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