self improvement

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

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‘To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you’ Lewis B Smedes

 

There have been many times in my life when my forgiveness was needed. Times when people hurt me to my core – times that caused me to feel upset, betrayed and angry. In these moments I experienced the pain caused by holding onto my resentment too long, and discovered the intense relief and freedom that followed once I forgave.

 

According to Oxford Dictionaries, forgiveness can be defined as ‘To stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offense, flaw or mistake’. What I like about this definition is that it focuses on the psychological process of releasing anger and resentment when forgiving, a profound psychological benefit enjoyed by those offering forgiveness.  More telling still is what the definition omits; at no point does it infer that forgiveness involves forgetting a transgression or condoning it whatsoever, which are both common misconceptions about forgiveness.

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The truth about forgiveness (and how it sets you free)

 

When I was younger I firmly believed that forgiveness meant accepting poor treatment from others – I had no real notion of what forgiveness really was. Forgiveness means releasing yourself from the poisonous emotions of pride (or the ego), humiliation, shame, hatred and resentment. It means letting go of all the pain and turmoil the other persons behavior has caused you so you are free and at peace.

 

When I first decided to forgive my bullies that had tormented me all those years ago I couldn’t believe all the hurt, pain and hatred I had been carrying around with me all those years.

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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:

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Are your anxieties and fears are based on real threats? Here’s how to find out..

When faced with a threat our reptilian brain kicks in and throws us into flight fight or freeze mode. This is an automatic and instinctive response built into us from millennia ago when we had to scavenge for food and fight off lions to survive. The problem today is that this response still exists in us even though we very seldom need it. Don’t get me wrong, if someone is mugged in the street it is a very useful reaction – essential for survival even – but often this fight, flight or freeze response is activated when we perceive a threat, regardless whether one exists or not.

 

For example, if I am at a party and I don’t know anyone, a fight, flight or freeze response isn’t really helpful. Likewise if someone makes a joke and I think it’s about me and jump straight into fight mode, what happens if it comes to light the joke was actually nothing to do with me? What happens when the treat that we perceive isn’t real?

 

Below are some questions to help you assess whether your anxieties and fears are based on real threats or not:

 

  • Is it possible that I have misinterpreted the situation?
  • Is it possible that I have misunderstood what has been said?
  • Is it possible that my perceived threat actually doesn’t exist in this circumstance? (E.g. everyone I don’t know at the party is welcoming and friendly)
  • If there is danger have reasonable precautions been taken to limit it? Do I find these precautions acceptable? Are there any facts that will ease my concern? (E.g. rollercoaster ride safety standards)

 

If there is any chance that your anxieties and fears are not based on real threats then you can try to avoid jumping into fight, flight or freeze mode by rationalizing that your fears are probably exaggerated. You can also limit your anxieties and fears by making a contingency plan for how you would react if your anxieties and fears surfaced. To construct such a plan, aim to answer the questions below but remember not to dwell on the contingency plan as this may feed into your fears, simply make one and then refocus on the task at hand.

 

  • What is the worst that could happen?
  • How could I deal with this if it happens?
  • What could I do that I haven’t done in the past in response to my fears?
  • How can I limit my anxiety if the worst were to happen? (I.e. bring a friend)

 

How do you usually tell if your anxieties and fears are based on real threats? Have you ever thought about it before? What are your anxieties and fears? Will you ask yourself any of the questions above? I’d love to hear from you so please comment below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community.

Feeling guilty? How to use guilt to your advantage!

Like anyone I’ve felt guilty from time to time. Interestingly I have a long standing history of confusing guilt for shame. When researching for this month’s series article on self-compassion I had an aha moment when I realized guilt was very different to shame. Shame by its very nature tells us that we are something wrong – a very destructive way of thinking and not helpful at all – whilst guilt signals that we’ve done something wrong, which incentivizes us to make amends and put the situation right. Guilt can also guide us to make better choices, serving as a barometer towards correcting our behavior in future.

 

To tell the difference between guilt and shame ask yourself the following questions, remembering that it is possible to be both guilty and ashamed.

 

  • Am I labeling myself in my head as a direct result of my behavior? (E.g. I’m a failure, I’m horrible, I’m incompetent)
  • Do I feel like I’m a horrible person as a direct result of my behavior?
  • Do I feel like a failure / incompetent / worthless as a direct result of my behavior?
  • Do I feel fatalistic, as if I will always be this way?

 

  • Do I feel a deep sense that I have behaved in the wrong way?
  • Do I feel as though I have made a mistake?
  • Do I feel as though I have used poor judgment?
  • Do I feel that I want to make amends for my behavior?
  • Do I feel bad for the person my behavior has effected?

 

If you answered yes to any of the top four questions you are likely in a state of shame and need to talk through what happened with a trusted and supportive friend who can reassure you that you are not what you may be labeling yourself to be.

 

As Brene Brown says…

 

“If you put shame in a Petri dish it needs three things to grow exponentially, secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and you douse it with empathy you create an environment that’s hostile to shame.”

 

If you answered yes to any of the last five questions you are probably experiencing guilt. Although uncomfortable, feeling guilty can be a very good thing because it gives you the opportunity to make amends for and correct your behavior. Think about what you can do to make things right and then act on it, remembering that some people will not be receptive to an apology but that the most important thing by far is that you have done everything you can to say sorry and rectify your behavior so that it isn’t repeated.

 

Have you ever felt guilty and did it serve as a motivator to correct your behavior? Can you relate to feeling ashamed and how destructive an emotion it is? I’d love to hear from you so please comment below to gain encouragement, support and insight from our community.

How to Master the Number 1 Skill That All Successful People Share In 6 Simple Steps Part Four

So far we’ve looked at the first five steps to fostering more self-discipline, these being:

 

  1. Know your goals and where you are headed
  2. Don’t pay any attention to enablers
  3. Set yourself up for success
  4. Make a commitment
  5. Breaks and rewards

 

This week we look at the sixth critical step in developing more self-discipline – measuring our progress.

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How to Master the Number 1 Skill That All Successful People Share In 6 Simple Steps Part Three

 

So far we’ve talked through the first three steps of fostering more self-discipline:

 

  1. Know your goals and where you are headed
  2. Don’t pay any attention to enablers
  3. Set yourself up for success

 

This week we look at arguably one of the most important steps – making a commitment.

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How to Master the Number 1 Skill That All Successful People Share In 6 Simple Steps Part Two

Last week we discussed the value of knowing your goals and having a crystal clear picture of where you are headed, this week we look at steps two and three which help us foster greater levels of self discipline.

 

Step Two: Don’t Pay Any Attention to Enablers

 

The first stumbling block I came upon when trying to instil more self-discipline in my life was with my enablers. You probably know them, the friends who will do anything to encourage you to come out for ‘one drink’ or ‘go to the cinema’ at a moments notice.

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Declutter your life, declutter your mind; Part Two

Picture courtesy of www.weonlydothisonce.com

Picture courtesy of www.weonlydothisonce.com

As I discussed last week, having grown up in a somewhat cluttered environment I yearned for an organised, streamlined living environment where absolutely everything had its place. In my early twenties I was far from organised and, not having carved out a career for myself yet, earned relatively little which meant I lived in small rooms that served to make the task of streamlining my possessions that much harder. One of the first resources I came across was The Flylady. She made decluttering possible for me, a task which seemed huge at the time.

As part of last weeks exercises you made a list of all the rooms or spaces you wanted to declutter. If you found that you wanted to declutter almost all of your rooms when you made the list, I strongly recommend getting The Flylady’s book ‘Sink Reflections’. It tackles all of the issues most of us have with getting started, keeping on track and maintaining a streamlined living space. If you’re just too keen and want to get started now, here are the five essential decluttering tricks of the trade to lead you to the organised living environment you’ve always dreamed of! More

Declutter your life, declutter your mind; Part One

Picture courtesy of www.weonlydothisonce.com

Picture courtesy of www.weonlydothisonce.com

I grew up in a somewhat cluttered house and from a very early age I yearned for a super organised, decluttered environment. By the time I hit my early twenties, in line with the lack of discipline indicative of that decade, my attempts at creating a harmonious decluttered living environment left a lot to be desired. It was only really when I was older that I could effectively discipline myself to declutter my surroundings and implement organisational systems so that my living space was suitably streamlined.

 

Having lived in a cluttered environment I knew just how detrimental the effects of clutter could be. I knew that if my living space was cluttered my ability to focus and concentrate was greatly reduced. For years decluttering gurus have spoken of the adverse effects of clutter however recently science has proven what decluttering experts have long since known – that clutter directly impacts our ability to concentrate and focus and that it considerably reduces our creative ability. Once I achieved a decluttered and organised living environment my clarity of mind significantly increased and my productivity soared.

 

For many decluttering is one of those important but nevertheless non urgent tasks however when we look at the proven advantages to decluttering it is surprising it isn’t higher up on our list of priorities. After all, who doesn’t want to be more focussed, have higher levels of concentration and creativity? More

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