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When I feel misunderstood or threatened, I go from neutral to an immediate fight-or-flight response. If we have a really heated argument, or worse, a disagreement that never gets expressed, my mind will quickly jump to thoughts of leaving and finding a more peaceful life. But I recognize that is old, fear-based behavior. Today I use my tools to work through feelings, to communicate, to own my needs, and to value them. We work toward the win-win. My greatest strides have come with being with other women in recovery and twelve-step groups. It is a privilege to be able to go and tune up. The truth is what I recovered. I don't need to hide anymore. Movement to reverse the damage of a sedentary lifestyle CASE: One of Dr R's patients is a 36-year-old woman who came to the office with symptoms of excessive sweating. The symptoms started more than three months prior; She also had been experiencing significant diarrhea. She had been treated for depression in the past and had been taking an antidepressant called duloxetine. She denied any change in her stress level or in the dose of her medication. Otherwise, she had been feeling well in terms of energy and stamina. In fact, she reported she had been exercising more and was training for a half marathon. Her symptoms worried her, and she wanted to rule out cancer. Her initial testing and chest X-ray were all normal. You gain a totally different perspective about challenges by viewing them using the lens of humor.

Build a positive or constructive view of your skills and abilities An individual's sense of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-image is largely affected by perseverance. Keep reminding yourself about your strengths, achievements, skills, abilities, and wonderful moments. Make a list of tough situations you have tackled, and how you battled them. Draw inspiration from winning and positive moments of the past. Observe your self-talk What is your mental talk sound like? If it isn't positive, abundant, and successful, latch on to a different frequency. Our self-talk has the power to determine our chances of success. This self-talk can help us sail through challenging circumstances or dive into failure. As Sara said, she came to the Women of the Lodge group incredibly angry, but her Al-Anon experience had taught her that she would be safe with other women. In that safe environment she vented and ultimately owned her own shame and fears. She was able to make the connection and see how her early life abandonment was perpetuated in her adult relationships with men. The internal shift that propelled her life into one of laughter, connection, and peace occurred when she recognized that her healing was predicated on the commitment to no longer abandon herself.You are not alone. These are the words that echoed in my being as I read Diana's Companions in the Darkness. As a seminary student and young pastor in the mid-1990s, I learned about many heroes of the faith. I don't remember hearing much about melancholy, discouragement, or depression though. It wasn't until I sunk into my own abyss that I discovered my own need for companionship. I went searching for stories, but I didn't see a work quite like this--one written by a storyteller familiar with the abyss herself and a student of the untold history of our so-called heroes. We live in a world that bombards us with images of success, perfection, achievement, relevance, and power. Dr R thought that perhaps her medication was creating side effects.

This possibility surprised the patient as she had been taking the duloxetine for five years; Dr R believed that her recent exercise surge was raising the levels of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain that are responsible for good mood). As a result, her dose had become too high for her. While she felt a good deal of anxiety about this possibility, the patient ultimately agreed to taper the dose, and her symptoms resolved without any rebound in her depression. As it turned out, the high dose of duloxetine was competing with the natural effects of running. Her sweating and other symptoms improved significantly after Dr R cut the amount of antidepressant she took daily. She continued to run and felt great. Exercise is defined as any physical activity done for a certain purpose. It is a regular, repeated activity that improves our physical fitness. Realign your self-talk for success by making it more positive, balanced, and constructive. How Mental Strength Improves Self-Discipline Mental strength is one of the most important elements of self-discipline. Knowing how it contributes to self-discipline will help you to see why you need to be constantly working to enhance it. When you are mentally strong, it allows you to conquer self-doubt so that it is not able to interfere with your level of discipline or cause you to procrastinate out of fear. Motivation comes from your mental strength. When you are not mentally strong, you will find that it is much easier to lose your motivation before you even have a chance to take full advantage of it. You can easily tune out comments and advice that are simply not going to help you. This is critical for self-discipline, since it is all about efficiency and removing unnecessary baggage. When you are mentally strong, you are able to face your fears. Sadly, the contemporary church is often not very different.

I've found myself, both as pastor and as a parishioner, walking around a church asking, Is there anyone like me here? Anyone who knows the darkest night? I've also mentored and counseled pastors over the years--good, hard-working folks who believed that to be a good pastor, they'd have to keep it together at all times--who are stuffing hard emotions, hiding profound pain. Tragically, I've encountered broken marriages, moral failure, and even suicide among those trying to stay strong, to get through, to never let them see you sweat. The cost of stuffing pain is much greater than navigating the wilderness road to freedom. Diana is a wise guide for those of us longing for a map for the journey and a companion for those of us longing for grace on the journey. She knows the terrain, and she's studied the women and men behind the classic works of theology and spirituality we cherish so dearly. Diana writes, We need people who can hold us up during our struggles with depression. We need people who can shout back to us from further ahead. For centuries, wellness advocates have promoted exercise as a way to boost health and avoid chronic illness. People who exercise can feel their heart rates increase, their muscles get stronger, and their speed increase. They have more power, agility, balance, and coordination. But those physical improvements aren't the only reasons to exercise. Deliberate movement also improves our reaction time. We sweat, which drives out toxins from our bodies. Exercise also creates a feeling of euphoria and a sense of happiness; Physiologic parameters also improve with exercise. We see improvements in endurance, strength, and flexibility, and better body composition (muscle to fat ratios). Exercise brings healthy changes to blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and metabolism. Fears are one of the biggest reasons that people are not able to develop a strong sense of self-discipline.

You can more easily rebound from failure with mental strength. When you quickly come back from failure, it's more difficult to disrupt your ability to be disciplined. Lastly, you can easily learn from your mistakes. Remember that learning and accountability are paramount when working to enhance your discipline level. What you think about your abilities and limitations is what is known as self-esteem. It S is easy for anyone to think that they have a healthy self-esteem but when you take the time to honestly think about the questions above, it will help you reflect deeply and truly come to a fair conclusion about your self-esteem level. When you begin to consider your self-acceptance level, that is, how you react to your mistakes and how you react to the opinions of others about you, you will begin to see a true picture about your self-esteem. Do you feel terrible about yourself when you fail at something? Do you feel bad and experience self-doubt when someone says something unpleasant about you? Depression is a fierce enemy, they say, but it need not be your victor. It need not have the last say. Your usefulness is not over. Your God has not left you. The water is deep--but the bottom is good. Who are the people who can hold us up? Martin Luther and Mother Teresa, Charles Spurgeon and Martin Luther King Jr. And while Diana does not pretend to be a psychologist, she offers wisdom that is psychologically sound while at the same time theologically rich and historically insightful. Finally, Diana offers profound and compelling stories, but she does not leave us there. She calls us to meet others in the midst of their stories. It lowers our risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers, such as breast and colon.