Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Home Authors Posts by Alistair Shaw

Alistair Shaw

Learn How To Say No!

Saying no is one of the hardest things to do, mostly because we don’t want to disappoint the person who is asking the favour or making the request.  Like most things in life, it’s often the approach or the way in which we respond or react that can make a potentially volatile situation escalate towards an explosion, or actually diffuse.

While saying no can be very daunting and terrifying, it can also be very liberating.  Once we get over the initial ‘shock’ of having to say ‘no’, we will soon start reaping the benefits of having said no!

Often at work you are requested to put in extra hours or take on work outside of your role.  Now, on occasion that wouldn’t be a problem, but if you are being taken advantage of and are constantly having to do everyone else’s work, you are in for serious burn out.

Here are common reasons why people struggle to say no

  1. You want to help.
  2. Afraid of being rude.
  3. Wanting to be agreeable.
  4. Fear of conflict.
  5. Fear of lost opportunities.
  6. Not burning bridges.

If you nodded to any of the reasons, I’m with you. They applied to me at one point or another. However, in my experience dealing with people at work and in life, I realized these reasons are more misconceptions than anything. Saying “No” doesn’t mean you are being rude; neither does it mean you are being disagreeable. Saying “No” doesn’t mean there will be conflict nor that you’ll lose opportunities in the future. And saying no most definitely doesn’t mean you’re burning bridges. These are all false beliefs in our mind.

At the end of the day, it’s about how you say “no”, rather than the fact you’re saying no, that affects the outcome. After all, you have your own priorities and needs, just like everyone has his/her own needs. Saying no is about respecting and valuing your time and space. Say no is your prerogative.

7 Simple Ways To Say “No”

Rather than avoid it altogether, it’s all about learning the right way to say no. After I began to say no to others, I realized it’s really not as bad as I thought. The other people were very understanding and didn’t put up any resistance. Really, the fears of saying no are just in our mind.

If you are not sure how to do so, here are 7 simple ways for you to say no. Use the method that best meets your needs in the situation.

1. “I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.”

2. “Now’s not a good time as I’m in the middle of something. How about we reconnect at X time?”

3. “I’d love to do this, but …”

4. “Let me think about it first and I’ll get back to you.”

5. “This doesn’t meet my needs now but I’ll be sure to keep you in mind.”

6. “I’m not the best person to help on this. Why don’t you try X?”

7. “No, I simply can’t do it.

Learn to say no to requests that don’t meet your needs, and once you do that you’ll find how easy it actually is. You’ll get more time for yourself, your work and things that are most important to you. I know I do and I’m happy I started doing that.

If you struggle to say no and are constantly taken advantage of, please click on the banner below and contact us for assistance today!

Credit: Edited // zen habits

UCT Students Arrested For Violating Court Order

Police used stun grenades to disperse students at the University of Cape Town in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

More than 20 students have been arrested for being in violation of a court order obtained by the university prohibiting them from occupying any property of the institution.

The students blocked the entrance to the Bremner Building.

The university earlier obtained an interdict in the Western Cape High Court preventing protesting students from disrupting normal activities on the campus.

On Monday, students brought the institution to a standstill, resulting in classes being suspended over an increase in student fees.

Police escorted the students one by one to waiting police vans. They did not resist arrest but sang protest songs.

The court order prevents the disruption of lectures, tutorials and examinations on all campuses as well as barricading entrances to the campus. It further prevents students from committing acts of arson or damaging property.

Students have vowed to continue their protests actions at UCT and Stellenbosch universities on Tuesday. A mass meeting is expected to be held at UCT at around lunch time.

The university has since dropped the percentage to 20 while students who can’t afford that can arrange to pay over ten months

Lectures at Wits University remain suspended on Tuesday following Monday’s violent protests.

Students overturned a bakkie after the driver had tried to drive through a student blockade on Empire Road in Parktown.
The driver was assaulted before being rescued by police.

Wits vice-chancellor, Adam Habib has warned that the university could face closure if the violent protests escalate further.

The University council says it has made several concessions with regard to the increase in tuition fees for next year.

Meanwhile, students at Rhodes University in Grahamstown have rejected a lower fee increase offer and have vowed to continue with their protests.

They want the university to scrap the Minimum Initial Payment, where students are required to pay 50%  of their tuition fees in advance, to register for next year.

The university has since dropped the percentage to 20 while students who can’t afford that can arrange to pay over ten months.

The university says the fee hike is unavoidable as government funding is minimal.

Credit:  SABC, News 24 & EWN

How To Forgive

Revenge – the desire to get even

Before we plot and plan our revenge strategy, we need to realize an ugly truth about revenge.  It is NEVER satisfied.  It also causes the hurt to fester and infect, giving birth to anger, hatred and bitterness, and before we know it, we will become physically ill. Here are some practical steps you can take on the journey to forgiving others:

  1. Write down the name of the person or people you have chosen to forgive. Underneath that name, think of the many things you have done for which you need forgiveness and write them down. When we realize how much we need to be forgiven for all the wrongs we have done, it makes it easier to show mercy to those who have hurt us. Keep what you have written in front of you as you go through this process.
  1. Realize that forgiving others is a spiritual, supernatural exercise. In fact, it is impossible to truly forgive others without God’s help. God can help you forgive because not only has He forgiven tens of billions of people, He also has the power to help you, in particular. Just remember: He only helps those who admit their helplessness. You might say a simple prayer like this: God I admit I can’t forgive (insert name) with my own power. Please help me. Help me to understand how much You have forgiven me, so I can forgive the person who has hurt me.

In the end forgiveness is for God, first. For you, second. And for the perpetrator, third.

  1. You can’t truly forgive unless you have grasped the extent of the violation that has been done against you. With the help of a counsellor, minister, or another professional, you need to seek to understand what happened to you when you were hurt and why it hurts so much.

When we realize we can be forgiven for everything we have ever done, it is then we are able to begin forgiving the people in our lives who have hurt us.

  1. Now it’s time to make the big decision to surrender. Let go of your deep desire to get even with the person who has violated you. Come up with a prayer or statement announcing your decision. Here’s an example: “By an act of my will, and God’s power, I give up my rights to get even with (insert name). I make a commitment that when those sordid feelings come over me again, I will release them. I won’t babysit them. I admit the feelings are real, but I choose not to be controlled by them any longer. Instead I will dwell on the good things I have learned from this experience.”

There is nothing quite like living in peace, knowing you are a forgiving person.

  1. Make a choice to have compassion on your violator. Look at them first, as a tragedy. In one sense they should be pitied. Bottom line is, because of their violation against you they have suffered, are suffering, and in the end will suffer far more in this life, or the one to come. We’re not making excuses for them, but we’re only saying they are pathetic, and desperately need our compassion. One way to show compassion is to pray for the person who has hurt you. Jesus said, “Pray for your enemies.” He knows it is impossible to continue to pray for someone, and still hate them. Then, while you’re praying for this person, ask for a blessing in their life. Pray that good things come to them. Wish them well.
  1. Move on. It’s time to stop dwelling on what happened. By forgiving someone you’re promising not to bring it up again to use against him or her. If you are going to talk to someone about how the other person has hurt you, make sure this person is a professional or a wise person you can trust.

If you feel trapped by hurt and find it difficult to forgive, please click on the banner below and contact us today!

Credit: Edited // The Hope Line

6 Physical Traits Men Find Attractive In Women

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

We’ve often heard the above mentioned statement, and while there is some truth to it, there might just be more to this than meets the eye.

The criteria and methods one might use to ‘determine’ a lady’s beauty will differ from man to man; so too will it differ from woman to woman.

Business Insider recently did a video highlighting the 6 scientifically proven physical traits that men find attractive in women.

Check out the video:

Don’t Journey Through Life Alone

Life is a journey, nothing is certain – there is no predicting the outcome…

There are many memories we carry with us from our childhood, and school memories are certainly among them.  I remember one of my teachers always saying: “Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.”

Like most things in junior school, it took a while for me to fully grasp the meaning of the idiom, but I learned the meaning quickly when life experiences ‘happened’ to me.

We plan our budgets and cash flow, we plan our weekly/monthly calendar’s and meetings, we plan for financial security for times of crisis – and these are all good and noble things to do, but no matter how hard we try to predict the future, there are some things we never can be certain of.

While planning is an essential ingredient for a successful career, business, cash flow and family life, I do believe that instead of spending endless hours predicting our futures or our outcomes, we should rather spend just the right amount of time planning, the right amount of time working hard at making things happen, and most importantly, let’s make time for each other.

Life truly is a journey. Each new day is an adventure like no other. Doing life alone is so difficult and lonely, let’s rather make the circle bigger and include people in our daily lives, because “real people” are far better than “online people”.

Let’s not ever lose sight of what really matters in life – family matters, friends matter, people always matter and are essential to our well-being.

If you’ve been living a life where constant planning yields no fruit and relationships are something of a distant memory, please click on the banner below and contact us today.

Physical Attraction And Dating

So, you’re in a fairly large friendship circle and your friends are pressuring you into dating a guy or girl in the group, but you don’t find them attractive, what do you do?

Physical Attraction is More Than Meets the Eye

The moment we see someone, we make a snap judgement on his or her looks.

This is not to say that we are judgmental , rather, our brains determine—via some impressive synapsing—if someone is procreation worthy. It’s primal, really.

For now, though, just realize that we’re all cave-people trying to find someone to watch Netflix with. And we know in an instant if we want to be snuggled up with a person on a cave rock—or not.

However, to think this initial reaction is all that determines someones attractiveness (in your eyes) is giving your brain and its Creator too little credit.

Attraction Can Be Won or Lost

There are times—many of them, in fact—when an initial reaction is different than subsequent reactions. In other words: things change.

You know this, don’t you? Of course you do. Let’s say, by way of example, that you meet a gentlemen who strikes you as dashing. I mean, he’s got it all, “A body like Arnold with a Denzel face.”

Now, let’s say this man begins talking to you and he’s just, to use the King James, a complete jerk. I mean really, he’s talking about how much he hates Mother Teresa and thinks Cecil the Lion had it coming. Would you still be into this chap? Would you look at him and still be flushed at the sight of his beauty? Probably not, because his heart revealed his true appearance.

Conversely, there are times when the initial attraction isn’t strong, but getting to know the person makes him or her somehow look better. It happens all the time, and it’s the basis of zillions of rom-coms, where the underdog gets the girl.

While those movies are exaggerated, there’s a modicum of truth there. A person can become more attractive as you get to know thier inner beauty. Additionally, when you deeply love someone, attraction is superseded by a mystical connection, which makes beauty impossible to judge or understate.

But I fear I’ve gotten ahead of myself…

What Do You Do?

1. Settle down.

I want you to feel and know that this is not a “decision” or something you have to talk yourself into or out of. In fact, the only thing you should do is sit back, pray, pursue a friendship and see what happens. I assure you, there is no rush here. If it’s right, you won’t miss it.

2. Be careful with ‘the Beast.’

Because while I don’t know him, he sounds like a lovely fella, and he’s probably/absolutely interested in you. So be very ginger with how close you get.

I think there’s a limit to how friendly you can be without getting into mirky waters.

3. Please don’t believe the lie that you’re going to miss the only person you could ever be happy with.

The truth is, there are endless people in the world with whom you could have a wonderful relationship. There is no “the one.” However, God knows the full arc of time. He makes marriages happen, and He has this situation under control. Your job isn’t to talk yourself into anything, it’s to let God move you and show you your next steps.

In closing (and speaking of God), attraction is a beautiful and multifaceted gift that was bestowed upon us by the Creator. You deserve to be attracted to your mate. If you know The Beast well, and you’ve given this some time and prayer, it’s OK to not date him. God’s got you, and God’s got him also. Trust that, and remove this burden from your heart.

Credit:  Edited // Relevant Magazine

How To Deal With Negative Emotion

Negative emotion is a nasty little critter that starts off like a small insect bite which causes an allergic reaction and becomes a massive rash, exposed for all to see.

Emotion is powerful and very contagious.  Obviously happy, healthy, positive vibes will influence everyone around you and will lift the mood and bring a smile to everyone’s dial, but it will take a while, and is often hard work. But oh boy, introduce negative emotion to a mix of people and you’ll immediately bring them all down, all at once, without much effort.

Negative emotion not only kills everything in its wake, but also the host that carries it.  It’s like a cold virus, easily given to an unsuspecting victim, but also destroying the carrier or the virus.

The funny thing about negative emotion is that we are all subject to it, and there is no immunity from it.  Having emotional maturity sure does help fight off the effects, but we are all affected by it, nonetheless.

A life coach once told me there are 3 root negative emotions – Fear, Anger, and Shame.  From those 3 primary negative emotions, all the others flow.

The secret, I believe to negative emotion is to manage it well, and by management I don’t mean suppressing and bottling it inside.  The only way negative emotions won’t rule and ruin your life is by following these few steps:

  1. Experience the moment
  2. Experience the emotion
  3. Think your thoughts through, and complete them – conclude them
  4. Choose and decide not to let it affect you too much
  5. Respond instead of reacting – Don’t react in a fit of rage, but rather take a deep breath, slowly count to 10, and gather yourself
  6. Smile, the sun will shine again

Make no mistake about it, we all have traces of shame, fear or anger – but how we deal with it makes all the difference in the world.

If you need help managing negative emotion in your life, please click on the banner below and contact us today!

What To Do When You Lose Your Faith

Loss Is More than Failing to Try

But what do you do when, with all the sleepless wrestling and the furrowed-browed prayers and the ceaseless questions and the best-intended efforts, even that seems out of reach? What happens when the very reality of God (or of a God who is good) seems too much for you to claim ownership of? How do you keep going while in the middle of a full-blown spiritual collapse?

Don’t give up. God is big enough to handle your doubts.

It often isn’t a matter of just being more determined or more “religious.” Most of the time, people have reached these desperate moments despite continually reading the Bible and praying and volunteering and attending church services and trying to believe. They haven’t refrained from those disciplines. In fact, they often are as devout and engaged as ever, only these pursuits no longer yield the clarity and confidence and comfort they once did.

Many people come to me in that barren spiritual dryness and they almost always carry the crushing guilt of failure. They are grieving deeply, feeling helpless to get back what they’ve lost, and angry at themselves for not being faithful enough to conjure up belief that used to come as a simple given.

If you’re in that place right now, I won’t pretend there’s any easy way out or a simple path back to faith. I can’t even promise that you’ll ever find your way back, at least not to what you used to call belief. It may be a very different experience in the future.

A Way Back

So what can you do right now?

It might be prayer or Bible study or church attendance. But it might not—after all, God is not only found in “spiritual things.”

Maybe today it’s just about what’s right in front of you, about what you can see and hear and touch and smell and taste. Maybe the best thing you can do right now is simply to experience all of the things you can know, and receive them with gratitude.

When you do accept these great, pure, measurable gifts and cherishing them, you’re recognizing the giver. Maybe that’s all the faith you are able to have right now, and that’s OK. To simply live and to find gratitude in the living is itself a spiritual pursuit; it is a holy thing.

The Straighter Pathway

You will find that this contentment is the straighter pathway back to what you’ve lost. It may clear the road to God that has been cluttered by sadness, disappointment, doubt and yes, even religion.

Don’t give up. God is big enough to handle your doubts, and He knows exactly what you’re going through and why belief is such a struggle right now.

You may have indeed lost the faith you had or you may have just lost your way a bit. Either way, this might be a good time to breathe, to look around and to find joy in what is beside and around you as you travel.

If that is all the faith you can muster right now, let it be so. Be encouraged.

If you need help becoming a person of faith again, please click on the banner and contact us today!

What To Look For In A Church

There are so many churches with many different flavours, options and unique characteristics; but with all of these variants, how do we know what church to go to?

Before choosing a church, perhaps it would be wiser to know just what to look for in a church.

So often in life our approach to things is generally this:  “What’s in it for me?”  When it comes to finding a church, we should never approach it with the expectation of what I can gain, but rather, how can I give back?

When we come to a church with unrealistic expectations, we set ourselves up for disappointment. When we fail to understand what the global Church is and what it does, we engage it in a ways that can be both inappropriate and unhealthy. So, what should we look for when searching for a church home?

A Balance of Love and Truth

Some churches are too soft. They confuse love with kindness. Of course, kindness is important, but sometimes the best thing we can do for someone is speak the truth to them. When my wife asks me how she looks, if her makeup is running and her hair is messed up, letting her go out in public without letting her know might spare her feelings in the short term, but it isn’t loving.

On the other hand, some churches are too hard; they don’t consider the feelings of their people at all. Telling my wife she looks like circus clown also wouldn’t be loving. Some churches wield truth like a weapon and beat people with it like a playground bully. They speak the truth harshly and tactlessly. They have convinced themselves that speaking the truth by itself is the best way to love.

Any church that fails to put Jesus at the front of all they do is missing the mark.

Love always speaks the truth. It always does so out of love and in love. Love walks a perfect line of grace and truth.

No Sacred Cows

When looking for a church, it’s best to avoid the ones that place too high a value on things that are not the Gospel. It’s not that other things aren’t important or shouldn’t be valued. But when they become sacred, there is a problem.

The message of the Gospel never changes. The method does. Sacred cows—those ideas and customs we sometimes hold onto against reasonable criticism—often come when a church holds too tightly to their traditions. These aren’t always evil, but they are over valued. For example: modesty is a good value, but when how a person dresses to church is more important than the fact that they showed up, there are sacred cows getting the way.

Gospel-Centered Community

Being Gospel-centered means we are fully reliant on the grace of God for all we do. It means we view everything through the lens of God’s Word and our relationship with Him—it changes how we think, speak and act.

Any church that fails to put Jesus at the front of all they do is missing the mark. A Gospel-centered church actively preaches and lives out the fact that we exist to serve God, glorify Him and share His message with the world.

A Heart for Outreach

The heart of God bleeds and breaks for the lost. A church that has no heart for outreach has lost sight of the mission of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with a church that takes care of itself, just like a healthy diet and exercise are not bad things. But there is a difference between taking care of ourselves and being obsessed with ourselves.

A church with a heart for outreach cares more about getting people to know Jesus than about getting people to become members.

Sound Doctrine

There are lots of the theological arguments between denominations and even between churches within those denominations. Some of these are important.

Jesus, God, Salvation and the Bible—these are truths to hold onto. Everything else, to one extent or another, is debatable. Make sure a church has its essentials right, and then sort through the rest with discernment and open hands.

We shouldn’t select a church solely for their end-times views, worship style, preaching philosophy or children’s ministry programming. We shouldn’t select a church just because they focus on the things we like or cater to our desires.

We should be looking for a community that seeks to glorify God in all they do. Ultimately it’s this: when looking for a church, we should be seeking a unified family of believers that teaches the Word of God, that seeks to follow the example of Jesus while focusing all they do on Him, that speaks the truth but does so in love, that cares for those who are far from God, and that constantly seeks new ways to reach people with love of God.

Credit: Edited // Relevant Magazine

I Choose To Live

When I was young I always thought people who were 40 or 50 years old, were old.  Now that I’m in my early 30’s, I realize that 50 is quite young, compared to someone in their 70’s or 80’s; or perhaps it’s that I just don’t want to age, LOL.

In my 30 years of life I have had many days where I just didn’t want to be around anymore, and then many many more days where I was so grateful to be alive, and wanting to make the most out of life. Even in my saddest days, my darkest hours where I really wished I was never born, even then I was alive and didn’t really want to die – I guess I’d never do well as a suicidal person.

Have you ever noticed, from young children to the most elderly person, when sickness or physical harm comes to them, there is an instinctive desire or will to live?

Instinctively we fight to live, we will do almost anything to stay alive – especially when danger strikes.  But what about the person who has no hope, suffers from the worst loneliness and has absolutely no desire to live, no energy to face another day?  How do you resuscitate someone like that back to life, with a complete 180 degree turn towards a complete life? I’m not talking about someone who is suffering from clinical or any other form of diagnosed depression or other mental illness, I’m talking about a person who has on average lived a happy and cheerful life, hits a massive speed wobble due to tragedy or circumstances, and now finds themselves in a very dark place.

Well, I’ve experienced this first hand and I know what terrible loneliness and immense darkness feels like.  So, here’s what I did:

  1. Prayed ALOT!
  2. Went for life-coaching and had a few sessions  with a psychologist.
  3. Removed myself from the situation and place which was causing all the turmoil.
  4. Found a safe-haven where I could connect with like-minded people without the fear of being hurt.

Symptoms of depression and loneliness, darkness and emptiness don’t have to be your way of life, there is hope and there is a way out of the darkness and into the light.

If you’re stuck in a dark place and desperately need a way out, please click on the banner below and contact us today.

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