Pastor Brad Hoefs

Pastor | Author | Speaker | Hope Coach | Mental Health Advocate

Finding The Source Of Your Fears by Stan Popovich

Finding The Source Of Your Fears by Stan Popovich

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A sure way to overcoming your fears and anxieties is in finding the source of your fears and being able to manage it. In dealing with any kinds of fears or anxieties, try to learn what is the real source of your fears and anxieties. Knowing what is causing your anxieties can go a long way in finding the solution.

A person can find the source of his or her own fears by doing some self-evaluation and also by talking to a professional. Asking yourself questions such as: “Why am I afraid” or “What is causing my anxiety” will lead you in the right direction in finding the source of your fears. Give it some time and eventually you will find the answers your looking for.

Once you find the true source of your fears, the next step is to find the solutions that will solve your problem. With the help of a professional, write down a list of possible techniques and solutions that you think will manage your fear and anxieties. The next step is to apply the techniques that you uncovered. Here is a brief list of some techniques you can use to help deal with your fears.

A good way to manage your worry is to challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make your fearful or anxious, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense.

Be smart in how you deal with your fears and anxieties. Do not try to tackle everything all at once. When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with a lot of anxiety, break the task into a series of smaller steps. Completing these smaller tasks one at a time will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.

Learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week or coming month, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. When the time comes, hopefully you will have learned the skills to deal with your situation.

Sometimes we encounter a scary situation that gets us all upset. When encountering these events, always remember to get all of the facts of the given situation. Gathering the facts can prevent us from relying on exaggerated and fearful assumptions. By focusing on the facts, a person can rely on what is reality and what is not.

In every anxiety-related situation you experience, begin to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. For instance, you have a lot of anxiety and you decide to take a walk to help you feel better. The next time you feel anxious you can remind yourself that you got through it the last time by taking a walk. This will give you the confidence to manage your anxiety the next time around.

Many people try to get rid of their anxieties and fears without taking into consideration why they are afraid. The best way to get rid of your fears is to find those techniques that will manage the true source of your fears. If you can do this, then you should be able to overcome your fears and anxieties.

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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Life Is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React to It

Life Is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React to It
This past year my wife and I went to my 40th high school class reunion. I had not seen many of my classmates since graduation. So, you can imagine how strange it was to see them after so many years of life. Fortunately, those in charge of the event provided us nametags to wear that not only had our name on it but also our senior class picture. And boy was that helpful!I found myself reflecting the entire evening about how fast life goes and how no one’s life necessarily turns out like they thought it would. When you have not seen someone for 40 years, you could see in their physical appearance the toll of living. Of course, we all had aged (some better than others). And our journeys have been very different. But, it seems that even though the journeys have been very different, there is a common thread that life weaves in each person’s journey. That thread is made up of joy, happiness, disappointments, hurts, fears, brokenness, grief, hopes, mistakes, success, failures, dreams lived and many dreams lost. I could see in my classmate’s eyes that disappointments and brokenness had taken their toll. Living life can take the life out of you.So, why do I share this with you? Here’s why I share it: life brings with it a lot of disappointments, pain and brokenness. It’s part of the human condition. And life keeps going on whether or not you are stuck in those things. See, I believe that you and I can easily get into a mindset that having mental health diagnosis “ruins” your life and we can begin to think that we can’t move forward in life and enjoy it. The truth is that everyone faces something in life. Living can quickly suck the life right out of any and everyone. Bipolar disorder is just one of the many obstacles found in this “thing” we call life.

It’s easy to begin to focus so much on ourselves and how “hard” we have it that self-pity can start to creep in and take up residence in our beliefs. And while we get stuck in the pain and brokenness of a mental disorder, life keeps going on. Life doesn’t stop. And for me, life is way, WAY too short to get so stuck in self-pity or stuck in believing that now life is “over” because of having a mental illness. Yes, a mental health challenge can suck. Yes, a mental health challenge can hinder ones’ life and alter the course of what we had hoped life to be. Yes, a mental illness is a “cross to bear” in life. But, lest you and I forget, there are many other crosses in life that are just as difficult and some even more tragic and painful to bear. For me, it has been imperative that I remember that there are much worse crosses to bear in life than bipolar disorder. Remembering this helps keeps my self-pity at bay.

I spent seven very long years stuck in my pain and brokenness following the manic episode that brought about the collapse of my life. Self-pity was part of those seven years. I was stuck in it. I felt as though my life had been robbed from me. But, really was being stuck and feeling sorry for myself that was robbing me of life, not the bipolar disorder! And I didn’t get unstuck until I got sick and tired of feeling sorry for myself and believing that my life was over.

So, I decided I was going to live well in spite of having bipolar disorder. Those three little words, “in spite of” are the mantra of my recovery.  In order to get unstuck I did three things:

  1. Changed how I was thinking by taking control of what I was thinking about.  I did not allow myself to continually rehearse the pain and brokenness.  Instead I began to think about how the pain and brokenness could propel me into living well. (This was the hardest thing I had to do in recovery!)
  2. Set reasonable and reachable goals that continually moved me towards living life well.  I stuck to the goals and when reached, I set new ones. Failure was not an option. Yes, there were failures and set backs.  But, I chose to see the set backs and failures and learning opportunities for living well.
  3. Started helping others with mental health challenges and got my focus off of myself.  (This probably was the major game changer for me.)  When I started focusing on helping others I found my passion again; there was purpose for all of the pain I had experienced.

Here’s what I know about life and how people live it based not only on my life but also after pastoring for the past 30 some years: everybody has “stuff.”

Everybody has pain. Everybody has tragedies and losses in their lives. Pain is pain. Whether it is the loss of a child, cancer, financial collapse, divorce or a mental illness: you either work through it, or you get stuck in it. (By the way, if this blog post is “ticking you off”, then you are most likely stuck in your pain.) As they say, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

So, how are you responding to the things that life is throwing you? How are you reacting to having a mental health challenge? Are you living well in spite of having a mental health diagnosis? If not, why not?

You can check out Brad’s podcast at: FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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Insights for Someone Who Has Been Newly Diagnosed​ with a Mental Health Issue

Insights for Someone Who Has Been Newly Diagnosed​ with a Mental Health Issue

 

Have you been newly diagnosed with a mental health issue?  It can be overwhelming, to say the least.  Through the years of finding the path to living well in spite of having a mental health diagnosis, I’ve come up with a list of a few things to do when newly diagnosed.

So, here are what I would consider key initial steps to living well when you’ve been recently diagnosed:

  • The sooner you come to terms with your diagnosis and work your treatment plan, the sooner you are on the road to getting back your life
  • Get enough sleep and watch your stress level
  • Be honest with your doctor- the more he/she knows, the more helpful  they can be.  If you don’t trust your doctor or believe they are the best at what they do, find another doctor
  • Find a positive and encouraging peer support group to attend.
  • Take your medicine.  Push past the side effects.  And if the side effects are too much, talk to your doctor. Don’t make decisions regarding your medicine without your doctor’s input and approval.
  • Don’t do street drugs. They interfere with the prescribed medicine. Yes, even marijuana does. You certainly won’t get better because of them and they will most likely only impede your recovery.
  • Know the difference between emotional issues versus the symptoms of what you have been diagnosed with.
  • Choose to believe that you can live a rich life in spite of this disorder or you can become the victim of it.  You get to decide.
  • Know that you are not alone.

Of course, the single most important thing is to remember, know and hold to- that the Lord is with you.  He has not left you.  He won’t leave you.  He won’t give up on you.  He is for you.  And He will take what you are going through right now and work it together for your good.  Listen to or read His word.  If you can’t read the Bible, listen to it or listen to Scripture songs.  It will feed your soul and bring inner peace.

These are some things that I have found true for myself in the recovery process since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder some 23 years ago now.  What have you found? What would you tell someone who has been newly diagnosed?

Positive Friends Impact Depression’s Effect by Rick Qualls

Positive Friends Impact Depression’s Effect by Rick Qualls

By Rick Qualls

Depression lies.

It convinces you, ‘“My friends don’t want to be around me.”  “I’ll just bring everyone else down.” “I am not worthy of having friends.” “Nobody likes me anymore.”

When you are depressed, making and keeping friends can be a challenge. But research shows that a group of positive friends makes a difference.

Professor Frances Griffiths, head of social science and systems in health at Warwick Medical School University of Warwick, said: “Depression is a major public health concern worldwide. But the good news is we’ve found that a healthy mood amongst friends is linked with a significantly reduced risk of developing and increased chance of recovering from depression.”

In Griffiths study teens who have five or more mentally positive friendships have half the likelihood of depression. Those with ten friends have twice the probability of recovering from their depression symptoms.

What can you look for in positive friendships?  Good friends offer space to be yourself. They don’t try to fix you or try to make you act a certain way. They listen and offer support not judgment.

The Bible offers practical advice on developing and maintaining good friendships.

Good friends take time for each other. Friendships don’t occur in a vacuum.  “Be devoted to one another…” Romans 12:16. Spending time together doing activities that you enjoy or working on projects together create opportunities to build relationships.

Healthy friends disregard social differences, and do not avoid each other when problems arise. “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16

Positive friends are not narcissistic. A narcissist can be attractive to be around at first. They are full of “self-confidence” and an energy that draws us when our self-confidence is at a low ebb.

But it is a negative signal if they manipulate you to prop up their ego. They talk about themselves and their accomplishments. They brag about knowing how to get special treatment. It is a warning if you begin to notice that all they talk about is themselves. You may notice they lack empathy or compassion or caring for others. A narcissist uses your depression against you and will make your situation worse.

Good friends develop trust over time and it becomes safe to share their deepest hearts, even the weakness and sin in our lives. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…James 5:16

Positive friends offer non-judgmental support and listening. Friends accept you when you are depressed, when you are grieving, or going through any kind of trials. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7

Solid relationships are based know how to put up with each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. Everyone has some peculiar behaviors. “…be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph 4:2

Friends build each other up and do not tear the other down. Words are powerful tools to help bolster one another. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph 4:29

Friendships don’t just happen. We must be intentional about developing these relationships. They take time, encouragement,  trust, and sharing with one another.

These healthy friendships can have positive impact on your depression.

Depression lies. There are people around you that care.

 

Check out Rick’s other posts and the posts of all of our Fresh Hope bloggers at: Fresh Hope Blog

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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The “Elephant” in the Sanctuary

The “Elephant” in the Sanctuary

In this video Katie R. Dale from http://www.BipolarBrave.com reads the letter that she wrote to the pastor who misguided her regarding taking medicine for bipolar disorder.  Pastors need to see this video to help them realize how serious their lack of understanding is regarding mental illness.  Why?  Because more people go first to a clergy than to their doctor, a therapist, a psychologist and/or psychiatrist combined!  Pastors are on the front lines of the mental health crisis!

Please watch this video and share it on social media, it’s one way to begin to address the “elephant” in the sanctuary!

Letter to a Misguiding Pastor by Katie R. Dale from Brad Hoefs on Vimeo.

Making Self-Care a Way of Life by Jamie Meyer

Making Self-Care a Way of Life by Jamie Meyer

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Having a mental health diagnosis can make it difficult to care for ourselves. For people who don’t have a diagnosis, self-care is mostly a matter of choosing and making time for the things that will lead to better health. For those of us with a brain illness, it isn’t quite that simple. The question we’re more likely to ask ourselves is “Am I able?” Ability is the key word here because there are times when our symptoms can prevent us from caring for ourselves as well as we’d like.

Although we often think of self-care as something we do, it also means protecting our thought life. Nothing good comes from feeling ashamed when you can’t get out of bed or can’t concentrate because of racing thoughts.

We need to stop comparing ourselves to people who don’t have a diagnosis and let go of the messages from our culture that tell us productivity defines our value as a person. We need to be more gentle with ourselves and accept the truth–even if we don’t “feel” it’s true–that we have great value because we are God‘s creation and are loved unconditionally by Him.

After being diagnosed with Bipolar 2, I spent many years telling myself that my life was less valuable because I could no longer work full-time or take part in all the activities I had before. I beat myself up for being lazy and not trying hard enough. I felt ashamed because I didn’t want to be around other people.

When I began to interact with like-minded people in our Fresh Hope group, I came to realize that they too felt “less than” after their diagnosis. I learned from them that it’s okay to make caring for myself a priority. I felt understood and no longer needed to hide in shame.

I’ve come to accept that I’m not the same person I was before being diagnosed. But you know what? Neither is anyone else. Everyone grows and changes over time whether they have a diagnosis or not.

I’m learning to focus on the things I’m able to do, activities that are fulfilling yet keep me mentally stable. I work evenings part-time so I don’t have to get up early and I volunteer in smaller but just as valuable ways.

Another way I care for myself is by giving back to people like myself who live with the challenges of a mental health condition. In 2012, I put my personal journey into words when I wrote the book, “Stepping Out of Depression: Fresh Hope for Women Who Hurt” (available on Amazon). I wanted women to know they were not alone in dealing with depression, that true hope and healing are possible.

I also find fulfillment in giving encouragement and support to the wonderful people in our Fresh Hope group. Doing so helps me feel like I’m making a difference in my small corner of the world.

Caring for yourself involves more than eating right, exercising and reducing stress. It includes having supportive relationships and being involved in something that is meaningful to you. Self-care also means accepting the truth that you have value and purpose because of who you are, not what you do. You choose to let go of shameful thoughts and stop putting yourself down.

When we decide to make self-care a priority, life can become more satisfying and meaningful. Although we may not escape the ongoing challenges of our brain illness, we significantly improve our chances of living well in spite of it.

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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A Letter to the Sheep: Our Responsibility to the Sheperd

A Letter to the Sheep: Our Responsibility to the Sheperd

By Jennie Birkholz

In Pastor Brad Hoefs powerful blog post Pastoring and Suicidal: Insights from a Pastor Who Has Been There he brought to light many challenges pastors face in modern-day ministry.  Pastors have blessed me and my family with their words and actions throughout the years, but this article made me stop and think about how to purposefully return the blessing.  

Here are a few starting points to consider:

1. Creating a Safe, Supportive Workplace  

Mental wellness, just like physical wellness, is impacted by stressors in one’s environment which include a person’s workplace and personal life.  Some basics for a supportive workplace include giving your leaders the tools they need to do their job effectively, ample compensation to support their family and health insurance.  They should also have access to pastoral care and a mentor.

2. Give leadership opportunities for Renewal and Growth 

Regular sabbaticals and time for renew should be part of the culture.  Leaders should also be encouraged to attend conferences, trainings or be with mentors.

3. Stop complaining and start doing-

If you want something to change or a new program be the leader or coordinate it AND financial contribute to it.

4. Be a friend 

Being a leader is lonely and being in the pastoral role is no exception.  The pressure to present as perfect or grace filled can be stressful and lead to self-isolation.  Pursue a friendship with them that makes room for them to be their authentic selves.  Have fun and do stuff outside of church events!

5. Show true appreciation  

Grand gifts and gestures are not necessary.  Simply sharing how their words impacted your spiritual growth and life may rejuvenate their purpose.  

And for those sheep that complain about the church.  I am at fault too, but we need to catch ourselves.  Remember is it a conviction or a preference.  Would the nation of Israel really care about the carpet color in the sanctuary?

Let me know what your thoughts are!

Jennie Birkholz

Breakwater Light

www.breakwaterlight.com

jennie.birkhkolz@gmail.com

Jennie Birkholz, MHA is the Principal with Breakwater Light, a consulting firm that partners with multi-sector organizations, churches and communities focused on positive social impact. Using a trauma-informed, equity lens, projects are oriented around innovative leveraging of community assets, creating powerful networks for change and fostering resiliency.  She is an innovative collaborator for faith and health, a trauma informed care trainer and expert on community behavioral health and substance addiction. Jennie served in the community behavioral health and substance use disorder field for over 15 years before becoming a national consultant.  

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