COPING WITH CRITICISM

Dealing with criticism positively is an important life skill. At some point in your life you will be criticised, perhaps in a professional way. Sometimes it will be difficult to accept – but that all depends on your reaction.  You can either use criticism in a positive way to improve, or in a negative way that can lower your self-esteem and cause stress, anger or even aggression.

There are two types of criticism – constructive and destructive – learning to recognise the difference between the two can help you deal with any criticism you may receive.

When challenged by another person, it is common to react in a negative manner. Consider how negative reactions make you look – and more importantly how they make you feel.  The way in which you choose to handle criticism has a knock-on effect in various aspects of your life, therefore it is better to identify ways in which you can benefit from criticism and use it to your advantage to be a stronger and more able person.

Constructive and Destructive Criticism

The difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism is the way in which comments are delivered. Although both forms are challenging your ideas, character or ability, when someone is giving destructive criticism it can hurt your pride and have negative effects on your self-esteem and confidence.  

Destructive criticism is often just thoughtlessness by another person, but it can also be deliberately malicious and hurtful.  Destructive criticism can, in some cases, lead to anger and/or aggression.

Constructive criticism, on the other hand, is designed to point out your mistakes, but also show you where and how improvements can be made. Constructive criticism should be viewed as useful feedback that can help you improve yourself rather than put you down.

When criticism is constructive it is usually easier to accept, even if it still hurts a little.  In either scenario always try to remember that you can use criticism to your advantage.

Dealing with Critical People

Some individuals are critical by nature and do not always realise that they are hurting the feelings of another person. If you know a person who is critical of everything try not to take their comments too seriously, as this is just part of their character trait. If you do take negative comments to heart it can create resentment and anger towards the other person, which could damage the relationship.

Remember, people who criticise everything or make scathing remarks to be hurtful are the ones that need help – not you!

Try to remain calm and treat the other person with respect and understanding. This will help to defuse the situation and potentially stop it from getting out of hand.  Show that you are the stronger person and try not to rise to the bait, do not use it as a reason to offer counter criticism.   If you challenge the other person you may start an argument that is probably unnecessary.

If you do feel that you may lose self-control, or say or do something potentially damaging, walk away. If you are in a meeting at work, politely excuse yourself and leave the room until you have had time to gather yourself.  Even though somebody´s negative remarks may hurt, it is more harmful for you to allow their criticism to be destructive to your confidence.

Taking the Positives Out of Criticism

We all make mistakes all the time, it is human nature.  As we go through life we have plenty of opportunity to learn and improve ourselves. Therefore, no matter what kind of criticism is aimed at you, analyse it to find something you can learn from it.  In material matters at work, school or social clubs for example, try to take criticism on board to help you improve.  When somebody is attacking your character it is hard to accept, but that does not mean you should ignore it.

Also bear in mind that the criticism aimed at you may not make sense at the time. Generally speaking, there is usually some truth in criticism, even when it appears to be given out of spite and bitterness.  It is often the case that a slight on your character is a fair reflection of how another person sees you at that point in time.  Take a step back and try to see things from the other person’s point of view, perhaps ask a friend for their honest opinion – use criticism wisely and as a learning experience.  See if it is possible to learn a little about how others perceive you, you may be able to use criticism to improve your interpersonal skills.

A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful.Holy Bible

Does God Allow Trials and Temptations?

God allows temptation and trial because they can be good for us. Seriously? Yes.

The same Greek and Hebrew words are used in Scripture for both temptation and trial. The distinction depends on intent and motivation. Is the difficult situation for the purpose of tearing down? It’s a temptation. Is it for the purpose of building up? It’s a trial.

Temptation is a lure to sin. God doesn’t do that, but He does test.

Both situations involve challenge. How do we know then if it’s a temptation or a trial? We don’t — that’s God’s business. In either situation, we are to remain faithful to the Lord and believe He will reveal the reason in due time. If we are obedient in a temptation, we will resist the Devil, and he will flee from us. If we’re obedient in a trial, we will emerge stronger than ever. We must believe by faith that God has our best interests in mind and not doubt His love or provision regardless of the circumstances we are going through.

Intent means everything. If I as a leader demanded that my followers run until they threw up, forced them to work for me in grueling circumstances to the detriment of their bodies, and humiliated them continually to destroy their hearts, I would be a monster. If I did it for their best interests, I would be a drill instructor. If I rubbed acid on someone’s face so that it bubbled and hurt, and the person had to take meds for weeks just to deal with the burns I created, I would be a devil. If I did it because the person asked me to, I would be a dermatologist performing a chemical peel. If I dropped heavy items on you that could crush you, only to force you to catch them and push them back up, I would be a tormentor. If I did it for the good of your body, I would be a personal trainer in the gym. If I withheld your normal food for days on end and then only gave you small amounts of berries and vegetables even though there was a bounty of food around, you would call me selfish. If I did it for your health, I’d be a nutritionist helping you with a fast or cleanse. As you can see, it’s not the brutal situation that makes something good or bad, but the motive behind it. That’s also true of troubles in our lives.

When God tests humans, it’s always for our best. It was not an accident that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was in the middle of the garden of Eden. God could have put it in the far corner, but He placed it squarely in the center so that Adam and Eve would have to walk past it no matter where they were headed. He was helping them develop patterns of obedience, which revealed their love for Him for the supernatural world to see. Did it cost Him? Yes, of course it did. God lost His beautiful intimacy with His brand-new creation. He lost the connection that was the very purpose for mankind’s design. But God used even Adam and Eve’s failure to demonstrate the most powerful act of love known to mankind: redemption.

Are you being tempted? Remember that God is not tempting you and He always provides a way out! Are you in a trial? Remember that God is allowing this for your good. You will come through this and you will be all the stronger for having resisted!! 

Inspired From : Faith Gateway

A LEADER WHO IMPACTS

A young man saw his primary school teacher at a wedding ceremony. He immediately went to greet him with all respect and admiration!!

He Said to him: “Can you still recognise me Sir?” ‘I don’t think so!!’, said the Teacher, ‘could you please remind me how we met?’

The student recounted:

“I was your Student in the Third Grade, I stole a Wrist watch belonging to my then classmate because it was unique and attractive. My Classmate came to you crying that his Wrist Watch has been stolen and you ordered all the Students in the class to stand on a straight line, facing the wall with our hands up and our eyes closed so you could check our pockets. At this point, I became jittery and terrified of the outcome of the search. The shame I will face after other Students discovered that it was me who stole the watch, the opinions my other Teachers will form about me, the thought of being named a ‘Thief’ till I leave the School and my Parent’s reaction when they get to know about my action. All these thoughts flowing across my heart, when suddenly it was my turn to be checked. I felt your hand slipped into my pocket and you brought out the Watch. I was gripped with fear, expecting the worse to be announced. I was surprised I didn’t hear anything, but Sir, you continued searching other Student’s pockets till you got to the last person.

When the search was over, you asked us to open our eyes and sit on our Chairs. I was afraid to sit because I was thinking you will call me out soon after everyone was seated. But to my amazement, you showed the watch to the class, gave it to the owner and you never mentioned the name of the one who stole the watch. You didn’t say a word to me, and you never mentioned the story to anyone.

Throughout my stay in the school, no Teacher or Student knew what happened. This incident naturally taught me a great lesson and I resolved in my heart never to get myself involved in taking whatever is not mine. I thought to myself, you saved my dignity.”

“Do you remember the story now Sir? You can’t simply forget this story sir!!” The teacher replied, ‘I vividly remember the story that I found the Watch in a pocket but i did not know in whose pocket the stolen Watch was found that day because I searched your pockets while i also had my eyes closed.”

In Life, we need wisdom for everything we do. As Parents, Teachers, Pastors, Leaders etc. We should be able to close our eyes to some things. Not all misbehaviour require punishment. Some will need encouragement, some mentoring and some monitoring.

BE A LEADER WHO IMPACTS , NOT ONE WHO SHATTERS.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. – The Holy Bible

THE INFLUENCES OF MOVIES

Movies / Cinema – It was started for Entertainment & Social Re-formations. But today it’s purpose has been shattered.

  1. Movies are mostly a myth, or someone’s wild imaginations.
  2. Movies are Seducing and attractive.
  3. Even if it seems like , a movie is teaching us something, It doesn’t change anyone’s Life.
  4. The Actors who play the “so called” characters of the story are not the original Protagonists of the Movie.
  5. It is a Job of an Actor & An Income for his Living.
  6. People spend their time and money to watch it , and loose their Souls to Negative Influence.
  7. Movies Provoke Lust and Pushes us into Sin , Mostly the Women are Glamorized in songs , Costumes and Acting.
  8. The viewers who captures the unwanted Glamorized version of Women, Violence or Style with their eyes, can have worse consequences in life.
  9. Movies Enslave everyone.
  10. It was not created by God , It was created by the World, So it won’t Glorify our God.

I do not have the Rights to write and Post it to this world , But the Children of God should be Freed from the Clutches of Movie Addiction.

THE BEAUTY OF SMALL-TALK

Small Talk Isn’t Really About Talking

When you first meet someone your job isn’t to blow them away with your brilliant conversation skills. If you can, then great. But don’t feel pressured to be Mr or Ms Profound with someone you barely know. In the early stages of conversation, your job is to send and to look for those subtle signals that tell you someone is comfortable with you, and open to moving beyond light conversation. The small talk phase is all about body language. People waste so much time trying to come up with interesting topics to talk about, but it almost doesn’t matter what you say, as long as it’s light, polite and politically correct. The conversation part of small talk is really just a very small part of the bigger picture. What matters more here is how you act, how warm you appear, how much charisma you exude and how interested you seem in the other person. The truth is small talk isn’t supposed to be captivating, it’s just an excuse for two people to throw empty words at each other long enough to get a good feel for each other’s energy. Are you cool? Do you like me? Are you psychologically stable? Are you going to stab me if I turn around to reach for my drink? These are the kind of questions subconsciously running through a strangers head when you initiate conversation for the first time. So don’t worry so much about finding interesting topics of conversation, just smile, stand up straight, ask a lot of questions and try not to nod too much (it’ll make you look too eager).

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. – The Holy Bible

THE ART OF FLEXIBILITY

How Being “Flexible” Will Change Your Life?

There a good many of us who really don’t like change and we certainly don’t like to have our plans or our routines interrupted. It can even make us feel somehow insecure when the things we are used to doing or the way we are used to doing them suddenly change. Adversity: illness, children growing up and leaving the nest, best friends moving away or having to move can all be unsettling at the least and even traumatizing in the extreme.

And then there is our personality or our temperament. Some of us may be more rigid than others. Some of us don’t deal well with conflict or “messy” personalities at work or school. Some of us panic if things change too much in our environment. Others prefer to crawl into their “cave” rather than have to deal with difficult situations. 

There are a number of positive outcomes from being an “adaptable/flexible” person:

  1. It Increases the Trust that Others Have in Us : When we are able to adapt to new situations or changing circumstances, it is reassuring to others when we are able to flow with the change and not ball up in a panic. Others will see us as a stable ship that is not tossed every which way by the changing winds. They will put more trust in someone they can count on to be present and stable no matter what happens.
  2. It Helps Us to Adapt to the Ups and Downs of Change More Easily : Being a flexible or adaptable person helps us to take life messiness with a grain of salt. With this skill or trait, we are not bound by our perceptions or thoughts, but we can adjust the way we think and change our expectations accordingly, the ups and downs of life or the hills and valleys will not have as much of a devastating impact on us because we accept and move forward.
  3. We Become Better at Taking Initiative : Being an adaptable person also means that we are more willing to take risks and open up conversations. We are more willing to try and more willing to fail. It becomes a lifestyle eventually because by taking initiatives and risks, we become more confident and empowered. It is liberating and exciting. Being a flexible person willing to try new things sets us free from being locked into the same old, same old.
  4.  We Develop More Confidence in Ourselves and Our Abilities : As stated earlier, having a flexible mindset can help us to be more confident in ourselves and abilities. This confidence comes from being willing to let go of our routines and step out of our comfort zone to explore new zones. The more we are willing to try and fail, the more we will develop our confidence.
  5. We Develop an Increased Capacity for Creativity : Increased creativity goes right along with a flexible mindset.  A flexible person is not held down by “the way we have always done things” and are open to new ideas and creating new ways of doing things. More and more organizations are seeking out people who are creative and willing to explore new possibilities.

 Flexibility is a fine line.  When do we flex and when do we hold the line? We need to set limits, have boundaries and some semblance of structure and direction. Then, once these are in place, we can use our judgment as to when to bend and when to hold tight.

ANGER MANAGEMENT

STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU CALM DOWN

Failing to manage your anger can lead to a variety of problems like saying things you regret, yelling at your kids, threatening your co-workers, sending rash emails, developing health problems, or even resorting to physical violence. But not all anger issues are that serious. Instead, your anger might involve wasting time thinking about upsetting events, getting frustrated in traffic, or venting about work.

Managing your anger doesn’t mean never getting angry. Instead, it involves learning how to recognize, cope with, and express your anger in healthy and productive ways. Anger management is a skill that everyone can learn. Even if you think you have your anger under control, there’s always room for improvement.

Why Manage Anger?

Anger is an emotion that can range from mild irritation to intense rage. While many people categorize anger as a solely “negative emotion,” it can be positive. Angry feelings may spur you to stand up for someone or they may lead you to create social change.

But when left unchecked, angry feelings can lead to aggressive behavior like yelling at someone or damaging property. Angry feelings also may cause you to withdraw from the world and turn your anger inward, which can impact your health and well being. Anger becomes problematic when it’s felt too often or too intensely or when it’s expressed in unhealthy ways, which can take a toll physically, mentally, and socially. For this reason, anger management strategies can be beneficial and can help you discover healthy ways to express your feelings.

Anger Management Strategies

Your thoughts and behaviors can either fuel your emotions or they can reduce them. So, if you want to shift your emotional state away from anger, you can change what you’re thinking and what you’re doing. Without fuel, the fire inside you will begin to dwindle and you’ll feel calmer.

  1. Identify Triggers – If you’ve gotten into the habit of losing your temper, take stock of the things that trigger your anger. Long lines, traffic jams, or snarky comments, are just a few things that might shorten your fuse.
  2. Evaluate Your Anger – Before you spring into action to calm yourself down, ask yourself if your anger is a friend or an enemy. If you’re witnessing someone’s rights being violated or you are in an unhealthy situation, your anger might be helpful.
  3. Step Away – Trying to win an argument or sticking it out in an unhealthy situation will only fuel your anger. One of the best things you can do when your anger is rising is to remove yourself from the situation if you can. When a conversation gets heated, take a break. Leave a meeting if you think you’re going to explode. Go for a walk if your kids upset you. A time-out can be key to helping you calm your brain and your body.
  4. Manage Your Thoughts – Angry thoughts add fuel to your anger. Thinking things like, “I can’t stand it. This traffic jam is going to ruin everything,” will increase your frustration. When you find yourself thinking about things that fuel your anger, reframe your thoughts.
  5. Explore Your Feelings – Sometimes it helps to take a moment and think about what emotions might be lurking beneath your anger. Anger often serves as a protective mask to help you avoid feeling more painful emotions, like embarrassment, sadness, and disappointment. When someone gives you feedback that’s hard to hear, for example, you might lash out in anger because you’re embarrassed. Convincing yourself the other person is bad for criticizing you might make you feel better in the moment because it keeps your embarrassment at bay. 

For many people, angry outbursts serve a purpose. Yelling at someone may get them to comply with your demands. But while aggressive behavior may get your needs met in the short term, there are long-term consequences. Your words might cause lasting damage to the relationship or even lead to its demise.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – The Holy Bible

TO BE PERFECT – YOU HAVE TO BE IN THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT

As a Church we might be tempted to think we can merely provide some biblical content and maybe some “how-to” tips and people should grow spiritually as a result.  But, more goes into helping people grow than providing knowledge. We also need an environment that is conducive to spiritual growth. Find out the Outcomes, if you are not placed in the Right Environment.

  1. If the Leader is not Right , The Followers will not be Right.
  2. If the Parents are not Right , The children’s won’t be Right.
  3. If the Teacher is not Right, The students won’t be Right.
  4. If the Pastor is not Right, The Believers won’t be Right.
  5. If the Rulers are not Right, The Authorities won’t be Right.
  6. If the Life Partner is not Right, Our Life won’t be Right.
  7. If you do not follow the Right Deity, Those who follow you won’t be able to reach Heaven.

Think , Where are you Positioned now? In the Right Environment or the Wrong Environment?

Find out and start Fixing. Your End Result will depend on Today’s Action.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. – Ephesians 4:15

WISE AS SERPENTS AND HARMLESS AS DOVES

To be wise as a serpent relates to being prudent, careful, and intelligent. It has the connotation of street-smart, or able to deal with the likely challenges or dangers of life in a potentially threatening place. To be harmless as doves has an association of gentleness and peace; but the Greek term also relates to purity, innocence, and simplicity.

Here are three ways to be both wise as serpents and harmless as doves:

  1. Relate: Invest time to befriend and build relationships with people where you live, work, study, and play. When we invest time to befriend and build a relationship we learn about people. We discover some of their interests, circumstances, triumphs, and tragedies. Wisdom helps us to create margin by making changes in our lives so that we can develop relationships.
  2. Respect: Doves evoke a sense of peace and gentleness. To be harmless as doves requires us to relate to our community with a gentle and humble spirit that displays respect. We are to respect people as God’s image bearers. We are called to listen and discover another person’s worldview with respect. Too often I have found myself not listening well or with respect. I can be talking with a person and interrupt them, or be rehearsing in my mind the rebuttal as they are speaking. Or perhaps trying to show the folly of their philosophy and my worldview is correct. If my motive is pure, to display God’s love to my neighbors where I live, work, study, and play, and not to simply reduce my interaction with a person to an evangelistic project then I’m more likely to display respect.
  3. Resist: Resist the rant (I’m aware of the irony of my rant about the rant). Ranting on social media, or any other platform, in regard to the perceived immorality of the unbelieving culture is generally neither wise nor harmless. The seduction of the rant is the tendency to be affirmed (i.e. likes on social media) by those who share your worldview. But it is unwise and harmful because it tends to repel the people we are called to reach. It seems wise and harmless to be known for Who and what we are for rather than predominantly known for what we are against.

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” – The Holy Bible

THE WORST OPPRESSION

What do you say to a man who constantly battles feelings of inferiority, thoughts of suicide, or habitually hearing voices telling him he’s a loser who will never measure up as a husband, dad, son, or child of God?

He tells you he’s prayed, fasted, memorized Scripture, and studied his Bible, but the ideas, accusations, and voices never release their paralyzing grip, at least not for very long.

Do you tell him he just needs rest? That it’s a chemical imbalance? Do you assume he’s schizophrenic because he says there are voices in his head? Or might this battle be something more than physiological or psychological? The Devil Accuses us and oppresses us in many ways, Let’s see some of his tactics.

  1. Listening to the Scriptures and realising it , but still he won’t allow you to dedicate yourself.
  2. Even if you dedicate yourself , He won’t allow you to Confess and Preach about him.
  3. He will not allow the Name of God to be Glorified.
  4. Paul declared himself to be the chief Sinner among all Sinners.
  5. David confessed that , I have sinned against the Lord.
  6. When Jesus himself said that no one is good , Except the God the Almighty.
  7. When Peter was Preaching, The peoples who were listening realised their sins and confessed, Then they asked What should we do ?

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Confess what you Know, Confess what you have learnt, Confess and Repent of your Past ways. Only then will the name of the Lord will be Glorified.

In the last two studies, we saw that there are very real unseen enemies and a battle in which we are engaged, whether we realise it or not. We also began to see who we are and the authority and power that God has given us through the cross of Christ. The Lord has not left us unequipped for this battle. He has given us all that we need to take our place in the fight and be victorious against our foe. As Christians, we are called to wage war against the enemy whether we see ourselves as spiritual warriors or not. If we are to fulfil the Great Commission to preach the gospel to the world and to make disciples of all nations, we will have opposition. Although there are different gifts and callings in the Body of Christ, we are all drawn into this cosmic conflict and called to be victorious with Christ. No one is left out of the battle.

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