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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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How To Deal With A Cheater?

Do you suspect (or know) that a supposedly monogamous partner has cheated on you? You are not alone. Between a fourth and half of all attached partners will cheat (or have cheated) at one time or another. Knowing others are affected too, however, does not lessen the hurt. Take a look at these steps and use them to help you get through the trauma. This can be an exceptional painful issue and the emotions are very intense so use this as a checklist to help yourself get through the event.

1. First and foremost – take a deep breath and some time. Do not let yourself have a knee-jerk response. Think! This is especially important in long-term relationships. Sudden reactions without thought can lead to consequences you might regret. Give yourself some mental space before you take any action.

2. Talk to someone. You are not alone. Statistics are sketchy and vary widely, but many surveys have been done on cheating and they indicate that between a fourth and half of all married people will or have cheated at one time or another.

3. Do not blame yourself. It’s easy for people to start looking at themselves for reasons why their partner cheated… nothing good will come of that. Issues that lead to cheating sometimes involve both people, but that’s certainly not always the case. However, it would help, at a later date look inwards too to find out why your partner looked elsewhere for comfort. There could be certain gray areas in your behavior which could have led to such actions. You have to remember that most humans like a monogamous lifestyle, as it brings about so much of happiness & security. However, there are a few who would not conform to this.

4. Determine whether you were actually cheated on. Ask yourself these questions: Were you officially boyfriend and girlfriend at the time this “cheating” occurred? Were you officially monogamous? If not, you cannot be sure that your significant other knew what he or she was doing would offend you, in which case you might want to consider less confrontational options.

5. Talk to your partner. Let your concerns and fears be known. It might come out that nothing at all happened, or perhaps something did happen and coercion was involved (workplace sexual harassment, for example, which needs to be discussed openly and immediately to ward off future occurrences). There could be a substance abuse or psychological issue that needs to be addressed (sex addiction is very real). If help is warranted, you might want to support your partner in getting help – that could prove therapeutic for both of you. However, substance abuse is not a valid “excuse” for inappropriate behavior and you absolutely must not permit the “yeah but I was drunk so it doesn’t matter” argument – stand very firm on that.

6. Ask yourself if you will ever be able to look at your partner the same way. Infidelity doesn’t mean much for some, and some people have more than one physical relationship and it doesn’t suggest a shortcoming in their relationship with their steady partner, but this is rare. Infidelity often indicates boredom and dissatisfaction with the present relationships. Dealing with a partner who doesn’t want you in the first place, or one who doesn’t mind hurting you, is ridiculous. Dump him/her if this is the case.

7. If you decide this is irreconcilable, don’t break up with your partner and later take him/her back. This will only give you more emotional stress. If you break up, make it a clean break. However, a trial separation is a valid option. If you do make a break of any kind (permanent or trial) don’t talk to your ex after breaking up with him/her immediately. Give yourself some cooling off time first. If there are children or critical financial issues this might not be possible. In that case, set specific ground rules (time frames, meeting places, etc). This can be difficult, but it’s important.

8. If you are married and pretty sure a more-than-casual relationship is happening, you might need to consider an attorney or a reputable detective in the area that specializes in domestic cases.

9. If you do use an investigator, do not confront or accuse your partner. Let the investigator do his/her job first (if you confront them they may continue in an even more cautious way, which will make the investigation more expensive).

10. Get tested for STD’s as soon as possible. Not knowing will cause you extreme stress. Early treatment is critical.

11. If you can, collect evidence (receipts, emails, photographs, etc.) of the paramour. Keep this information at a friend or family member’s house. This will be less work the investigator will need to do later on your dollar.

12. Don’t start rumors. Share your suspicions with more than one close friend is likely to create gossip that can have very negative results in many areas. If there is an investigation underway, that kind of talk can hamper the case.

13. Look at your own personal actions, too. If you are also cheating, then it might be time to have an open discussion with your partner and clear the air. Perhaps couples counseling is in order. If divorce is the chosen option, remember it can get very ugly, very quickly, and your indiscretions will be brought into the limelight as well.

14. Turnabout is not fair play. Don’t start a relationship just because your spouse has done so. This is pure revenge and nothing good will come of it.

Tips :

• Get out if the incident has hurt you too much.

• Being honest with yourself is important. If you don’t end the relationship, can you live with the thought that it might happen again?

• Get counseling! It’s not a particularly bad idea to do this even if there’s nothing wrong in your life, but when you are hurt it can definitely help to talk to someone professional.

• It always helps to forgive and put it behind you and not dwell on the past if you want to move forward.

• Do you want to invest the energy to “monitor” the relationship?

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Stress & Schizophrenia: How To Help Your Loved One & Yourself?

A common cause of relapse in schizophrenia is “difficulty managing high levels of stress,” according to Susan Gingerich, MSW, a psychotherapist who works with individuals with schizophrenia and their families.

Learning to manage stress isn’t just important for preventing relapse; it’s also important because stress is an inevitable part of facing new challenges and working to accomplish personal goals — “what recovery is all about,” write Gingerich and clinical psychologist Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D, in their book The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia.

Learning to navigate stress healthfully is key for family and friends, too. Having a loved one with schizophrenia can be stressful. Taking care of yourself enhances your well-being and daily functioning. And it means you’re in a better, healthier place to help your loved one.

In their comprehensive book, Mueser and Gingerich share excellent tips for helping your loved one and yourself cope with stress (along with valuable information on schizophrenia and how you can support your loved one).

Here are those suggestions and insights on managing and alleviating stress.

Recognizing Stress Signs

What one person finds enjoyable, another can find stressful. In the same way, how people respond to stress will differ. For instance, one person might exhibit changes in mood, such as becoming depressed and anxious, while another person will show physical signs, such as experiencing headaches and a heightened heart rate.

So it’s important to talk to your loved about their individual signs of stress. Talk about your personal signs, as well. Create separate lists for each of your reactions to stress.

Reducing Sources of Stress
The authors suggest thinking about what situations were stressful for your loved one in the past. Then try to avoid that situation or modify it. If your loved one had a tough time at Thanksgiving last year, it might help to shorten their stay or not go next year.

It’s also helpful to support your loved one in creating a stimulating environment with reasonable expectations. For instance, rather than attend a day program three times a week, one man preferred volunteering twice a week delivering meals to housebound seniors.

Plus, it’s important that you take care of yourself. Eat nutrient-rich foods, get enough sleep, participate in physical activities and engage in fun hobbies. Help your loved one identify what kinds of activities they’d like to do, too.

As the authors point out, because of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, individuals can have a hard time thinking of enjoyable activities. Talk with them about the activities they’ve enjoyed in the past.

Be sure to give yourself and your loved one credit. (Being self-critical just spikes your stress.)

Mueser and Gingerich note how one father acknowledges the positive things that happen on a daily basis: “I’m proud of how persistent my daughter has been in pursuing her art career in spite of the many difficulties she’s encountered. We both have a lot to learn about coping with this illness, but we’ve also come a long way.”

Learning to Cope with Stress

Emphasize the importance of your loved one communicating with others when they’re feeling stressed, since “these feelings can be an early warning sign of relapse,” according to the authors. Make sure you, too, are able to turn to individuals who understand your situation.

Have family meetings to talk openly about the stressor and brainstorm potential solutions. Learn to use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and visualization (such as imagining a serene beach scene).

Self-defeating thoughts only bolster stress for both of you. Try to practice positive self-talk and teach your loved one to do the same.

Mueser and Gingerich share the example of a father helping his daughter reframe her hospitalization, which made her feel like a failure: “I’m sorry you had to go through that, but I’m proud of you for getting help when you needed it and for being so strong in dealing with this illness. You’re a survivor.”

Don’t underestimate the power of humor. Try to find the lighter side of a stressful situation, according to the authors. It’s not always – or usually – easy, but it helps with stress. Plus, you and your loved one can enjoy a funny film or sitcom to lessen stress.

For some people, religious services and prayer can be very helpful. For others being in nature may feel like a spiritual experience and shrink stress.

Again, regular exercise — around three times a week — that you enjoy is important for both of you. Journaling can provide a great source of stress relief. “Many people with schizophrenia say that writing down what they experience, think, and feel is an important outlet.”

See if your loved one is interested in listening to music or making music themselves, such as singing or taking lessons; visiting art exhibits or creating their own art; playing games with family and friends, and pursuing other hobbies.

As the authors emphasize, people with schizophrenia are “more sensitive to the effects of stress because it can trigger symptom relapses and rehospitalizations.” Helping your loved one deal with stress in a healthy way helps them pursue their personal goals and improves their life.

Plus, working together to develop healthy coping strategies can strengthen your relationship and gives you plenty of opportunities for savoring quality time.

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Moving On From Disappointment: Are you focused on the person, or on the bigger picture of your life?

When you struggle to let go of someone, there can be sustained periods of rumination and in essence, stewing in what you feel is a rejection of you. If there’s been a series of disappointments, you’ve likely lost sight of you and your values, which means you don’t have the perspective that’s so needed to handle and manage the inevitable disappointments that arise in life.

Whether it’s for a date that didn’t happen, dates that didn’t progress, feelings that weren’t reciprocated, your relationship not working out, or even discovering that someone isn’t what you thought they were, you become fixated on this person (or even a series of people that you thought were “it”) fulfilling your hopes and dreams.

By focusing on the person instead of on the bigger picture of your hopes and expectations, you lose hope because the disappointment leaves you feeling like there’s no point in bothering and your ‘last chance saloon’ has gone.

This person isn’t the only way that you could have your hopes and expectations for a relationship fulfilled though, plus just because they don’t or didn’t fulfil them, doesn’t mean any and all hopes for a relationship are over.

When you struggle to get over the disappointment, it’s because you were over-invested in the potential, ‘vision’, and ultimately the hopes, plans, and outcome that you had set your mind and heart on.

If you’ve been invested in various people and the hopes and expectations you had for a relationship have to adjust due to practical factors, the disappointment is natural and to be expected, but you have to work your way through these feelings to acceptance so that you can create new hopes and expectations.

To continue to immerse yourself in disappointment like a vocation, raking over your past and ruminating on all of the things you ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda done if only’, creates self-rejection and ultimately regret, because as time passes and your outlook and what you’re doing hasn’t changed, that’s what you’ll come to regret – not the various things you’ve been through that brought you to this juncture but the stubbornness you used to lash yourself with and stop you from moving forward.

The disappointment, regret, and rejection is tied up in the idea that what you hope and want in your life is gone and over.

What do you want? This is where your focus should be – on the bigger picture of your values so that you can focus your actions on living congruently with them, not on a person outside of your control. Your purpose in life isn’t to have someone rescue you and make your life ‘better’ – if it doesn’t work out, it’s like returning to the life you didn’t want.

Wherever there’s disappointment and a sense of feeling rejected, you can be assured that there are illusions, giving you an inaccurate, if not downright distorted view of reality. It’s letting go of these that give you the much needed perspective and freedom.

What are you stuck on? List them all, don’t hold back. What is it about this disappointment that you keep returning to?

You wouldn’t be disappointed if what you claim things ‘should’ be was real because you’d be living it.

Walk your way through the relationship and work out where you got the illusions from.

Where did it start?

  • Did they say or do something? Did you?
  • What specific thoughts have you had that led you to this idea?
  • The things that you believed them to be, why did you believe it? Was it based on evidence? Was it brief? Was it based on ideas that you carried into the relationship that may be based on someone else they remind you of or unhealthy/unrealistic beliefs? List examples and the longer you were together, the more you should see of this.

What is the cause of the actual disappointment?

So for example, when someone doesn’t follow through with a date, is it because:

  • You’re disappointed because you misjudged them?
  • They seemed so nice and you were looking forward to it?
  • You hoped that this might be ‘it’ and you could be ‘done’ with dating?
  • You’re disappointed because you assume that you must have said or done something to put them off?
  • You compromised yourself and it still didn’t pay off?
  • You banked on this being the one that would make all of the previous heartache worthwhile and right the wrongs of the past?

For a relationship, it might be that you’re shouldering all of the blame for it not working out, so yeah, you’re bound to be disappointed, just unnecessarily so.

Taking a bigger picture view, this person cannot meet your expectations. They haven’t – it’s why you’re disappointed. They haven’t – that’s about them, not you. Don’t make everything about you – it will compound your hurt.

The facts say that they cannot meet your expectations – it’s holding onto the illusions that they can or could have if only X/Y/Z had happened, which normally boils down to, if you had changed, if you hadn’t breathed or put a foot wrong, if you had got them to change, or if you lived in a fantasy world, that’s disappointing you.

Let me say it again – it’s holding onto the illusions that they can or could have fulfilled your hopes and expectations and that your projected future could, would and should have happened, that’s disappointing you. The tighter you hold on, the more you revisit it – it’s like experiencing the disappointment over and over and over again. It gets even worse if you continue to lie to yourself about them while in the meantime, they behave like a jackass in the present completely contradicting you anyway.

Disappointment and rejection paves the way to new and ultimately better opportunities, if you don’t spend months or even years avoiding admitting a mistake or accepting that it’s over. The length and depth of the avoidance is what causes a ‘setback’.

You can release and grow if you make the connection between relationship insanity – carrying the same baggage, beliefs, and behaviors while choosing same type, different person (or variations of your type), and then expecting a different result – and disappointment.

Relationships serve to teach us about ourselves – the same lessons will keep coming back at you like Michael Myers in Halloween until you heed and learn from them.

Persisting in relationship insanity, means you’ll continue to be disappointed.

Even if you do the whole long shot mentality thing and go with the safe option of unavailable relationships so you can avoid ‘rejection rejection’, you will be disappointed even though it’s ‘expected’.

Your life and your repetitive choices are telling you that you need to adapt your thinking and your habits in order to start fulfilling your hopes and expectations for your life.

Lessen disappointment by living in line with your values so that you can be authentic. You will compound the disappointment if you deviate from them due to the attachment to the idea of this particular person being the ‘key’ to your life – you figure it’ll be worth the risk and then feel embarrassed or even ashamed when it’s not.

If you stay on a Bullshit Diet, it also means that you don’t hear what you want to hear, see what you want to see, and create meaning where there is none. You’ll communicate your expectations, thoughts and concerns – some people don’t do this for fear of disappointment. Then they get disappointed anyway and wish they’d spoken up.

Don’t try to be a perfectionist or the exception to the rule of shady behaviour – these create unrealistic goals while giving you a realistic but unwanted outcome; pain.

Like conflict, fear, and rejection, disappointment is unavoidable but you don’t have to let it claim you and you certainly shouldn’t use it to make judgement’s about yourself that leave you with eroded self-esteem. Let the disappointment go – forgive you and be kind to you because aside from nurturing you, it means you won’t disappoint you by not being on your side.

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