Light A Candle Instead Of Cursing The Darkness

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We are all victims of circumstance but we have a choice of remaining in victim mode or stepping out of it and living our life.  Sometimes we can see trouble coming and other times it catches us right off guard sending us into a downward spiral but either way, we need to decide if we want to be happy or not.  Initially, it’s natural to feel great disappointment, hurt and grief but it’s not healthy to live there permanently.

Things happen, I’ve seen trouble coming and it has also knocked me off my feet, leaving my head swirling and my heart broken.  However, I cannot and will not let that define me.  When I read this quote, it was like I heard music and corks popping out of champagne bottles!

 To me, darkness represents being deeply disappointed, the hard times, handling tough emotions, the struggle, the pain and even change.  Everyone defines it differently depending on what they’re going through.  When you think about it, if you try to navigate through the dark without any light, it’s very difficult to see where you’re going or what is right in front of you.  You might bump into things, trip over something or even worse, stub your toe which only causes more pain.  The other thing about darkness is that it seems to hide us well.  Maybe people like the dark for that reason alone.  They don’t want any help so they don’t want to be seen.  The question comes when that same person endlessly criticizes or complains about their situation but doesn’t do anything to make it better; cursing the darkness.  Or maybe they just want to be found by someone, be seen, heard and understood.   After all, we all crave connection.

The simple act of shedding some light on the subject can change the entire space where darkness lives.  You can see what and who is around you, what is ahead of you and that feeling of being on edge is less.  It’s a more comforting, positive response, a new perspective.  Igniting a spark inside you is an action step in moving forward because you are no longer thinking about making it better or wishing for it, you are making the effort and doing it.  Lighting a candle could mean reading positive daily affirmations, finding activities that bring you joy and doing them as much as possible, practicing gratitude even in the dark moment, trying to find the hidden life lesson inside your situation or reaching out to your support system to help you and accepting their help.  It can also mean stop denying and start feeling the pain because the only way out of it is through it.  When you decide to do this, your mind shifts from controlling to allowing and your body shifts from stress to peace.  It doesn’t magically disappear but it certainly becomes more manageable.  Having an open mind and an open heart changes a negative into a positive with an intention to do so.  Darkness is a wonderful teacher that helps us grow through personal development because without darkness there can’t be light.

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All of our life’s tragedies big or small have their time and space for darkness.  Just keep in mind that at some point, you will need to turn on a light to be able to see clearly instead of wishing it wasn’t so dark.  It’s time to live in the joy zone.

Much love,

Jennifer Juneau

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The Gift of Forgiveness

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What is forgiveness?   It is making a deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you.  It takes a strong person to say “I’m sorry” and an even stronger person to forgive.  Forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees them from their own anger and deeply held negative feelings. It empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.  In essence, it’s about giving up the hope that the past could be any different and accept that something happened.

The opposite of forgiveness is revenge.  This negative emotion is never sweet and can literally tear you apart.  If you get revenge on the person who harmed you, they may no longer suffer depending on the revenge but either way, it will have a direct impact on your life where you will only suffer more.   Some people say the best revenge is just moving on and let karma do the rest.  What are your thoughts on that?

Confusion about forgiveness is when we think about forgiving someone who has harmed us, we believe we are saying to that person it’s okay what they did and we’re letting them off the hook or giving up our control. This isn’t true and it’s not about accepting bad behavior.  We might even see ourselves as a doormat.  When you forgive, you do not wear rose-colored glasses or deny the seriousness of what happened to you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.  Maybe some of you reading this blog have felt this way and I have to admit I did for a long time too.

Forgiveness comes in its own time and shouldn’t be rushed so if you are struggling with forgiveness then it’s not the right time and that’s okay.  When you do feel ready to forgive, try to recognize the causes that led that person to act as they did and this can help facilitate the process of forgiveness.  I am currently on my own journey of forgiveness and I understand how difficult it can be, you are not alone.

Why should we forgive?  Here are a few things I have discovered about forgiveness.

  • It makes us happier
  • Improves our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health
  • Sustains relationships worth saving
  • Self-esteem, confidence and self-worth return at a higher level
  • If we don’t transform our pain, we transmit it to those around us
  • When you forgive you don’t change the past, you change your future by rising above what happened. It’s life changing for the better
  • Sets you free from that person and their negativity, you take your power back

How do we forgive someone who has harmed us deeply?  This is where the rubber fails to hit the road.

  • Accept and process your anger even though it’s difficult, be patient
  • Acknowledge your revenge fantasies, they are just that
  • Forgive yourself it’s crucial to your healing
  • Try to see a common humanity between you and the person you are trying to forgive
  • See them with a compassionate eye. They’re only human just like you
  • Realize the cure for pain and suffering is where personal growth and development can arise. This is usually a time where you might see the silver lining in your situation
  • Forgetting about it and pretending it did not happen is not forgiveness

In the beginning, it’s really hard and it takes so much strength to forgive.  To change the world, we need to change our mind.  Hanging onto these negative emotions ends up hurting us in the end.  When you don’t forgive, you keep that wound open and you inflict more pain on yourself which isn’t healing for you at all.

Forgive them even if they aren’t sorry and even if you never get that apology.  I know…that’s a tough one.

When we struggle with being right or being happy, we are still struggling with forgiveness and that’s okay.  We need to discover how to get out of our own way and stop holding ourselves hostage because we end up blocking the flow of happiness in our life.  After all, on the other side of forgiveness is a personal freedom which is amazingly beautiful.

Forgiveness happens when we stop holding a grudge and let go of our right to resentment for being mistreated. It doesn’t mean we stop protecting ourselves but it does mean we let go of emotional retaliation which only hurts us in the long run. Carrying around revenge in your heart will only weigh you down in negativity. It takes more strength to be able to forgive but what you resist can persist and that is no way to go through life carrying around this unnecessary baggage. Say it for yourself and move on, you are actually giving yourself a gift of peace by doing this.

True forgiveness is a gift to ourselves, the other person doesn’t need to be present or even know we have forgiven them because forgiveness takes place in our minds and in our bodies.  We do it for ourselves so we can be at peace and live our best life, free from negativity.  By letting go of the past and surrendering to what is, you create the process of emptying your mind. The only way to stop the vicious cycle of reacting to pain by causing more pain is to step out of the system by taking a step back.

Most importantly, we need to allow our hearts fill with compassion and learn how to forgive ourselves.  This might be more difficult than forgiving another human being because we are so hard on ourselves.   Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  Your best teacher is your last mistake so it’s important to learn from it so it is not repeated in your life and then move on.  Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you are a mistake.  Try and be self-compassionate.

Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.  Trust yourself and forgive them.

I wish you all the very best on your journey of giving yourself the gift of forgiveness.

“By owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.  And when we own the story, then we can write the ending.”  ~ Brené Brown

 Much Love,

Jennifer Juneau

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Being Enough: Fitting In vs. Belonging

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“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
~ Brené Brown

I am slightly obsessed with Brené Brown and if you have never heard of her before, allow me introduce you to her.  She has a Ph.D. in Social Work and has been studying shame, courage and vulnerability for over fifteen years now.  She has appeared on TED Talks, Oprah and has written inspiring books such as The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are and Daring Greatly:  How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.

One of my favorite chapters she writes about is on fitting in vs. belonging.   They are not the same thing and one gets in the way of the other.  They are two sides of the same coin.

Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted.   It’s the disease to please.  It’s chasing down some acceptance and worthiness so we can feel better about ourselves.  “I will feel worthy when…” or “I’ll be whoever or whatever you need me to be, as long as I feel like I’m a part of this.”  It’s an uncomfortable feeling. Remember high school?

Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.  True belonging only happens when we present our authentic selves, imperfections and all.  It’s about self-love and self-acceptance and embracing who we are.  Essentially, it’s the act of courage and unconditional love for ourselves.  You know when you belong somewhere or with someone because you can feel it in your body.  You feel loved at peace and free.

Therefore, fitting in gets in the way of belonging.  It’s the gremlins that set up camp in our heads that tell us “you’re not good enough.”  It’s hard to feel worthy of love and belonging when you listen to this little monster.   The truth is, love and belonging means uncertainty but they still go together.  And according to Brené, those who have a strong sense of love and belonging, have the courage to be imperfect.

I found this concept really interesting because many people believe that fitting in and belonging are the same thing when in fact they’re not.  My question to you is this; are you living your life according to fitting in or belonging?  The next question is why?  Sometimes you just have to say “enough already” and let yourself off the hook.

Much love,

Jennifer Juneau