The Rough Seas of the Roles We Inhabit and How to Calm the Waters Part Two

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Identity and life roles; how to avoid isolation and devastation


Throughout life there will be roles we inhabit which we identify strongly with, like being a parent or professional. Although it is healthy to identify with these roles, the old adage that too much of a good thing is bad for you can be quite true. The danger in identifying with any one role too greatly is, should the role dynamic change or even cease to be, it can devastate us. Have you ever heard of the ’empty nest’ syndrome? This is how it happens.


For me it happened when I identified too strongly with being a model, as soon as I no longer was one, I was depressed, as if part of me had ceased to exist. I soon found other roles to latch onto, which I now know only perpetuated the problem, rather than eradicating it by choosing to focus on my core identity instead.


On reflection the issues I had surrounding my identity were compounded by the fact I often hid behind different masks for the life roles I inhabited, never quite being authentic and revealing my core self. During those years it was a very lonely existence. It was as if the rough seas of my life roles had thrown me overboard and I was trying to swim against the tide, with my fear of intimacy battling against my authentic self so that I would remain masked and stay hidden.


Of course it is natural each life role you inhabit will draw on different elements to your character, but your core self should always be the captain of the ship, steering you on a calm course throughout each life role, letting your genuine character and authenticity shine.


How to Liberate Yourself by Overcoming the 3 Blocks to Forgiveness Part Four

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock


The healing process…


Invariably the healing process is not linear, it isn’t a straight line on a graph. There will be peaks and troughs. During times when you are revisited by difficult feelings, return to the strategies you adopted when first trying to forgive.


Many people mistakenly think they cannot forgive, simply because they encounter difficulty after they have initially forgiven someone. In order to avoid this pitfall be mindful that the forgiveness and healing process can be lengthy. It is nonsensical to think there won’t be difficulties along the way. So if you experience difficulties after deciding to forgive someone, be comforted by the fact that this is to be expected and persevere.


How to Liberate Yourself by Overcoming the 3 Blocks to Forgiveness Part Three

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Picture courtesy of Shutterstock


How to overcome the 3 blocks to forgiveness and forgive…


3) Humiliation and shame


When we experience humiliation our first instinct is to run and hide. When we experience shame our first instinct is to lash out. Usually humiliation is followed by shame. The reason why these two feelings are particularly detrimental to forgiveness is that they impact upon our perception of self, which is linked to our self-worth. When our self-worth is threatened, our fight or flight response is triggered, and we either explode or implode, which are both obstacles to forgiveness.


When you are in a state of shame or humiliation try to alter your perspective and consider whether this situation will be significant ten or twenty years from now. If you believe it would remain significant, consider what you would think if this happened to a friend. Would you judge or think any less of her? I imagine probably not.


By shifting your perspective you will be able to step outside of your humiliation and shame and see your situation in a larger context.


Why pride could be preventing you from finding peace of mind

When someone hurts us our pride is often hurt too. ‘How could they do that to me?’ and ‘how dare they?!’ are both questions our pride asks out of pain. A sense of righteousness and indignation are common themes when it comes to pride and these serve as very powerful blocks to forgiveness.


The dangerous thing about when our pride is in overdrive is that it usually feels good. We get to feel superior, we get to hold the ‘higher ground’. Don’t let these prideful feelings fool you – pride is keeping you captive to your pain and resentment!


How to Liberate Yourself by Overcoming the 3 Blocks to Forgiveness Part Two

Forgiveness Article Shutterstock

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How to overcome the 3 blocks to forgiveness and forgive…


Initially I knew I wanted to let go of my anger but beyond talking about it, I didn’t know how. What I realised in the process of forgiveness, was that there were three fundamental blocks to my being able to forgive. These blocks had caused me to remain stuck and had hindered my efforts to forgive effectively. Initially, rather than acknowledging these as blocks to my being able to forgive, I felt entitled and chose to indulge them, thereby causing me even greater distress.

It was through trial and error, and a great deal of thought, that I realised I needed to adjust my approach if I wanted to be able to move past these blocks. Below I have outlined the approaches which helped me move towards forgiveness.


1) Pride


Our egos can be very fragile things. When someone hurts us it is natural for our sense of pride to be hurt also. Pride can make us want to seek revenge. Pride believes it is protecting us from future hurt by encouraging us to punish the other person. But there is one fatal flaw in prides logic. The person most hurt by punishing the other, and thereby holding onto pain and resentment, is us.


By acknowledging this truth, we can more effectively stop our pride from blocking our ability to forgive.


To forgive and forget? Why it’s wise to forgive and not entirely forget


When I forgave a friend several years ago I did so wholeheartedly but that doesn’t mean to say I forgot. I ensured that what the transgression revealed about her character I remembered. The experience taught me that in certain situations she had an inclination to behave poorly and I made sure that I remembered this so that I could protect myself from anything similar happening again.


Why forgiveness does not equal ‘It’s ok’


Have you ever thought that forgiving someone meant accepting or condoning poor behavior?


Well you’re not alone, this is one of the most dangerous misconceptions about forgiveness out there and until five years ago I believed the very same thing. This misconception about the nature of forgiveness is particularly destructive because it undermines the strength of character that one must have in order to forgive and suggests that in fact weakness of character is akin to forgiveness, the exact opposite of reality!


Why forgiveness doesn’t require you to say ‘I forgive you’ (and how this sets you free)

For many years I struggled to forgive my bullies. One of the things that stopped me was the belief that in order to forgive them I needed to tell them that they were forgiven. Looking back I wish I had come to the realization that my confession of forgiveness wasn’t required in order for me to forgive and move on with my life.


As I’ve grown older I’ve realized that forgiveness is so much bigger than being about whoever has hurt or betrayed me – it is primarily about releasing the pain, hurt and resentment and starting afresh with an emotionally clean slate.


Is it possible to fully forgive whilst not stating you have done so to your perpetrator? Absolutely!


Common misconceptions about forgiveness (and why its so important you know them)

As someone who has struggled with forgiveness in the past, one of the main things that held me back and prevented me from finding peace was the misconceptions I had about forgiveness. I truly believed that forgiveness was akin to reconciling and accepting poor behavior.


Below are the most harmful misconceptions held about forgiveness:


Introducing July’s Hot Topic: Forgiveness


I remember once when I was in my late teens and one of my friends betrayed me. It escalated to the point where she even spread false rumors about me to my other friends. I was so hurt I couldn’t see through the pain, let alone be cognizant of how holding on to my resentment was harming me more than it was her. Looking back I wish I had realized that, had I let go of the resentment – and yes – even hatred that I was harboring towards her, I would have found my equilibrium and peace of mind a great deal sooner.


Like so many people I spent my twenties full of pride thinking that forgiveness was the same thing as reconciliation and akin to excusing awful behavior. It was only in my late twenties I discovered how healing forgiveness can actually be; forgiveness that released all of the poisonous emotions of hatred, resentment, humiliation, shame and pride in me. I was set free from the moment I truly learnt to forgive.


My wish is that you too will come to know how healing forgiveness can actually be through this series and that you will realize, just as I did, that you neither have to reconcile or even vocalize your forgiveness to anyone to reap the benefits of forgiveness.


Welcome to July’s hot topic everyone!


x X x Jenny Leigh x X x