HOW TO FORGIVE YOURSELF FOR A BIG MISTAKE—EVEN IF NO ONE ELSE WILL

Editor’s Note: Well+Good, a website launched in 2010, bills itself as “the premier lifestyle and news publication devoted to the wellness scene.” Here are excerpts from its March 12, 2018 article on how to forgive yourself, let go of the past, and create a more meaningful feature. 


Photo: Stocksy/Artem Zhushman

You messed up big-time.  You feel awful and you want to make things right with the person you’ve hurt. You’ve finally worked up the courage to say, from the bottom of your heart, that you’re deeply sorry. But—surprise!—they don’t want to hear it. For them, the damage is done and their anger towards you is too strong for any kind of forgiveness.

It can be devastating for an apology to be denied, but another person’s forgiveness of you and your actions doesn’t have to determine how you continue to treat others—and, ultimately, yourself. Of course, that’s no easy task for many, considering we’re infinitely harder on ourselves than anyone else.


“I forgive” really is one of the most powerful phrases in the English language.                                                                                                       Aly Semigran, Well+Good


“When we break our own standards, a lot of times we won’t let ourselves ‘off the hook,’ so to speak,” says Robert Enright, PhD, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and author of Forgiveness Is a Choice. “Self-forgiveness is not a free pass to keep up the nonsense. It’s to restore your humanity to yourself, as you correct [the damage you’ve done].”

Okay, but how?

Apologize without expectations

Even if you don’t think the hurt party will forgive you, Enright says that apologizing is the right thing to do, and it’s an important step in the process of self-forgiveness.  “Seeking forgiveness and forgiving yourself go hand in hand,” proclaims Enright.

Make an effort to right your wrongs

You should also make an effort to right your wrongs—for instance, paying your roommate back if you’ve been sneaking money from her wallet. “You can set yourself free knowing you’ve done the best you can,” says Enright. “You can get rid of the resentment towards yourself, understanding that you are a human being, and try to see you’re a person beyond what you’ve done. You’re more than that action.”

Dive deep into your emotions with a therapist, friend, or journaling

Photo: Stocksy/Kim Jay

The cycle of guilt and self-loathing is far too easy a place to get stuck, sometimes for a very long time. And it can have a serious impact on your health—when you stay trapped in a shame loop, it can lead to issues such as sleeplessnessdepression, self-medication, and lack of proper nutrition and/or exercise. (Not to mention it’s a blow to your gut health.)

Enright suggests those on a journey of self-forgiveness try things such as going to a respected therapist, seeking out a friend or confidante, trying meditation  or mindfulness, or journaling to deal with ongoing emotions and thoughts.

Don’t get attached to the outcome 

While you’re working to forgive yourself, it’s important not to get stuck on the other person’s reaction to you. “Your forgiving yourself should never be [contingent on] what the other person does or says,” Enright says. “It’s the same thing with forgiving another: If I want to forgive another, but I have to wait for their apology, then I’m still trapped in that resentment.”

You don’t have to sabotage your own happiness when you do something terrible. Learn to forgive yourself.

Read the entire article: How to Forgive Yourself for a Big Mistake


Read other forgiveness articles on Well+Good:


 

Forgiveness: A Good Night’s Sleep Depends On It

On an average night, 60 million Americans cannot sleep. If you are one of them, here’s help.

by Jane Walsh

In today’s overworked and overstimulated world, getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done. In fact, 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Missing the recommended seven hours a night puts people at higher risk of developing obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.

The causes of poor sleep are multifaceted ranging from poor sleep hygiene to mental health issues — including, stress, anger, and resentment. Forgiveness therefore plays a crucial role in restoring health and happiness and getting a full night’s sleep.

Main causes of poor sleep

Poor sleep is often the result of poor sleep hygiene: healthy habits necessary for deep, restful sleep and optimal alertness during the day. Good sleep hygiene can include getting enough exercise and sunlight during the day, unwinding in the evening, and creating a peaceful and comfortable atmosphere in your bedroom. Additionally, shift work can cause frequent sleep disruption and fatigue. In this case, it’s essential to practice good sleep hygiene and stick to a sleep schedule that works for you.

Moreover, insomnia and poor sleep are frequently caused by psychological issues, such as, stress, resentment, holding grudges, and the desire for revenge. When you harbour these negative feelings, your adrenal glands release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. As a result, you’re too stressed, angry, and fired up to sleep.

The power of forgiveness for sleep

Whether you’ve fallen out with your other half or are harboring a long-term grudge against a relative, conflict and resentment can have a negative impact on your health — and consequently your sleep. Taking steps toward forgiveness can transform your health — it lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of heart attack — and will allow you to fall asleep easier for longer periods of time.

Forgiveness is such a positive thing for health largely due to its power to decrease or eradicate those negative feelings of tension, anger, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. When you choose to forgive, you let go of hostility, anger, and ideas of revenge surrounding past events. As a result, your body is allowed to heal. Stress hormones decrease and feel-good endorphins are better able to flood the body.

Ultimately, feeling resentful is a choice — one that negatively impacts your physical, emotional, and mental health. When you choose to forgive, your whole quality of life will improve. When your head hits the pillow, there’ll be no more mental barriers separating you from sleep.


About the author:

Jane Walsh is a freelance writer whose articles cover a range of topics that can only be described as diverse. Here are a few examples of her work:

“Cracking Down On Boiler Room Fraud – Self Defense Tactics To Fight Off The Crooks” Forbes, Sept 9, 2017

“Teachers Who Care Have the Potential to Turn Failing Students into Successful Adults” Nov. 14, 2017

“What Banks Do Not Want You to Know — The Huge Markup They Pocket on Your Currency Exchange” Sept. 24, 2017

“The DIY Generation Embraces Technology-Based Learning” Oct. 6, 2017

After spending more than a decade working as an emergency nurse and first-responder, and after starting a family, Jane took a step back and now spends her time working as a freelance content manager and writer. You can reach her at Jane.Walsh.Writer@gmail.com.


 

Cancer Patients Embrace Forgiveness Therapy and Other Self-Care Strategies

Making the Mind-Body Connection: Self-Care Strategies for Cancer Patients
by Brad Krause 

The importance of the mind-body connection is evident in the increasingly impactful role that mindfulness and spiritual belief play in helping cancer patients improve their quality of life. And a growing number of cancer patients are turning to alternative approaches that draw on the mind’s ability to moderate the body’s responses to illness.

There is a growing body of research, including research done by the International Forgiveness Institute, showing that mind-body approaches in oncological medicine aid the healing process; help patients with advanced cases of the disease cope with their condition and its devastating emotional effects; and help sufferers maintain a happier lifestyle and positive mindset. Self-care strategies and spiritual strength can also help alleviate depression, anxiety and fatigue, and even energize the patient.

Strategies:

Cancer patients have to cope with an overwhelming situation dominated by treatments that are often as unpleasant as the disease. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy cause nausea, weakness, hair loss and other side effects that keep the patient feeling sick. Fortunately, there are many powerfully-effective mind-body strategies that help the cancer patient maintain a healthy and efficacious self-care regimen.

Deep breathing 

Breathing deeply and mindfully helps establish the mind-body   connection. It’s a core component of yoga and many forms of meditation. Deep-breathing exercises relax you, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and enable you to focus on positive thoughts. Try breathing deeply and center on how it makes you feel. If you prefer, listen to calming music during your breathing exercise. You can also combine breathing with some form of physical exercise, such as walking, biking, or yoga.

Forgiveness and self-forgiveness 

According  to the respected health website WebMD.com, if you can bring yourself to forgive, you are likely to enjoy lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and a drop in the stress hormones circulating in your blood. Back pain, stomach problems, and headaches may disappear. And you’ll reduce the anger, bitterness, resentment, depression, and other negative emotions that accompany the failure to forgive.

While refusing to forgive may not directly cause disease, according to WebMD, the negative impact of holding on to painful memories and past wounds can weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to illness including cancer.

“It’s important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone’s reactions to the treatments — even someone’s willingness to pursue treatment,” says Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. “In fact, forgiveness therapy is now an integral part of treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.”

Watch a short video about the amazing power forgiveness has had on one woman’s life and her battle with cancer. “If I hadn’t learned to forgive,” says Jayne Valseca, a cancer patient who was essentially given a death sentence, “I may not even be alive today.” Watch the video here.


          “If I hadn’t learned to forgive, I may not even be alive today.”                                                                                                                            Jane Garcia Valseca


While not a treatment method per se, the act of forgiving yourself can free you mentally and emotionally so that you may best concentrate on healing. When you get cancer, you may blame yourself for smoking, eating the wrong foods, spending too much time in the sun…the list could go on forever. You question every decision you’ve ever made and punish yourself for the actions you did, or did not do, that might have contributed to your disease. By practicing self-forgiveness, you will gain an inner peace and the freedom to look to the future instead of the past.

Meditation 

Meditation is another self-centering exercise in which quiet and inner stillness focus one’s awareness. Meditation can help cancer patients manage nausea, pain and stress, and aid the body’s ability to heal by improving sleep and mood. Mindfulness is key to self-care in cancer patients, and few things help focus one’s energy and inner resources better than meditation. There are many forms of meditation. Some people concentrate on one part of their body, while others focus on a word or phrase as they meditate. Some meditative disciplines focus on controlling pain, while others are designed to help practitioners accept and cope with the physical changes their bodies are going through.

Image projection

The mind’s ability to project images with sensory qualities is another effective means of making the mind-body connection. Mental images can affect your senses, a useful exercise for people suffering the physical discomforts of cancer. Some patients combine their spirituality with meditation by concentrating on religious images. Patients with a strong sense of spirituality often gain a strong sense of well-being, which makes it easier to cope with the disease.

It should be noted that spirituality and religion are not interchangeable terms. Some people use religion to channel and focus their spirituality, while other patients consider themselves spiritual, though not religious, at least not in the formal sense of the word. A cancer diagnosis may cause some people to become religious, or to return to a religious practice they may have previously abandoned. Research has shown that spirituality is capable of enhancing the patient’s quality of life through renewed optimism and hope for a future free of the disease.

Cancer patients sometimes experience difficulty with prescriptive medications, as these are often used as necessary pain management. Incorporating self-care practices like deep breathing and meditation can help prevent cancer patients from becoming addicted to opioids during their course of treatment. The use of alternative therapies to create the mind-body connection has been proven effective at alleviating pain without an excessive use of prescriptive methods.

Cancer ravages the body in many ways. Its effects can also oppress the mind, impeding its ability to help patients deal with the symptoms of the disease. But alternative self-care therapies and spirituality can help marshal the power of the mind to mitigate the pain and physical misery of cancer. 


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.

Forgiveness, like Dr. Enright’s Model, should be Cultivated on National and International Scales

According to an editorial in the February issue of an international humanities journal, forgiveness interventions like Dr. Robert Enright’s 20 Step Process Model,  should be employed on a much broader basis and, in fact, national leaders should be assessing “when or how it might be appropriate to cultivate forgiveness on national and international scales.”

The influential American Journal of Public Health, continuously published for more than 100 years, further editorialized that:

“If forgiveness is strongly related to health, and being wronged is a common experience, and interventions. . . are available and effective, then one might make the case that forgiveness is a public health issue. . .

“Because being wronged is common, and because the effects of forgiveness on health are substantial, forgiveness should perhaps be viewed as a phenomenon that is not only of moral,  theological, and relational significance, but of public health importance as well.”


“Forgiveness promotes health and wholeness; it is important to public health.”      AJPH


The editorial cites Dr. Enright’s Process Model (also called his Four Phases of Forgiveness) as one of only two “prominent intervention classes” now available. “Interventions using this model have been shown to be effective with groups as diverse as adult incest survivors, parents who have adopted special needs children, and inpatients struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.

“Forgiveness is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility; reduced nicotine dependence and substance abuse; higher positive emotion; higher satisfaction with life; higher social support; and fewer self-reported health symptoms. The beneficial emotional regulation (results in) forgiveness being an alternative to maladaptive  psychological responses like rumination and suppression.”

Read the rest of this compelling editorial: Is Forgiveness a Public Health Issue?

Learn more about Dr. Enright’s Four Phases of Forgiveness


 

True Forgiveness Stories from Across Europe

While Dr. Enright is speaking at a workshop in Coventry, UK,  this week–as he calls it, “building bridges to make Forgiveness Education more accessible,”–here is a collection of forgiveness news stories from the UK and other European locations:

Dr. Enright’s Forgiveness Blogs In High Demand

One of the nation’s premier blog sites, Psychology Today, says the number of people who are reading blog posts authored by Dr. Robert Enright for its online journal has reached a record peak.

Dr. Robert Enright

Here are the number of views Dr. Enright’s blogs have tallied since he joined the website’s elite writing corps:

  • Last 7 Days – 5,956
  • Last 30 Days – 12,638
  • Last 90 Days – 31,257
  • Since Dec. 1, 2016 – 115,000+

Psychology Today is a New York City-based print magazine that last year celebrated its 50th year of continuous publication. Its online journal has gathered a group of renowned psychologists (including Dr. Enright), academics, psychiatrists and writers to contribute their thoughts and ideas on what makes us tick. According to the website, “We’re a live stream of what’s happening in Psychology Today.”

The forgiveness blog section on Psychology Today’s website is called “The Forgiving Life.” Here are links to just a handful of the 38 blogs Dr. Enright has produced for the site:

  Is It True That Forgiveness Is “Ridiculous”?
This provocative blog replies to the author of an Amazon.com book review who labeled Dr. Enright’s Model of Forgiveness “ridiculous.”
 Why Forgiveness Is Heroic
While he clarifies that not all people necessarily practice forgiveness in a “heroic” manner, Dr. Enright says many others forgive on a high level encompassing Aristotle’s concept of heroism as “greatness of heart.
  Five Reasons Why Your Romantic Relationships Do Not Last
Has this ever happened to you: A relationship starts and is filled with hope, only to end all too soon? Dr. Enright offers 5 reasons why this may happen and offers suggestions for breaking the pattern?
  Anger and Cancer: Is There a Relationship?
Research indicates, according to Dr. Enright, that intense, persistent, and suppressed anger may indeed be implicated in certain cancers such as prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers.
  Complete list of Psychology Today blogs written by Dr. Enright. 
Click the link above to access all the blogs Dr. Enright has written for Psychology Today.