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.
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?
A few months ago, I decided it was time to take a hard look at my relationship with food. It was time to figure out how to eat without it turning into an internal emotional battle.
I stopped following my “food rules” and noticed the thoughts that ensued:
“What am I doing???”
“I am going to lose control and end up weighing 300lbs!”
“Everyone is going to see that I’ve gained weight and judge me for it.”
“People will think I’m lazy and a loser.”
“Ok, I can do this for the holidays but as soon as they’re over I’m going on a strict diet.”
“I can NOT permit myself to eat any cookies, meatballs, crab dip (insert any food that is not a raw vegetable here).”
After the holidays were over, it turned into:
“OMG! I gained 10 lbs! I’m fat!”
“I look terrible and I need to lose weight!”
“My family loves me no matter what size I am. Who am I kidding, they’re probably as disgusted with me as I am!”
“I just want to hide out at home.”
“I can’t buy any new clothes until I lose weight.”
There they were. The thoughts that have come out of my longtime struggle with food, weight and body image. And I know exactly where these thoughts were created.
They came from people in my past who thought they were being cute by calling me pleasingly plump when I was in that awkward stage right before puberty hit. And the words of the boys on the school bus who knew exactly the right buttons to push by calling me fat and ugly.
As with the many attempts before, I knew if I put myself on a diet, eating or fitness plan it was doomed to fail because I was not doing it for the right reason. I would be losing weight because I was afraid of what others thought, not because it was something I wanted.
Then I thought, “What if these thoughts aren’t true? What if I wasn’t a loser or lazy? What if I’m just me, not what I look like?”
So I asked myself the question, “Who do I know myself to be?” (A question I often ask my clients)
I know myself to be: kind, funny, smart, generous, loving, strong…
Does the size or shape of my body change any of that?
No! Hell NO!
If someone judges me or doesn’t like me for the size or shape of my body, it hurts. But quite honestly, they are not someone I would choose to be friends with anyway.
By replacing negative thoughts of my body with positive ones about the whole me, it not only made it easier to walk into a room full of people, I felt gratitude for the body that has brought me through 54 years and carried and birthed two healthy children.
I would love to say that the angels sang and my eating habits were suddenly transformed.
That didn’t happen. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I inherited my dad’s muscular build and not my mom’s thin beautiful legs. And, I’m likely addicted to carbs.
I have also learned to listen to the shouting in my head rather than pushing it down and hoping it goes away. Now I ask myself, “What am I really looking for these cookies or this bag of peanut M & M’s to do for me?”
I have learned I like the way I feel when I eat healthy, whole foods rather than processed, sugar laden food.
It would be easy but miserable to go back to my automatic routine of forcing myself through a diet, losing weight, keeping it off for a while, rebelling against the diet and then regaining the weight.
Right now, I’m in an unknown space and it’s really uncomfortable. I don’t know what’s around the corner but I do know I am committed to breaking up this pattern of self-abuse.
Are you struggling with the same thing? What are you doing to break through your old patterns? Let me know I’m not alone.
I’ll keep you posted…
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
Have you ever thought about your relationship to money? I say relationship because we all have a story about money.
I grew up thinking we were poor. There never seemed to be enough money for what I wanted.
Now mind you, I never went without food, decent clothing, anything really. But as a kid, I wanted certain things, as all kids do.
There never seemed to be enough when I wanted things like candy or a toy. I didn’t get an allowance so I would ask my parents for money when I wanted something. The answer was sometimes yes, but most of the time, no. Sounds normal, right?
But as a kid, I made up the story that I couldn’t have those things because we were poor. And my mind took it one step further down the victim trail to, “I can’t have what I want but my brothers always get what they want.”
What my mind failed to realize is that my brothers are 5 and 6 years older than me. They worked on a local farm or at the 5 & 10 store and earned their own money so they could buy what they wanted.
But my mind was determined to hold onto this scarcity mentality.
Fast forward to adulthood. I perpetuated this story by putting all of my families needs above my own. The kids needed new school clothes, ok. My husband wanted to go on his annual fishing trip, of course.
But when I even had the thought of spending any money on myself, my mind immediately went to, “No! You can’t have what you want! Remember, there isn’t enough for you!”
So I became resentful.
When I had enough of my resentment, I would just go and buy what I wanted. Then, guilt set in.
I felt so much guilt from spending anything on myself, I would sometimes not tell my husband what I bought. I thought he certainly wouldn’t understand spending $40 on a tube of face cream.
That left me feeling dishonest and like I was stealing from my family.
I knew I needed to break this pattern of behavior before I could really welcome any amount of abundance into my life.
My best friend, a former financial broker, suggested that in order to break through this, I simply needed some mad money. A certain amount of money each week, I could call my own.
My mad money was mine to do with what I wanted. I could burn it, give it away, buy a bunch of little things or save it for something bigger.
This made so much sense to me and immediately lifted a weight off my shoulders. I know this sounds crazy but this “allowance,” so to speak, opened up possibilities for me to not only get what I wanted but to give up the destructive pattern of guilt and resentment.
By releasing the emotional tie it had on me, I no longer let money control my life.
Now I’m rewriting my money story from a perspective of abundance and having all of my needs met. Even if it’s candy!
What is your “money mindset?” What would you like your relationship to money to be? What is something you can do today to begin a shift toward your new “money mindset?”
I hear people saying that in order to be happy, we just need to do positive affirmations and let go of negativity. I say the exact opposite.
In order to be happy, be sad. Let me explain.
The new movie Inside Out is geared towards children but I think it’s a movie everyone should see, adults included.
Without giving too much away, the movie focuses on a little girl named Reilly and how she deals with her emotions. There are characters that represent the emotions of joy, sadness, disgust, anger and fear.
In the beginning of the movie, each time Sadness tries to take over, Joy is there to push her away.
I did this for years.
I tried everything to make sadness go away because I thought something was wrong with me if I wasn’t happy all the time. I tried pushing it down, denying it, resisting it. I tried talking myself out of it by doing positive affirmations.
You’ve heard the saying “What we resist, persists?” That is exactly what happened.
Before I knew it, I wasn’t just sad, I was depressed.
There were times when I felt like a deep dark hole was opening up and swallowing me. All I wanted to do was check out of life and sleep.
Then, after a while, I would begin to feel better and come out of it. (Those who have that hole swallow them up and don’t come out, need to seek professional help)
When we resist feeling any emotion, it causes a reaction.
Shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown, compiled data that showed we cannot numb one emotion without numbing all of our emotions.
Basically, by not allowing ourselves to feel and process our sadness, we are not able to experience true joy.
In our society, it often seems unacceptable to express sadness. We can feel we need to put on a happy face and act like we’ve got it all together.
When we do that, our sadness festers and ends up coming out in other ways. It can manifest itself as depression, illness or destructive behavior such as addiction.
Or we could have an outburst and explode when we have reached our limit.
However, by acknowledging and experiencing our emotions and talking to an empathetic person, we will find that sadness or any emotion leaves as fast as it came.
This is what happened to little Reilly. Once she allowed herself to talk to her parents about her sadness, it opened the door to true connection as well as letting Joy once again be a part of her life.
The real lesson here is that emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. We all have them and all they simply want is to be expressed.
What about those positive affirmations? It is unhealthy and unrealistic to expect ourselves to be happy all the time. If we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, then we can use positive affirmations or gratitude to reconnect with hope and faith. That way we won’t end up wallowing in negativity.
What emotion are you currently not allowing yourself to experience? Who is your go-to person when you need empathy?
If you are open to it, practice allowing difficult feelings, share with an empathy buddy and see what happens. I bet you’ll be amazed at how much happier you will be when you allow your emotions to just be.