10/32 Life’s Strategies in Forgiveness and Hearing God

FB Life StratiesThe person you most need to stand up to in this world is you. In the war called “life”, most of the decisive battles are fought within you.   Once you learn ‘the rules of the game’, we can learn to get what we need and want. Learn how to plan the game and you will be amazed at the difference in your own life.  

The following are a brief summary of the 9 ‘Life Laws’ or basic rules that govern our universe and human behaviour from the book by Dr. Philip C. McGraw called Life Strategies.

Life Law #1 – “You must get real with yourself!”

Ask the hard questions: “Am I really headed where I want to go?” “Is what I have settled for out of being safe, easy or not as scary to get what I really want?” “Am I taking life as it is – just because it has always been that way?” “What would I like to see changed?”

If nothing else remember, you are accountable for your own life.

Most people have cheated themselves out of the life that God wanted to given them – by settling for less than they are worth. We also cheat ourselves by not looking at the real issues and asking the hard questions. Determine right now to let the rest of humanity live in the fog of self-deception and you (and God) will change your life.

The first common tendency for all of us is denial. We can fixate on what should be, what ought to be or who to blame without dealing with the facts as they really are. Yes, you do not always have a choice in life but how your handle your own reactions and see your choices is up to you.

The next most common behaviour pattern is to make faulty assumptions about others or the situation. Such assumptions cannot stand the test of truth or accuracy.   If we assume that the world is a logical, safe place and always act accordingly, we will find ourselves in a lot of pain.

The third common pattern we must face for change to happen is our own inertia, a paralysis usually caused by fear or denial. Sometimes this shows up in ignorance or in people who have an “I can’t be bothered…” attitude. Minimizing, rationalizing or using the long list of ‘shoulds’ come into this pattern. Most often we use our well-worn coping methods to get us past the crisis. This is often a form of ‘deceptive masking’, the “stiff upper lip”, or ‘I’ll tough it out’ kind of thinking.

When we choose the behaviour, we also choose the consequence. By choosing any of these 4 common reactions patterns we are also choosing the consequences of failing to reach our goals —– again. We must face the issues, strip away the excuses and get into the frame of mind to deal with the issues without all the psychobabble self-defeating behaviour.

If you answer yes to any of the following symptoms, the task ahead of you includes facing these 4 self-defeating patterns and finding answers.

 1. Are you suffering lingering guilt, frustration or depression?2. Living with financial burdens you can’t manage?3. Living a lonely existence with little hope for change?

4. Living in a comfort zone that yields too little challenge?

5. Facing life that offers you too little of what you do want and too much of what you don’t want?

5. Living in a fantasy world in which you think you are bulletproof when in fact your actions entail possible risks?

6. Consistently railing in pursuit of your goals?

7. Just ‘going through the motions’ of your life without passion, no plan or no goals?

8. Trudging zombie like through a dead or unchallenging career?

9. Silently enduring an emotionally barren life or marriage?

10. Stuck in a rut and not getting what you want out of life?

11. Capable of more than you are accomplishing?

12. Frustrated that you are not making more money in your job or career?

By learning better life strategies, you can stop your part of the problem. Knowing the laws that govern your behaviour and those around you will help deal with your life’s circumstances. Change your behaviour and change will happen. Resolve even now to take responsibility for your own life and deeper issues. Recognise your limitations, yes but see the possibilities to find a more meaningful life in the long run.

There never is a ‘good time for change’; now is the time to change. If you can say “I have had it! I am sick of this!” The game begins right now. The past is gone but you have today. Use the measuring stick of whether the patterns of your life are ‘working or not working’. It isn’t a matter of ‘being worthy of change’ or even the ‘rights and wrongs’ of being allowed to change. It isn’t a matter of luck or good genes.

At least for a time, consider, be prepared and actually do something different in your ‘normal’ routine. You can always go back to your ‘old routine’ later. Have a special journey on hand to record your journey, what you have learned and what you wish to change.

Life Law #2: “You either get it or you don’t.”

By getting real with yourself, taking time to understand your own inner thinking and behaviour, you can determine to develop a life strategy to sort out your life issues. Give yourself the gift of time to understand yourself, to gain the necessary information and skills to change your life and then, work on habit patterns that keep you stuck. Concentrate and pay attention to living. Aim to understand the fundamental rules of your behaviour and then, practice, practice, practice.

If you are like most people, we didn’t learn like skills from our family of origin or from good role models, our education background or from our social organizations. These essential skills come only with the determination to learn and apply what you have learned. Wisdom – the wise use of information – is not begotten only learned. Learning how to get what you need in life is important …. Right?

Be careful of where you get input into your learning these life skills. Everyone has an opinion; everyone thinks they know the best for you. Learn the rules of the game from those who know the game.   Just like with your work place or any system, you have to know the rules, know the system and most importantly, your own responses and reactions to that system. Understand the ‘push and pull’ of life, your own and other’s behaviour. The ‘good life’ doesn’t just happen. Understanding and using the power of knowledge and wisdom can change your life. The lack of knowledge can cripple and stunt your life as well.

The wise Turtle philosophy goes something like this:

 “Before your life can go in the right direction, you have to pull your head out and stop going in the wrong direction.”

“If your life is going to get better around here, you have to be involved. Pray to God but row for the shore.”

Remember the four conditions of the human race:

“If you know that you know, become the leader God intended.

“If you know that you don’t know, find someone to teach you.

“If you don’t know that you know,

“If you don’t know that you don’t know, life’s hard knocks will have to teach you.

Life Law #3: “You create your own experience.”

questions coupleWhen you begin to acknowledge and accept the accountability for your own life, you will begin to understand that your role in creating the results you want in yours and God’s hands. As an adult, you have the responsibility in your hands. No matter what your life’s circumstances, you can no longer dodge the fact of your own input into where you are today.

If we haven’t learned to take responsibility, we will misdiagnose every problem. If we get the diagnose wrong, we will get the treatment wrong and end up with another broken expectation. Resisting or denying this basic principle keeps us in the realm of fantasy as the victim of life.

There is more than one way to be a victim:

  1. You can assist someone in being mean or unfair to you by being passive and accepting his or her abuse,
  2. Or if you can believe that you are right and those who disagree with you are wrong, therefore the fault is not yours when conflict continues.

Either way, the fact is that you have control over many situations that are happening and the emotions that are being generated. You must be willing to ‘own the problem’ and actively work toward a solution. Quit looking for the answers in the wrong place.

However, just determining that you want to change from now on is only part of the solution. Realise that as an adult, you have already and always have been creating your own experience in your life. Realise that how you did behave and the choices you made in the past influence where you are today. Spend time ‘reframing reality’ to make it accurate by reassigning responsibility for your past – to you.

At the heart of human nature is the tendency to blame others. If we set out to find what causes our problems by looking at other people, we’ll never find the answers – because they aren’t there. They’re in you. No, you may not always be to blame for these ‘problems’ but you are now ‘responsible’. As one person has pointed out, “You did what you knew how to do and, when you knew better, you did better.”

True, events that happened to you as a child were not your choosing. Nor are we ‘responsible’ for the traumatic events there were done ‘to us’ as adults. However, as an adult now, you do have the ability and the responsible for your choices about these events.

Your thoughts greatly influence your behaviour too.

  1. Choosing thoughts and their consequences connect with your physical body. Abstract thoughts have the power to produce tangible and dramatic physiological reactions for your whole body.
  2. Choosing thoughts that demean and de-appreciate yourself has consequences. If you choose thoughts contaminated with anger and bitterness, you will create an experience of alienation, isolation and hostility.
  3. The self-talk we continue in our mind about ourselves also causes consequences. Such typical negative statements might include:

“I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I might as well give up now. They’ll soon figure how what a failure I am and reject me. I’m too young/too old to do this.”

When you chose the thinking, you choose the behaviour.   The ‘Law of Reciprocity’ simply put means that ‘you get what you give’. This helps explain why others and the world respond to you the way that it does.

As you think through the process of change in your own life, consciously, purposefully and actively create the experiences that you do want, instead of suffering through experiences that you don’t want. Even not choosing to respond means you have chosen. Overcome the inertia and see how you do make choices.

The law of sowing and reaping is part of that accountability too. It means that as you choose, as you plant new behaviours, you will find a different result in your own life.

Because you are accountable for your actions, you also have the choice to do something about such events; that is the good news. For every choice you make, there are consequences. If you choose destructive behaviours, you reap pain and dysfunction. Choosing well means a better life now and in the future.

Life Law #4: Understanding Payoffs – “People do what works.”

Understanding and working with the concept of personal payoff might take some concentration. More…..

At the heart of this principle is the statement: “The behaviour you choose creates the results you get.” In trying to understand why we do what we do or why others do what they do, we need to look at why someone is doing the behaviour in the first place.

There must be some positive reward for any behaviour to continue. Otherwise, another behaviour replaces the first, unrewarded behaviour. As you change behaviour, you change results. If you do different, you will have different. No matter how strange or illogical the behaviour seem to be, there has to be some ‘payoff’ for the behaviour to continue. Whether you ‘want to want to do it’, you do it.

This is the basic principle behind training animals, except that it happened to you during your childhood. hearing shell1abReflect on a child’s early years. They are punished for doing wrong and rewarded for doing right. Sounds simple but this is how behaviour patterns begin and continue into adult years. Even people who abuse children or enjoy a masochist lifestyle learned such behaviours through a sick but logical progression of rewards and punishments.

As you seek to understand why you behave in certain ways, the concepts of ‘payoffs’ need to be understood. The hardest behaviours to spot are those automatic behaviours, those started in childhood which provided some protective, escape mechanism, abandonment. These are harder to identify and see what the ‘payoff’ is – but there will be some payoff going on. These destructive behaviours need concentration and time to sort our what is the cause-and-effort connections in your life now.

These ‘payoffs’ exist in everyone’s life. ‘Payoffs’ act powerfully to condition you to repeat the behaviour that brings about the desired payoffs repeatedly. Payoffs are highly influential in driving behaviours.

The most common payoffs systems include:

  1. Monetary payoffs – you work to have money to get what you want.
  2. Spiritual payoffs – behaviours which provide the payoff of peace, a sense of rightness, knowing God and healthy morality,
  3. Physical safety and security payoffs,
  4. Psychological payoffs – behaviours build around the payoffs of acceptance, approval, praise, love, companionship, greed, punishment or fulfilment.
  5. Physical payoffs – behaviours that contribute to physical health, such as good nutrition and exercise, sleep, proper weight management, etc.
  6. Achievement payoffs – a feeling of accomplishment, recognition from others, an inner awareness of a job well done.
  7. Social payoffs – feeling part of a group, of belonging as a contributor or leader.


You can be blind to the impact of your payoff system.   Payoffs can even be the support system behind behaviours you don’t want. We can be blind to our own payoffs as not all payoffs are obvious. For example, someone might be saying that they are lonely yet staying at home night after night. Not being with others means that person is escaping the anxiety that can come with the fear of being rejected by others. Which is the greater payoff? Sometimes, one’s payoffs prevail only because it is the path of least resistance. The person is getting some kind of reward for their behaviour patterns – even destructive, self sabotage.

How do we find these payoffs. First, devote some time to identifying the behaviours, choices of thoughts you want to eliminate. Then ask yourself “What am I getting out of this? What is my payoff, healthy or otherwise?”

Once you have identified the sustaining payoffs, you can target those consequences for change.

Begin by identifying 5 of the most frustrating and persistence negative behavioural patterns of situations in your life. Be thorough in your description of each. For each one, identify the specific behaviour, describe the pattern and try to put into words the degree or intensity. Next, write down two or three sentences as to why you find this behaviour negative.   For each of the patterns, do you best to find out the payoff that is feeding and maintaining this negative behavioral patterns.

The payoff is usually the ‘comfort’ that comes from avoiding the risk and the fear of rejection. Sometimes, the payoff is because “It’s easier not to…”, taking the path of least resistance. Also the pull of the immediate reward versus delayed gratification come into play. When you choose the behaviour, your see the consequences so when you choose the ‘right now’, you reap the reward of ‘right now’ versus sowing for the time to come.`

Most payoffs involve relieving or avoiding serious pain, or minimise the fear and anxiety of potential pan, These can be as addictive as the most powerful drugs.

Life Law #5: “You can’t change what you won’t acknowledge.”

Learn to take the responsibility to be truthful to yourself. What is working and what is not working in woman with ipadyour life? If you don’t take ownership for your role in your own life, no one else can – or will. Acknowledge your own self-destructive behaviour patterns. When you are motivated to get better, you can identify your problems and know where to focus your efforts.

Avoiding painful subjects will not make the subject go away! If you deceived yourself about the issues, you will not get the results you want. Denial in its many forms can kill you. It is not too late to fix what needs fixing but … time slips away from us. Determine to act now.

All humans have a self-protective defence system, which helps us determine what we can handle and what we do not want to face.   Allowing others to see these ‘blind spots’ can be productive in resolving conflict styles. Acknowledge the existence of a problem and your part in keeping the problem going. Find the ‘payoff’ for your behaviour. You cannot heal what you do not acknowledge.

Life Law #6: “Life rewards action.”

When you chose the behaviour, you choose the consequenseques. Therefore, the better the choices, the better the results. Start by measuring what is happening in your life by the results you see, rather than on your intentions. The different between winners and losers is that winner do the things that losers don’t want to do. To get different results, you begin by doing differently than you have in the past. You are now on notice that you can chose what you want different in the future – now.   Start affirming and choosing the right behaviours to get the right consequences – now.  Remember it all start with renewing your mind and seeing yourself as Jesus does!

Excerpts adapted from the writings of Dr. Phillip C. Mcgraw. Life Strategies – Stop Making Excuses, Vermilion Publishers, London, 1999.

Susanne Fengler, Blog Author

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