1. Forgiving and Moving on

    August 4, 2014

    Forgiving and moving on

    Forgiving and moving on is an important part of leading a more positive and enjoyable life. It seems like holding onto grudges stains our hearts and doesn’t allow us to move on, keeping us stuck in a negativity cycle. Or with a grief in our hearts.

    You may reply: “Forgiving someone is not as easy as it seems.” Depending on what’s been done to you, I tend to agree.  It often takes some time before someone is ready to forgive. But you also need to be open to that thought or you might end up carrying that grudge your whole life.

    Being imperfect humans that we are, we might start to generalize based on our grudge. I often hear people say “everyone is selfish and has a hidden agenda” based on a disagreement with someone they cared deeply about. Holding on to those negative feelings only prevents you from seeing the positive in our life and moving on. And like the self-fulfilling prophecy theory by sociologist Robert Merton states, the more negative or positive is your vision of life, the more probable it is for you to follow a path where your beliefs are met. Meaning, if you expect the worse, the worse will happen with a little help from you. (This is why keeping an optimistic mind usually helps).

    Why forgive someone?

    Not being able to forgive someone and repairing a broken relationship, especially with a family member is one of the most common regrets in later life and for people facing death. At the end of one’s life cycle, people are able to admit to themselves that holding on to a grudge and not being able to forgive someone was simply a waste of time and good energy.

    Also, the power of forgiving as personal transformation cannot be ignored. Forgiving someone is a liberating process, a way to grow on a personal level. Being able to forgive and move on is a way to live a more fulfilling and liberated life. Holding on to a grudge is, in some ways, a form of imprisoning yourself.


  2. When you’re depressed: A lesson in self-forgiveness

    June 4, 2013

    stop self-blaming

    by Zita Weber, Ph.D.

    Too often, depression results from excessive self-criticisms.  When you’re feeling guilty, it’s easy to get too down on yourself.  Sometimes the guilt feelings are imaginary and even if they feel real, they can be overly intensified and make you feel worthless.    Getting away from this self-blaming approach is key to starting to feel better about yourself.

    Getting away from a self-blaming approach

    Learn to replace self-blame with a constructive and realistic attitude.  It’s always more empowering to look to the future and what you can do to improve your situation.  Don’t linger in the past.  Sometimes we hear what appear to be simplistic expressions such as:  ‘It’s all water under the bridge’ and ‘What’s done is done’.  Learn to embrace these expressions and take them seriously.  Make your peace with the past but resolve to do things in the present and the future that will make you feel better about yourself.  Learn from past mistakes, but don’t hold onto any blame.

    Learn to practice self-forgiveness

    Practicing self-forgiveness might sound challenging, but the devastating effects of not doing so are highlighted in a novel, Ironweed, which was made into a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep.  The main character, Francis Phelan, accidentally drops his infant son on the floor and the child dies of complications as a result of the injury.  Although this happened many years before the beginning of the novel, the tragic event is revealed through Francis’s nightmarish flashbacks.  Francis is restless, becomes a wanderer and an alcoholic.  While his wife is prepared to forgive him and have him back at home, Francis can’t forgive himself.  In not being able to forgive himself, he dooms himself to a hellish existence.  If only Francis could learn to forgive himself, he could reclaim his life.  The moral of the story is:  don’t be unforgiving of yourself.

    Begin practicing self-forgiveness by accepting that we all make mistakes and we all have times in our lives when we might feel down and depressed because we believe we haven’t met our own standards of behavior.  Learn from these challenges and make sure that you forgive yourself and move on to a more positive place.

    Keep a journal

    Keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings will help you tremendously when it comes to self-understanding – and self-forgiveness.  Don’t put pressure on yourself by keeping a daily journal if that doesn’t work for you – but make sure that you do write down the important thoughts and feelings that might lead to disorganized, chaotic and self-blaming ideas.

    It’s useful when keeping a journal to dialogue with yourself – ask yourself questions.  It might be difficult asking these questions of yourself, but remember – by asking yourself questions you are clarifying thoughts and feelings and adopting a more problem-solving stance.

    Asking questions – and answering them as honestly as possible – will empower you in your thinking, making matters clearer and imposing a kind of sense and order on them.

    For more skills and strategies in dealing with depression, see Losing the 21st Century Blues (http://zitaweber.com/new-releases/losing-the-21st-century-blues)

    Author Bio: Zita Weber, Ph.D. has worked as a counselor and therapist with individuals, couples and families.  She has researched and written about communication, relationships, sexuality, depression and loss and grief.  More information about her work and books can be found at:  http://zitaweber.com.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian