23. Am I a Bad Missionary?

More and more I am hearing people say that they think that they are a bad missionary.  And you can substitute any word for the word missionary.  Maybe you think you are a bad friend, student, or trainer.  Did you know that just because your brain offers you this thought, doesn’t make it true?  

In this episode you will learn:

  • Why our brains love this thought so much
  • What makes something actually good or bad
  • What to do if you find yourself in the “I’m a bad missionary” trap.

Listen in to drop this thought and become a more confident missionary today.

0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone? It’s Jennie, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 20 3am. i A bad missionary. I’m Jennie, the LDS mission coach. And whether you are preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next. Hello, everyone, and welcome to the podcast. I’m happy to be with you. Thanks for hanging out with me today. I am getting all of the preparations ready for Thanksgiving, I talked to my mom last night, we’re going to be headed to Utah to hang out with them hanging out with my kids that are at school there. And my sisters, it’s going to be such a fun time. I’m in charge of rolls and pretzel jello. I like to do the strawberry kind. Because I feel like the raspberry can get seeds in your teeth any way, we are getting really excited to go hang out with my family. I also want to remind you that mental mission prep is coming up in January, I just really highly recommend that if you’re going on a mission, you get some kind of mental and emotional preparation. You guys have been preparing spiritually, your whole lives to go on a mission. And I feel like when missionaries leave, and especially moms, we kind of just hope we’ve given them the tools that they need to thrive out there and to be successful. And what I’m seeing more and more is just the absolute necessity to have mental and emotional tools. So that’s what I do in my program. That’s what I do in mental mission prep, we give you the tools and strategies that you can have in your back pocket so that you can stop the mission struggle before it even begins. I want to also speak to this idea that what often happens is missionaries think they’re not going to struggle. And I will have moms that email me and say oh my goodness, I just never would have seen this coming with my son or with my daughter that they are struggling with anxiety and other things. Sometimes it’s they think they’re not good enough. Sometimes it’s spinning thoughts that they’re not worthy. There’s, I mean, there’s a whole myriad of things that become challenging on the machine. Sometimes it’s a difficult companion. But what I offer is tools to handle all of that mindset and emotional tools to become totally emotionally resilient. So that really I like to say you can be failproof on the mission. So tell you’re preparing missionary friends tell you’re preparing missionary siblings mental mission prep is where it’s at, onto the what I want to talk about today, which is this question that I hear pretty frequently, which is, am I a bad missionary? Now we can plug anything we want into this question that our brain likes to offer us. It could be am I a bad business owner? It could be am I bad? A bad mom, my brain likes to offer me this one quite regularly. Am I a bad friend? Am I a bad college student. And today just want to dive into this idea. And we’re gonna kind of pick it apart. And because I’ve been hearing it more and more, I just want to address it here on the podcast today. So we’re going to talk about a few things we’re going to talk about why our brains like to classify things as good or bad. We’re going to talk about what makes something good or bad. We’re gonna talk about maybe some examples of things that we like to in life classify as good or bad.

4:45 We’re gonna talk about why it’s totally not useful to think of things as good or bad. And then we’re also going to also give you some tools and some ideas about how to think about this instead or what to do when your brain offers you this thought that you might be a bad missionary. So one of the things that our brains just like to do on default is to go to all or nothing thinking. And when I think of something being good or bad, it’s just something that our brain likes to do, because it makes it easier for that lower brain to compartmentalize things. It makes it easier for our brains to delegate, kind of some thinking to the lower brain, this helps us conserve energy. If you think about it, we can just kind of look at something and in our minds if it’s good or bad, or like, that’s something we should pay attention to. That’s something we should avoid. And our brains love this, it’s just much easier way for our brains to make sense of the world. But what we find is that sometimes it’s not useful to just buy into our brains when it makes these either assumptions or judgment calls on things around us or people around us, or even make these judgment calls about ourselves. Now, it is something that our brains just like to do on default, though. So just know that when your brain offers you this thought, Maybe I’m a bad missionary. That doesn’t make you bad, either. It is just a way that your brain wants to operate in the world. And if we want to get some traction over it, we just have to kind of be aware that that’s what our brain is doing. And like I said, at the end, I’m going to give you all kinds of ideas about how to manage this thought. Okay, what makes something good or bad. The example I thought of was in Wicked, I don’t know if you guys know that musical Wicked. It’s basically kind of The Wizard of Oz story, but it’s on Broadway with lots of fun music and it’s based on a book, which a lot of people said was not as good as the musical. I never read the book. But the musical is amazing. I thought about a in that musical Wicked, there’s Glinda who’s the Good Witch. And then there’s Elphaba, who’s the wicked witch or the bad witch. But what we find, as we kind of watch this story unfold, is it kind of gives us the backstory to maybe what we would have seen just in the old school Wizard of Oz book or in the old school Wizard of Oz movie. Is that helpful, but isn’t actually bad. After all, that Elsa has a really good cause. But everyone just sees her as bad. Elphaba is really just trying to do the best she can. She has this amazing relationship with the Goodwitch with Glinda. But everyone just classifies her as bad. So what we find is when we take a closer look, things themselves aren’t always good or bad. Something being good or bad is actually a thought. It’s a way that we choose to think about something. One of the first things I do with my clients is I teach them how to separate out facts, from thoughts and facts. This is the definition I use for facts as they could be proven in a court of law, everybody would agree the facts have no opinion or judgment in them. So if we take a look at this story from Wicked, or from the Wizard of Oz, if you want to think about it that way, the Good Witch and the bad witch. Those are just judgment calls that people were making about them. Those were just thoughts that people had. Those were just opinions that people had about Glinda being good and alpha being bad.

9:14 But it didn’t mean that inherently just as a fact they were bad. Being a bad missionary can’t be a fact who guys, it’s not a fact, it’s a thought that your brain offers to you. So other examples of this where we can kind of illustrate to you that good or bad is not a hard fact, it’s actually a thought that someone has and 100 different people could have 100 different thoughts about it. So let me give you a couple other examples so I can illustrate this for you. So you can see how good or bad is not a fact. It’s actually a thought and the reason this is so important is because if it’s a fact act, we can’t change it. But if it’s a thought, that’s where our agency lies, you guys. And so we have the ability to think whatever we want to think. Some other examples of this are, what if we went on a trip to Disneyland. And the lines were really long, and it was super hot. Many people would classify that as a good trip. And many of us would classify that as a bad trip, I’m always gonna say Disneyland is a good trip. But notice how that’s my opinion. That’s my thought about it. We would have many people that would say COVID. And what we’ve gone through over the last couple years, almost two years coming up on two years with the pandemic is good or bad. I tend to think, yeah, it wasn’t fun. But I there was also some really good things that came out of COVID as well. Like when my kids came home for five months, and my son came home from his mission, and my son came home from college, and we just hung out all summer long. That was awesome. Notice, also, we could talk about the weather this way, I tend to do this. If it’s cloudy and rainy. I’m like the weather’s bad today or snow, the weather’s bad. But listen, those farmers that are needing to get water in the reservoirs and all of that, so that they can have plentiful crops next year, weather snow pack, all of that the rain is good to them. So notice how the thing itself, the fact doesn’t make it good or bad the thing? It’s our opinion of it, it’s our thought of it that makes it good or bad. Here’s more things that we tend to classify as good or bad, I want you to think about this. And see if you have used good and bad in these other contexts that I’m going to share with you now. negative emotion, right, we kind of think it’s bad. But we’re wrong about that. negative emotion just is what’s true is negative emotion isn’t good or bad. It just is coming home from your mission early. We have a lot of opinions about this, right? Whether it’s good or bad. But just the coming home from your mission, before the time you expected itself isn’t good or bad. It’s what we choose to think about that that makes it good or bad. We sort of have this idea that when we struggle, that that’s bad. about you guys, I have the complete opposite opinion about this. I think struggle is good actually. It happens to be the only time that we grow. In our society and in our lives. We talk about bad grades, we talk about bad thoughts. And the list goes on and on and on and on of things that we classify as bad. Now, I don’t want you guys to misunderstand me here. Sometimes we want to think of stuff as bad. Like stuff in the world. That’s not that it’s not right, or that we feel like is unfair or unjust or unloving or uncaring. Of course, we’re gonna want to think about those things. Like they’re bad. But maybe we don’t want to apply this judgment to everything, like our brains want to do. Our brains want to apply good and bad to everything. And I would suggest that especially when it comes to other people’s behavior, maybe when it comes to our judgments of ourselves, that classifying ourselves or other people as good or bad is not useful. And I’m going to tell you why.

14:16 When we classify other people as good or bad, it separates us from them. So think about how you feel when you think he’s just a bad missionary or a bad companion. It doesn’t feel great. And that actually creates disconnect, rather than connection. Think about what’s happening in the world right now. With vaccines and masks and all of that stuff. When we see someone as bad. It creates disconnection. So it’s just not useful to think of other people as good or bad. When we think about ourselves as bad. Maybe I’m a bad missionary. It’s not motivating you guys. So there’s you. And then you have this thought, I’m a bad missionary. How do you feel? Probably terrible, right? You feel maybe some self loathing or some self doubt or some sadness or discouraged or disappointment. And then when we feel those things, we just don’t do as much. I highly recommend that we don’t think this thought that I am a bad missionary ever again. Because when we think that our brains will actually look for all the evidence that it’s true, and we get in this spiral downward, where that’s all we can see is the things that we’re doing that. And as I’ve tried to illustrate to you, you are a fact you just exist, you’re just a human. In the world, you are not good or bad. On your own, you are the fact. But how you choose to think about yourself matters. When we think that we are bad, a bad missionary, we also judge ourselves pretty harshly. We start, like I said, to look for everything that’s wrong. And when we judge ourselves and start having these thoughts that were bad, it doesn’t create emotions that serve us as often as possible. You guys, I encourage you to think thoughts that create emotions that are in line with the fruits of the Spirit. Compassion, abundance, peace, long suffering, love. All of those fruits of the Spirit, are what I encourage you to try to default to as much as possible, but you’re gonna have to be intentional. Remember, because your brain on default is going to look for all the bad stuff. It’s fine. But as often as possible, think thoughts that create those feelings of peace, abundance, compassion, long suffering. And when we think I’m a bad missionary, those aren’t fruits of the Spirit discouragement, frustration, overwhelm, sadness, discouragement. Last night, I was on an Instagram Live and the person that I was talking to asked me, What’s the best advice you have for missionaries who are getting ready to leave. And I said, The best advice I have is that the same compassion that you preach to everyone that you teach everyone that Jesus Christ has for you, and Heavenly Father has for you, you need to have for you, too. It’s so funny that what we preach to everyone is everyone is welcome. It doesn’t matter what you wear, it doesn’t matter. You know what you’ve done, it doesn’t matter what your past is, you can be forgiven and move forward and keep progressing on the path towards Jesus Christ. But then maybe we wake up five minutes past our alarm in the morning as a missionary, and we’re like, we’re the worst, we’re so bad. But what’s true, is you’re just a human, you’re just a human missionary, just like all of them, and offer yourself the same compassion that you are teaching to everyone else.

18:30 That’s where the fruits of the Spirit come in. That’s when you will take your best action is when it’s fueled by the fruits of the Spirit. When we make the thing bad, or someone else bad, or us bad, we lose access to what we want to think and feel on purpose. And I kind of mentioned this in the beginning, is this is just what our brain does on default. And so it’s going to delegate it to the lower brain, and then we just don’t have to think about it again, we kind of abdicate our power over it when we’re like, Ah, I’m just a bad missionary. Nothing I can do. We just think that thought our brains like Okay, put that one away. Or, Oh, they’re just so bad companion. And it just puts it away and we lose access to being able to think and feel on purpose, what we want to think and feel. So what do we want to do instead? Okay, again, I’m not taking anything away from the fact that we may want to think some things in the world are some things that we don’t agree with are bad, we might want to we still might want to think those thoughts. But what I want to ask you is to just be super aware and decide. Is it useful for me to think about it this way? And you will know because of the emotion you feel when you think it when you think I’m a bad missionary. How do you feel? That’s how you know if you feel I’m terrible and sad and dejected and start judging yourself, it’s not a thought that’s useful to you. So listen, a word of warning, your brain is gonna want to do this, it thinks it’s protective. Remember, it’s a way for your brain to make sense of the world. So don’t feel bad for thinking for having this thought, I’m a bad missionary, you’re gonna probably have it. Again, I have it all the time that I’m a bad mom, that I’m a bad business owner. I mean, it’s just what our brain does on default. So again, that’s where that compassion piece comes in. It’s all totally fine. Just listen to the thought your brain offers you and decide what you want to think and feel instead. So here’s a few things I want you to consider that I hope will help you with loosening this thought a little bit, and maybe choosing on purpose, to not think it. There’s no such thing as good, or bad thoughts or feelings. This is what I actually believe. There’s just thoughts that your brain offers you either to seek pleasure, avoid pain, or conserve energy. And there’s feelings that you feel when you think those thoughts, none of them are good, or none of them are bad. Maybe consider that we could start classifying these as human thoughts and human feelings. Also, maybe consider that opposition was always part of Heavenly Father’s plan. Okay, there has to be opposition. Otherwise, we couldn’t grow. Maybe consider that you aren’t a bad missionary. Maybe consider that you are a human missionary. Heavenly Father could have sent robots to do missionary work, you guys. He could have, but he didn’t he sent you because he knew that you would have the heart and that you would have the thoughts and that you would maybe struggle a little bit and and it’s all totally fine. That’s where the good stuff is you guys. So have compassion for yourself, you’re on a mission for heaven’s sakes, like, give yourself some compassion you’re allowed to and you’re actually supposed to, because of the plan God’s plan, have thoughts and feelings that don’t feel so good. It’s all part of your growth. So I hope this has helped you start separating out the facts from your thoughts. You are the fact your thought I am a bad missionary is just a thought. I would love to see us just completely remove the word bad from the vocabulary of us describing anybody that’s on a mission, or a missionary ever, for that matter. When we’re describing humans or other human beings or other people. It’s just not useful to do it. And if it was, I’d be like, Okay, let’s let’s do that. That feels motivating, but it doesn’t. It actually has the opposite effect. Okay, it’s not actually true. So when your brain starts to offer it to you like, hey, maybe you’re a bad missionary, I would love it. If you would just start talking back to your brain and tell it. Listen, brain. Thanks for the warning. I see what you’re trying to do here, but there’s just no such thing. Okay,

23:29 I hope you all have the most amazing week. Happy Thanksgiving to every single one of you. I will talk to you next Friday. Take care. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast today. If you want to learn more about what I do, you can go to Jennie dildine.com. Or just come hang out with me on Instagram at Jennie dot the LDS mission coach and Jennie is spelled with an IE. Remember, no matter which part of the mission experience that you’re involved in, just know that Jennie, the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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