Sunday, 21 January 2018

Scargill Companions’ Retreat

I became a Companion of Scargill not long after my first here in August 2014. I have just finished my third Companions’ Retreat. Each year it has been an opportunity to examine the Scargill Pathway, to review the promises that Companions make when they make the decision to follow a rule of life similar to the one that the members of the Scargill Community make. As it says on the Scargill website: “Scargill is part of an emerging church movement called ‘new monasticism’ ...”

What does this mean to me as a Companion? Scargill is my sanctuary, it is the place when I can just BE with God, it is my spiritual home. I find my spiritual family here. I find my spiritual food here.

This weekend our retreat was led by Lucy Cleland, one of the Scargill chaplains. I’ve known Lucy for a number of years in her previous role as chaplain to the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham. This was the first time that I have chance to enjoy Lucy’s teaching.

Lucy based the sessions around the ‘Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’. You know the TV adverts “A dog is not just for Christmas” - well, Christian Unity is not just for a week when we pray about it! Who knew? I shall say no more ...

The first session was called ‘Different Families’ and the session began with reading Psalm 127 together. I’ll be honest, I find psalms quite challenging so I found it really useful to read this psalm and discuss it with others. It’s just 5 verses long. The first two verses resonate the most with me:

“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise up early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

I spent many years of my life completely labouring in vain, and to some extent I still do. Why? Because I am human and I make mistakes, I get it wrong, all the time. What is important is that I ‘try my very best’ - alone I don’t even do that, at least not all of the time. How do I do that better? By being in fellowship with other Christians, by spending time with my family and friends. Simply focussing more on others and less on myself. Because when I give I get much more in return.

BUT I often give too much, some in the right areas, some not in the right areas - and guess what? My spiritual well runs empty, that’s when I need Scargill. However, I can’t live my life ‘white-knuckling’ it until my next visit to Scargill. I need to find effective ways of keep my spiritual well topped up. Don’t ask me how, I have not worked that out yet.

Different families though strikes a chord. I have different families, I have my blood family. I have my church family. I have a family here at Scargill.

Lucy talked to us about how we can think of families as communities. That’s pretty obvious here in this peaceful place. It can be harder at home in the ‘real world’. Lucy said, “As Christians, we are called to be communities where all families are supported and strengthened so that all are safe and may flourish”

As parents, this is what Marie and I have always tried to do for our children, and nowadays for our grandchildren. It is a primary focus of my ministry at St. Martha’s as part of a wonderful family there serving the community of Broxtowe.

Nelson Mandela said, “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest”

Statements like this are the fuel that fires my passion for feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, and treating all people in the same way - as equals.

Clearly, this makes me think about the food bank at St. Martha’s and I started thinking and doodling. I drew a cross and I surrounded it with the words Love, Community, Safe, and Strenghten. Without Love God is not present. Without Community we are not doing God’s work. If we don’t offer Safety then we are not doing God’s work. If we don’t Strenghten then we are not going God’s work.

God is love, it really is that simple. Jesus told us that we must love our neighbour, it really is that simple. As Christians, we are called to do God’s work, to fulfill God’s mission on earth. Missio Dei - a Latin Christian theological term that can be translated as the “mission of the God,” or the “sending of God.”

We’re building his Kingdom, not ours. That’s what Psalm 127 says to me.

Session two “God Acts for the Powerless” - we started with Psalm 113. A song of praise, verses 1-6 make me think of songs that our young people at church love to sing “Our God is a Great Big God” - “God can do anything, anything at all”. God doesn’t have favourites. Verse 7: “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; ...”

Things I learnt during this session. The Magnificat mirrors Psalm 113. Graham Kendrick wrote his song “Beauty for Brokenness” based on Psalm 113 - the lyrics “God of the poor, friend of the weak” clearly reflecting the psalm.

During this session we also looked at Luke 12:13-21 which prompted me to write my “Dear Donald ...” letter yesterday. The Bible clearly reflects the world today and its brokenness, and recognises the brokenness of people.

We meeting these people everyday at St. Martha’s, people broken by the ravages of injustice, greed and utter lack of compassion by those in positions of power.

Session three “Welcoming the Stranger” - Psalm 146 verse 9 “The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”  God excludes no-one, all are welcome. I have to admit do I welcome all, do I really welcome all people equally? I try my best, but I could almost certainly try harder. I’ve promised to try my very best to “welcome visitors and strangers as we would welcome Jesus himself, putting their needs before our (my) own and treating each one as a royal guest”

Do I really welcome the obviously drunk or stoned person that wanders into the church as a royal guest? Do I really welcome the unruly, apparently obnoxious teenager causing trouble outside the church as a royal guest? Do I welcome the person at work who persists in interrupting me while I am busy as a royal guest?

No? WHY NOT? “That person could be the returning Christ”

Conclusions:

1) This is somewhat random stream of consciousness (but I had to capture it while it was fresh in my mind).

2) More useful perhaps ...

Two of the companion promises are very relevant to the holistic ministry of St.Martha’s

a) Speak up bravely for people who are rarely heard, helping our Heavenly Father to fulfil his dream of seeing the hungry fed, the sick looked after, the naked clothed and victims of injustice released from their chains.
b) welcome visitors and strangers as we would welcome Jesus himself, putting their needs before ours and treating each one as a royal guest.

They all have relevance to any Christian community but the two above we could pray about and see what God tells to do with them, if anything. BUT it seems to me that we need to get EVERYBODY on the same page, or at least to know what the page is!



Saturday, 20 January 2018

Dear Donald ....

An open letter based on Luke 12:13-21:

Dear Donald,

A man I know told a story a couple of thousand years ago and it made me think of you.




The Parable of the Rich Fool

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell me how I can get even more money than I already have from anyone rich, poor, I don’t mind I just want more. I want to be even richer, it’ll be great, really great.”

Jesus sighed, facepalmed and replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you and your people?”

Then he turned to the crowd and said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. It’s not really great at all.”

And then he told them this parable, “The business interests of a certain rich man generated a huge profit and he had many material possessions stored in his tower.” The man thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my ever increasing number of material possessions.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do, it’ll be great, really great. I will just build a few more, bigger towers, and there I will be able to store my ever increasing number of material possessions. And I’ll say to myself, “This really is great, you have many possessions stored up to last for many years. Take life easy, play golf, get a new trophy wife, run for president, become president, make my country great again, offend just about every human being on the planet, ...”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have stored up for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.”




I thought that you might like this story Donald since you are a good Christian man and supported by so many Christians of so many denominations.

Best wishes,

Simon

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Out of the bedroom


For about a year, unless I have been working in some way, or out of the house. I have lived in my bedroom, I have had almost all of my meals in my bedroom. When I get home, I go to my bedroom and take off my jeans, and get into bed. Every day for a year. I'll probably do it after I have written this article. But, I am trying to get out of the bedroom.

This is the first time that I have written in this blog since last July and that was only to write up some notes and reflections on a week at Scargill.  Before that it was early January when I wrote some bullshit about 'Positive Attitude' and recording stuff in a notebook.  It was never going to happen.

I could bang on about how crap the past two years have been, but a lot of people have a great deal more crap to deal with than I do.

So, I'll stick to the facts rather than the feelings. Early last year I had a physical illness that laid me low for about 3 weeks and I barely left the bedroom. Physical illness turned to a serious drop in mood. So, since February 2017 I have been living through a serious Bipolar depression episode.

This means that a lot of spoons have been used every day. Getting my work done has required almost all of my energy. Typically, I have been doing too much. This invokes stress, which makes the depression worse and saps even more energy.

Then a life event happened in June. Nobody died, but it was like a bereavement, lots of grief. Lots of anger. Lots more stress. By this point I am making stupid mistakes at work, tasks that I would normally 'speed' through are taking forever, I am upsetting people at work, at church, and, of course, those nearest and dearest to.

This trajectory of stress, frustration, anger, irritability, aggression, etc. didn't get any better as the year went on. I threw my toys out of just about every pram I own.

This is a cycle of self-destruction. Everyone is telling me that I just don't look after myself and they are right. I am lousy at listening to their advice though. Because I'll be alright, I will just power through it.

I am a determined and stubborn person. Then something happened about a month before Christmas.  The psychiatrist who diagnosed my Bipolar Disorder in September 2007 told me after 10 years that he might not be able to see me anymore.  Now, I might be crap at taking advice (even from him) but I am bloody good at dealing with imperatives.

He didn't drop this bombshell until after he had given me a pretty stern talking to. He told me again that I really should consider Mindfulness as a tool to help me manage my depression. I rolled my eyes and told him that I found it all a bit too zen. He recommended also that I read a book by Paul Gilbert 'The Compassionate Mind'  - he said that I needed to learn to be compassionate towards myself, because in his view I don't value myself. I am too busy helping others and doing stuff, and don't see that quality 'me' time as important. I don't think that I deserve it. At this point I am thinking that he is just coming up with some other thing that I won't like.

Then he dropped the aforementioned bombshell.

I went home and read around the subject of Compassion Focussed Therapy and ordered Gilbert's book and an associated workbook. I also ordered a book by Sally Welch's book 'How to be a Mindful Christian - 40 Simple Spiritual Practices'.

I concluded that I needed to take control of my life - after 58 years I am finally starting to smell the coffee - ironic since I drink so much of the stuff eh? I reached the following conclusions:

  • There is only so much that drugs can help alleviate my Bipolar Disorder,coping strategies and self-management are just as important;
  • I need fewer activities in my life - not just fewer, but the right balance between paid and voluntary work; and
  • This means that I will have to stop doing some things that I love doing.

So, I have already changed my work schedule to create a balanced working week and a firm day off. I am going to Scargill in two weeks time for a week on an individually guided silent retreat. (yes, silent!)  The Gilbert and Welch books are going with me, and will be my focus for that week.

I saw my psychiatrist earlier this week, and told him about my plan. He was encouraged and I will be seeing him again (phew!) in April.

The ball is in my court now. I have to do this, otherwise the cycle of self-destruction will continue and that will only end one way. I am sorry if that sounds dramatic, but it is known to be true.

Ultimately, I am an addict. I am addicted to 'perfection' and 'busy-ness' - addicts die if they don't get a grip of their disease. It is a fact. Not just alcoholics and drug addicts. Addicts die.

I am not going to die. My journey is not over. My story is not over.


PS. If there are any typos in this article, they don't matter.



Away from it all

View from my room
I am just coming to the end of a week's retreat / holiday at the Scargill Movement and it has been a relaxed but at times thought provoking week.

After a very tiring period at home I was more than ready for a break. Exemplified by an unforced error of judgement on Sunday last. My departure was delayed but the drive was uneventful as I zoomed - legally - up the M1 and A1(M) and turned off at Ripon and came across country to Kettlewell and up the narrow lane to Scargill.

It was a glorious sunny day and it was good to be at my favourite place away from Nottingham. 

After settling in, a cup of coffee it was soon time for Evening Prayers with a short meditation on Psalm 107. Then it was time for dinner, conversation with old friends and new, the regular welcoming worship and information session, night prayer and hot chocolate ... and in my case an early night. I slept like a log.

The programme for Tuesday to Friday was not intense in terms of teaching sessions, just one 75 minute slot each morning.

On the first day Andreas took us on a journey through the book of Jonah.  He described it as an ironic comedy and when he read it out loud to us it was clear to see what he meant. I don't intend to replicate everything that Andreas said but as someone who identifies with Jonah quite a lot a few key points stood out for me:

A Jewish story told from the perspective of  exile.

Chapter 1 - is Jonah disobedient, reluctant, scared or comfortable? Certainly I feel that I was disobedient when I tried to ignore God's call on my. I was certainly reluctant and scared, and I was quite happy to stay within my comfort zone, thank you very much! I had no desire to work for God if it was going to challenge or stretch me.

Chapter 2 - Thankfully God didn't throw me into the sea, to the edge of death and throw me up onto a beach. He didn't ask me to risk my life. However, He did keep nudging me and insisted that I give up control and to place my trust in Him. The degree to which I have handed myself over to him is as yet far from complete.

Chapter 3 - Jonah finally does what he is told by God to do. It is not Jonah's choice about what happens to the people of Nineveh. Jonah knows that God will always be gracious, but he doesn't like it, he doesn't think they deserve it. For myself, I have to constantly remind myself that I am a minister, a servant in God's plan, it is not for me to decide.

Chapter 4 - Jonah knows that God will be merciful, he doesn't want that, he wants God to be vengeful. But like Jonah, I too get angry with God - that's OK, I think.

Andreas made a very interesting suggestion which I may try sometime. Read the book of Jonah from the perspective of a Ninevite, rather than a Jewish perspective. I get it, I'd be on my needs begging for God's mercy prepared to go to any lengths to get His grace and forgiveness poured out on me. And as we read in the book, God gives it freely.


Jacob wrestles with God (Genesis 32:22-32)

On Wednesday morning Phil posed the question "Do we wrestle with God?" I could just say yes and leave it there but I want to remember a bit more so that I can understand this later when I come back to it!

Phil described Jacob as a schemer - the Baldrick of the Old Testament! These are just a few points for me to remember:


  • Jacob came from a split family - Issac loved Esau, Rebecca loved Jacob.
  • God was not beyond hitting below the belt (hip) ... in asking for his name, Jacob submitted to God (Hosea 12:3-4)
  • Jean Vanier (Summer in the Forest video) - "What is it to be human? If we are looking for power then we'll kill each other" - "The weak are not looking for power, they are in the dust, they are looking for friendship"
  • Phil Stone - "God wants me to be known as beloved"
  • Phil Stone - "We are too Christian in our prayers, we need to be more Jewish" - we can wrestle with God. We are all wounded and it is out of that God can work through us ...


Author: 
Thomas Merton

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 
Issue Title: 
Seize the Day: Vocation, Calling, Work

Issue Year: 
2012



To wrestle with God my relationship with him needs to be closer and more honest.


Jesus!

The Laughing Christ
On Thursday Phil turned our gaze towards Jesus.

We watched this video - That's my King - Dr. S. M. Lockridge - you'll love it!!

Key messages for me were:

To go bravely forward is to invite a miracle.
Something has to die in us for us to move on.
"He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me" Psalm 18:19 NIV - am I prepared to go into that spacious place?
God's grace is poured out upon us, we are drenched in it (use of words bestowed and lavished - )









Thursday, 5 January 2017

Positive Attitude Notebook



On my facebook status, on 1st January 2017, I wrote this:

"I have a tendency to be negative about 'stuff' so I am going to carry a notebook so that I can write positive things that happen on a day to day basis. I can't ignore the things that pull my mood down but hopefully I will see that there is balance in my Bipolar world."

And I am using a paper notebook and a pen to write stuff down - anyone that has known me for any length of time will know that this is 'not me'.

Well, so far so good. I have not missed a day yet and I have developed a system (!!) for my notes so that I can see what type of note they are without having to structure them in any kind of order. This was the only way I could stop my brain from imploding as on a computer I would be able to cut and paste stuff around.

I decided that 2017 needed to be a new start and I wrote this at the top of the first page - 'God has washed 31st December and before away and has forgotten it'.

So what does my notebook record:

P - Positive things that happen each day. I will record at least one.
R - Reflections on the day.
M - Mood level on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1-3 is low, 4 to 7 is ok, and 8-10 are too high.

So then, an extract from the week so far, just positive items - the rest is just for me (until I decide otherwise).

1st Jan: The service I lead at church went well in all respects, this made me feel very happy.

1st Jan: Decided to read the Bible in full again this year. My good friend Louisa is doing it with me and Marie has said that she will do it too. I am overjoyed.

2nd Jan: Got a new printer for £24.99. Techie joy.

3rd Jan: Back to work. A productive day and so nice to see my work colleagues again after the break.

4th Jan: Nice to see Cheryl & Annalise at church and to have lunch with Dan & Jenny.

4th Jan: Meeting an amazing lady who came to the Foodbank who was overwhelmed by the support that we were able to give her.

4th Jan: Seeing Ian & Kiltie in Shirebrook, forgetting keys for the church wasn't all that bad!

So far this is having a positive effect on my mood, keeping it in the 'sweet spot'.




Monday, 31 October 2016

Bipolar Life is a Rollercoaster

Oblivion Rollercoaster
(Alton Towers)
As Ronan Keating wrote 'Life is a Rollercoaster' I think he had a mind a fun ride to woo the girl he loved. Mine has been a bit more like Alton Towers' Oblivion over the past few months. One sure sign of this state of mind is that I stop writing on here, not that I write anything particular worth reading, but at least it shows that I am taking an interest in something.

A number of physical health issues have been causing me concern. Numerous other things just going on my life have been causing more stress than I am able to deal with. About a month or so ago I started to free fall into oblivion.

When things go 'bad' I am terrible at taking my own advice - and turning my worries over to God.

I am even worse at taking advice from others. The irony is just before the rollercoaster tipped over the edge I had just had a review with the doctor that takes care of my Bipolar Disorder. Yes, my psychiatrist. All felt good. On the up. As is often the case, I was fooling myself lying to myself and lying to him.

Last weekend, things came to a head and I can't honestly remember what night it was Sunday, Monday - somewhere around there. I reached the lowest point that I can remember since my initial diagnosis in 2007.

When it gets that scary, I panic for a few hours and then get really good at taking care of myself. I rapidly withdrew from any activities that were optional. I spoke to my best friend and in doing so turned everything that was pressing me down over to God.

I spend too much time 'doing' and I am going to take some time to just 'be' over the next few weeks.

Last week, my Facebook cover photo said "I hate Bipolar, it's awesome". The nature of this disability - and make no mistake it is a disability - means that there are good times as well as bad times. The good times can be very good, it is when they get too good and you head towards the inevitable drop that you need to step back. It is much easier said than done. I've lived with this disability since I was a teenager, despite not being diagnosed until 2007. Bipolar II is very hard to diagnose.

Life's always a rollercoaster when you live it with Bipolar.

Quoting Ronan Keating somewhat out of context "Life is a rollercoaster, Just gotta ride it"



Thursday, 18 August 2016

Stolen because it is brilliant!

I have unashamedly stolen this text from Susan Storm's wonderful Psychology Junkie blog - this is without doubt one of the most wonderfully useful thinks I have read about my personality types - I am not longer going to say I am a NNNN, I am going to say that I am a Guardian.



ESTJ – The Supervisor
What stresses out an ESTJ:
– Being in an environment that is in disarray
– Frequent disruptions
– Irrational behavior
– Being surrounded by (or guilty of) incompetence
– Unexpected changes
– Lack of control
– Laziness in others
– Not having their strongly held values validated
– Guilt over being critical towards others
– Dealing too long with abstract or theoretical concepts
– Being in a highly-charged emotional environment for too long
When overwhelmed by stress, ESTJ’s often feel isolated from others. They feel as if they are misunderstood and undervalued, and that their efforts are taken for granted. When under stress, they have a hard time putting their feelings into words and communicating them to others. If they are under frequent, chronic stress, they may fall into the grip of their inferior function; introverted feeling. When this happens, they can develop a “martyr complex”. The ESTJ will be uncharacteristically emotional, withdraw from others, become hypersensitive about their relationships, and misinterpret tiny, insignificant details into personal attacks. Physically, they may feel tension headaches, and neck or shoulder aches from tension in their body.
How to help an ESTJ experiencing stress:
– Give them some time to be left alone during and immediately after an incident.
– Avoid directly attacking the problem right away.
– Help them break down larger projects into smaller pieces.
– Listen to them. Let them talk it out.
– After some time of listening, discuss information or ideas that could lead to solutions.
– Validate their feelings.
– Don’t be overly-sympathetic.
– Don’t respond emotionally.
ISTJ – The Inspector
What Stresses out an ISTJ:
– Being in an environment that is in disarray
– Looming deadlines
– Being forced or asked to do things that don’t make sense to them
– Being asked to do something without a plan or direction
– Frequent change
– Having to innovate without any past experience to rely on
– Being asked to do something spontaneously
– Too much extraversion (excess people contact)
– Emotionally charged situations
– Unfamiliar surroundings
– Dealing too long with abstract or theoretical concepts.
When faced with stress overload, ISTJs may fall into “catastrophe mode”, where they see nothing but all the potential of what could go wrong. They may beat themselves up; berating themselves for things which could have been done differently, or duties which they failed to perform. They will lose their ability to see things calmly and reasonably, and can become depressed at what they see as a bleak future. Under chronic stress, the ISTJ may fall into the grip of their inferior function, extroverted intuition, and become a “dramatizer”. They may become intensely angry, rigid in what they’re doing, outwardly critical, pessimistic, and embrace an overwhelming fear of the future.
How to help an ISTJ experiencing stress:
– Give them plenty of space.
– Listen, and provide provable affirmation of how they’ve overcome or done something well in the past.
– Break a task down into manageable pieces.
– Do not give generalized compliments.
– Put things that have to be done in sequential order.
– Don’t brainstorm. If they are in the grip of their inferior function, extroverted intuition, brainstorming will only make things worse.
– Don’t give them more to do. Give them a break from responsibilities if possible.
– Take them seriously. Don’t patronize or judge them.
– Encourage them to exercise (without sounding insulting).
ISFJ – The Protector
What stresses out an ISFJ:– Overexerting themselves by saying “yes” to too many projects.
– Conflict or criticism
– Lack of positive feedback
– Environments filled with tension
– Looming deadlines
– Being asked to do things in a way that isn’t clearly defined
– Having to overuse their type by having to constantly act as “the responsible one”
– Dealing too long with abstract or theoretical concepts.
– Unfamiliar territory or an uncertain future
When faced with stress, ISFJs become discouraged and depressed. They start to imagine all the things that could go wrong, and they may feel a strong sense of inadequacy. They may feel that everything is all wrong, or that they can’t do anything right. If they are in a state of chronic stress, they may fall into the grip of their inferior function, extraverted intuition. When this happens they may start acting completely out of character. They may be at odds with normally relied upon facts and details, they may see everything as awful and feel “doomed”. They may become withdrawn, angry, irritable, and pessimistic. They will probably feel emotionally overwhelmed and find themselves worrying about all kinds of horrible possibilities.
How to help an ISFJ experiencing stress:– Give them space or time alone to work through their feelings. 
– 
Provide provable affirmations about ways they’ve overcome situations like this in the past.
– Help them break down problems into manageable pieces
– Don’t give generalized compliments. Make compliments specific.
– Put a problem or task in sequential order.
– Don’t brainstorm. When they are in the grip of extraverted intuition, this will only make things worse.
– Let them engage their auxiliary extraverted feeling by reading materials that are personally moving, or spiritual.
– Encourage them to get some physical exercise (without making it sound like an insult).
– Let them talk about their irrational fears or feelings, and give them quiet, calm reassurance.
– Take them seriously. Don’t patronize or judge them.
ESFJ – The Caregiver
What stresses out an ESFJ:– Unstructured environments
– Having to do things that involve abstract, theoretical concepts
– Environments that have tension or conflict
– Unexpected change
– Inadequate time to complete work to their standards
– Tense, or confrontational relationships or situations
– Situations that don’t meld with their values
– Lack of trust in someone or something they’re involved with
– Criticism
– Feeling unappreciated
When faced with stress, ESFJ’s can become very critical and overly sensitive, often imagining bad intentions where there weren’t any. Being prone to insecurity, they can focus all their attention on pleasing those who give them security. This may lead them to become staunchly attached to a toxic relationship, structure, or belief system that provides them some sort of affirmation or security. They can become quite dramatic when under stress, finding fault with almost everyone and everything. They can experience low energy, a feeling of depression and pessimism. They become uncharacteristically quiet and withdrawn. If they are under chronic stress, they may fall into the grip of their inferior function; introverted thinking. This can cause them to take on the form of “the condemner”, focusing on everyone’s flaws and all the ways they have been hurt by them and how those flaws go against their belief system and how things “should be”.
How to help an ESFJ experiencing stress:– Give them a change of scenery. Let them spend some time outdoors.
– Encourage them to exercise (without making it a dig at their weight or health).
– Watch a comedy with them, or engage them with some humor or lighthearted entertainment.
– Acknowledge how they feel.
– Let them talk it out.
– Remind them of their strengths and contributions.
– Don’t use logic to talk them out of stress.
– Don’t ignore them.
– Give them feedback. Talk about a similar situation you went through.
– Get them away from the environment or situation that is stressing them out.
– Give them an enjoyable book to read, or a lighthearted movie to watch.