Category: Self-improvement

FOGIVENESS: Letting go of anger and resentment.

Forgive and forget? Not so fast.

I’m sure you have been betrayed and lied to. Most people have. It leaves feelings of frustration, anger, resentment and wanting revenge. Those feelings are not easy to let go of. It can leave you with emotional scars if not dealt with. But how do you let go?

It’s not easy and depending on the situation, it can take a long time to heal.

Part of your personal development and becoming a healthier person is learning to let go of negative feelings that hold you back from living a truly happy life. It is said that resentment is like drinking poison, but expecting the other person to die. I wrote a post about how our thoughts affect our environment, especially our body, here.

Forgiveness is for your benefit, not for the other person. Holding on to past hurts affects your physical and mental health, your relationships and satisfaction with life. The good news is that you don’t ever have to speak to that person to forgive them.  Forgiveness is a process that takes some inner work. It’s about you letting go of the negative feelings and finding peace in yourself.

To start your journey, try these suggestions:

Allow yourself time to heal.

Sometimes you may need to give yourself physical space away from the person who hurt you. You can’t rush this process and feelings typically do get better over time. There’s no specific amount of time until you find peace with the situation. It could be days, weeks, or years. But the longer you hold on to the negative feelings, the longer it takes to live a truly happy, loving life.

Allow yourself to be angry or sad. Emotions are meant to be expressed in order for them to pass. Pretending that everything is okay only prolongs the healing process. Cry, scream, complain to someone, whatever it takes to express your emotions but in a safe way.

Reconnect to inner strength/spirituality.

Some situations cause extreme deep hurt. You physically feel your heart aching and it’s hard to think about a time that you won’t feel the pain any longer.

This is a time where your faith helps carry you through.

Prayer, meditating and spending time in nature are all ways that have been shown to give you strength during difficult times.

Change your perspective.

A teenager who molested a relative had to learn that behavior from somewhere. What drives someone to kill another? What did the person gain from lying? Why does the person have a history of cheating? What could drive a friend to do something that they knew would hurt you?

Try to see the situation from the other persons perspective or from a neutral person’s point of view. Again, this is not to justify their actions, but to allow you to be open minded and practice empathy. Ask yourself, why would someone do what they did?

When you look at the situation from “neutral eyes”, it helps you separate your feelings from what the situation is, helping you soften the negative feelings you feel.

Also, there’s a reason that you feel so strongly about the situation. When that happens, the person who you feel did you wrong, pressed a button in you. What is it about what they said or do that really bothers you? Maybe there’s something deeper in you that you need to resolved?

Approach your feelings with curiosity, instead of judgement.

Express what you’re feeling.

If you could and feel ready, express to the person how their actions made you feel. If they’re someone you can’t just stop talking to and remove from your life, you have to make the decision of allowing the person to gain your trust again. If fixing the relationship is what you want, you have to give the person a chance to prove themselves. Continuously bringing up the hurt just keeps you living in the past, and what you want is to move forward.

Not being able to speak your mind makes it a bit harder to let go. If you can’t have that last talk, one exercise you can do is to write them a letter.  If they were sitting in front of you, what would you say to them?  At the end of  the letter, finish off with telling them “I’m working on forgiving you” or “I forgive you”, if that is how you feel. Write as if you’re speaking directly to them. But don’t send it to them. Destroy it when you’re done. You might have to do this several times to start shifting how you feel.

If you meditate, another exercise is to picture them in front of you and picture yourself  telling them how you feel, instead of writing them the letter. Or you can do both exercises.

Try to find purpose in the situation.

How can you tell a mother who lost a child to a drunk driver that “everything happens for a reason”? Or a rape victim. Or any victim of a tragic crime or horrible situation.

Sometimes things happen in life that are so unfair that there is no explanation.

Part of the healing journey is giving the situation a purpose.

I once knew a mother whose 8-year-old daughter, her only child, was shot in the head by accident. After years of treatment, she ended up being one of the biggest advocates for gun safety.

Another mother, who lost her teenage son to a car accident caused by a drunk driver, goes around to different high schools around Prom or Homecoming time, and talks about the dangers of drinking and driving.

And the parents who lost a child to suicide after being bullied, and now advocate for anti-bullying laws to be passed.

Finding a way to give the situation purpose could help you soften the pain. Again, forgiveness is not about acting like the hurtful event did not happen. It’s about finding peace with it.

Remember that everyone makes mistakes.

Reflect on the times you have hurt others and they forgave you.

If it’s yourself who you need to forgive, remember that we all make mistakes. Take responsibility for your actions and learn from them as to not repeat them.

No human being is perfect and we are all in our own journey. Learn from mistakes in order to move forward with your life. As Bill Clinton once said, “If you live life long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person”.

Unless you somehow loose your memory, you’re not going to forget about the event. But over time as you heal, you’ll start to forgive. How do you know when you have finally forgiven? When you can think or talk about the event and not have any negative feelings towards it. You might even feel sorry for the person. As long as you have any negative feelings towards the person or situation, you still have some work to do. Remember, it’s not about you being “friends” or happy with the situation or person, it’s about you not holding on to negative feelings.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

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STAYING POSITIVE IN THE MIDDLE OF CHAOS

I saw this quote the other day and it reminded me of the current state of the world.

“WE ARE NOT GIVEN A

GOOD OR BAD LIFE.

WE ARE GIVEN A LIFE.

IT’S UP TO US TO

MAKE IT GOOD OR BAD”

There are a lot of things that happen in our life that makes us feel like the victim.

Someone lies to you. Uses you. Does not show the compassion you were hoping for. Things don’t go the way you were hoping and expecting for it to go. Things that leave you feeling irritated, anxious, disappointed or angry.

With all the challenges you go through in your life and in the world as a whole, it’s so easy to think that life is just simply bad.

But you have to remember: YOU have the power to make your own life good or bad.

At the end of the day, it is you who has to make the decision to act. Like the saying goes, “I can’t drink water for you

So if you’re feeling discouraged with life right now, take some small steps to start shifting your focus from negativity, and open your eyes to all the good things in life. Here are some suggestions for staying positive in the middle of chaos:

  • Stop or limit how much time you spend watching the news.
  • Limit social media use. Unless you follow mostly positive/inspirational things.
  • Practice gratitude. Although the world is in chaos, there are probably good things that you have going for yourself. Be grateful for your job, your loved ones, your car, health, that you have clean water, electricity, being in a position to help and speak up for others, no drama in your life, etc. Whatever you have going good in your life, give that attention. Click here to read a post on facts that could help you feel more grateful.
  • Practice self-care. When you are doing good, now you’re in a position to be there for others.
  • Fill your mind with uplifting things such as inspirational or educational books, podcasts, music, etc.
  • Focus and act on the things that you have control over. When upset, ask yourself  “What do I have control over in this situation?” Then take small action steps to problem-solve. If you don’t have any control over it, ask yourself, “Is there another way to look at this?” Other questions to ask yourself to shift your focus are; “What can I learn from this?”and “What is one good thing about this situation?”
  • Watch a comedy or funny videos to laugh. Laughing releases a lot of tension from your body.
  • Spend more time with the people who lift you up, not bring you down.
  • Take care of your body by drinking a lot of water and getting your body moving.
  • Start your day on a positive note. If the first thought in your head as soon as you awake up in the morning is negative, how do you think your day is going to go?! Simply say “thank you” as not everyone woke up this morning. Or just enjoy how comfortable you feel laying in your bed. Starting your day reading something uplifting like a quote or positive story before you get out of bed also helps.

Now, doing these things does not mean that you are ignoring the problem. You are simply consciously placing your attention on things that make you feel better, instead of unconsciously reacting.

When you care about others, the best thing you can do for them is to make sure you are in an emotionally good place, so that you can be there for them.

Being more positive takes time if you’re not used to having a positive attitude. You might be good for two days then back to being pessimistic the rest of the week. Just keep trying and over time it will become easier and easier until it become a way of living for you.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves adolescents,  adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

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YOUR THOUGHTS ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU THINK

There’s a famous experiment by a Japanese researcher named Dr. Masaru Emoto. Dr. Emoto did these experiments where he took water and put either a positive word or a negative word on the slide, put the slides under a microscope and photographed the water as it froze. Dr. Emoto believed that by thinking the positive or negative word, the water would freeze differently because the vibrations (energy)  of the words affect the structure of water.

What do you think happened to the way the water froze? Watch this short video here before continuing to read….

Pretty amazing right? You could do the experiment yourself if you really wanted to. Many people have done a home experiment by using rice. Here’s one home experiment using rice…

 

Negative thoughts, followed by negative feelings, are a root cause of many problems. Problems such as getting sick, being in an irritable mood for “no reason”, and feeling like you’re making no progress in your life.

Negative thoughts come in the form of complaining, talking bad to yourself, replaying hurtful memories, holding on to grudges, constant worrying, fear, and being mean to others.

So you might be thinking, “Oh my gosh, I think so many negative thoughts! What do I do?!”

It’s okay.  The good news is that one positive thought is stronger than multiple negative thoughts. Just simply start paying attention to your thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, simply try replacing it with a positive thought, or at least think something that makes you feel better.

Over time, it’ll be much easier to think good thoughts until it becomes a habit and thinking any kind of negative thought doesn’t feel right to you anymore. Even being around negative people will be irritating for you.

 

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

 

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About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

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15 TRAITS OF TRULY HAPPY PEOPLE

What does being happy mean to you? Do you think it’s about walking around laughing, having a lot of energy, being in a good mood all of the time? Being friendly with every person you come in contact with? Or living in peace?

We work hard at trying to “find” it or pursue it. But the truth is that happiness is a state of being. It’s how we live our lives. It is not as a result of something outside of you. For example, people think “I’ll be happy when…” (get a better job, have a boy/girlfriend, have money,etc) when in reality, they could be happy now, while pursuing whatever it is that they want. This is not always easy to do for different reasons, including genetics.

However, we do have some control over our happiness. Luckily there are people who are truly happy and are great examples to follow. Here are 15 traits of truly happy people. See how many traits you already have. And try practicing the ones you feel you need to work on.

  1. They practice gratitude and are thankful for even the smallest things.
  2. They are open to change and take things as they come when going through transitions.
  3. They don’t take what other people think personally.
  4. They have positive self-talk.
  5. They love and accept themselves as they are.
  6. They don’t compare themselves to others.
  7. They look at problems as challenges to solve, instead of staying stuck in feeling like the victim. They also find ways to learn from these challenges.
  8. They mostly live in the moment, taking things day by day, instead of constantly worrying about the future and reliving the past.
  9. They spend money on experiences (going on trips, doing something with good friends and family, learning something new) and on other people, instead of only on material things for themselves.
  10. They get strength from within. That means practicing positive self-talk and reflecting on why something bothered them. Being spiritual or religious is another way to get inner strength.
  11. They surround themselves with other happy people and limit themselves from negative people. That includes staying away from gossip and not talking badly about other people.
  12. They help others in anyway they can. This could be doing something thoughtful for a friend or volunteering.
  13. They’re generally optimistic.
  14. They like to have goals to always be working towards. This could be anything from learning another language, or going for a walk for 20 minutes 3 times a week, for example. The point of the goals is to always be growing skills, experiences and interests.
  15. They meditate or do something calming to slow down. Even when super busy, they find the time to practice self-care.

If you liked this post, share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to automatically continue to receive posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

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