Friday’s Lies: I Can’t Be Forgiven.

There are some pretty bad things humans can do to one another: Murder, Hurt, Steal, Lie, Cheat, Tease, Bully.

I'm Too ___. (3)And there are some pretty horrible things we can do to ourselves as well: Murder, Hurt, Steal, Lie, Cheat, Tease, Bully. We murder ourselves by suicide, suddenly or gradually by the way we take care of ourselves. We can hurt ourselves mentally, spiritually, and physically. We steal from ourselves by not giving ourselves credit that’s due us – not allowing ourselves to feel pride when we do something good. We lie to ourselves – saying that life is too hard, or that we are too ugly, or that we don’t deserve this or that. We cheat ourselves by taking shortcuts – not getting the education we need or learning life lessons that will benefit us later on. We bully ourselves, calling ourselves names and putting ourselves down.

One of these ways we hurt ourselves is by telling ourselves this lie: I can’t be forgiven. I don’t deserve mercy.

We tell ourselves that we are too bad. We are too far gone. We’ve done too much bad. We’ve bullied too much, cheated too much, hurt too many people, stolen too many hearts.

But, we need to learn the truth. We need to repeat it to ourselves as often and as long as it takes: The best way to move on is to forgive myself. I can do good if I give myself mercy. I can give life to others if I just give it to myself.

You can be forgiven. You can forgive yourself.

Guilt is painful. And once you’ve felt guilt, you know that you’re sorry. When you’re sorry, you can take the next step and forgive yourself.

You don’t have control over others. You may have done something really bad. You may not deserve to be forgiven. But you have to show yourself mercy. It’s one of life’s greatest gifts. There is a reason why mercy exists. We all need it.

Do yourself a favor & forgive. Forgive others, but forgive yourself as well. And the good news is, you may not be the only one big enough to forgive. 🙂

Friday’s Lies: I can’t control my emotions.

Lie: I can’t control my emotions.

Truth: I have the power to change my thinking; therefore, I am in control of my emotions.

I’ve been digging around trying to find something, ANYTHING, that tells me that I have little (or even no) I'm Too ___. (1)control over my emotions! I like having that excuse – that it’s not my fault when I burst into tears and yell sometimes. But, I just can’t find that article, journal, blog, book, or anything. There is absolutely no research suggesting that men and women (with a fully functioning brain) can’t control their emotions.

Thus, we present to you this lie: “I can’t control my emotions”.

I didn’t even know it was a lie until today. I was going to tell you about the exceptions, but it seems that there are none for the average person. Many factors contribute to making it difficult, and even seemingly impossible, for us to overcome emotions. These can include brain-related trauma and illness, mood disorders, autism, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, deep-rooted anger issues, hormones and the like. But, the answer to coping with and controlling our emotions, across the board, is simple:

We train and retrain our mind to think differently. We think positively and logically. We stop and capture our thoughts. We get in control.

Our thoughts and emotions “aren’t fixed facts; they’re flexible” (Sherman). In his article in Psychology Today, Jeremy E. Sherman, Ph.D.  tells us that in every scenario, you can, essentially, be your own author. You just need to “tell a different story” in order to “automatically generate a different emotionally response”. Imagine that your sibling has been poking you and you’ve been asking him/her to, pretty please, stop poking me for the past ten minutes. Your frustration is boiling. You are getting anxious and stressed. Your face is turning red and you are getting hot with the type of anger that can’t be described. You’re annoyed. Your story is that you have had a bad day already and your sibling is making it worse. You don’t need this kind of crap.

Change your story. Your sibling is poking you because they love you. This is the only time of day that you get to spend with them. They just want your attention for a minute. After all, you love them as well. Remember when they were born and you felt on top of the world? You take a deep breath and decide that instead of screaming at them, you will poke them back and play with them for the next ten minutes, then tell your mom that you really need to do your homework. Would they please occupy your brother/sister while you work on it?

There is a choice.

Here is an excerpt from a study conducted over a full year and a half, recorded in Neuro Image:

“Aversive feelings such as anger, sadness, and anxiety often disrupt individuals’ attempts at self-control, resulting in impulsive behaviors and decisions. It remains uncertain how this happens. Common sense suggests that people who act rashly when they are upset fail to successfully inhibit their impulses because they are unmotivated or unable to do so. Yet just the opposite may be true: people may fail at self-control while they experience negative emotions because they excessively recruit inhibitory processes” (Chester).

Maybe we simply don’t want to change our emotions so we hide behind them. Our friend did something wrong and we believe we have the right to hold that against them. We inhibit ourselves, not allowing our brain to respond in a better way. The Chester study goes on to show that the more we practice positive emotions and positive thinking, the better we get at it. But, it can seem impossible if we have a habit of inhibiting our positive responders. All in all, “our beliefs and expectations about a person or event or situation directly influence …our feelings (Grohol). Other people may contribute to them, but they don’t cause our feelings. We get that responsible.

Even at the worst of my anxiety disorder, I learned that if I took control and told myself that I was going to be okay on the onset of a panic attack, it was less overwhelming. I could function afterward. And the more that I engaged in this positive self-talk, this self-encouragement, the more I was in control of my anxiety. It didn’t go away for a while, but the more and more I practiced this, the more it went away. It gave me my life back. Why don’t I apply this idea to my other emotions?

My friend and I were just talking about how women are defined by the stereotype that we can’t control ourselves – that we are crazy human beings that can go off at any moment. And all women are, at some point, viewed this way. I know that I am and, I see now, that taking on that stereotype is my own fault. I’m reminded of when I was in high school and all the girls were talking about how their hormones controlled them and there was nothing they could do about how they acted toward others. I remember thinking, I don’t have the urge to treat other people badly just because I’m PMS-ing. And I’m ashamed that I forgot that. Our hormones don’t control our thoughts. Our thoughts are what control our hormones.

We don’t have to yell at our spouses or our families, our roommates or our computer – we don’t have to act annoyed at them – every time we don’t feel well. We CAN control our emotions, so we CAN control how we treat others. It’s something to remember. Something true.

And now that we know the truth, we can be open to a whole new range of possible responses to others and to ourselves (Sherman). And I think that is rather exciting! We can get our lives back – our friendships, our marriages, our relationships with our siblings, with our kids, with our parents. It’s a positive thought, and I for one, think I might hold on to it. 🙂 Let’s write a different story and live better lives.

 

Resources

Sherman, Jeremy E., Ph.D. “Total Control vs. No Control Theory of Emotions: Can You Control Your Emotions or Not?” Psychology Today. N.p., 13 June 2010. Web. 10 Aug. 2016.

 

Chester, David S. “How Do Negative Emotions Impair Self-control? A Neural Model of Negative Urgency.” NeuroImage 132 (2016): 43-50. Science Direct. Web. 11 Aug. 2016

 

Grohol, John M., Psy.D. “We Are Responsible for Our Own Feelings | World of Psychology.” World of Psychology. Psych Central, 30 Aug. 2008. Web. 10 Aug. 2016.

Friday’s Lies: I’m Too _______.

I'm Too ___. (1)I’m too fat. I’m too skinny. I’m too ugly. My teeth are too crooked. My skin is too wrinkly.

I’m too stupid. I’m too useless. I’m too weak.

I’m too far gone. I’m too late. I’ve done too many bad things.

Do some of these “I’m too ______”s seem familiar? What are some of these sorts of statements that you tell yourself? It might not even be consciously, but you probably say something negative to yourself – and sometimes even out loud to others. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t say some variety of these statements. But let’s be honest. Almost all of them are lies in the name of self-deprecation, self-pity, or just self-hate.

Let’s talk about lies for a few weeks – lies that we tell ourselves – lies we allow ourselves to believe. We take them in and they begin to root themselves as truth in the center of our minds. After a while, they begin to control us. They take over our lives and impact our relationship with ourselves and our relationships with others. They change the way we view ourselves, when they have no right to do so.

Here are five true statements to help you (and me) combat the lies that we tell ourselves every day:

1)      How we see ourselves is hardly EVER how others see us.

 

I’ve always had this weird idea that I was bigger than anyone thought I was. When I walk around, sometimes I feel like people have to go around me because, in my mind, I’m three times wider than I actually am. But everyone has always told me how small I am. People don’t view me as fat. It’s all a lie I tell myself to make me feel bad.

 

There have been many people I’ve known that think they are too skinny. When they say that, I’m surprised because I’ve never thought of them that way. The same with people that tell me they’re fat.

 

Most human beings (the halfway decent ones at least) don’t look at other people and judge them for how they look. We should see beauty in each other. If they do view us a certain way, it’s probably because they are insecure with themselves, or because they are just plain mean.

 

Don’t tell yourself something another person wouldn’t tell you.

 

2)      Repeating lies to myself will only make me feel worse.

 

Science tells us that when we think negatively, we slow down certain parts of the brain. We need optimism if we want to thrive. By believing that you are too _____, you allow that negative thinking to cloud other aspects of your life – your health, in particular. You make yourself more prone to depression, loneliness, as well as to other physical effects of stress.

 

Don’t make yourself feel worse. You don’t need that. You don’t deserve that. And that, my friend, is the truth.

 

3)      I don’t want people to lie to me. So, I shouldn’t be lying to myself.

 

We’ve all known liars. From our youngest years, people have lied to us – whether it be about the Easter Bunny or about something more serious (sorry, Easter Bunny). It’s not cool. Again, you do not deserve to be lied to no matter who you are or what you’ve done.

 

We don’t like when people straight-up lie to us, but we don’t give ourselves the respect we want from others. That’s not fair, is it?

 

4)      Self-harm begins with lying to yourself.

 

You don’t do good to yourself by allowing your inner voice to put you down. It’s a form of self-harm to lie to yourself. Do you feel good when you tell yourself that you have too many freckles – that your arm is too flappy? No. No, you don’t. I don’t.

 

When you tell yourself unnecessary lies, you hurt yourself. And when you hurt yourself, you hurt your family. You hurt your friends. It’s a downward spiral that we all need to look out for and get out of before we get trapped.

 

Let’s not dwell in self-deception. Let’s not live in self-pity. Find a truth and make yourself feel better. You have beautiful eyes. Your hair has a nice colour to it. You take care of yourself and you look good naturally.

 

5)      Taking a step back from the mirror might reveal some reality.

 

I’ve caught myself at times looking in the mirror, using a mental microscope, scouring my body for any and every so-called imperfection. I get closer to the mirror and all I see is that one blackhead, that one pimple, that one stretch mark, etcetera.

 

But, I’ve learned to take a step back. To look at all of me. My worth is not revealed by that blackhead or that stretchmark – not by the bags under my eyes or the fat on my abdomen. My worth is in who I am. When I take a step back and see all of me, I let myself think that I am beautiful. A work of art. I let myself think of the good inside of me and how my smile can send joy to others. Who I am and what I look like is my story to others.

 

Take a step back. Look at yourself. Love yourself. You have so much to give. We just have to stop believing the lies.

You’re not too anything. You may be medically obese or medically underweight. That just means you need to take care of yourself. But it doesn’t define who you are as a person. You are a human being. As such, you are wonderful.

I’m sitting in a café right now and I count forty-six people. Not one of them is ugly. As I look around, I see beauty in all of them, joy in some faces and stress in others. Some are laughing, a little child is screaming, many are wrapped up in gossip and still others are simply enjoying the friendship that goes with stopping in the middle of the day for a cup of coffee and a chat. None of them, no matter their size, are too anything. They are just right in themselves. And I believe that to be the truth.

Change and happiness will come when you simply tell yourself the truth: You have beauty. You have worth. You are a work of art. If someone painted you and put that painting in a museum, you would not be passed by. The truth is that there is an art to every person. Believe in that.