Have you ever noticed yourself becoming irritated, only to be puzzled later as to why you were bothered? Have you reacted to a person or situation, wishing instead you had responded effectively?

All too often we are bothered about situations that are outside of our immediate awareness. We may be reacting to layers of issues, perhaps many of which began early in our lives, far outside our awareness.

Take Linda, for instance, a thirty-three year old woman who had come to The Marriage Recovery Center recently for a Personal Intensive. Slender and petite, she was actually losing weight due to her stress. She had headaches and was tired, indicating she needed help to learn to cope and thrive again.

Married for ten years, she felt burdened and tired and needed a respite. She wanted to “unpack” years of struggle to discover why she seemed unable to effectively care for herself.

“I don’t feel like myself,” Linda said. “I have been tiptoeing around my husband for so long, pleasing him, our kids, my employer and everybody else. I don’t know what I think or want anymore.”

Linda let out a huge sigh, fighting back tears.

“It’s okay to cry,” I said.

With that, Linda began sobbing.

“I don’t know why I’m crying,” she said through her tears.

“It’s okay,” I reassured her. “You will come to know what is bothering you, but you may have to talk for a while to fully understand what it is that is troubling you. And it may be many things. There may be layers to your issues.”

She nodded, dabbing at her eyes.

“It could be so many things,” Linda said. “I can’t sort out all my thoughts.”

Again I reassured her that we often tamp down our feelings and thoughts, fighting to simply cope with our lives, that we give little time to reflection and contemplation.

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

Many are reluctant to spend time in reflection. They focus instead on the many challenges facing them. There are so many distractions, or imminent challenges, that reflection and consideration are not options. But without reflection we won’t settle into the deep exploration needed to really understand what is bothering us.  

Here are a few more guidelines on how ‘consider’ you life.

First, consider that what you think is bothering you may not be what is really bothering you. We all have layers and parts to our personality. We are capable of having ‘mixed feelings’ on any given issue. It takes work—reflection and consideration—to appreciate all of our feelings and thoughts.

Second, create a place and space for reflection. It is pretty tough to reflect on our lives amidst all of our daily duties and pressures. Even Jesus took time to be alone to pray and consider, and you need that same space. Don’t feel guilty for wanting a little time to be alone. 

Third, talk it out. There are definite advantages to talking things out with a trusted friend, pastor or counselor. Consider who would be a good listener as you ‘talk out’ what is bothering you. Find someone who will ask gentle, probing questions. Allow yourself to ‘go deeper’ beyond superficial understanding. You will undoubted gain new insights and understanding.  

Fourth, pray it out. There is value in asking God for wisdom and guidance in this journey. God has promised to give wisdom to those who seek it. “The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7)

Finally, make choices that will create greater peace in your life. True wisdom is the application of learning. Be courageous enough to apply the changes God is instructing you to make in your life. Are you to slow down? Then do so. Are you to set healthier boundaries? Take those risks. Are to ask for more in your life? Be courageous enough to do so.

In summary, we all have issues that are percolating below the surface, but need time and space to understand those issues and the changes we need to make to settle those issues. Create time and space to understand your life and pray for courage and strength to make those necessary changes.

mrcWe are here to help and offer phone/ Skype counseling on issues related to this article. Please go to our website, www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and discover more information about this as well as the free downloadable eBook, A Love Life of Your Dreams, including other free videos and articles. Please send responses to me at drdavid@marriagerecoverycenter.com and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

Publication date: July 22, 2014