Forgive and Be Freed

forgive-bible-quotesI have spent the past few days immersed in the concept of forgiveness.

I have two specific goals in mind:

  • To effectively apply it to a few ongoing situations in my own life, not to mention my overall personal growth
  • To analyze it from an objective viewpoint in order to answer the toughest questions about forgiveness, like why and how

Apropos that this analysis should happen now. Why, you ask? Because it is Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement for those of Jewish faith. It is a time to forgive and to seek forgiveness. Christianity, as well, holds forgiveness as a main tenet of the faith; it is a prominent topic in the New Testament of the Bible.

In reality, forgiveness is something we should be engaging in every day. Through prayer, through our actions, and our relationships with those around us. It can begin with the smallest acts.

  • Someone bumps you in the Starbucks and spills your coffee. Forgive it.
  • Someone steals your parking spot in the mall parking lot during a busy shopping weekend. Forgive it.
  • A friend says something awkward that hurts your feelings. Forgive it.

Stop and think about that. I know many of you might be thinking about what you would do to that person to retaliate. Who hasn’t at some point?  Why is that so easy to fight back, so to speak, and so difficult to just forgive it and let it go?

It’s difficult because we are human. As humans, our first instinct is to protect ourselves from injury, physical as well as emotional. We engage in “soft” protective behaviors, like sarcasm, cynicism, indifference. Many of these methods of protection are learned behaviors that have evolved as a means to shield us (in a socially acceptable manner) from the potential danger from others. After all, we can’t be out there punching or physically attacking everyone who slights us.

Every time we engage in one of these protective behaviors, however, we unfortunately deny ourselves the proven benefits that forgiveness can provide. MayoClinic.com has a great article called Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness that lists the benefits of forgiveness, many of which are proven in various scientific studies. Also, check out Forgive to Live: New Research Shows Forgiveness is Good for the Heart by Amy Westervelt. Benefits listed in both sources include:

  • Physical health, including sounder sleep, lower blood pressure and blood sugar spikes, and more balanced levels of blood cholesterol
  • Emotional health, in the form of reduced risk for depression and substance abuse
  • Psychological health, like healthier relationships
  • Spiritual health, like a stronger connection with yourself, other people, and your higher power.

freedom from cageThe best benefit of all is that forgiveness not only frees the other person from the burden of guilt, but it frees you to move on to bigger and better things. Because, while you continue to hang onto the pain of what someone else has done to you you allow that act and that person to have control of you. In essence, you cage yourself within a set of thoughts and ideas that have the potential to hold you down. Thoughts like these have a potential to gain strength and power, ultimately draining you of energy and holding you down tighter.

Who would want to live like that?

With all of the evidence and positive benefits, engaging in forgiveness on a daily basis is practically indisputable. Too bad it can’t be shrunk into a pill and prescribed. The health industry might make a fortune.

Until then, it’s a fully manual process, taken on by choice. As mentioned above, it goes against human nature to forgive injury. But, humans have been known to assume much more difficult tasks for fewer rewards and greater risk to themselves. Like climbing Mt. Everest or riding the Tour de France. If a human being can focus on a goal like that, for far fewer benefits and at much greater risk, why not something like this?

It’s all about choice.

Once you make the choice to forgive, the rest is intuitive. There is a great WikiHow document called “How to Forgive”. It concisely lists and details a bounty of good suggestions.

I really liked two of them:

  • Realize that the hate you may feel towards the person who hurt you probably doesn’t affect them the way you want it to
  • Stop telling the tale of how you were wronged

Forgiveness-is-unlocking-the-door-to-set-someone-freeOn this Day of Atonement, or every day, make forgiveness a way of life. Your mind, your body, and your family and true friends will thank you for it.

© 2010-2013 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Advertisements

The Dumping and The Spin

dumpingSo, you say you just got dumped? Friend, job, boyfriend, husband, wife…? That sucks and I feel your pain.

I am here to tell you that who or what did it to you is irrelevant. Really…and in more than only a literal sense.

What is relevant is that it came out of the blue like hot shrapnel, ripping through your perception of your very existence, your own reality. Drilling holes through your ego, your perseverance, your compassion, your memories, your stability.

Questions reel through your mind. Questions about why and what did you do wrong or what could you have done better.

Bottom line is that right about now, you may be lying in the dumpsite, crumpled and sore, wondering what just hit you and slowly awakening to a brand new kind of reality.

The pain, unfortunately, is still there. You are probably wondering when it will stop, but you would be happy if it would just dull down a bit.

It threatens to drag you lower as each day passes.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve been there and the pain isn’t going away soon, and it certainly isn’t going to feel better on its own.

Kick in the ass

A swift kick in the ass is due!

It needs a swift kick in the ass, from you.

If you want to get closer to less pain, you have to change the way you think about what has just happened.

When you change your mindset, you alter your approach. As issues of pain become non-issues, you can emerge from the devastation.

SpinIt’s time to put a positive spin on as many elements of the event as you can.

Let’s use a breakup as our example to illustrate only some possible symptoms of the pain you may be experiencing:

Positive Spin #1 – Are you nauseous and/or lack an appetite? If so, look on the bright side of it; you might be losing weight. Just think of how many months and hours at the gym it might have taken for you to lose that final 2 or 3 pounds.

Positive Spin #2 – Did you used to spend a lot of time and/or effort doing things a certain way to please your ex? If so, look on the bright side of it; you won’t have to worry about those anymore. Just think of all the free time you will have to pursue other things.

Positive Spin #3 – Are you losing sleep over it all? If so, look on the bright side of it; you now can use that free time to get caught up on movies, TV shows, or a good book that you missed before because you were wasting time with your ex.

Positive Spin #4 – Are you dreading the dating scene? If so, look on the bright side of it; you will now have the opportunity to meet and really get to know the other people in your life.

Positive Spin #5 – Are you distracted and unable to focus? If so, look on the bright side of it; you can use that lack of focus to delve into something creative and new – something that within the confines of the failed relationship would not have been possible.

Positive Spin # 6 – Are you feeling empty, possibly rejected? If so, look on the bright side of it; you can use the energy you generate from those types of thoughts to get connected with a stronger you and your higher power.

I think you get the picture now. And, I know I’ve missed a bunch of issues. Please feel free to comment if you know of other “spins” I might have missed here.

The takeaway from this post is that you can and will survive this. There is another side; a side that is brighter and more promising if you let it be.

And after you reach that side, there is an open door just beyond it, waiting for you to enter.

Open doorWhere God closes one door, He already has in mind another door for you that is so much better.

© 2010-2013 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Wondering Why

Today was a day of wondering why.

I have these days more often than I would like to admit. I go through my days in content oblivion… when… reality suddenly pushes me to the side and demands my attention.

My term for it is sudden-onset-reality.

Sudden-onset-reality has three main variations:

  • issues that I over-analyzed and chose a course of action knowing most of the pros and cons
  • issues that I analyzed briefly and was forced by circumstances to make a knee jerk reaction to (damning all resulting torpedos)
  • issues that I was totally unaware even existed

Regardless of what variation my sudden-onset-reality takes, it hurts the most when it is the result of the inability of people to be forthright with each other. These individuals portray a façade of themselves, or of a situation; a façade that is less offensive and more resilient than what they feel on the inside.

It’s one of the ways humans survive every day. It’s a defense mechanism. Everyone does it to a certain degree.

Unfortunately, this approach inevitably results in others taking actions or making decisions upon basically flawed or faulty information, that, had the truth been told, might have resulted in a completely different choice of action. Possibly an even better one.

I don’t spend time judging anyone over it as I don’t want anyone to judge me. I just keep moving forward as best I can and setting my standards to a level that suit me and keep me sane and honest.

Today, a bout of sudden-onset-reality caused me to wonder why other people don’t, or can’t, operate the same way I do. Even as I can intellectualize the reasons, I still found myself musing about it:

  • Why can’t I expect other people to operate truthfully?
  • Why is it so difficult to be honest with someone who is being honest? (I would think that would be easy)
  • Why do people, especially in a business arena, operate under the assumption that others are being duplicitous, even when there is no previous track record to substantiate that?
  • Why is truthful until proven otherwise so difficult to grasp?
  • Why are the standards of truth and transparency so scary in personal relationships?

Each of the answers to my questions boiled down to one element: fear. Fear of rejection, fear of intimacy, fear of abandonment, fear of commitment.

My take on it is if there is fear, there is naturally more reason to misrepresent thoughts, ideas, words, and actions. On a personal level, if a person is fearful on the inside, thus misrepresenting emotions or thoughts inwardly, how can that person be fearless, and hence truthful to others on the outside?

Probably not with ease.

My easy solution: be strong and courageous, eliminate the fear, and be free to be forthright and truthful.

I know, easier said than done.

© 2010-2013 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Passion For Running Part 2: Know Why

life-quotes-what-where-why[1]

Once you determine to make exercise, running in this case, your priority, the next step is to know why.

There could be many “whys”: to lose weight, to get healthy, to run a marathon or compete in some other competition, to meet the hot guy who lives down the street and runs shirtless through your neighborhood every morning.

th[9]Your “why” might be one of these, or several of them. The key is that you know what it is.

Knowing why you are running not only provides you with a critical focus, but it also is the first step to establishing smaller, more attainable goals. This focus, and the ensuing goals, creates a final destination and a path to that destination. Without this focus, you might easily lapse back into old habits and get lost along the way.

I think of it in terms of traveling. What is the first thing you do after you decide to take a vacation, whether a long summer holiday or a weekend getaway?

You decide on a destination.

That destination could be someplace exotic and halfway around the world, or it could be someplace close. Either way, you have to figure out where that “someplace” is. Once you decide where, you can then work on how, which will include the path you travel to get there and what you visit along the way.ef-enjoy-ur-journey[1]

Have you ever taken a drive without knowing exactly where you intend to end up? What happens? You meander. Sometimes you run into sights and experiences that are pleasant, but many times you spend so much time figuring out which road to take and where it will end up that you sacrifice some of your ability to relax and enjoy the trip.

Another way to think about this is in terms of learning new things. It could be a new software application, a new skill, or simple everyday tasks. When I am confronted with learning something new, it helps me to know why I am doing that particular task.

  • I have to save a new document in Word before I get to the end because if I forget I will lose all that work if my computer freezes.
  • I put fabric softener in the rinse cycle because it makes my clothes smell fresh(er).
  • I get regular oil changes on my cars because they will run better and last longer.
  • …and, for those moms out there, “But Mom, why do I have to go to bed so early?”, or, “Mom, why do I have to brush my teeth. I don’t want to.”

Knowing why can also help you express, or even defend, your choice. There are those in my life who question why I exercise so much. Some of the concerns are wear and tear on my aging body, time away from my motherly duties, money spent competing. If I didn’t have a strong commitment to my “why”, these dissenting opinions might serve to weaken my will, or lead me to second-guess my choice.

life-in-unisel-unisel-7th-convocation-graduation-quote[1]I run and exercise regularly because it helps me stay fit, which helps me feel better both physically and mentally. When I am not exercising regularly, I eat more and consequently feel sluggish, not to mention that I get extremely cranky when those endorphins are not coursing through my brain in a steady, strong stream. Don’t even get me started on what happens when I am PMSing AND not exercising regularly. Better watch out!

As you might have concluded, making exercise your priority goes hand in hand with knowing why you are exercising. You have to have your focus set before you can push yourself out of bed, or away from the computer, to go out and run even on those days when you don’t feel like doing it.

So, what is your why?