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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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Are Your Friends A Good Influence?

Friendships can benefit you in lifting your self-esteem, encouraging you to live healthier, or even just elevating the quality of your life. Your friends should lift you up and help you to be the best person you can be. Here are a few tips on deciding whether or not your friends are a good influence.

You Feel Good After Spending Time With Them

One way to determine if your friends are having a positive effect on you is to gage your mood after you’ve been with them. Do you leave feeling energized and happy? If so, chances are your friends are a good influence to your mind and body.

By contrast, if you spend an entire day with your friends and feel out-of-sorts or guilty afterwards, your pals may not be as positive as they could be. Your friends don’t necessarily need to encourage you to run marathons or help you brainstorm ideas for the next great American novel, but they do need to give you an all-around good feeling.

Negative Behavior That Can Bring You Down

When deciding whether or not your friends are a good influence, it’s important to look at the overall big picture. Your friends don’t need to be perfect (because none of us are), but they should encourage you. A friend who is a negative influence may want you to:

• Gossip.
• Gamble or spend money you don’t have.
• Make choices that will hurt you or your family.
• Engage in illegal activities.
• Shun your other friends.

For example, your pals should encourage a healthy lifestyle (since it’s something we all should adhere to), but the reality is that you might just splurge on your diet once in a while or skip your exercise class in favor of a movie. It’s not the day-to-day activities you look at when determining if someone is good for you. Rather, it’s the overall effect someone has on your life.

Finding More Positive Friends

Before you look for new friends, take a look at your friend groups to see if there is perhaps one person that encourages the rest of you to be negative. If that’s the case, stand up to them by doing things like: refusing to gossip, bowing out of activities that are dangerous or illegal, and making better choices despite that your friends might encourage you otherwise.

When you do this, pay close attention to see if someone else in the group is influenced by your behavior. Your change may inspire others in the group to resist the negativity as well. Peer pressure like this affects many different friend groups, including adults.

If you do need to find new friends, take it slow and be choosy about whom you spend your time with. If you are desperate for friends, you’ll probably end up with more of the negative types of friends you just left behind. Instead, hold out for positive friends who will encourage you to be yourself. Figure out the things you like to do, and build friendships around those goals and activities. You’ll naturally meet people through hobbies and events you enjoy, and the bonus is that your new friends will probably like doing them as well.

Standing Up to Negative Friends

Sometimes when you leave negative friends behind, they turn the tables and make it your problem. They might hold parties and not invite you, call you up to complain that you’re never around or even spread gossip or lies about you. Be strong with your commitment to live a fuller life that includes more positive friends.

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How Depression Hurts Your Heart?

Depression can affect the heart in many ways, both before and after heart disease. It can disrupt the heart’s rhythm, encourage inflammation and blood clots, and bathe the body in stress hormones that can raise blood pressure and harden arteries.

People with blocked coronary arteries have reduced blood flow to the heart, but they can also have blockage in the arteries in their brain making them vulnerable to strokes.

Strokes can affect mood and trigger depression, says Peter Shapiro, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University in New York City. Small areas of brain damage caused by cerebrovascular disease are also associated with an increased risk of depression.

Depression leads to cardiac risk.
Depressed people are more likely to have other risk factors that can contribute to heart disease. They are more prone to smoke, less likely to pay attention to diet and exercise, and more likely to neglect their prescribed medications—all serious risk factors for heart disease. Those who suffer from both heart disease and depression say their depressed mood affects their will to recover.

“Every heart patient is a potential depression patient.”
“You feel that your life has changed dramatically—your own mortality is slapped in your face,” says Bill Valvo, 60, of Newport News, Va., who suffers from heart disease and has had bypass surgery. “And then depression sets in. It’s like a well. It gets darker and deeper and if you don’t get help, you’re not getting out.”

He credits the support of his family, exercise, socializing, and volunteer work with helping him overcome depression and heart disease. Eight years later he worries more about his depression than his heart. “Sure, I could exercise more and eat better, and if I have another problem with heart disease I’ll treat it, but this depression stuff—I never lost it, I just pushed it back,” says Valvo.

“We need to look at every heart patient as a potential depression patient down the road,” says Leo Pozuelo, MD, Associate Director of the Bakken Heart-Brain Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

Doctors don’t understand all the links between depression and heart disease, and patients usually have more than one risk factor. But one thing is clear: If you’re depressed and you have heart disease, you have to treat both conditions to recover.

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How To Move On After A Break Up?

A break up is not the end of the world, and instead of wallowing in self pity or burning with rage, you really should be working on moving on with your life after a break up.

How do we learn to have better relationships? Well, strangely, when the student is ready, the master appeareth… thus goes an old Chinese proverb.

When we need to learn a hard lesson, and have taken things for granted, or have not been able to read a situation well enough, then life itself becomes the teacher. We always remember the time we experienced pain. Avoiding such painful recurrences in future becomes a reflex action that protects us.

But, remember… A break up is not the end of the world and you can always move on after a break up!

A break up is a consequence of what we did, or did not do. It is a time for introspection. It is not a time for instant decisions. This is nature’s way of saying learn from the experience and see that it does not recur.

Here are some tips for those who might be on the terminated side of a relationship:

1. Understand the Pain.

Do not get into revenge mode, what’s done is done. Do not blame yourself for what has happened. Do take time to figure out what went wrong, and what you could have done better. You have lost love, but you have gained a lesson.

2. Pain is nature’s way of saying that something was wrong. Pain is therefore our best teacher.

Let’s learn from this. Do understand that everything in life doesn’t last forever. Some things will fail, in spite of our best efforts. Look at the other significant relationships in your personal life (siblings, parents, friends, colleagues). Try to enhance these, because some of these may have been neglected when you were high on love.

3. Refocus on your Life.

Look at all the things in your life that you had not focused on while you were in a relationship. Revisit your goals and dreams. Have these slipped over the years? Start looking ahead, and planning for the other aspects of your life like your career, your health, etc. Join a gym, go for dance classes, start a new hobby. Do something different.

4. Celebrate Life.

Life is a celebration. But every celebration costs something. How much are you willing to pay life to learn and to evolve? And how would it be if you could understand to read people’s minds and help them back, instead of taking them for granted or getting annoyed with them? Would you then be a better person, or would you instead continue being your old self and try another roll of the dice in the game of love?

You can lock yourself up and wait for the inevitable breakdown in your life, or you can move on after a break up into a better life. The choice, fortunately or unfortunately, is entirely your own!

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How To Overcome A Painful Break-Up?

It goes without saying that breaking up with someone you love is not easy. And the more you like someone the more painful it will be when you have to stop seeing someone who you really like and care about, and if your to be ex-partner is the kind of person you think you are not going to meet any time soon because there aren’t just many individuals out there, who will be that special to you. Losing a loved one inevitably breaks one’s heart and learning how to heal that broken heart is very important to our emotional health and to our ability to return to enjoying dating life promptly.

Indeed, we often have no choice but never see each other again, and therefore it’s worth knowing how to get over those break ups and continue moving forward with our lives with the right mindset, and not continuing drowning ourselves in self-pity or indulging in any kind of self destructive post-break-up behavior for too long after.

Here are the steps you can and you should take in order to get over any break-up quicker and in a more healthy manner:

1. Avoid harboring hope that you and your ex-partner will get back together. This is the crucial time when you must demonstrate strength and reluctance in letting those thoughts get into your head. Being strong now will most certainly pay off in the future.

2. Stop reminiscing on the wonderful times that you and your ex had while you were together. Such wonderful memories are great to have, and you should be thankful that you had those great experiences and feelings. However, at that most painful time, right after breaking up, these thoughts do nothing good to you and only aggravate your pain and prolong your recovery by making you feel that you sustained a major loss.

3. Stop thinking that your ex was one of a kind person. No matter how special he/she was, you own future dating life will show that your next love will be also very special in his/her own, unique way – this is just the reality of how love works.

4. Realize and truly believe that whatever happens, happens for a reason and for your own best. This includes break-ups. Think about it – every time you have to throw away a great pair of old, worn-out shoes that felt more comfortable than any other shoes you have ever had, your next pair of shoes is often even more comfortable. Most people who lose a job eventually find a better one. This is a far reaching analogy, but the same applies to relationships. If you were taken out of your recent relationship by some great force, perhaps that force is trying to take you out of that relationship and put you back into the market, so that you start looking for and eventually find a partner who is even better for you and more compatible with you on all levels.

5. Perceive your recent break-up as a great opportunity to learn how to deal with such experiences and become a stronger and a more mature individual. Like any other challenging experience that pushes your emotional levels (such as employment termination, loss of a loved one to a terminal illness, etc…) breaking up and losing love today will “condition” you and will make your recovery from similar experiences in the future easier.

6. Do not perceive a relationship as an investment and your lost relationship as a waste of time. Be grateful! Be grateful for having been granted the joy of love and affection of your former partner as long as your relationship lasted and don’t forget that some things are probably just not meant to last. There is no insurance against breaking up whether you have been together for one month or for 20 years. Just look around you. I surely don’t need to tell you how high the divorce rate is. Some people perceive it as a very negative by-product of the modern, western culture, but I would like to suggest to you that it is quite normal and even natural. Most people simply do not belong with each other in a romantic relationship. Most relationships end, most people who are dating, are bound to break up. There is nothing wrong with it – it’s an inevitable selection process and we all participate in it. Accepting it as a natural part of dating life is very important and can be quite effective in helping you overcome a painful break-up.

7. If you believe that you made certain mistakes in your recent relationship, whether they were the ones that caused the break-up or not, make sure you learn from those mistakes and move forward as a person who possesses a better understanding of himself and his interactions with romantic partners, and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes in the future.

8. Lastly, continue living! Pursue your professional and social goals and don’t leave much space for boredom in your life. This is not the right time to “relax.” You will have plenty of time to relax once you are over your ex and perhaps once you met someone new.

Breaking up is hard, but it can be a positive experience if you allow it to be. It can make you grow and become a stronger and a more attractive person. Make sure you take advantage of those valuable life lessons!

Further, it is important that you remember that the pain of breaking up is an emotion, and as such, it will not go away overnight. It will take time for your feelings to go away. But with conscious effort of keeping in mind the above points, you can make the process of overcoming and recovering from the break-up much faster and easier.

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