Forgiving the Hurts You did not Deserve

By Alice Wheaton  

When we constantly ruminate about the wrongdoer, we are obsessed and possessed and our lives take on more of grayish brown hues than the brilliance of a rainbow. That is why this tendency to negative thinking, criticisms of others, and fatalistic catastrophic thinking about the future is called the dark side. 

Coming to the point of forgiveness is easier if we are willing to take a leap of faith. Blind Faith is to believe we already have the power to change and we begin to modify behaviors and attitudes, even though we have no evidence. Blind faith has its seed in hope. Hope, like fear, is always about the future. Without hope all is lost but hope alone will get us nowhere. We need hope with action in order to bring out the best in ourselves and bring out the best in others. 

The power in forgiveness is unsurpassed. A person who forgives and accepts others will eventually learn to forgive and accept his or her self. It is important to see everyone, including ourselves, as works in progress. I will not know me until I look into your eyes and see me there – knowing and accepting you as separate, distinct, yet part of the imperfect brotherhood/sisterhood of humanity that includes me, means I can observe your behavior without removing myself from you. This is my understanding of the term loving detachment. It means I can stand back and observe ‘what is so’ in a lovingly detached manner rather than becoming hooked by any drama you create. I can ask myself:

  • What is the problem/drama?
  • Whose problem/drama is it?
  • How does it serve me to become part of this drama?

Without forgiveness, we are destined to live and die in the outfields of life.

Reasons Not to Forgive

Whatever feelings we harbor over a long period, be they feelings of resentment and anger or feelings of love and compassion begin to feel normal. If we are going to be stuck on autopilot with our feelings, they may as well be productive. Despite all of the positive side effects to forgive, people feel justified in not forgiving for several reasons. 

  1. Some believe that ‘to forgive is to condone’. That is not the case at all. We can be outraged by the act and detached from the personality who caused the wrong.
  1. Feelings harbored over a long period, feelings of resentment and hatred or love and compassion, begins to feel normal. 
  1. Energy gained from the prolonged anger can feel powerful and to release this anger can cause us to feel powerless.
  1. Forgiveness may not seem like an option because feelings of loss hurt, confusion, grief, and vulnerability are more difficult to hold on to and experience than anger and rage. This is because anger and rage are projected outward onto the perpetrator whereas sadness, loss, and remorse are felt deeply within. That is normal and when it happens we admit our wrongdoing, make amends and move on. What is abnormal is to be mired in that pain, without the ability to resolve it, without choice. 
  1. The belief that if you are a forgiving person, you will allow bad things to happen to your loved ones and to yourself. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being full of grace and equanimity actually means you will have the power to create boundaries and to intervene when someone is harming another. Being a forgiving person actually helps create strength of character.
  1. An inability to accept the past as it was. Instead, there is a yearning for the past to be how we would like it to have been. It is almost as if resentful people have a form of magical thinking, and so are constantly searching to make sense of those events. Those hurts cause them to feel disenfranchised, or feel very small, in some way, and their self-esteem becomes lodged in that moment from the past. That was then; this is now, and neither then nor now, is forever.

The Cost of Not Forgiving

The following are just a few of the many and varied consequences of being a person who holds resentment. Take a moment to ponder each question and notice whether pr not you practise any of them.

  1. Are you a hyper-vigilant person who becomes angry with others who even slightly offended you? 

2. Are you hypercritical of yourself and others? 

4. Are you unable to confront issues in a way that allows you to still have a strong, loving relationship? Do you ruminate on little infractions and allow the little things to escalate into big issues? 

5. Is truce is more important than truth?  Are you a people pleaser? 

6. Are you unable to create and maintain boundaries?

  1. Are you a perfectionist who is sabotaged by procrastination? 
  2. Do you have a tendency to maintain physical isolation?
  3. Does resentment show on your face and you look older than your years?
  4. Do you experience consistent emotional isolation? 
  5. Are you spiritually isolated? 

There are many more good reasons to move beyond the issues of the past and into the future than there are to staying stuck, without choice. Begin now to believe it is possible to claim your birthright, that of happiness, joy, love, and prosperity.

To be stuck in the magical thinking of trying to undo the past, or somehow right it with resentment and hatred, is to be like a Knight of the Round Table chasing after, but never finding, the Holy Grail. That magic cup, the being of who we would be without the hurt, does not exist. A happy now (and an even happier future) is ours with the ability to forgive, forget, and move on.

 

Alice Wheaton is a best selling author with books translated into ten languages. She is a consultant, and speaker, working tirelessly to help bring out the best in others.
www.alicewheaton.com

Who is Spiritual and Who Isn’t?

By Alice Wheaton

When someone says, “I am spiritual.” or “The work I do is spiritual” what does that mean? Does it mean that God has a clipboard and notices, and then checks off, who is spiritual and who is not? Does God have a sliding scale? Is the homeless person who begs for money less spiritual in God’s eyes (as you understand God)? Does being spiritual mean someone who is a seeker for answers and if so answers to what…the alleviation of the pain and suffering of others or erasing the discontent with one’s own life? Or does it mean someone who gives, even though they don’t have enough for themselves? Is there a possibility that one person can ever be more spiritual than another? For instance, in God’s eyes (again God, as you understand God to be or not to be) does The Dali Lama receive five stars and ordinary schleps receive only ½ a star? Who decides? If we attend a Spiritual Retreat are the leaders more spiritual than the participants? Or is exaltation the real exchange…the audience adores and the Spiritual Leader gets to be adored? What if, neither the desire to be adored nor the desire to exalt, is spiritual? Can our weaknesses be as spiritual as our strengths?

What if a workshop leader, who considers him or herself to be a Spiritual Teacher, is hired to present a two hour training session twice a month for three months, to a window manufacturer… the participants are the hourly workers and  paid much less than those in the front office. And yes they are a cynical difficult bunch.  They smoke, swear, tell sexist jokes, and will call a spade a spade…some abuse one or several substances. Sitting still is difficult for them as they do their job by moving around and their restlessness shows before an hour passes. They are the labourers in the plant and proud of it…but wait, what if this workshop leader believes, “I only work with spiritual people?”  With this attitude, would this workshop leader be able to ‘teach’ this group anything or would he or is he or she in judgement and therefore separate from the students?  

Can we be of service if we see ourselves as more special than our students? Can the real teachers in any situation (think prisoner and Chaplin) be the students instead of the teacher? Can the belief, I am spiritual lend itself to, and breed, spiritual arrogance and spiritual competitiveness? Doesn’t either of those states indicate a perceived lack in one’s spirit? Is that what the spiritual quest is all about…filling the gaps in our spirits, even is no gaps exist? 

There is a whole market developing about teaching us spiritual principles and how to live a spiritual life. Are the “spiritual teachers” promoting to their own advantage? Are these teachers really ordinary humans with no more of a direct link to ‘the Source” as anyone else but they happen to be able to (and enjoy) presenting in front of a crowd so to do that they position themselves as a Spiritual Subject Matter Expert?  Is it their job/professionquestal responsibility/ to lead their supplicants to the spiritual waters and sit back and absolve themselves if these supplicants choose not to drink of the knowledge?

In the example training opportunity at the window manufacturer, do you think that the workshop leader ever came to see that it is spiritual to work with anyone? And what a privilege it is to have been involved with a team that works to manufacture a product to bring light to homes, buildings, and lives? Without these rough and ready people working in the back of any manufacturing plant, wouldn’t our work load be greater? Without these manual labourers, where would we have the time to develop our knowledge and skills to offer to our audiences? 

Who amongst us then, is less or more, spiritual than the other? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all saw ourselves not as leaders but as trusted servants operating with a servant’s heart, desiring to be in the service to others no matter who they are and how they show up in our lives? 

Isn’t it wonderful to live in a country where we have the democratic freedom to question without fear of political or religious retaliation? 

 

Alice Wheaton is a best selling author with books translated into ten languages. She is a consultant, and speaker, working tirelessly to help bring out the best in others.
www.alicewheaton.com

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress: CBD Can Help

This article first appeared on MadebyHemp.

In our modern, fast-paced world, stress is becoming a very common component in our everyday lives. It has become so common, in fact, that we no longer seem to notice stress until it has compounded into something bigger and has started affecting our health. Stress, or rather, stress hormones (a primary stress hormone like cortisol), are released into the body to trigger our “fight or flight” response. In dire situations, these hormones help elevate our energy supplies, increase the concentration of glucose in our blood, and even help our brain use glucose optimally for quicker decision making. However, long-term activation of the body’s stress system could cause a host of health problems — anxiety, depression, heart disease – to name a few.

Therefore, it is important we learn of ways to relieve ourselves of stress. Below are five simple ways to relieve stress:

1. CBD Oil

You’ve probably heard of CBD quite often this whole year. There is good reason for that. Aside from its uses in alleviating the symptoms of epilepsy, it is also being used as a natural means of reducing anxiety and a great way to relieve stress. This is because all mammals have an endocannabinoid system. This is a network of CBD receptors along our central nervous system. These receptors react to CBD by fixing imbalances, strengthening our immune system, and relieving symptoms of stress and anxiety. So a couple of drops of CBD oil every day might just be a great way to help relieve stress.

2. Meditation

If you are looking for a very cheap way of reducing stress without taking anything, meditation is the way to go. Meditation has been known to help ease stress and anxiety by focusing our attention to emptying our mind and breathing deeply. Not only will this help you relax, but it could also re-energize you to help you face the rest of your day with a bit more calm. If you find yourself stressed by too many meetings or an impending deadline, take a few minutes to center yourself, empty your mind of any thoughts, and breathe.

3. Exercise

Physical activity causes our body to release happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin. To people who have experienced what is called the “runner’s high”, this is actually the rush of endorphins released by your body as a response to running. Endorphins help our body reduce stress by helping our body overcome pain, and regulate our sleep. The stress hormone cortisol actually reduces the production of happy hormones in our body which will lead to more stress for us. Exercising would help build these hormones back up in our system.

4. Reduce Caffeine

We all have a caffeine threshold. Caffeine is known to help keep us awake and give us that boost of much-needed energy, especially in the mornings when all we want is to go back to sleep. However, too much caffeine can contribute to anxiety which in turn causes stress. It could also cause heart palpitations, cold sweat, and some digestive upset when you take too much caffeine. So if you find yourself getting anxious after your second or third cup of coffee, it might be a good idea to skip that cup of joe and maybe have something with lower caffeine levels. Perhaps a nice low caffeine tea, or, dare we say, some decaf coffee?

5. Socialize

Spending time with friends and family is a great stress reliever. No matter how introverted and socially averse you are, there is always someone you prefer spending your time with. And for those of us who are extroverted, being with people is an energizing experience. Laughing and having an enjoyable time with the people you love will help you relax more, and forget about your woes. In women, spending time with family and children helps in releasing oxytocin, a natural stress reliever.

No matter your station in life, stress is unavoidable. Keeping these five tips in mind will help you in managing or maybe even relieving stress. And in turn will help you enjoy life more, avoid health issues, and even develop a healthier relationship with yourself and with your social circle.

The ART of Successful Living: Accountability + Responsibility = Trustworthy

By Alice Wheaton

100% Accountable + 100% Responsible = 100% Trustworthy
75% Accountability + 75% Responsibility = 75% Trustworthiness
100% Accountable + 100 % Responsible = 100% Trustworthy

Trust is all about Ourselves

When our words and actions match, we are congruent and trustworthy. There is only one test to tell us if someone (including ourselves) is congruent and that is the test of time. When we give our word, to others and ourselves, and keep it, we are perceived by the world around us to be trustworthy. Ultimately, we are all known by our actions. 

Right now, there may be many, many circumstances towards which you feel powerless. The choices are to adopt either a submissive, defensive, or fully accepting stance to those situations. Some resistance to this concept is very natural. After all, one does not want to be adrift on the sea of life, alone and assuming 100%, responsibility might seem like a formula to face life alone, without the support of others. The opposite is true; your relationships will be even better than before when you make a decision to practice the Art of Leadership. Think about these words of a popular song of the seventies: I am a rock…I am an island… Who wants that? Almost no one. Asking for help is still accepting responsibility.

For example, what if you have a job that you promised to complete on July 17, it is now July 12, and you have come to a dead end. You don’t know how to accomplish a very important part of that job, yet you are 100% responsible, so what should you do? The answer is to ask for help and in doing so you will still maintain 100% responsibility.

Now, imagine a team brought together to accomplish a task. The objectives and  measured outcomes are presented. Everyone on the team personally and voluntarily accepts (for no one can mandate this to another) 100% responsibility for the result. This is imperative for a great team to function. Imagine saying to a chain: Okay, you three links here are only 50% responsible, but the other 110 pieces are 100% responsible. The point of lowered responsibility in the chain is where the efficacy of the entire chain is weakest. 

Would you want that particular chain with several weak links holding the gates of your neighbor’s yard closed with a pair of ferocious, dedicated guard dogs behind it? Probably not! Any relationship where each of the members assume 100% of the responsibility will function much better than if one or the other accepts only partial responsibility. The language of someone who is not willing to be accountable and responsible sounds like this:

  • I will be respectful to you, as long as you are respectful to me.
  • You snapped at me first!
  • You ignored my pleading for help when I was down, so now it’s your turn to suffer. See how you like that!

It takes courage to accept 100% responsibility for our lives. If I assign 85% responsibility to me and 15% responsibility to you, for the remaining 15%, I am in a potential ‘victim’ state. Assuming 100% responsibility for our participation in the past will free us from projecting guilt, and resentment onto others.

Let us say someone really did something bad to you as a child. How can you take 100% responsibility? You can, by saying: This ‘bad’ thing happened and I can let it affect me for the rest of my life, and I can choose 100% responsibility for my attitude toward it. I can observe how my thinking about the past event colors my life today. I do not like or want that, so I let go. The past is done – I cannot change it. It does not exist. If I continue to live there, I am controlled by an illusion for an illusion is something that does not exist but that I give energy to anyway.

Taking 100%, responsibility for the present is also freeing. Notice when something bad occurs, there seems to be a frenzied witch-hunt. Whom shall we blame for this? What if someone stepped up to the plate and said: Let’s stop looking for the person who did this and start looking for the solution. The quicker we assume responsibility for the solution, the more likely we will see ourselves and be seen by others as having the traits of a leader. The future will provide us with freedom, abundance, challenges, rewards, pain, setbacks, joy and success, all of which make up the rich tapestry of life. Do not spend time affixing the blame; fix the problem!

Like the past, the future is also an illusion – it is not here yet, but we can be prepared and give ourselves the edge by assuming 100% responsibility for ourselves as we go forward. With this proactive attitude, we have focus. This is one of the reasons top performers achieve their position; they have a have a concrete plan for their life. It means they have already taken the time to create priorities for the future. There is something magical about that. Our expectations have a greater chance of being achieved, when we plan. In addition, with a plan we give ourselves the freedom to add, delete, or change in response to the actual events as compared to planned events. If we have no plan and leave everything up to fate, then we must accept what comes blindly and fit ourselves to it as best we can. When we have a plan, life still delivers tragedy and sorrow, but when it does, we are resilient and are not thrown off course for long.

Our attitude of living 100% responsibly will keep us vigilant as we complete due diligence before getting involved with someone else’s project, thereby preventing the disasters associated with ‘trusting the untrustworthy’!  Moreover, if we should err, we are able to trust ourselves to deal with the consequences.

Let us look at the pattern of trusting the untrustworthy. This is a common weakness, or character deficit. Even the most well informed and sophisticated of individuals are ‘taken advantage of’ more times than they care to admit. This is unjust and unfair, but so what! The trend will not change unless we learned to ask ourselves the all-important question: What is it about me that cause me to trust the untrustworthy?

Some of the answers to this one question may be:

  • Making decisions quickly. Unable to take the time to complete due diligence.
  • Making decisions based on how great the need is to be rescued from something. The need to be rescued often overrides gut instinct.
  • Craving change and being impatient with process.
  • Inability to set, and maintain, personal boundaries.
  • Inability to deal with uncomfortable feelings.
  • Need to be liked.
  • Hungry heart.

When you discover what your reason is for trusting the untrustworthy, plan to spend some time in quiet reflection, and see where you had something to contribute to almost every situation that hurt you. When you take 100% responsibility, it does not mean it is open season on beating up on yourself! It is more a matter of: Oh, so that’s the cause. Now I need to learn new skills so it does not happen again. 

One of the tools you can put to work right now to mitigate the danger of trusting the untrustworthy is a balance sheet – listing pros and cons of any  decision you are about to make and then giving yourself a week just to sit with the process and ask some ‘call to truth’ questions such as: 

  • What is the cost for doing/having this? 
  • What is the cost of not doing/having this? 
  • If I wait a few days, will my need and desire be as great or will I want it less?
  • Who could potentially lose because of this decision?
  • Do I want to be rescued from a difficult situation? 

Most decisions made in a hurry turn out to be wrong. Your new mantra could be: I make my decisions over time with lots of due diligence. Another step is to require the other person to put in writing, in measurable terms, what they will be delivering. If they cannot or will not, the answer becomes clear – Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

Frequently, when something goes wrong, most individuals rush in to lay blame, defend, and justify as to why they are not responsible for the disastrous event. Many relationships that begin with love and trust deteriorate into blame, shame, resentment, and distance. The partners may change but unless each individual learns to take 100% responsibility for his or her own life, the results will eventually be the same despite the geographic cure where they move to another city but take themselves with them!.

Justifying and defending yourself may work from time to time when you manage to escape repercussion; however, as a mode of operation, this does not help anyone get the results they really want in life. The process of taking 100% responsibility is simple, but not easy, because our society holds a CYA (Cover Your Ass) mentality.

There are many situations in life over which we have no control, but ‘acting as if’ we have ultimate control will increase our options. You will be surprised at the capacity for power we have to change our circumstances and influence others simply by assuming the attitude and behaviour of responsibility. Life will work out in the process of life itself.

 

Alice Wheaton is a best selling author with books translated into ten languages. She is a consultant, and speaker, working tirelessly to help bring out the best in others.
www.alicewheaton.com

Fear and the Freedom to Make Mistakes

By Karen Styles
Owner & Chief Imaginer, KarenMakes
A featured vendor at What A Woman Wants Summer 2018

Am I the only one who worries too much? In particular, I have a fear of making mistakes that holds me back too often, in too many areas. I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with my fear.

Fear can paralyze. All the what ifs pile up into an unscalable wall and I feel like I can’t move forward. What if I make a mistake? What if I make hundreds of mistakes? What if I embarrass myself in front of everyone I’ve ever met? What if I do it all wrong? When these questions start to swirl around in my head, I get overwhelmed.

In the middle of 2017, I got fed up with all the fear and worry. It took up too much space in my mind, and I decided I didn’t want to let fear run the show. Part of this inspiration came from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.” When fear creeps up, it does help a bit to say, “Oh fear, it’s you again! Hello old friend.” I had to learn to be okay with this fear of making mistakes.

I’ve got a simple lettered art sign that says “Make Mistakes & Learn.” It had been tucked away in a box after a move. But I dug it out, framed it and remembered why I had been drawn to those words in the first place. “Make Mistakes & Learn” became my mantra. And after allowing myself to make mistakes, I realized there was a specific type of mistake I wanted to make.

I decided that I wanted every mistake I made to be a mistake of action rather than of inaction. “Well, now I know something I didn’t know” is way better than the regret of “I wish I had tried that.” And you know what? Allowing myself to make mistakes gave me a huge sense of freedom.

Guess what? Mistakes are not so terrible, because I can make mistakes and then learn. That shift, that positive spin on mistake-making helped me understand that each mistake is actually moving me forward.

Another thing about mistakes. The are fixable. Why didn’t I realize it before? It’s the simplest thing. If I make a mistake, I can change something and fix it. Take a second and think about a mistake you are worried about making. If you actually make that mistake, will it be catastrophic? I’m willing to bet that in most cases, the answer is no.

So how does this relate to real life? Well, in 2016, I launched KarenMakes – a creative side-business and Etsy shop. Part of stepping out in spite of fear means putting my art out there. (Hey, I just noticed that “art” rhymes with “heart.” Putting my art out there = putting my heart out there. Yep, that’s how personal and vulnerable it feels sometimes).

I’ve always loved to paint, sew, knit, do photography, and just generally dabble in all sorts of creative projects. But most of these things were done at home, alone, for myself or sometimes as gifts. Making and creating have always brought me joy and a sense of groundedness. Don’t get me wrong, hobbies in solitude are wonderful things. But I wanted to share my work and see if the creativity that I was tapping into resonated with others. I discovered that I could have my artwork and photos printed onto journals, leggings, pillows and a whole lot more. So I’ve been selling online and in local markets. It’s so exciting to see my work take on other forms, and even more exciting to see the reactions of people who find their own meaning in what I do.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t taken action – despite the fear that accompanied me along the way. It turns out that most of the mistakes I was worrying about either didn’t happen or didn’t matter. And this is where the freedom to make mistakes and comes in. I realized, if this product doesn’t sell, I’ll make something else. If this market doesn’t work, I’ll try another one. Even if this whole business doesn’t work, I will learn and I will do something else. None of these (possible) mistakes have to limit me.

Fear of mistakes kept me stuck. But realizing mistakes were okay meant I could move forward. And moving forward continues to be the most important thing for me. Just keep taking action. Taking action has opened up new opportunities new relationships that I would never have found if I hadn’t taken the risk of putting my art (and myself) out there. More than that, I’ve had the chance to truly connect with so many amazing individuals.

As I reflect on the past year and look forward to a new one, I know there will be some mistakes ahead of me. But I’m curious and maybe even a little excited about how I will adapt and continue to learn. Because every mistake is actually an opportunity.

Will you experience the freedom of making mistakes this year?

Karen Styles

karenmakes.com
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