Do You Ever Feel Like a Fraud?

Five ways to get back on top of your game

Woman looking in the mirror

Do you ever feel like the world’s worst parent? The employee who really doesn’t know what you’re doing? The entrepreneur who is faking it more than making it? The musician, athlete, artist, diaper-changer who can’t imagine that you have anything good to offer others? I sure do.

I have intense moments of crippling self-doubt. Moments of sheer exhaustion from the energy it takes to keep moving forward. Moments of abject fear that everyone will realize what a fraud I am. The kind of moments that make me want to stop doing the hard thing.

Its a fair bet to say that everyone can speak to these exact same feelings at some time or another. Those who can’t are sleeping. 😉 AND although no one knows everything, to call ourselves a fraud is beyond extreme.

So, what do we do in those times to keep moving forward? To conquer the fear? To shore up the tired heart and find the energy and faith we need to keep doing life?

I know the right things to do. The key is to get ’em done. Sometimes I just need a reminder. The next time you find yourself in the throes of giving up, try a couple of these.

Phone a friend. Call up someone in your raving fan club. You’ve got at least one. Your spouse, best friend, mother. Call and let them know what’s going on. Ask them to do what they do best – encourage you. Leaning on your support system is essential in times like this.

Meet up. Send the text or email that asks someone to make time in their day to connect with you. Your people will always make time, especially when they know what’s behind the invitation. It may not be immediate, but even looking forward to the occasion will raise your spirits. We are designed for community. Let your needs be known so others may have the blessing of meeting them. The scriptures say it well, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Exercise. Activate your body. Get the blood flowing. Faulty thinking is usually the problem in fraud-like thinking. Take time to create the endorphins and serotonin your brain needs to clear the cob webs and get you thinking clearly again. Go for a walk, with or without the dog. Do some yoga or calisthenics. Push the wall. The options are limitless.

Pray. Taking time to pray or meditate on the truths of your faith can make the most difference to the spirit that just can’t do it alone anymore. Start with a favorite verse for inspiration and encouragement. Here’s a good one: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

Be your own best friend. Its common that when these doubts and fears plague us, we know the truth in our heads, but our hearts don’t seem to get the message. So, talk to yourself like you would your best friend. You would remind them of what is true – they are working hard, they have great value to offer, they are NOT a fraud. Sometimes you need the same message spoken by one who knows.

As quickly as we can go from the top of the mountain to the bottom, we can also recover from the fall. Taking time to connect with others and the reality of who you are, will get you back on the right track. If today you aren’t facing these feelings, spend a few minutes making your emergency list for the future. Knowing who you can call and what you can do when times are hard will put you ahead of the game.

There are so many ways to calm fear and boost our confidence. What works for you? Who is the first person you would call for encouragement?

Even Them??

Cross on a hill at sunrise

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16

This year Easter comes early. Of course, the days slide by so quickly for me that I’m not sure I would have noticed had not people mentioned it repeatedly. Regardless, I find that I have to purposely hit the pause button so that I can think and be mindful of the reason we celebrate. As a long-time Believer in the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for me, it’s easy to take this remembrance for granted. But, this year He has orchestrated specific events just so I will be forced to think again of what Easter means.

Yesterday, I was listening to the local Christian radio station on my drive in to work. And the DJs said this, “blah, blah, blah, He came to save everyone, blah, blah, blah.” Everyone? Yes, everyone. Although most of us will speak this with our lips, believing it in our hearts is often more of a struggle than we would like to admit.

It’s easy to accept this premise when evil stays away. When the people who offend us are on the television, or across the ocean, or in another city, or maybe a distant memory of our past, it is easy – or maybe just easier – to accept. We can muster the grace to say, “Yes, He came for everyone. Even them.” Even the ones we despise.

But when evil and wickedness knock on our front door, or even worse, kick it down, push past the threshold and destroy what we hold dear, it is harder to remember. Sometimes, it seems impossible to be true.

It is then that I find myself asking these questions: Did you come to save the mean, conniving coworker? Even her? Yes, is the quiet whisper. What about the playboy who uses women for his own pleasure? Even him? Yes. And the crazy man who takes pleasure in scaring women and children? Even him? Yes. Surely, you don’t mean to save the abuser? The cheater? The liar? Even them? Yes. Yes. Yes. What about the brazen thief who violates the sanctuary to take what doesn’t belong to him? Yes. Just like the one who hung next to me on the cross. Oh! And have you come to save the woman who despises, judges and condemns in the secrecy of her heart? Even her? Yes, Beloved, even her. Especially her.

Erin, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of god.” Romans 3:23   Yes, Lord, all.

My precious one, “it is by grace we are saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9   Yes, Father, grace.

Yesterday, I said, “I want to be THAT person. The one whose response to suffering shows not the anger and resentment and bitterness of my humanity, but instead the love and peace and grace of Christ.” And yesterday He gave me a chance. For small suffering. And slight offense. But a chance for my selfish, entitled, scared heart to look for His face in the midst of the suffering.

He says to that heart, “a new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Erin, Beloved, I came to save you. And him. And her. And them. Forgive them, “not seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:22

When we come face to face with wickedness, our response ultimately must be one of forgiveness. Because we are no better than they. Sure, we may fight harder at times. But the truth remains that He came for each one of us. Each one of His children, whether we are for Him or against Him. We are all equally valuable to the Father. THAT is the mystery and the hope and the redemption and the glory of Easter.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9

Hallelujah! He is Risen!

Help You? Help Me?

Is it always better to give than to receive?

A young girl and a young woman helping each other across the stream

Four times in the past two weeks I’ve come face to face with the topic of helping. Do you ask for or accept help when you need it?

My friend, Molly, is a pretty independent woman. She told me recently about how she experienced debilitating illness several years ago. Debilitating to the point that she could not remain independent. Debilitating to the extent that if she didn’t ask for help, she might not eat. Or work. Or even get out of bed. It was in this time of her life that Molly learned the importance of relying on, depending on, and needing others. It was a hard lesson to learn.

Sometimes it takes a hard hit to be convinced that we actually do need people.

Larry Crabb, author of the book Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Path to Joy addresses this very concept. He starts with the following verse: “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” ~ Luke 18:17

In application, Crabb suggests that Jesus meant something like the following, “‘Nobody is more needy and has less to give than an infant…they are takers through and through, not only because they are selfish (though they are) but because they are helpless. Be like that! You are helpless, so admit it. Learn to receive what you cannot provide for yourself.'” He goes on to write, “The truth is we don’t much like being dependent. We don’t enjoy admitting how desperately we long for someone’s kindness and involvement.” Why is that?

Sometimes it’s about fear. The fear that if I ask, I will be rejected. And most of us don’t think that we can handle that. Or maybe it’s about perfectionism. We believe that others won’t complete the task to our standards. We elevate perfection above need. Or perhaps we don’t want to impose. We decide for others what they can and want to give. Centrally, we believe that we don’t deserve their help. Hmm.

Somewhere along the way we have been taught to believe that to need is weakness. And to be strong means we can do it all on our own. So much so, that we have developed a new word for it: “needy” – to be weak, pathetic, and less than.  I’m not sure where this came from, but I think we have it backwards. What if another reason we struggle to ask for or accept offered help has to do with vulnerability and consequently, humility?

When we accept that we are not designed to meet all of our own needs, we can embrace our limitations. We realize in the depth of our soul that we will never be enough. That we must rely on another, actually, many others, to survive in this difficult world. And on a soul level, to experience our deepest needs has the ability to point us to the only ONE who can meet them.

Crabb says, “we DESPERATELY LONG for someone’s kindness and involvement.” Sigh. I believe that is true. The cry of our heart is to be loved. And yet we are afraid to make that known. But the Good News is that choosing to have the courage to ask for what we need can bring us the blessings we hope for in this life.

In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Ah, the courage and the blessing.

Do you love to help others? Do you find pleasure in doing for little ones, disabled ones and old ones what they cannot do for themselves? Do you experience joy in using your talents to help someone who struggles? If so, consider that you are depriving someone else of that same joy by not making your own needs known.

And my friend Molly? All these years later, Molly looks for people like her – those who need help and don’t ask. She finds great joy in giving because she knows the blessing of receiving. Last month Molly’s friend called and thanked her for babysitting when she went through a terrible divorce – seven years earlier. There’s no statute of limitations on gratitude. Molly knows the depth of it.

Like the little child, we are all helpless.

What keeps you from asking for help? Do you have another reason other than what is written here? Have you learned how to ask for and graciously receive help?

Envision Yourself Accomplishing It

How to Turn None Into Done

Woman in Ski Goggles Dreaming

Brian Tracy, best-selling author and world class speaker, wrote in his book, Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, “Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.” Tracy goes on to say, “Your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.”

I love this analogy. And I love Tracy’s book on productivity. BUT, loving something, understanding it, resonating with a concept, does not success create. What moves us from intention to fulfillment is action. So, the question remains, “But how? I don’t like frogs. Bleh! It’s too hard. I don’t have what it takes. I’m tired…” The list goes to infinity and beyond.

What moves us from intention to fulfillment is action. ~ Erin K. Robison Click To Tweet

Long before I knew who Brian Tracy was, I learned a lesson that helps me take that first scary step toward finishing the FROG.

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Six Things Single Women Can STOP Waiting For

Live Your Fullest Life Now!

Woman Standing on the Train Platform Waiting

With Valentine’s Day upon us, many singles are beginning to feel a familiar longing for that special someone. In the meantime, we sometimes find ourselves waiting. And not just for that person, but to start living. We have put life on hold, thinking that it will begin when a particular milestone is reached. Well, here are six things that you CAN stop waiting for. And start living now!

1. Marriage – I personally believe we are designed to share our lives with another in the covenant of marriage. But waiting around for it in order to be alive is like Rudy waiting for four years to play THE LAST PLAY IN THE LAST GAME of his college career. Who knows what great things he could have been doing in the meantime?!? And as my sister says, “Better to be single and wish you were married, than married and wish you weren’t.” Be awesome where you are!!

2. The Perfect Man – He doesn’t exist. And he never will. Sometimes we miss out on wonderful opportunities because we are waiting for perfection. Be honest about what your must-haves are and then allow yourself to be open to the BEST man, not the fairy tale prince who exists only in stories.

Woman walking on the trail3. The Perfect Body – Not everyone can grow beautiful locks like Jennifer Aniston. And only a few of us are paid to spend our days developing the perfect body like Sandra Bullock. What’s true is that we are just regular girls, who should be excited about regular guys, who will definitely be thrilled with regular girls. So let yourself off the hook. Eat well, move your muscles and get enough sleep so that you can be your BEST you!

4. More Time – Face it, it is a scientific, inarguable fact that each person living on this planet has 24 hours in one day, seven days in one week and 52 weeks in one year, with an undetermined number of years on this planet. It is true that single women have to do everything in their lives without the benefit of a partner to share the load. The solution? Love each other. Help each other. Share the burdens. Be in community. Trade services. And most importantly, create margin in your life for all the unexpected and fun things that come up. Enjoy the surprises!

A woman climbing onto a horse. 5. The Knight in Shining Armor – What woman hasn’t wished, at some sad, lonely or hard time in her life for a man to ride up on his White Horse and carry her off into the sunset? To a palace where she doesn’t have to work or worry or fret another day in her life. Remember the fairy tales? They are not true. What IS true is the only one who will ever rescue you from this world is your Heavenly Father. And as your Knight, He will be with you in the MIDST of the hard times. Look for Him and the people He has put in your life to support you when things get tough. And then get out your riding boots and go in search of others who need your help.

6. Children – Many, many women long for children of their own. We are created to nurture and care for those who cannot do for themselves. Children are a blessing from Him. But don’t forget the responsibility and energy they require. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. So, rather than sit around and bemoan the fact that you don’t have your own, be a blessing to a child whose mom needs a little help loving them well – even if just for that day. Find the nieces, nephews, students, Little Sisters, CASA kids, nursery babies, Sunday school children, and foster kids who just need someone to pinch hit. Use the gifts and talents you have and the freedom in your not-tied-down schedule to love THESE kids well. Both of you will be blessed beyond measure.

Don’t let a day on the calendar steal your joy! Make your own special days, doing fun things and sharing the gifts that only you can!!

The Glory of God is man fully alive. ~ St. Irenaeus

 

What have you learned to stop waiting for? How has this been a blessing in your life? What will you do to celebrate special days in fun and different ways? Oh, and…

Don't Forget to be AWESOME

Energy Wasters

Ready To Go Green?

Several years ago, when I was working in the schools, I stopped by a friend’s classroom at the end of the day to catch up. As we were chatting, he was moving around the room cleaning up. At one point, he stopped, picked up a spoon and said, “This is an energy waster. Out it goes.” and dropped it in the trash. I about fell over. It was a real spoon. Why would he throw it away? And what was an energy waster??

I asked. He answered. “An energy waster is that thing that every time you see it you think, ‘I need to do something about that’, but you never do. So it just uses your mental and emotional energy over and over again.” Hmmm. Quite a concept.

Can you think of things in your life that continue to use your energy with no payoff? For my friend, he had been looking at that spoon for weeks, always thinking that he needed to return it to it’s rightful location – which was not his classroom. And after all that time, he decided that spoon wasn’t worth the energy he was spending thinking about it OR the energy it would take to return it and so into the trash it went.

This concept has revolutionized my life. There is great freedom to be found when you can see something as a waste of energy and then eliminate it. That paintbrush that’s been sitting on the counter for weeks. The one screw that needs to be put away. The shirt that just needs the button sewed on. The broken vase that actually won’t be easy to fix. The email flooding your inbox. When the light bulb goes off and you can call a spade a spade, you are able to commit to get it done! Whatever it might be. #maybeaspoonSilver spoon over white.

It’s definitely hard for me sometimes, don’t be fooled. I grew up with a deeply bred value of not wasting anything. So throwing away something that could actually be repaired or repurposed feels wasteful. The irony is that in trying NOT to be wasteful, I’ve been wasting MY OWN ENERGY. Sheesh! Time to end the cycle, don’t you think?

In the meantime, I have come to accept that some things really are trash. So, out they go!! Hurray!! And allowed others to be donated to someone who does want to spend the energy doing the refurbish. The best part is that all the keepers – those little things that sit out waiting to be put away or the tasks that just need a little finishing – get done a lot faster now. Energy efficiency at its finest.

I was able to share the energy waster concept with a client recently. She had a broken picture frame to be returned to the store. It had been sitting on her table for weeks. And every time she saw it she felt stressed, annoyed and ashamed. “I really need to exchange that. What a pain. I should have returned it weeks ago.” What a waste of good energy!

Mountain Top HurrayFor her, this was equally freeing. In fact, she immediately announced, “I don’t need to hear anything else today. This is a game changer!” I could see the wheels turning as she thought about all the things in her life that were energy wasters. Her excitement to eliminate unnecessary output was contagious. Score!

Game changer indeed. Each time I recognize those little zappers, I’m thankful for the wisdom of my friend. 🙂

What are the energy wasting spoons in your life? What other bits of wisdom have you been given that have been your game changers?

What Does It Mean to Be An Encourager?

Five Ways to Champion Your People

A man helping another up the mountain

Sometime in my twenties, I started thinking about encouragement. My guess is that it was the result of a bible study I was part of. Regardless, I remember a time when I did not think about encouragement and a time when I began to. I think the question that started it all was something like this, “who encourages you?” or maybe, “where do you find encouragement?” or even, “how do you encourage others?”

The question has remained with me for the last 20 years. #cough #iliketothinkilookyounger As a result of my pondering, I came to the realization that 1. I am not a particularly encouraging person and 2. I have friends who are natural born encouragers. Discovering that about myself and recognizing the characteristic in others was a pivotal moment in my life. I recognized just how meaningful this gift was when I was the recipient and determined that I could learn how to do it better.

As a school counselor, I would teach my students about the importance of encouragement. I would say, “to encourage others means to fill them with courage, so that they can do what it is they might fear.” This resonates with children. They want to love each other and they certainly understand fear. And for me. To just say those words creates an energy in me that is in itself uplifting. Because things scare me. And I need help to be brave.

To encourage others means to fill them with courage, so that they can do what it is they fear. Click To Tweet

In writing this post, I decided to see what the dictionary has to say about encouragement. Here are some of the synonyms I found: hearten, cheer, buoy up, uplift, inspire, motivate, spur on, fire up, stimulate, invigorate, vitalize, embolden, fortify, rally, support, help, champion, promote, further, foster, nurture, cultivate, strengthen, boost, fuel, persuade, coax, urge, influence. Don’t you just love those words!?! Do they fire you up like they do me?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”                          ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I don’t think one person would disagree that to encourage others is a necessary and good thing. So, if you are like me, and you have to learn how to do this better, where do you start?

It seems as if encouragement often shows up as the friend who knows you are going through a hard time and calls to check on you, the sibling who answers your midnight phone call and talks you down off the proverbial ledge, the colleague who notices the effort that went into your presentation and commends you for it, the parent who recognizes how much you improved even if you didn’t win, or maybe the sweetheart who reminds you of why they chose you when rejection looms. Do any of these sound familiar? Are you thinking of a thousand more examples?

Although I can and do do these kinds of things for others, I realized that a true encourager does them without effort. There is a giving of their heart that seems to focus only on the pain you are suffering or joy you feel and not their own agenda. The hurdle I strive to overcome is that of realist, or fixer. I find that I get distracted by looking forward instead of staying in the present. In counseling or parenting or relationship building we call that attunement. To be attuned to the feelings and affect of others gives us opportunity to connect on a deep level, to offer comfort, to love well.

Think for a minute about the people in your life. Who do you turn to when the world goes topsy-turvy? Who would you ask to be with you in a crisis? What is it about them that is so comforting? Are they an encourager? What qualities do they have that we can practice?

Here are five things my own encourager role models do that we can all learn.

1. Listen well. Encouragers listen to discover what it is their friend is experiencing. Then they speak to that feeling or experience, hurt or need.
2. Focus on your friend. People who are encouraging have learned how to set aside their own agenda. They stay in the moment, attuning to the person with whom they want to connect and hearten. #lovethatword
3. Notice people. Encouragers have a special knack for noticing people. But this is something we can all learn. It is about paying attention and making a point to remember things about others so that we can speak to who they are. Encouragers have a way of saying “I see you!” This is powerful!! Here are a few more ideas on noticing.
4. Be intentional. Making a decision to communicate hope and courage to others is a wonderful first step in encouraging. Commit to find one person every day who can be encouraged by your words and attention to them.
5. Don’t discriminate. Encouragement isn’t just for people who are struggling. Remember to offer words and gestures that inspire, spur on, embolden, fortify, champion and nurture people when they are up, down or somewhere in the middle. Fill them with the courage they need to continue down the path.

If you have been blessed by encouraging friends and family, or maybe you have experienced a lack of encouragement in hard times, how has that impacted you? What have you been told was an encouragement to someone else? What is one example of how you have been encouraged by another? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how this plays out in your own life.

#thankyouJulesandMelforalltheencouragement