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Stop the Madness: Four Keys to help you Forgive

Stop the Madness: Four Keys to help you Forgive

Anger. Fear. Hostility. Bitterness. Rage. Resentment. Have you ever felt any of these emotions toward someone; maybe even someone you love? These angry feelings are called “hot” emotions, and they fuel an unforgiving spirit.

When we’re hurt, our angry our feelings don’t go away overnight. In fact, we can spend days, weeks, months, even years turning them over and over in our minds, feeling just as angry as the moment the offense that caused them occurred.

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Who the heck wants to live like this? It only causes stress, high blood pressure and a whole host of other problems. If you’ve ever been boiling mad at someone and still feel the fire at the mention of his or her name, you may want to consider the “F” word—forgiveness.

Sounds great, but how do we go about forgiving someone who has mortally wounded us? Well, for starters we don’t bury it, we don’t ignore it, thinking in time that it will go away, and we certainly shouldn’t minimize our pain or pretend it didn’t hurt us.

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Before we look at how to forgive, let’s talk about what forgiveness is and isn’t. Forgiveness is a means of release for the person holding the debt; that would be you. Forgiveness is for your benefit, but it isn’t saying that what the other person did was ok.

What can we do to stop the madness of ruminating angry thoughts and walk the healing path? Here are some tips to help move you along on the forgiveness journey:

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Make a list

The first step in forgiveness is to take an account of the offense. Take a piece of paper and make three columns. Write the offenders name at the top of the page. In the first column, write down the event that happened that made you angry. In the second, write down how you felt about it and what you came to believe about yourself as a result of the other person’s offense. In the last column, write down what you had hoped for or expected from that person. This will translate into your loss. Here’s an example: Event: your husband was unfaithful. Feelings: anger, hurt, rejection. Beliefs: I’m not good enough. I’m unlovable. Loss: betrayal, identity, self-esteem, hope. Then decide if you can allow God to meet the needs you lost through this transgression. Can you trust him as your security, adequacy and value? Pray a prayer of forgiveness releasing the person from the debt owed you.

Stop ruminating

Pay attention to what you’re telling yourself. Rumination creates more anxiety and depression and there is no life there. Turning things over and over in your mind only keeps you stuck. Choose to intentionally focus on the Scriptural truths about forgiveness.

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Take a risk

Just because you don’t feel like forgiving doesn’t mean you can’t do it. The truth is you will never feel like it. The question is what is the best response you can make to address the hurts and losses you will incur in life? The answer is to give the altruistic gift of forgiveness. Risking forgiving someone who has hurt you can remove a huge weight off your shoulders and probably add a few years to your life too.Medical studies have found that people who have forgiven others for a major transgression have lower blood pressure and heart rates when compared to those who have not.

Restoration is different than reconciliation

Reconciliation takes two people, you and the person who offended you. When the offender comes to you, the offended, you have to decide if you will grant forgiveness. That doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be restored in relationship with this person. Restoration means you and the other person mutually decide what the nature of the relationship will be as you move forward. Boundaries may need to be drawn or the relationship may need to be terminated.

Angry feelings won’t go away overnight. Forgiveness starts with a decision of the will but is born out in the emotions. Once you’ve decided to forgive the offender, focus on the virtues of love, empathy and compassion as a means to develop emotional forgiveness. Allow yourself time and space, but remember forgiveness is for your benefit. Start today and give the altruistic gift of forgiveness.
Back at you: Have you ever forgiven someone? If so, what were the long-term benefits? If not, what’s hindering you?

More by this author

Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Last Updated on May 27, 2019

How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

In a world that is full of external factors that we cannot control, it is becoming more and more important to at least control ourselves.

Thinking positively can have a tremendous effect on our lives. By eliminating negative thoughts, we’re able to at least influence the part of our lives that we can control: our own mindset.

In this article, you will learn how to think positive and ditch the negative thoughts. Before we dive into the step-by-step guide on how to do so, I’d like to share with you how I learned to thinking positive the hard way…

How I Learned to Think Positive

At the start of 2019, I was quite stressed at work with multiple tight deadlines. I was constantly worried and the stress was affecting my ability to sleep. Numerous nights in a row, I would experience insomnia, where I had a staring contest with the ceiling because my mind would simply not stop thinking about all the stressful things I had to deal with.

I eventually got up and wrote everything down. Every single thought that rushed through my head, I wrote it down in detail. This allowed me to do a couple of things:

  • It made everything relatable
  • It showed me that every obstacle that was on my mind was not that big on its own. I was only stressed because these obstacles were big in numbers, while independently, these obstacles were just minor things that I could overcome.
  • It allowed me to think positively about these little obstacles and how I was going to conquer them one at a time.
  • Writing down my negative emotions allowed me to wipe them clean from my mind. Think of it as a laptop: after having browsed for a long time, I was able to clear my RAM and start fresh. My mind was finally clear from negative thoughts.

After doing this, I was finally able to sleep, and the next day, I slowly started to tackle these small obstacles.

This is just one example of how I manage to think positively and eliminate negative thoughts from dominating my mind.

Here are other actionable steps you can follow in order to achieve the same thing.

Step 1: Turn Every Obstacle into Smaller “Challenges”

In the intro, you read that I was stressed because I was worrying about a big number of small obstacles as opposed to one big devastating obstacle. Writing down my worries allowed me to zoom out and look at the bigger picture.

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As a result, I observed my problems as single challenges that I could overcome.

When you’re currently surrounded with negativity – whether that’s because of a stressful project or problems in a relationship – you should try to dissect that challenge into different sub-challenges.

For example, if you have to deliver a huge presentation at work on Friday, try to think of this big task as multiple smaller tasks:

  • Find sources to support your presentation
  • Think of interesting anecdotes, introductions or examples
  • Create a general outline of your presentation
  • Complete the first 5 slides
  • Add a small video or puzzle to your presentation
  • Finish the presentation
  • Think of a keyword for each slide to remember what you have to say
  • Practice the presentation in order to finish it within 30 minutes
  • Deliver a great presentation

While this example may not be relevant to you, the message is all the same. You can tackle pretty much any obstacle – no matter how big it may seem – as long as you take it one step at the time.

That’s how you can eliminate negative thoughts such as “I can never do that” or “I’ll never be good enough” or “I’ll never reach that goal” from controlling your actions.

Take it one step at the time and pretty much any goal becomes manageable.

Step 2: Realize That Positive Thoughts Can Be a Choice

Happiness is determined as follows:[1]

  • 50% is determined by genetics
  • 10% is determined by external factors
  • 40% is determined by your own outlook

This determination has been studied by numerous researchers, and while the details differ, the results all share the same observation:

Your happiness can be influenced by your own thoughts.

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Even though there are things in life that we cannot control, we can still often control how we react to these things.

In that sense, we might not get to control 100% of our happiness but we can still influence a big chunk of it.

I believe we can learn to influence the 40% of our happiness that is determined by our own personal outlook. Happiness is a choice, and you can learn to recognize these situations on your own.[2]

How does this help you to think positive and eliminate negative thoughts?

Well, because this shows you that it pays off to learn how to think positively in difficult situations.

By developing this skill, you can really increase happiness in your life. It is definitely not always easy, but you can change a bad day into a good one just by focusing on the positives instead of the negatives.

This is the reason why I love this quote of Winston Churchill:

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity whereas an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Step 3: Spend Time with the People That Have a Positive Influence on Your Life and Be Grateful for Them

Almost everybody has a small circle of people that they trust and love, whether that’s a partner, family or friends. These people have a positive influence on your life.

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I want you to focus on spending more time with these people. When you’re surrounded by negativity, you are more likely to postpone activities that require you to be outgoing. You’d rather be lazy and watch Netflix all day than to go outside and meet up with your friend.

You must try to break out of your comfort zone and spend more time with the people who actually have a positive influence on your happiness. These people can act as a support net for the moments when you’re feeling down. This might sound intimidating and scary, but it’s a step that should not be underestimated.

Even when you don’t feel comfortable sharing your challenges with these people, there’s another thing you can actively do to initiate positive thoughts; and that’s to be grateful that these people are in your life:

  • Be grateful that you have parents who support you, no matter what you do.
  • Be grateful for the friends with whom you can laugh your ass off.
  • Be grateful that you have a healthy and loving partner.
  • Be grateful that you have a kid that looks up to you and thinks you are the best.

Being grateful might sound like a rather pointless thing to do. Why would being grateful help you in thinking more positively and eliminating negative thoughts?

Well, the answer is simple.

Being grateful forces you to think of the good things that you already have in your life. This allows you to face your issues with optimism, instead of negativity. People that actively practice gratitude are much better able to deal with toxic emotions.

So what do you have to do?

Go out there and meet up with the people you love, and be grateful for having these people in your life.

To help inspire you to feel more grateful, here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life.

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Step 4: Don’t Give up After a Setback

So you had a bad day last week? Or maybe a terrible week in which you allowed negative thoughts to control your life? Who cares!

We are only human, so we’re bound to experience a day of negativity every once in a while. It’s important to realize that everybody occasionally experiences negative thoughts in their life. Eternal happiness does not exist. Even the happiest man alive has experienced negativity and sadness on some days.

What you need to when this inevitably happens to you:

  • Don’t let this set you back.
  • Don’t interpret it as a failure
  • Don’t let it stop you from trying to think positive

You see, even the most optimistic person experiences negativity on occasion. Sure, we can try to be as positive as possible every day, but we have to accept that negativity is something that we have to deal with from time to time.

So what if you’re engulfed in negative thoughts today? Screw it and know that tomorrow is a new day and that you can try to work on this again.

Take a look at this article and learn about Why Negative Emotions Aren’t That Bad (And How to Handle Them).

Final Thoughts

In the end, there’s no arguing that we cannot control 100% of our happiness. We can’t stand in front of a mirror, repeat the words “I am thinking happy thoughts only” ninety-nine times and accept to suddenly be happy.

It doesn’t work like that.

However, there are a number of things we can do to at least improve our mindset in the situations where we do get to choose how we react to external factors.

I hope that you have a better idea of what you can do in these situations. Sooner than later, you will influence your own mindset to think positively and to eliminate negative thoughts.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Marconnet via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] For a State of Happiness: Happiness: it’s not just your genes, stupid!
[2] Tracking Happiness: How Happiness Can Be A Choice

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