Here’s my confession: “I have a terrible case of SHOULD syndrome”. In my mind I should be kinder, wiser, fitter, successful, happier etc. The truth is all these “shoulds” keep me from appreciating who I am and what I have accomplished in my life. It also keeps me from opening my life up to possibilities that don’t fit my particular “shoulds”.
Now, I’ve known about my self-imposed noose for a long time and have been making strides to loosen its grip.
It all started when I realized the harshest and most demanding critic I had was my own self. While others were ready to pay compliments for the person that I am, I was not. So, I started by reminding myself I should extend the forgiveness and acceptance I had for others to my own self. I followed that by realizing I always did the best I could and that is all that can be expected from any of us.
Once, I could accept the notion that I couldn’t and shouldn’t be perfect – after all none of us are – I started to relax on the shoulds.
Today, I have a better time accepting that I am as kind as I can be at this moment. That I’m as fit as I can be with the time and energy I have. That I behave in the best way I can when something comes up. If later that proves not to be the case then I simply tell myself that my behavior was the choice I could make based on how I felt and what I knew at the time that it happened.
I still have a long way to go in freeing myself from the scrutiny I put my own self under, but I’m making strides and so can you if you too are a “should” sufferer.
Below is an interesting post by Christy Matta, M.A further discussing the should issue.
Please read on.
10 Beliefs That May Be Keeping You From the Life You Want
By Christy Matta, M.A.
We’re often kept from getting what we want in life by the demands we place on ourselves more so than by the demands of others. Pressure, hassles and tension often come when what we want to do conflicts with what we tell ourselves is “right.” We see a messy house and believe we “should” clean it, or we long to pursue a career we’re passionate about but tell ourselves “I can’t do that.” Continued…
I have just recently returned from a business trip in Brazil. While there I reconnected with a friend I had not seen in ten years.
This friend and I had been really close and our fall out I believe had more to do with me than her. Let me explain: My friend is bright, funny but insecure. I didn’t understand that and let my ego get the best of me. All it took was for my friend to forget a couple of times I was coming to Brazil to visit to make me stop calling her. I felt she didn’t care enough about me. What I didn’t understand was that her behavior was for show only.
Anyway, this time I picked up the phone and called her. We met at a coffee shop and although we had not been speaking when my husband passed away, she ignored that and immediately embarked in telling me what had been going on in her life.
Unlike times past, I didn’t get offended by her being more interested in telling about her life than mine, and sat back to get reacquainted with my friend.
She told me her husband of twenty five years had had an affair. She then went on to describe the process that brought them back together. Her first reaction was to reflect on the state of their relationship. Was she happy? Was he happy? Did she still love him? Did he still love her? After some soul searching she knew she still loved him but she also realized she had been taking him and the relationship for granted. That’s something she could work on. That’s something she could change she thought. But in order to do that she had to get her ego out of the way.
My friend did not accuse her husband of betraying her. She knew accusations and fights would only lead to more separation. Instead she told him she knew about the affair but wanted to see if they could find a way to rediscover what had brought them together in the first place.
It was not an easy process. She had to time and again leave her pride out of it and remind herself what her ultimate goal was; to save her marriage.
My friend succeeded and today they are sharing a second honeymoon.
I’m not condoning betrayal or affairs but I also think sometimes we fail to remember we all make mistakes. In a relationship sometimes stepping back from the role of husband and of a wife and embracing the role of friend, is the best way to keep the connection alive and healthy. It brings forgiveness and compassion.
I remember another friend years ago telling me she regretted having divorced her husband for the same reason; an affair. She said if she could go back in time she would have tried to work it out instead of being indignant and demanding the end of their marriage.
Both my Brazilian friend and I have put our feelings aside for something that was more important to us. In my case her friendship—although sometimes selfish she is interesting and does show up when needed. In her case, her relationship with her husband.
It is important to always remember what is it that we want to accomplish in the end. Doing that allows us to fight for what we really want and not be sidetracked by our pride which only brings regrets.
I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness as it is something I have had to deal with plenty in my life; I’ve been hurt deeply by people very close to me.
To deal with the aftermath of the hurt, I have gone through many thought processes such as:
- Denial– It didn’t happen. I’m making it up.
- Superiority – I’m better than they are. I don’t need them
- Victimization – Why does this always happen to me? Why do others feel they can treat me like that?
- Punishment – It’s all my fault. I’m an idiot.
- Martyr – It doesn’t matter. I can take it.
- Ego – I’m never apologizing for this. I’m right and they are wrong.
Needless to say none of these lines of thoughts are satisfying. They all leave one still upset and in anger and actually reveal more about our own flawed psychology than about a solution for betrayal and forgiveness.
After going through all these different processes I realized the only way to forgive is by recognizing, accepting, and letting go. It is only after that last phase (letting go) that love and compassion will then replace anger and resentment. And why is it so important to do that? Because anger and resentment hurts us and nobody else.
In recognizing and accepting that something bad or wrong has happened to us, we get to validate the feelings we are having. They are real feelings and we should give them space to exist. Not as a tantrum but as a hurt. So denial, victimization, punishment, martyrdom, and superiority are out.
In letting go we accept that others sometimes cannot see us or deal with us in a loving way. We simply don’t have control over them. When we let go the hurt stops and when it stops we are then able to see others with love and compassion. That is not to say we will be open to be hurt again. That is to say we are in touch enough with ourselves not to let anger towards others poison our own existence. In this phase we can communicate without our ego getting in the way and we can say how we feel without expecting anything in return. At that point we are able to move on.
Please read on.
How to Forgive Anyone—and Why Your Health Depends on It
By Harriet Brown
What, exactly, does it take to move past a lifetime of hurts? Harriet Brown goes on a mission to discover the true meaning of forgiveness.
Fred Luskin wants me to forgive my mother. And, while I’m at it, my father, my third-grade teacher, my passive-aggressive coworker, the woman who cut me off on the highway, and the guys in Washington who’ve made such a mess of things. Not for their sake, but for mine: Luskin is convinced I’ll be less anxious, more upbeat, and healthier if I do.
After studying forgiveness for close to 20 years, he should know...Continued
I have great capacity for forgiveness. And so I’ve had numerous partners and friends tell me I’m wrong when I forgive. I’m told I act like that because I don’t have enough self-respect. As I result I have tried holding people accountable for what they have done and the consequences, but felt unhappy. Recently I’ve figured out why. I realized that it is okay to hold people accountable for what they do, but it is also okay to forgive. But most important; it is also okay to hold people accountable if we are coming from a place of love and not hatred.
It’s interesting how we get the true meaning of strength and self-respect mixed-up. We have bought into the folklore that if we let others “have it” then we are strong. I now believe that is a misnomer. We are strong when we don’t need to show or prove anything to anyone.
Stating how we feel from a place of love, takes a lot more courage than yelling. Stating how we feel with calmness makes us vulnerable. It makes us human. But most important if we come from love we are actually trying to be heard and to listen. And we are trying to mend not destroy. Even if people move in their own separate ways by coming from a place of calm the healing process will have room to exist and thrive.
Living in love and forgiveness is our way to happiness and contentment. There cannot be happiness where there is resentment.
We are beings of communities. We must relate. We must coexist. We must learn to forgive. In forgiveness we find our own freedom.
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is strong than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Catherine Ponder
The below post from CNN.com is a powerful read in many different ways. It is a study in commitment, community and self-discovery. The post is an excerpt of John Blake’s 2004 book “Children of the Movement’. It contains the story of James Zwerg, now 71, a white Freedom Rider.
In 1961, the Freedom Riders – a group of black and white college students – set out for the Deep South to call for change. They were met by hatred and violence — and local police often refused to intervene. But the Riders’ efforts transformed the civil rights movement. Through it all they maintained their focus on their non-violent mission of riding together.
James Zwerg was drawn to the Freedom Rides after having a black roommate while attending Beloit College in Wisconsin. He grew to admire his roommate and was shocked to see how his black friend was treated by whites when they went out in public together.
I have recently received some really good work related news. I worked really hard to turn a project into a reality and it seems that will be the case. I shared the news with just a few very close people – I’m waiting for the absolute 100% sureness before sharing with everyone. The point is while a couple of people were really happy for me a few were also jealous and manipulative. I’m thinking about someone in particular who is truly close who came up with ways to hurt me. Now why am I sharing this? Because I think we often deal with “peculiar” reactions from others but are not prepared and fall pray.
I don’t believe these “peculiar” reactions came from people that wish me badly. That would be an easy one to deal with; they don’t like and therefore they are not happy for me – they shouldn’t be in my life. The “peculiar” reactions come from people that actually deeply love me, but they are unwell with themselves. And that is the key piece of information when dealing with others. People bring to relationships their own un-wellness.
I just came across the below post by Marina Cantacuzino. In it she discusses the nature of forgiveness and the dangers of forgiving too easily.
One of the definitions I found on the web for forgiveness is: “Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and/or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.”
I believe the process of forgiveness starts with an internal journey which results in acceptance and then translates into forgiveness. I believe this to be a process that’s necessary for the victim to survive and to move forward.
Reading the Huffington Post today I came across the below post on forgiveness. As I had written about it a couple of days ago, I thought maybe the “universe” was telling me I still had much to think and write about the subject.
Forgiving others is important because the anger we carry within towards others affects us in a negative way more than anybody else. So we were not only wronged but now we are compounding the result but adding the toxic feeling of anger to our psyche.
I believe one of the reasons we stay stuck in anger, is our pride. When we are wronged we think: how could they have done that to ME? Followed by thoughts of; I didn’t deserve it, I’m such a giving person, I have done so much for him/her. What we need to remember when these thoughts are coming up, is that the hurtful action had much more to do with the perpetrator than with us. If someone has stabbed you in the back, it is not a reflection on who you are but it is a reflection on who the other person is and their emotional state.
We also have to remember that everyone has their own emotional limitation. People, who invest time and energy into getting to know themselves, have less of a limitation simply because we are willing to look at our short-comings.
Forgiving others doesn’t mean blessing their actions. It means making the decision that we don’t want to be victimized a second time.
Next time you feel wronged acknowledge the feeling and try to express it to the person who has hurt you. If that is possible and a good result can come from sharing how you feel, then forgiveness can follow through. But if the other person is not open to hear or they can’t deal with the truth, that’s okay. Remember the process is about you. Realize you can’t change the other person so all that’s left for you is to let your anger go. It takes a strong person to forgive.
The Power of Releasing Resentment: A Holiday Gift To Yourself And Others
by Judith Orloff MD
The more I think about discord and anger the more I realize how poisonous those sentiments are. When we arrive to a point in our lives where we make a choice between chasing after our misconceptions or taking a journey inward, we start on a cleansing process. And, as we move towards contentment feelings like resentment and conflict cause damage. We become ultra-sensitive to them and the reason is very simple; hatred hurts its own host the most.
When people believe the only way they will get rid of the pain they have inside is by exerting the same pain back, all they do is continue to feed resentment. It takes incredible strength of character to say no to the continuation of hatred.