As much as I hate to admit it, I stink at forgiveness.
When I was hurt, all I heard was, “You need to forgive and move on.” I was stumped, what exactly is forgiveness?
My first stop was the dictionary for the definition of forgiveness; “to grant pardon for or remission of an offense, debt, etc.”
The word that intrigued me was “pardon.”
I suddenly pictured a judge sitting behind a court bench pounding her gavel or, the president signing a presidential pardon saying, “You have received special dispensation and thus you are hereby pardoned of your offenses!”
This hit home the fact that I have the power and a choice to make.
I imagined someone with whom I had been holding onto some hurt. I pictured myself signing a decree that, from heretofore this person is officially pardoned.
“Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.” ~Anonymous
I wasn’t condoning what they had done, I simply was saying I will no longer hang on to the negative energy that resulted from their actions. I felt the hurt begin to melt away.
I also pictured signing that executive pardon for all the embarrassing, hurtful and stupid things for which I judged myself.
If you’re struggling with forgiveness, give these steps a try:
- Make a list of the people with whom you’re currently holding a grudge. Don’t forget to include yourself.
- Go through the list and write down (or state out loud) what they did to hurt you. Dig deep, and don’t forget yourself.
- Before moving to the pardon, ask yourself, “What did I learn from this experience?” Don’t skip this as it can help you see patterns of behavior and/or help to avoid repeats of the situations and people that you are now trying to forgive. Again, don’t forget yourself.
- One at a time, imagine them standing before you. Declare that they are officially pardoned and bang your pretend (or real) gavel. Move on to the next person and, you guessed it, don’t forget yourself.
- This takes practice. You may have to run certain people or situations through the courthouse more than once. However, if there are people and things you just aren’t able to forgive and move past, consider seeking support from a licensed therapist or counselor.
By taking a few minutes to forgive, we can free up energy to begin again with a clean slate. What a great way to say good bye to 2018 and welcome 2019!
Did this work for you or do you have another way that helps you practice forgiveness? Please let us know in the comments below.
It can be difficult to watch people struggle, especially someone we love and care about. Our first response is likely to want to fix or save them.
However, consider the following:
- In our struggles are lessons. If we rescue others (or wait for rescue), they (we) can miss the lesson that is waiting for them (us). That lesson may keep them (us) from making the same mistake over again.
- When we practice taking responsibility for our lives, we learn that we are strong and resilient as we come out on the other side. We not only rob someone of that feeling of accomplishment when we rush to rescue, we keep them from building their self-confidence.
- We are not the Happiness Police. It is not our job to make sure everyone around us is happy.
Sometimes we need to be unhappy or angry or frustrated or …insert feeling here… Sometimes we need to let others be in and work through their stuff.
- Rescuing creates dependence. Are we afraid if this person becomes independent they won’t need us anymore? Do we get our self-worth from taking care of them? We need to address our motives when creating this dynamic in a relationship.
- Rescuing and trying to fix sends the message that they are not capable of taking care of themselves.
What CAN we do?
Let them know that they are not alone and the door is open if, and when, they need support. It’s up to them to walk through that door, it’s not our job to carry them through.
Allow them to practice asking for what they need rather than trying to figure it out for them. Be empathetic, listen and try not to “fix” their problem.
What if YOU are struggling?
Ask yourself, “What do I need to process these thoughts and emotions?” Then practice reaching out to someone who is “holding the door open” and make a request for support.
It’s amazing what happens when we are given the space to feel how we feel with no judgement.
I’m reminded of the story about a butterfly. (Take a moment to read Paulo Coehlo’s version of the story below)
If we want to fly, we must first be willing to struggle out of our cocoon.
What’s harder, sometimes, is we must allow others to do the same.
The Lesson of the Butterfly
December 10, 2007
By Paulo Coelho
A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still.
The man decided to help the butterfly and, with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing the butterfly. However, the butterfly’s body was very small and wrinkled and its wings were all crumpled.
The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. Nothing happened; in fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shrivelled wings, incapable of flight.
What the man – out of kindness and his eagerness to help – had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.
Sometimes, a little extra effort is precisely what prepares us for the next obstacle to be faced. Anyone who refuses to make that effort, or gets the wrong sort of help, is left unprepared to fight the next battle and never manages to fly off to their destiny.
(Adapted from a story sent in by Sonaira D’Avila)
In the election this week, the popular vote was split down the middle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
We have seen Trump supporters cheering and Hillary supporters crying.
I have friends and family who are Trump supporters. I know them to be good people and they truly believe that he is the answer to get this country back on track.
I also have friends and family who are Hillary supporters. They are also good people who feel the country is on the right track and they believe Donald Trump will derail it.
Our country is truly divided right now but it’s not the first time.
According to Ron Chernow’s book, Hamilton, this has been the case in America since its inception. Even the founding fathers didn’t agree on everything.
That’s what makes our country great.
We are allowed the freedom to debate our beliefs and ideas.
But who’s right and who’s wrong? They are both right and wrong.
No one person or group has the right to push their ideology on others. I know I get angry and resentful the minute someone tells me how I should be living my life.
All of us, not just our representatives, need to start listening to each other. We need to stop talking, get our anger in check and start trying to understand our fellow human beings. Especially those whose opinions are different than ours.
I believe we are more alike than we are different.
Most of us want to make a decent living, have access to affordable healthcare, raise our families in a safe environment, and enjoy the freedoms that this country was founded on.
And, each side has a different idea of how to get there.
The founders of this country knew that compromise needed to be part of the solution. The art of compromise is that neither party walks away totally happy but they are each able to live with the deal at hand.
One of those deals is what landed our capitol in Washington DC.
Try this today, stop talking and be curious about someone who is different than you. Ask questions and listen, really listen.
Practice looking for common ground and for a way to create a win-win.
This is how we make our relationships, work places and nation great!
Q: I would love to switch to a whole food, plant-based diet but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to get my family on board. How did you handle that?
A: This is a question I get a lot lately.
My children are adults and on their own so I only cook for my husband, Mike, and myself.
When I told Mike I was thinking about giving up meat and dairy, he was supportive. He also made it clear that he had no intention of following suit.
I have a tendency to rebel when something is pushed on me so I knew better that to fight him on this.
We made a deal that I would still cook meat for him and not judge or guilt him when he ate cheese or his nightly bowl of ice cream. He agreed to try the food I made for myself.
He was also supportive by asking me to share what I was learning in my CHIP classes.
We were both shocked to learn that not only is there more cholesterol in chicken than there is in beef but that our liver produces all we need. We do not need to ingest any additional cholesterol to survive!
At that point, Mike was eating at least 2 eggs for breakfast most days.
Even though this alarmed me, I said nothing.
One day, he said, “Dear, I think I would like to cut down on the number of eggs I’m eating. Could we maybe find something more healthy for me to eat for breakfast? But it has to taste good.”
Music to my ears!
The first hot cereal we tried was a miss.
Then we tried a hot cornmeal cereal that has dates, lemon zest and pumpkin pie spice (see photo above). That was a winner for both of us!
Now, most mornings, he has the cereal topped with berries. And he loves it!
He has also started snacking on raisins and peanuts instead of cheese.
Most of the food I make for myself, he enjoys. There have even been times when I’ve had to ask him not to eat all of my food.
If I was constantly preaching, trying to guilt or push him to change his diet, this probably would have gone a completely different direction.
Just like it had to be my choice to change, I have to give him the space to make his own choices.
As a coach, it’s not my job to tell my clients what I think they should do. We all need to choose and own our choices.
Giving others the space to make their own choices can be challenging. Especially when we think we know what’s right for them.
There are times when we learn best by making our own mistakes. And sometimes the mistakes that others think we are making turn out to be the best decisions ever.
And if I judge others for not following what I’m doing, then they will likely do the same to me.
It’s not up to us to police the world. It’s up to us to do what we think is right and allow others to do the same.
Good luck with your new lifestyle!
Thanks to all those who have shared with me either through Facebook or in person, what has come up for you as a result of me sharing my weight loss journey.
I’m grateful for the honesty and for the opportunity to know that we are in this together.
Here’s my update:
-I have been consistent with my exercise, running or walking 2.5 to 4 miles at least every other day.
-I have drastically reduced my consumption of sugar, flour and meat.
-I have increased the number of vegetables and fruit I eat.
-I am down 9 lbs.
I even went to NYC for a few days and was able to come home without having gained any weight.
I’m glad I’m writing all of this down because the voice in my head has been very active lately and this is how it has been going:
Me: “I lost 9 lbs!”
Voice in my head: “You need to cut down even more so you will lose more, faster. Stop eating sweets and snacks all together, you shouldn’t be eating any of that stuff anyway if you’re really serious about losing weight.”
Me: “But I’m ok with how it’s going…”
VIMH: “You’re not doing good enough! Look at those people on Facebook who are posting pictures of all the weight they’ve lost. And you’ve only lost a measly 9 lbs.! You have at least another 15 lbs. to lose! You might as well give up now, you know you don’t have the willpower and besides wouldn’t some peanut M & M’s taste real good right now, but you can’t have them because you need to lose weight…”
And on and on and on!
Needless to say these thoughts caused a downward spiral as I let them take control.
This felt so familiar.
I could feel that sense of wanting to give up, feeling helpless and hopeless, the feeling that I can never be happy eating food that was good for me and that I will never lose AND keep this weight off.
The next step of this pattern is letting myself have cake to celebrate a birthday, after all it was just one small piece. Then it’s having ice cream 3 nights in a row just because I wanted it.
Suddenly I felt terrible. And I don’t just mean psychologically, I mean physically. I wasn’t sleeping well. I felt bloated.
I felt old. I know I’m getting older but I have never felt old.
Suddenly I realized I had lost track of why I wanted to lose weight in the first place.
After reading Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map a couple of years ago, I started setting my goals with the idea that it is not the goal I’m actually after, it’s the feeling I will have once I reach that goal.
Since then, I have not only reached my goals but I have actually enjoyed getting there.
The reason I want to lose weight is because I want to FEEL better! I want to feel confident and empowered.
I noticed that when I eat good healthy foods that is exactly how I feel, confident and empowered both physically and psychologically.
When I binge on cookies, candy, chips and cake, I feel better, temporarily. Then comes a wave of regret and the after effects of all those carbs which includes mental fogginess, bloating and the path to diabetes.
I’m eating healthy whole foods again. I have more mental clarity and feel happier.
I also like going to bed just a little bit hungry. I sleep better and seem to dream more, which I love!
A lower number on the scale is just a result. The real reason I want to lose weight is to feel happier, more powerful and confident. And I can achieve that right now just by the food choices I make.
How will you feel when you reach your ideal weight? What can you do right now to connect to that feeling?
As a volunteer for the program, Step By Step, I helped facilitate workshops for women in jail. The workshop leader and I were there to provide a safe, nonjudgmental space for these women. It was an opportunity for them to open up and be seen.
A majority of the women in jail have experienced physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Many said that this was the first time they could express their feelings without consequence.
It’s programs like Step By Step that show people who are incarcerated that they matter and there is hope. Hope of stopping the cycle of abuse, poverty, addiction and jail.
But programs like Step By Step are few and most (Step By Step included) are grossly underfunded.
Bill Whitaker reports in the CBS 60 Minutes segment entitled Crime And Punishment, “We (the US) have 5% of the world’s population but 25% of its prisoners.”
He also states that we incarcerate more of our nation’s citizens than any other country in the world at a cost of $80 billion per year.
According to a report by the National Justice Institute,
the US has 5 times the number of prisoners than Britain and 9 times more than Germany.
But is our prison system working?
A 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that 56% of prisoners released were rearrested in the first year. That number jumps to 67% by the third year and 76% by 5 years.
That means that over 3/4 of the people released from prison today will be back in prison within 5 years.
Our prison system does not work. If it is not changed, we will continue to have a growing criminal population and debt to go along with it.
Currently society sees people who commit crime as disposable. We put people in jail and forget about them because it doesn’t seem to effect us.
In some cases, we treat animals better than we treat those who commit crime.
“I don’t matter” is the message a lot of prisoners have gotten all of their lives and our current system reinforces that.
Germany uses a different approach to incarceration. They focus on treating prisoners as human beings and they work to rehabilitate them.
Joerg Jesse is a state Director of Prisons in Germany. He says of prisoners,
“If you treat them as if they are your enemy, they will react as enemies.”
In Germany, they create personalized programs for each prisoner that includes counseling, classes, vocational training and work.
As the prisoners work their program, they earn more and more freedom.
The results? Germany spends less and they have 1/2 the recidivism rate of the US.
Is it a perfect system, of course not. But it is working better than our current system.
John Wetzel, the Secretary of Corrections in Pennsylvania, says:
“…we’ve– frankly screwed up the corrections system for 30 years and it’s time to do something different. It really starts with understanding that, you know, a human being’s value isn’t diminished by being incarcerated.”
We need to wake up and see that what we are doing is not working.
What’s it going to take to change this?
We begin by treating criminals like human beings.
Instead of meeting them with anger and retribution, guide them with a strong hand of love and rehabilitation.
Redirect them to a road other than the path of destruction (for them and society) they are currently on.
Ultimately, we have two choices, we can do nothing and continue to watch crime rates, our debt and prison populations grow.
Or we can start a dialogue to let go of the old mindset of “lock them up and throw away the key” and embrace the change needed to make a difference for everyone.
I witnessed first hand, women who came through the Step By Step program, did the work, and changed their lives and the lives of their children forever.
It’s time to stop retribution and reform our prisons. Rehabilitation that includes counseling, education and programs similar to Step By Step are the key to transforming not only our prison system but our communities, society and ultimately the world.
Without my precious food to numb me, I recently came face to face with the
thoughts and beliefs that could keep my business stuck.
Specifically, my thoughts and judgments about marketing, selling and
promoting myself and my business.
I resist promoting myself because I’m afraid I’ll be
perceived as arrogant, manipulative or self-serving.
However, if I don’t promote myself then I will either not be in
business very long or I’ll only reach a small number of people.
“… pay attention when you want
to eat a box of Oreos,
drink a bottle of wine or
whatever your drug of choice is.”
What can I (we) do with these thoughts and beliefs rather
than divert them with food, wine or keeping crazy busy?
I chose to look deeper rather than going for the distraction and found
there was a message for me.
Below are 4 steps you can use when you’re stuck:
1. Notice your negative or limiting thoughts and beliefs.
If it’s hard to recognize your thoughts, check in with how you’re
feeling then back track to find the thought that created it.
Your thoughts create how you feel.
Use your feelings as signposts to point to what’s going on
in your head. And definitely pay attention when you want to eat
a box of Oreos, drink a bottle of wine or whatever your drug of choice is.
My limiting beliefs were:
“I can’t promote myself or my business because people will see
me as arrogant, manipulative or pushy. They’ll get angry and not want
to have anything to do with me.”
“When we carry negative thoughts, fear
and limiting beliefs from childhood,
we aren’t able to be who we truly are.”
2. Once you realize your negative thoughts or limiting beliefs, ask yourself,
“Who is this coming from?” and “What is the message it has for me?”
My beliefs came from this scared little girl inside of me. A little girl who,
when she dared to be who she was, was often met with disdain and the question,
“Who do you think you are?” and with statements like “You’re stupid,”
“You’re ugly,” or “You’re a girl so you don’t count.”
My inner little girl came away feeling like the world was against her
and had to “be a good girl” and not standout in any way. This was
the part of me that was afraid to shine because it had been
met with pain in the past.
The message she had for me, was that she wanted to be accepted
for who she was and she wanted to come out and play.
3. Ask yourself, “What do I need?”
When we carry negative thoughts, fear and limiting beliefs
from childhood, we aren’t able to be who we truly are.
There was a part of me that wanted to come out and play but
every time it tried, I pushed it down by telling myself not
to get “too big for my britches.”
I wound up feeling like I betrayed myself.
What I need in these moments, is a shot of reassurance
along with a large dose of self-love and non-judgment.
I need to be more worried about taking care of myself and less worried
about what others think.
4. Give yourself what you need.
It’s not enough to ask yourself what you need. You actually have to
give yourself permission to have it.
That little girl is part of me. It’s the part that wants to have fun and play.
It’s also the part that has been trying to protect me from being hurt
AND the part that has been keeping me stuck.
I need to give this part of me love, acceptance and reassurance
that we can handle anything life throws at us.
Then trust myself, relax and enjoy the ride!
Lather, rinse, repeat! This is a constant process of bumping up against
our fear, negative thoughts and limiting beliefs.
We are never finished.
When I choose not to numb or distract myself with food,
I open myself up
to fun, joy and endless possibilities.
What negative thoughts, fear and limiting beliefs are ready for you to transform?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to a client, “Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just want to be expressed…”
I’ve wasted so much time numbing myself with food because I didn’t want to deal with certain thoughts and emotions.
I use food to help me relax and even celebrate making it through the day. It’s as if it helps me take a deep breath and relax.
Of course, I know better.
When I am in my “I can eat anything I want whenever I want” mode, it isn’t long before I’m numbing my anger, shame, sadness, frustration, boredom, overwhelm etc… and packing on the LB’s.
Then I use even more food to try and feel better. It’s a set up for disaster.
The thing about numbing emotions is that we can’t pick and choose which ones to numb.
When we numb one emotion, we numb them all.
We numb our emotions with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping or today’s most popular numbing activity, being crazy-busy.
In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown says, “…research taught me that there’s no such thing as selective emotional numbing. There is a full spectrum of human emotions and when we numb the dark, we numb the light… We can’t make a list of all of the “bad” emotions and say, “I’m going to numb these” and then make a list of the positive emotions and say, “I’m going to fully engage in these!”
When I numb myself with food, alcohol or busyness, I feel like my world is painted gray.
It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. I don’t really enjoy what I’m eating because if everything I eat is special then nothing is special. Do you get what I mean?
As soon I stopped using food to numb my feelings and dull my thoughts, I began to feel and hear everything that I didn’t want to deal with. It was uncomfortable but I survived.
I started by not judging myself. I began meditating again so I could practice separating who I know myself to be from the thoughts in my head.
Choosing to run away from my thoughts and feelings, comes at a cost.
India Arie’s song, Break The Shell, talks about this. She says, “life’s gonna hurt but it’s meant to be felt…” because “we have a choice to live or truly be alive…”
In order to truly be alive, I have to break the shell that I put up to keep the pain away.
Lat Saturday night, we went to a dinner party and the food was amazing! I ate everything I wanted, even a bite of the homemade ooey-gooey, chocolatey, butter and sugar-filled Paula Deen brownies that our hostess made.
I took a bite and savored it. Did I want more?
Hell yes! But I knew that another bite was not going to taste as good as that first bite.
I have a ways to go before I reach my goal but I’m learning that overcoming my issue with food and my weight (and any other issue) starts with looking at what’s going on inside of me, not judging it. Then I can give myself permission to feel it all.
What is your favorite way to numb yourself? What is it you’re not allowing yourself to feel?
I recently received a Facebook friend request from a woman I had met through networking when I first became a coach. I hadn’t spoken to her in a couple of years and I was excited to connect.
The next thought that ran through my head was to invite her to like my business Facebook page. Suddenly I felt a wave of embarrassment mixed with shame and guilt. You see, I am not real consistent with posting on Facebook, particularly on my business page.
I go in waves of posting memes, quotes, thoughts etc.on Facebook and Twitter because the “experts” say that my business needs to have a social media presence. I’m sure it’s true because people a lot smarter than me say it’s true.
I believe what I offer makes a difference in people’s lives and the reason I’m posting is because I want to help or inspire someone.
But frankly, I suck at it. And to be perfectly honest, there are times when I hate it. I feel disingenuous when I’m simply trying to find something to post just to say I posted.
This year my intention is to “follow my bliss and enjoy the journey.”
“Follow your bliss” is a shorter version of the quote by Joseph Campbell “follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
According to the Joseph Campbell Foundation website:
“Joseph Campbell was a life-long student and teacher of the human spirit and mythology… individuals who searched within themselves and their societies to identify the need about which they were passionate. He called this burning need that they sought to fulfill their bliss..”
Coaching is my bliss. I love being a space of trust, authenticity and acceptance not only with my clients but with my family, friends, even strangers.
I try to bring that to my relationship with myself although that has proven to be quite a challenge especially when it comes to my weight and food. (More on that on that at a later time)
The definition of bliss is perfect happiness; great joy: a state of spiritual blessedness, typically reached after death.
My intention for 2016 of “follow my bliss and enjoy the journey” was born from wanting to experience great joy now. Not when my business was successful, the kids were happy and my husband and I were retired and traveling the world or after I die.
I’ve spent too many years chasing my bliss and being miserable.
I’m tired of receiving emails touting the formula that will bring a million dollars. I have spent way too much time and money on plans, strategies and coaches who promised me if I did what they said to do, I would make tons of money.
None of these fit with my values and integrity and all I ended up with was regret and an even emptier bank account.
Well, not true. I also got a valuable lesson: Listen to and do what feels right for me. Do not rely on someone or something outside of me for answers.
Don’t be surprised if you see intermittent posts from me on Facebook, Twitter or even this blog. And know that when I do post it will be because I’m following my bliss and enjoying every step!
What is your bliss? Let me know, post a comment and let’s keep in touch!
This week I am inspired by women who are following their bliss and making a real difference in the world and am grateful to be a contributor to the Fall Issue of Get Real magazine.
Changing The World One Step At A Time, tells my experience of the first time I went into the Monroe County Jail as a volunteer with the Step By Step program. It is not only a tribute to the organization but to the work of Sally Kohler, the workshop facilitator, who tirelessly works to lift up women who have fallen.
Click this link Get Real Magazine Fall 2015 and download to read my article and be inspired by all the amazing articles and photos.
Thank you to Brenda Steffon, Melissa Pletscher-Nizinsky and Julia Kracke for creating such a beautiful, inspiring magazine. You and your staff have created excellence on these pages and I am honored to be a small part.
Who are the women that inspire you? Now go and let them know the difference they have made in your life. #liveinspired