Grateful by Practice.

We all go through times when we are living in darkness and feeling the brutality of intense pain either physical or emotional. We usually receive sympathy (not good), if we are lucky we get empathy (so much better), sometimes we receive nothing. It is indeed during these dark times when we may hate zen advise the most. We may get to hear things like: “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”; “What doesn´t kill you makes you stronger”; “Someone else is happy with less than you have”, etc. Yes, we know these phrases to be true but we are not up for it when in the middle of a storm.

Nevertheless, there are phrases that do help, because they are practical. I particularly like: “I will practice gratitude to access joy” (Brené Brown).

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It is my opinion that being optimistic about the benefits of a new habit while also being realistic about how difficult building the habit may be, is the key to success. Being able to recognize the obstacles (mainly the pain and darkness felt at the moment, amongst others) that may get in the way is absolutely necessary.

In this case, we must accept there is no other way to get to be grateful (even if we definitely don’t feel like it) than to practice. People who are grateful even in the most difficult situations, weren’t born that way, they worked hard to be so and even they failed many times.

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Always reach out for help and support during times of hardship, darkness and pain.

It’s easier to be grateful during good times. I am still practicing being grateful during the hard ones. Would you?

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

(Images from the internet)

 

 

 

 

Challenge accepted!

As I’m writing this, my oldest daughter is saying goodbyes to her high school friends in our backyard. She is leaving for college next week.

Joy, grief, change, and time have all conspired to dramatically alter the inner landscape of my being.  What once was familiar and solid seemed foreign and out of balance for a while. It’s been quite a journey.

I dare describe change (for me) as something inevitable, desired and feared, refreshing, and uncomfortable at the same time: A challenge. In this case, there was only one thing left for me to say: “Challenge accepted!”

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When we spend our years taking care of everyone else, suddenly stopping and being there for ourselves may get really uncomfortable. You see, when we are busy enough and distracted enough, covering up emotions and feelings turns out to be a much easier task.

After being forced to deal with health issues, I have aimed for a slower/quieter life these past couple of years. Consequently, I have made time to mourn myself as I was and as I am no longer. Also, I have made time to mourn for what will never be again: My family’s dynamics have changed dramatically for good. In solitude, I chose to feel and confront, to desire and fear. Mourning is complicated and cannot be rushed, but it’s the only way forward.

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What threatened to be diminishment has, in the end, turned out to be growth: evolution. I chose this and worked hard on it (I’m still working hard on it). I’m grateful for the chance to live through this whole process, I had a chance to stop, look within and relearn that it is ok. In a way, it’s been a relief to let everything fall away; to let go of my usual beliefs, opinions and expectations in order to let the new, refreshing surprises unfold.

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It’s only the beginning and it’s been amazing, profound and (even though painful) it’s been thoroughly enjoyable. After all, it’s a fact that every life event prepares you for the next one, so I am now ready. Bring it on!

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

 

A not so simple opinion on forgiveness.

This was one of my first blog posts. I wanted to share it with you again. I would love to hear your opinion on forgiveness…

We all get hurt one way or the other. Such is life. It is the way we react that counts, or so I’ve heard. The truth is we need to forgive constantly in order to move on. In fact, we tend to forgive small things on a daily basis without even noticing. But when a major offense (or group of accumulated offenses) like abuse, serious lies, betrayal or any action resulting in a major loss comes crashing our way, the reaction is different. It may be immediate or it may take some time but we feel hurt, confused, vulnerable and  sadness, resentment and anger explodes within us.

 

 

 

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We have a problem now, besides the offensive act commited againts us I mean. We click into survival mode and find that pain and resentment are so uncomfortable that we try with all our might to put those feelings and emotions away, bury them and forget about them. This process may last hours, days, months or years. The subsequent effort in denying what we feel may create health consequences. Now, this may not be true for some people, but for some people it is. It happens that our heart knows, our soul knows and every cell in our body knows that we are in pain and that we are unable to forgive at the moment, and our whole being acts accordingly, even if our mind says otherwise.

Permanent unforgiveness causes chronic stress. Our feelings and emotions are alive and if buried, they will try to find a way out. This chronic stress response causes our body to release cortisol and excess insulin, to say the least, which results in short term or long term health issues that may include: low immune defense system, indigestion, weight gain, inability to loose weight, excess weight loss because of malnutrition or malnourishment, headaches and even depression.

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It is important to notice that forgiveness of a major offense will not take away the pain and resentment right away. Forgiveness is the switch that turns the power of healing on. Healing is a process, a slow one sometimes, which would be easier to undestand with an example of physical injury. Such may be the case of a person  riding a motorcycle when, suddenly, a newly licensed texting and driving teenager hits this person. They rush him/her to the ER and after a month in intensive care, this teen comes to see this person looking for forgiveness. This is a nice person, so compassion fills his/her heart and he/she forgives the kid. Did this person got out of the hospital the minute he/she forgave? Did the pain go away? Did the broken bones heal instantly? No. Healing will be a process of months, maybe a year or more. He/she will have scars, maybe for life and will need therapy, probably. But this person will go on and life will be good again someday because he/she is strong and just helped the recovery proccess by forgiving the kid for everything.

When a person is devastaded on the inside, the healing process may be slower than a physical one. It may take an hour, a day, a week, months even years but forgiveness always starts the healing process.

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Time doesn’t heal everything, it can make it worse actually, specially if we don’t forgive. So we have to choose either to forgive, let go and start healing or to resent, hold, bury and start affecting our health. So, forgiveness becomes a self care decision. We don’t forgive for the offender, we mainly forgive for our own self. Because we should love ourselves enough to care for our own well being. Because we live once and do not want to waste away life. Because we want to help our body, soul and heart to let go and relax in order to have a good working metabolism, better health and live in the best way possible.

It is so important to take our unresolved emotional and psychological issues into account when there is a physical health problem and viceversa. Forgiveness is key, it is within our reach and it is so worth it.

Choose to be kind and grateful. 

Images from the internet