My Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

My Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are defined as techniques we use to help us manage the stress and pain in our lives. Common coping mechanisms are avoidance and isolation, denial, busyness, rationalization and control. From my childhood, I learned avoidance and isolation to keep me safe from unhealthy people or situations. Running and hiding became my usual reaction to problems as a small child. Into adulthood, I continued to use those tactics until I began my recovery journey and learned new healthy coping mechanisms. Praise God! Instead of avoidance, God gave me a voice, and I learned to communicate my likes and dislikes. I never developed a voice growing up. However, once I put up boundaries, using my voice was necessary to communicate those boundaries to others. As time went by, I felt more comfortable sharing my heart with others without fear of rejection. God also told me to stop running and hiding and to leave the outcome to Him.

I had huge blind spots as a post-abortion woman when it came to my parenting. Regarding my children, I became extremely sensitive and overprotective. I parented out of fear. I didn’t want them to feel the pain that I had experienced. I thought if I could control them, perhaps I could prevent them from experiencing what I did. Now, I know that was wrong thinking. I was in denial until I realized two things: I cannot control another person, and doing anything out of fear never has a good outcome. So, I have learned to apologize to my children for my overprotective parenting leaving the all-powerful God to change the heart of others. When I feel powerless, I remember to relinquish control to God to create a change in others or situations. I was living in denial due to my fear of rejection from my parents and spouse. As a result, I obeyed ridiculous rules in order to be accepted and loved by others. Truthfully, that never worked. When I finally received the love of Jesus into my heart, I had the courage to stand on my own without fear of rejection because I knew God would never leave me nor forsake me.

Busyness was a tool the enemy used for many years so that I would not have time to recognize my dysfunctional life and work on myself. In the year 2010, God told me to stop serving. I couldn’t believe He wanted me to do that. What will other people think? Asking this question led me right to the answer—you need to work on yourself because you are one sick puppy. I responded in obedience and took time to work on my own healing from 2010-2012. During this time, God took me to a desert place with Him so He could dispel all the lies I had believed. By focusing on His truth, I could be healed and finally set free. Although God had called me to this ministry back in 2006, He was finally able to equip me once I slowed down and put my focus solely on Him.

I had rationalized my abortion because I believed that since I was doing so much heavy drugs and drinking while smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day, my baby would be severely deformed. I felt that my parents would reject me and would be extremely disappointed in me. But looking back on these 40 years, I wish I had the courage to tell them I made a mistake and ask them for help. I cannot change my past. All I can do is learn from it and share my experience, strength and hope with others. Hopefully, those I reach with my testimony can make healthy choices knowing all the information beforehand.

Control was another tool I learned to use at a very young age. I honestly believed I could control how others feel and what they think in order to determine the outcome of a situation. That was all a lie. I had no control over any of those things. I tried to control how people reacted and behaved toward me. I tried to control what others saw in me by hiding behind a mask. I also tried to control how much I weighed by taking speed and diet pills and by purging after I ate too much. God showed me that by relinquishing control to Him, I can be set free from these obsessions and this bondage.

I am so grateful that today I have been set free from all my unhealthy coping mechanisms. I have learned new skills to help me cope with the pain and trauma from my past. I had to completely surrender everything and everybody to God. I no longer held onto my children so tight. I no longer cared about what others thought of me. I didn’t obey ridiculous rules out of fear of being rejected. I now had a voice, and God has taught me how to use it to express my feelings in a healthy, godly way. I am no longer in bondage to my old thinking and my old behavior patterns. In Romans 12:2, the Bible says “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Daily time spent with God in His Word and listening to the Holy Spirit have helped me to move out of the chaos, dysfunction and misery into a peaceful, orderly and fulfilling life.

What unhealthy things have you used to help you cope with the trauma from your past?

What are some healthy ways you cope with things now?

Reach out and get the help and encouragement you need. We are here ready and waiting to serve you and help you to become the woman God created you to be.

Blessings,

Toni

 

 

 

—Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Stinking Thinking: Anxiety

Stinking Thinking: Anxiety

Stinking Thinking: Anxiety

Philippians 4:6-7 and Matthew 6:25-26, 31 and 33

Philippians 4:6
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication (humbly asking) with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:25-26, 31, and 33
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not your life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather in barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”

Stinking Thinking refers to the negative thoughts that torment us especially when we are HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired; thoughts such as a distorted view of God and self, negative thinking, justification, fear, and anxiety. We will address each of these topics so we can discern between the lies we have believed over the years and replace them with God’s truth. Our goal is to equip you so you can have victory in these areas.

I become anxious when I negatively project into the future without God in it. When I do this, I feel weak, hopeless, and discouraged. My head and eyes are cast down and I feel like giving up. But when I recognize I am looking inward, then I remind myself that my help comes from the Lord and I look up to heaven. God has promised us in His Word, that He will meet all of our needs. Are you not of more value than many sparrows? But unfortunately, I did know Him nor did I trust Him, as a result I have made some very bad decisions because I did not trust Him with my future.

I thought I could minimize my anxiety by trying to control everyone and everything. But I realized this was impossible to do and it was very frustrating and emotionally draining. I used to jump in to fix and rescue people because I would become anxious about all the what ifs. I was sinning against God by not trusting Him with my marriage, my children, my business, and ministry. I remember in my journaling, God telling me, “Get out of my way you are preventing me from working.” IN ALL CAPS, TOO. God was not happy with me. God showed me that my lack of trust in Him was a sin and putting others before Him was an idol. I repented and turned away from my sin and turned to God and now I am not anxious about anything, because I know God will provide for all my needs and my family’s needs as well. I am finally free.

Let me ask you, what are you trying to control?

Are you feeling anxious?

 

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

Focusing on the One Thing I Don’t Have

Focusing on the One Thing I Don’t Have

Focusing on the One thing I don’t have, Eve.

Genesis 2:15-3:9, and Isaiah 61:1-3

How does the enemy torment a believer? It’s very simple actually, by getting us to focus on the one thing we don’t have: it can be financial security, a relationship, good health, a job, a family, a nice home, etc. So, let me ask you, what one thing are you focusing on right now that you don’t have?

Let’s look at Eve for example, she lived in a beautiful garden in perfect harmony with her husband and all of creation and they walked with and spoke with God daily. She had everything she could ever want, except one thing; God told them not to touch or eat of the tree in the midst of the garden because when they eat of it their eyes will be open and they will know good and evil. So, what does the serpent, the devil do? He comes to Eve after observing her looking at the tree. This is not in the Bible, but we know that the devil cannot read our minds. But he and his demons observe us and how we react to things. So, he is observing Eve over a period of time and notices her looking at the tree; he slithers by and starts talking with Eve. The first thing he does is to put doubt in Eve’s mind that God doesn’t love her or else he would have given her everything, that “God is holding out on you, because he knows if you eat of it you will be like God knowing good and evil.” No, the truth is, that by disobeying God, sin entered the world and there will now be conflict between the woman and her husband, all of creation will be forever changed, and their relationship with God will be broken. They will now experience pain, grief, sorrow, shame, and guilt and Adam and Eve will be forced out of their beautiful garden to never return again. They will be cursed as a result of their sins. That sounds pretty harsh but that’s how evil sin is, we like to justify sin so it doesn’t sound so bad, but the truth is sin is destructive and it separates us form God and others.

Many of us chose abortion, drunkenness, drugs, promiscuity and lying, as a way to cope with all of the pain and destructive choices in our lives. We were spiraling out of control, until one day we met the Savior, who had mercy on us and saved us from the path of destruction we were on. He exchanged our ashes for something beautiful, He took our mourning and grief; he gave us joy and exchanged our rags for a beautiful pure white garment. He gave us a new life, a new destiny, a new song, and a new purpose. I don’t want my old life back because that person is dead and gone. I have been made new and I no longer desire the things I use to do.

 

Let me ask you what are you struggling with today?

 

What thing is the enemy causing you to focus on?

 

Have you ever asked Jesus to forgive your sins and to become your Lord and Savior?

 

How can we pray for you?

 

Blessings,

Toni