The spirit is a complex and, as you're about to see in just a moment, super layered kind of thing. From a biblical standpoint, if you looked up the Hebrew origin of the word (because the Bible was translated from Hebrew to English), it is "ruach" which is a feminine form of the word "breath". Breath isn't just the air that we breathe; breath is also our very life. Spirit is life.
And so, of course, it is imperative that we do all that we can to protect—to defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.; cover or shield from injury or danger—our spirit. Because, as a Native American writer and musician by the name of John Trudell once said, "Protect your spirit because you are in a place where spirits get eaten." Another way to look at this is, you are on a planet where spirits are oftentimes consumed. Devoured even. Yeah, that might not be a warm 'n fuzzy kind of intro, but that doesn't make the facts any less true. And just why are so many people having their spirits—their quality of life—devoured? I'd venture to say that it's because a lot of individuals don't even recognize just how vast their spirit actually is.
Let's do something to change that today. Below are seven words that are literal synonyms for the word "spirit". From personal experience, I can vouch for the fact that, if you take the necessary steps to protect each of these, the quality of your life, overall, will only get exponentially better. That's a promise.
1. Your Character
Some people like to define character as being one's personality. Personally, I think it goes a bit deeper than that. To me, your character is comprised of your behavior and the adjectives that could be used to describe it. For instance, someone might say that you're patient (or impatient), funny (or serious), dependable (or flaky). The reality is all of us have character traits that are good—and not so good. But hopefully, with the passing of every birthday, you come to a place of wanting to strengthen the good and weaken the bad.
Like with me, one thing that I know is a character trait of mine is I'm a big giver; so much so that I used to be codependent and also mad resentful when I would realize that some relationships were constantly taking me for granted. When I finally got to the point and place of accepting that it really is true that you teach people how to treat you, I started to set boundaries. I started to express what I expected out of my relationships and I learned how to only say "yes" if I knew I wasn't going to regret not saying "no" later. I also learned how to find the balance in doing things out of the goodness of my heart vs. doing things in hopes that someone would care about me as much as I cared about them. Mastering this has helped to keep me from becoming jaded and bitter; it has helped me to protect my giving spirit.
If you don't make a point to protect your good character traits, you can best believe that your bad ones will start to take over—maybe even overpower the good. That's why it's so important to take the time out to ponder what your good traits are and what you can (and should) do in order to make sure that those particular traits remain intact.
2. Your Energy
In the simplest form, energy is power. There is someone I know who says that he responds or reacts to other people based on the energy that they give him. Honestly, a lot of folks would probably say the same thing. However, the challenge with that is, if you take energy at its core definition, that means someone has the power to shift your power…and that's giving them a lot of power in your life (too much if you ask me!). In an article that I read entitled, "The People Factor: It's All About Energy", the author stated, "Understanding how people affect you means that you can do a better job matching what you need at any given moment to what your energy requires." I totally agree with that.
Something that I used to have in my space, a lot, both personally and professionally, were narcissistic individuals (check out "What If It's Your Parents Who Happen To Be The Narcissists?" and "3 Warning Signs You're In Love With A Narcissist"). Because I didn't know the traits—and agenda—of narcissists at the time, I didn't get why a lot of relationships had me emotionally drained and sometimes very depressed. But baby, after a year of studying narcissistic abuse, I get it. I realize that a part of what a narcissist does is look for people's power sources to take as their own. And so now, the people who I know are narcissists, I keep a safe distance from. Also, when I recognize that someone is showing red flags of being one, I mentally and emotionally remove myself. I don't try and "compete" with narcissistic energy or even try and change the individual (most of them can't without therapy anyway). I simply make sure to not give them my power (including my time, resources or emotional investment).
A wise person once said, "Certain people and their toxic energy can block you from expanding, elevating and vibrating higher. Detach and protect your energy." One definition of power is the "ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something". Anything or anyone who is constantly a stumbling block or hinderance for you in this area, they are someone who is working against, not for you. Protect your energy and release them (check out "Why I Don't 'Cut People Off' Anymore, I Release Them Instead" to see what I mean by that)—whether that be for a time or forever.
(By the way, if you want to learn a bit more about the kind of energy that you have, overall, take the personality test, "What Kind of Live Energy Do You Have?". I took it and it was pretty spot-on.)
3. Your Humor
Anytime I'm talking to someone and they say, "You're hilarious", I find that to be one of the best compliments ever. Not only does it remind me that I am able to see the joy in life in spite of a lot of what I have been through, but I know that a good sense of humor is beneficial to our mental, emotional and physical well-being. You can read articles like "Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke", "A good sense of humor is a sign of psychological health" and "A sense of humor could mean you're a healthier, happier, and smarter person" to confirm this fact. Meanwhile, there is a particular person in my family who is basically the humor police. It's not so much that they lack a sense of humor as they want to "regulate" what everyone else should think is fun or funny. Ugh. Not only is that controlling as all get out (I am not you and you are not me; chill out), but it's also a slick way of trying to keep others from protecting a part of their spirit.
Yep, believe it or not, humor is another part of your spiritual being. Make sure that you laugh often. Make sure you surround yourself around others who do the same. And, if there are people who are constantly bringing your joy down, can't take a joke or need to freakin' lighten up—realign your boundaries and how much time you spend in their presence. In times like these, humor is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity.
4. Your Attitude
When I'm tired (the weary kind). Two days before my period. Right after a long writing day. For about 12 hours after processing a disappointment. Those are the times when my attitude can be a bit stank. I'm self-aware enough to know that. What I used to selfishly do is subject people to whatever mood, words and actions came with my foulness. Now I know that I'm not protecting others when I do that and so I retreat in solitude until I can get myself together.
For the most part, your attitude is all about how you choose to express yourself at any given moment. And since there is plenty of data out here to support the fact that negativity can be quite contagious, it's important that you protect your "self-expression" by 1) knowing who and what triggers you; 2) discovering tactics that others use in order to do it (check out "Gaslighting, Love Bombing & 5 Other Triggers To Call Out In Your Relationships"); 3) taking care of your physical health (check out "In A Bad Mood? These Foods Will Lift Your Spirits!") and 4) disciplining yourself so that your emotions don't control you, you control them.
A lot of us have missed out on all kinds of good things due to our bad attitude; that's the bad news. The good news is we each have the power to protect ourselves so that our attitude can remain positive and productive. Always make sure to keep that in mind.
5. Your Enthusiasm
These days, when someone asks me what should be a deal-breaker in a relationship, one of the things that I say with, pardon the pun, off-the-charts enthusiasm is, well, enthusiasm. I can't tell you how many married couples I deal with who are on the verge of ending things and a big part of it is because they feel like their spouse lacks enthusiasm ("intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval"). It could be a lack of enthusiasm when it comes to their goals and dreams. It could be lack of enthusiasm in the bedroom. It could be a lack of enthusiasm in them, period.
While on the surface, enthusiasm may not seem like all that big of a deal, the reality is, it's hard to start or finish things in excellence if enthusiasm is lacking. That's why you need folks who are supportive, who totally have your back and who are consistently cheering you along the way.
Ladies, I hate to say it, but oftentimes the lack of enthusiasm in a marriage tends to come from our side (at least with marriages I deal with). Again, enthusiasm makes up our spirit man (and woman), so it's natural for us to want to build up walls against people who lack enjoyment, interest and approval of us. If you are an enthusiasm-drainer, there's no time like the present to change that. If you're wasting precious time trying to get others to be enthusiastic about you and what you've got going on…that's definitely something to think long and hard about because it is definitely doing a number on your spirit. Not in a good way either, sis.
6. Your Heart
This one is interesting because, oftentimes, when people (especially women), think of their heart, they think of it in the context of love and relationships. Since that is the case, I will say that one way to protect your heart is to actually learn from your past experiences. When it comes to brokenness, people, especially women, are actually pretty resilient. It's not usually one person who takes us out but a pattern that we've been repeating and/or ignoring. If that sentence just "pricked" you on some level, make sure that you take heed to what you're allowing to be done over and over that is harming you—mind, body and/or soul.
However, by definition, your heart is the center of your emotions. And while, I'm personally not big on letting our emotions rule our decisions (shoot, even the Bible warns us to not follow our heart because it has the tendency to be deceitful—Jeremiah 17:9-10), I do like how one article stated that our emotions are how we communicate to other people. So, you know what that means, right? Since a good communicator listens well; practices empathy with others; seeks clarity; is aware of their body language; is knowledgeable in what they speak on and about; can be the teacher as well as the student when necessary; is tone-conscious; tries to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible; pays attention to patterns; can receive constructive criticism and, is open to receiving new ideas—you have to protect your heart by surrounding yourself with people who strive to communicate well with you as you seek to do the same thing with them.
A lot of personal and professional relationships are destroyed due to poor communication. At the end of the day, it's because people don't recognize how much bad communication damages the spirit.
7. Your Resolve
OK, let me start this one off by saying, it's one thing to be resolved; it's another thing to be stubborn. Don't confuse the two. It's an epidemic, how many people are so prideful and egotistical that they can't be advised on anything. That is definitely not what I'm referring to here. No, what I mean by resolve is "to come to a definite or earnest decision about" your core values, needs and how you want to live out your life's purpose. If you are single and desire a life partner, before you can find someone who truly complements you, you've got to be resolved in who you are as a person.
And, when it comes to resolve overall, it's easier to figure out what you want your personal and professional life to look like once you are resolved in what you desire out of this life. Yeah, it makes total sense why resolve is a synonym for spirit. Our decisions determine the quality of our life.
A lot of information is provided on how to care for one's body. But what does that matter if our spirit is damaged? It's not only relevant to protect your spirit, it is essential. So much of who you are is within your spirit. Protect it—without reservation or apology. Those who honor your spirit will only support—and respect—you for doing so. Make sure you do the same for them. Again, spirit is life.
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