When To Say You’re Sorry

On occasion, you lead yourself astray by saying or doing something that is unacceptably hurtful. It is human nature to make mistakes. When is it appropriate to express your regret for upsetting someone’s feelings? Undoubtedly, while you can’t go back and undo or redo the  past, you can take action to repair the harm you caused.

The ideal approach in most situations is to respond in a good positive manner. There are times, though, that you may feel stressed, insecure, overwhelmed, or conflicted and because of this, without realizing you enter into a reactive mode. Unfortunately, in that moment, you speak sharply in a defensive or insulting manner. Your unstable reaction becomes exaggerated and it results in a frustrating aftermath not only for you, but also, for the recipient.

While your intention may not have been to hurt this person on purpose, you recognize that your action nevertheless did hurt or inconvenience them. Without too much delay, if you genuinely feel bad, this regret needs to be communicated. In order to regain your equilibrium you need to deal with your lapse of carelessness.

It has nothing to do with right or wrong but with how you made a person feel. Hurtful feelings need to be respected and validated, especially, if you care about the other person. An apology simply means that you made someone feel bad with your words or actions and you are sorry about that.
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The Optimistic Pessimist

My father loved to tell a story of the two twin brothers. One was a pessimist, the other an optimist. On their ninth birthday, the father led the pessimist son out to the backyard and presented him with a beautiful pony. The boy fretted, “What if I fall off and hurt myself!”

The father went to the optimist son and led him to a room. When the boy looked inside the room, he found a pile of manure. Delighted, he exclaimed, “Oh boy! Underneath all this manure, there must be a pony!”

How do you explain the events in your life? The lesson here is that it makes a difference how you respond to whatever life presents you. To cope with the unpredictability of life, some of us think optimistically. A positive mental attitude empowers you to be aligned with your goals, values, and dreams. For others, with a pessimistic mindset they think of what did or might go wrong and only consider the downside. In both cases, the optimistic and pessimistic mindset is the driving force to protect against future disappointment or hurt. Continue reading “The Optimistic Pessimist”

Mistaking Forward

Oftentimes, making mistakes sets us back or discourages us. Embarrassment, shame, or diminished self-confidence sets in. In order to defend our self, we begin making excuses, rationalizing our conflicting behavior or become self-justifying.

Mistaking forward allows us to become aware of our mistaken behaviors, realize what we are intending to accomplish, and to then, direct our thoughts and manage our feelings productively. In order to reach our intended outcome, it has everything to do with choosing each moment where we focus our attention and how we move from our intention into purposeful action.

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Let Your Self Shine

The other night in preparing for my youngest son’s wedding, we sat looking at old family pictures in my living room.  After my son left, I went outside to reflect on my feelings.  Looking back at the pictures, I was overcome by my beauty, but also a bit saddened by the fact that I didn’t feel attractive internally as a young girl. Then I felt a surge of gratefulness for my life and the lessons I’ve learned. I am no longer compelled to hold onto the emotional influence of my past and when it does surface, I am able to manage it. I’ve come to an age where I know real fulfillment comes from self- acceptance, from daring to be just as you are and expressing it. The sooner we are aware of our reactions the sooner we can find balance.

To grow and expand as a person of strength, we need to validate our feelings, fears, and struggles that we had. Understanding is the key to balancing and managing the experience of who we are. It’s a worthy endeavor to be familiar with those precious wonder children!

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Being Rattled

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow  into your heart,  it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person.  It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow  in your heart…” Pema Chodron

Have you ever had someone talk AT you?

Thinking
Words coming at you!
There are times when people harbor frustration, then, without warning they harshly express what’s on their mind.  Their fighting words can catch you off-guard and ignite a rattled feeling.  It strikes an inner-core of familiar yet uncomfortable feelings; feelings of unworthiness or helplessness.
When you aren’t prepared for this type of criticism,  you instinctively react to protect yourself. Either you get agitated and verbally retaliate, or the opposite can happen–feeling hurt and overpowered, you respond with silence.

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Practicing Awareness

 “Our greatest instrument for understanding the world—introspection . 

The best way of knowing the inwardness of our neighbor is to know ourselves.”

                                                                                          Walter Lippmann

How well do you know yourself? The foundation and practice of awareness is about putting yourself first. By curiously becoming a witness of who you are; your thoughts, feelings, memories, needs, fears, and sensations, you can strengthen your natural ability to understand and know yourself.  It gives you a psychological edge in all areas of life. People who are self-aware are in the best position to see their choices more clearly,  rise above disagreement, and freer to find solutions that feel right.

When you practice awareness it nurtures the relationship you have with your ‘self’.  It cultivates acceptance, appreciation, and patience, not only for yourself but for others.  As C. G. Jung expressed,  “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

When faced with disturbing situations, the key to breaking any negative downward spiral is stepping back from your emotional reactions. Attentively use your senses to explore what’s happening.  Notably, your behavior is mostly driven by your desire to achieve self-worth. Even a tiny bit of self understanding and compassion  can bring  a sense of relief, perspective and make it easier to get to the bottom of an issue. Continue reading “Practicing Awareness”

Listen to Your Discontent

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” 
Thomas Edison
 

Don’t let discontent linger for too long! 

Muhammad Ali said, “Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the pebble in your shoe.”  Imagine you are walking down a pathway enjoying the beautiful scenery. At some point along the way, a little pebble gets in your shoe. After walking a few feet you realize it has become very uncomfortable. In order to continue your walk untroubled, you decide to stop a moment to remove the aggravating pebble. The discomfort was your signal to pause and adjust yourself. When you listen to your feelings of discontent, “your unhappy can make you a little bit wiser”.
Some people pay attention to that gnawing feeling, which then, motivates them to do something different about their situation. At the same time, some people get stuck in discontent. They may feel it’s a comfort zone because it’s familiar, but in reality, it’s not very comforting.
In addition, there are people that are discontent and choose to let it be acceptable. For instance, discontent with their work might feel acceptable because they have to earn an income to pay for their standard of living. Or, perhaps they are in a time-invested relationship, and they accept the discontent in order to wait for things to settle, pass over, or eventually get resolved. In these ways, they choose to learn to manage the discontent by accepting the obligation or commitment. However, the feeling of frustration, sadness or boredom is still calling for their attention to evaluate the situation.
Discontent can provide a reason to stay right where you are, or it nudges you to do something different. Remember, when you move away from the familiar, it  takes some courage to adapt.  This is when you need to rally your strengths, discover meaning and what fulfills your aliveness.
Take a step back. Listen.  If the discontent could speak, what would it say?