The Most Important Lesson You Need To Learn About Forgiveness

Forgiving someone who has hurt you–especially when that someone is a former spouse–can be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. It will also be one of the best things you’ll ever do for yourself. In the process, you’ll learn the most important lesson you need to learn about forgiveness.

The lesson is that forgiveness isn’t about the other person; it’s all about you. As much as you might like to think that holding a grudge and thinking badly about another person will them, that’s not usually the case.

You hold on to hurt and the anger, plotting your revenge, having imaginary conversations with them in your head, and writing scripts of how those discussions will go. You want to lash out and make the other person understand how profoundly hurt you are. You hold all that pain inside, and as it turns out, the only person you’re hurting by refusing to forgive and let go is yourself.

That’s right; the one paying the price is YOU. The other person isn’t feeling your anger and pain. Chances are they aren’t even thinking about what happened that hurt you so much. They’ve moved on, are living their life, and they’re happily oblivious of the pain they are causing you.

Yet you feel like you have to hang on to that pain, hold the grudge–all so the other person doesn’t “win.” Somehow, forgiveness feels weak. You think that if you forgive and move on, you’re giving the other person a pass–but here’s the thing. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re letting the person who hurt you get away with something. It doesn’t mean what happened didn’t happen, and the slate is wiped clean. It certainly doesn’t mean you condone their behavior.

When I divorced my first husband, I was consumed with rage and feelings of betrayal at how the marriage had ended. Not only had he been physically violent with me, but I also found out as our divorce progressed that there had been other betrayals. I raged and had many conversations with him in my head in which he begged my forgiveness, and I refused to give it. In my imagination, I turned on my heel and flounced away, leaving him desolate on the floor, weeping because I would not forgive him.

I didn’t understand that I could forgive him without appearing weak, without somehow giving him the idea that what he had done to me was okay and that I had forgotten the pain he caused me.

I spent years consumed by my anger, wondering why he couldn’t understand how much he had hurt me and wouldn’t tell me he was sorry. But he wasn’t suffering. He ultimately remarried and presumably went on to live a life he designed for himself, not giving me another thought, while I was still fuming.

So, who was suffering? ME. Until one day I typed a question into my search engine bar: how can I forgive my ex?

I started on a journey to learn about forgiveness–how to give it and how to receive it–and it changed my life. It enabled me to move on, move beyond events I thought would define me forever.

Forgiving my ex doesn’t mean that what he did to me will ever be acceptable under any circumstances, nor does it mean that I will ever forget how he hurt me.

Forgiveness simply means that you are ready to move on, as I was ready to move on, and build a life without anger and pain defining you.

You need to forgive so you can start to heal. You need to forgive so you can get beyond whatever hurt was done. You forgive the other person so that you are no longer bound to them. You forgive so you can become happy again and focus on the rest of your life.

It’s not going to be easy; forgiveness never is. The greater your pain, the harder the act of forgiving will be, but it is worth it–not because it makes you a better person (although it does) or because it’s the right thing to do (even though it is)–but because in the long run, forgiveness will free you and help you much more than the other person.

Be the stronger person, do the right thing, and practice forgiveness. You’ll be glad you did when that weight lifts off your shoulders, the wounds start to heal, and you get to experience the sweetest revenge of all–living a long and happy life without wasting another thought on the person who hurt you or what they did.

I know I am stronger and happier for having put forgiveness for my ex out into the universe.

Are you ready to forgive someone who has hurt you?

10 Benefits of Calm

The so-called fight or flight reaction is an excellent one to have in life or death situations, but in our modern life, the stress reaction is not usually accompanied by the need for heightened physical response.

Unfortunately, many of us are so consistently stressed that our bodies are continuously and needlessly flooded with adrenaline and other hormones, which taxes our nervous systems and drains our immune systems, thereby making us susceptible to a range of physical and psychological ailments. Insomnia, heart disease, anxiety, depression; all have links to constant and unchecked stress.

Cultivating deliberate calm in your life can make an appreciable difference to your emotional and physical well being. There are many ways to cultivate more calm, but no matter how you do it, the benefits are huge and can make a real difference in your life.

Here are the ten biggest benefits of having more calm in your life:

1. Calm makes you feel happier in general.

2. Calm helps restore both good health and energy levels.

3. Calm raises mental acuity and increases concentration.

4. Calm inspires you to create and to enjoy yourself.

5. Calm helps you develop your intuition or learn to listen to it again.

6. Calm slows down the physical and mental aging processes.

7. Calm helps you connect with yourself and build better relationships with others.

8. Calm enables you to relax, let go, and rejuvenate.

9. Calm increases your capacity for hope, forgiveness, and compassion.

10. Calm allows you to spend more time on what is important to you.

So spend some time cultivating calm – emotional brain training, cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, mediation, whatever is best for you – and make a real difference in your life.

Don’t Dwell on the Past

To the Brig!

It’s January 1, so there must be a new project in the offing.

This year will be different, however, because the stress of not getting anything done, not achieving the goals I set for myself, and not making any appreciable change in my life, is beginning to affect my physical health. Something needs to change, and I’m determined that this is going to be the year because I can no longer accept feeling the weight of it all on my shoulders.

I’m not making resolutions, just a promise to myself to clear something, to write something, each and every day for the next 365 days.

My husband has decided the time has come to move towards minimalism, so I’m cautiously optimistic that this may actually be the year we get the house and garage cleared out, after watching my space get more cluttered and feeling progressively more blocked each day for the last many years.

From the day we moved in together, my space and our shared space has become more cluttered, and my stress levels have risen as the walls of detritus have closed in around me. It’s laughable at this point; my friends know that we’re always in the middle of a big cleaning or organization project.

My friends don’t care, but as a suffocated neat freak, my cheeks get hot and I want to hide under the floorboards whenI allow myself to think about it.

Our son is beginning to pick up his father’s habit of collecting things and I have to stop it. I can’t move forward in any appreciable manner with the clutter and stuff all around me.  I’ve been struggling to get my coaching business off the ground and I’ve finally realized that where there is clutter, there is stagnant thought and energy. I sometimes find myself not caring about the mess, which is a huge red flag to me that I’m entering into some state of Stockholm syndrome.

I don’t want to be that person.

When I was on a call with my coach in December, she asked me what I wanted for 2018, what one word I would pick. Immediately I said clarity.

So, today begins my journey to clarity: clarity of space in my home, clarity of mind and direction , clarity of purpose and movement in my business, and balance resulting from that clarity.

Today’s project is clearing out the downstairs office. Pictures will be posted.

Until then.

The View From Here: On Being a Jewish Mother

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This post was originally published on Jen Hall’s blog, Dancing in the Rain,” on August 28, 2014. The terrorist attacks over the the last two years – Paris, San Bernadino, Orlando and Nice, to name just a few – had not occurred when this post was written, and thus they are not referenced.

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I worry about the sensitive soul we are raising, the little boy who is scared of bugs and wants them gone, but who cries if I kill them. My heart is in my stomach most mornings as I scan the headlines. I am horrified by the recent election results in several European countries illustrating just how much of a political uptick in anti-Semitism there seems to be.  The violence in the Middle East, the anti-Semitism that feels more visible daily, rattles me. Read more

Sunsets and Parenting

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At 16, my parents dragged me, along with my four-year-old sister, on a rainy and miserable family vacation to a television and telephone absent vacation rental in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

My overriding memory of that week is sulking around the neighborhood dodging the mosquitoes, hoping the sky would clear so we could at least take a walk to the beach or do something – anything – outside.  So intent was I on not being inside that I destroyed my virgin white Members Only jacket by spraying Avon’s Skin-So-Soft on it as the preferred bug repellent of the 80s. Read more

Trust Your Instincts

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Sometimes you just need to stop over-thinking and trust your instincts.

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving with my son.  Nearing home, I depressed the brake pedal and pulled the steering wheel toward the right as our car approached a turn.

Nothing happened.  The car kept going.  Shit, shit, shit.
Read more

Why Teenagers Occasionally Get It Right

 

Do teenagers have it right? Is sinking into your emotions, settling in among the swirling colored vortex surrounding you and whipping around you like a funnel cloud the way to make sense of things, the only real way to move safely through the angst and overwhelm of intense emotions?

I’m beginning to think so.

The universe seems to be speaking to me, and lately, in the precise moment I need something, it shows up.

A recent yoga class ended with an instructor anecdote about her son falling and hurting himself.  Listening, my brain started to tingle as she recounted how she had scooped him up and soothed him, not by simply holding him and allowing him to feel, but by jumping into the silence with words. As she repeated the phrase and advised that perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to jump into the silence of feeling and fill it with words, I felt like a cartoon characters with an idea, the light bulb forming above my head.

My yoga and meditation practices have been expanding of late without much obvious emotional change (except my increased patience!), but a while ago I noticed an uncomfortable pressure in my right lower back, directly to the right of my sacrum.  It felt like nothing so much as my pelvis needing to crack.  

During this particular class, the sequences presented were heavy on twists and hip opening sequences, and as much as I wanted to cry uncle and rest in child’s pose, I fought to focus and breathe through the discomfort.

Then, in the midst of an opening twist sequence, I started to cry.  No dainty, dignified tears for me.  These tears flowed down my cheeks like salt rivers, dripping off my jawbone and soaking my neck and shirt before I’d even worked up much of a sweat.  I wanted to hide, to hang my head and wipe away the wetness, but instead swallowed and kept going, breathing through the certainty that everyone could somehow hear my tears.

I kept crying throughout the class.  It seemed as if every time I opened my mouth that day, I cried more.  Talking it through with my sister, I realized that the uncomfortable pressure in my back had started two days prior upon awakening from a disturbing dream. I couldn’t remember the dream, just the fear I felt upon waking, my heart pounding as if I had just been chased. I had been trying to  decipher what it meant, but I hadn’t allowed myself to settle into the emotions because they were frightening. I felt threatened. 

Towards evening, the pressure began to lessen a bit.  The light bulb switched on and I realized that by trying to deny the fear and sadness I felt after the dream, I had inadvertently caused all the negative energy to gather in a ball in my lower back.  Only when I settled into moving meditation did my unconscious mind take over and allow the energy to ove through my body to release.

So I do think adolscents have this thing right: settling into your emotions, allowing them to swell around you and envelop you, really does seem to be the only way to get through them without being consumed by them. It seems to be the best way to release them so you can move on.  

My back seems to think so, anyway.

What’s in a Name?

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Linus

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Sabrina

Since I brought home my new kittens last weekend, more than a few people have asked about their names, Linus and Sabrina.

When I decided to get a male and a female kitten, I went on a hunt for a good “couple” identity in literature or popular culture.  So many of those I tried out were wrong because the story ended tragically (Heloise and Abelard), so many were wrong because the names would overwhelm babies and be unacceptably shortened to nicknames unacceptable for the regal cats into which these babies will grow (Antony and Cleopatra), and others came up short as too pretentious (Paolo and Francesca).

Cue my dad.

Although he couldn’t remember the male character’s name, he suggested Sabrina as played by Audrey Hepburn (and Linus played by Humphrey Bogart).  A fabulous film with a happy ending for its protagonists.

Hence, the kittens were named.

Welcome to the world, babies!

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