One of the most common obstacles we encounter on our way to living our best life or the life of our dreams is negative thinking.
In this article, I will show you how to overcome this obstacle.
To start, take a second to think about what you would look like, as your best self, or your qu_ing self (qu_ing is a mix of the words king and queen, it’s a representation of your higher self, that goes beyond gender, you can read more about the term here).
To become the qu_ing you were always meant to be, your highest self, the most elementary thing you have to attain is the belief or embodied knowledge that you have the power to create a life by your design.
Either way, if you’d like to start to live as your highest self, this requires working on a clear idea of what that highest self looks like and what kind of life they would lead.
Because after that, you can begin to set your goals accordingly.
But to reach those goals, we need to overcome some obstacles or blockages. I’ve defined ten major obstacles, that I’ve encountered in myself and my work and negative thinking is one of those ten.
In this article, I will show you how to overcome negative thinking, share a bit about my own journey and, most importantly, I will share a technique with you to help you process your feelings in a way, so they won’t turn into negative thinking, and with that block you from acting towards your goals.
I will also explain why it is important to let go of shame, blame and other negative thoughts about ourselves, and why at the same time, these are also necessary and helpful emotions, which should never just be ignored.
Then let’s come back to the question we started with: What would you look like as your qu_ing self?
Take a second to really see yourself at your best, or as your highest self, and write down what you would feel like.
What are your thoughts? What are your actions? Who are you with? What does your life look like?
Once you are done, ask yourself how much of your time you would spend with thinking negatively about yourself and speaking to yourself, judging yourself, the way you speak to yourself and judge yourself right now?
If there is a gap between the way you imagine your self-talk with your qu_ing self and your current self, then we will see how we can close that gap today.
Because, contrary to common beliefs, we have to change the way we think about ourselves before our situation can change and not wait for the situation to change so we can think differently about ourselves.
By changing from negative thinking to positive thinking, your life will take a positive turn and this shift will allow you to actually become your qu_ing self.
If it seems difficult to imagine being free of all negative thinking and feelings, don’t worry and don’t expect your thinking to change in a day.
This is a process, a practice, something we return to again and again, until it eventually does become our new reality and our natural state. Belief and commitment to this are essential.
But it does not have to be hard. Simply remind yourself that whenever you fall back to old routines, old ways of thinking, you can come back to your new way of thinking. And it gets significantly easier over time.
Many of the thought and behavioural patterns we develop are from as far back as childhood and are deeply rooted. Much like the time it might take to create a new path in a thickly wooded forest, the same is true for building new neural pathways in our brain.
We will be working on new ways of reacting, responding and perceiving your life if you join the I AM CREATOR School, or start working with me 1-to-1, but you can also enter this journey on your own. It might just feel easier and safer to do it with guidance.
So, like the pushed aside branches that snap right back into place the first several times of forging a new path, you will likely fall back to old ways of being and experiencing in the beginning.
Just don’t give up when it doesn’t work right away, or if it is difficult at times and you think it doesn’t work for you.
It works for everyone, it simply might not have worked for you yet. But if you keep trying, it will work eventually. You can always get the help you need.
Initially, it’s about coming back and making it a loving practice. Then bit by bit it starts to change your reality. And every second more that you feel good, is a win to how you felt before.
I have a very useful exercise for this, which I share with my coaching clients.
If you’d like to practice with me, I’d be happy to share it with you as well and to meet you for a first session.
To change your thinking might take time, but it is absolutely doable and it will change your life.
Photo by Artem Yellow on Pexels.
The relationship between Thinking, Feeling and Acting
First, let’s get crystal clear on what we are talking about.
The way we think directs the way we act, and the way we act causes us to have certain experiences, which in turn create emotions and feelings.
Emotions are the human messengers, they are our connection to our subconscious and they are always valid and should be listened to, if we want to really get to know ourselves.
There’s a wonderful book called The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren, which I can highly recommend, if you’d like to dive into this topic more deeply.
The most important thing to know is that emotions are, as I said above, messengers. Once they’ve delivered the message, we are not supposed to hold on them and let them form our identity.
Fear, for example, is a warning that we’re stepping into unknown territory. It sharpens our senses to let us become aware and very present, so we can safely and courageously navigate a situation.
We’re not meant to live in constant fear. If we do that, we’re in our head, but not in the present moment. The practice is to always come back to the present moment and not to stay stuck in your head. I’ll talk more about how to do this further down.
Fear is not meant to stop us from taking action or to think about all the things that could go wrong before they actually happen or, most likely, even though they will never happen.
Emotions are also not meant as a tool to create an identity, by thinking of ourselves as a fearful person, for example.
We all experience fear, the difference lies in how we react to it.
And this is where we can use the power of self-actualization coaching, by looking at what the people do, who deal with this well.
For you, that would mean asking yourself what your qu_ing self, your best-self would do. Would your inner qu_ing be stopped by fear?
Or would she remind herself from now on that whenever fear arises, it is a warning sign for us to sharpen our senses, to be alert and aware and to master the situation bravely and gracefully?
It makes me think of this poem by Atticus Poetry:
“She was powerful
not because she wasn’t scared
she went on so strongly
despite the fear.”
We feel the fear, we hear the message and then we make a conscious decision about how to act.
And with that, we can master any situation or learn from it, if it did not work out the way we wanted to.
This example shows us that our reactions have nothing to do with the feelings or emotions we have, but everything with our self-image.
If we think of ourselves as brave, we will do it anyway, if we think of ourselves as weak, we won’t.
This is why we start by imaging our best-self, so we can utilize this image, when we decide how we want to act.
We are the ones thinking about ourselves in certain ways, no one else is manipulating our thoughts. Which is fantastic because we have the power to change the way we think.
Creating a life of our design, starts with taking control over the way that we think about ourselves.
There’s this quote by Henry Ford:
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
To be very clear: First there is thinking, then there is action and that action evokes emotions and feelings. If we want to change the way we feel, we have to change the way we think.
If we blame ourselves for feelings we have, nothing is won.
If we accept emotions as messengers, we can learn from them, and change our thoughts and actions so that over time we will also feel differently.
In this article, I will share a practice with you to work through your feelings as they arise so that they don’t turn into negative thinking about yourself, but first I will tell you something about my transformation, so you can see what is possible.
I used to feel bad about everything. I have previously written about moving from hating myself to loving myself, and if I hadn’t made that shift, I surely wouldn’t be here like this now.
I’m sharing this to show that no matter where you are at or how you feel about yourself right now, the shift is possible.
One of the things I was constantly worried about, before I started self-actualizing, was taking up too much space.
I very vividly remember one moment, where I was sitting in a very beautiful and tiny Ethiopian restaurant in Berlin and the whole time I was there, instead of enjoying the lovely food and company, I busied myself with trying not to be in anybody’s way.
I could not relax, and constantly looked and moved around, anticipating everybody’s next move so that I could make it comfortable for them.
I did not believe that I had a right to be happy if other people were not, or knew how to allow myself to have a good time independent of what other people were doing or how they were feeling.
I made the way I felt depend on my circumstances instead of taking ownership over my own life.
This experience was linked to a kind of anxiety I felt in my chest, I felt this very often. My chest got tight in these moments, I felt stressed and I was afraid that somebody might get mad at me, simply for existing in a certain space.
For years, this behaviour and these feelings had existed without me even being aware of them, it was my normal state of being.
But once I became aware of it, I could change it.
Not right away, but I could start by asking why I even felt that I was in the way.
This, independent of the reasons for it, obviously let to the realization that I have a right to be and even enjoy my existence in a restaurant, which in fact exists for exactly that reason: for people to enjoy themselves over a great meal.
Now, feeling bad about myself was a deeply engrained pattern and caused by a deeply carved in way of thinking about myself in negative ways, almost to the point of barely allowing myself to exist at all.
No wonder I felt stressed and unhappy most of the time!
And the thing is, whatever we believe, we find proof for.
So, when I was sitting in the restaurant thinking I was in the way, or that I would take up too much space, or that I was responsible for causing other people to have to move around me, then I would find proof of that wherever I looked.
But if I had been relaxed and enjoyed myself, everyone would have been able to move around me just fine and I could have noticed that I had nothing to worry about.
This is how I live now.
Photo by Adrienn on Pexels
But to see the situation differently and then to experience it differently, I first had to start thinking differently. If we have a long tradition of thinking a certain way, we usually can’t just switch it off in a day.
For me, it took about a year of constant coming back and reminding myself of my right to exist.
This was followed by another year of reminding myself that not only did I have the right to exist, I did actually also have the right to enjoy myself, or the opportunity to enjoy myself and no reason not to take it.
Again, this is where I see the power and beauty of self-actualization coaching, it does not matter what has caused this or what has happened to me in the past, to be or feel this way.
What’s in the past, I forgive and bring love and compassion to, I cannot change it. I don’t even have to understand it.
If I hold on to negative feelings about myself or other people from my past, I limit myself and I distract myself from the present.
Instead, I come back to the most important question of all: What do I want?
In this case, I want to be able to enjoy myself in a restaurant.
From here, I ask myself what I need for that, which is to be able to relax. And what do I need to relax?
To know that I’m welcome in the restaurant. And so on. You can play this game any time.
It takes practice and patience, but it always works.
Through this, I’ve seen the world change in front of my eyes.
I now know that the only thing that is standing in the way of being happy and blissful in any moment is my mind. Not that I need to be happy and blissful at any moment, that might be too exhausting, but I know I can get to any feeling state if I set my mind to it.
And so can you.
The fact that this is in our hands does not ever mean we have to or should blame ourselves for not having done anything about this until now, but it does mean that we can change it any time we want to.
I know now that how happy or unhappy I am about something never depends on the circumstances, the person, the situation or event, but on the way I see it and how I handle it.
My way of existing in this world is completely in my power and my well-being is my responsibility, nobody else’s. And the same is true for you.
If this thought upsets you (believe me, I’ve been there) or makes you feel hopeless because you don’t know how to change things, then you are precisely where you need to be to begin.
I can teach you how to get full control over the way you live your life, and with that, you can enable yourself to feel the way that you would like to. It’s why I’ve developed the qu_ing-coaching programme and opened the I AM CREATOR School.
So basically, I moved from feeling like I was a victim of my circumstances, to taking control over my life and living it the way I want to, which is in a joyful, explorative and empowered way.
I moved from thinking that because of the experiences I had in the past, it was understandable that I had a hard time existing and that it was normal or logical that because of the resulting circumstances I wasn’t happy or had the ability to decide how to live my life – to changing my thoughts so that I could learn to enjoy myself and then actually began to enjoy myself and live a joyful life, the way that I want it to be.
Nothing in my surrounding or in my past had to change for that. I had to change.
And no matter what your experiences were until now, you can do that too.
How to overcome negative thinking
I started this article with asking you what your best self, or qu_ing self would look like and I did this for a reason.
In order to change anything, we need to know why we want that change and believe that we can make this change.
I hope my story has shown you, that it is possible and can be done from any situation.
If you are mostly happy in your life, even though you think negatively about yourself from time to time, then you might not see a reason why you should change anything about that, and that is absolutely fair.
If, however, you want more from your life than you currently have, then it will be worth the effort.
There’s another thing I would like to get out of the way before we start, though:
Many people I encounter, think that getting upset with themselves, feeling bad about themselves is necessary to change their behaviour, and to learn and grow.
I might have believed that myself in my past, but I know now that that is not true at all.
If that is something you believe, then I would kindly ask you to think again.
In your life, has your feeling bad about anything ever changed something for the better?
Really, if you can name one thing, I’d be more than happy to hear it. Email me.
In my experience, most of us have simply grown up with some sort of punishment.
We were punished or told off when we didn’t do things right or didn’t act how we were expected to act, and as a result, we now punish ourselves when we don’t meet our expectations.
But punishing ourselves will never create a positive change. It only causes us to try to suppress our feelings, push them under the carpet, and to think that something is wrong with us for being and acting in certain ways.
The alternative to this kind of reaction is to feel and acknowledge our feelings, process them, learn from them and move on.
I will show you how to do that in a minute. First, let’s take a look at an example.
What suppression looks like
Here’s an example, of how suppression shows up in everyday life:
Let’s imagine your child is jumping on your couch, even though you told them before that they shouldn’t jump on the couch. You’ve explained to them why, yet they are jumping on the couch again.
Now you have two options:
- You can be mad and/or punish them because they haven’t listened to you.
- You can check in and see what’s going on with them and find out what caused them to jump on the couch, and then find a different way for them to let go off their excess energy.
Which one do you think will work better and create lasting change?
The thing is, that whatever it is, they have a reason for acting the way they do and by punishing them for their action instead of resolving the cause, we will never know the reason and it will likely come up again and again until it does get resolved.
And the same is true for how we deal with ourselves.
Children, unless this has already become a practice, cannot come home and say this thing happened that I don’t know how to deal with.
They will come home and act out or withdraw when something has happened and they need the help of an adult, to guide them through the process of resolving what has happened until they can do it themselves.
Many of us never had that guidance, so we simply copy how our parents have dealt with us when something was wrong.
Most likely, our parents are or were also doing exactly the same, recreating what they had learned from their parents.
No blame, no shame. We’re all trying our best.
How we can resolve this
We are the ones who can break this cycle, though, because we are the ones who have access to the tools we need to change our thinking and, with that, our behaviour and our feelings.
Here’s what we can do at the moment when discomfort, stress, anxiety or even panic arises.
There is a very simple breathing technique to calm our nervous system, that always works:
Breathe out longer than you breathe in.
Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for a second, and then breathe out for five. Repeat this until you feel calm, safe or clear-headed again.
Breathing out longer than we breathe in tells our nervous system that we’re out of danger and allows us to be able to analyse the situation we are in, instead of having a panic reaction to it.
Now if something has happened that made you really unsettled you might also have to go for a run, or work out, or scream, or cry, or dance, or bake a cake, or clean up your house to let go of the excess energy, that has been building up from the moment when you didn’t process something sufficiently that has been triggered now and causes you this great discomfort.
But once you’ve released that energy it’s time to listen and to solve the problem, where it originates, and not to punish yourself for a natural response to something upsetting that happened.
And to say this very clear: we live in a world, where there’s barely one person who doesn’t carry around a huge list of unresolved emotions, traumas and stories, so getting upset by the way other people act or react is the most natural thing. It often hurts.
Like the child who is jumping on the couch, not because they disrespect you, but because they don’t know how to help themselves in any other way, we react the way we do because we don’t know how to act any better in that moment.
And that’s really all it means. It does not mean that we will always have to act that way, or that there is something inherently wrong with us for acting that way.
It simply means that until now, we’ve not learned how to react differently, but we can do that now.
In that moment we might be thinking: Why do I always panic when something happens? What’s wrong with me?
Or: Why can’t I react more calmly? Or: Why can’t I respond more appropriately?
We’ve learned to blame or shame ourselves, for reacting to something the way we do and we think that the way we feel or react makes us bad or faulty and create our identity around it.
This is really tragic because it has such an immense effect on our well-being and our lives.
Photo by Mesut çiçen on Pexels.
Every time we shame or punish ourselves, we block the natural flow of life and push a part of ourselves away. I believe that this is precisely how we create scary ghosts, or bad dreams and sickness. If we don’t look at the causes, they will haunt us until we do.
Do you remember how in sharing my story and my past experiences I said that in those situations I experienced a tightening of my chest?
It can help immensely to notice what is actually going on in our bodies when we feel stress, anxiety or panic because, over time, it allows us to see patterns.
The first step is always awareness and watching your life closely to even start to notice these moments.
The next step can then be to notice what you feel in your body and where, start the breathing and to tell yourself that this is just a feeling, an emotion, a message, it is not you, or the way you are.
You have the power to change how you react and by calming yourself down and regulating your breath you have taken the first step.
Now it’s time to investigate, what is going on and to check if your reaction is appropriate (this is me realizing that I had a right to exist and to be in any public place of my choosing and to enjoy it).
After we’ve calmed down, it’s time to release the negative energy, so we can move on freely after we have resolved what happened. This can be a simple mental note to let it go and visualizing sending the negative feeling off into the sky.
There are more ways of doing this, I’d be happy to share with you in a coaching session.
If you have a dog, you can often see this in action: After a dog gets into an argument or a stressful situation, it shakes its whole body and with that releases all the stress, to move on freely again.
I find shaking helps myself in these situations as well, but you will have to decide how comfortable you feel about doing that in public 😉
Can you feel a difference already?
I find that just bringing our awareness to these processes and acknowledging that what is going on with us is not our fault or something to blame ourselves for but just a natural process brings in a lot more lightness.
And to know that we have proven tools and strategies to use in these moments empowers us and with that already begins to change our experience.
Now all you have to do is to practice this until it becomes your new normal.
How does that feel?
What does all of this mean?
We now know that our emotions are helpful messengers, that they create feelings or felt sensations in our body, that can also help us to understand and notice them and that we have the power to decide how to react to them.
We do this by training our mind, making peace with our past and not identifying with our feelings.
If we choose to judge ourselves, shame or punish ourselves, we block what is possible in the moment and in our future.
If instead we allow for our emotions and feelings and hear them out and then channel our reaction, justified anger, for example, by running, yelling, whatever we find accessible, and then take action in a clear headed way, the whole world opens up to us.
But it’s a conscious choice we have to make.
We choose between limiting our natural ways of being (which will add even more feelings of unsettlement) and the choices we make (because we think we don’t deserve things or can’t handle them) by silencing ourselves, punishing ourselves for our feelings or reactions and thinking about ourselves in negative ways.
Or we can instead move back into the flow of things, by simply accepting and welcoming every feeling that comes up as a messenger and a natural reaction to the circumstances.
Every feeling is valid and has its place, all we have to do is listen to it, feel through it, work it out, forgive ourselves and everyone else and then let it go and not hold on to it.
And catch ourselves when we fall back to blaming and shaming or punishing ourselves, or if we are feeling remorse for any way that we are.
And please never take this as an opportunity to add more blaming or shaming.
There is never a reason to shame yourself for shaming yourself again.
A simple: Oops, I did it again, will do.
And then get curious why that feeling came up and ask it what it needs.
And here is where the practical training comes in. Our bodies run a sort of algorithm: If… then….
This equation gets set in motion automatically.
For example: If I think I hurt somebody’s feelings, then I start blaming myself.
If I didn’t get up on time again, then I start blaming myself.
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
In Buddhism, the idea of ultimate freedom lies in the moment between an event occurring and our reaction.
Because in that moment we can decide how to react instead of just playing our algorithm.
There are two ways to be able to reach that freedom more and more, which are best used in combination.
The first one is a daily meditation practice, which will be beneficial for this, but also in so many more ways.
I would go as far as to say that any person who refuses to meditate daily, despite all the evidence of how incredibly helpful, if not even necessary, it is to be able to live a fulfilled and present life, is actively harming themselves.
Again, no judgement. We are all exactly where we need to be. From here we grow.
If you tried meditating, but it makes you too uncomfortable, then get the help you need to start. Because everyone can meditate, it’s just a matter of finding out how we can approach it and start it, in a way that makes us feel safe doing so.
The meditation practice helps with calming our nervous system and to stretch that moment between an event and our reaction. It helps us to slow down and become more aware and present.
Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels.
So once you start with your daily meditation practice or continue with it, you can simultaneously also start to take note of when your algorithms kick in.
For some it might be helpful to write it down, for others it might be enough to make a mental note. Just check in with yourself and see what works for you.
I suggest doing this as an experiment:
Set yourself a time frame, a week for example, and see if you can notice in which situations you start feeling bad.
Simply notice, and once you do, also see if you can describe how it feels in your body and where you feel it. Is it in your stomach, your heart? Does it feel tight? Does it hurt? What do you feel? What do you notice?
And once you start becoming aware of these situations, you can then start to interact with them.
Ask yourself what is happening or going on and simply see if you can stop the algorithm from happening by saying: I fucked up, OK, but I can learn from this, deal with the consequences and act better next time.
And that is really it. If you find it difficult to do that on your own, reach out to me or other professionals who can help you and practice this with you.
Remember: Every feeling is valid and OK, always, because it carries an important message, that we need to listen to, if we want to live in peace and in alignment with ourselves.
And there’s a big difference in how we feel and how we act. If we feel angry or even hateful, we can again, notice that feeling, take full responsibility for it, and see what we need to release it, without taking it out on anybody else.
Why Guilt, Shame and Regret are Necessary
What I talked about above, is the misuse of shame or guilt, or self-punishment, when we use it against ourselves (or others) as a go-to response for something unwanted or a feeling we hold on to about ourselves over time.
But just like any other emotion, these emotions carry messages for us as well.
Feeling guilt or shame or remorse, or regret, are absolutely relevant and welcome when we’ve made a mistake.
It’s a natural response, that helps us to understand that our actions weren’t in alignment with our intentions.
But it’s not supposed to be a permanent state.
When we feel guilt or shame, remorse or regret, maybe even anger or disappointment, or whatever else might come up, we can acknowledge that we did something wrong and make up for it.
If we’ve said something hurtful, overstepped a boundary, took something out on somebody who had nothing to do with it, we can practice to genuinely apologise for it. (If you’d like to know how, take a look here.)
Even if we felt mistreated and said something hurtful in return, we can still apologise, once we’ve got over our own hurt and calmly tell the other person why what they did or said hurt us, but that our response wasn’t fair either.
Conditioning often keeps us from doing just that and being honest with ourselves and others. We think we might lose our standing if we admit to a mistake or show weakness and, because of it, might be taken advantage of.
But none of that is true. The more honest we allow ourselves to be, the stronger and more trustworthy we become.
The more we can laugh about our mistakes and take them and ourselves less seriously, the easier it will be for ourselves and others to enjoy our presence and company.
Because if we always stay strong and show no weakness, we also lose connection.
It’s only when we honestly meet eye to eye, human to human, that we can make a meaningful connection, which really is what fuels our lives.
If we make mistakes that don’t involve other people, like not meeting our own deadlines, or acting in other ways that we don’t like, we still have to start with forgiving ourselves for it and only then can ask the question of why things happened this way. And then we can start to look for the root cause and change that.
To find answers to these questions might require some help because there might be blockages at play that you can’t see so easily, but you can get that help.
Often just asking the question: Why did I (not) do that? Will give us an answer, though, if we don’t go into punishing and shaming ourselves and bring in some patience to wait for the answer to appear.
Mistakes can become wonderful guides, just like our emotions, to get a realistic picture of where we are in life, if we choose to acknowledge them and learn from them.
And again, looking at a mistake and feeling sorry for ourselves, shame or guilt or getting mad won’t help or get us anywhere. Love compassion and the openness to change will.
The thing is, making mistakes is unavoidable, so we might as well enjoy them for the learning opportunities they present to us. Every mistake shows us, where we can grow and learn new things.
When we see it as an opportunity, it will start to feel better, quickly.
You didn’t do your homework on time and got a bad grade?
Try better next time.
You let your friend down, again, because you were too overwhelmed with your own things, to have capacities for it, even though you really wanted to be there?
Tell them exactly that, and start taking care of your own things first and without apologies.
If you can’t be there for yourself, you won’t be able to fully be there for others.
No matter which mistakes we make, there is no way we can change the past.
We can, however, change the present and the future, not by feeling guilty and holding on to the past, but by learning, apologising and letting go.
And allowing everybody else that same right.
This is how it will work every single time. And bit by bit, we start to relax more and that opens us up for more meaningful and deeper connections.
From now on, whenever you feel something, you now know that you are receiving a message.
And then you start taking the time to listen to that message and ask it what it wants and act accordingly. Bit by bit, you will get into the flow.
In a way, we could end all our work here.
Photo by Jenny Uhling on Pexels.
Because if you just practised this, over and over again, all will be well.
You’ll soon enough be your own super reliable guide because everything you need to know is already within you.
You’ve just suppressed this voice until now.
But if you’re a little bit like me, you will now have to take a break to digest all of this information.
I won’t end my work here because the more examples of this we see and the more we get into the grove of this kind of accepting, non-judgemental, kind, open and honest way of interacting, the easier it will become to actually integrate and live this.
Until we will all ultimately become the qui_ngs that we are meant to be and our own super reliable guides.
So come back here whenever you need.
One more note:
If other people choose to hold on to their pain, or hold a mistake over your head, that’s up to them, not to you. There’s still nothing you can do, and the more remorse you show, the more they might hold it over your head.
If you get to a state, however, where you can say: “I’ve said my apologies and I’m taking measures for it not to happen again, if you decide to hold on to this, this is on you. If you have more questions about this or feel insecure now, let’s talk about it some more.” you will see your problems getting resolved easily.
It’s only when we avoid them and not deal with them, that we will give them the power to haunt us forever.
It is our decision, every time:
Do I choose to avoid and hold on to bad feelings which won’t change anything for the better, or can I find a way to practice being open and honest about it, learn from the situation, let go, if necessary, apologize or forgive and move on to better things?
Which will you choose next time?
Recently, I overheard a conversation in which two people were talking about how to deal with abusers, and I think this is a very important point to consider as well.
There are ‘mistakes’ that are very hard to forgive.
Some people might never be able to forgive their abusers, though every evidence points towards the fact, that our life quality improves drastically, once we do.
So, I’d like to point out that forgiveness is not about the person we forgive, it is something we do for ourselves and our own peace of mind – whenever we can find the ability to do so in our hearts.
And no shame or hard feelings there either. Wounds take time to heal, and everyone heals in different ways and in their own timeline. Just consider that forgiving someone else is something that you do for yourself, not for them.
What I would also like to address is the call-out culture, many of us are quite familiar with.
Racism, sexism and other forms of oppression have been going on for way too long and it is more than understandable if we lose our patience and find it impossible to tolerate another person saying things or acting in ways that simply hurt and endanger lives.
This should always be called out.
Often, however, people get called out who are already trying their best because they are easier to reach than the people in power who cause even more damage.
Again, the question comes back to where we started.
What do we want from the person we are thinking about calling out?
If we think they are on the right way, but just didn’t know about the part where they said something hurtful yet, then maybe we can find a way, to call them in instead.
But we need to check in with our own capacities for that, if we have the patience for it, or are affected too much to stay calm, and if that’s the case to reach out to other people to do the work or trust that it will be done eventually.
If it’s people actively and deliberately spewing hate and division, I think they also need to be called in, but it might not be done by one person or even a group of people who also have other things to attend to and are personally affected.
In this case, there’s no question but to stand up and in strong opposition, to hate, fear-mongering or other intimidation practices and make it very clear that we will not tolerate them, none of us.
There is a small but, though.
Sometimes not paying attention at all can be an effective method as well.
Often people act in hateful ways, just to get attention. If that is the case, ignoring them might be the most effective option.
This is why it is so important to learn to trust our gut feeling again. Because once that connection is re-established we do always know what action is called for in any situation and if we are the right person to deal with it in that moment or not.
If we want to call somebody out just because we can, or because it makes us feel good or powerful, we can acknowledge that and start to begin the work on ourselves.
Because it all comes back to that one question: What do we want?
A short feeling of relief or a better world?
The choice is and will always be yours.