My friend, Margie, is upset with one of her parents. I can see that she would benefit from forgiving. Yet, she will not listen. What do you suggest that I do?

You do not want to pressure Margie into forgiving. At the same time, you do not necessarily want to ignore your friend who could be better off psychologically by considering forgiveness. I recommend that you be aware of Margie’s inner pain. When she expresses that pain (as fatigue or bodily tensions or deep anger), you could focus on that pain and ask her if she has a way of reducing or eliminating that pain. If she has no effect strategies in mind, it is then that you might consider suggesting forgiving as a way to get rid of the pain. I have found that pain is a great motivator toward healing and forgiving is one path to that healing.

Self-Care for Your Mental Health

Editor’s Note: The significant benefits of forgiveness are of little use to you if you aren’t around to embrace them. That’s where self-care comes in. Here are some basic tips from Brad Krause–self-care guru, writer and life coach–on taking better care of yourself. 

Self-care encompasses all the actions you do every day to keep yourself in good health, such as exercise, eating well, and brushing your teeth. However, it also includes the smaller, overlooked things you can do to help with your mental health. These are not always obvious to us, so it is useful to reevaluate our habits and routines to gear them toward a happier, less stressful life.

Take Time to Relax
This is perhaps the most important act of self-care you can do for your mental well-being. Set some time aside every day for unwinding but be mindful of what you choose to do. For many people, relaxing means binging a TV show, playing a video game, or browsing the web, which does not allow us to truly unwind.

This is why taking just 15-20 minutes to sit in absolute silence and focus on your breathing can be extremely beneficial for your well-being. If you can, create a dedicated space in your home for this, away from distractions and other people. Make it as comfortable and soothing as possible and make sure no one can interrupt you during your mindfulness practice. More information at: How to Design the Perfect Meditation Room.

Get Enough Sleep
For years, doctors have seen insomnia as a symptom of many mental health disorders, but according to Harvard Health, it could be the other way around. A lack of sleep can lead to mental health issues, and yet many of us continue to neglect our sleep habits.

Take the time you need to wake up and subtract eight hours. That is the time you should be getting into bed. From that point, all electronics should be banned because they can make sleeping difficult. For an extra touch, use a relaxing pillow mist or aromatherapy oil to lull you to sleep.

Learn to Say “No”
If you are a classic people-pleaser, consider whether your eagerness to help others is affecting your mental health. Being generous, helpful, and unselfish is a wonderful thing, but not to the detriment of your well-being.

Before saying “yes” to any request, consider the following:

  • Do I want to do this?
  • Do I have the time and energy to do this?
  • Is this person taking advantage of me by asking this?
  • Could this person easily solve the problem themselves?
  • Is this a one-off favor?

Depending on your answers, you may have to say “no.” Be firm but polite and do not let other people guilt you into changing your mind. A friend who tries to do this is not a good friend.

Let Go of Emotional Baggage
If you are holding onto past grudges, let them go. Leading thinkers throughout history have espoused the value of forgiveness in their lives, and for good reason, as Dr. Peter Breggin outlines in “How Forgiveness Can Change Your Life.” Studies have shown that forgiveness can have a positive impact on our physical and emotional health (see “Why Forgive?”), as well as helping us get into a more positive mind space.

Get Offline
According to Time Health, negativity bias is a phenomenon in which we tend to be drawn to news that will upset us. When you combine it with the decline of print media, it’s no wonder our Twitter and Facebook feeds seem overrun with terrible, anxiety-inducing news. At the same time, we tend to compare ourselves to the highly curated lives we see on sites like Instagram, which leaves us feeling terrible.

In this day and age, it can seem impossible to fully get offline, so just aim to consciously reduce your consumption of news and social media. When you catch yourself scrolling mindlessly through a feed, force yourself to stop and go do anything else.

Many of these bad habits have become ingrained in our daily lives and in the way we interact with the world. It takes some introspection to identify these negative patterns, and a lot of hard work to change them. However, the effort is well worth it.

Commit to taking better care of your mental and emotional well-being, work on forgiving anyone who has ever harmed you, and you will find yourself happier and more open to exciting new opportunities. 


More self-care articles from Brad Krause:


About Brad Krause:
After four years in the corporate world working 15-hour days, 6 days a week, Brad Krause demonstrated the ultimate act of self-care by leaving his draining, unfulfilling job behind. He now spends full-time helping others as a self-care guru, writer and life coach (SelfCare.info). He sums up his vision by saying, “We all have the potential to be the best versions of ourselves we can possibly be, but it comes down to prioritizing our own wellness through self-care. And that’s what I’m here to help people discover!”

You can contact Brad at Brad@selfcaring.info.


 

Expanding Our Forgiveness Horizon

As we forgive one person, look what happens: a) We start to forgive others; b) We embody forgiveness, wanting to give it away to others; c) We see each person as special; d) Because forgiveness is part of love and beauty, we begin to love more deeply and to see the beauty of the world more clearly.

Forgiveness does not lessen what happened; it alters how we view the person in spite of what he or she did. It can alter how we see the world and how we interact with others. Forgiveness can give us our life back. It can be an offer to those who acted badly to change their lives so that love and beauty are expanded in their world as well.

Robert

My friend Samantha betrayed a secret I told her. It took us awhile to get back together. Believe it or not, she did it again! Do I have to forgive her for this second one?

You use the words “have to forgive.” Your decision to forgive is yours and so please do not feel grimly obligated to forgive immediately. It could take time because you obviously are angry. This second betrayal seems to be even more painful than the first one because your friend knew how much the first one hurt. When you are ready to begin the process of forgiveness, you will know. You might want to start the process of forgiving before you approach Samantha about this second injustice and how it has affected you. I say that so that you can approach her with patience and civility.

I am wondering about this situation: One of my friends, Alex, was offended by another of my friends, James. In the process of working their way back to each other (and I was present for this), James also pointed out how Alex was partially at fault for their tensions and conflicts. I agree with James. Yet, Alex refuses to believe that he has done any wrong at all. How can we convince Alex that he is partially at fault?

The short answer is that you may not be able to convince Alex. I do think it is a good idea to point out, gently, Alex’s complicity in the tensions. Yet, his acceptance of this is his call. He seems to need time and may be in denial. Denial as a psychological defense can take time to weaken. If he feels even slightly guilty, then this is a good opening for him to explore the possibility of his contributing to the conflicts. If both James and you realize that denial takes time to dissolve, then your patience may pay off in a restored relationship.

When Evil Seems to Be Having Its Way

Lance Morrow: “Evil possesses an instinct for theater, which is why, in an era of gaudy and gifted media, evil may vastly magnify its damage by the power of horrific images.”   If this is true, we need forgiveness all the more in our times.

Forgiveness is not justice and therefore focuses on effects, not direct solutions to injustice.  When injustice reigns, it surely is the duty of communities to exercise justice to counter that which is unjust.

Yet, what then of the effects of the injustice?  Will the quest for and the establishment of justice in societies suffice to cure the broken heart?  We think not and this is where forgiveness is needed for those who choose it.

Is there a better way of destroying the damaging effects of evil than forgiveness?  As a mode of peace, forgiveness is a paradox because at the same time it is a weapon, one that fights against the ravages of evil.  By destroying resentment, forgiveness is a protection for individuals, families, groups, and societies.

Robert

How can I convince my stubborn roommate that he needs to get counseling help so that  he can forgive his ex-girlfriend? He is distracted and very angry.

I admire your intention to help your roommate overcome his resentment. Resentment often can get so painful that it becomes the motivator to seek help in forgiving. Yet, this decision to forgive or not rests with your roommate. It is his call; it is his choice. You could gently ask him what the level of his emotional pain is. If he gives you a truthful answer that it is high, then you might suggest that you have a possible solution to that inner pain—Forgiveness Therapy. Even then, he needs the freedom to either accept or reject the suggestion. Does he truly know what it means to forgive? If he is misunderstanding what forgiveness is, then this could be an impediment to his seeking help.