Many, if not all of us, have been wronged in some way in our lives. It could have been for a betrayal of trust, physical, mental or emotional harm or a myriad number or combination of things. The pain that these events have on us leave a mark. The anger, pain and resentment are carried with us in our lives. We may even keep the emotions fresh by recalling the wrongs to us on their anniversary each year or by keeping it fresh in our minds on a more regular basis. In Frank Herbert's book Dune, the Fremen would morn the loss of people who had died several generations back to keep the pain fresh for those individuals who never experienced the loss using the phrase, “Never to forgive, never to forget!” What benefit does this do to hold onto pain and resentment, and even purposefully or inadvertently passing it on to the next generation?
I have not found any. If anything holding onto pain and resentment only damages ourselves. The American Heart Association suggests that anger and resentment increase the risk of heart disease and increases blood pressure, which can lead to other negative health effects. Type 2 diabetes is also linked to holding on to pain and resentment.
So what is the alternative?
Oh, I know that it is easier said than done. Also, I hear you saying that the person who wronged you doesn’t deserve forgiveness.
Well, forgiveness is not for the person who wronged you it is for you. I am not sure if you have heard of the saying “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” It is actually a quote attributed to the Buddha. Regardless of your belief system, this quote really does illustrate the effects of anger and resentment.
So what is forgiveness anyway?
The Greater Good Magazine out of Berkeley University defines forgiveness “as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” They go on to say that this doesn’t mean that you forget what happened or agree with what happened, it is a release. This release allows you to move forward in your life and not have new experiences or relationships to be negatively affected by what happened in your past.
Now, this is by no means easy. Gandhi said, “Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong." It takes time, energy and determination to let go of something that has had a hold on you for a long time. The benefits of forgiveness though are worth the effort.
Lightness: You will find as you release the resentment that you physically start to feel lighter both in your body and your mind. You are no longer dragging the past along with you every second of the day.
Sleep: You sleep better. With the sense of calm that becomes a more regular part of your life, you will find that it is easier to rest and sleep. We also know from the article on self-care that sleep can boost your immunity so you are sick less often and less severely.
Social Connection: When you have left the resentment behind it no longer takes front and centre in your conversations with others. What you talk about becomes more positive, inviting and reciprocal. This helps to strengthen existing social connections and helps us to forge new friendships as well.
Time: You will have more time for the things you love or to be adventurous in trying something new. Letting go of the past transgressions of others actually frees us to live our future. It gives us the time to grow and be who we want to be.
Going about forgiving is an individual process. Some are able to just decide to release the anger and pain, then move forward with their lives. Others need more time and support to do so.
If you are looking for ways to release and forgive and would like more information, please contact me in the comments or calling 226-838-9772.
What would help you release your soul and find forgiveness?
Forgiveness Defined, What is Forgiveness? Greater Good Magazine, Berkeley.edu. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/forgiveness/definition
How many of us let our cars run out of gas or let our cell phone batteries die? I would hazard to say that very few of us do that unless we aren’t able to get access to gas or power. Now consider how often you run yourself ragged or get to the point of burn0ut and exhaustion. How often does that happen for you?
I know that self-care is a buzz word and for my parent’s and grandparent’s generation they would swear that they never did all the pampering stuff, but this is not a new concept. Taking time to be with friends, crafts, going fishing are all forms of self-care. The reason there is so much hype about self-care is that it is has a real and lasting positive effect on your physical and mental health. I recommend reading Self-care:4 ways to nourish body and soul put out by Harvard Health Blog.
Many forums out there will give you great suggestions of ideas of what to do for self-care, but they don’t always talk about when to practice self-care.
What is the answer?
As often as you can!
This article is really timely for me along with everyone else who may be reading it. I was raised with a strong work ethic that really focused on keeping busy and always doing something. Even when watching TV I tend to be knitting or crafting. With that, I tend to work long hours and although I admonish my clients to take time out, I can go days without taking a breath and doing things that recharge me. Having self-care as the focus of the week reminds me to have self-love. For the video that accompanies this article, there were lots of opportunities to engage in self-care activities to not only show you but also show me the fun and benefits of taking the time to recharge.
One question I have been asked is, how did you know when you needed to practice self-care? Well, I used to say, when I noticed my family walking on eggshells around me or when I started feeling ‘crispy’ around my figurative edges. By that point, I was in fact already drained and burnt out, not just crispy like well-done bacon. It takes a lot of time to recover when you drain yourself to that point and sometimes you never feel like you have quite reached that fully charged state.
Now I would say to aim to do something that recharges you every day. Other than the basics like getting 7-9 hours sleep a night, drinking lots of water and be physically active, there is a myriad of things people do to recharge. I recharge in nature, be it a walk in the woods or going for a snowshoe in the lightly falling snow. I have many hobbies including spinning, knitting, building and stained glass. Meditation and mindfulness are part of my regular recharge practice too along with so much more.
When I take the time to practice self-care and recharge every day I find that I am sick less often and if I get sick it doesn’t last very long, I have more energy and my thoughts flow easier. Stress seems to not have the same grip on me and stressful situations don’t linger for hours, days or months. I also find that I am FAR more productive than when continue to run the hamster wheel rather than taking a break and recharging.
I am going to put this friendly challenge out there for you and for me as well. List your favourite self-care activities and post them on your fridge. I invite you to do at least one activity from your list each day. It doesn’t have to be the same thing every day, you can pick something new each day or any combination that suits your fancy. This invitation is to try this for 2 weeks and let me know in the chat what you notice about yourself and about what others may say about you. This is our own social experiment if you are willing to try it out and see if something shifts for you.
If you wish to follow my progress I will add it to my days of gratitude through my Facebook Page. Please feel free to comment with your personal observations too!
Over the years I have read and heard many stories of individuals who have come through some extremely challenging times in their lives. One common thread to all these stories was a determination to continue on.
Determination is defined as “the act of coming to a decision or of fixing or settling a purpose.” (Dictionary.com) or “that which is resolved on, direction to a certain end, fixed purpose, decision of character” (Chambers Everyday Dictionary). The key here is focusing on a purpose.
So often when the rug is pulled out from under us in life, then the purpose in our life changes too. Where we focus on our purpose depends on our needs, which may have drastically changed. Abraham Maslow was an American Psychologist and in 1943 he published a research paper on the hierarchy of needs. Essentially it states that our purpose and focus in life depend on the needs that we have. If we find ourselves on the streets with nothing our main focus would be on the basis of finding food, water and shelter. Building self-esteem is all fine and dandy, but it is not important as finding warmth and food.
Inner strength can be found through our determination to get to that next place or stage in our life. It is what helps us to grow as an individual. How far have you come in your life? What helped you survive despite the odds? That is the strength that you can call on when you set your sites on the next purpose for your life. You have already proven that you have this because you are here.
The difference between determination and just wanting something can be illustrated in how we speak and think about things. A person who is determined will think or say “I will….. or … will happen. ” whereas someone who may want something without the sense of determination may say “I am going to try.. It would be nice if…” The language we say to ourselves is powerful. If you are on a healing journey now, notice what language you are saying to yourself. Is it the language of purpose and determination?
How does one cultivate determination in their lives?
What is your new vision?
If you need help in cultivating your determination, contact me to find out how.
Maslow graphic: https://www.thoughtco.com/maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4582571
When your mind is whirling with all the responsibilities, is there a way of restoring calm and clarity to set the restart button? People can thrive on the excitement of busyness, and then there comes a point where our emotional control is exhausted.
I coach figure skating, which is a tough sport that requires dedication, effort, and determination to overcome fears. It can be empowering as you are the only one that can accomplish or fail. Failure is an opportunity to learn and persevere. Skaters are exposed as the centre of attention and this can be a valuable life skill. Some skaters thrive on this attention, and others will need to overcome anxiety and fear. Part of my job as a coach is to cultivate inner confidence and encourage each skater to discover their motivation for the person they may become. There will be something in this sport that will challenge them as there will not be instant gratification. How a skater deals with and
works through the challenge helps them to develop coping skills.
People can generate the mental whirl of repetitive thoughts with all the emotional baggage that is attached to this pattern of thinking. So, when there is an under-story which has triggered emotional exhaustion, I invite the skater to take a deep breath into their lower lungs to encourage them to be present. Then I ask question to find out what the possible trigger could have been that created the overwhelm, which could be something outside of the activity. Are they feeling sick, or hungry, or perhaps something happened to them that was unpleasant? Sometimes there is a realization around recent experience and interpersonal relationships. When one claims responsibility in the situation there is a sense of power returning. Being able to step out and see the big picture there is an increased ability to gain control and reset to attend to the present.
On the surface it was simply a conversation. Asking small questions and having the
skater consider how the outcome could have been different, we were able to shift the
mindset. The only thing in life one can control is our reaction to a situation. Once aware that a triggered a feeling, recognize it, pay attention and learn. We have the ability to be responsible for our emotional state of mind once we are conscious of it. This can change and outcome to one of grace, calm and clarity to an otherwise charged situation. The art of accepting others as they are, and accepting ourselves as we are, is a mind shift to strive for. This clears emotional exhaustion and can restart from a clearer, calmer place.
How often in your life has an opportunity crossed your path that had the potential to change your life? Did you jump at the chance and see where it took you or did you shy away?
Recently I was watching a show and one of the characters asked if the other had ever thought of leaving their tiny town. He responded that it was safer to stay in the place he knew then venture into the unknown. How often have you found yourself held back because venturing forward would put you into unknown territory? So often we don’t venture too far from what we are used to unless we are forced. We may also venture out if the pain and discomfort of the known is unbearable and we have the impression that the unknown could not possibly be worse. Neither of these scenarios starts off a new stage in our lives on a very positive foot.
It is normal to be resistant to change. So far, we have been surviving doing what we are doing. We know what to expect and who to expect it from. So why try it? Well, think of this. Think of your favourite dish or drink. How much you enjoy it and savour it? Now think about the time just before you tried it and someone offered or suggested it to you. In that time before did you know what you were missing? No. After you have enjoyed it can you imagine not being able to enjoy it again? I am sure you don’t want to imagine that. Before we experience something, of course, we don’t know what we are missing. Afterwards, we have always gained something. It can be the knowledge that, yes I tried it and I will tell that story to the end of my days, or that you have added something new to your life that brings joy and has expanded your horizons. It could also be both!
Now, this goes well beyond food and drink. This applies to anything in our lives. I remember a new director coming into one of places I worked, and he asked why we did something, and our answer was because we have always done it that way. He would then challenge us to find some other ways to do it. This was to flip us out of our comfortable boxes that we found ourselves in. It challenged the ways we were doing things. That didn’t mean that we scrapped everything and went with something new for the sake of doing something new. What it did do was allow us to expand our thinking and the way we saw the world. From there we could see where we could add or change things to provide more to our staff, volunteers and clients.
Our personal lives need this too. When we Take a Chance, we are opening to new possibilities. Yes, when we do this it brings on disruption and the need for adjustment, but what is gained? You gain a new experience that expands your thinking and who you are. It gives you a new perspective that may be beneficial in solving old problems. It allows you to challenge some of your deep-held beliefs and thereby start testing those other beliefs that still exist. It can give you the wiggle room to move closer to who you want to be and where you want to go in life.
One of my strongest experiences in this was a trip to Costa Rica. There were so many chances that I took on that trip and literally took a leap forward for myself. I had always told myself that I was afraid of heights and that any sport or activity that involved heights was a hard stop – NO GO – for me. I was on a business development retreat and our coach created an activity day that would challenge each one of us in some way. As coaches, we challenge our clients to move figuratively into scary territory, so this was a way to experience this literally. The activity was Ziplining over the tops of the rainforest. It wasn’t just one run; it was 7 runs that equated to several kilometres. I must tell you the first run was a blur. I was terrified! I was quickly attached to the second run before I could protest. By the fourth run, I had the courage to be present and really take in the view of the valley and the rainforest below. It was magical! I would have never seen the volcano from that vantage point, and it was like I was flying over the treetops! What I have now is the confidence to challenge those things I tell myself and try something new when the opportunity comes available to me. I also know that I will always come away with something amazing even if it is something I choose to never do again. Now, will I Zipline again? Yeah sure! Will I be scared? Yep!
So how do you know when something is worth taking the chance on? The guidance I was given requires answering two questions. Does it excite you or pique your interest? Does it scare you? If you say yes to both then it is most likely something that will have a lasting impact on your life if you choose to do it.
If you would like to have help to take a chance on any area of your life contact me for a Free Strategy Session to discuss how we can work together.
Since 1998 I have been involved with crisis response with distress lines and more recently with victim services. One of my responsibilities was training and mentoring volunteers to support people on some of the most challenging days in their lives. One of the biggest messages I tried to instill in the volunteers I trained, was “Seek to Understand – Avoid Assumptions”. Why is this important?
All of us have had unique experiences in our lives and from these experiences, we have created an idea of how the world and people work. Our view of the world is just as unique as our experiences. As my former volunteer trainees can attest, I love using the analogy of siblings. If you have siblings or close cousins consider the environment in which you were raised. In many cases, you generally had the same or similar environment as your siblings. Now consider times when you have been in a similar situation as a sibling. Did you make the same decisions? Were your reasons for your decision the same? In most cases, the answer was a strong NO. So if we are not able to have the same decision-making process as those who have been raised with similar values, and environment then how is it possible for us to KNOW what is going on for someone who has probably had a vastly different experience with life. We can’t. When it comes to being present from others, we can’t assume that we totally understand what is happening for them. What we can do is ask questions to understand. Get clarity on the meaning of words that they may change their tone on when talking with you. Just like we are the only experts for ourselves, each individual is an expert on themselves.
How often do we find ourselves in a heated chain of texts on social media or text? There is an added layer of complexity when it comes to communication in text and on social media. So often we just write and send, or passively read what has been written, without going and looking back at the context. One word can have a different meaning for different people and can cause a conversation to go off the rails very quickly. When we notice things have gone in an unexpected direction, what is our first instinct? In general, it is to stand our ground and even attack.
I am going to invite you to try out a radical idea. There is no guarantee that it will work every time. Whether a conversation was in text or verbal, what do you think would happen if you said, “I noticed the conversation is going in a direction I wasn’t expecting. I would really like to understand your side and figure out how we can get back on track. What does….. mean for you, because it means….. to me.” If you are not sure where it went off track asking what the other person wants you to understand and then getting clarification if it doesn’t quite jive with how you understand the world.
What would be your reaction if someone said that to you in a conversation? How would you feel? How would that shift your impression of that person?
When we take the time to seek to understand how others experience the world we expand our own horizons and are much more open to hearing other experiences of the world and life. This is a rare gift, not only to the person you are offering it but also to yourself.
Don Miguel Ruiz speaks about this in his book the Four Agreements when he states Don’t Make Assumptions. Essentially saying that we create our own drama because we are assuming how others think, feel and are. So much misunderstanding can be mitigated when we take the time to ask someone what is going on for them and finding out the deeper things rather than assuming or leaving conversations at the surface answers. For those who have read and thought about what is written in this book, you will know that although these concepts are simple, they are not easy to actually do. They take time and they take effort and patience on our part because not everyone is willing to try back. When we remember that the only thing we can do is to try our best and extend that courtesy, some amazing things have the potential to happen.
How can you seek to understand others as you move forward? Feel free to add your comments, experiences and impressions in the comments section or the chat.
Added Reading on this subject:
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBielOoXDuE&list=PLV6IVEQAlu9rC92-LFJ0EjViq-9BYGj-o
At the beginning of any new year and especially at the beginning of a new decade, individuals make heartfelt resolutions to themselves for any number of things. So often the resolve wears off and the motivation to keep going falls by the wayside. What is missing? Why is it so easy to let these resolutions slide?
Well, why are you making these grand resolutions in the first place? Is it for you? Is it because others suggested you should? Is it something you feel you should make a resolution on because of expectations laid out by society or culture?
For lasting change, we need to look first at the seed for change. That seed is HOPE. The Oxford Dictionary defines hope; “to want something to happen and think that it is possible.” Dictionary.com defines hope: “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”. Hope is not only the desire but also the belief that something will take place. The Resolution is the action and the commitment, but what are you actually committing to and what is the purpose behind it?
Once we have this seed and the vision of what we want it to grow into we are ready to begin. Just like plant seeds there is more that is needed to have the growth and change that we want. The metaphoric soil, water and sunshine come from really digging in to find out WHY we are hoping for what we want? What is the motivation behind this desire? What makes it important to us personally? Who else will benefit or be affected by its coming about? The answers to these questions provide us with all the nutrients we need to allow our HOPE to germinate, grow and thrive.
There is a lot of preparation necessary before growth can happen. There may be weeds that prevent us from even getting to the soil that our hope needs in order to grow. These weeds could be our own beliefs of what we are and are not capable of doing. They can be the negative things we say to ourselves that stop us in our tracks before we ever start. How do we deal with these weeds? First, we need to identify them. Is this something that is beneficial to us? How long has it been rooted within us? When we decide that a thought pattern or belief needs to go, we also need to be cognizant that it won’t be gone just because we have tried to remove it once. Weeds have a nasty habit of coming back. We will need to nip it in the bud as soon as it emerges and dig down to get all the root so it can’t re-emerge so easily. Even after we have planted our hope and are nourishing it, we need to be aware that our former beliefs, negative narratives and doubt can and will resurface. What helps to remove them is our motivation, our reasons for desiring what we hope for and the firm confidence that it will happen. We can also replace those beliefs and narratives with new ones that act as a barrier or mulch so there is no place for the old patterns of thinking to come back up.
So, look now at 2020 as your potential garden. What seeds of HOPE do you want to grow there? Why are they important? Who will benefit when they grow to maturity? What weeds need to be removed and mulched over to make space for your new growth?
I would love to hear your vision. Please share in the comments either at the top of the article or under the social media links. Also, if there is someone you feel could benefit from reading this, please feel free to share or link on your social media.
Sometimes the prospect of new hopes and dreams is daunting. If you would like help with your vision and clearing beliefs and negative self talk, please contact me for a Free Light Your Path Strategy Session so you can find your first steps and a plan to make your hopes a reality.
Acceptance is taking things as they are, without needing to change or protest them. This doesn’t mean you have to like it or agree to it. Just acknowledging that they exist the way they exist can be freeing and lead to personal growth and healing. The focus in this article is on events that are beyond your control; situations that have already happened in the past and experiences that are outside your realm of control in the present. Specifically, the desire to change other people.
The amount of energy spent on lamenting the past and trying to control or change others to fix the present can be draining on the soul. The persistence to change the world now, even though the pain is high, and the energy is low, can cause individuals to burn out or fall into depression. I am a strong advocate for standing up for the rights of others and myself, however, there is a line where individuals begin working against their own well being; be it spiritually, mentally and/or emotionally.
Unlike Back to the Future, Being Ericka or other shows of that ilk, there is no time warp that will take us back to a pivotal point in our history in order to shift the course of our life. If it was possible like in “A Wonderful Life”, we notice that if we change one aspect of our life, we also change everything else and possibly miss out on aspects that we hold dear.
The reality is that we can’t go back and change the past. No amount of worrying or beating ourselves up for what happened will change it either. When we accept what has happened and find ways to see the positives that have come from that situation, we are able to release that burden. An example of shifting perspective to see the positives could include someone remembering all the rejection they felt going door to door. The positive to this is that you know now that you can survive being told no. Then continue to adjust how you present yourself confidently until people say yes or start to listen.
It is also natural to want to change other people so our lives can be better or different. A long time ago I was at a conference and a mental health specialist made a comment that has always stayed with me. He pointed to his fingers and said, “Fingers in is within your control. Fingers out (into the world) is beyond your control.” This is quite liberating as it is a reminder that your thoughts and actions are the only things that you can control. You no longer need to feel like you are responsible for fixing or changing others.
How much energy and frustration were there in trying to save, fix or change others?
What could this energy give you if you were to focus it on what you wanted for yourself?
When we focus on what we can change in our lives, we take back control of our own destiny. If you are not happy with your situation what is within your power to change?
Acceptance of what has happened in life so far and accepting people for who they are is liberating. Focus the energy now of what you need to build, grow and strengthen yourself for now. When you have built up your energy and resilience you will be in a better position to advocate for the things you are passionate about.
What would be beneficial for you to accept and release from your life?
Let’s start out with a shout out to April W for the suggestion to focus on relationships this week. It has been a fun topic to dive into.
Relationships cover both friendships and intimate relationships and for the sake of this article I will be touching on both. The question posed to me was how we can not only initiate relationships but also move beyond the mindsets that once defined what was expected. There was a caveat for those who were once in highly controlling religions about no longer feeling like you need to report to anyone else about what happens in your relationships and feeling OK with being happy.
There are four different types of relationship. There are family relationships through blood or adoption, friends, acquaintances and lovers or romantic relationships. We are going to leave family for now and dive into the other three.
Humans are social creatures. We have a basic need for connection and belonging. As children so many of us made friends with people who sat next to us or who lived near us. If we were part of a religion, we found people to hang with at church or hall. As adults or now that we are not linked through religion, it is not as easy make those bonds and any attempts seem to be awkward.
So how do we now move beyond our former mindset and feel OK about being happy? Well once you have done that inner work and continue to grow and heal then the desperate need to be accepted by those who seek to control you disappears. You have built your confidence and taken ownership of your self-worth. There is no longer a need to share intimate information with people who have no business in your relationships, and you can feel more relaxed in the safety of your own self assurance and happiness.
In my experience, many people who are looking for deeper friendships already have a large circle of friends. Take a moment to consider who you enjoy talking to and consider what would help those friendships grow.
How does this information shift your perspective on relationships?
For so many that I have worked with over the years, the actual word truth has become a trigger word. What is truth anyway? Among philosophers, it is a hotly disputed debate and has been going on for centuries with famous people like Aristotle and Aquinas discussing it in great depth. It is also something that is taken for granted as something tangible and unwavering. The truth seems to be something a bit more elusive like trying to touch liquid mercury as it slips and defies such an attempt. (I don’t suggest trying since it is poisonous)
Despite being so elusive, it is something that all of us feel is an essential value. We are quickly offended when we find that we have been deceived and are calmed when our sense of truth is validated. So, is it absolute truth or perceived truth that is at the heart of the matter here? According to Scientific America, only 98.72 % of the North American population believe the world is round with 1.28 % believing the world is flat. In the Journal for the Association of Psychological Science found that 358 people who were convicted and sentenced to death since 1989 have since been shown as innocent with DNA evidence and those people were convicted from eyewitness testimony. Were those eyewitnesses lying or as their perception of what they saw distorted by something?
What I am trying to convey here is that truth can be shifted by perception and distorted over time. Determining the truth really isn’t a black and white determination, but more a sifting through all the shades of grey that influence those who are involved.
Those who are pushing absolute truth are really playing on or innate desire to have truth and the linked values of freedom, justice and peace. Truth really comes from within and from our willingness to understand from other people’s perspectives. Acknowledging that other people will have a slightly or vastly different truth than ourselves is important. What it really comes down to is trusting our intuition and making every effort to seek to understand from other people’s perspectives. Over our life, our idea of truth will shift and change. This will happen with others as well.
Truth is one of my three core values. On diving into this more deeply it has given me a new perspective of really accepting the shades of grey and opening to how others hold their truth. They all are unique like the people that hold them. Just like our growth journey, there are layers of truth and degrees of truth for all of us.
What comes next?
What are your thoughts on truth now?