply to reawaken a creative side of me that I’ve ignored for too long. Content, followers, likes and views are the ego’s poison to bloggers.

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What Makes a Dad?

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so,

He called it … Dad.

– Author Unknown

Today, for the first time since I was a boy, I can honestly say that I have a relationship with my father.

You see, something happens during those teenage years.  Couple that with 6 solid years of heavy drinking and partying…my father and I had basically become strangers, if not downright enemies.

As a boy, there wasn’t another man alive who was stronger or smarter than my dad! I think we can all relate to those feelings. As a teen, I was constantly embarrassed by his ‘childish’ humor, and tendency to shed tears when something got to him – I saw him as trying too hard to be cool, and overly sensitive. In my early 20’s, a resentment towards him grew, as I felt misunderstood and judged relentlessly.

This is the 3rd ‘Fathers Day’ I’ve been able to celebrate since becoming sober. The first year, I was in rehab at the time. My father and I spent some quality time together…but mostly I remember being bound, figuratively, to the “chains” of shame. It just made me sick to think of what all I had put my parents through.

Fast-forward to 2012…I still feel a touch of shame, for the years of life lessons I could have learned from him, and for the unkind words I’ve said towards him and about him. But if I’m overwhelmed by anything today, its a sense of gratitude.

For starters, in all my life, I have never heard a negative word said about him. I have found that some of the things I disliked most about my dad were some of the same qualities I have in myself – primarily being extremely sensitive and emotional.

Also turns out that my dad is one of my spiritual ‘anchors’ today. His life experiences, high and low, world travels, own spiritual struggle and awakening…these have all shaped him into the man he is today.

He has also served as a shining example on HOW to love a woman. He has stayed committed and affectionate in his marriage for my entire life. He works to relieve my mother in any way he can, especially now as her health has diminished.

Here is one final poem I’d like to dedicate to my father:

You’ve Been Everything to Me

You’ve been everything to me: a father,
Teacher, playmate, model, conscience, friend.
Sometimes I’m not certain why you bother,
If your feelings on my words depend.
I know I haven’t been the child I should:
Far from it, and I really can’t say why.
I know exactly what I’d label good,
But in the real world something goes awry.
Underneath my actions there is love,
Gratitude, respect, and admiration.
Sometimes I don’t know what I’m thinking of,
But I thank God you’re in for the duration.
I’m sorry, sorry for the things I do,
But please believe I cherish Mom and you.

– Author Unknown

I’m going to leave you with one more brief,  thought-provoking piece of writing. I’m including this to remind us all that parents are only capable of SO much. Enjoy!

..and Happy Fathers Day!

What a Parent Cannot Do

I can share your life … but cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things … but I cannot make you learn.
I can give you directions … but I cannot always be there to lead you.
I can allow you freedom … but I cannot account for it.
I can take you to church … but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong … but I cannot always decide for you.
I can make you beautiful clothes … but I cannot make you lovely inside.
I can offer you advice … but I cannot accept it for you.
I can give you love … but I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to be a friend … but I cannot make you one.
I can teach you to share … but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect … but I cannot force you to show honor.
I can advise you about friends … but I cannot choose them for you.
I can teach you about sex … but I cannot keep you pure.
I can tell you about drinking and drugs … but I cannot say NO for you.
I can tell you about lofty goals … but I cannot achieve them for you.
I can let you work … but I cannot make you responsible.
I can teach you to obey … but I cannot answer for your actions.
I can teach you kindness … but I cannot force you to be gracious.
I can warn you about sin … but I cannot make your morals.
I can love you as a child … but I cannot place you into God’s family.
I can pray for you … but I cannot make you walk with God.
I can teach you about Jesus … but I cannot make Him your Saviour.
I can show you faith … but I cannot make you trust in Christ.
I can teach you about prayer … but I cannot make you pray.
I can tell you how to live … but I cannot give you eternal life.

– Author Unknown

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Recognizing, Identifying, and Defining the “Inner Critic”

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

That millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.”

– Erich Fromm, The Sane Society

We are what we think about all day long.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you have any idea of the state of mental health in the United States today? How often do you watch the evening news and hear stories of a “Murder-Suicide”, or some other form of violence that doesn’t stem from money or drugs? How many times in an hour do you see commercials advertising ALL SORTS of anti-depressant medications? What about the school shootings or other violence at academic institutions? This has almost become an annual occurrence!

After reading that question, you’re probably thinking…”Well, it must not be good. But no, I’m not really sure about exactly how bad it is…”. Well, according to the CDC, approximately 75 MILLION U.S. adults (32.4%) suffer from a mental disorder every year. Mental disorders range from Anxiety Disorders to Depression to Addiction to Schizophrenia – the whole gamut. Those are some eye-popping numbers, folks!

1 in 3 American adults suffer from a mental illness.

Why did I start this post off with such alarming numbers?

Because it relates directly with what I’m talking about in this series focused on the “Inner Critic” (False Self). Many mental or emotional disorders are caused by genetics or biochemical imbalances, but equally guilty are culprits that are sociological and spiritual in nature.

Let me start off by saying that I am NOT a mental health professional. I am just a 26 year old guy who has had a fair share of therapy and treatment as a result of my own issues…mainly that I’m unable to drink alcohol “appropriately”.

You can find dozens, if not HUNDREDS of articles online that discuss the Inner Critic. Quite a few are highly intellectual, some are humorous, some are way too “New Age-y” for me. With this post, I am going to try to clearly and concisely give you an accurate idea of the concept of an “Inner Critic. At that point you should understand why I claim that a big reason for the poor mental health in this country is actually this cruel ‘voice in the head’.

We all have an Inner Critic

Our self-esteem and self-identity are ultimately derived from the way we talk to ourselves. You know that thought process that appears out of nowhere to critique basically ANYTHING about you:

  • your body/physical appearance (“You’re already balding! No woman is going to think you’re attractive!”; “My breasts are only a ‘B’. I will never get noticed!”);
  • your intelligence (“What’s the point? I studied my butt off and only pulled off a C! I’m just stupid.”);
  • your clothes (“You look fat in that.”; “This _____ makes me look poor/rich/preppy/nerdy/etc.”);
  • EVEN your job/income/education (“People are going to think I’m lazy if I’m not working.”; “You’re just a loser, you only earn $_____.”; “All you have is a degree from a Community College, so what!”).

The concept of the Inner Critic is somewhat newer in the field of psychology, but this doesn’t make it any less pertinent. Even Wikipedia states that it “…is a concept used in pop psychology…”. So for a little better clarity, we need to go back to “Psych 101“, and I need to get a little “Freudian” for a moment…

No matter how you feel about the man, Freud was brilliant, and much of his work has laid the foundation for the science of psychology. One of these concepts was his structural model of the psyche. You remember learning about the Id, the Ego, and the Superego? Well let me refresh your memory for a moment:

  • Id – Part of our mind that contains the most basic drives – for sex, food, nurturing, etc. Think of a newborn baby…they don’t have much going on (in terms of thinking), but they are born with certain innate drives, and the ability to cry to get their needs met. Basically, think of it as our ‘passions’.
  • Ego – Very much talked about, with multiple ways to define it. Just know that it is much more than just our identity or sense of self. According to Freud, the ego is obviously the largest and most clearly identified part of our psyche – containing defensive, perceptual, intellectual-cognitive, and executive functions. The ego is the part of our mind that perceives and makes sense of the world around us. Basically, think of it as containing our reasoning and common sense abilities and basic aspects of our personality/sense of self.
  • SUPEREGO** – I capitalized and highlighted this part of the psyche because IT IS SYNONYMOUS with the “Inner Critic. Freud presented it as our ‘conscience’…it’s purpose is to protect us and to maintain certain standards. We acquire it when we adequately identify with our parents or other authority figures in society (teachers, religious leaders, the voice of society in general).

So we see these newer terms like “Inner Critic“, or the “Internal Family Systems” actually have their basis in concepts from the “Masters” of psychology. They just happen to be a little easier to understand. As for the Superego/Inner Critic…what does it mean that we “…acquire it once we adequately identify with our parents…”?

Are our parents really to blame for this “Inner Critic“???

No….you can’t put blame on anyone or anything. Unfortunately, in the process of raising us, parents did play a contributing role. Through love, parents attempted to correct or “fix” problems they saw in us. This is natural, it is part of teaching a child how to take care of themselves – from how to dress, to how to fix one’s hair, the way we talk (and even when to talk), even to what is appropriate morally and culturally.

You see, we all have another side of us…what is called our “True Self“. This is who we are when we are being ‘real‘. It recognizes our “Oneness”, or how we are connected with the world around us – nature and other people. We feel safe enough to be vulnerable, to reveal our thoughts and feelings. Here are some descriptions of this “True Self“:

Spontaneous, loving, giving, accepting, communicating, expressive of feelings (without self-judgment), alive, energetic, fulfilled, creative, free

As I progress in this series, I am going to talk a lot more about our True Self. This is the ideal after all, isn’t it? Oh, and not to mention…this is the only version of ourselves that God knows.

Pretty important and powerful stuff! That was so freeing to me to learn that — that all these negative, critical, shameful thoughts I had about myself weren’t even recognized or acknowledged by God!

Looking Ahead…

I could go on for a few thousand words talking more about what the Inner Critic looks like and how it affects us, but I want to keep this easy to digest.

Part 3 of this series is going to be a crucial discussion to help you see the “How’s” and “Why’s” regarding the development of the inner critic:

  • HOW this voice – the Inner Critic/Superego – was developed.
  • HOW did we take lessons our parents taught us and turn it into this evil inner dialogue?
  • WHY are some of us more self-critical than others (especially if all of us actually have this Inner Critic)?
  • WHY do we even have this critic to begin with?? (What purpose does it serve?)

THANKS for reading!

If you have any other questions PLEASE voice them in the “comments” box below! Share any stories of how the Inner Critic has affected you or someone you know…or how you have learned to overcome this debilitating voice in the head!

Oh…and PLEASE click this Facebook button and “LIKE” us on Facebook!!

I include beautiful, inspiring, and informative content DAILY…in the form of quotes, images, videos, as well as highlighting other fantastic blogs throughout the ‘blogosphere’! If you’d like to be featured as a “Blog of the Week” just let me know, and have the opportunity to reach thousands of new readers!

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