Tag Archives: Emotion

Life, choice and attitude!

Well… Here I am, almost six months on in my new home and community and I have to say, it’s not been an easy transition!  After the furor of packing (thanks Liz and Bryanna), moving and the newness of a new home and community have worn off, I was left with what I thought was just me.  While in part, that was true, there was a bit more to the story; or so at least, that I’ve recently discovered.

Self-pity… it’s not something I’ve fallen into the clutches of for the majority of my adult life, but it has happened from time to time.  Very recently too which is why I’m writing this today.

A friend of mine recently tweeted “Don’t let self pity get the upper hand… Instead of sinking into doom and gloom, encourage urself!”  Fortunately, my attitude about life has over the past month, found me in a much healthier and happier state of mind.  The statement in this tweet however, reminded me of where I was a just a short while ago and what my attitude toward life was like.

If we have the privilege of knowing each other personally, you know… we’ve hung out, you’ve probably come to know that there are a few things that motivate me.  I’ve discovered that one of my greatest motivators and sources of value is service.  I always thought it was being around people, but I’ve come to learn that isn’t the case.  Of course, people are a part of that process, as is the feedback I receive from them, but that’s not what fries my bacon!  Service is!  Giving and enjoying the journey while making an effort or serving, is a huge part of what fuels my human fire.  I came to realize though, that I somehow managed to remove myself from that process.  Many friends said… you’re uprooting your whole life… give yourself a break… your path will come in time and you will find your way.  I guess I figured to a degree, that gave me an excuse of sorts in that I needed time to acclimate and connect with my new community.  Instead, I found that I had taken myself further away from any connection or opportunity for service.  I had begun the process of wallowing.   I just didn’t realize it because I started in the shallow end and slowly let myself get comfortable swimming in the cold water!

Sometimes, we need “down time”.  We need a period of rest and time alone, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of our community and service or whatever our life drivers or motivators are.  Of course, I needed the opportunity to see where I can be a part of service in and to my community, but I also discovered something else that is very important.  I discovered that I needed to serve myself to a degree.  I thought that meant making a home, resting and taking time for me, but what a very good friend of mine reminded me of was key in turning my cycle of self-pity around.

As I said… service is a big value component in my life, but something that goes alongside it for me is gratitude!  I have so very much to be grateful for and I’m not talking just about the big stuff like an incredible home, living 200 meters away from mountains (which also happen to be my backdrop).  I’m talking about simple things like having plenty of food!  A great career!  Wonderful and giving family and friends.  The ability to hear and see the Canada Geese as they fly overhead while I write this to you.  The smell of fresh air!  I am truly blessed!  There are people who lay suffering in whatever circumstance life has brought them to and who would love to say… “I can sit outside, smell the fresh air, sip on my coffee and listen to the birds!”  The ironic part is that I’ve seen many of those same people expressing their gratitude for what they have in their less than ideal circumstance!  Gratitude is a choice of attitude!

Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that there is so much more to life than what is happening around us and to us!  I have nothing to complain about and yet, I do and I know I will continue to, but there’s a big difference for me now.  I’m reminded!  I’m reminded because I have chosen to make myself aware.

I lost touch with my gratitude somewhere along the way.  For years, I used to always talk about how blessed I am and how fortunate I am that I get to live the life I do!  What a revelation it was that in the unfolding of the choices I’ve deliberately made to start this new part of my life… choices that have brought me to a beautiful new home, new friendships, a new community and affirmation of the friendships I’ve been blessed with for many years; I’d lost touch with the simple pleasures in life and the gratitude for them that I should have been acknowledging.  I’m right now, sitting on my deck with the sun just peeking around a tree and the mountain scape it overlooks and I’m reminded of what I have!  I have plenty!  I have the love and acceptance of great and loving family and friends and I more than anything else, I have the Love and acceptance of God!

Gratitude is a choice of attitude!  Damn straight it is!  So… in that knowledge, I want to say thank you to my friends and family who have been so patient with me during this new part of my life.  Sometimes, we need to bump along the hallways of life to find our way… and sometimes, we need someone to turn on a small light!

I wish you were here with me right now… the air smells like I’m camping by a stream in the pine forests of British Columbia… what’s wild is… that’s where I currently live.  Now, I’m just going to give myself the opportunity to enjoy what I have and more importantly, to be grateful for it!  So in that spirit… rather than just looking at the mountain I call beautiful, I decided to get off of my ass and climb it!

Thank you, for being willing to hang out with me and for flipping the light switch from time to time!

I’m giving the last words to a very wise man who wrote some things which have long been on my Facebook page… I’m glad I finally came to my senses and started to live them again!

“I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there is no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.”

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”

-Chuck Swindoll


Men, Women, communication and silence…

Lately… it’s been blog articles that have inspired my writing… “my writing”. There’s something I never thought I ever hear myself say.

I read an article this morning while sipping on my coffee and chatting with a few good friends (http://www.tickld.com/x/the-difference-between-men-and-women). How many times have we read this kind of parody on non-verbal interplay between a man and a woman? It’s a fairly common stereotype and sadly, there’s a significant amount of truth to the story.  The truth underneath this article is I think, all too prevalent in our relationships.

Before I get into this, I want to say that I don’t necessarily buy into the gender stereotypes presented in this scenario though I do know that they do exist. I see it far more often than I should and that’s a sad statement. Of course, not all women or men are like the characters in the story, but there is a certain thread of truth to their reactions and thought processes.

At face value, we could conclude that this is just the way it is between men and women, because of what and how we value and how we process. Women value relationship and are connection oriented. Men also value relationship but are compartmental and task oriented. Again… these are generalizations which I think are for the most part… nonsense. I think it is rude and assumptive to lump the behavioural patterns of individuals within their gender set because of their gender alone! While men are generally task focused, we’re not always that way… neither too are women brooding ninnies who constantly postulate scenarios because of a single spoken word or sentence. It’s preposterous and dismissive!

What I found very true about the article though was what happened because of silence and lack of communication. Fred’s silence or apparent lack of interested (in Martha’s view) spawned a dizzying array of scenarios in Martha’s mind, based assumptions which were based on a single word response! Let’s do away with the female stereotype for a moment and ask ourselves what’s wrong with this picture…

Was Fred wrong for answering as he did? Was Martha wrong for reacting as she did? Maybe and maybe not. This phenomenon is all too common and it’s based on one thing… our willingness to face truth. To be truly honest with ourselves and with those that mean the most to us.

Why is it that we have trouble expressing ourselves on topics that matter most to us? Clearly, relationship was very important and valuable to Martha. I would say it was a core value to her. That isn’t to say that it’s not also for Fred, but in this scenario, Martha is clearly thinking about moving to the next level in their relationship. Why then does she not pick a time to talk to Fred about it? Why not just be direct,  willing to face reality and ask? I know… I’m blowing this scenario out of proportion, but honestly, why do we let ourselves live in limbo? If the truth is that Fred would rather eat Doritos and watch re-runs of sporting events than share his life with someone, that is what he’s going to do and there is nothing that Martha can do to change it. It’s is what it is… that is simply the truth of the situation.

Martha clearly values Fred and feels that he’s a good match for her., but is he really?  Instead of respecting her values and engaging in a conversation with Fred about her hopes and the reality of their future though, she allows the situation to end in a cloud of uncertainty. Even worse, she further proceeds to play out scenarios by talking with people who can’t possibly hold any of the answers she seeks. I’m not suggesting that we do not seek the wise counsel of friends, but those conversations should be about us, our character and conduct, not what the other person should do or might be thinking.   If we truly find ourselves in a good and healthy relationship, we should be able to share the truth and be accepted and respected for it.  The subject may be difficult, but that doesn’t change reality!  It doesn’t change the truth that must be faced.

Why do we fear the truth? It’s just the truth. It’s reality. We have no control over what someone else will do. We may have a small amount of influence here and there, but honestly, we have no control!

The answer to this riddle is not at all complex. It’s simply based in truth and a willingness to hear, understand, accept and live in it! Martha can “suppose” all she wants to with her friends, but the truth she seeks lies in the heart and mind of Fred. Hopefully, he has enough integrity in himself and respect for Martha to answer with equal honesty.

This by the way, this isn’t limited to intimate relationships. It is applicable in all of our relationships… We could be wondering about the conduct of our child at school, a relationship at work or the status of our current position at our workplace. We could be wondering about our relationship with our neighbour… there’s no end. In the end, the truth exists and it exists in the honesty and minds of the people involved. The honesty shared between two people creates the truth in any situation.

Martha could have just as easily asked Fred “Wow… Six months… I’m glad to be here… how do you feel about the next six?” Fred could answer in many ways, but in the end, Martha knows what she values and if Fred does not share her values, then Martha’s reality becomes one of choice. Does she respect her values or does she compromise them? I could write a book on this scenario, but I think you can guess what I’m getting at. We must be willing to explore the truth and reflect it against what we believe and value because that is our truth. You can’t make an apple be an orange no matter how promising it may look to be. If Martha hopes to be married one day, to have children and live out her life sharing it in a family, then that is her truth. If Fred is not quite ready for that scenario and can’t say when he will be, then Martha has some thinking to do. She can do nothing of course, but then where does that lead? To more indecision and angst!

These choices are not always easy because of the promise that we may see in a situation, but it is far better to let go of what merely looks good and promising to us and instead seek something or someone who will value and accept us for who we are and what we value. A wise friend once said to me “it’s better to be single than wish you were”. Truer words were never spoken.

I’m sure that Martha and Fred are kind and wonderful people, but they may not be wonderful for one another. The only way for them to find that out is to be honest and open with each other. If they are unable to do that in the early stages… what might the rest of their relationship look like long term?

Being willing to accept and value who we are and then to accept someone opposite us is based in truth. The ability to be honest about who we are, what we value and what our goals are. It’s not rocket science. We just make it more difficult by not being willing to face and accept the truth of a situation. Phone a friend? Guessing? Will those bring direct answers or truth? Sometimes but mostly not. Ask about and face the truth with those directly involved and also be willing to share what you know to be your truth. You may not find the outcome you seek in that particular situation, but it will probably lead you to a much happier and grounded life.

Of course, this is just my opinion and you are welcome to challenge it, but do you have one on this subject or have you asked yourself… how do I feel about this?  If you don’t have an opinion then I challenge you to ask yourself to make one.  Please consider this… we’re depending on your truth.

Does love feel like a Thunderbolt?

What is love supposed to look like? Should it feel like a thunderbolt, an overwhelming feeling of euphoria, or is it supposed feel like a slow cooker full of your favourite soup ingredients… A magical stew? I think love is just that… a magical stew that is comforting and exciting all at the same time. It can be like jumping out of an airplane and it can feel like a cozy pair of socks. Love grows and transforms. Love itself transforms as it does the people within its grasp.

When love is brand new, it’s an exciting, unknown, seemingly unending series of new discoveries.

What does love look like? What is love supposed to feel like? I don’t know how it’s supposed to look like to you… only to me, but I do know what I believe love should be based on. I also know what relationships should be based on and yet as I write this to you, I understand that it’s more than just a list. It’s more than a group of tick boxes that we feel must be met. I suppose, what I’ve learned is that it’s a combination of things I need to believe and trust. Things that are real and valid and which match quite well, who it is that I am as a person and as a man of God. It partly means feeling a sense of attraction (physical and otherwise). I’ve learned that while physical attraction may start the ball rolling, emotion, intellect and spiritual elements also come into the mix to become fully interdependent within the context of feeling or knowing love. The more I see someone as a match in my mind, my heart and my spirit, the more they become increasingly attractive to me, both inwardly and outwardly.

I can honestly tell you that after years of experiencing relationships and trying for love… In my mind, love is a warm blanket, a warm pool of water. It is something that surrounds you and gives you a sense of comfort and trust. The hardest part about love though is trust. Can I trust love? Can I trust those that I love not to hurt me. The simple answer to that question is… no! You can’t trust that you won’t be hurt, disappointed or let down at one time or another throughout the course of a relationship. The only exception to this rule is of course God. He is the only One who can love us unconditionally. In fact, we receive a perfect love from Him and yet, we offer back a flawed and broken love. I believe we do so in the best way that we are able, but in our broken state He still accepts us. I don’t think we can trust “love”, but instead must learn to trust the person we are in love with based on their character.

True love is patient. True love is kind. True love is about acceptance. True love seeks to empower and esteem the other without need for repayment. True love is a bond. It is not a combination of well chosen platitudes, a collection of words or physical expressions. True love is a life long commitment based on a variable mix of ingredients and which at its core, means being self sacrificing and giving.

What does choosing love look like exactly? Love is different to each person because God has created all of us to be different. I can’t tell you what love is supposed to look like to you… only you can define it what it looks like to you. I do believe though, that there are no guarantees in love. There is no way to know how love will ultimately work out. I believe love is something you must let go to… just like we do when we give our lives to Jesus. It’s an adventure, an exploration and as we submit to it, it grows, becomes stronger and we become wiser and better in the process. It’s about trust!

I also have to wonder… what about confirmation. Peace or release. What does it look like to walk confidently into love (a relationship). I know that I completely understand and relate to what people are saying when they talk about having a release from God. There are times however where that just doesn’t come or happen. We are called to step out on faith “with God” in those times. God will walk with us through those unknown pathways, but we need to be paying attention to what He has to tell us while we do. One thing we do need to be sure of though is that the path we’re about to strike out on is in keeping with His Heart, His Mind and His Character. How do I know what that looks like. Well, I have to trust that I’ve learned from God and that some of what He’s been teaching me has rubbed off on me. For me, when it comes to “knowing” or having confidence in another person, I look for agenda harmony and I also have a sense about them based on what I see and feel. I must also have faith because I feel I can trust in who they represent themselves to be. How they choose to act. How they demonstrate their character.

OK… let’s assume that you’ve met someone and they’re “all that” for you. They embody for you all of the elements that I’ve mentioned and more. You feel genuine love for them and have gotten to know them for let’s say 6 months or so. You trust them, you have seen that they are consistent in their character and they are someone you are drawn to and trust. You see the person as someone you truly believe you could spend the rest of your life with and so… you tell them exactly that! It’s a reasonable statement to make if you’ve both been clear about being interested in settling down and getting married. In my experience, there have been times where I’ve been asked, “How can you know that about me so confidently?” or “How can you be so sure about me”? I’m going to be brutally honest on this point! Dependent on your perspective, that’s an awful question to ask because it seems so self condemning and self doubting! Do you not know yourself or who you are? How do you see yourself? Do you not value yourself as highly as I obviously do if I’m telling you that I’m confident in what I see in you? Why would you find it so hard to believe that someone can be so confident about you? Speaking from my experience, if I find myself ready to offer the trust I’ve just mentioned, it’s because there’s more than just a feeling in my heart. It’s because I feel love for you, but also because you fall in line with my values and goals. You stimulate me! When I hear “How can you know that about me?” or “How can you be so sure?”, that’s an instant red flag to me and a few questions instantly leap to mind. Are you serious about being in a relationship? Can you commit or are you afraid to? Are you wondering if something better will come along? Do you have trouble with trust? Do you have value issues with me or are you concluding that I may not be the same thing for you and you’re having trouble finding the courage to tell me? I’m not talking about not being in the same place in terms of your being able to identify whether I “tick all the boxes” for you. That’s a different scenario and it’s also reasonable that you might not yet be in that place relative to the time we’ve spent together (I just hope you’d have the ability to tell me the truth as you see it). If however, you tell me that I DO represent all of the things that are important to you when it comes to knowing whether “I’m the guy” and yet you wonder HOW I could see that “YOU are the girl”, then you’ve just scared the crap out of me and I’d now probably doubt your readiness or willingness to be in a lifelong relationship! It would make me wonder if you really ARE ready or if you truly believe in what you say that you are looking for. I would wonder if you have the ability to identify what you need in a relationship. If you are expressing doubts of any kind because I may not be the right person for you and you’re just unsure, then you’d better be honest about it, because I’m a part of this situation too!

I will go back to the questions “How can you know?” or “How can you be so sure?”. Rather than further challenging you, I will just say that if you hear me tell you that I believe you’re the girl for me, it is because I’ve made the decision based on what I see in you! This is what you would know about me or have heard me say,

“I see in you a woman who has great and consistent character. I see in you someone who is selfless and giving to a fault! I see in you someone who is wise, deliberate and yet compassionate and caring. I see in you someone who is creative and highly intelligent. I see in you someone who has a wonderful sense of humour. I adore your taste in music, your political views and insight and your social conscience. I admire in you, your willingness to be open and to self-evaluate and remain open to change. I admire your willingness to be wrong and to own it. A willingness to participate in discussions and then actually reflect upon them. To then see you truly, humbly and honestly adjust your view accordingly because you trust that I will do likewise. I admire how when you’re right and I’m wrong, you do the same for me! I admire that you are committed to your beliefs but you are not head strong. Now to the spiritual side of you… I love your insight into God’s heart. I love your commitment to God. I love your declarations that you “will not be separated from the Love of God” for me or anyone! I love that you model that in your life. I love that you openly pray. I love that you are trying to be and get closer to God’s heart. I love that you are not legalistic and that you reflect upon God’s heart and character when you evaluate scripture or when you hear about how people conduct themselves. I love how you explain your faith and how you see the Heart of God. I also see you as the most beautiful woman and that you have the most lovely voice! I Love the way you smile, the way you laugh, the way you wear your hair and the way that you are just yourself. Most of all though… I love how all of those things make me see you. It’s not one thing, but all of them that make me feel about you the way that I do. It’s just you and who you are. I accept and love you for you! That’s it and that’s all.”

If after hearing that and trusting that I’m sincere in what I’m saying because you know my character, then how could you doubt how I could know that about you?

It’s completely OK and fully understandable that two people won’t necessarily arrive at the same conclusion at the same time. All of us live, learn, trust and love at different rates. Being in a relationship and falling in love however, carries with it a great deal of responsibility. Probably the greatest responsibility we have is to be honest with ourselves. There is no way we’ll ever know how we truly feel about the other person unless we’ve taken the time to get to know ourselves, our likes, dislikes, values, goals and faith. We also need to see ourselves as someone of value and who is truly ready and committed to being in an honest and open relationship!

What are we supposed to choose for our lives? This is again up to us, but we have to make a choice. It’s not easy, especially with all of the crap most of us have gone through in our lives if you’re on the more mature side (age) and been around the block a few times. We do have a choice though and that choice should be relatively easy if we’ve done our homework and really gotten to know ourselves and what we need in a relationship. It’s what separates “love feeling like a thunderbolt” or being merely a feeling and truly knowing a deep, connected and bonded love! It’s not some flight of fancy, it takes sober, considered and deliberate thought and choice. If you can’t say that you’ve entered into a relationship without having done this work… then don’t enter a relationship. It would be unfair to represent yourself as ready and unless you are very, very lucky, you are likely to merely feel love and not truly know it!

Does love feel like a thunderbolt? I think love can feel like a thunderbolt, a magical stew or whatever kind of metaphor you want to substitute!. I think that after the the thunderbolt, love definitely needs to feel like a warm blanket, to feel like home, safe and secure!

Yes, love can feel like a thunderbolt, but I think it should be about more than just feelings. I think it needs too look like one too!

Know when to say no, how to say no or when to just walk away.

Wow… at the beginning of the Christmas season, if you’d asked me what I would be up to over the break, the last thing that would have sprung to mind would have been writing. Yet, here I am pounding away on my keyboard.  I’m grateful for a comfortable laptop, a great cup of coffee, willing family and friends who challenge me in a good way, my fantastic and patient new dog and to God!  I’m truly blessed.
I just finished writing an article about singleness, loneliness and choosing the right partner and because of some of the comments and emails I’ve received, I thought a follow up might be in order.
So… where to start?  Well, I will start by sharing something with you.  Anything you read by me is not fiction.  It’s definitely from my perspective and understanding, but it’s truthful and factual as I understood it at the time.  It’s about my personal experience and what I’ve learned as a result.  I guess that statement is what I want to focus on in this article…. Growth.
Growth.  What is it in the context of human development?  Well… physically, we change shape.  We’re dynamic structures (beings) that continually change throughout the course of our lifetime.  There is a very interesting paradox in human development and that’s a separation between physical, mental and emotional development.  Physically, we continue to grow until we’re roughly 24 years old when at that point, our cells begin to die off faster than our body produces them.  Our skin becomes less elastic and we start the very slow process of decay.  What’s still cool though is that we continue to grow, though eventually, it all comes to an end.
Mentally, if we’re lucky, that’s not necessarily the case.  We can continue to grow in knowledge and ability to learn, but sadly in many of us, that too goes into a state of decline.  This is not a paper on geriatric cognitive progression so I’ll shut up now.  The point here is that our ability to think or learn is not necessarily tied to our physical growth cycle.  I suppose another illustration of this is people who suffer from the various palsy afflictions.  Their physical bodies do not function in a way where they have full mobility or control, but the mind of the individual is fully developed, capable and continues to grow in what we might call a “normal” manner.
It’s the emotional part I want to focus on.  This part seems to somehow be separated from any sort of linear growth pattern.  In the two former examples, growth is somewhat progressive and predictable, however, emotional growth seems to take on a life cycle and pattern of its own.  That has certainly been the case in my experience.  There have been many times in my life where I knew (intellectually) that a choice I was making was wrong, and yet, I still chose to engage in doing what I knew was wrong!  That’s just bizarre… or it certainly occurs to me that way now!
Why didn’t I say no at the time?  What compelled me to choose the wrong thing especially when I knew better?  I will be honest and admit to you that I have the answer to that question now… or at least as it applies to me in my current understanding.  My answer is that I wasn’t broken.  I wasn’t open to learning that in order to make a choice, I had to understand where I stood in that choice and my motivations were selfish!  I just wanted to make me feel good or better.  In my circumstance, my motivation was the need for acceptance and validation.  I just wanted to be accepted or wanted.  I wanted people to like me.  I needed validation in the form of praise and acceptance and that overrode my intelligence or ability to discern truth in the decision making process.  My self-esteem and self-worth were completely skewed.  I really didn’t value myself and so I sought that validation in the eyes and actions of others.  The sad part though is that I became something of a door mat.  I didn’t respect myself so why should anyone else respect me?  I’m certain that a portion of what I received was out of sympathy.  I can honestly tell you that when I actually received genuine acceptance and love from people, I became an endless emotional vacuum and sucked the validation out of that person to a point where they began to feel used, disrespected and disgusted by me.  The best relationships I was able to engage in at that time were ones where people were just as emotionally screwed up as I was.  
Now… before you think that I’m on a self-righteous high horse here, let me say this… I walk humbly in my life right now.  I walk humbly because I’m broken in and from my life.   You see, in order for me to recognize this behaviour in myself, I had to first acknowledge that what happened, happened.  Then I had to learn to look at the truth in the situation and then to accept full responsibility for making the choice or choices that I did.  I can’t blame God or anyone else in my life for the choices I made… I MADE THEM!  I chose to ignore the truth and turn a blind eye to things that I saw but not to acknowledge.  I have chosen to add God into this discussion because He plays an important… no, an essential role in this process.  At least, He does in my value system.  I guess the thing I needed to do was to finally be ready to listen to the truth that so many people had been subliminally trying to tell me for years.  Once I did finally realize and accept the truth and recognize that what I do or how I do it isn’t nearly as important as what’s in my heart when I do changed the person I am today.  That’s what’s changed who I am as a person, as a Son, a Brother, a Friend, as a potential Husband and as a Child of God.  What I needed to know but didn’t was that what I choose do or say and what I base that choice on is what’s important.  If I choose to make a decision, it needs to be based on some foundational principles that I can rely on.  Here are a few:
Is it the truth?
Is it consistent with my values and goals (do I know them well)?
Is it consistent with my character?
Is it what God would want me to do?
Is it consistent with his character?
These are just 5 quick questions that you can ask yourself that may save you years of heartache and grief.  Again, I mentioned God in my reflection set and why did I?  God is my Heavenly Father and I know He absolutely has my best interest at heart and His character is absolutely consistent.  To know that, I needed to have a relationship with God and the best way to do that was to read the Bible, to learn to pray to Him and to listen.  It’s about being humble and that’s a very good thing.  It took me years to figure that one out, but boy I’m glad I finally did.  God fearing does not mean you need to be afraid of Him, but rather to respect Him for who He is.  He is our Father who can see everything and who only wants the very best for us.  That’s a topic for another day however.  When I finally realized that in those 5 questions I could answer nearly any life question with a very high degree of confidence.  I realized that I might not like some of the answers, but if I didn’t, that made me recognize that I needed to give the situation a much closer look!  When I looked honestly at the answers to those questions, I very quickly knew if I needed to be cautious or if I had a green light in the situation.  I don’t ignore the answers to those questions anymore and what’s more… I always ask the questions now.  I didn’t before and I’ve paid some pretty serious consequences as a result.
I don’t usually make snap decisions, but I always try to challenge myself to do a quick situation review first and I always try to see the truth in every situation.  Even if I don’t like the answer, especially if I don’t like the answer!  The hardest part about living life is living in truth.  It can also become the easiest!  I’m not just talking about being honest, but really seeking to look at a situation and accept it for what it truly is.  When you learn do that, you may not like the choices that remain for you, but in the long run, you’ll probably find yourself in a better and healthier situation.  I lived in or believed in ignorance, half-truth or outright lies for many years and that’s why I find myself living the consequences of those choices now.  I don’t mind so much though because of one very important thing.  I now know the difference and I can’t blame anyone else for it and I’ve forgiven myself.  I realized that I am just as in need of grace, forgiveness and understanding as anyone.  We all need to learn and that’s just a part of life.  
Don’t be afraid of the truth!  It’s inescapable anyway.  It will always catch up with you, so it’s better that we learn to live in it sooner rather than later.  We can make all kinds of excuses, but if we’re honest, we always know the truth deep down.  That’s where God comes in once again.  He knows me inside and out.  I can’t hide anything from Him because there is no place I can hide from Him.  He sees everything and that’s become comforting to me.  I know I can bring anything to Him and He’ll help me see the truth and what’s awesome is even better… He’ll love me no matter what!  No condemnation, no berating, just love!
If any part of what I’ve written here is what you have experienced or are currently experiencing, please ask for help.  Unless you’re an exceptionally strong person, it’s so hard to do on your own.  If you don’t know anyone or have anyone to turn to, than ask me.  I probably can’t help you directly, but I will try to help you to find some resources that may be able to.  If nothing else, I can help you to know that you’re not alone and you’re not the only person going through what you are!  
These are just some of the ways you can learn when or how to say no to a situation or when to just walk away.  It’s not always easy, but it will probably wind up being the most loving thing you’ll do.  Not just for yourself, but for the other person or people involved too.
Hang in there!  Believe me, there’s freedom in life and it comes with living in truth.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.