Tag Archives: Allow

Forgiveness: Letting Go Of Grudges And Bitterness

When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.

Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance — but if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What is forgiveness?

Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:

• Healthier relationships
• Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
• Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
• Lower blood pressure
• Fewer symptoms of depression
• Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

What are the effects of holding a grudge?

If you’re unforgiving, you might pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life might become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present. You might become depressed or anxious. You might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You might lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. To begin, you might:

• Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time
• Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being
• When you’re ready, actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you
• Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

What if I have to interact with the person who hurt me but I don’t want to?

If you haven’t reached a state of forgiveness, being near the person who hurts you might be tense and stressful. To handle these situations, remember that you can choose to attend or avoid specific functions and gatherings. Respect yourself and do what seems best. If you choose to attend, don’t be surprised by a certain amount of awkwardness and perhaps even more intense feelings. Do your best to keep an open heart and mind. You might find that the experience helps you to move forward with forgiveness.

What if the person I’m forgiving doesn’t change?

Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?

The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how those wrongs have affected others. At the same time, avoid judging yourself too harshly. You’re human, and you’ll make mistakes. If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and specifically, ask for forgiveness — without making excuses. Remember, however, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever the outcome, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

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Improved Mental Health Tied to Quitting Smoking

In a new study from Washington University, researchers find that quitting smoking does more than improve physical health as stopping the habit also improves mental health.

Typically, health professionals who treat people with psychiatric problems often overlook their patients’ smoking habits, assuming it’s best to tackle depression, anxiety, or substance abuse problems first.

However, the new study shows that people who struggle with mood problems, or addiction can safely quit smoking and that kicking the habit is associated with improved mental health.

The study is published online in the journal Psychological Medicine.

“Clinicians tend to treat the depression, alcohol dependence or drug problem first and allow patients to ‘self-medicate’ with cigarettes if necessary,” said lead investigator Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, Ph.D.

“The assumption is that psychiatric problems are more challenging to treat and that quitting smoking may interfere with treatment.”

In the study, Cavazos-Rehg discovered that quitting, or significantly cutting back on cigarette smoking was linked to improved mental health outcomes.

Specifically, quitting altogether or reducing by half the number of cigarettes smoked daily was associated with lower risk for mood disorders like depression, as well as a lower likelihood of alcohol and drug problems.

“We don’t know if their mental health improves first and then they are more motivated to quit smoking or if quitting smoking leads to an improvement in mental health,” Cavazos-Rehg said.

“But either way, our findings show a strong link between quitting and a better psychiatric outlook.”

Naturally, the serious health risks associated with smoking make it important for doctors to work with their patients to quit, regardless of other psychiatric problems.

“About half of all smokers die from emphysema, cancer, or other problems related to smoking, so we need to remember that as complicated as it can be to treat mental health issues, smoking cigarettes also causes very serious illnesses that can lead to death,” she said.

Researchers analyzed questionnaires gathered as part of the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

This survey was administered in the early 2000’s and just under 35,000 people were surveyed. As part of the study, participants answered questions about drinking, smoking, and mental health in two interviews conducted three years apart.

The researchers focused on data from 4,800 daily smokers. Those who had an addiction or other psychiatric problems at the time of the first survey were less likely to have those same problems three years later if they had quit smoking.

And those who hadn’t had psychiatric problems at the initial survey were less likely to develop those problems later if they already had quit.

At the time of the first interview, about 40 percent of daily smokers suffered mood or anxiety disorders or had a history of these problems. In addition, about 50 percent of daily smokers had alcohol problems, and some 24 percent had drug problems.

Forty-two percent of those who had continued smoking during the years between the two surveys suffered mood disorders, compared with 29 percent of those who quit smoking.

Alcohol problems affected 18 percent of those who had quit smoking versus 28 percent who had continued smoking.

And drug abuse problems affected only 5 percent of those who had quit smoking compared with 16 percent of those who had continued smoking.

“We really need to spread the word and encourage doctors and patients to tackle these problems,” Cavazos-Rehg said.

“When a patient is ready to focus on other mental health issues, it may be an ideal time to address smoking cessation, too.”

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What It Really Means To Be In Love

How to get past your own defenses and learn to build a real relationship?

While many of us may have sensed it intuitively, there is now science behind the statement that “Love is all you need.” A 75-year longitudinal study by Harvard researchers suggests that love is indeed a key to a happy and fulfilling life.

While love seems to be a universally valued attribute, defining it in behavioral terms can be a challenge. As the Harvard study’s lead researcher, Dr. George Vaillant, wrote of his team’s findings, two essential ingredients are proven to correlate with a happy existence: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

While many of us believe we would like to be in love, we face many hurdles in taking the actions that allow love to flow freely throughout our lives and relationships. We have many ways of defending ourselves against love and can struggle to give and receive love with ease, openness, and vulnerability.

With love being so closely connected to meaning and fulfillment, it’s valuable for each of us to define love as an action or series of actions we can take to bring us closer to the people we value. In a romantic context, some essential characteristics that fit the description of a loving relationship include:

• Expressions of affection, both physical and emotional.
• A wish to offer pleasure and satisfaction to another.
• Tenderness, compassion, and sensitivity to the needs of the other.
• A desire for shared activities and pursuits.
• An appropriate level of sharing of possessions.
• An ongoing, honest exchange of personal feelings.
• The process of offering concern, comfort, and outward assistance for the loved one’s aspirations.

Love includes feeling for the other that goes beyond any selfishness or self-interest on the part of the loved one. As such, love nurtures and has a positive effect on each person’s self-esteem and sense of well-being. Love never involves deception, because misleading another person fractures his or her sense of reality.

So how well do we meet these standards for being loving? When we think about a relationship that is meaningful to us, we have to ask:

• Do we both behave in ways that nurture each other?
• Do we take actions to make the other person feel good?
• Do we consider what lights that person up, separate from our own interests?

Too often, we think of love as an almost passive state of being, as opposed to a conscious choice we make. When we regard love as something we simply fall into, we can easily slip into routines with the person we value or lose a sense of separateness and respect. Instead, we view that person as a part of us. We then run the risk of creating a fantasy bond, an illusion of fusion in which real feelings of fondness and attraction are replaced by the form of being in a relationship. In other words, we come to see ourselves and our partner as a single unit. We then fall into roles rather than appreciating each other as individuals and experiencing the exciting, loving feelings that result.

A fantasy bond offers a false sense of security—the illusion that we are no longer alone. However, when we connect to someone in this way, we lose our sense of vitality, and we give up significant aspects of our relationship. The behavioral operations of love are replaced with a fantasy of being in love, which does not nurture either partner.

Relationships tend to go south when we stop taking actions that our partner would perceive as loving and instead start looking to our partner solely to meet our own needs. It’s important to distinguish emotional hunger from real love. Have you ever witnessed a parent hugging a child and wondered whether the hug was intended to comfort the child, offering reassurance and care, or to soothe the parent, taking something from the child? When we reach out to our partner, it can be valuable to examine whether our behaviors are for them or for ourselves. Are we looking to them to fulfill us in some way that is unfair to them? Are we hoping they will make up for an emptiness or hurt from our past?

A couple I’ve worked with recently recognized an example of this dynamic. The wife would often compliment her husband, but he rarely felt acknowledged by her words. When she recounted some of the recent comments she made, she noticed that they were less of a reflection of him and more a reflection on her. Statements like: “Aren’t I married to such a handsome, well-put-together man?” Or: “Haven’t I picked a winner?” didn’t capture qualities that were important to him. They were traits she valued in a partner that reconfirmed her own self-esteem and sense of worth.

Love should never be an act of manipulation. It is not a mark of ownership over another person, but the exact opposite—a genuine appreciation of a person as a separate individual. When we see a person this way, we allow ourselves to fully value them for who they are and for the happiness they bring to our lives. We are driven to be generous toward the person, to show compassion and kindness in a way that both they and the outside world would view as loving.

Of course, there are many barriers we put in place that not only keep us from finding this type of relationship but from achieving it with the person we love. One reason we wind up in less-than-loving relationships is the ways we were treated in our past. We may have become familiar with family dynamics in which we were rejected or intruded on, in which case we tend to seek out or recreate these same dynamics in our adult relationships. To become more loving thus means recognizing ways we self-sabotage: How are we recreating past hurts in our current relationships?

As we reflect on these behaviors, we learn a lot, not only about how we interfere with our naturally loving feelings for others but about the negative ways we feel about ourselves. It’s difficult to express love outwardly when we don’t feel our own sense of self-worth. One of the biggest reasons we shut out love is because we feel unworthy or self-denying. Therefore, to have a loving relationship, we must challenge our negative self-concept or critical inner voice. When we do this and take the loving actions that contradict our critical self-image, we enhance our own sense of worth and are able to get closer to the people we love.

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Accepting Who You Are And Learning To Love Being Alone Are Essential To A Happy Life

Over the course of time, you will learn that many people you thought would always be there will soon disappear. You will be let down time and time again, and eventually discover that the only constant in life is change.

With each passing day, people begin new relationships, while others end old ones. There are relationships that end well, and there are relationships that end poorly, with contrasting emotions leading the way. Some of these relationships will be major turning points in your life; some of them might either completely destroy you, or save you.

Putting trust into a person and giving them your dedication is one of the scariest things in life. Devoting your time and emotions, revealing your most personal qualities and background, and believing that this one person will not betray you or shame you for any of it, is a courageous step to take.

One secret could define your friendship; one mistake could end it all. It takes years to build trust and seconds to break it. The reason forming a relationship with someone and building the foundation for that relationship is so difficult is because once we have been hurt, we will never forget that pain – no matter what.

I have watched many of my own personal relationships come to a halting close. New chapters in my life have been slowly written time and time again. My social circle went from many, to a few that are worthy of my trust and loyalty. It took numerous occasions and difficult realizations for me to learn to accept the things that have happened in my life, and to accept what it is now for what it is.

Accepting who I used to be and the mistakes I made as that person, and not letting those mistakes define who I am today. Forgiving those who hurt me and who affected my life in negative ways. They were all fears to conquer, but I overcame them with perseverance. These were the first steps to my salvation.

The next step was realizing that it is okay to be alone. Growing up, if I did not have something to do on a Friday or Saturday night, I was blasting “I’m Just a Kid” by Simple Plan, crying in the dark and cursing off every single person that didn’t ask me to hang out. I’m happy to say that I’ve come a long way since then, and I have learned to appreciate solitude. Sitting in the middle of the ocean on a surf board and just letting the waves take me away, or sitting in a field alone and looking at the stars for long periods of time, are some of my favorites thing to do in the world.

“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” – Oscar Wilde.

I have also realized that getting lost in thoughts and in physicality is a beautiful thing. Over the years, I have learned that losing yourself and finding your way back makes the experience that much better. No matter what age you are, when you have a problem, or what that problem is, just go for a walk or drive and get lost. You will have sorted out your mind and troubles by the time you find your way back.

There is no better time than now for you to allow yourself to be happy. It is time to embrace yourself and all that you have to offer. Be alone; give yourself the chance to learn about yourself, expand your soul and allow yourself to grow. Enable each chapter of your life to help you become a better you. Press forward, putting one foot in front of the other, until you are finally so overwhelmingly confident that you can look back, and see that you have climbed mountains.

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How To Deal With Being Dumped?

When your significant other ends the relationship, it can be a painful, lonely experience that makes you feel worthless and leaves you with a broken heart. Though it may not feel like you can get through this heartache, there are ways to cope that will see you through to the other side with a different perspective.

  1. Don’t hold out hope for a reunion. The sooner you accept that it is over, the faster you can heal. By hoping that your significant other will want you back, you are basically elongating the grief and setting yourself up for more disappointment. Too many times, a person will hold out for a reconciliation, only to find out that her significant other has started dating someone else. This type of situation only causes more pain and grief.
  2. Allow yourself to get emotional. It is never good for you to bottle up your emotions. If you are upset, have a good cry. If you are angry about the breakup, then show it (but don’t let your anger get the best of you by hurting yourself or others; instead, just scream or punch your pillow). You’d be surprised by how much better you can feel by releasing these emotions. Designate a time and place for this — but don’t let yourself emote 24/7 because you don’t want to end up drained either.
  3. Get rid of things that belong to or remind you of your ex. By doing this, you eliminate those things in your life that only make you think about your ex. The more you think about him/her, the more likely you are to think about the breakup and dwell on the pain you are feeling. If you can’t bear to part with these items — then put them into storage.
  4. Avoid contact with your ex. This basically falls on the same lines as getting rid of things that remind you of your ex. If after you have broken up you constantly call, talk to, or see your ex, it will only serve as a reminder of the failed relationship and cause you undue grief. So, try to have as little contact as possible with your ex. It may help you get over the loss.
  5. Make a list of things you didn’t like about your ex. This is a helpful method for folks who are finding it difficult to get over the end of a relationship. Jot down aspects about your ex that you didn’t like; such as habits, physical attributes, or personality features. The idea is to focus on the things you didn’t like and no longer have to deal with in order to better cope with the breakup. You may find that you feel a bit relieved that your ex is no longer around.
  6. Hang out with and talk to your friends. Your friends can be a wealth of moral support and can help you take your mind off the breakup. Have a powwow with some buddies and talk about your relationship woes. Round up some of your friends and go do something fun. You can have dinner, go on a shopping spree, take a weekend road trip, or whatever you consider a fun distraction.
  7. Stay busy. While you should deal with the issue, dwelling on the breakup may only just make you feel worse about the situation. If you find yourself thinking about it, then do something that will focus your mind on something else. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to turn into a workaholic. Simply putting a little extra effort into your work or taking up a new hobby should suffice.
  8. Go on a couple of dates when you’re ready. A common misconception when a person has been dumped is that they feel as though they won’t find someone else, which just isn’t true. Go on some dates. Not only can this prove to you that you can eventually find someone new, but it can also help you get over your ex and boost your ego. Just make sure that the dates remain casual for companionship only at this time.
  9. Don’t jump into another relationship. If you haven’t fully healed from the breakup, you may find yourself in an even worse relationship than the last. Rebound relationships hold a higher risk of someone getting hurt. Examples of such would be finding out that you aren’t as interested in the new person while he/she is completely into you, or being dumped again because you constantly talk about or compare the new person to your ex because you haven’t fully gotten over the breakup.
  10. Build up your ego. Being dumped can be a hit to the ego. You may begin to think that you were dumped because of something about you (e.g., I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t pretty enough). Much of the time this is an incorrect assumption, so take the time to do activities that make you feel better about yourself and boost your ego. Go out and talk with some folks, start exercising or learn something new.
  11. It’s not uncommon for people to stop taking care of themselves after a relationship has ended. You may find that you aren’t sleeping as much or eating enough. Some folks may even start becoming more self-destructive by drinking alcohol more frequently, overeating or engaging in careless sexual activity. By doing these things, you may find your health declining, hurt yourself or others, or find yourself in a world of regret. Always make sure that you take care of yourself. Just because you are no longer in a relationship doesn’t mean you are any less important.

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