When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.
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.
Most of us will come up against disappointments, both big and small, as we journey through life. Often we choose to complain to anyone who will listen, or to blame others when things don’t go our way.
It’s important to acknowledge our disappointments and not just shove them under the table, and to maybe examine why we had certain expectations.
I firmly believe that our feelings are our own responsibility and that no-one else can make us feel good or bad. It is our reaction to other people and situations that determines how we ultimately feel. But how can we learn to deal with disappointment in an effective and constructive manner?
Coping with Disappointment :
The first thing you need to do in learning to deal with disappointment is recognize your coping mechanisms. Everybody has their own way of dealing with events and situations – their self-medicating strategies. For example do you reach for food, (chocolate, ice-cream, cake); alcohol, (get drunk and try to forget); take yourself off somewhere to hide, (under the duvet), or indulge in a spot of retail therapy, (credit card blow out)?
These strategies may make you feel better temporarily but rarely get to the root of the problem and often will bring new issues to give you grief, such as being overweight, in debt, or lonely. And then the cycle will start again.
So how about breaking that cycle and developing some new strategies?
5 tips for effectively dealing with disappointment:
1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling. You can honestly express the emotions you’re feeling without blaming or punishing others. This is about how you feel about the situation, not other people. Articulate your feelings without attacking others. Always be respectful, but don’t be afraid to let them know how you feel.
• There isn’t a right or wrong way to feel.
Your feelings are valid and if you don’t voice your opinion then you’ll harbour resentment and stress yourself out. Be honest with yourself about how you really feel about the situation. If you don’t have another individual to talk to, then journal your feelings. In some way or another get them out and expressed.
2. Put things in perspective. Even small disappointments can seem monumental at first, especially if we have built up our expectations. But once you’ve expressed your hurt, frustration, or anger, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. How much of an effect is this disappointment going to have on you tomorrow, next week, or next year?
• Take a deep breath, go for a walk, or go do something different for a few minutes and try to put your disappointment into perspective.
Taking time to reflect and step away from the situation will help calm your thoughts and emotions so you’ll be better able to handle the disappointment.
3. Refuse to doubt yourself. Sometimes disappointment can make you feel like a failure. You may wonder why these things happen to you or you may think you were stupid to get your hopes up in the first place. But none of that is the truth. Don’t allow yourself to give in to these negative thoughts!
• Disappointment is not unique to you.
Everyone has been disappointed at some time in their life. Instead of putting yourself down, think about what could have been done differently and learn from the experience.
4. Look for a solution or compromise. Things may not always turn out as you hope, but often there is another option or a different way of looking at things.
• Take a few deep breaths, relax, and look for the silver lining.
It’s possible to find something positive in almost every situation.
5. Re-evaluate and make changes if necessary. Sometimes when we experience disappointments, it may be a sign that we need to re-examine our priorities or expectations. Depending on the degree of disappointment you’re facing, you may need to make minor or major changes to your life.
• Learn to be flexible.
Refocusing your attention on your new goals and on what is really important to you will help you manage or avoid future disappointments.
Above all, don’t become discouraged and don’t give up.
All successful people have had to learn to deal with setbacks and disappointments somewhere along their journey. However rather than giving up, they learn from their failures and disappointments; and go on to achieve their goals.
You must not allow disappointment to lower your self-confidence. That’s not to say that you need to gloss over your feelings, but learning how to deal with your disappointments effectively will allow you to learn and grow, and then you will be better placed to move on to bigger and better things.
1. Prick your memory every day.
Memorizing something every day, even a poem, a phrase, a joke, will help keep your mind fresh, active and improve your memory.
2. Get out of your comfort zone.
Change your point of view, see the world as a gift of life, a package that you can open and enjoy and not as a cruel and suffering. With a positive attitude you will discover wonderful things. Develop curiosity and try new things. Say “yes” to life, instead of “maybe”.
3. Take care of your body.
A healthy body leads to better health, more confidence and more success in professional and personal life, three excellent reasons to drink more pure water, sleep earlier and drink less alcohol and eat less saturated fat.
4. Focus on the present.
By focusing on the past we are locked in a vicious circle of events that can never change, and waste the opportunities of today. The future is the result of your present. Learn from the past to enjoy your present and your future better.
5. Keep smiles.
Did you know that the simple act of smiling causes your brain to secrete serotonin, a substance that makes us feel good? Tomorrow, when you wake up, try to smile a little. Happiness gives us smiles, but smiles lead us to happiness. I bet you will start your day much better than others.
6. Learn to forgive.
Forgiveness is something that is difficult for most people. The resentment only brings misery and sadness, loneliness and bitterness. You constantly make mistakes; don’t you think that others deserve a second chance too?
7. Embrace your emotions.
The only person you can brighten or sadden, really, is yourself. Learn to embrace your emotions with meditation techniques and how they affect you recognize the words of others. Find the strength you need to maintain stability.
Work is important, and being successful is more important. However, the rest is much more important to help achieve these objectives, as well as congratulating yourself for achieving, carrying out tasks and responsibilities.
9. Do what you love to do.
There is a huge difference between doing what you have to do, and do what you love to do. What do you do? Does it give you happiness and satisfaction? Does it makes sense to work and live a life you hate until you finally have a chance to retire and then do what you want? Why not start from now? Learn to recognize what you love and begin to apply it in your daily life.
10. Listen to your intuition.
Not only listen to your mind, but also your feelings. What are they saying? Do not mistake the voice in your head with your unconscious. Learning to distinguish from each other will help you find a better way and take better decisions.
Marriage rates supposedly are on the decline. While it’s an oft-repeated statistic that 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, that number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years. Divorce rates also vary with the partners’ level of education, religious beliefs, and many other factors.
But when divorce does happen, it results in difficulties for adults as well as children. For adults, divorce can be one of life’s most stressful life events. The decision to divorce often is met with ambivalence and uncertainty about the future. If children are involved, they may experience negative effects such as denial, feelings of abandonment, anger, blame, guilt, preoccupation with reconciliation, and acting out.
While divorce may be necessary and the healthiest choice for some, others may wish to try to salvage whatever is left of the union. When couples encounter problems or issues, they may wonder when it is appropriate to seek marriage counseling. Here are seven good reasons.
1. Communication has become negative.
Once communication has deteriorated, often it is hard to get it going back in the right direction. Negative communication can include anything that leaves one partner feeling depressed, insecure, disregarded, or wanting to withdraw from the conversation. This can also include the tone of the conversation. It is important to remember that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.
Negative communication can also include any communication that not only leads to hurt feelings, but emotional or physical abuse, as well as nonverbal communication.
2. When one or both partners consider having an affair, or one partner has had an affair.
Recovering from an affair is not impossible, but it takes a lot of work. It takes commitment and a willingness to forgive and move forward. There is no magic formula for recovering from an affair. But if both individuals are committed to the therapy process and are being honest, the marriage may be salvaged. At the very least, it may be determined that it is healthier for both individuals to move on.
3. When the couple seems to be “just occupying the same space.”
When couples become more like roommates than a married couple, this may indicate a need for counseling. This does not mean if the couple isn’t doing everything together they are in trouble. If there is a lack of communication, conversation and intimacy or any other elements the couple feels are important and they feel they just “co-exist,” this may be an indication that a skilled clinician can help sort out what is missing and how to get it back.
4. When the partners do not know how to resolve their differences.
When a couple begins to experience discord and they are aware of the discord, knowing is only half the battle. Many times I have heard couples say, “We know what’s wrong, but we just don’t know how to fix it.” This is a perfect time to get a third party involved. If a couple is stuck, a skilled clinician may be able to get them moving in the right direction.
5. When one partner begins to act out on negative feelings.
I believe what we feel on the inside shows on the outside. Even if we are able to mask these feelings for a while, they are bound to surface. Negative feelings such as resentment or disappointment can turn into hurtful, sometimes harmful behaviors. I can recall a couple where the wife was very hurt by her husband’s indiscretions. Although she agreed to stay in the relationship and work things out, she became very spiteful. The wife would purposefully do things to make her husband think she was being unfaithful even though she wasn’t. She wanted her husband to feel the same pain she felt, which was counterproductive. A skilled clinician can help the couple sort out negative feelings and find better ways to express them.
6. When the only resolution appears to be separation.
When a couple disagrees or argues, a break often is very helpful. However, when a timeout turns into an overnight stay away from home or eventually leads to a temporary separation, this may indicate a need for counseling. Spending time away from home does not usually resolve the situation. Instead, it reinforces the thought that time away is helpful, often leading to more absences. When the absent partner returns, the problem is still there, but often avoided because time has passed.
7. When a couple is staying together for the sake of the children.
If a couple feels it is wise to stay together for the sake of the children, it may help to involve an objective third party. Often couples believe that they are doing the right thing when staying together actually is detrimental to the children. On the contrary, if the couple is able to resolve issue and move toward a positive, healthy relationship, this may be the best decision for all involved.
In my opinion, children should never be the deciding factor when couples are determining whether to stay together. I recall working with an adolescent who was having trouble in school. She was acting out and her grades were declining. After a few sessions she stated, “I know my parents really don’t like each other.” When I asked her why, she replied, “They are nice to each other, but they never smile or laugh like my friends’ parents.”
Children are generally very intuitive and intelligent. No matter how couples may think they are able to fake their happiness, most children are able to tell.
All marriages are not salvageable. In the process of marriage counseling, some couples may discover it is healthier for them to be apart. However, for those relationships that can be salvaged, and for those couples willing to commit to the process, marriage counseling may be able to remind them why they fell in love and keep them that way.
My ideas are based on my observations of working with hundreds of couples over the last 6 years.
1. Seek to understand before trying to be understood.
One of the most common negative patterns I see in my work with couples is the cycle of criticism and defensiveness. This often happens when you hear something you perceive as an attack or criticism from your partner, which leads you immediately to defend yourself.
This pattern sets both of you up not to be heard. As soon as you start to defend your position, you’ve lost the opportunity to understand your partner. Even if you feel under attack or think you hear a criticism, try to understand your partner’s thoughts and feelings before you respond.
2. Slow down your communication to truly hear your partner.
Many issues get out of control because once this dynamic of criticism and defense is under way, the interaction often moves very quickly. When your communication is speeding up, you can miss a lot of important information that your partner is expressing. This fast pace also increases the volatility of your discussion, making it harder for you to keep the conversation calm.
If you notice that your discussion is moving too quickly, intentionally put on the brakes and slow down the exchange. Make sure your partner knows you truly want to understand what he or she is saying. This helps defuse the reactivity and allows you to continue to communicate in an adult-to-adult way.
3. Be curious about your partner’s perspective.
This one is easier said than done when you’re feeling blamed, criticized or attacked. However, one of the best things you can do in such circumstances is to be curious about your partner’s perspective. This can be disarming in a positive way, and it immediately helps de-escalate the rising tension between you.
By being curious, you can learn new things about your partner, as well as support your conversation in moving toward a resolution. You can still disagree with your partner’s perspective and remain curious and interested in how their view is different from yours. Practice this next time you feel a heated discussion coming on and see what happens.
4. Recognize your emotional triggers and learn to self-soothe.
When you know what your emotional triggers are, it allows you to be aware when the potential for their activation is present. We all bring ‘baggage’ into our relationships — from our childhood, previous relationships, school experiences and of course, our family of origin. There’s no such thing as a person who is ‘baggage-free;’ however, you can use your awareness of your hot spots to know when they are likely to be triggered.
Practice observing yourself, even when you feel triggered by your partner. See if you can name it by saying “I’m feeling [insert feeling] now, and I think it’s also touching something in my past that’s not related to you.” By naming the trigger, it helps your partner understand that there’s more at play here than just the current conversation. This understanding can help both of you be less reactive in the moment.
5. Practice using empathy to foster a closer connection.
Empathy is the fuel of good relationships. Being empathic is about imagining yourself walking in your partner’s shoes seeing the world from their perspective. When you can respond empathically to your partner, it facilitates a deeper bond and creates a strong sense of safety and trust between you. When you’re feeling attacked, however, this is the last thing you feel like doing. It does require you to be able to step outside yourself and begin to appreciate a reality different from yours.
Practicing empathy does not mean that you have to completely surrender and give up what you want or give up your own reality. It just means you need to suspend your own perspective, even momentarily, so you can appreciate the smallest part of how your partner sees things. Start small – even if you’re imagining only one to five percent of what your partner feels — and then build on that. Your partner will feel the shift and will be able to let down his or her guard a little, opening up the possibility of a better connection.
6. Listen for the hidden unmet need or emotion.
When your partner is in distress and voicing a complaint or you’re feeling criticized or blamed, there’s always some unmet need, want, desire or unexpressed emotion underlying this cry. The challenge for you is to go underneath the overt complaint and see if you can tap into the hidden emotion. By uncovering this emotion and tentatively asking if the covert emotion is also going on for your partner, you can bypass the surface anger, irritation or resentment and cut to the core emotion that needs to be validated.
This is no easy task, as it requires you to figuratively step up and out of the current conflict and to look and listen for what’s not being expressed. It also requires you to suspend your own reactivity and defensiveness in order to connect with your partner’s deeper needs. When you find yourself in a conflict situation, pause for a moment and see if you can feel what else in the conversation your partner is not expressing. To help you with this, remind yourself that your partner is in distress, but is not able to share the whole picture of the distress with you. Listen carefully for this and use your curiosity to find out what else is not being overtly shared.
7. Anticipate issues before they become issues.
Many current issues could have been dealt with much earlier in the relationship, but weren’t. Avoiding talking about small issues often can lead to unresolved issues festering and expanding over time, only eventually to explode and become much bigger than they were initially. You may not want to rock the boat when things seem to be going well. You may believe that nothing good comes of raising complaints or issues.
The reality is, couples who seek to avoid conflict almost always end up in lots of it. Get into the habit of naming and flagging issues with each other, even when they are small. One of the ways to do this is to have a regular check-in to discuss current issues and assess where your relationship is going. Over time, this structure can help you feel more confident about your ability to effectively deal with conflict and disagreements.
Communication in a relationship requires constant attention. Start with the basics and establish rituals of communication and connection to ensure the longevity of your love and connection with each another.