Forgiveness

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When it comes to emotions, deep hurt or anger from a loved one can be hard to come back from. It is really difficult to see the other side when you are clouded with pain or rage. Finding clarity in the midst of these emotions is very difficult. It may take some time to take a step back and try to look at things from a different perspective.

Recently, I hurt a good friend with something I said by venting to another person that involved my friend. What I shared was unfortunately spread like a rumor, and got back to my friend, even though that was not the intention I had in mind. I was confronted about it when the rumor surfaced and I reacted in shock and embarrassment. I apologized about the result of what had occurred. There was nothing I could do to change what happened. All I can do now, is learn from my past and move forward. I had other mixed feelings though. This same friend had been affecting me negatively for several months and I was confused and lost about how to handle the circumstances that I was dealing with. In my mind all I did was vent about my own feelings with what was happening. I don’t know why the person I told my feelings to chose to share it with others, but I do know I should be careful who I choose to confide in. I also know that for a long time I felt guilty about sharing the personal information, but I came to a realization that I dealt with my situation by talking about it, like I always do. Why is talking about my feelings bad? So my friend and I spent some time apart without talking much, since we were both in a hard place with each other. We have a long history of friendship and have been through a lot together and have been each other’s confidant and rock at times. It is sad for us both to see how far south our friendship has gone.  The other night, she apologized for her reaction, but admitted that she was still dealing with strong emotions of hurt and anger. I was too, but it did feel good to hear that she still loves me and wants me to be happy no matter what has come between us. I felt the same way. We can’t solve it all with one conversation, but it was a good start to begin the healing process. I appreciated her honesty and acknowledged that it showed a lot of maturity that she was able to admit she was sorry for her behavior. I repeated how sorry I was about my actions as well. We laughed, we cried, we talked, and we sat in silence.

Forgiveness is very healing both for yourself and for the person you are choosing to forgive. It takes mercy, understanding, openness, and love to forgive someone else that you feel has hurt you deeply. The truth is forgiving someone else, though seemly a selfless act, is often more beneficial to yourself, so you can feel better and let your heart begin to heal. You can make yourself crazy, keeping in anger and resentment for someone else. It solves nothing to hold hatred or a grudge against someone else; you are only hurting yourself. I think my friend needed to feel better about herself, our friendship, and the whole situation. It was affecting both of our emotions, how much sleep we were getting, our health and well being. We, as people, can become so stressed that we can literally make ourselves sick. I’m glad my friend was able to come out of the hurt and anger for a moment of clarity. My friend still needs time and so do I to heal fully, but at least we were able to finally have a good and honest conversation. Sometimes, a step in the right direction is all you need to feel better and know you are headed in the right direction. You don’t always have to make giant leaps of progress toward something, especially if you are not ready to do so. Remember, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu.

Take care of yourself, your emotions, your body, and your overall health. Wake up each day with renewed joy to do your best and love with an open heart. We all make mistakes and we all have the ability to forgive if we choose. If not for the other person, do it for yourself.

It Is Not Always About You

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As difficult as it may be to consider this fact, it is not always about you. You are not the center of everyone else’s universe, just yours. People may come into your life or are already in your life and may rub you the wrong way or affect you negatively. Most likely, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with that person and the personal stuff they are dealing with as an individual. One of the hardest things I have ever had to learn, and still struggle with, is to not take things personal. I tend to take things to heart – what others say to me and how they act toward me. Sometimes, of course, it may be something directly related to me, but most of the time it is not. People think, speak, and behave based on their own perspective of the world. That is why sometimes worlds can collide when two people, with two different perspectives, come head to head on an issue or negative interaction where they do not see or understand the other person’s attitude or behavior. So what can we do when this occurs?

Someone recently mentioned a video called, “This Is Water,” which is actually part of a commencement speech by David Foster Wallace, but someone else made it into a video. The main concept of this video and speech was to bring awareness and thought into our actions; to think about and realize that we each have a choice about how we react to irritating situations and / or interactions with other people. Also, to consider that this other person is possibly battling something really difficul that day and to have or find more compassion for others. For example, maybe that person did not get enough sleep because they were fighting with their spouse, maybe their dad is in the hospital, or perhaps they are simply having a bad day. Sometimes, unfortunately, people do not differentiate how they treat others with how they are feeling at the time. As referenced in the video, we tend to just go to default mode which is the opposite of choosing; it is just reacting to the events, often negatively. Though, it is not nice or fair if someone is mean or rude to you just because they are feeling moody or miserable, it does not mean that it will never happen. In fact, it happens all the time! It is really difficult for many people to get out of their own heads (their default mode) long enough to realize that their attitude or behavior is affecting others, and not just themselves.

So when I find this is happening to me, I have the choice of how I want to react to these negative or unwanted interactions. I could react back in anger, hurt or frustration; I could laugh it off and go about my day realizing it is not about me; I could even choose not to respond. Often, the first reaction, is usally not the best thing to do, because again we are REACTING out of our default mode. It is good to first get out of your own head for a moment and try to become aware. Try observing the person or situation objectively. Think about what the other person is trying to communicate. What control do you personally have in the current situation? What are your choices? Are they really mad at me or are they reacting poorly to something else and taking it out on me? Each action has a reaction as we all know, so it is important to be insightful and think about what will bring about the best possible outcome, without making matters worse, but also without neglecting your own feelings and needs. This is such a delicate balancing act, which is why for me it has been so difficult to master. It is hard to not let your personal feelings get in the way of your own behavior.

As I just mentioned, don’t forget to take care of yourself and your emotional health. I was talking to a friend at work today and we noticed that we each come to work positive and energized. Unfortunately,  as the day progresses other people’s moods, aggression, and negative energy start to drain us, causing us each to also become moody and upset. Negativity can spread like a plague, it seems. We talked about how much it seems to affect us and that it is not good to hold it in. So, she mentioned that in her notebook, which is usually for work notes and reminders, she now is going to start writing down situations that upset her. She wanted to do this as a method to vent and let it go. This is a very healthy and mature way to handle negative emotions at work (or in general) where you may feel like you have little or no control over the situations and people that are rude or mean to you. Negative emotions, if kept bottled up inside, eventually do come out, but these feelings may come out a lot more powerful and worse than they need to be if not dealt with earlier. Plus, they can come out and be directed at the wrong people even.

Remember, you always have a choice in how you personally think and behave. You may not be able to control or predict other people’s behavior, but it wouldn’t hurt to consider that they may be going through something difficult and you can choose compassion. Alternatively, if you are being abused or mistreated by someone in your life at home or work, it is important to seek help and if necessary get out of that negative environment. Take care of yourself – your thoughts, your emotions, and your body.

Believing In The Im-Possible

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In the past two years alone, I have started reading more books related to self-development. Many of these books are meant to encourage, inspire, and improve the lives of anyone who reads them. For me, the main focus for reading these types of books has been removing self-doubt and discovering my gifts, along with practicing a lot of self-love. There was a problem I ran into, when first starting to read these amazing books, however; I was not at that point yet where I believed that anything is indeed possible.

From the time we are babies up to our teenage years we are molded into what our teachers and parents lead us to be, but it changes as we get older. For example, when we are little they might encourage us to “follow our dreams” and tell us that “we can be or do anything” we want to in life. As we get older and are nearing the end of our high school career, we are often not being told the same message as when we were younger. Instead, we are encouraged to “go to college” so we can “get a good job” and become “responsible adults” who pay our bills. The focus shifts and we are no longer supposed to dream or believe like we did when we were kids. We are not told to “shoot for the stars” and that “the sky is the limit”. So now, like myself, you may have likely developed a mentality that is self-limiting, self-defeating, and truly believe whole-heartedly that not everything is possible and you must work hard for your money.

My goal here today is to address the idea of how we view ourselves and how we can overcome the barriers that have either been set up for us from a young age or that we ourselves have put in place. How do we get from an “I can’t do anything” standpoint to an “I can do anything I set my mind to” outlook in life? This is where the hard work comes in. The most difficult changes and growth I have experienced in my life have been related to my strong-held beliefs and my old ways of thinking that were molded into me and set in stone as a child. The past several years I have had to chizel away, little by little, until my true self has been broken free and taken shape out of much hard work and dedication. Changing your beliefs does not happen overnight, but over time.

The start can be simple choices like when there is an opportunity that arises that is a little out of your comfort zone and you notice it makes you nervous or even scared. This is when you face that challenge instead of avoiding it or running from it. Whether it is an oppotunity to try something new for the first time or doing something that you love but maybe takes courage. An example in my life is that I love to sing and play guitar. In fact, I write my own songs. When an opportunity comes to me to play in front of a live audience, it excites me and freaks me out at the same time. I start doubting my ability and wonder if anyone will actually enjoy my original songs or what happens if I forget my lyrics in the middle of playing?! How embarrassing that would be! This is the best time to change your thought pattern in each moment like this. Instead of thinking, “this is too much” and “what if I mess up?” I replace those thoughts with “I can totally do this” and “what if I am amazing and everyone loves my music”. Instantly, I feel better and turn my fear into confidence and enthusiasm and my doubts are diminished with more positive emotions. In each choice we make, we can slowly change the way we think from more negative and self-defeating to positive and encouraging. Though I am still a “work-in-progress”, while molding my thoughts each day, I am excited to see the masterpeice that will come out of this wonderful new change in habit. I am choosing to let go of what I am “supposed to look like” and “who I am supposed to be”; no longer having an image in mind of what I want to be, but stay open to the possiblilities (pun intended) to what I will become. I’m possible.

 

 

 

 

I Choose Happiness

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Lately, I have been trying to think about what makes me feel happy. What do I really want? What do I want to do for a living? Who do I want to be? What activities would I enjoy on a regular basis? What kind of people do I want to surround myself with? How do I want others to view me? What actually matters in my life? All of these questions circle my mind on a daily basis and weigh on my soul. This desire of identity, of ego, of being someone special and finding my own happiness begs my attention and stays with me wherever I go. I strive to do and say and be all these things while searching for my happiness, my identity, and my uniqueness.

While on this journey, I found myself admiring other people’s lives and comparing their accomplishments with my own, upset and frustrated at myself for not getting there as quickly as others seemed to arrive. I don’t have an established career or a four-year degree. I don’t have a spouse and children. I haven’t travelled to other countries all over the world or mastered something unique. So what then am I here for? What is my purpose? Why am I not further in life? We all tend to do the comparison game. We value ourselves based on lack not our strengths. I forgot that everyone is on a different journey that is right for them and may not be right for me. My journey is my journey; everything in this moment is exactly the way it is supposed to be and I am exactly where I should be. This was step one for me – acceptance.

There are many things in this world that make me feel good, excited, and passionate. Close friends and family with whom I love and spend quality time is an example. Writing is a joy of mine, as well as music. These things fill me with temporary happiness – when I am with these people or doing these activities. But then I go home to my room and I am alone again and I go to work where I put in my eight hours and go back home. I ask myself, why can’t I feel this happiness and contentment all the time? I wanted to find my purpose and my gifts that I could give to the world and in this I hoped to find my very own happiness. But after much more observation, during my search for happiness, I discovered a certain truth and sameness with all people. We all want to be happy; and we all try to do things or be a certain way to achieve it.

This behavior, what I would call “coping mechanisms”,  is what people tend to turn to in order to feel better, not to be happy in a long-term way. Just last night, I went to eat dinner with a close friend of mine. She was frustrated with her work situation, among other things. She told me her natural tendancy was to “sleep it off” and go into her “cave”. This was her way of dealing with her issues or emotions that she was not wanting to deal with. I kept hearing her say that she wanted to talk about it with someone, but instead she chose to sleep. After dinner, we walked around the local mall. I saw a girl look really sad and she was carrying several shopping bags and it dawned on me that her coping mechanism was probably shopping, buying things to feel better about herself or some situation in her life. Others drink, smoke, or do drugs. I could go on an on. My point is that we tend to choose the opposite than what we really need. A list of healthier things to clear your mind might be to talk about it with a trusted friend or family member, exercise, clean, or maybe do a creative project or work with your hands on a project. These activites tend to help us clear our minds so we can focus better on what makes us actually happy instead of focusing on how miserable we feel in the moment.

That is really what it all comes down to, is each moment. In each moment, we can choose to feel happy or otherwise. If we are taking care of our own needs and choosing healthy options of working through our frustrations instead of ignoring them by drinking or shopping or sleeping, we can move on with our lives and start being happier.

Rain Cloud

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Lately, I have felt a bit like Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh. When something negative happens to or around Eeyore, he always responds with a certain knowing, as though he expected things to not work out.

Have you ever felt like that, when you doubted the outcome of an event before you even tried it or gave it a chance? A lot of our doubt comes from fear. We question ourselves and wonder if we are good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, talented enough, etc. We make up stories of all the possible outcomes, often bad, that do not end up in our favor and have not even happened in reality, only in our imaginations. Our minds are so powerful that we believe our thoughts as absolute truths. So it is important when we are thinking and “talking to ourselves” that we are aware of the words we choose. When things as we see it are not going the way we would have hoped they would go, we start to almost expect it and attract more of it. When we develop this sort of mentality, it becomes second nature. It feels like there is a dark and gloomy cloud just over our heads only and the “storm” does not seem to be affecting anyone else around. I, like Eeyore, have created my own little rain cloud that follows me everywhere I go, because it has become a part of me. The rain cloud represents my negative outlook, my doubts, my fears, my self-hatred, etc. Most people live their whole lives like this and may not even realize the vicious cycle they are in. They do not recognize how poorly they are treating themselves and never come to the conclusion that something in their lives or minds needs to change.

I question, why is this happening to me? What did I do or am I doing to deserve this unfortunate chain of events or attract this negativity into my life? What change needs to happen for these things to stop? Sometimes change is good, but in the moment it may not appear to be a positive change. Sometimes our perspective is the only thing that can change our reaction and our outcome. Maybe that rain cloud needed to wash away something unwanted or unnecessary in my life that I was not able to remove on my own, without force. An example of this, in my own life, was with a past employer. I worked as a Receptionist at a company for five years. I grew bored of this position after a year or two and the tasks became simple and mundane. I attempted to get promoted but I was told I needed a degree, which I did not have. So I kept allowing them to add on more responsibility in hopes that my work there would become more interesting and fill up my day. The truth is, I was miserable. I was left alone with all of my thoughts and I felt like my job did not really matter. It did not fulfill me or inspire me. I should have quit, but instead I stayed long enough for everyone else to realize I was miserable too. I kept showing up late and they came to the conclusion that I did not care much for what I was doing and they fired me for my tardiness. It was really a blessing in disguise but at the time I had no plans, no savings account, and no way to pay my bills. I was horrified at the thought of being jobless and it left me in a panicked state that eventually caused me to be depressed. Luckily, I had a lot of really special people in my life that helped to lift my spirits and encouraged me not to give up. I worked odd jobs for several years and life is still not perfect, but it did take that major change to get me out of my comfort zone and into reality. I needed to figure out what I do like and what does fulfill me, inspire me, and cause me to jump out of bed in the morning.

I believe that if we do not learn lessons that they come back around again and again, until we do get it and change. I have found myself in situations recently that remind me of being in that very same spot, which is unhappy where I am at but too afraid to make the change myself. Eventually the Universe gives us a kick in the butt and forces the change whether we are ready or not and then there are a lot more elements out of our control. Whatever the case is for you and your life, whether you are unhappy at work or in a personal relationship, or in your living situation, please do yourself a favor and take the time to discover what you really want in life and go get it. Don’t wait for a storm to come and destroy everything for you, forcing you to rebuild. Sometimes if you are able to realize it in time, these changes can be positive and amazing! While, other times if we are still stuck in a rut and do not wake up from it, we just stay in a perpetual habit, like as if you are in the eye of a tornado, never really finding our way out. There are stages in our lives, defining points, that can dictate where we go next or where we end up, but it is so easy to forget how much control we have in these situations. Our mindset and perspective and reaction to these events can make us better and stronger or they can break us down and cause us to give up the fight. I believe that we cannot fully understand and appreciate the sun or the good times, if we do not also have the rain and the harder times.

I want to take this time to tell you that you are worth it, to never give up on yourself, and if you are your own rain cloud, why not be your own sunshine too? Be your own cheerleader in life, your own coach, and your own counselor. There may be many people that come in and out of your life that will help or support you on your journey, but it is ultimately up to you what you do within your own life and how you spend your time while you are here. If it is so easy to imagine things going wrong, why is it so difficult to imagine everything going perfectly and exactly how you imagined? The truth is, it is not difficult to think those positive thoughts. You just have to believe that you deserve those good things to happen and actually want it. If you are not convinced, how do you expect to convince the Universe?

Back To The Basics

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Every time I find myself in that place again, off center and out of balance, I am reminded to listen to my body and go back to the basics.

We, as humans, have good intentions as we start our day to accomplish our goals and get out in the world to live our lives. Then, just as quickly, we can get swallowed up by the very same world we throw ourselves into. We forget to focus on what we want, to stay in the light, and so easily fall prey to the darkness and negativity. We forget to remain present while we transition to auto pilot mode and “just have to get through today” mindset. It is amazing how much we stretch ourselves in so many different directions to the maximum, until it finally hits us that we have no more wiggle room, nothing more to give. So we collapse into a pile of goop, or flip out on someone who did nothing wrong, or cry at a moment’s notice for no reason, or go into depression, etc. None of these options are appealing or desired, yet we allow ourselves to reach this state of destitute. We give to work. We give to school. We give to our families. We give to our partners. We give to our friends. We give, and give, and give…Where in this are we giving to ourselves and providing the basic needs to care about our own bodies and our own health?

Taking better care of myself is something I have been focusing on more intentionally for the past couple of years, but it seems I still need a reminder every once and a while. Yesterday, imparticularly, I was reminded of this when I noticed how easily agitated I was, sad with low energy and very moody. It seemed I had arrived there suddenly, but I knew that wasn’t the case. My ability to cope with daily interactions that were negative or unpleasant became harder to shrug off. My poor attitude and outlook was only attracting more of the same. I decided maybe a walk outside in the sunshine would do me some good. I arrived flustered from the day and started to gather my things. I went back to the car for a pen, in case I wanted to sit down and write, if I was feeling thoughtful or inspired. I locked the door and then thought well maybe I should grab a hat. I went for my keys in my pocket, only they weren’t there. My mouth gaped open as my eyes stared hard through my passenger door window, only to see my car keys lying there inside the locked car on the seat. I was fortunate to have a spare in my brother’s house a half hour away and a wonderful partner who drove me to go get it. My partner said something to me half joking, “Hmm…Maybe this is symbolic or conincidental that you ‘locked yourself out’.” Did I lock myself out and let everyone and everything else in? Was I so in my head that I was not able to focus on the simple task at hand? Have I been neglectful of my own needs? The answer is usually simple to know, but not always to accept. So today, I let myself be grumpy and tired due to lack of sleep and a frustrating evening the night before. I went for a bike ride and sat by the lake drawing a picture watching the sun get lower and the sky darker. I rode home feeling all the nervous, crazy energy settle down and subside. My agitation and negativity was leaving my body with each new breath. Tonight, I’m starting over again and going back to the basics. I am going to bed early and starting out fresh and will make sure to take better care of my body by eating better and exercising regularly and blogging for my mind.

Taking care of ourselves should be number one, not number 30 or 100, or wherever it may currently fall our list after everyone or everything else. You are in charge of your own happiness, and how you see and interact with the world. Going back to the basics may sound like a simple idea, but how come not very many people can do it or choose to do it? If we fail to feed our own basic needs, then our health will suffer. Our lives become way more dramatic and complicated than it needs to be because our inability to handle every day stress is lowered greatly, not having our basic needs (sleep, nourishing food, exercise, self-love, etc.). So join me. Every day is a new day to start your new journey. Let’s push the reset button together, go back to the basics, and stop making life so unnecessarily complex.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn