Forgiveness is a Choice

We have all heard the phrase “Time heals all wounds.” And perhaps in some instances, it does. Perhaps the passing of time helps move us farther away from what brought us heartache or loss.

When it comes to forgiveness; however, time tends to just pass along. When someone has betrayed us, the hurt has the potential to sit weighted. The bitterness and anger that comes as a result of the betrayal has nowhere to go, so it rolls around inside us, settling down as stones in our heart.

The decision to forgive someone is a choice that we make. It doesn’t happen automatically – the emotions tied up to the act of betrayal will keep you in an angry place to protect you. The decision to forgive someone is a choice that once decided, works away at those stones until your heart feels less heavy, lighter, and free of bitterness. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse what happened. And if the betrayal was such that it ended the relationship, forgiveness doesn’t need to change that either. Forgiveness is a choice you make for yourself.

As Bernard Meltzer stated:

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” – Bernard Meltzer

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Stepping Into Our Potential

I really like this phrase. Not only does it convey that we all have potential, it also provides a nice image. Like the seas standing in front of us, all we need to do to experience its vast promise, is to step forward; to get our feet wet.

We all have potential – to be kinder, to be more knowledgeable, to be healthier, to be dedicated, to be thankful – to work towards the goals we have set out for ourselves. But what, ultimately, helps us achieve our potential? What is the one thing that will help us take that step?

Productivity. Our potential lies in our productivity; it finds itself linked to the actions we take to get to our goals. We can have written them down, figured out how we are going to proceed, but until we take action, they are just ideas and words on paper. Willpower won’t do it; it is tied too much to emotion and if we are feeling blue or unmotivated, our willpower takes a nap along side of us. Procrastination is potential’s greatest enemy, as it pushes for delay and neglect.

What we need to achieve our full potential is productivity. Schedule your actionable items into your calendar, build your time – including rewards!

Step into your potential – after all, it is patiently waiting πŸ™‚

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What it Means to be in a Codependent Relationship

People often think about the word ‘addiction’ when the phrase codependent relationship comes up. And although issues with addiction can create such a relationship, the codependency dynamic can exist at any time that one person is supporting another person in an unhealthy way.

Generally speaking, the partner who is in the caretaking role is providing emotional, financial or physical support; putting someone else’s needs above their own. And the partner on the receiving end, lets them – pulls at them even, creating the space for poor boundaries and the need for the caretaking partner to feel overprotective of their loved one.

When we are in a codependent relationship, we can often recognize that what we are doing for our partner is unhealthy, but our struggle is in letting them struggle. As a result, we begin to eventually feel resentful; feeling weighed down by the responsibility, with little of our own needs being met.

Recognizing the signs of codependency is the first step; creating much needed boundaries while beginning to honour your own needs through self-care are good follow ups. Creating change in a codependent relationship can be very difficult, as the dynamic can create a strong hold. Very often, professional help is required, and sometimes it may mean ending the relationship.Β  Codependency threatens the very nature of a healthy relationship which is our ultimate goal; one in which we feel generally satisfied and support is reciprocated.

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A Little Reminder to Be Kind

I love this quote by Leo F. Buscaglia:

β€œToo often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a
listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all
of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo F. Buscaglia

We don’t always know how our acts of kindness can affect someone. Recently, Kurt and I were eating breakfast at our favourite diner in town, and a young man came in and ordered breakfast. He was seated alone and although we did not know him, he looked like a kid who had perhaps been given a few hard knocks in his life.

When the waitress came over to ask us if we were all finished up, Kurt asked for the bill and requested that the waitress put the young man’s bill on ours. What a lovely act of kindness – the young man probably won’t remember who was seated two tables over, and we can only have faith that he was touched by Kurt’s generosity.

A small act of caring carries with it a lot of potential. πŸ™‚

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The Power of “I am”

Words matter. Ask anyone who has been criticized in their childhood, or bullied with words, and they will tell you that it has long lasting effects.

The way we speak to ourselves; therefore, matters. Our internal dialogue is often automatic and we can carry with us the words heard (and now believed) from childhood. Repeat after me:

I am worthless.

I am ugly.

I am unlovable.

We can play around with the words “I am” to incorporate almost anything negative. “I will never meet anyone.” “No matter how hard I try, nothing ever works out for me.” “I have a black cloud following me around.”

We can call it a self-fulfilling prophesy; or we can look at it as the energy that we are sending out into the world. In either case, the result is the same – when we say those words to ourselves, we hear them. And we live them.

It is important to recognize the power of “I am.” Repeat after me:

I am worthy.

I am beautiful.

I am lovable.

Take a deep breath, and say them again. And again. And again. Take any negative statement that has been created in you, and change it. Say it before you believe it. Be determined. I guarantee you, it will change how you see yourself, and you will begin to see results.

I am capable. I am worth it. I am brave. I am here for me.

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Hoping for Change

People come to therapy because they are wishing something would change. Sometimes it has to do with someone in their life, sometimes it has to do with themselves; in either case, there are times when we are willing to change, and other times when we have gotten stuck in hoping for change.

What is the difference?

  • when we hope for change, we tend to convince ourselves that the future will be different. For example, we may be dissatisfied with a relationship and know that things are not where they should be, but we stay the course, hoping that things will change with time (let’s face it, they usually don’t – at least not without accountability and professional help.)
  • when we hope for change, we procrastinate. We may be aware of something that we want to change or improve, but aren’t doing much about it. An example might be breaking an unhealthy habit or knowing we need more self-care in our lives.
  • when we hope for change, we spent too much time lamenting on the problem and not on the solution. If you get the sense that you are in the “poor me” cycle, then you probably are.

When we are in the process of actively changing something, we are dedicated and feel purposeful. We have faith in ourselves that we can get there, no matter how slowly or how many stepping stones it may take. We give self-doubts only a little bit of time and space before settling back into accepting that we are our own solution πŸ™‚

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Self-Reflection Question 9

Today’s self-reflection question taps into what we have learned in our lifetime. The growth that we continue to experience as we age, will bring to us knowledge about ourselves and the way we process the world. The question:

“What are five things I have learned?”

will likely change as we enter different stages of our life. As a 48 year old, here are my answers:

  1. I have learned that despite who surrounds us, has shaped us, or continues to love us – we are for ourselves, the greatest agent of change.
  2. I have learned that “I am important and so are you.” In other words, it is important that we recognize our own needs and learn how to ask for them (this has been a working challenge, yet so wonderful to see results).
  3. I have learned that authenticity, grace and creating soulful moments keep me grounded. Having my two feet firmly planted gets me through the storms.
  4. I have learned the importance of movement forward. Process, action, plans, goals – they all equal growth.
  5. I have learned that laughter truly is the best medicine πŸ™‚

What are 5 things you’ve learned?

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Should We Be ‘Friends’ With Our Children?

We live in an era where we are conscious of our children’s needs; long gone are the days of “children are to be seen and not heard.” We want our children to have a voice, we wish for them to be happy, and we desire to know them as individuals. As they age, we can be tempted to befriend our children; we love who they are becoming and the closeness we feel to them can bring us to the friendship line.

When we become friends with our children, we run the risk of:

  • creating in them a confidante. Children are not equipped to handle our marital issues or family drama and are not meant to carry the weight of adult’s problems.
  • creating in them a mediator. Children are not meant to carry messages back and forth to the other parent; it puts them in an awkward position of seeing their parents’ emotional reactions.
  • creating in them a secret keeper. This creates turmoil, inner angst, and can create long lasting effects.
  • moving towards pleasing our children instead of needing at times to say no. We may love our children and want to know them personally, but we are still their disciplinarians and their protectors – being a friend to our child automatically blurs those lines.
  • creating a parentified child. When children feel that they are taking care of you, the power differential has shifted, placing too much responsibility on someone not mature enough to handle it.

Whether they are four or forty, we will forever be in the parental role with our children. They will come to us at various times in their life and just need us to be mom or dad. And we can love, support, and be close to our children as a parent – let your friends be your friends, and let your kids be your kids; they are forever roles.

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A Little Bit of Inspiration to Keep Going

I love this quote by Morgan Harper Nichols:

“One day you will look back and find that you were strong in ways you not able to see at the time,

and you will be grateful for how you chose to keep going even without knowing

what the future would be.” -MHN

When we are in the midst of a challenge, we often can’t see our strengths, and our courage is found one day at a time. And that is okay. πŸ™‚

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Emotion Regulation System; Post 3

In our last post based on the work of Dr. Paul Gilbert, we look at the Drive System.

The Drive System, also known as the Incentive and Resource-Seeking System, is built to help us achieve goals. Its primary function is to motivate us, to provide the incentive for us to accomplish tasks and to seek resources that are going to allow us to survive.

Think about our drive to get out of our cozy bed in the morning, the effort we undertake to go for a walk after working all day, the motivation we muster to finish that last assignment in course work or the effort it takes to prepare our family’s dinner.

The brain chemical that is produced when the drive system is engaged is dopamine, our reward hormone. This is why we tend to always feel better after doing something that we had to convince ourselves to do in the first place!

When the drive system is engaged, we feel motivated and excited. Our emotions illicit pursuing and consuming behaviours as a way to keep us on track to achieving our goals.

The three systems of emotional regulation – the soothing system, threat system, and drive system – best serve us when working together. When we can recognize that one of our systems is out of alignment, we can work to create balance again. That might mean pushing the drive system, taming down the threat system, or making sure our soothing system isn’t left behind. πŸ™‚

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