Forgiveness – The Best Remedy

Cover of "Forgive and Forget"
Cover of Forgive and Forget

God said there are no limits to forgiveness towards others or ourselves – and there is a common saying that forgive and forget without holding any grudge.

If you have experienced intensive hurt, been a victim of hate or abuse, lost loved ones to crime and violence or you have been treated unjustly, chances are, you have entertained unforgiveness.

Examine this scenario : Family member kidnapped, many chased from their homes, home and belongings destroyed, your life is threatened and thousands of your people or tribe members are killed and thousands more are displaced and have to live in makeshift camps as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). A good example is what happened in Kenya, in East Africa, when tribal violence occurred after the election results were announced in the year 2008 elections.

How does one come to terms with this degree of pain? Can you imagine witnessing such atrocities carried out by mighty forces? How do you even begin to deal with this state of horror.

It is a tough choice, yet difficult as it is, The Almighty in his divine wisdom has called upon His children to find it in their hearts to forgive.   Forgive? Yes forgive. He also promised to walk you through it. Our finite minds cannot wrap itself around this concept but because many is more than physical we are more than conquers.

What is the meaning of forgiveness? 

According to the dictionary, the word forgive means “to give up resentment of or claim to requital for. To grant relief from payment.” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition). “To give up desire to punish; stop being angry with” ( Webster’s New World Dictionary, 3rd College Edition).

Why should I forgive – you may ask

I would suggest that you consider this : forgiveness brings healing while unforgiveness causes more pain. I am not saying that it is easy, but at some point you need to decide whether to continue to imprison yourself or to enjoy freedom.

If you have been hurt or you may have caused someone pain, I would like you to know that forgiveness is available to give and to receive.

So if you forgive, all you are doing is giving up you resentment ,anger, and desire to punish. But why should you forgive these things up? Because resentment and anger and the desire to revenge will hurt you more than they will hurt your enemy, and in fact can cause heart disease, cancer, and a host of other malaise. More subtly, and just as bad, resentment, anger and revenge can control you. They can steal your creative energy and indeed your time and attention, so that you deviate from your path in life and end up going out of this world without having the opportunity to establish the purpose for which you were born.  With this in mind, one becomes much more motivated to forgive.  But your motivation will increase even further when you consider the following.

Notice that nowhere in the definition of forgiveness is there any indication that you must be happy about, condone, or approve of what happened to you. You can in fact disapprove of and hate what happened to you. All you have to do is to let go of the resentment, anger, and the desire for the revenge that, in fact, cannot change the past or help in the future.

” Yes! Easier said than done,” You rightfully think. But here is some more motivation : There is justice in the universe, only, thank God, it’s not your job to meter it out.

Everyone pays dues 

In my view, in the long run we can’t  get away with anything in life. There is, it seems to me, and invisible law of nature that assures that somehow, in some way, in life everyone gets what is coming to him or her.

A psychological theory called ” psychological determinism ” introduced by Sigmund Freud proposes that each psychic event is determined by events that went before it. In other words, according to the theory, there is a psychological chain reaction to everything we do.  The way I see it, this chain reaction can play a part in causing those who have committed misdeeds sooner or later to attract to themselves a punishment of sorts, in other words, a payback.

The Bible talked about this same principle way before the word psychology was coined. The Bible puts it this way, “reaping and sowing.” When a farmer plants sorghum, he expects to have sorghum grow up. He “sows” or plant a given seed and, being intelligent, he naturally expects to “reap” sorghum. The biblical teaching of reaping and sowing is just that simple. It indicates that a person will, in time, get exactly what his or her behaviour was merited. The biblical writer of Galatians 6:7 says: ” Be not deceaved; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

In short, there is a built-in, orderly system in life, says the biblical writer. Everyone will get what is coming to him or her in the long run. To quote Proverbs 26:27, “whoso digeth a pit shall fall therein; and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.” Had the person not dug the pit with the aim of causing someone else a damage, he would be in no danger of falling into it himself, it is only because he took the action of digging the pit that he can possibly fall into it.

And he will fall into the pit, according to the proverb. But why? Probably because in his unconscious mind he feels guilty about having dug the pit with the intention of harming someone else. It may be that this guilt,  demanding relief  in the form of punishment, causes him to stumble into the pit himself, something like the impulse that prompts the criminal to return to the scene of the crime,  and get caught.

The second part of the proverb is a repetition of the first, a reaffirmation of the idea of self-punishment caused by the unconscious guilt one has for misdeeds. If you roll a stone with the intention of harming someone, the stone will eventually roll back on you. Drug dealers often die violently at the hands of other drug dealers in the process of committing a crime. Those who physically, sexually, and/or mentally abuse others, like in the case of Post Election Violence in Kenya in the year 2008, (mentioned above), may suffer psychological torture all of their lives, and so on.

But why, exactly does this self-punishment system work psychologically? Psychologists  like Franz Alexander believe that one hypnotises oneself for punishment, so as to balance the scales. It is almost as if one cannot relax or breathe easy until those scales are balanced – despite the fact that balancing those scales must mean self-punishment. In other words, it may well be true that it is impossible to hurt others without hurting oneself. Like the analog of a prisoner in a chain-gang who cannot push another prisoner away without hurting himself.

Could there be an unwritten law implanted within the minds of men and women, a law that insurers justice? It would be amazing if it were as simple as that? I believe that psychologists and biblical writers have hit the nail right on the head. The fact that it is not your job to get revenge. Romans 12:19 says, ” Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” This is a liberating idea! We don’t have to do the job. We can allow ourselves to be releaved from the burden of resentment and anger. Justice will be done – and we don’t have to be the ones to meter it out.

Think of all these spiritually, think of it psychologically, but think of it: You don’t have to waste your precious energy hating and holding grudges. It is much healthier and much more productive to let it go and believe that there is a built-in justice in the universe. I believe that in the long run, everyone gets what is coming to him or her.

 

 

Healthy Self-esteem and Low self-esteem

Perhaps no other self-help topic has spawned so much advice and so many conflicting stories as self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem gives us the ability to make positive choices regarding our career and our relationships, and gives us the assertiveness and confidence to work towards our goals. Overly  healthy self-esteem is not healthy, however, as it can lead to a sense of entitlement, as well as bullying and narcissistic behaviour. A lack of self-esteem can lead to a life of putting up with abusive situations or relationships, depression and lack of fulfilment. Our personalities, according to Sigmund Freud,  emerge out of our struggles to meet our needs in a world that often frustrates these efforts. Our self-esteem develops, grows and changes according to our success, or failure in that struggle and often self-defeating ways we attempt to cope. With the tools of mindfulness, however, we can improve our self-esteem while finding new and healthier ways to get our needs met.

What is low self-esteem? 

The core beliefs that formed your sense of sself-worth as a child are just that – beliefs. They’re  not necessarily true or accurate. They are only your opinions, and as opinions, they can be changed.

Healthy self-esteem and low self-esteem are two sides of the same coin. They both activate certain rules for living that either help you or hurt you.

According to Marilyn Sorensen, the director of the Self-esteem Institute in Portland, Oregon,  low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which individuals see themselves as inadequate, unacceptable, unworthy, unloveable and just incompetent. These beliefs create thoughts that tend to be negative, self-critical, self-blaming and full of self-doubt. And these thoughts consequently affect our behaviour, leading to destructive patterns of avoidance, denial criticism and defensiveness that lower our self-esteem even further.

Low self-esteem is a basic tendency to place one’s value in the hands of others, rather than trusting and believing in our own evaluation of ourselves. When your self-esteem depend on other people’s views of you, it only makes it more fragile. Thoughts follow that are also irrational and distorted, causing you to have difficulty knowing who to trust, inciting fears and anxiety in new situations or assuming other people think negatively of you as you do.

Low self-esteem affect every aspect of our lives, from our career choices to friendships with friends, family and loved ones. All too often we don’t even realise that our low feelings of low self-worth are affecting us because they are largely subconscious, quietly influencing the choices we make and creating a life that leaves us feeling unaccepted, unworthy and unloved.

Learning to recognise and identify the symptoms of low self-esteem in yourself is the first step, some of these symptoms can include:

  • depression
  • disencouragement
  • fear and anxiety
  • emotional shutdown
  • panic attacks
  • social anxiety
  • eating disorders
  • lack of effectiveness
  • passive aggression
  • people-pleasing
  • controlling behaviour

If you have a low self-esteem you:

  • compare yourself negatively with others
  • Are anxious, stressed, and worry a lot
  • Need others approval
  • Fear speaking up at meetings
  • Fear confrontation with others
  • Are shy to talk with others you don’t know  Focus on your shortcomings in the past
  •  Have doubt about your worth

What is healthy self-esteem? 

Building healthy self-esteem comes from learning to value ourselves and not depending on other people’s opinions of us. This dependence on approval causes us to keep trying to get love and acceptance from people who are unlikely to give it, thus perpetuating our negative beliefs about ourselves.

People with healthy self-esteem don’t worry about what others may be thinking of them- they assume others think as well of them as they think of themselves. They speak their minds and express themselves openly without fear or judgement, rejection or ridicule.

If you have healthy self-esteem you:

  • Learn from past successes and look forward to future successes
  • Care for yourself physically, emotionally and mentally
  • Create goals in your life and work towards them
  • Appreciate your positive qualities
  • Accept responsibility for your actions
  • Have confidence that you can accomplish things, even if it takes more than one try.
  • Feel capable of meeting life’s everyday challenges
  • Are happy and sure of yourself

Caring for you is one of the characteristics of having a healthy level of self-esteem. You can nurture yourself to create more happiness in your life and raise your self-esteem. Take care of your body, be eating healthy foods, doing enough exercise and getting regular deep sleep.

Focus on positive emotions by shifting negative feelings that uplift and encourage you. Change your thoughts by talking to youself in a loving manner.

One of the most common ways people experience low self-esteem is in the way they consider their body image. You must reconnect with the positive aspects of your body while appreciating real beauty that is on the inside.

 

The Power of Self-esteem

Writing about the power of self-esteem is an emotional undertaking because it forces me to remember how hard I struggled for my self-esteem as a child growing up and through my early adult life. It was a long hard journey, yet, having done it myself, and having come out of the other side of the tunnel  ( for surely there is light at the other end of that tunnel ), I feel that I can be of a help to you.

I can encourage you to ” struggle for your sanity ,” as it were, if self-esteem for a moment can be equated with sanity and mental health. I can encourage you to engage in this battle because if you do, you will eventually win. You will raise your self-esteem. The day will come when you will finally say, ” Whew, I am actually okay. There is nothing really wrong with me. In fact I am quite a gal/guy.” You will be able to live and enjoy life in peace, and to pursue your goals without guilt or shame. In short, all the clouds which have hovered over you all your life will finally lift – and the sun will permanently shine from the center of your being. You will feel “whole” inside. Your sense of self will be solid gold.

Our outlook and attitude on life in general play a huge part in how happy we are in life and how successful we become.

Someone who thinks positively about everything  will be more relaxed, calm and smile more than someone who is always looking on the bad side, who let’s stress get to them and who constantly wear a frown.

Some people spend all their lives refusing to face an emptiness within them, a void that communicates an aching sense of wrongness and shame about themselves. They may try to cover the pain with material success and accomplishment, or numb it with unhealthy behaviour, or turn to others to fill up this “hole in the soul” (John Bradshaw ).

What such people lack is self-esteem. Self-esteem is more than just feeling more confident or spouting positive affirmations. It goes to the heart of personal identity, conveying the belief that we are acceptable, respected, and loved as persons we are – with all our feelings and sensations and even imperfections.

The source of self-esteem lies deep within childhood, from the first moment a vulnerable infant seeks to get its needs met from a care giving adult. These needs go beyond physical nourishment and safety. To thrive, a child must be  acknowledged, accepted, loved without condition. That is an agenda even the most well intentioned parent can’t always accommodate.

The good news is that as an adult you have power to change an inner sense of wrongness to fill an emptiness within. With reassuring insight, this article invites you to go deep within to heel your wounded self-esteem.

Know the reality of your worth as a wonderous one-of-a-kind, loved, loveable child of  God. You make a dent in creation that cannot be duplicated. This is the basis of self-esteem. No one and nothing can take that reality from you.

Having said all the above, it is clear that you need certain degree of self-esteem to believe that you are worthy of happiness and to be motivated to try to get what you really want out of life. Clearly if you have low self-esteem, you may think that you are not worthy of achieving anything – and you can stop yourself from trying. In fact should success or “good luck ” happen along, a person with low-esteem will always find a way to sabotage that success or find a way to sidestep the good luck.

Here is how it works. If you have low self-esteem, you will be afraid to try for two reasons. First in your secret heart you will feel too guilty about imagined shortcomings. You will think that by daring to try for something, you will expose yourself to the world. Others may notice you. If they do, they may discover that you are unworthy, inferior, damaged, inadequate and even despicable. So why even try? “Keep a low profile ,” You tell yourself. “Better be careful you don’t want them to find out the truth about you.” Second, if you feel that if by some chance you should succeed, you will know deep down in your heart that you are a fraud  ( the ” imposter syndrome “) and that you are really not worthy of the success you have achieved. Unconsciously, you may realize that the success will cause you to feel even more uncomfortable than you already feel. Those who dare to try for success, despite low self-esteem, secretly believe that it is only a matter of time before people discover that they are no worthy of the success they have achieved. They live in fear of “discovery”.

So it is important to repair damaged self-esteem in order to free yourself to get exited, to dare to pursue your goals  – and to enjoy the realisation of those goals once you achieve them. It is critical to extinguish once and for all that nagging voice that would otherwise whisper, ” And who do you think you are, anyway?  How dare you? What makes you think you deserve a better life? Get back into your place before real trouble comes.”

But how can you raise your self-esteem? How can you repair the damage? You can say aloud to youself and others, ” I am a good person. People like me. I love myself, ” from now until next New Year’s. But if you have low self-esteem,  it will remain low, and what’s more, you will feel like a fool in your own eyes. What you need to do is raise your self-esteem to change your reputation with yourself – to change what you think of yourself  – and the only way you are going to do that is first by realising that the images you formed of yourself were distorted or erroneous, or due to circumstances over which you had no control. Then you must take specific actions that will help to raise your self-esteem.

Self Image

Create your own standard and live up to it

Life is a long journey, for years, you have travelled through the life and now you are approaching a different phase, you ask several questions to enable you to fully express yourself, in fact your knowing yourself will help you discover what lies ahead of you. The key discovery lies in your willingness to enter fully into experiences that can be positive forces to enhance the shaping of your vision – of yourself.

To know and to appreciate the kind of person that you are will be both an invitation and challenge. It is an invitation for you to look deeply into yourself, to learn how gifted you are. It is a challenge to make a personal decision to enhance those gifts and do something about your shortcomings. It is when you accept this invitation and challenge that you allow, you expand your consciousness of your being. Only then can you say, ” I love and appreciate the person that I am.” Can you say this to youself?

Our self image is formed by the way we measure up – not the way we really measure up, because there is no actual ” standard of perfection ” out there that we must achieve, but the way we measure ourselves against others. This self measuring against others is often fuelled by parents, teachers, relatives, and acquaintances in our early childhood years. In many cases it is a brother or sister who is put up to us as the ideal. ” John is so responsible – he takes after his father. I wonder where you got your genes?” or  “Jim learned to read so quickly. What’s wrong with you?”

It is small wonder that we judge ourselves against others, behaving as if there exists – somewhere out there – “the perfect person .” We constantly and erroneously ask ourselves, “Do I measure up?” Measure up to what?  Measure up whom? The answer is clear: to the “ideals” of the ones we love and admire – the parental figures.

Now you can challenge the negative image of yourself that you developed as you were growing up. You can realize that the reason you feel you are stupid, or lazy, or slow is due to words that were spoken to you when you couldn’t argue back. You can realise that as a child, you were probably being asked to measure up to impossible standards half the time, and to other people’s standards the rest of the time.

Some of us fought this practice. “I don’t want to be like everybody else,” we cried. And we became rebels. But why should you have to become a rebel just to be yourself?  Now that you understand what has happened, you can create your own standard for yourself, and you don’t have to feel like a rebel because you do it. You can joyfully and peacefully and, in fact with sheer unthreatened calm, work on being yourself. Now that you are an adult, no one is stopping you any more. Finally no one is stopping you from finding out what you should be. No one is preventing you from creating your own standard and living up to that standard alone.

Once you have started living to your own standard,  your self-esteem will increase to levels you have never before enjoyed. People will begin to recognise and validate your true “self,” and your self-esteem will grow even further. Why? Because you will realise that your worth is not dependent upon what others think, and that, ironically, people seem to respect and approve of you when you dare to be yourself.  This knowledge will cause you to be less afraid to take chances, and act upon your own hunches and intuitions. In fact in time, as you continue to take chances and to live up to your own standard, you will become as bold as a lion!

 

 

Use Your Talent Effectively

Cover of "Talent"
Cover of Talent

Your talent – Your gift

Very early in life, we each begin to realise that we have certain talents or “gifts”, yet instead of following the early clues and developing our aptitudes into career, so many of us run from them. Many of us would rather do anything but what we were born to do, taking as many side roads as possible to avoid our gift. It is as if we sense that developing our gift will involve a lot of work. It’s almost as if we fear that our gift will harm us. Still others run from their gift because they suffer from low self-esteem and the fear of challenge, conflict or change that goes along with it. “Who am I?,” they think, “to dream of such ambitions?” and they go every each way except the direction of their gift.

Talent stands out

Charles Wilson said :

” No matter the size of the bottle, the cream always rises to the top.”

Talent stands out, it gets you noticed. The course of history the world over has been changed by talented men and women who have maximised their skills.

You have that gift (talent), too. If you follow your inner voice you will eventually develop your gift and become what you are supposed to become in life. In fact the Bible talks about this idea. It says, ” A man’s gift maketh room for him and bringeth him before great men” (Proverbs 18:16). This means that if we acknowledge and develop our gift, it will take us exactly where we are supposed to go in life.

Haven’t you seen people who should have risen to the top but didn’t?  They had all the talent they should ever need, but they still didn’t succeed.

Irving  Berlin said :

” The toughest thing about success is that you have got to keep on being a success.                     Talent is only a starting point in business, you have got to keep working that talent”

Eventually all things work for good

But what about the “side roads” mentioned earlier, that so many of us take before we finally get on the best path for our lives? Was it all a complete waste of time? Of course not. You will discover that once you are finally doing what you were born to do, all of the side roads will appear to have been “meant to be” in one way or another. You will see how they helped you to do what you were born to do better than you would have been able to do it had you not taken those detours. We need to prepare for our ultimate destiny, to build on knowledge and experience, and some of that preparation is not what we would have chosen, yet exactly what we needed.

Get back on track

A good way to start finding your path or destiny is to ask yourself what you value and to start pursuing or doing more of it. For example if you are very artistic but are working in a chocolate factory, begin practicing your artwork in your spare time, and on the weekends attend an art exhibits- and show your creations. If you have strong feeling for the homeless, volunteer to work in a shelter, even for an hour a week. If your heart goes out  to abandoned children, you might think of being a foster parent. If you are concerned with the educational system, there are hundreds of volunteer positions you can apply for in your local school.

If you take small steps in the direction of your gifts, I believe one thing will lead to another and you will eventually find yourself doing what you were meant to do with your life. In fact all of the above examples are not just examples. They are real case histories

Another way to find your path or destiny is to ask yourself what you really wanted to do when you were younger, and then to determine where and why you went off your path.

Admittedly, all of us get cought up in the glamour scene and get strayed from our course. We then have to wrestle with our inner voices and try to out-shout it with protests. For example if it concerns moving to another job which will affect your pay and many other perks adversely.

To make the long story short, you go ahead and answer your inner voice towards the direction you prefer. You have to take the chance. The chance is the risk of security- and, almost always ,money. We are so deluded by trinkets at times that they can blind us to the future. We may ask, “Won’t I be in poverty if I dare to go for the path that I know, deep down inside, I should follow?” but making a major life change, when you come down to it, always involves a chance. In the end you have to be on yourself and let the chips fall when they may.

And thankfully, the likelihood is that if you do take a chance your ultimate situation will probably be quite the opposite of poverty. You may be better off financially than you were before because when you follow what you really believe in, you do it with all your heart. And when you do anything with passion and energy,  the result is always bounty – perhaps financial, and definitely spiritual. On the other hand, if you spend your life doing something you don’t really love, something for which you have no passion, you will hold back. You will give it the least amount of effort, and you will reap meager rewards – and you may also reap anger, regret and self-contemp . There is a biblical proverb that demonstrate this principle : “He becometh poor who dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich” (Proverbs 10:4).

But it is not a simple formula. There is no guarantee that if you follow your path you will  automatically be financially prosperous. There may be a test period, a time when you may have to take a cut in income temporarily, or you may never be affluent. But even if that financial cut is permanent, can you really put a price on the daily joy that fills your soul when you know you are doing exactly what you were born to do, where as a general rule, every morning you wake up and think,  I can’t wait to go to work today ” instead of, day after day, awakening to the thought of.  ” I wish it were five o’clock already – and my workday was over,” and in sense, wishing your life away?