Archive for the ‘forgiveness’ Category

What’s In It For Me?

February 20, 2017

This is a question that drives almost every decision we make. Those words are subconscious messages from the naughty little voices that we sometimes hear chattering in the back of our minds. Sadly, they sometimes prevent us from doing the right thing because our egos stand in the way.

Most of us probably want to take the moral high ground, but life can get complicated and the world seems to be going at an incredibly fast pace. It sometimes feels as if we can barely hang on and handle our own challenges without taking on someone else’s issues. And there are those situations which involve someone hurting our feelings or competing with us for something we want or need. Are we really supposed to step out of our own ego bubbles and defy our “I have to look out for number one” inclinations? And what if it seems that other people benefit from our work even more than we do and we don’t get credit for it?

Here are some possible thought processes that we might experience: If someone hurts me, why should I forgive him? Sure…he may be off the hook for what he did, but what’s in it for me? Someone needs help; I really don’t have the time and it will be an inconvenience. Lending a hand would make life much easier for that person, but what’s in it for me? After all, we all need to look out for ourselves, don’t we? Someone is being mistreated or bullied. I could intervene and stand up for him, but then I would have to get involved and if I do that…what’s in it for me? Why should I work hard to make life easier for someone else…what’s in it for me?

Yikes! What a dilemma! Or is it? Speaking for myself and my own experiences, here is what I have found to be the answer to the “what’s in it for me?” question:

  • The phrase, “what goes around, comes around” is true most of the time. What we send out usually returns to us. Negativity and mean spiritedness usually come back to bite you in the booty; kindness returns to you tenfold. We reap what we sow.
  • There is more peace in stepping out of yourself than there is in building walls around yourself. When you practice kindness for kindness’ sake, you find that the question of what you’re going to get out of it appears less frequently in your thoughts. There is a kind of contentment that comes with giving and forgiving without expecting acknowledgement or credit.
  • There is a lot to be said for paying it forward. Attitude is like ripples in a pond when a stone has been thrown in. When you are kind to someone, you are increasing the likelihood of that person passing it on to others. It is the gift that keeps on giving. And it works in reverse; as well…snarkiness breeds snarkiness. Don’t be the one who starts the snarky cycle.
  • This is an important one: We are all part of a continuum. Everything that we accomplish; inventions, medical advances, even our philosophies are possible because of those who came before us. We build upon their knowledge, discoveries, and work. Nobody creates anything totally alone….it is a cumulative process involving generations of people. Our ancestors worked and possibly sacrificed to pass onto us, a better life. We are all stewards of the accomplishments and knowledge that have been passed down and it is our responsibility to use them to make the world a better place with everything we do…without asking “what’s in it for me?”

The universe has a way of balancing things out. What’s in it for us is that we get to be part of a magnificent continuous thread that is this life. But if you are still having trouble doing the right thing because you’re not sure what’s in it for you, offer yourself an incentive…something nice, like chocolate. It works for me! But…I’m easily bribed.

Haven’t Got Room for the Pain!

August 30, 2016

It doesn’t take much for me to get clogged up and it can be painful! Don’t jump to conclusions….I’m not talking about digestive woes, I am referring to Brain Clog.

From what I am hearing from other people, this is a common condition and it seems to be worsening with all of the things that are currently going on in the world. So many seem to be living with brain clutter and they are finding it difficult to turn down the noise in their heads. I can relate! When my head is stuffed full of worries, anger, fear, and negativity, it almost seems as if my brain can’t breathe! I know that sounds odd, but that’s the way it feels sometimes.

Brain Clog can be dangerous and can lead to suffering overload. Maybe you remember the Carly Simon song, “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain.” Of course she is singing to someone who has ended the pain of her loneliness and bad relationships, but I see the words being applicable to what happens when we are spinning into a cycle of hopelessness and negativity….when we begin to believe that suffering is all we can expect in this world. That is what happens when we constantly anticipate trouble and don’t allow ourselves to look for the good things like possibilities and hope and kindness. It’s what caused an acquaintance of mine to say that if it weren’t for stress, she would have no feelings at all. Yikes! Take a look at these lyrics:

Suffering was the only thing that made me feel I was alive…thought that’s just how much it costs to survive in this world, ’til you showed me how to fill my heart with love; how to open up and drink in all that white light pouring down from the heavens. Now I haven’t got room for the pain……. 

Now apply those words to what happens when you allow yourself to step away from the madness of the news reports and the unkindness that seems to rear its ugly head every now and then. If you take a mental broom and sweep out the stuff that is not serving you well, you make room for the good things to come in! When you “drink in all that white light pouring down” you fill your brain with more productive thoughts and you no longer have room for the pain! Does it mean that your life will be carefree? Probably not….but it will be a heck of a lot better when you learn how to process the bad times and don’t store them up. If you keep them too long, they soon will be like garbage and stink up your whole mind!

Joy, laughter, friendship, kindness, and hope are some of the best brain de-cloggers I know! They are the main ingredients in Braino! I made that up, but I like it.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, trainer and life planning coach. http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

What to Do When the World is Hurting

June 16, 2016

Earth-crying2

Sometimes it feels as if the world has gone mad! The tragedies of this past week have taken most of us to the brink of tears, if not pushed us over the edge! We are filled with confusion about how such things can happen, and grief for those directly affected by the horrific events. With the constant reminders of the evil that has caused these things, our anger grows and begins to manifest itself in physical and emotional exhaustion and even depression.

Tragic events create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, even for those of us who watch and hear about it on our televisions and other news sources. When we witness others experiencing unspeakable horrors, we feel it as well because we are all connected as human beings. We find ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Even if the tragedy hasn’t directly affected you or a loved one, you may need to go through the steps of dealing with loss. The key is to realize that you can certainly feel compassion for others without staying permanently in a state of mourning.

• If you are overwhelmed, limit your media exposure relating to the disastrous event. This is difficult, because we are exposed to constant replaying of tragedies. Some people feel empowered by continually watching the coverage of the aftermath and recovery, but if it upsets you, turn it off. Choosing not to relive it over and over doesn’t mean you don’t feel compassion for the victims.

• Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes such horrible events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

• Don’t forget joy. It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing such pain. But joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness!

• Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more vitriolic talk and actions.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life mentor. www.lindahenley-smith.com 

 

A Few Words About Forgiveness

November 19, 2015

I often write about forgiveness, so I’ll make this brief. Here is the thing: forgiveness is not for the person who offended, it is for the person who was hurt.

Today, I facilitated a workshop on recovering from betrayal and hurt. One of the main comments I heard was that people equate forgiveness with letting the other person get away with hurting them. This belief is a sure way to stay miserable!

Here is what forgiveness is NOT….

Forgiveness is not an emotion…it is a choice of will. And it is a wise choice for us to make because it frees us from reliving the past over and over again. Refusing to forgive gives power to our pain and eventually, it will weigh us down. We will become victims rather than victors.

Forgiveness is not about saying the words but still acting as if they were not said. When we allow our egos to get in the way, we subtly (or not so subtly)constantly remind everyone of how we were damaged. We are essentially giving  lip service to forgiveness, but we aren’t releasing the toxins of anger that will eventually eat us alive.

Forgiveness is not based on another person’s behavior. No matter what anyone else does, you must own your reaction.

Forgiveness is not allowing yourself to be abused or hurt again. It does not mean we continue being a victim.

Forgiveness is not excusing what someone did….it is refusing to allow their actions to destroy your heart and steal your joy.

Here is what forgiveness IS:

Forgiveness is giving yourself permission to let go of the bitterness while remembering very clearly your rights to healthy boundaries. In one sense, it is impossible to truly forget hurtful acts that have been committed against us. The phrase “Forgive and Forget” is really unrealistic. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. But although we can’t forget what someone has done to us, we can try to live as if we don’t remember it.

Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free and finding that the prisoner was you.

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness is a clog remover. It allows the healing process to begin.

Holding onto anger and holding out for revenge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die! It has been said that forgiveness of self and forgiveness of others are just two currents in the same river, both hindered and cut off completely by the dam of resentment. Once the dam is lifted, both currents can flow.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach. Check out her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

Please Come To My Pity Party

July 2, 2015

COME TO MY PITY PARTY

You are cordially invited to attend a celebration of misery.

Guest of Honor: Me

Time: Whenever I feel like it

Place: Anywhere I happen to be when the self-pity hits me

Come and help me wade and wallow in the wastewater of worldly woe!

There will be no entertainment because I am to be the center of attention.

Whine will be served. 

How would you like to receive an invitation like this in the mail? Would you want to attend? Probably not, yet people extend such invitations all of the time! We all love to moan and groan every now and then and it makes it a lot more gratifying to have an audience. When we are wading and wallowing in our woe, the last thing we want is for someone to tell us to cheer up because every cloud has a silver lining. Personally, when I’m contributing to Global Whining, I don’t want any stupid silver lining…I want sympathy and I want it now!!

Part of the fun of being human and imperfect is that it’s acceptable to feel lousy sometimes. The trick is to feel it, wallow in it for a little while and then move on without spoiling everyone else’s day…or week…or month….or life.

Friends will usually sympathize and comfort you for a while, but after the appropriate pity party period of time has come and gone…so will your friends. That’s healthy because a true friend will stick by you when you really need it, but will also give you a clear message that it’s time to put on your grown-up pants and deal with life, when you’ve stretched the Whine Festival long enough.

We all know people that cause us to run in the other direction when we see them coming toward us. We do this because that person is always going to have a problem and life will never be treating them fairly. They also feel the need to share this with everyone in their path.  Remember that you do not want to be one of these carriers of bad tidings! You want people to be glad to see you, not hide in closets as you walk down the hall. Nobody will fault you for having a genuine problem and feeling blue, and most will be glad and even honored to give you emotional support in your time of need. But to constantly be a beast of burdens and to always be bemoaning your fate is to cause others to doubt when you are really and truly in need of help.

Life is a roller coaster and we have to stay on it through the dips as well as the highs. When you stop to think about it, that’s OK because without the dips, a roller coaster would be pretty boring and you’d probably want your money back. So try to hang on and celebrate the dips because it makes the highs that much better. And the next time you think about throwing a pity party for yourself, try to remember that it’s hard to get people to attend and they usually don’t bring gifts.

Here’s to Better Success!

January 9, 2015

Happy New Year! Here we are, embarking on a new journey around the sun, which will take about 365 days to complete. When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, people usually welcome the year with toasts and kisses, and in my case; chocolate. In my world, chocolate is always appropriate.

This New Year, I noticed how many people expressed their hope that this year would be better and more successful than the last one. That started me thinking about what “better” really is and how most of us would define “success.” The word better is often defined as “improving on or surpassing” and success usually indicates that one has reached a goal. So how do we have a better, more successful year?

I guess it all begins with one’s assessment of what has happened. If there have been losses, trials, tribulations and struggles in the past, it would seem to be an obvious conclusion that a year without hard times would be better. But looking back on troublesome days, consider the fact that you survived! Anyone who makes it through a dark tunnel usually emerges with a new wisdom and a renewed strength! I would consider that a success!

We do ourselves a disservice when we categorize challenges or imperfections as failures. We all live in a flawed world and there will always be disappointments and losses. When we speak of success, I believe that we often place too much emphasis on the concept of winning. In truth, the measure of our success is in direct proportion to the obstacles we are willing to overcome.

If we want to have a “better” year, we are going to have to go about it with an attitude adjustment. Better can mean that we navigate life’s curves with the knowledge that we have the ability to keep going and not fall apart when things don’t go as planned. Better can mean that we accept the fact that life can sometimes disappoint and even hurt, but we only have one piece of the puzzle. We can’t always see the whole picture, which could very well be more wonderful and beautiful than we can imagine.

I wish us all a new year full of wonderful experiences, abundant laughter, healthy attitudes and of course; lots of chocolate!

Monkeys Don”t Keep Score

December 3, 2014

After reading the title of this article, I am sure that most of you are pleased to learn that if you are planning any activities or sporting events with primates, you need not worry about them cheating on their scores.

Researchers at a primate research center have apparently determined that monkeys are prosocial, which is defined as having the motivation to assist others regardless of benefits. In other words, the monkeys don’t seem to keep track of past favors. They respond to the needs of their companions, rather than responding to the rewards offered by their companions.

So, we can assume that monkeys could teach humans a thing or two about relationships. They may not have the social graces needed to dine in Five Star restaurants, but why would they want to do that anyway? They are pretty content to eat while swinging in trees. But it seems that the little hairy guys have it all over us when it comes to giving to others without expecting something in return. People tend to keep tabs on favors.

Keeping score can be exhausting and it is the opposite of giving with grace. When we expect reciprocity for our good deeds, they cease to be gifts and become IOUs that we expect the recipient of our favors to repay. The truth is that we are not always going to get back as much as we think we have given. And that’s OK because it is almost impossible to balance these things out. The healthiest mindset to adopt is one of finding joy in giving and not expecting anything in return, because only then is your gesture genuine.

There are times when we don’t help someone in need because we know they won’t repay us. Sometimes we pass up an opportunity to make a person’s life a little better because we don’t think they really deserve it. We tire of being asked to donate or to lend a hand because there is nothing in it for us and everyone should make their own way. We hang onto our tally sheets and we keep score.

During this Holiday Season, maybe we would all do well to emulate the monkeys.

What’s In It For Me?

September 29, 2014

This is a question that drives almost every decision that we make. Those words are subconscious messages from the naughty little voices that we sometimes hear chattering in the back of our minds. Sadly, they sometimes prevent us from doing the right thing because our egos stand in the way.

Most of us want to do the right thing, but life can get complicated and the world seems to be going at such a fast pace. It sometimes feels as if we can barely hang on and handle our own challenges without taking on someone else’s issues. And there are those situations which involve someone hurting our feelings or competing with us for something we want or need. Are we really supposed to step out of our own ego bubbles and defy our “I have to look out for number one” inclinations?

For instance, here are some possible scenarios: If someone hurts me, why should I forgive him? Sure…he may be off the hook for what he did, but what’s in it for me? Someone needs help; I really don’t have the time and it will be an inconvenience. Lending a hand would make life much easier for someone else, but what’s in it for me? After all, we all need to look out for ourselves, don’t we? Someone is being mistreated or bullied. I could intervene and stand up for him, but then I would have to get involved and if I do that…what’s in it for me?

Yikes! What a dilemma! Or is it? Speaking for myself and my own experiences, here is what I have found to be the answer to what’s in it for me:

• The phrase, “what goes around, comes around” is true most of the time. What we send out usually returns to us. Negativity and mean spiritedness usually come back to bite you in the booty; kindness returns to you tenfold. We reap what we sow.
• There is more peace in stepping out of yourself than there is in building walls around yourself. When you practice kindness for kindness’ sake, you find that the question of what you’re going to get out of it appears less frequently in your thoughts. There is a kind of contentment that comes with giving and forgiving without expecting acknowledgement or credit.
• There is a lot to be said for paying it forward. Attitude is like ripples in a pond when a stone has been thrown in. When you are kind to someone, you are increasing the likelihood of that person passing it on to others. It is the gift that keeps on giving. And it works in reverse; as well…snarkiness breeds snarkiness. Don’t be the one who starts the snarky cycle.

The world has a way of balancing things out. But if you are still having trouble doing the right thing because you’re not sure what’s in it for you, reward yourself with chocolate. It works for me! But…I’m easily bribed.

Nature (and my dog) Hates a Vacuum

June 16, 2014

At the risk of setting everyone off on a “Frozen” song, I am going to mention the words “Let it Go.” Now that the song is stuck in your head and you probably hate me for bringing it up, I shall continue on.

Anyone who has ever experienced heartache, confusion, fear, disappointment or upheaval knows that eventually you have to process what has happened, accept that you have been bumped out of your comfort zone and your life has probably been changed a bit.
And most of us have learned that if we are to continue to move ahead in life, we have to unstick our feet from the wastewater of worldly woe (don’t you love that?) and release any negativity that has resulted from a difficult situation. It is important to turn loose of the emotional baggage that is no longer serving us well. We have to face the negativity, stop hiding behind it, and be willing to let it go.

But there is another part of the puzzle and that is that nature abhors a vacuum. I think Aristotle said that. My dog also abhors vacuums and he hides from them under the bed, but he is not as famous as Aristotle. Obviously, Aristotle was not referring to a Hoover; what he meant was that when something goes away, the place it occupied needs to be filled with something else. In this case, when we release our negative thought patterns, they need to be replaced with some positive ones.

The first step is to introduce some new ideas and possibilities into your thoughts and get in the habit of practicing positive thought replacement. Rather than focusing on what you have lost, try to think of something positive that may have come from the situation. I recently talked with a woman who was trying to recover from a major financial crisis. She told me that until this happened; she never had realized or appreciated how many supportive friends she had. Her words were, “Believe it or not, I have reconnected with so many people who are willing and even happy to help me pick up the pieces and start again. Were it not for what I thought of as a disaster in my life, I would never have known just how blessed I really am!”

The next step is to train your brain to live in the present; not in the past. Your newer and more positive thought patterns will help to pave the way for healthier, productive emotions and attitudes. Whenever an old self-defeating thought or negative self-talk tries to make a comeback, immediately make a list of things for which you are grateful. An attitude of gratitude will get you farther than getting stuck in the mental mud.

Remember than negative thoughts have no power other than that which you give them. You can nurture them or take away their strength by simply capturing them the moment they come into your head and mentally eliminating them. I picture my negative thoughts as balloons and visualize myself popping them. That’s my positive replacement thought and it’s kind of fun.

Finally, understand that being positive is not ducking reality or thinking like a Pollyanna. It simply means that you realize that there are alternatives to sinking into a pit of despair!

Rebuilding With Hope

May 19, 2014

Those who know me well are aware that I often refer to the lyrics of songs to illustrate my points. Sometimes the words of a song or a poem will express what I want to say in far better ways than I could ever present it.

There are times when life throws us some unexpected lemons and we really don’t feel like using them to make lemonade. As a matter of fact, it would probably give us a lot more satisfaction to throw those lemons at the ones who have caused us pain!

When someone or something pulls the rug out from under you and it feels as if your foundation is crumbling, you have a choice as to how you are going to let it affect you. Feeling anger, disappointment and confusion are normal reactions…for a little while. We need all of those emotions in order to process what has happened but if we allow them to linger too long in our minds, they begin to take root.

Before too long, it’s a good idea to replace those negative feelings with something that will actually allow us to heal and grow rather than to keep us feeling empty and hollow. That is where hope comes into the picture. Hope fills up all the broken and empty places and helps to make us whole once again. I like to think of it this way: Holding On to Positive Expectations.

If you replace fear, doubt and frustration with the belief that you can recover, regroup and rebuild; you will enjoy a future of possibilities rather than continue to live in remnants of the past.

Consider these words from the musical “Godspell”…

WHEN YOUR TRUST IS ALL BUT SHATTERED
WHEN YOUR FAITH IS ALL BUT KILLED
YOU CAN GIVE UP, BITTER AND BATTERED
OR YOU CAN SLOWLY START TO BUILD