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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The Inner Game of Tennis – Love vs. Fear

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Dealing with change and finding the positive silver lining hidden within our experiences are tough life lessons to be learned.  It sounds pretty straight forward but when you are really in it, it takes every ounce of energy and focus to actually do it.  Easier said than done right?  Sometimes it feels like these life lessons and difficult decisions are being launched like tennis balls out of a cannon one after the other with no break in between to catch our breath while we use our racquet as a shield.

From what I have seen with many people, myself included, letting go or surrendering to what is can be the hardest life lesson to swallow because it’s scary and unknown.   Should I stay or should I go?  Should I control the situation or just accept it as it is? Will I choose to be a victim or a victor?  We fight to hang on and we fight to let go.  It’s that constant back and forth rally in our minds that keeps the Wimbledon inner game of tennis alive.

Is letting go giving up?  Not at all, it’s actually quite the opposite.

Caroline Myss wrote something that shook me to my core when I read it and I will share it with you.  When someone says “I want to get out of this circumstance, but I’m too afraid.”  She is betraying everything in her heart.  She’s making choices that are harming her and that’s why she’s hurting.  Her intuition is trying to tell her that.   When your life begins to harm you, know that you have taken a detour from your true path.  You are no different from the people who hurt you.  People know when they have betrayed themselves because the little voice inside says “You’re still with that person; why didn’t you leave?”  Your intuition speaks the truth that you don’t want to hear.  It also says “You’ve done everything you can so it’s time to let go and surrender.”

Wow.  “I am no different from the people who hurt me.”  That was a huge light bulb moment and reading that was enough to make me want to let go.  It’s bad enough that someone or something is hurting you and by ignoring your own heart, you are hurting yourself on top of it.  Double punishment hurts.  I love Caroline Myss and her perspectives.

It’s been a tough match so far, that inner game of tennis is almost finished and silence is everywhere.  What will your next move be?  Time to focus, your opponent Fear is about to serve.

What a perfect opportunity to discover a new and unexpected strategy in your game.  By releasing someone so they can be where they need to be, do what they want to do and be with whomever they want is actually an act of love and courage on your part.  Trust and respect yourself and let them go.  Let them be the destructive one, you be the kind one.   In that exact moment, you become more peaceful and free and you create the much needed space in your life for bigger and better things to come flowing in.  It leads you to the next.  Ah, finally the silver lining; acceptance and happiness.  And the crowd goes wild…

We all have our “stuff” we are dealing with but that doesn’t mean we can’t find our joy along the way.  Even a caged bird can find something to sing about.  And when you do find the courage to surrender to change and let go, you will fly like a free bird and think “why didn’t I do this sooner?”  Not only that, the tennis balls will stop flying at you and you will have victoriously won the match.

Congratulations…Love always wins.  At least at this game.

Tennis anyone?

“The longest journey you will make in your life is from your head to your heart.”  ~ Gary Zukav

 

Much love,

Jennifer

The Art of Grieving

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Whether we loved a family member, a relationship or a job, the loss is something to be acknowledged and the grieving process is absolutely necessary to be able to reach the other side.  The most famous author on grieving is Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  Not only has she written books for the general public but they are textbooks for the medical profession and for those working in palliative care.

When it comes to grieving a loss, there are generally five stages that appear and re-appear without much warning.   They don’t always go in order and they can reappear out of order so it’s important to keep this in mind and know that it’s normal if they don’t follow a certain path.  Grieving is very personal and everyone handles it differently which is why it’s important to have a good support system to help you recover.  The reason we grieve is because we cared and loved which is reason enough to deal with the situation so we can move on in our lives in a healthy manner.

The first stage is Denial.  The person who is grieving the loss of a loved one, a relationship or a job could be in denial by feeling like they just can’t believe it.  They feel shock and numbness.  In the person who is dying, they could feel disbelief and may go about their life pretending that an illness does not exist.  In the person who has lost a relationship or a job, they may act like nothing is/was wrong.

The second stage is Anger.  This emotion can be directed at your loved one who is dying because they didn’t take better care of themselves or it could be directed at yourself that you didn’t take better care of them.  In the person who lost their job or a relationship, anger may be directed at how they were treated or mistreated.  Many thoughts and feelings of anger come up here and you question yourself incessantly.  However, anger is a necessary stage of the healing process because it gives us the drive and energy to move on.  Be willing to feel it, the more you do, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal.  Because anger can be so consuming, having a good support system of friends and family around you is critical and if that is not enough, professional support is always available including support groups.

The third stage is Bargaining.  Before the loss it may seem like you will do anything to spare your loved one like “Please God, I will never be angry with my daughter again if you’ll just let her live.”  After a loss, bargaining might look like “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others, then I can wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream.”  Sometimes guilt is bargaining’s roommate.  We remain in the past trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt.  We ask ourselves the “what if” and “if only” questions in this stage but in reality, our loved one is truly gone.

The fourth stage is Depression.  This is where our attention moves from the past into the present.  Empty feelings are deeper than we could ever imagine.  It is not a mental illness it is an appropriate response to a great loss.  This is where people often withdraw from life and wonder “Why go on at all?”  Sadness blankets us and we cry more than we ever thought possible.  But perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once and awhile so that we can see Life with a clearer view again.  Tears don’t always have to win.  The positive side of this difficult stage is that depression can slow us down and allow us to take real stock of the loss.  It makes us rebuild ourselves from the ground up.  It clears the deck for growth by taking us to a deeper place in our soul that we would not normally explore.  It promotes you to the fifth stage.

Acceptance.  The ability to accept the permanent reality that your loved one, a relationship or job is physically gone.  It doesn’t mean this is okay or right, but you can just accept it.  You learn to live with it and readjust yourself and your roles.  Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad.  You may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives.  You re-invest in your friendships and relationships with others and with yourself.

I have grieved a loss many times in my life, I know the process is never easy or smooth.  It hurts and it feels long.  However, what I can tell you is that time is your best friend and you need to allow yourself off the hook for everything while you go through this transition and give yourself the time to do so.  It does get better with time, that I know for sure.  Sometimes we beat ourselves up on top of our loss which only makes us feel worse in the end.  By treating yourself with care and understanding rather than judgment, knowing you’re not alone and being mindful of your emotions, self-compassion is the light that casts out darkness in our minds.  Talk to yourself as if you are talking to a friend who is suffering.

The other side of pain is comfort, the other side of fear is love, the other side of unpleasant is beauty.  Keep moving forward and focus on the positive side because what we put our attention on, we get more of it.  In this case, focus on comfort, love, and beauty.   Just remember that if you falter, it’s okay, you are only human and know you can rise and try again when you are ready.  You can do it.

Loss, is very personal and so is the journey to recovery, it starts from within.  If we can embrace the grieving process instead of running away from it and be kind to ourselves when we feel at our worst, that is the beauty in the art of grieving.

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“New beginnings are also described as painful endings.”  ~ Lao Tzu

“People are like stained glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”  ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

~ By Jennifer Juneau, Registered Nurse, Life Coach

The Butterfly Emerges

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“How do you become a butterfly?  You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”  ~ Trina Paulus

Author and cancer survivor Mark Nepo says the things we hold dear in our hearts like a relationship, an identity, a dream or an ambition acts like a cocoon.  When the butterfly emerges, the cocoon has served its purpose.  It doesn’t mean it’s false, it means it served its purpose just as everything in life serves as a purpose.  Therefore our relationships, identities, dreams and ambitions are often cocoons that lead us to the next.  The problem is when we are so attached to these relationships, identities, dreams and ambitions, we come in conflict when it breaks or falls away that we don’t see what it’s opened us up to.

Have you ever been in a relationship or a situation that has served its purpose and you know in your heart it’s time to surrender and let go?  It hurts to even think about it breaking away or never returning.  We’ve all been there.  Just the angst of making that decision to leave can be the biggest struggle of our lives just as the caterpillar struggles in becoming a butterfly inside the cocoon.  This inner process takes time and all the work that is being done is from within, it just needs the time and space to do this on its own.  Similarly, we need to work from within to find our inner strength and make changes in our own lives. After having gone through this struggle, not only does it make you stronger, it transforms you.  Like the butterfly, when you finally emerge from the cocoon and come out on the other side after having made that decision, you are so powerful and beautiful.  The cocoon which represents a relationship or situation has now served its purpose.  It is time to surrender and let go.  This process cannot be rushed, nor can anyone do this inner work for you.  For an observer, as difficult as it may be to stand back watching and waiting for this final moment to happen, you must be patient and let nature take its course.  Even the sun and rain support the process which can represent our own support systems like friends and family, we are all connected.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives to emerge us into the next great opportunity.  They strengthen us, connect us and can even make us fly.  I have learned freedom from struggling and I am very grateful for this teacher.   ~ J.J.