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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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10 Practical Ways To Handle Stress

Stress is inevitable. It walks in and out of our lives on a regular basis. And it can easily walk all over us unless we take action. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize and cope with stress. Here are 10 ideas for handling stress without causing more strain and hassle.

1. Figure out where the stress is coming from.

Oftentimes, when we’re stressed, it seems like a big mess with stressors appearing from every angle. We start to feel like we’re playing a game of dodgeball, ducking and darting so we don’t get smacked by a barrage of balls. We take a defensive position, and not a good one at that.

Instead of feeling like you’re flailing day to day, identify what you’re actually stressed about. Is it a specific project at work, an upcoming exam, a dispute with your boss, a heap of laundry, a fight with your family?

By getting specific and pinpointing the stressors in your life, you’re one step closer to getting organized and taking action.

2. Consider what you can control—and work on that.

While you can’t control what your boss does, what your in-laws say or the sour state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you accomplish work, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.

The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless. So after you’ve thought through what’s stressing you out, identify the stressors that you can control, and determine the best ways to take action.

Take the example of a work project. If the scope is stressing you out, talk it over with your supervisor or break the project down into step-wise tasks and deadlines.

Stress can be paralyzing. Doing what’s within your power moves you forward and is empowering and invigorating.

3. Do what you love.

It’s so much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love. Even if your job is stress central, you can find one hobby or two that enrich your world. What are you passionate about? If you’re not sure, experiment with a variety of activities to find something that’s especially meaningful and fulfilling.

4. Manage your time well.

One of the biggest stressors for many people is the lack of time. Their to-do list expands while time flies. How often have you wished for more hours in the day or heard others lament their lack of time? But you’ve got more time than you think, as Laura Vanderkam writes in her aptly titled book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

We all have the same 168 hours, and yet there are plenty of people who are dedicated parents and full-time employees and who get at least seven hours of sleep a night and lead fulfilling lives.

5. Create a toolbox of techniques.

One stress-shrinking strategy won’t work for all your problems. For instance, while deep breathing is helpful when you’re stuck in traffic or hanging at home, it might not rescue you during a business meeting.

Because stress is complex, “What we need is a toolbox that’s full of techniques that we can fit and choose for the stressor in the present moment,” said Richard Blonna, Ed.D, a nationally certified coach and counselor and author of Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life.

6. Pick off the negotiable tasks from your plate.

Review your daily and weekly activities to see what you can pick off your plate. As Vanderkam asks in her book: “Do your kids really love their extracurricular activities or are they doing them to please you? Are you volunteering for too many causes and so stealing time from the ones where you could make the most impact? Does your whole department really need to meet once per week or have that daily conference call?”

Blonna suggested asking these questions: “Do [my activities] mesh with my goals and values? Am I doing things that give my life meaning? Am I doing the right amount of things?”

Reducing your stack of negotiable tasks can greatly reduce your stress.

7. Are you leaving yourself extra vulnerable to stress?

Whether you perceive something as a stressor depends in part on your current state of mind and body. That is, as Blonna said, “Each transaction we’re involved in takes place in a very specific context that’s affected by our health, sleep, psychoactive substances, whether we’ve had breakfast [that day] and [whether we’re] physically fit.”

So if you’re not getting sufficient sleep or physical activity during the week, you may be leaving yourself extra susceptible to stress. When you’re sleep-deprived, sedentary and filled to the brim with coffee, even the smallest stressors can have a huge impact.

8. Preserve good boundaries.

If you’re a people-pleaser, saying no feels like you’re abandoning someone, have become a terrible person or are throwing all civility out the window. But of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra activity or doing something that doesn’t contribute value to your life.

One thing I’ve noticed about productive, happy people is that they’re very protective of their time and having their boundaries crossed. But not to worry: Building boundaries is a skill you can learn.

9. Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring.

Sometimes, our mindset can boost stress, so a small issue mushroom into a pile of problems. We continue worrying, somehow thinking that this is a productive — or at least inevitable — response to stress. But we mistake worry for action.

Clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D., talks about the idea of worrying versus caring in his book, The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it, whereas caring is taking action. When we are caring for someone or something, we do the things that support or advance the best interests of the person or thing that we care about.

LeJeune uses the simple example of houseplants. He writes: “If you are away from home for a week, you can worry about your houseplants every single day and still return home to find them brown and wilted. Worrying is not watering.”

Similarly, fretting about your finances does nothing but get you worked up (and likely prevent you from taking action). Caring about your finances, however, means creating a budget, paying bills on time, using coupons and reducing how often you dine out.

Just this small shift in mindset from worrying to caring can help you adjust your reaction to stress. To see this distinction between worrying and caring, try this activity where you can list responses for each one. For example:

Worrying about your health involves…

Caring about your health involves…

Worrying about your career involves…

Caring about your career involves…

10. Embrace mistakes—or at least don’t drown in perfectionism.

Another mindset that can exacerbate stress is perfectionism. Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.

As the researcher, Brene Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth and it’s not self-improvement.”

Nothing good can come from perfectionism. Brown writes: “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life-paralysis [‘all the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect’].”

Plus, mistake-mistaking can lead to growth. To overcome perfectionism, Brown suggests becoming more compassionate toward yourself. I couldn’t agree more.

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Choosing Your Friends Wisely

Take a moment and think of those people.

Who are they? How close are you to them? What do they do with their lives personally and professionally? Are they ambitious, successful, happy, optimistic, and enthusiastic? What are their core beliefs about work, money, life, family, health, spirituality, and their body?

Most of us have had the same friends, or group of friends for a long time. Perhaps, we’ve known them since birth or were childhood friends. Or perhaps you have made new friends as adults, but they have become your community or new family.

The reality is that we are a direct representation of those who surround us. It’s inevitable that whoever we surround ourselves with, we eventually become like. For some, this is fantastic because you have surrounded yourself with authentic people who push and encourage you. For others, its detrimental to their growth.

Most of us surround ourselves with toxic people. Now I’m not talking about people who are malicious, rude, mean or hateful (although perhaps). I am defining toxic as people who are unmotivated, uninspired, zap your energy or discourage you, encourage you to stay stagnant, hold limiting, fear-based beliefs, or simply don’t ever push themselves to become their best self.

If you are on a path of growth, change and ultimate healing of your body, mind or soul – you ‘have’ to look at your friendships. This is one of the hardest things you will ever be faced with doing. I know that none of us like to rock the boat, and no one wants to appear better than someone else. But this is a MUST!

If you don’t rid yourself of unhealthy friendship, you cannot live as your best self. You will be stunted in your growth, and ultimately participate in self-sabotage.

People have a hard time with this lesson, and be in relationships all their life that does not serve their highest good. They serve them, and have some heart breaking, and devastating experience with this that results in a period of deep loneliness and grief, which is never healthier in life! Change is rapid and growth is abundant.

Choosing Your Friends Wisely:

  • Make a list of people that you need to reduce time with in your list of 5 people. Have the conversation if you need to, or slowly create some healthy distance. This takes time and emotional processing.
  • Make a new list of people that you want to be friends with. Don’t know anyone yet? List out what the attributes of the person would be. Are there people you know, but have never met? Write down the names of those people.
  • Find Your People. Seek out groups, clubs, activities where those people would hang out. Attend conferences those people would attend. Read the blogs your friends would read. Project and it will come.
  • Date New Friends. When you’ve lost a support network, you may feel desperate for friends. Date new potential friends. Find out from the beginning if they are takers, drainers or destroyers. Ask the right questions from the beginning and see what motivates them.
  • Cultivate Authenticity from the Beginning. In order for you to not slip back into your old patterns, you have to be authentic from the get go. Share your real self from the beginning. Share your path of growth and change; share your excitement and passion. Don’t edit, be YOU.
  • Be Open. Your new friends may not look, dress or talk like your old friends. Be open to finding your soul sisters and brothers in new places and faces.

Change is necessary for growth. Don’t shy away from this. You are not a mean, selfish person if you need to lose or ‘dump’ some friends. Remember that those people have been great for the time you have spent with them, but they are no longer resonating with the truth in your heart and certainly not helping you shine bright.

It’s time for you to shine bright! Surround yourself with people that inspire you! Your environment impacts every decision you make. Choose those friends who leave you feeling alive, grateful and inspired.

You deserve to be with people and in environments that support your BEST self!

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Five Ways To Avoid Depression After A Break-Up

The break-up of a relationship ranks as one of the most stressful life events; it’s up there with the death of a loved one. After the initial shock, when you may feel like you were just hit by a truck, sadness and loneliness often take over. You may feel “a part of you has died,” and your whole world has fallen apart. The ability to concentrate and get motivated may be hard to come across. You may also find yourself remembering and missing things you used to do with your partner.

YOUR PAIN IS REAL.

Brain research shows that rejection experiences in a break-up can activate the same areas of the brain that physical pain or distress do. Especially in women, a break-up can cause cardiac pain and shortness of breath. The pain is both emotional and physiological, which means it can be very intense.

Recovering from a break-up is not easy and can lead to severe depression; lowered immune system response; and even health problems.

As you recover from your break-up, you need to take care of yourself. The following tips might be helpful in that process.

TIPS FOR RECOVERING FROM A BREAK-UP FASTER

• Express yourself. Share your feelings.

One of the best ways to deal with the pain of a break-up is to share your feelings with friends or family, people you trust. The simple process of identifying and talking about your feelings is very soothing. Studies show that talking about negative feelings can reduce activity in the pain-feeling portion of the brain. Talking to others not only feels good, but also releases opiates, which are natural “pain-killers,” and helps you process and manage the emotions generated by a break-up.

• Give yourself time to grieve.

Allow yourself to be sad about the loss of your relationship, rather than trying to rush into feeling well again. People who refuse to face the pain of a break-up get involved in rebound relationships before working through the painful issues of the past relationship. They tend to project their pain and desires onto their new partner, substituting their previous partner and not seeing the new person for who he/she really is.

Give yourself time to grieve; the process may be as painful as mourning the death of a loved one. Breaking up is a loss and the only way to come out of it healthy and with peace is to grieve properly.

• Consider having a conversation with your ex-partner.

You may be able to have a final discussion with your ex-partner to help you understand what caused the break-up and express any pent-up issues and feelings. However, this may not be something your ex-partner is willing to do or it may be too painful for you to do. In this case, research shows that having an imaginary conversation, where you express all your feelings and say goodbye, can help you move-on.

• Sleep.

Sleep is one of the best ways to deal with stress and avoid depression, yet it can be hindered by emotional distress. The day’s residual pain, sadness, and anger can make it difficult to sleep well. If you wake up too early, or can’t fall asleep, take notes in order to identify a recurring theme. That will help you figure out how get stress and anger under control during the day. Try keeping a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day; you will feel more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times. Create a relaxing bed-time routine. Regular exercise and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation may also improve your sleep.

• Exercise.

Working out, running, and even brisk walking release opiates, which can help you deal with stress. Studies show that cardiovascular exercise can be as effective in dealing with mild to moderate anxiety and depression as antidepressants. So, get up and put your running shoes on!

It is natural to feel sad as you are grieving the end of your relationship. Remember to allow yourself to experience and process your own thoughts and feelings, no matter how painful they are; it will allow you to move forward. If you feel helpless, have low self-confidence, or think you are worse than you were, you may benefit from professional help to alleviate your feelings and avoid a deeper depression.

Don’t wait too long before intervening; when one door closes, you need to find the window that will allow you to go through and heal.

If you want help in dealing with relationship break-up, mail me at soulrevivng@gmail.com; for a ‘FREE’ consultation.

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3 Tips For Dealing With Disappointment

Sometimes things just don’t turn out how we want. It could be anything—a project, a relationship, a job. We enter into these situations with high hopes, and often, when our hopes are dashed, we feel intensely disappointed.

Here Are Three Tips to Help Ease the Sting of Disappointment

So that the next time things don’t go your way (and trust me, there will be a next time) you’ll be able to bounce back more easily.

1. Trust.

Many times, when things don’t work out as we planned, there’s actually something bigger and better on the horizon. You’ve probably experienced this before—you get all worked up because you didn’t receive a job offer or something like that—only to realize, in hindsight, that if you’d been offered that job, you never would have moved across the country and met your soul mate. At the time, you probably felt angry, sad, and disappointed. But in retrospect, you can see how everything was working out with perfect timing.

When things don’t go our way, it’s important to learn to trust that the universe has our back. Even though your situation might look bleak at the moment, there’s something better coming. I truly believe that when we think in this way, we actually create these bigger and better things. Call it a shift in perspective, a self-fulfilling prophecy, or the law of attraction. However you want to think of it, there’s a mountain of evidence attesting to the fact that, in all areas of life, mindset matters.

Cheryl Richardson, the best-selling author of The Art of Extreme Self-Care and You Can Create an Exceptional Life, often tells the story of her experience with the Oprah show. One day, Cheryl got the call that many people dream of—Oprah wanted to have her on her show. Cheryl was elated, until she received another call a few weeks before the show was to air. It ended up that Oprah didn’t want her anymore.

Cheryl was devastated, but after some initial mourning, she kept following her passion of being a life coach and author. Then, a year later, Oprah called again. This time, Cheryl got on the show, and she did so well that Oprah turned her into a regular guest on her Life Makeover Series.

The moral? Cheryl says that if she had gotten on the show the first time around, she wouldn’t have done as well, because she didn’t have enough media experience to nail the interview. The extra year gave her time to hone her craft so that when she did end up on the show, she knocked it out of the park.

The next time something doesn’t go your way, close your eyes and say to yourself, “I trust that everything in my life is happening in perfect, divine timing.”

2. Release.

In modern life, we often place far too much emphasis on the outcome of our actions, as opposed to enjoying the journey. We have a picture in our mind of exactly how everything is supposed to work out: we’ll have this relationship by this age, this job at this point, this much money in the bank by this year, this many children, this car, this house, and on and on.

Unfortunately, this isn’t how the real world works. Of course, it’s always nice to have goals and a vision of what we want in life, but if we attach too strongly to that vision, we end up feeling crushed when things don’t go according to our five (or forty!) year plan.

We need to loosen our grip on the outcome and learn to enjoy the process. We try so hard to control our lives, while the saying, “Man plans, god laughs” is utterly true.

Let go of your attachment to the outcome. All you have is this moment, right here, right now. This is it! Enjoy it as best as you can. If this moment is difficult, return to point one and trust that something better is on the way.

3. Expand.

When we’re working toward a goal, we often have on blinders. These blinders cause us to see a very narrow picture of the outcome that we desire. Unfortunately, this tunnel vision results in a very close-minded approach that can actually stifle our motivation and creativity.

A practice that I like to use is to ask the universe for what I want, but to keep an open mind at the same time. For example, you can visualize the outcome that you desire, and then affirm to yourself, “I trust that I am being guided toward this or something better.”

Access Consciousness recommends a fantastic question to help reduce narrow-mindedness. The next time you catch yourself obsessing over a very specific outcome, ask yourself, “What else is possible?”

The trick here is to avoid searching for an answer with your logical mind. We tend to overemphasize the capabilities of our rational mind, when in fact, research shows that we actually make poorer decisions when we rely on logic. Many times, our emotions, gut feelings, and unconscious minds lead us to better decisions. Creativity is not logical.

You’ve probably heard many examples where people came up with solutions to problems, inventions, and beautiful pieces of art through dreams or other unconscious means.

When we find ourselves getting too preoccupied with an outcome, we need to let it go for awhile and expand our mindset. Go for a walk, spend time with a loved one, or meditate. Continue to ask yourself, “What else is possible?” But don’t go searching for the answer. Let it percolate. The guidance will come exactly when it’s meant to.

Disappointment as a Gift.

In the end, life’s disappointments often bear hidden gifts. The trick is to shift our perspective so that we can see these blessings for what they are.

In his book The Gift of Fire, Dan Caro talks about how a horrible childhood accident that left him disfigured and near death was actually a gift. Dan learned early on how to make adversity work for him, and you can too.

Just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and trust, release, and expand.

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