When Forgiveness Means Saying “Enough!”

by D. Patrick Miller

Over the years that I’ve been teaching and writing about forgiveness, the most common misperception I’ve heard about this spiritual discipline is that it means taking a weak or non-assertive stance toward the world.

People fear that if they forgive someone who has hurt them, or let go of resentment about a hurtful experience in their past, that they will open themselves up to being hurt again.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Properly understood and practiced, forgiveness is the key to increased clarity, power and creativity.

That’s because forgiveness is really about learning how to make your own mind work more effectively. It may begin with releasing a grievance against someone, but in doing so you also begin liberating your mind from patterns of self-punishment. And nothing dulls the mind more than habitual self-attack.

Many people who struggle with depression or even just a “normal” dissatisfaction with life are mostly unhappy with themselves — perhaps for reasons they don’t even recognize — and are hooked on finding targets in the world to take on the blame. It’s a common strategy that never works. Forgiveness means confronting one’s own malaise, resentment, and self-induced misery and saying “Enough!”

One common but often unrecognized cause of chronic unhappiness is living a life in which useful learning has slowed to a stop. And learning is slowed less by lack of intelligence than by a reluctance to let go of bankrupt ideas and exhausted ways of seeing. That is why some problems never seem to go away even when we can sense that solutions are possible, yet somehow just beyond our grasp.

When you feel cursed by fate, look to your own stubbornness; when you seem blocked by others’ stupidity or meanness, question your own perception and the way you communicate. When nothing seems to work, consider whether you have correctly identified the fundamental problem behind your struggles. The object of your blame will always prove to be less of an obstacle than your decision to blame.

When you’re always ready to blame, you will tend to be fearful. You expect to get hurt so you do, and every time you assign blame you also hand over some more of your power. Forgiveness replaces the need to anticipate fearfully with the capacity to accept gracefully and improvise brilliantly. It does not argue with fate, but recognizes the opportunities within it. If necessity is the mother of invention, forgiveness is the midwife of genius.

A forgiving state of mind cannot easily be annoyed, and does not waste time arguing with the unexpected.

This doesn’t mean that the forgiven life is simple or untroubled, and forgiveness certainly does not prevent misfortunes. With practice, however, forgiveness does reduce the severity and frequency of the misfortunes that we tend to arrange for ourselves.

Thus, you can forgive not with the idea that you are doing a favor for someone who hurt you, but that you are being merciful to yourself. To carry chronic anger against anyone or any circumstance is to poison your own heart, injecting more toxin every time you replay in your mind the injury done to you.

If you decline to repeat someone’s offense inwardly, your outward anger will dissipate. Then you can more effectively tell anyone who hurt you how things must change between you. But you must first learn to say “Enough!” to yourself.


D. Patrick Miller is an author and literary agent living in Northern California. You can contact him at www.fearlessbooks.com.

10 Brave Acts That Helped Me Transform from Powerless to Powerful

by Michele Rosenthal

At some point every person on earth has an experience that, whether it happens at five months or fifty years of age, teaches the shocking lesson: You possess less power and control than you thought. For me that tutorial happened when I was thirteen years old. In September 1981 in a hospital on the Upper West Side of Manhattan I survived a rare allergic reaction to a medication that turned me into the equivalent of a full-body burn victim. Through indescribable pain and an out-of-body near-death experience I came face to face with the cold hard fact of my own powerlessness.

When I was finally released from the hospital I had changed from a happy child into a terror-stricken adolescent. By the time I was in my late 20s my world was a disaster. Self-destructive behaviors, poor relationship choices, an inability to focus a career or hold a job and frequent emotional meltdowns led to a completely empty, sad and stalled life. Over and over the fact of my powerlessness brought me to a standstill until, perched on the edge of despair, I decided to reclaim control.

So many experiences downshift us from a sense of self-efficacy to a sensation of reduced self-worth, limited (if any) self-esteem and an inability to self-protect. Ultimately, triumphing over these little and big T traumas requires daily choices and repetitive actions that catapult us from powerless to powerful. Anyone can start this process any time.

10 Brave Acts That Helped Me Transform from Powerless to Powerful

If you’re ready to make the shift try these ten ideas; they helped me recreate my whole approach to the world.

  1. Find a reason to believe in yourself: You have at least one good quality that makes you worthy of change. Identify and honor it.
  2. Establish a reason to hope: What’s the reason you think change might be possible for you? Focusing on hope creates an attitude of flexibility that enhances creativity and helps maintain momentum.
  3. Open yourself to change: Imagining success can be challenging; the first step is being receptive to the possibility of it actually happening.
  4. Make a comfortable choice: Reduce the sense of overwhelm. Success happens when you approach change through a process that feels manageable.
  5. Take a small action: Forget the big gesture; small gestures accrued over a period of time lead to greater success.
  6. Build a support system: Having an accountability structure and a feeling of camaraderie makes the tough moments easier to bear.
  7. Identify what you want to change: In personal transformation clarity is a must. The more you can imagine what you want the more your brain starts finding ways to achieve it.
  8. Make a wishlist of desired outcomes: Sustain motivation by keeping your eye on what you will experience when the hard work of personal transformation is accomplished.
  9. Commit to being dedicated and persistent: There will be setbacks and unexpected outcomes; resign yourself to follow through at all costs and despite any perceived obstacles.
  10. Give yourself permission to succeed: You are the only force that can hold you back. Pledge to allow yourself to move forward by deciding you are worth it.

It took time for me to use these steps to perfect my personal transformation, but the effort and ups and downs of self-creation were well worth it. At the end I shot forth from the process like a cannonball with a sparkly fuse: I was forty years old and finally fearlessly engaged in creating who I wanted to be, how I wanted to live, and identifying what I could do that would make a difference in the world. Almost a decade later, those intentions and choices continue to guide my professional and personal lives.

We don’t have to live a “less than” life; we simply have to choose to create a different way of showing up every day. For too long I turned inward toward pain and fear; I allowed powerlessness to dictate who I was and how I lived. Now I reach out, connect, transform and create with people around the world. I am worthy. I matter. I love. I live with a strong sense of calm, confidence, meaning and control. So can you.


Michele Rosenthal is a popular keynote speaker, award winning blogger, award nominated author, workshop/seminar leader, and certified professional coach. She hosts the radio program, Changing Direction, and is the founder of HealMyPTSD.com. Michele is a trauma survivor who struggled with PTSD for over twenty-five years (she is now 100% PTSD free). She is the author of Before the World Intruded and Your Life after Trauma (W.W. Norton).

9781573246378

Making Grief Mindful

By Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW author of Hope & Healing for Transcending Loss

No one wants to feel pain.  Let’s face it – it’s painful!  In our western culture, we are especially skilled at avoiding uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings.  Our society supports us in hiding our feelings, offering a full range of numbing opportunities:  alcohol, drugs, eating, shopping, gambling, and assorted digital devices for our addictive consumption.

Mindfulness – the practice of nonjudgmental present awareness — is often promoted in the mental health field as the golden ticket to resilience and inner peace.  Mindfulness practices are said to soothe anxiety, lift depression, minimize chronic pain, and reduce stress.  The problem for grievers is that mindfulness asks the griever to be present with the very thing that they’re trying to avoid.  So what can mindfulness do for the heart-searing pain of losing a loved one?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

Being mindful allows the griever to feel and observe the pain without being swallowed by it.  The act of being present with pain, being mindfully observant, is healing.  Such presence allows the painful emotion to surface and shift.

Making Grief Mindful

I have worked with grievers for 25 years and I know that a mindful attitude toward the process of grief is tremendously important.  I find that the following 3 mindful strategies help the griever navigate painful terrain.

If you or someone you know is grieving, use these 3 guidelines.

Intention

Set a daily intention to be with your grief for a period of time each day. Take 5-15 minutes to just ‘be’ with your feelings.  Set your intention to welcome the feelings, to learn from them, and to be open to finding the wisdom embedded within the process.  Remember that taking the journey through grief is the way to heal.  Mindfulness is also about cultivating loving kindness toward yourself, so know that as you create the willingness to feel, you also want to recognize that you are courageous in doing so.

Attention

Pay attention to the natural rhythms of emotions. Notice the waves that ebb and flow.  See grief rising and falling, washing over you and receding.  Watch where the pain lodges in your body.  Do you feel it in your throat, your heart, the pit of your stomach?  Become an expert of your personal process by paying attention to the subtle changes in each feeling.  Grief has movement to it.  Remember that you are not your feelings – they are like cloud formations passing across the broader sky of you.

No tension

The less you resist your feelings, the less you will suffer. Resist  and you will suffer more.  In fact, stuffing your feelings takes a toll; it exacts a price from your psyche.  So surrender to your natural feelings and know that doing so is a part of a healthy response to grief.  Watch with tenderness as you encounter each new feeling.

Know that pain has a purpose.  It’s part of the healing journey.  The awareness and acceptance that are hallmarks of mindfulness help those struggling with grief to ride the waves of emotion and ultimately redirect their pain toward emotional and spiritual growth.


Ashley Davis Bush, LICSW is the author of 6 self-help books, including Hope and Healing for Transcending Loss.  She is a psychotherapist, grief counselor, and a Huffington Post contributor. 

9781573246675

Our April Titles Are Coming!

April is always a great time of year. Spring (finally!) makes it’s appearance on the east coast, warmer weather sets in and we can finally be outside. And what goes great with being outside? Reading a book! With seven titles coming out in April, there should be something for everyone. With titles ranging from surviving three near-death experiences, to raising a husband, learning how to grow older better and finding out the truth behind your sun sign, you’ll have plenty to read until our May titles come out!


9781573246361How to Survive Life (and Death): A Guide for Happiness in This World and Beyond)

Robert Kopecky

An Emmy-nominated art director for television, Robert Kopecky never dreamed he’d end up writing a book about how to survive life and death. But what else could he do? Over the years, Kopecky had not one but three near-death experiences. He discovered exactly what lives on the other side of our fears about dying–and living. And he had some stories he knew we’d want to hear. Even some very funny ones.

Read this book and you’ll find yourself uncoiling, relaxing your shoulders, taking deeper breaths. You may even feel like you’re floating as you begin to shed the weight of a lifetime of social and existential anxiety. And you’ll find the calm determination to live your life accordingly.

(Conari Press)


9781573246354How to Raise a Husband: A Whole Bunch of Ways to Build a Strong and Happy Marriage

Tonilyn Hornung

Completely nag-free, How to Raise a Husband offers a unique approach by incorporating the honesty of six experts (real wives) with one unifying voice (the author’s) to assist and entertain, all the while providing deep and valuable insight into the less-talked-about issues of marriage. From honest communication to knowing the difference between when to compromise and if you are compromising yourself, and how to know when it’s appropriate to wear your Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader uniform, How to Raise a Husband gives practical advice and encouragement on marriage that will unite women across the globe.

(Conari Press)


9781571747037Getting Older Better: The Best Advice Ever on Money, Health, Creativity, Sex, Work, Retirement and More

Pamela D. Blair, PhD

Pamela Blair, a psychotherapist in her 60s, has a few things to say about aging. Open this book to any page and find one of over 100 brief, kickstarting essays and journaling questions for moving into your third act with a sense of adventure and possibility. Blair offers dozens of practical and motivational ideas for handling everything from health and libido to the death of a spouse, money, legacy, and more.Let Pamela Blair will guide you through the thoughts and feelings about aging that may be dragging you down. Let her point the way to a different, optimistic and clear eyed, way of getting older—better.

(Hampton Roads Publishing Company)


Bad Birthday.inddBad Birthdays: The Truth Behind Your Crappy Sun Sign

Sarah Christensen Fu

Revealing the truth (whether you like it or not) about your star sign, Bad Birthdays uncovers the true quirks, oddities, and unpleasantries that characterize your unlucky sign of the zodiac and rule your destiny. When it comes to love, do you think that watery Pisces are naturally romantic lovers? Think again—if you’re unfortunate enough to have a relationship with a Plagued Pisces or a Contemptible Cancer, you’re in trouble. Reference the relationship sections to rate your compatibility with other star signs, or at least highlight where the cracks are going to show.

(Hampton Roads Publishing Company)


The State Is Out of Date: We Can Do It Better 9781938875069

Gregory Sams

Does anyone really think that politics is working–aside from those in power and behind it? What if living together in peace and harmony is a more natural condition than that we experience in today’s conflict-driven culture? We are community animals with built-in empathy, good at organizing things and helping each other out. The most essential and reliable features of our culture arose without top-down planning by a state that has one basic objective–to stay in power. We have enjoyed enduring civilizations in the past governed wholly from the bottom-up, without need of a shepherd and sheepdogs. We can do it again – and are more connected than ever before.

(Disinformation Books)


9781573246316The Language of Healing: Daily Comfort for Women Living with Breast Cancer 

Pat Benson and Linda Dackman

This wise little book of 150 meditations is like a breast cancer support group. It is exactly what a woman recuperating in her hospital bed or during any of the other milestones of treatment and recovery might need—the advice and wisdom of other women who have preceded her in confronting breast cancer.

Gathered here are moving reflections, anecdotes, and practical information for women concerned with or diagnosed with this disease. Built upon the experiences of women of all ages–women who have undergone all types of breast surgery and treatments from lumpectomy and mastectomy to radiation and chemotherapy; women who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay–the reflections touch upon topics as universal as fear and grief and as intimate as sex.

(Conari Press)


9781571747112Children of a Living Universe: Discovering Our Legacy Will Change Our Future 

Paul Von Ward

Children of a Living Universe is a call to action unlike any other you may have encountered. According to cultural historian and cosmologist Paul Von Ward, the time has come for human beings to reassess just about everything we believe about our ancestry and global past. Drawing upon forgotten prehistory, clues from the world’s esoteric traditions, and new research in consciousness, Von Ward asserts we are more powerful beings than either science or religion has led us to believe. He exhorts us to embrace a bold, new model of human existence, one that explains our celestial origins, multidimensional capacities, and destiny as conscious co-creators of a self-learning and self-correcting universe.

(Hampton Roads Publishing Company)

Mark Nepo on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday this weekend!

If you haven’t yet seen Mark Nepo on Super Soul Sunday, now’s your chance! Tune in this weekend to the OWN network to watch Super Soul Sunday’s marathon to see both of Mark Nepo’s episodes.  And if you’ve already seen them, we encourage you to relax and enjoy them again!

The episodes will be airing on the OWN network at the times below:

6 PM: ‘The Big C’ – Healing Body and Soul

7 PM: Listening to the Soul

Mark and Oprah
Mark and Oprah