All Posts in Category: Easier said than done, but well worth the effort

Resentment, Anger and Forgiveness

“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” (Unknown).

When someone hurts us, it is easy to dwell on the feelings of hurt or the injustice of the situation.

When we do this we become stuck in the past and we are likely to either miss the present or affect it negatively with our bitterness.

Life is too short to harbor resentment.

Each moment of our lives is on a use it or lose it basis, we can either enjoy each moment or not, resentment gets in the way of that.

Forgiveness is the key to overcoming resentment.

Forgiveness does not involve changing the person who hurt you and you can forgive the other person even if he or she does not take responsibility, or express sorrow or regret.

Understanding and compassion lead to forgiveness and a more healthy, peaceful existence.

When you forgive someone, you resolve to treat those who hurt you with empathy, compassion and respect.

Even if you feel the person or people who hurt you are not necessarily deserving of it, it serves no one to harbor resentment and treat people with disrespect, instead treat them with kindness (what I like to call killing negativity with kindness).

Obviously there are always times when you have to confront negative behavior (for example if you have tried being kind and it is not helping, or you are trying to find ways to stop the negative behavior from having a continuing effect on you or others who are more vulnerable) but since you cannot control the behavior of others, only your own behavior: “be the change you want to see in the world.”

Negative behavior can be confronted respectfully, it does not help to match negative behavior with the same.

What helps you overcome resentment and anger?

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Letting Go

I recently discovered this and thought it might be helpful to many of us:

Letting Go -
 Author unknown

To “let go” does not mean to stop caring, 
it means I can’t do it for someone else.

To “let go” is not to cut myself off, 
it’s the realization I can’t control another.

To “let go” is not to enable, 
but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To “let go” is to admit powerlessness, 
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To “let go” is not to try to change or blame another, 
it’s to make the most of myself.

To “let go” is not to care for, 
but to care about.

To “let go” is not to fix, 
but to be supportive.

To “let go” is not to judge, 
but to allow another to be a human being.

To “let go” is not to be in the middle arranging the outcomes, 
but to allow others to affect their own destinies.

To “let go” is not to be protective, 
it’s to permit another to face reality.

To “let go” is not to deny, 
but to accept.

To “let go” it not to nag, scold or argue, 
but instead to search out my own shortcomings, and correct them.

To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires 
but to take each day as it comes, 
and cherish myself in it.

To “let go” is not to criticize and regulate anybody 
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To “let go” is not to regret the past, 
but to grow and live for the future.

To “let go” is to fear less, 
and love more.

 

In what ways are you holding on to things you shouldn’t?

Why do you think it is so hard to let go sometimes?

 

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Living in the present

Those of us who are anxious or depressed (or miserable for whatever reason) tend to spend a lot of time in the past and in the future and not so much in the present.  If you apply my wave analogy (see my last post) to this, what do we know about the past?  Everything that is in the past falls in the category of things we can’t control.  Similarly, much of what is the future falls into the category of things we can’t control (and it isn’t here yet so we can’t control it yet anyway).  So that leaves us with the present.

Your life is a series of present moments and you can either be there for them or not—they are on a use it or lose it basis—you will not get them back.

The more you can focus on the present, the less room you leave for depression from the past and anxiety for the future and the more relaxed you will be.

The practice of mindfulness is the practice of being fully present – it is inherently relaxing—therefore again a good way to combat anxiety or other distress, is to be in the present. This is a practice that has been around for thousands of years.

Let me give you an example that may illustrate how you can bring mindfulness into your day to day life.  Let’s imagine that I am multi-tasking like many mothers do.  Let’s say I am helping my kids with their homework, checking my email, doing a load of laundry and starting to get dinner ready.  While I am doing all of that, I am hungry so I have an orange on my kitchen counter and every once in a while I pop a section into my mouth.  At some point I go to reach for my orange and it’s not there.  I look all over thinking I may have left it in the laundry room and soon realize I must have eaten it.  I didn’t notice because I was paying too much attention to other things and I didn’t have enough left for my orange, and it is too bad for me, because it was probably delicious.

If instead I decided to eat my orange mindfully (now I am not necessarily suggesting you go this far, this is just an example) I would notice everything about that experience.  I would notice if the orange felt cool in my hands, I would notice the color of the orange, is it bumpy or smooth?  I would break the peel and would notice the smell of citrus and the stickiness on my hands. When I eat it, I would notice if it was sweet or sour, juicy or dry…When I was done eating the orange I promise you two things would be different: 1) I would be more relaxed and 2) I would not forget eating that orange.

If you can bring a little of this into your daily life, you tend to enjoy and appreciate the moments of your life more and you have less room for rumination about the past or anxiety about the future.

  • Use your anxiety or depressive or angry ruminations as a cue that you need to be more mindful.

Living in the present does not mean we shouldn’t learn from the past or plan for the future—it just means focus on the present.

While this is easier said than done, no one else can do it for you and if you don’t, you will only be wrecking your own “day at the beach.”

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Making Changes- The ingredients of Change

People often ask me, do you think he/she will change? Can people really change? He/she says he/she will change, should I believe him/her? How do I know if it will last?

The three main ingredients of change are:

 

Insight (or new information)

Motivation

Time

 

 

Insight or new information, can be many things, but often involves either learning how our behavior or choices are negatively affecting someone else or ourselves, and/or discovering what is driving our current behavior (often an upsetting experience from the past, see my “Getting to the root of the problem” post).

Motivation- There are many things that can motivate behavior change.  A frequent example that comes to mind, is the loss of an important relationship.  When people break up, one or the other of them (or both of them) is often motivated to change whatever caused the break up.  The loss of the relationship (and the wish to reestablish it, or not repeat the pattern) acts as a powerful motivator for behavior change.  People will often make big promises to change in order to win back a partner, or not carry the mistake into their next relationship.

When the motivation is removed (the relationship is intact again, the couple gets back together) is the person able to maintain the changes?  This is why the third ingredient of change is of crucial importance.

Time.  Does the behavior change pass the test of time?

There are really two parts to this.  Time with the motivation present, and time with the motivation removed.

In the relationship example, this means that the person promising to change may need to show that he or she can maintain the behavior change for some period of time before the other partner has enough trust to try the relationship again.

Once this occurs, the bigger test is: does the behavior change persist even with the removal of the motivator?  In other words, if the couple gets back together, is the behavior change maintained?

For a while, the  new motivator may become maintaining the relationship, but eventually that may wear off, and only then, will you be able to see if the behavior change can be maintained in the absence of a motivator.

There are obviously no shortcuts on this one.  You just have to wait and see.

Sometimes these ingredients are not enough for change and people become stuck in negative behavior patterns.  I will address this topic in another post.

What are your experiences with trying to make changes in yourself or responding to someone who promises to make a change?

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Not taking things personally

When someone “does something to us” we often take it personally.

We tend to think there is something about us that this person is responding to, or we feel hurt that we are being treated this way.

On some level we seem to think if we were different the person would not have done this to us.

Although it is very hard to avoid feeling this way it is often the case that what someone has done to us says more about them than it does about us.

If someone treats you badly and you feel the treatment is unjustified (which is usually the case when we are feeling hurt–confronting negative behavior respectfully and appropriately is something else and should not lead to hurt feelings) it is often the case that this person is treating us this way because of their issues, not ours.

Once again, it is a lot easier said than done, not to take things personally, especially if it involves someone we love.

Remember we cannot change others and we should not take their flaws personally.

How do you deal with hurtful behaviors by others?  Do you find yourself taking them personally?

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