Self-Help

Pop-Up Sermon: Stop Crippling People

Stressful Practices

(Photo Credit: Odyssey)

Although a true commitment to helping people is commendable, don’t become their crutch—don’t cripple them. At some point, you have to allow them to do things on their own. Yes, show them how it’s done, and then leave them to demonstrate that they want to put your teaching into practice. If you fail to end an unhealthy practice of attempting to solve everyone’s problems, or fail to discontinue doing everything they don’t want to or cannot do, then you’re placing yourself on a path to experiencing serious mental health issues (if you don’t already have them).

When will people ever grow if you never give them an opportunity?

Without a change of these toxic practices, people will take advantage of you—and you may never recognize it. You will inevitably destroy your body by trying to be a Superman or Superwoman for everyone. Let me take a moment to unsettle you: you’re really not a Superman or Superwoman—you’re really a “do-boy” or “do-girl,” meaning you’re getting used, hoodwinked, bamboozled.

Ameliorate the quality of your life by teaching people how to execute tasks, and then let them do the work. Learn to be more than a crutch for others.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Never Give Up by John Mason: Book Review

Never Give Up by John Mason

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

John Mason’s Never Give Up: You’re Stronger Than You Think offers readers 52 powerful “nuggets,” motivation keys, to encourage them to choose faith in what’s possible over toxic unbelief. Mason, a minister, inspirational speaker, and best-selling author of many books, including You Can Do It—If Others Say You Can’t and You Can Be Your Best—Starting Today, desires for people to remain committed to their dreams. The author contends that people fail to tap the perseverance that lies within them.

Mason’s principal inspiration for penning this book is those on the verge of surrendering their dreams. He desires for them to regain their commitment to their dreams and to pursue those dreams with passion. As I reflect on the millions of people living in poverty, I wonder how many of those individuals stopped believing in their dreams, how many stopped believing in themselves before falling prey to poverty.

The author notes that everyone has been blessed with certain abilities, and those abilities can propel them to success. Unfortunately, too many people compare their abilities with those of others, leading them often to feeling inadequate, an inadequacy that emerges because they’re too busy concentrating on what they don’t have instead of cherishing what they do have.

For Mason, when a person receives God’s salvation, He places purpose, His purpose, on the inside of him or her: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). The author states that one of the most vital points in this verse is “the fact that God doesn’t quit. Therefore, we can have great confidence that He will complete the good work He has begun in us” (p. 15). When we place our confidence in God’s confidence about us, then fear doesn’t have an opportunity to disrupt our belief in what God declares we can accomplish.  

I teach my students about the value of a question, and I was pleased to see Mason share a similar value and enthusiasm for inquiry. People often rush to arrive at an answer without investing the necessary time to pose the right question.  

Even if a person is not deeply spiritual or is an atheist, this book still offers significant value. Mason’s book serves as a constant reminder that believing in yourself is essential to executing any task and achieving your heart’s greatest desires.

I strongly recommend everyone to purchase and read this book. It’s one of those works you can treat as a devotional, one you can use as daily motivation to overcome challenges the day may present.

Revell Books provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Transformative Power of Reading

Transformative Power of Reading

(Photo Credit: Black Christian News Network)

One of the most powerful ways to awaken, develop, strengthen, and renew your inner intellectual is through reading substantive pieces each day. When you read substantive works, your knowledge grows, your imagination becomes broader, and your capacity to dream elevates. Reading permits you to not only discover many or most of the answers you seek, but also it enables you to formulate the right questions, questions that will lead you to a better, more interesting, and more successful life. This intentional focus on your inner intellectual will pay true dividends in enhancing your self-concept and naturally and ultimately your self-esteem.

When you read quality material, material that relates to your interests, aspirations, and search for answers, your purposeful reading will serve as a strong defense against negative factors affecting and influencing your self-concept and self-esteem.

Reading substantive literature, such as slave narratives, allows for you to place the challenges, barriers, and problems you face in their proper context. When you read slave narratives, you will learn about individuals who persevered and triumphed in impossible conditions—conditions much more difficult than you will ever be able to imagine. These stories about how American heroes and heroines endured these impossible conditions will inspire you to continue to strive for success—even when success falsely appears unlikely and barriers seem like they will never be conquered. Look for the strategies, values, principles, and thinking that led to those individuals’ success. Find ways to incorporate what contributed to their success into your own life.

Use your school library, public library, and the internet to find books and articles that pertain to your interests and goals. One of the greatest investments you can make in yourself each day is to read something that is going to support your interests and place you further on the path to achieving your goals. Each day is an opportunity to learn something new. Don’t waste a moment in self-doubt. Expand your knowledge, expand your horizons, expand your imagination through a commitment to reading meaningful books and articles that pertain to your interests and goals.

A commitment to purposeful reading every day is one of the most powerful ways of strengthening your self-concept and self-esteem. With this commitment, your mind becomes occupied with self-advancement, pursuing your interests, and meeting your goals.

Let books and articles occupy your mind, limiting the amount of time for condemnation, peer pressure, and self-doubt to discourage you and halt your progress.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Let the Power of Discovery Begin at Home

Black Family

(Photo Credit: Black Enterprise)

Before you go out exploring phenomena outside of your home, discover the new things you can learn about those inside of your home.  How often do you ask questions to those in your immediate family?  How well do you really know your family members?  Too often we assume we know a tremendous amount about our immediate family members, but there can be so many things we don’t know about them.  Many people can be so busy trying to find out what’s going on in other people’s homes that they’re missing the greatest attractions developing inside of their own homes.

Parents, how well do you know your children’s friends?  For parents with older children who are in relationships, how well do you know the individuals they’re in relationships with?  Do you know why your children decided to be in relationships with these individuals?  How did they first meet and what attracted them?  Are your children too secretive about their relationships?  Why?  Do you have children you find it strange that they are even in intimate relationships?  Have you asked questions that will provide you with more information to make it less strange?  These aforementioned queries are just some you can posed to members of your immediate family to discover some potentially novel things.

One of the best ways to build and maintain strong families is to place a strong value on communication in your home.  Your home should be a place where frank and open communication are truly valued.  The members of your immediate family should feel comfortable to talking to one another about virtually anything.  One thing I’m very proud of about my immediate family is the members of the family feel comfortable talking to one another about anything.  We can share things with one another without feeling like any member is going to bring condemnation for what’s disclosed.  My immediate family is loving and supportive, and it has been the welcoming and embracing of frank and unrestricted communication that has been essential to the love in my family.

If you talk more to your immediate family members, you may learn ways you can be useful in helping them to overcome physical, social, emotional and/or spiritual challenges and problems.  Before sending a family member to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, determine if this is even necessary.  Those situated inside the home can serve as the only psychologist or psychiatrist the person needs.  We often miss opportunities to be helpful to those who live in our own homes because we allow ourselves to become too busy to look for the potential needs of our family members.

Use this piece as a conversation-starter with the members of your immediate family.  Let this piece become a way for you to ask questions of the members of your immediate family that you’ve always wanted to know or failed to ask.  You may discover some things about your immediate family members you needed to know before they died.  Don’t make your family members think you’ve turned into a private investigator (unless you truly are one).  Just let them know you want to grow closer as a family through the power of discourse and inquiry.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Develop Your Own Fashion Style

Andre 3000

(Photo Credit: BET)

Let your fashion style come from within.  Don’t look to others about how you should dress.  You already have the answer inside of you.  While it’s okay to draw inspiration from the way others dress, your fashion style should represent who you are; therefore, it’s going to have true originality.  The fundamental way to destroy the originality of your fashion style is to copy others and/or idolize the fashion styles of others.  You will end up looking like a cheap copy of others, and those folks you’re copying and/or idolizing could simply be cheap copies of others.  Do you see how the chain of cheap copies begins and persists?

It’s important to understand that simply dressing “weird” and making a painstakingly ridiculous effort to be “different” from everyone else isn’t being original.  Again, let your fashion style emerge naturally from within.  For ladies who take Lady Gaga as your model for dressing “different,” Gaga’s radical fashion will have you looking like a person who attempts to dress like her; ultimately, you will have a foolish appearance. It’s okay to draw inspiration from Lady Gaga but don’t strive to dress just like her.  For guys who take Andre 3000 as your model for dressing “different,” you’re going to look silly if you try to dress just like him.  His fashion style represents what comes natural for him.  What’s natural for him isn’t going to be natural for you—you’re two different people.

When it comes having a fashion style that represents you, less may be more.  Pharrell Williams’ fashion style offers a great example of less is more. Yeah, he may choose a hat to wear that catches your attention, but no one said that less is more had to be boring.

People who truly feel they dress well don’t go around flaunting it either.  They simply walk with confidence and grace about how they look.  Never do they feel the need to disclose with you the large amount of money they paid for their clothing and accessories, and never do they launch attacks on others about the way they dress.  People who have their own unique fashion styles don’t go around acting as if they’re God’s gifts to fashion or the fashion industry, and they don’t go around acting like they should be fashion teachers.

Stop fawning over the way other people dress and get more in tune with the fashion style that’s best for you. What you have on should never wear you; you should be wearing it.  Unfortunately, many people who choose to dress in “innovative” ways have on things that are wearing them.  These people often are seeking to draw attention to themselves, but they never seem to contemplate the truth behind the reactions they receive from people. While many people will give you praise in your face about what you have on, behind your back they’re exposing you for how foolish you’ve consciously decided to make yourself look.

You must understand the importance of being yourself when it comes to what you wear.  What you wear should provide a true snapshot of the person you are.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

You Need A Reality Check

Reality Check

(Photo Credit: Globster)

Sometimes you have to give people a reality check.  Reality checks are beneficial for people.  They help to provide people with the necessary understanding of who they are and how they developed into the people they are today.  Too often people get selective amnesia and think that they simply arrived where they are without the help of anyone else.  It’s important to help people to realize they may only be as good as those who helped them to get where they are today.  Unfortunately, individuals can fool themselves into actually believing their own lies. When you live and believe your own lies, you’re delusional, and delusional people need to be placed in a mental facility for treatment.  Are you a delusional person needing to benefit from mental health services because you live and believe your own lies?

Don’t be afraid to check yourself into a mental health facility to receive the mental health treatment you need to overcome psychological problems.

The fundamental reason why people would rather live a lie than the truth is they don’t have the confidence in who they really are to live the truth. They believe the lies they live are going to mask the truth about them, but you can never camouflage the truth about yourself; the majority of folks will recognize the truth about you. When you attempt to hide the truths about yourself, you’re simply wasting time.  All of the time you invest in being phony could be used to make serious advancements toward becoming the person you long to be.

Do you realize that phony people are dangerous?  Why are they dangerous?  They are dangerous because they will inevitably become so frustrated that the only way they can live with themselves is to destroy the people around them.  If you don’t believe this, you haven’t been around people who are truly delusional.  When you have an experience with a really delusional person, he or she will aid you in understanding why he or she (and others like him or her) has the potential to cause you and others great harm.

We need to have greater national discourses in America about mental health.  Our national conversations about mental health, however, cannot overlook the importance of calling people to be themselves.  There must be stronger encouragement for people to welcome and appreciate truth, including truths about themselves.  When people have a better appreciation and embracement of truth, they will begin to love themselves genuinely.  A healthy love of yourself is essential.  You cannot truly love yourself until you embrace everything about yourself, including your ugly truths.

Recognize that your ugly truths are present to let you know that you’re still human and imperfect.  Keep working to improve those things about yourself that displease you.  You must, however, know that there are some things about yourself that you cannot change.  Some things about yourself are simply a part of who you were created to be.

When God created you, He made only one of you.  Be proud to be the person God wonderfully made you to be. He made you special; it’s your job to recognize it and thank Him for it.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

New Beginnings, New Opportunities

Happy Black Woman

(Photo Credit: Mommy Noire)

Sometimes you have to allow yourself to move away from stagnant, declining and decaying spaces to offer yourself new opportunities to reach your highest potential. Too often people’s talents aren’t able to be used or are being wasted in unproductive spaces. Embracing the status quo and/or being overtaken by a spirit of complacency leads people to develop a false consciousness that they’re truly at “home” in these restrictive spaces. When you feel like you’re not growing and aren’t able to maximize your potential, it can be quite useful to consider the spaces you’re occupying.  Are you really happy where you are in life right now?  If you’re not, you may want to contemplate the impact the spaces you frequent or dwell in are having on your ability to experience happiness.

Don’t simply stay in a place to make the people around you happy.  Why would you want to live a miserable life just to make other people happy? Does not your own happiness matter too?  If you’re going to be truly happy and successful, you must have a willingness to take risks.  Find a successful person who never took a risk.  Let me save you some time: you won’t find one.

When you depart from spaces you have frequented or inhabited for a long time, it’s natural to experience some separation anxiety as a result of leaving people you love. Take the necessary time to deal with the impact of this separation anxiety, but don’t lose sight of the true happiness and prosperity you desire to materialize.  At some point, you’re going to have to learn the importance of keeping your emotions in check. Successful people don’t give their emotions the power to rule them; they rule their emotions.  If you allow your emotions to run you, then you will make many emotional decisions; emotional decisions are often poor and damaging decisions.

You may have to try or learn some new things to make room for new beginnings and new opportunities.  Don’t get frustrated with the new thing you have to learn.  You have to understand that the new thing you have to learn is a part of the process of getting to the life you long to live. The path to success is not going to be easy and it’s not going to come without some struggle.  When you muster the courage to pursue new beginnings and new opportunities, you have to develop a resolute mindset to meet your aspirations.  You have to be determined to accomplish your goals no matter what comes your way.

Recognize that there will be people who will attempt to discourage you from pursuing new beginnings and new opportunities, but you must view them as only hindrances.  Don’t permit a single hindrance to stifle your progress in any way.  Keep pushing forward, even if you have to push your hindrances literally out of the way.

Be excited about pursuing new beginnings and new opportunities.  One of the amazing things about life is you never know what great opportunity will come your way.  It’s up to you, however, to engender an environment where new beginnings and new opportunities run to you instead of run away from you.

Life becomes sweeter and sweeter when we’re open to change.  Change can be good for you.  Go ahead and give yourself a chance to be a better you!

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison