There are important reasons to forgive others who have hurt us or caused us pain, turmoil or stress.
While we may feel justified in holding onto any pain we experienced, the act of forgiveness is a powerful gesture for ourselves.
Why is it difficult to forgive?
Whenever we have an experience that affects our identity in some way, it can have significant long-term effects. It can be difficult to come up with reasons to forgive others because:
- We feel violated or hurt in some way.
- We experienced mental, emotional or physical pain.
- We believe we are no longer the same person as a result of an event.
- We believe something should or shouldn’t have happened.
- An experience or event becomes part of our identity or story.
- It’s easier to hang onto our pain than deal with it and find a solution.
The Costs of Not Forgiving
Even though we may have experienced significant pain, not being able to find reasons to forgive others will continue to affect us. If we choose not to forgive, it can:
- Affect our health and well-being, which can manifest itself as physical pain, illness, anxiety or depression.
- Place additional strain or stress on our relationships.
- Affect our ability to concentrate.
- Impact our ability to make intelligent decisions.
- Lower our self-confidence and optimism for the future.
Learning how to stop judging ourselves is a valuable thing we can do for our emotional and mental well-being.
Judgment is a toxic or dangerous habit. We’ve been conditioned to judge others based on religion, race, gender, culture, biases, personal preferences and interests in life.
We tend to judge ourselves more than we judge others. This often comes down to our level of self-esteem and self-confidence. The more we judge ourselves, the more we will judge others, because human behaviour suggests that whatever is going on inside us, will be expressed externally in some way.
The Costs of Judgment
Every time we judge ourselves, we will:
- Decrease our level of self trust.
- Erode our confidence.
- Lower our motivation to do things.
- Affect our effectiveness and productivity.
- Not be in a positive frame of mind.
Judgment is a habit that does not serve, therefore we have to adopt some new mindsets in order to free ourselves from it.
Whenever we’re judging ourselves, we always have a choice to respond differently.
Recently, an email subject line from an online expert caught my attention as it mentioned dealing with a midlife crisis.
As I read through his article, it got me thinking whether midlife crisis was something to be concerned about. It made me realise it’s something we’ve been led to believe can happen during the middle stages of our lives.
Whenever midlife crisis is mentioned, most times, it relates to a male dealing with some change in their life.
I remember once during a job interview, I was asked about my studies and what I wanted in a career. I didn’t know what I wanted out of a career at that time. The interviewer mentioned it was not uncommon for people to have two or three major career changes. That commented has always stuck with me.
What is a Midlife Crisis?
A midlife crisis usually refers to a transition a person goes through during the middle stages of their life. It typically affects people between 40-64 years of age.
It usually brings up certain emotions, which can be likened to an internal turmoil or conflict they experience. That may be triggered by certain events or the realisation they’re in the second half of their life. This often means they’re getting closer to death.
The Effects of a Midlife Crisis
If not dealt with or managed well, it can lead to:
- Low motivation for extended period of time
- Additional stress.
It can also result in rash decisions being made, which may create additional challenges later on.
Stress is part of our everyday lives. We experience and respond to stress differently.
What one person considers to be highly stressful may be very manageable to another person, therefore we should evaluate each situation on its merits. No matter what we consider to be stressful, one thing that’s common is whenever we generate negative emotions as a result of feeling stressed, our decision-making ability will be affected.
How Stress Affects Your Decision-Making Ability
Interestingly, making a decision can be perceived as being stressed in itself, however there are some common patterns when we make decisions under high stress.
- We tend to more consider positive outcomes rather than also consider negative outcomes.
- We pay more attention to positive information and discount negative information.
- We find it more difficult to control our urges as we focus more on the rewards rather than the consequences.
- We may take risks without fully considering all options and scenarios.
- We will not operate or behave as we normally would.
The amount of stress we experience will affect the way we make decisions.
The people we associate with on a regular basis affect our mental and emotional states, and also determine the quality of our lives.
When we are young, we don’t have much control over who we spent time with, as we tend to be with our families or school friends. Once we grow older, we can choose who to spend time with based on what we’d like to achieve, experience or do in life.
The reality is not everyone is a positive influence, so we have to seriously consider removing people from our lives, if we believe it’s a better choice for us.
Even though people may not intentionally be negative or unsupportive, it’s not for us to try and change them or their behaviours. While it’s useful to be a positive influence or role model, sometimes we have to acknowledge that some people are stuck in their own ways and we have to do what we think is best for us.
It may not be easy to remove people or let them drop out of our lives, however it’s important to know why it will be beneficial to not be around them as much.
It comes down to choosing what we think is best for us and being willing to go through with it.
As part of our ongoing mental health and growth, learning to identify our emotional triggers and manage them better, is really important.
The better we can manage our emotional triggers, the less reactive we’ll be, which means we’ll not let external events or conditions affect us in a negative way.
What is an Emotional Trigger?
An emotional trigger is something that brings up certain feelings within us. These feelings may be positive or negative.
We naturally prefer to experience positive rather than negative emotions, so it’s valuable to know what triggers us to have negative emotions. Examples of negative triggers include:
- Being rejected by someone.
- Having one of our personal values violated.
- Being ignored by someone.
- Someone blaming, shaming, criticising or judging us.
- Being controlled or threatened by someone.
- Not being included in a decision that affects us in some way.
There are many things that could be added to the list that can triggers us, which is why it’s important to learn to identify them and also be aware of them when they’re actually happening.
Dealing with a big change in life can be difficult, however there are effective coping strategies that can make the process easier.
As we go through life, we experience many changes that can involve our health, relationships, finances, career or where we live. Instead of being resistant to it, it’s more beneficial to accept that change is a part of life and learn to deal with it better.
The Stages of Change
In their book, Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward, authors James Prochaska, John Norcross and Carlo Diclemente share six stages we go through when dealing with change.
These stages are:
- Pre-contemplation — this usually involves denial and being resistant to a change. A person will tend to make up excuses or rationalise they don’t have a problem and there is no need to change.
- Contemplation — this is when a person first acknowledges they may have a problem and starts to seriously consider changing it. However, they may not be quite ready to make the change.
- Preparation — this is when a person has decided to make a change and starts going through the process of preparing themselves to do what will be required.
- Action — this is when a person will move forward based on their preparation. They start taking the steps required to make the change.
- Maintenance — this is where a person will work to consolidate or maintain the gains they have made from taking action. Their focus is to continue moving forward and prevent lapses back to old behaviours or patterns.
- Termination — this is where a person has achieved success, provided there hasn’t been any lapses or relapses. They now have a new self-image. If they have experienced a relapse, it’s an opportunity to recommit and learn from what they have experienced.
When dealing with change, it’s beneficial to keep these stages of change in mind, so we know where we’re at and what to expect in order to give ourselves the best chance of coping with it, and eventually succeeding.
When we worry, we’re either living in the past or in the future, and not fully experiencing the present moment.
We’ve all had experiences where we’ve worried about something, whether it was before an exam or a meeting, or after a certain event. Have you noticed it’s really hard to worry about the present moment?
Say for example, we’ve been worried about a particular meeting leading up to it, but once we’re in the meeting, we can only deal with what we’re experiencing in the present moment. While there may be a sense of nervousness in the moment, it’s very rarely worry.
Why Do We Worry?
Worry is a common emotion that does not serve us, most times. While we may know that on an intellectual level, we still worry. Some of the reasons include:
- Fear of the unknown.
- Self-esteem issues.
- Fear of what others think or of being judged.
- Putting focus on ourselves and how we feel.
- Using it as motivation to do something.
We experience the emotion of worry because certain things trigger certain thoughts, which then causes us to feel a certain way.