5 reasons to nix the negativity in your life

Negativity-is-Boring
 

Note: I'm writing today's post in honor of my mom, whose birthday is tomorrow and who is one of the most positive people I know. Happy birthday, Mama Bear! I love you to the sky and back! 

 

Obviously I strive my hardest not to be negative and to remove negativity from my life, but even I can't deny that negativity is oddly alluring sometimes. Negativity can come in many forms -- from a critical thought about yourself to an energy-draining individual to something as seemingly harmless as a joke -- and it's not always as easy to identify (or resist!) as you might think.

Negativity is sneaky. It creeps up on you when you're feeling down; it tries its hardest to pull you away from the positive when you're feeling good. And sometimes it even comes in the form of disguise, such as some kinds of humor. (Just because it makes you laugh doesn't mean it's positive!) We all battle negativity (both internally and externally) from time to time, but one of the best ways I've found to combat that sneak little devil is to remind myself of why negativity does absolutely no good. 

We all know that, generally speaking, negativity is bad. We cannot control others' negativity or negative situations, but we can control our own negative thoughts and reactions. Of course, this is often easier said than done. To combat negative thinking, I've found that  that reflecting on why negativity is so unhealthy and unproductive actually helps me keep the negative thoughts at bay. When negative thoughts, people, or situations try to plague me, I reflect on these five important truths about negativity: 

  

NEGATIVITY IS BORING. 

Unfortunately, for a lot of people, it's easier to be negative than to be positive. It's very tempting give into (and even embrace) negativity, particularly with so much negativity surrounding us in the media (and sometimes in other people). And particularly because other people will often join in on negative commentary. (Just think of how often you've heard someone at work moan, "How is it only Monday!?") Negativity it commonplace. It's boring. It's the easy thing to do -- whining about the bad weather or complaining that you're stressed -- and giving into it can feel like a quick fix. It gives you a little rush to vent or whine, but it negativity is so common that focusing it not only makes you less happy, but it also makes you incredibly average. You're better than average and you know it! 

 

NEGATIVITY IS UNATTRACTIVE. 

Though people do sometimes feed off one another's negativity, people (especially the kind you want to be around!) are also drawn to happy people. Positivity, while not the same as happiness, generally makes you happier and more enjoyable to be around. Think about this: would you rather be around someone who is grumpy and moping and complaining, or would you rather spend time with someone who is always looking for the good in a situation? You aren't attracted to negative people and positive people certainly won't be attracted to you if you're negative. It's cliche but true: you attract what you are. If you want to attract positivity, you have to be positive. 

 

NEGATIVITY IS POINTLESS. 

Much like that old saying worrying, negativity is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere. (Erma Bombeck thought of this great analogy!) While it's fine to prepare unpleasant outcomes (i.e., backing up your computer files in the event that your computer dies), there's nothing to be gained from dwelling in negativity. For example, if your computer were to breakdown, it does no good to complain about it, moaning, "Everything always goes wrong! That thing was a complete waste of money!" What would do good is focusing on the positive (a chance to get a new computer or, if that's not possible, an opportunity to spend time with a friend while you borrow theirs). Positive thinking won't fix negative situations, but it will help you make the most of them. (Unlike negativity, which adds nothing of value to any situation!)

 

NEGATIVITY IS TIRING. 

Think about something that makes you happy. Now think about the last sad thing you saw. Which thought was more draining? Negativity is emotionally and physically draining. The more you do it, the more of a toll it takes on your mind and body. While it sometimes feels easier to go with the first thought that comes to mind ("ugh, it's raining again!"), the quick-fix negative thought will ultimately cause more harm than good, particularly if you start out with negativity as you begin your day. You invite one negative thought in and it takes it as an open invitation to bring all its friends ("it's rainy," "I'm so tired," "I have so much to do today," "I'll never get it all done," etc.) One negative thought can lead to another and before you know it, you are emotionally drained from thinking thoughts that make you upset, sad, or angry.

 

NEGATIVITY IS TIME-CONSUMING. 

Because negativity is so emotionally (and physically!) draining, it takes much more of our time than positivity does -- even if positive thoughts are sometimes more difficult to conjure up than negative ones. Also, if you allow yourself to think about what might go wrong in a situation, it's very likely your mind will wander to all of the other possible aspects of life in which something could go wrong. You'll then begin to worry about those scenarios and your mind won't be able to help trying to come up with solutions to those nonexistent problems. Before you know it, you'll have spend loads of time stressing out and analyzing a situation that might never happen! Negativity not only wastes time and emotional energy, but it also often causes you to live in the future, a place that is completely fictional!

 

Clearly there a lot of reasons not to be negative, but what do you do if you find yourself experiencing negative thoughts? One of the best tactics for preventing negativity from dominating your mind is simply being aware of your thoughts. Often we think without thinking (sounds weird, but consider how much you've thought about today without really thinking about it!). Thinking-without-thinking can cause your mind to dwell on certain (often negative) things. Pay attention to your thoughts and, without judging them, try to nudge them in a more positive direction. This will take time, effort, and practice so don't be hard on yourself if it's not easy to do. I still struggle with this all the time, and I write about positivity for a living! Whenever you're struggling to stay positive, try to remember the five reasons why negativity is so not worth it, and you'll find that it's just a bit easier to direct your thoughts in a more positive direction. 

 

 

Loving-Your-Self

Nixing negativity and focusing on the positive is an amazing act of self-love. Want to empower yourself with some more serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.


keep calm: 5 tips for preventing panic

Calm
 

As you may have read in previous posts, anxiety is something I struggle with from time to time. Sometimes it's not so bad -- just a bit of a tickling annoyance at the back of my mind -- and other times it's drive-me-mad frustrating, keeping me from doing things I want to do and preventing me from living the positive, present life I spend so much time writing about. There are a lot of unpleasant aspects of anxiety, but one of the worst parts is feeling panicky.

Even if you don't have anxiety on a regular basis, you've probably experienced panic at some point in your life -- those moments when your heart is pounding and your mind is racing with ideas (some completely irrational) about what's happening. It's not a pleasant experience and, even if there's something legitimate to feel panicked about, panicking never helps make a situation better. It only heightens anxious feelings and makes it more difficult to take positive, productive action.  

Once panicky feelings start, however, they can be tough to get control over, which is why it's important to try your best prevent the panic before it begins. Of course, sometimes this isn't possible, like if you're sudden, dangerous, actually-life-threatening situation. But, more often than not, things we panic about are a result of the way we're seeing a situation, and don't necessarily reflect what's actually happening.

Because tomorrow is the second annual International Day of Calm, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on how to keep calm on a regular basis. This way, if you are presented with a situation that makes you feel panicky, you'll be better equipped to cope with it. Here are five of my best tips for preventing panic...

(And stay tuned for two awesome keep-calm goodies mentioned at the end of the post!)

 

TRY TO FIND CALM DAILY. 

We usually hear the phrases "keep calm" or "calm down" only when there's already an anxiety-inducing situation right in front of us, but if you want to reduce panicky feelings in the future, it helps to practice calm on a daily basis. Creating calming routines for yourself (especially at the beginning and end of your day) can be really helpful. Also, taking advantage of calming resources: books like Calm or Stay Positive and apps like Calm are great places to start. Anything you can incorporate into your life on a daily basis to make you feel more peaceful will help add to your state of calm whenever you feel panicky. 

 

RECOGNIZE YOUR REACTIONS. 

When it comes to preventing full-blown panic, one essential step is to recognize how you're reacting to a situation so you can understand (and rein in) your emotions before they get to an irrational place. One of the best ways to do this is to pay close attention to your body. Is your heart beating faster? Are your palms sweaty? Are your muscles tensing? Is your breath coming more quickly? When you're aware of what's happening to you physically, you can put yourself in a better mindset to avoid panic. You can remove yourself from a situation or ask someone else to talk you through what you're experiencing. 

 

CENTER YOURSELF IN REALITY. 

One of the most vital steps for preventing panic is to ask yourself, What's actually happening? So much of panic is a result of what we think is going to happen, not what's factually right in front of us. For example, let's say you're going through a breakup. It's common to start in with panicky thoughts like, I'm going to be alone forever. Oh god, no one is going to date me now. I'm never going to find love again. Those thoughts are all based on the future -- and a very dismal future at that. In the present moment, the only thing that's happening is you're suffering from heartbreak, which you will recover from. Bring your focus to the present and it becomes much more difficult to launch into panic mode. 

 

ACCEPT WHAT'S HAPPENING. 

Part of panicking is detaching yourself from reality, allowing your mind to spiral into a maze of irrational thoughts. As unsettling as these thoughts are (usually of the all-or-nothing variety, like, Everything is ruined! No one will ever want me! Nothing will ever be the same!), we often use the panicky thoughts to distract ourselves from the real pain right in front of us: the heartache, the loss, the realization that we've done something wrong. It's hard to do, but acceptance of the actual situation is key for redirecting panic into a more productive outlet. Yes, you might have lost your job, but thinking, no one will ever hire me now is certainly not going to get you a new one. What will is accepting the loss and striving to move positively forward by taking action in the present (going to a job fair, applying for new jobs online, etc.). 

 

FIND A SELF-SOOTHING TECHNIQUE. 

Acceptance is hard, but once you do that, you're in a much better place to prevent panic. Still, it can creep up on you sometimes, like a stealthy little snake in the grass, and when that happens, it's a good idea to have a self-soothing technique that helps to take your mind to a calmer place. Your self-soothing technique can be anything from taking a few deep breaths to using a mantra (like "keep calm" or, my personal favorite, "you're okay") to calling up a calming friend for a quick chat. Whatever your calming weapon of choice, make sure it's something you can always have in your holster -- an easily accessible tool that you can whip out whenever you might feel a bit panic-stricken. 

 

*KEEP CALM GOODIES!* 

Calm-book-meta

For the second annual International Day of Calm (April 5, 2016), I've partnered with Calm, a popular meditation app and book, to provide you with some keep-calm goodies!

  1. Get 25% off a yearlong subscription to the Calm app by visiting Calm.com/PositivelyPresent.
  2. Pop on over to my Instagram account for details on how you can win a copy of Calm the book!  

 


PPGTL-Get-the-Book
Want to explore how to have even more calm in your life? Pick up your very own copy of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)


hooray! effortless inspiration coming soon!

New-Books

You might have already heard the news on Instagram awhile back, but today I'm officially sharing the details of my upcoming books! I'm soooo excited to announce that in 2016 I have not one, not two, but FOUR new books coming out! [Insert wide-eyed emoji face here.]

These four books are part of a series called Effortless Inspiration for a Happier Life, designed and written by me for Watkins Publishing. The goal of these compact books is to provide bite-sized inspiration and on-the-go insights on four topics that are absolutely essential for living a positively present life: living in the moment, gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness. 

Creation of these little books began last year, and it's so exciting that they'll be arriving on bookshelves in 2016! Read on for more details about the series and the individual books. (And keep scrolling to see how you can download a free PDF sample!)

 

ABOUT THE EFFORTLESS INSPIRATION SERIES

What's so exciting about these books is how different they are from anything else I've created before (like Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present and The Positively Present Guide to Life)! Each little book features 18 inspirations quotes on a specific topic (Living in the MomentGratitude, Compassion, or Forgiveness) followed by an insightful explanation, a thought-provoking activity or question, and a memorable affirmation. The design and layout of these books was created with the goal of keeping inspiration accessible, providing insights that can be incorporated into day-to-day life.

Just as I strive to do here on Positively Present, these books were created with the intention of providing uplifting, inspiring content that you can actually use in your real life. Here's a sample from the Gratitude book: 

Gratitude-SampleDownload a PDF Sample Here!

Isn't it pretty?! I'm so pleased with how they turned out! (The colors pop even more in person!) Of course, looks aren't everything. The real purpose of these books is to zero in on important topics and here's a breakdown of each topic (with release dates!): 

 

LivingCover

Living in the Moment
(click to preorder!)

UK: May 19, 2016 / US: September 13, 2016

Life transpires in the present. Yet so often we let the present slip away, wasting precious seconds worrying about the future or ruminating about what's passed. Learning to live in the moment (also known as mindfulness) can have immense power to stop us focusing so much on doing and thinking and instead focus on being.

Living in the Moment inspires readers to think about mindfulness in a fresh way, while encouraging them to incorporate it into their everyday lives. Mindful people tend to feel more relaxed, less distracted, more balanced and decisive. They have increased energy and self-esteem as well as greater productivity, stronger relationships, and an enhanced immune system.

With its appealing design, uplifting content and friendly tone, this little book on living in the now provides beautiful, bite-sized inspiration for people around the world to live in the now. And, with increased awareness, we can really savor each of life's precious moments.

 

GratitudeCover

Gratitude
(click to preorder!)

UK: May 19, 2016 / US: September 13, 2016

Cultivating gratitude doesn't cost any money and doesn't take much time, but the benefits can be enormous, helping you focus on what you have rather than what you don't: friends and family, positive personal qualities, your surroundings, a healthy body, a vibrant mind, and the list goes on.

Research has shown that grateful people tend to be less envious, more relaxed, more humble, more emotionally resilient, and less materialistic. They have increased energy, greater self-esteem, increased productivity, and are able to build stronger relationships. What's more, when children see a thankful parent, they are more likely to become thankful children.

Modern design paired uplifting content make this little book on gratitude essential for anyone seeking beautiful, bite-sized inspiration to live more grateful, contented life.

 

CompassionCover 

Compassion
(click to preorder!)

UK / US: October 18, 2016

Compassion is the ability to feel sympathetic towards those who are suffering while desiring to relieve their pain. It's not just a feeling -- it's a desire to help others who are struggling or in pain. Imagine what the world would be like if we all experienced compassion on a daily basis!

Recent scientific research has shown that compassionate people tend to be more understanding, less angry, and less stressed than other people, with stronger relationships and even enhanced immune systems. People who live with compassion or show concern for others' wellbeing also tend to create a more harmonious atmosphere around them. Compassion breeds compassion, leading to all-round enhanced contentment.

Compassion is a topic that's often discussed around the world in relation to kindness and generosity, but rarely is it explored on is own. This little book, with its modern take on the subject and uplifting inspiration, brings light to a life-changing subject that will appeal to readers around the world.  

 

ForgivenessCover

Forgiveness
(click to preorder!)

UK / US: October 18, 2016

To forgive is to be free. Forgiveness is one of life's great challenges; it is so difficult to let go of anger and pain once you've been hurt. But people who forgive both themselves and others tend to feel more relaxed and open, have less risk of getting stressed or depressed, and experience stronger relationships.

Holding on to past resentments and negative energy tends to cause painful memories to fester in our subconscious, which prevents us from moving forward with joy in life. Learning forgiveness allows us to move on, to create more peace in our lives, and to release ourselves from re-experiencing painful moments. 

Tucked within the pages of this book, readers will find insights and inspiration for letting go of pain, cultivating a forgiving heart, and ultimately finding a deeper sense of awareness and peace. 

  

FABULOUS FEATURES

Each of the four books will feature a similar carefully-designed layout created with the intention of providing thought-provoking (but accessible!) content. The beauty of these little books is that, while they have a beautifully consistent layout (making them a gorgeous little collection as a whole), each one zeroes in on a very specific topic, allowing readers to really home in on the subject matter.

Though each book as a unique theme, they all share these fabulous features: 

  • Inspiring Quotes: Each book features 18 quotes on its specific subject. 18! That's a lot of quotes for one topic! It was so much fun to for me to go in search of these quotes, looking for inspiration that would spark new ways of thinking about each concept, and each one has been carefully chosen to suit each topic. 

  • Bite-Sized Wisdom: Quotes are wonderful (I can't get enough of them, as you may have seen on Instagram!), but sometimes it's nice to take them a step further and explore what they're actually saying. Each quote in each book is followed by a bit of wisdom written to provoke deeper thinking. 

  • Easy-to-Do Exercises: I know, "exercises" sounds like work, but I promise these are actually enjoyable -- and so, so worth it to create more presence, gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness in your life. With each quote in the book, you'll find an activity you can do to bring inspiration into your life. 

  • Motivating Mantras: Mantras aren't something I use often, but sometimes you really just need a short phrase that you can use to remind yourself to focus your attention. Each section of each book concludes with a simple, powerful statement that you can use to remind yourself to stay present / grateful / compassionate / forgiving. 

  • Top 10 Lists: Sometimes you just need a list of actionable ideas to take what you've learned and apply it to your life. Each book features lists (like, "Top 10 Ways to Stay Present at Work") filled with inspiration to take the quotes and exercises even further in your day-to-day life. 

  • Beautiful Layouts: I designed these myself so I'm a tad bit biased, but I really think the layouts turned out beautifully. Of course the content is what's most important, but if it's beautifully packaged in bright colors with simple, inspiring illustrations, that certainly doesn't hurt, does it? 

 

If you have any desire to stay present, be grateful, cultivate compassion, or find forgiveness, these are absolutely the books for you. If you can't tell, I'm SUPER excited about these books, and I really hope you will be too! Yay for new books! 


believe, see, act: how to create your own wellth

Believe-See-Act

 

About a month ago, I was sent a copy of Jason Wachob's Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Résumé, and the title alone had me hooked. I love clever wordplay, and I've always believed the concept of "wealth" should include much more than financial prosperity, which is exactly what happens with Wachob's creation of the word "wellth." The book focuses on the various building blocks of wellth: eat, move, work, believe, explore, breathe, connect, love, heal, thank, ground, live, and laugh. Each of these elements is an important aspect of living a positive, present life, so it was wonderful to read about them and how they connect with one another. 

Each section of the book was filled with insights, stories, and inspiration, but my favorite section was BELIEVE. In this section, Wachob talks about how the "belief in oneself is a huge factor in successful careers, love, and life in general," and explores the idea (one that I fully support!) that everything is connected and you're exactly where you're meant to be in your life. As Wachob puts it, "You may not know why, and you may hate your current situation, but in time the reason will become clear." I love this section's focus on acceptance and the way Wachob takes acceptance a step further by reminding readers, "You can't just sit back and expect good things to happen. It requires hard work." 

There's a balance between believing in yourself, accepting what is, and taking control over your destiny, and Wachob's assessment of this balance is spot-on. In Wachob's words, believing is a three-part process. He writes, "My problem with a lot of self-help gurus is that they promote a message that is about entitlement. Yes, I truly believe that we all deserve a great life, a life filled with happiness, health, and abundance. But I also believe that this is a three-part process: believing, seeing, and doing." 

Again, I love how this process focuses on balance between acceptance and action. Below are some of Wachob's insights on this three-step process (in italics), along with my thoughts. 

 

BELIEVE 

"The first step is BELIEVING. You have to believe -- otherwise you won't accomplish anything. If you don't believe...then it's over before you even start." 

This might sound obvious, but it's important to believe in yourself, in what you can accomplish and achieve in your life. As Wachob puts it, if you don't believe, you really cannot accomplish anything, let alone big, crazy, exciting things. Of course, believing in yourself can be tricky sometimes, especially when it comes to things that might seem overwhelming or obstacle-filled. Believing in yourself is an act of self-love and, like all self-loving acts, it can prove challenging when you're going through a tough time, but it is absolute essential to achieving anything. Whether you're looking for love, aiming for that stellar career goal, or simply trying to make the most of your life, if you don't believe in yourself, you're going to have a really hard time getting where you want to go. 

 

SEE

"Next comes the importance of SEEING. If you don't envision where you want to go, then how are you going to get from point A to point B? ... The plan doesn't have to be perfect, and quite often it will change, but you have to start by envisioning it." 

Believing is so important but this next step -- seeing -- is equally as vital. If you believe you can do something, that's wonderful, but you need to have a vision of what exactly you plan to be doing. As Wachob mentions in the book, if you're looking for a partner, you need to envision exactly what traits you're looking for in that person if you ever hope to find your dream guy or girl. Believing you deserve love isn't enough; you have to envision what that love will actually look like. You have to know what specifically you want in a partner. And the same goes for any other kind of goal you're hoping to achieve. Believing in yourself is wonderful, but what does achieve that goal look like? How exactly are you going to get from where you are to where you want to be? 

  

ACT

"The third step is TAKING ACTION. You need to do what you set out to accomplish... Your behavior on the mat or at the gym (or at the office or the dinner table) affects your entire persona." 

Believing in yourself and envisioning how you're going to get from where you are to where you want to be are two essential steps for creating more wellth in your life, but the third step is absolutely essential: taking action. You can believe and envision all day long, but that's not going to get you too far if you don't take action to get where you want to be going. Wellth is created when you proactively move forward toward your goals, making positive progress with each step. (And knowing that, yes, sometimes you might take a step back or two.) What you actually do matters so much more than what you envision you'll do. Personally, I think the best way to make positive progress is to break down big goals into more manageable steps, all the while keeping your vision in mind (and never forgetting to believe in yourself!). 

Personally, I feel wellthy whenever I've followed these three steps in my life. For example, when I knew I wanted to leave my full-time job and pursue Positively Present as a career. First, I had to believe in myself, that I could actually take the leap into the unknown. Then, I had to see what life would look like if I actually did it. I had to envision the future. And, finally, I had to act. I had to venture into the unknown, choosing the unpaved path over comfort and stability. Following this three-step process (in my career, in relationships, with myself) has always lead me to feel wellthy.

This three-step process is one of the many, many insights Wachob offers in the book. It's an easy-to-read format and each section ends by summing up the key points. (I really love when books do this, as it offers reminder of the various points discussed in each section, some of which are forgotten by the time you get to the end of the chapter.) If you like Positively Present and you're interested in creating a more mindful, meaningful, and empowered life, you'll love this book. Visit the book's website to learn more here

  


WellthToday's post was sponsored by Harmony Books, publisher of Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Résumé, a book that redefines successful living and offers readers a new life currency to build on, one that is steeped in wellbeing—Wellth. 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Eat. Move. Work. Believe. Explore. Breathe. Connect. Love. Heal. Thank. Ground. Live. Laugh.

These are the building blocks of Wellth. In this blend of memoir and prescriptive advice, Jason Wachob shows us all how to enjoy truly “wellthy” lives—lives that are deeply rich in every conceivable way. Through his experience and personal story, as well as in exclusive material from popular expert contributors (including Dr. Frank Lipman, Dr. Lissa Rankin, Joe Cross, Charlie Knoles, Kathryn Budig, Dr. Aviva Romm, and Dr. Sue Johnson), we learn how we, too, can embrace this new movement, while exploring what we can do to make frequent deposits into our own “wellth” accounts. What’s your life worth to you? Come and explore it.

ABOUT JASON WACHOB 

Jason Wachob is the founder and CEO of mindbodygreen, the leading independent media brand dedicated to health and happiness, with 15 million monthly unique visitors. He has been featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Vogue. Jason has a BA in history from Columbia University, where he played varsity basketball for four years. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and loves German shepherds, Chuck Taylors, and guacamole.


reader request : is forgiving a skill or a choice?

Forgiveness

 

Note: The following article is based on a request from a reader. If there's a topic you'd like me to write about, feel free to email me here, leave a message in the comments, or reach out to my via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

 

A few weeks back, I received a request from a reader asking me to write about whether I think forgiveness is a skill or a choice. It was perfect timing for me to receive this request because I happened to be struggling to wrap my head around the topic of forgiveness myself. Someone had hurt me quite unexpectedly, and the pain was making it difficult for me to let go of negative feelings and actually forgive. So, when I received this request in my in-box, I couldn't believe the timing. It was just the topic I needed to be thinking about, and the more I pondered the question, the more I realized: forgiveness is both a choice and a skill. 

In order to forgive, you have to actively choose it. (Which can be hard, I know!) And to become good a forgiveness you have to practice it, the way you would any other skill. If you're lucky, you won't have a lot of opportunities to practice, but most of us do encounter quite a few situations in which we can practice forgiving others. Whether it's forgiving someone who has cut you off in traffic or forgiving someone who has caused your heart to break, opportunities for choosing forgiveness are likely to crop up often. 

For some, forgiveness comes easily. They're all too happy to let go of the ways others have hurt them -- and this is a great skill to possess. For others (ahem, most of us), forgiveness is tricky. It's hard, sometimes, not to let being hurt or offended impact the way you think about and interact with others. It's hard not to let these pains (both big and small) influence your own mindset. But, as I've written about before, forgiveness is freedom. The more easily you forgive others, the more positive your life will be. (Keep in mind that forgiving others isn't the same as condoning their behavior. You can forgive while still believing the other person is wrong. You can forgive someone you never want to speak to again.) 

Though forgiveness is one of the surest paths to emotional freedom, it's often a difficult trek to make, which is why it requires both the act of choosing to forgive and the art of mastering forgiveness as a skill. Both of these can be challenging, the the skill part can be extra tricky. Saying you're going to choose to forgive is one thing -- actually putting it into practice is something else entirely. 

I believe there are four considerations when it comes to practicing forgiveness, and I'll outline them in a bit more detail below. Understanding and considering these four things can make practicing forgiveness a lot easier.  

 

  1. CONSIDER WHAT UPSET YOU. 

    First and foremost, it's important to consider what actually upset you. Focus on why exactly you're hurt. Try your best not to bring in anything else into this consideration. For example, if you're angry about something your partner did, focus only on that specific incident (not on all the times s/he has upset you). Don't bring in past grudges or your own personal baggage (e.g., the way that your last partner did the same anger-inducing thing). Narrowing in on exactly what has hurt you will allow you to assess why exactly you're hurting, if there's anything the other person can do to right the wrong, and will give you information you might need for avoiding similar situations in the future. 


  2. CONSIDER THE OTHER PERSON. 

    After considering the specifics of the situation, it's time to turn your focus to the person (or people) who has hurt you. Try, as best you can, to put yourself in his/her shoes. Is it possible that the pain caused was unintentional? Is it possible that the other person might believe he/she is doing the right thing or making the situation better in some way? Is there a chance that someone else might be trying to help you? Or that s/he might be dealing with his/her own pain? Sometimes the answers these questions will be no (and that's okay), but quite often we'll find that someone else isn't intentionally trying to hurt us, which can make it easier to forgive them. 


  3. CONSIDER YOUR OWN POSITION. 

    Once you've closely looked at the situation and the person who has hurt you, it's time to turn your gaze inward and consider where you're coming from. Why are you so hurt by this situation? Is it really about this or is something else impacting how you feel? (For example, let's say you're upset with your spouse for not following through but you're doubly irritated at him/her because you just had a really bad day at work.) This is not to say that someone else's actions are your fault, but it's merely an encouragement to look at where you're coming from. What's happened in the past that's impacting how you feel now? What's going on in the present that might be influencing the situation? These facts are not meant to condone another's behavior, but to help you see the bigger picture and how interconnected everything is. 


  4. CONSIDER THE FUTURE. 

    After taking the situation, others, and yourself into consideration, now it's time to consider what is going to make this situation better for you (and for others). Will holding on to anger and unhappiness make your world a better place? Will clinging to the past improve your present and future? The answer to these questions is definitely no. No matter what the situation, holding on to anger, disgust, or any other unpleasant feelings will not make your world a better place. It will only hurt your heart more and make it more difficult for you to live a positive, present life. Even if someone has treated you terribly, forgiving them will only help you. Choosing not to forgive will only continue to cause you pain in the future (and who wants that?!). 

 

These four considerations can really aid in the art of forgiveness. However, like developing any skill, mastering forgiveness takes time and effort. Don't give up on it, even when it's hard. Believe me, I know from experience that forgiving is always better than holding on to a grudge. It may seem nearly impossible to forgive, especially if someone has hurt you (or someone you love) deeply, but the more you practice forgiveness, the more freedom you'll experience. And remember: the act of forgiving is something that frees you, not the person who hurt you. You have everything to gain by forgiving and nothing to lose.  

 

Loving-Your-Self

Forgiving others (and yourself!) is an amazing act of self-love. Want to empower yourself with some more serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.