Recipe For Ruining Your Day

(Without Really Trying)

1. I will plan to do twice as much as I can actually accomplish – over scheduling is the easiest way to drive yourself crazy!
2. I will be inflexible – demanding everyone do things my way is guaranteed to raise your blood pressure;
3. I will demand perfection in myself and others – that way I have earned the right to be miserable when something goes wrong;
4. I will worry about anything and everything – even those things over which I have no control;
5. I will take everything as a personal attack – I figure that any mistake was aimed at me;
6. I will leave my sense humor at home – I will treat everything, no matter how minor, as a matter of life – or – death;
7. I will avoid doing what I know needs to be done – procrastination is a great ingredient for producing guilt;
8. I will tell myself that there is absolutely nothing I can do about the anger, anxiety, unhappiness, or depression I am experiencing – my feelings or caused by what happens to me;
9. I will tell myself that I have to please everyone – it is a necessary to be approved in love by everyone;
10. I will assume everything and my actions will be based off of those assumptions – not knowing that the majority of assumptions are false-faulty assumptions equals faulty behavior;
11. I will live in the past or in the future, forgetting about today;
12. I will not keep my word pure – gossip, lies, and sarcasm will be served on my daily menu;
13. I will take God out of my day – things will be done my way, not His;

Blend ingredients thoroughly. Bake on high for 24 hours, waking throughout the night to stir up ingredients. Let simmer for a few hours or days. Serve dish hot and be miserable!

Learning To Let Go

The Illusion of Control

“He that would govern others should first be the master of himself.” — Philip Massinger

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt out of control? Where no matter how hard you tried to gain control, it wasn’t going to happen?

Well, about 15 years ago, I had a situation that robbed me of any control I thought I had. In 1998, I started experiencing some stomach and lower back pain that was going on for several months and was progressively getting worse. So, like the stubborn goober I am, I put off seeing the doctor.

Then one day, when I was with some friends, the pain got unbearable, and I could not ease the pain no matter what I did. My friend Skip happened to be there with me. Being a nurse, Skip said we needed to get to the emergency room because he was concerned about the pain – and because I was turning yellow! I gave in, and off we went.

After about six hours of poking and prodding and asking every embarrassing question known to man, they came back and said it was my gall bladder, and that it needed to be removed. I said OK, but that it was going to have to wait! I was swamped at work and was preparing for some workshops. In fact, I was busier than a man with one tooth eating an olive! So, I left!

Later that night, my dear friend Bill (who happens to be a surgeon) called me at home and said, “Rick, we need to get you back here and get your gall bladder out because it has gangrene.” Needless to say, I went back to the hospital and checked in. This is where I lose my control.

They wheeled me back to a little room, where a pleasant nurse came in and said, “Mr. Roepke, you need to take off all your clothes and put this on,” and she handed me something that looked like a washcloth with two strings. Now, I am a big guy, and there was no way that was going to cover everything! So I said – while trying to regain my control – “I will take off everything but my underwear.”

“No, Mr. Roepke, we need you to also remove them as well,” she said.
“Why?!?!” was my reply! “I know where my gall bladder is, and it’s nowhere down there!”
“Mr. Roepke, in case there is an emergency, we would have to cut them off.”
I said, “OK, so if there is a fire, nowhere does it say on my underwear ‘EXIT’ or ‘Break Glass.’ ” Then I looked at my wife, Kathy, and said, “For your eyes only, baby! They’re not coming off!”
At that point, the pleasant nurse left the room. Ten minutes later, she came back into the room. In her hand was a little cup, and in the cup was a little pill. She then said, “Mr. Roepke, you need to take this pill.” “Fine!” I replied, “but I am NOT taking off my underwear!”

Well, about 15 minutes later, I not only took off my underwear, but I wound up putting the hospital gown on backward. I am now out of control! Control ... what an illusion!

The harder I try to control something, the faster it runs through my fingers. That is especially true when it comes to trying to control our spouses. Aldous Huxley wrote that “there is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self.”

The more we try to control our spouse, the faster we choke out our relationship. When a person tries to control their spouse, they make constant demands on their partners, trying to direct everything their partners do, including finances, time, relationships, etc.

Often times, the more controlling one becomes, the more the spouse will try to get away. The need to control can come from inner insecurities. So, if you find yourself feeling the need to control your spouse, you may need to take a look at yourself and see if there are issues that need to be addressed. In reality, the only one you can control is yourself.

Much freedom can be gained by learning when to let go!


By The Power of Your Words

Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy

Think Twice Before You Speak"Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant seeds of either success or failure in the mind of another." --Napoleon Hill

One of the most powerful and transformational forces in the universe is our words. They are the creative energy of the world, and by our words, we influence our world. For example, words like "You did a great job!" "I believe in you!" "It's going to be ok," "I am here to help," "It's a boy/girl," "This is treatable," or "I forgive you," can elevate people to incredible heights. They can help heal wounds and give hope. They can also produce an environment where creativity flourishes and people feel empowered to succeed. OR.....we can use words like "Can't you do anything right?" "You're such a loser!" "I would've done it myself if I knew you were going to mess it up!" "I'll never forgive you!" "Everyone knows you will never amount to anything!" "You are just like ___________," "I hate you!" Words like these can emotionally maim someone for life, wreak havoc on a marriage, children, co-worker or employee. We have all experienced the positive and negative effects of the words of others. I have seen the devastating result that words play in a person's life, whether by employer, spouse, parent, etc., in my practice. It always leaves scars.

Whatever arena we are in at any given time, whether work, home, church, school, we are setting the environment for success or failure for others and ourselves by the words we choose to use. Proverbs 18:21 states "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." The words we speak are a direct contributor to the amount of stress we feel in our lives, our relationships, and our situations. We say hurtful things to others, which sets up strife and tension. We lie to someone and then spend an enormous amount of energy trying to cover our tracks. We make promises that we don't intend to keep, but then get mad when someone calls us out on it. We cut people down to others and then wonder why others don't trust us. And sometimes we can come across as a bully, not realizing that we are becoming toxic.

Our words not only affect those we are around, but they can have a devastating effect on how we view ourselves. We have approximately 120 self-talk messages per minute that fly through our heads, and the majority of them are usually negative. We can be our own worst enemy, acting as a bully toward ourselves. For example, "I am so stupid!" "I'm not good enough," and "I am a failure." The list could go on and on. If you hear something long enough, you tend to believe it--this is called audio-suggestion.

So what do we do with our words? How do we start to influence those we are with and ourselves in a way that is going to help promote creativity, productivity, and health?

  1. Stop making excuses for why you say hurtful things (that's just the way I am). Excuses are designed to give us permission to continue doing what we have always done;
  2. Pause before speaking. Ask the following questions: Are the next words out of my mouth going to build up or tear down? Am I speaking the truth or lie? If truth, am I speaking it with the right attitude and motive, in kindness?
  3. Is what I am about to say necessary? Unfortunately, a lot of what we say doesn't need to be said;
  4. Refuse to use verbal digs/sarcasm to get your point across;
  5. Be careful not to send mixed messages. One way to safeguard against this is to have the recipient of your words repeat back what they have heard you say;
  6. Be tenaciously committed to the process of rehabilitating what comes out of your mouth toward yourself and others.

We can try to implement all levels of wonderful programs in our organization to pump up production and creativity, or try to do things at home (vacations, gifts, etc) to help create more harmony. That's all well and good, but if our words do not reflect our desired outcome, it's all in vain. Henri Nouwen gave sound advice when he wrote:

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face?

Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive?

These are the real questions.

I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow will bring many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.

In short, it starts with you. Are you investing in yourself and others by treating yourself and those around you with respect and compassion? If not, it's a good place to start!


30-60-10 Rule of Thinking

How We Limit Ourselves

30-60-10 Rule ThinkingI would like to introduce to you a rule of thumb on your thinking habits--the 30-60-10 Rule. If we can understand this rule, we can then identify where a lot of our emotional distress is coming from.

30% of our thought life (up to around 60 years of age) is focused on the past. It’s the “I should have/could have/would have’s,” and “if only’s.” The more we loop these in our happy little noggins, the more regret and depression we feel.

60% of our thought life (up to around 60 years of age) is focused on the future. It’s the “what if’s,” “what’s going to happen when…” and “what might.” The more we loop these in our thoughts, the more fearful and anxious we become.

That leaves 10% of our thought life for the present. We could be sitting in the same room with someone and not be with them. We are either hanging out with regret about a past we can’t change or we are living in fear over a tomorrow we are not living in yet. We need to come to the realization that by only spending 10% of our thought life and focus in the here and now, we are missing the opportunities that God places right in front of us. We get too occupied with the past or the future that we miss out on today--missed opportunities in our relationships, careers, health, etc. We can learn a lot from children where this is concerned. They are “in the now” all the time. They don’t live in the past, and aren’t worried about the future. We can plan for the future, but worrying about it serves no purpose. Strong leaders recognize that being present in the moment with those around them is of utmost importance. Ephesians 5:16 says to make the most out of each and every opportunity (paraphrased), not each and every opportunity hoped for (past or future). What are we doing today?

So maybe we need to take some advice from our twentieth century bard, Jimmy Buffet, in his song “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On:”

I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man
Floating down canal,
It doesn’t use numbers or moving hands,
It always just says Now.
Now you might be thinking that I was had,
But this part is never wrong--
And if I had trouble the warranty said,
Breathe in, Breathe out, Move on.

About Rick

Dr. Rick RoepkeFor anyone who has ever interacted with Dr. Rick Roepke it soon becomes apparent that he has a pretty amazing sense of humor along with a wise and compassionate temperament. With 30+ years in the counseling field he has developed a keen sense of discernment and skill in helping people solve problems:

  • Leadership & Culture
  • Executive Coaching
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Speaker and Author
  • Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
  • Husband, Father, Mentor and Friend

Read More

Rick's Blog

  • Recipe For Ruining Your Day +

    (Without Really Trying) 1. I will plan to do twice as much as I can actually accomplish – over scheduling Read More
  • By The Power of Your Words +

    Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy "Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant seeds of Read More
  • Learning To Let Go +

    The Illusion of Control “He that would govern others should first be the master of himself.” — Philip Massinger Have you Read More
  • 30-60-10 Rule of Thinking +

    How We Limit Ourselves I would like to introduce to you a rule of thumb on your thinking habits--the 30-60-10 Read More
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