The Art Of Forgiveness | The Most Precious Gift To Yourself

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I am the first to admit it – I let things fester, unnecessarily, to the point where I lose sleep, and dwell on things.  I get to the point where I attach all memories to a specific event, or person and I only see negative.  It turns all of my acquired human decency in prickly little attitude which takes away my shine.  It turns my happiness into frustration.  It take’s the quality of my joy and turns it into mediocre.  It take’s the authenticity out of me.

The thing about fairness in life, is that it just doesn’t happen.  You can take a look at your past and all the events that have bothered you to all different degree’s and you will learn, from your continued life experiences, that it just doesn’t happen.

There have been situations where I have sat there, literally for day’s, month’s, or in certain circumstances, years and thought that what someone has done to me has been so unfair.  No one in their wildest imagination would see their actions towards me justified by any means. I do tend to distance myself from people who hurt me, physically… but letting go and keeping your distance, mentally, is something that takes a little more discipline.

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Do I believe in Karma?  Yes.  Did any of these individuals ever get what I felt they justly deserved to come back to them for treating me a certain way?  No.

Being imprisoned by these hurtful actions does not do anything except lock you into an emotional prison where you are left trapped, and unable to move forward in your own journey.

Don’t lose your joy.  Don’t function as a mediocre being when you try so hard to shine each and every day.

All the years you have waited for them to “make it up to you” and all the energy you expended trying to make them change (or make them pay) kept the old wounds from healing and gave pain from the past free rein to shape and even damage your life. And still they may not have changed. Nothing you have done has made them change. Indeed, they may never change. Inner peace is found by changing yourself, not the people who hurt you. And you change yourself for yourself, for the joy, serenity, peace of mind, understanding, compassion, laughter, and bright future that you get.”

Lewis B. Smedes 

The Art of Forgiving: When You Need To Forgive And Don’t Know How

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4 Important Lessons You Learn Through Difficult Times, by MAURA HUGHES

While difficult times can feel like a deep dark hole that we can’t escape and we often wonder “Why is this happening to me?”, there is a silver lining to tough times. It’s through the difficult times in our life, that we are able to grow. It’s when we are tested that we are able to rise, push through and come out the other side stronger, braver and bet

No one wants to struggle. No one wants to even admit their struggling. We all want to have Photoshopped versions of our own lives that fit perfectly into an Instagram square. But life does not work like that. Every one of us will be faced with a variety of tough times in their life. It is one of the few things we can really count on.

The truth is, there are some important lessons in life that we are only taught through difficult times and they can become the silver lining to the darkness.

1. Who your real friends are.

It’s an unfortunate and often time brutal truth to learn that someone we once thought would be there no matter can’t be counted on. Difficult times have a unique way of trimming off the fat in our lives. If someone does not truly care, they will not make the effort to be there. End of story. The realization that someone you love doesn’t make you a priority can knock you off your feet but it will save you time and energy that would have been spent trying to be there for them in the future. Eventually, you will learn who really matters, you will be grateful for them and you will have cleared out some emotional space for someone who will be there for you, through thick and thin.

2. The depth of your strength.

“It builds character,” was my mom’s favorite response to any complaint I had growing up. As annoying as that line was, it is true. Nothing builds our strength like surviving difficulty. Nothing forces us to leverage what we have, dig deep and come up with every ounce of integrity, patience and strength like a hard time. When you survive something, your internal scoreboard registers it. Imagine as if your internal synapses are pushing an extra win into your win/loss column and the next time you go into battle, your will take an inventory of what your winning record is and bulk up your confidence that you can survive and thrive, no matter what you are facing.

3. What really matters in life. 

Difficult times tend to turn our worlds upside down and anything that is nailed down to the floor will go flying. Sometimes it’s comforting to know what actually does stick, what is still hanging in there after the world goes awry. Because when we’re right side up again, we’ll be able to look a little more closely at those things, take a bit better care of them and love them even more for being unmovable. Most of us spend most of our days worrying about everything but what we should be worrying about. But after a difficult time, we’re less likely to worry as much about the little things and focusing on those unmovable pieces in our life that really matter.

4. How to be grateful. 

Difficult times leave us with a lasting impression. They alter us and change the way we view our lives. We have learned who and what matters in our life and undoubtedly we have a greater appreciation for them. Surviving hardship gives us a broader perspective on what hardship really is. You will look back on the things you use to complain about and be thankful they are your only worries. After we have survived a difficult time, we are given a deep gratitude for our life.

Difficult times will happen. To find the light, we have to go through the darkness and while you’re in the midst of it, try to take a deep breath and remember that the lessons you are learning will shift your view of life. You will learn what matters, who matters, how strong you are and how lucky you are to exist. That’s what difficult times teach us and they are some of the most important lessons we can ever learn.

Original Post; http://www.purposefairy.com/80874/4-important-lessons-you-learn-through-difficult-times/

Loss: A Journey Of Survival

Dealing with loss is never an easy process.  It can take the joy right out of your soul in seconds, and change everything you have every know.   It can even change you.  Are you ever the same after losing someone?

There are all kinds of loss.  Loss of a parents, grandparents, siblings, children, friends.  Loss of ideas, concepts, and hopes.  Loss of dignity, pride and self.  It doesn’t matter whom, or what the loss is, it all ends in the same way – pain, confusion, hurt, anger.  It can put us in a very dark place.  A place that is there which leaves us questioning our meaning of existence, our beliefs, and ourselves.

I’ve had a lot of losses in my life.  My first “loss” was when my parents divorced.  I was six years old and I remember the time period – it stands still in my mind.  It’s a whirlwind of events, but for some reason the moments I remember are played so slowly.  My parents were just not meant to be, and I clearly understand that now, as a grown woman, but as a little girl my world was shattered.  I remember asking my Dad to stay in my room so that I could sleep.  I asked him to sit beside me for nights because I feared losing him.  I feared waking up and not finding him there anymore – not knowing where he went.  Life as I knew it was different from the rest of my friends and I was scared.  I did not understand the concept of Mommy and Daddy not being together anymore.  What did that mean for me?

Years later I lost my Grandfather. This was the first time I had physically lost someone.  I lived in a different city, and remember the phone call from my Dad.  Hearing words of loss is never easy.  Trying to figure out how to deal with it is something that you are unaware of when you are 13 years old.  I cried, as I hurt.  I lost my Grandpa – which little girl doesn’t cry?  I was a child still.

Love is stronger than death even though it can’t stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.” ~ Unknown

1998 was one of my most challenging years.  I was working with elderly people.  Loss was inevitable in this job.  It was also the year that my Step-Dad and Grandma were both diagnosed with cancer.  I remember that summer being filled with confusion, and many tears.  Cancer is a hellish disease.  I thought I was “trained”.  My medical experiences had prepared me.  I had a full understanding of how this disease would take its toll, and take the very life from my loved ones.  Watching them die in front of you is much different from receiving news on the phone – I took a leave of absence from my job and devoted my time, knowledge, experience and love to both of these people, my family members.  I took over palliative care – spent nights in the Cancer Agency, and palliative care homes. My efforts of love and devotion could not win the battles that were in their lives, and eight weeks apart was just too much for me.  I looked at death in a different way now – I was scared of it, and it had its control on my life.  I was scared to drive, I was scared of my loved ones driving,  I was scared of accidents, I was scared of disease.  I went so far as to not order food from a restaurant for delivery for fear of something happening to the delivery man and me being responsible for taking away someone from this earth who was loved my friends and family in their lives.  I was scared of everything in this world that would potentially take away someone I knew, someone I cared for, or worse – someone I loved.

One could say I did not handle this well … and nearly 20 years later I still feel scared of death.  I’ve lost more friends, and family.  And each time it takes away my faith in reality in this whole life process.

If you don’t realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow. When you realize where you come from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king. You can deal with whatever life brings you, and when death comes, you are ready. Lao Tzu

And then loss, at its finest … miscarriage.  This is not only a physical loss, but this is an emotional loss.  Horrific, and indescribable.  I have had two successful pregnancies between 2011 – 2013 and have two beautiful boys.  Why would I think that this would happen to me?  But apparently,”This is common”, they would tell me.  “We are surprised this has not happened to you yet!”, another would say.  Wait? What?  Am I really hearing this?  The idea of not seeing my babies heartbeat on my ultrasound, or feeling them kick and move in my belly was sad enough, but the reality of “what could have been” broke my heart to pieces.  What would my baby have looked like?  What would she, or he have grown up to love?  Would they have had the most beautiful smile, just like my two boys?  What caused this?  Was it me?  Was is God’s plan?  Was I being punished?  What did I do wrong to deserve this? Am a I horrible person?  What did I do in my past live to deserve this?  Did someone hate me so much that they wished this upon me?

My baby would have been born last week, and so i’ve sat here going through the motions and trying to understand loss a little better.  Making an effort for Loss and I to become pal’s so I can empathize a little easier.  What is it that causes us the tears, that horrible ache in your heart, the feeling that causes those uncontrollable tears.  Because my mind wants to identify it, and grab it and throw it away and never think of it again, or do I?  If I am able to figure out what I can do to block those emotions does that make me a horrible person?  Heartless?

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief… and unspeakable love.  ~ Washington Irving

I realize now that it is nothing that anyone can prepare for, prevent, or even accept gracefully.  Loss is horrible, and it breaks you down.  Only time can heal, and that is because of the distance it creates between you, and when it happened.  Time … will eventually heal all losses.

And after the tears stop I sit back and think just how lucky I am to be alive and to have experienced all of these memories, especially the ones that hurt so much, the losses that broke me into pieces, and tore my soul apart.  I pick up the mess I have turned into, and I remind myself that I hurt because I loved so much, because I cared so much, because I let things matter to me from the deepest parts of my being … because at the end of the day what it comes down to is that some people are never this lucky.  I am blessed.

 

 

 

Setting Boundaries: Turning Expectations Into Appreciation

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Abolition of the drama, and tying up loose ends can be both cathartic, and liberating, especially when it comes to situations or circumstances that have lingered on much longer than they should have – days, months, perhaps years?  So, imagine my surprise when I finally gathered enough courage to confront a situation that had been causing a lot of negative feelings only to be told that I did something horribly wrong to hurt someone ….WHAT?  How did I hurt you when I was minding my own business?  As I continue, you will see how ultimately it was myself that caused this to happen.
I am a giver.  I love to give and to see people smile.  I love to make days brighter if you are feeling sad, or even just having a normal same old day.  I love to be generous, not only because it feels good but, because in my mind I know that it is good karma – you can never give too much.   It doesn’t have to be something grand, it just needs to be the thought put into it.  It can be anything from giving a friend a bouquet of flowers, to taking them out for dinner, to writing them a nice card from your heart, baking a friend a batch of cookie, etc.   I give to friends, and family members.  I give to strangers, food banks, charities, homeless people.  I donate religiously to causes for animals, health research and anything that tugs at my heart-strings because I can, because I want to, because I am free to do so, because it makes ME feel happy.  It makes me shine – and when I shine, I feel wonderful.
I felt that I needed to make a change at the beginning of last year so I really tried to take a look at what the cause was, and what I could do to not only protect myself from feeling this way, but also see the reality of my situations.  I took an honest look, and the “things” I was doing for people, and the way I was being treated were not adding up.  The balance was off kilter and it was impacting me negatively.  It hurt and I was not feeling joyful or happy about doing things for people – I was beginning to feel like it was an obligation.  So, I chose to make a conscious effort to be selective of the individuals I spent my valuable time with. I began to set boundaries.  Not huge boundaries but just enough to create a little distance so I could work on what I was struggling with.  I felt that my boundaries were keeping me focused, on track and committed to the most important thing in my world, my family.
Ultimately, I felt like I was being taken advantage of by many people – not being fully appreciated for the things I was doing for them.  Some of the people who I was trying to distance myself from were friends I that have known for many year, literally decades. So, in hindsight I can definitely see, from their point of view when they say that it looked like I had changed – perhaps I did.  After all, my priorities had changed.  My focus was on being a wife, and mother of two children.  My energy was redirected to them, and gladly so.
I was doing fantastic.  When I did have some time to spare I was spending time with, and becoming closer to, wonderful, beautiful individuals – people who were inspiring, intellectual, positive influences, and limiting the time from those energy draining people aka the energy vampires.
There were many different individuals, but the one that was bothering me the most was my best friend.  I could feel the distance invading my friendship with my best friend of twenty plus years, but I just chalked it up to being a result of the boundaries that I had set for myself as I previously mentioned.  I felt that I needed to keep distance from her, in particular, because of the relationship she had with her husband.  We did not see eye to eye on many of the issues when she would come to me for advice so I chose to back away avoiding tension in our conversations, as I can be quite blunt at time – especially when it comes to situations that continue to happen over and over again.  I appreciated that this was her path she was wanting to travel.  It had nothing to do with me – I was just simply feeling protective of someone I loved and hoping that the friendship would just work its way through the bumps, as things had in the past.  I was being respectful.
Since I made this change I can literally count on both of my hands how many times I had not only seen her, but talked on the phone. I missed her, but took responsibility for the way things were going – after all, I was not happy with my feelings at the beginning of the year, made my boundaries –  so I really needed to put myself first, for once.  I figured that she was doing the same thing.
The distance became greater, more obvious and awkward – it was completely apparent that there was hostility, over the past few months, as my text message were no longer responded to, my phone calls were ignored.  Of course, I was completely hurt as the months continued on, but I took responsibility for the way I felt, even if I was feeling down for her not being more involved in my life because the reality was that my personal boundaries would , obviously, result in this distance.  Whether I welcomed it or not, it was something that I knew I had to do in order to make me happier – it was not specifically directed at her, it was a phase that I had to work thru in my own personal world.  The reality was that I had been busy being a mother of two, and spending my moments raising my children, not accommodating her needs.
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What this ultimately comes down to is that her expectations in a certain situation were not as she had anticipated.  She was disappointed that I did not put as much effort into a material gift that was given to her – she felt that it was much less than I had done over the past twenty years, and she was offended by it. I’m still confused how someone has the audacity to say that out loud, but yes, we’ve all experienced disappointment, but would you honestly say that to someone??  I’ve witnessed homeless people show more appreciation for the food I have given them!  Saddened, beyond words.
To hear that out loud broke my heart because over the years I have been so giving.  You would roll your eyes at me if you knew some of the things I did to make her, and others happy. Disappointed, deeply.
I indirectly take full responsibility for this particular bump in my path because I know in my heart that if I had set my boundaries years ago, things would have turned out differently. I would have been more guarded, and the end result would not have been the way I am feeling right now.
Expectations …. it will destroy friendships if you begin to take someones kindness for granted.  Learn to appreciate their efforts before you destroy a friendship based on characteristics that you would never even look for, in a potential friendship, in a first place.  There is no room for expectations, especially without appreciation, in genuine friendships.