Tools and Nuggets for the Journey

Nuggets are "bite sized" pieces of wisdom, which allow us to experience perceiving familiar things in unfamiliar ways. New perceptions naturally generate new choices!

The Impact of Light on Healthy Change

There are two common light sources that we use to perceive ourselves and others - flashlights and lanterns. The more common is the “flashlight”, a bright, judgmental light that shines in only one direction at a time. Our flashlight can look judgmentally at ourselves or judgmentally at others. We can go back and forth quickly, judging both directions. It is the light source of survival software.

Our flashlight does not illuminate the whole picture, but only a limited part of the picture; even in the direction we are shining it. The light quality of our flashlight shines on what is missing or wrong, what should be there but isn’t, or what shouldn’t be there but is. It shines with a “half-empty” perspective, creating a feeling of frustration at what is wrong. The natural result of using our flashlight is an attitude of defensiveness within ourselves and others.

The other light source that we can use to perceive ourselves and others is the “lantern”, a nonjudgmental light of grace that shines in all directions at the same time, both on ourselves and others. The lantern light has no “double standards”, illuminating the whole picture with the same gentle light for all concerned. The lantern casts a perspective of “valuing” and “respect” on ourselves and others. It shines with a “half-full” perspective, allowing us to enjoy what is, while noticing what we would like to change. The lantern makes healthy change the path of least resistance. It is the light source of "living software". If it is worth doing, it is worth doing with a lantern.

Powerful Vulnerability

Powerful Vulnerability is the perspective/attitude that it is more important to learn and grow than be right. It generates such healthy power to shift from the judgmental flashlight of needing to be right, toward the lantern of openness and desire to be becomng and growing. There really is no need to defend when coming from Powerful Vulnerability. It can never be done perfectly.

Shame, Guilt and Regret

There is a significant difference between these three emotional reactions. Guilt about past events and shame reactions can actually prevent healthy change in the present. Which feeling reactions feel most familiar to you?

  • Guilt Can be a healthy, useful signal (conviction) when we are going the “wrong direction” in the present. It is a feeling signal to an action, rather than a statement about self. We need to feel good about noticing guilt in the present, and turn toward a healthy direction, releasing the feelings of guilt. God only wants us to feel guilty as a motivation for change; guilt is not a goal in itself. Guilt about past events or actions, no longer present, tend to transform into shame over time, feeding into anxiety and depression.
  • Shame - A destructive, condemning judgment about self. It is a feeling and perception of self-rejection and self-hatred. Shame says: “I am bad and wrong.” “It’s just who I am.” “I am a mistake.” “I am a failure.” Shame is a statement of identity rather than a statement about specific actions. Shame is very common in Depression.
  • Regret - A healthy grieving reaction. It can be experienced as a variety of different feelings that come with experiencing the honest acceptance of past and present events. Acceptance does not mean agree with or like what happened, it is simply a nonjudgmental acknowledging of the present. It says, “I feel badly that this happened and wish things had been different. Regret draws us toward healing and healthiness. If it is a present situation, Regret helps motivate healthy change in the present. If it is a past situation, Regret helps create a desire to learn and grow from that painful past difficulty.

How To Gain Freedom

"Freedom is the willingness to do what we want to do, even when told to do it."

"Freedom is the willingness to accept the consequences of of our choices."

The Question of Identity

Is your identity based on the “rear view mirror” of your life story up until now, or the "windshield" of becoming, as a new creation?" Does your value come from material wealth and accomplishment, or from the person you are becoming, as you interact in this world? I choose to believe that who I am is becoming, as I continue to learn and grow in Him.

Who Am I At My Core?

I believe that who I am, at my core, is a deeply loved child of God; and I choose to be becoming His ambassador (imperfectly reflecting His Nature and Style), as I practice living consciously and purposefully in the present moment, with my lantern of grace shining inside and out, allowing Him through me to maximize my healthy power for good.

I am not my successes or failures; who I am is becoming in Him. How I feel and how well I am doing at any given time is just that – how I feel or do – nothing defines my core self except becoming in Christ. March 21st is a podcast show where we discuss these concepts at some depth. Also show on May 16th explores these concepts deeply.

The Flashlight

The flashlight draws us into our old nature; as we see through a judgmental filter in only one direction (often with a “double standard” perspective), seeing what is missing and “not right”, blaming and defending what “should” be. The flashlight is the symbol of “The Knowledge of Good and Evil” that came with the fall. When we use our flashlight, the toxic power of that Knowledge, without the mediating impact of God’s Loving Grace, brings out our old nature. The flashlight causes us to experience the past and future at the exclusion of the present moment.

The Lantern

Our new nature is only “behind the wheel” of our “life bus” when we are in the present moment, with our lanterns shining God’s Loving Grace inside to our wounded parts of self that are stuck in our old nature, and outward to others; living out the definition of “who I am at the core”, imperfectly, in the present. When we go into our “time machine” and begin experiencing the past or future, it draws us into our old nature, because God is always in the present moment and our new nature is God living in us, through us and for us. When we come back into the present moment with our lanterns (imperfectly and awkwardly) we can begin to experience our adventure with Him in the present as a new creation; He draws us into healthy growth as we are becoming in Him. We allow the desire/willingness to grow, He provides the rest!

The Abundance Paradox

The secret to abundant living is to live each day as if it could be your last, and to live each day as if you were going to live a long, long time. Something amazing happens when you allow yourself to combine what seems like opposite approaches to life. You can learn to be living in the present moment with your lantern, as you experience the adventure of your life unfolding.

Through Your Eyes Lord

“Lord, allow me to see myself and others through Your Eyes,

And to respond to what I see through Your Nature.”

The Prayer of Serenity

‘God grant me the serenity to change what I can change;

The freedom to release to You what I can’t change;

And give me a growing wisdom to know the difference.’


© Copyright 2008 Psychological Asssociates                                      James O. Henman                                            Phone: 209.765.9528