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Forgive & Forget? How to Let Go of Your Past and Forgive Yourself

 

You keep reliving it even though it was years ago. You wake up from a dead sleep, play the whole thing in your head and cringe. Why did you say that? What were you thinking? You shouldn’t beat yourself up over the past, but if you do, you’re certainly not alone.

Four in five women suffer from low self-esteem, the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report found. Low self-confidence can spill over into other areas of your life, causing nine out of ten women who suffer from it to avoid important activities such as socializing with friends when they don’t feel like they look good. This can breed anxiety and anger, making it difficult to forgive those perceived as contributing to your emotional distress. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to break this cycle. Here are five ways to and let go of past baggage that’s holding you back.

How to Let Go of Your Past

Accept How Your Values Have Changed Since the Past

One of the hardest parts of learning to forgive can be forgiving yourself. Often, we blame ourselves for our past, making it hard to forgive ourselves, which affects our ability to forgive others. Americans generally find it easier to forgive others than themselves, with 53 percent willing to seek help forgiving others, while only 43 percent are willing to seek help forgiving themselves, according to Fetzer Institute research.

One thing that can make forgiving yourself easier is realizing that your values have changed since the incident that hurt you. You probably thought and behaved very differently at that time in your life than you do now. Say, for example, you did something dumb and regrettable after drinking too much at a college party. Rather than beating yourself up over the mistake that happened years ago, learn from it. Faced with the same choice now, you’d likely do things differently. Accept that you’re a different, more mature person now and you don’t need to continue feeling the same way you felt then. If you have trouble reaching this point on your own, consider talking to a therapist who can help you work through past issues and give you advice on how to let go of the past and be happy.

Realize You Did the Best You Could at the Time

Another reason you may be blaming yourself for the past is that you feel like it’s your fault you didn’t do things differently. This may be blaming yourself for things that were beyond your control. It’s easy to look back and say “I should have done this or I could have said that.” Realizing that the way you behaved in the past was shaped by your life experiences at that time can be helpful. Give yourself some credit, and some leeway to make mistakes and grow up. It’s not always a graceful process. You probably did the best you could with the experiences and resources you had available then, which may have been limited. You may be evaluating yourself based on what you know now, without taking into account that you didn’t know as much back then. Don’t beat yourself up over things you didn’t have the experience to handle.

Turn Your Biggest Regrets into a Positive To-Do List

Dwelling on regrets from your past — about things that were done to you or things that you did — can trap you in a cycle of anxiety and anger or other negative emotions. But you can transform these negatives into positive motivation by using your regrets as learning opportunities. Make a list of some things you wish would have turned out differently. Use this to generate a to-do list of goals you’d like to accomplish. For example:

  • If you wished you’d treated your past significant other better, make it a conscious priority with your next (or current) one.
  • If you lost your cool when your best friend told you about something you didn’t agree with, make a point of listening first, rather than talking, in all conversations.
  • If one bar tends to turn into four and a night of poor decisions, make a commitment to leave at a certain time. “One more drink” is almost always a bad idea.

Learn how to let go of the past and move forward. What a privilege to use your past experiences — good and bad — to make your future a more positive experience for you and those around you.

Accept That Your Life’s Experiences Have Made You Who You Are Today

To forgive past wrongs, it can help to accept that good or bad, your past experiences have made you who you are today. These experience have shaped both your positive and negative character traits. You can’t change the past, but you can move forward based on who you are now. By knowing how to let go of the past and live in the present,  you’ll learn to accept your present self and use your past learning experiences to continue improving yourself from this point on.

Cut Yourself Some Slack: Mistakes Happen

A perfectionist attitude can contribute to low self-confidence and anger toward ourselves and others. If we expect ourselves to be perfect, we can never live up to our own standards and will have a hard time forgiving ourselves. It will also make it hard for us to accept and forgive others. Reminding yourself occasionally that no one is perfect can help you cut yourself some slack and relieve some anxiety.

Forgiving yourself isn’t an easy feat. It requires acceptance you did your best with the information you had at the time. It involves breaking the cycle of negative thoughts and learn how to forgive and let go. It means you have to cut yourself some slack and let go of the pain you don’t need to carry around. It’s hard work but is what you must do to grow.

If you need additional help to work through these issues, consider scheduling an appointment with a licensed therapist. ThriveTalk is a teletherapy service that lets you schedule appointments from any location using your phone or a webcam. To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact us here.

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Perfect Isn’t Real: Why the Body Positive Movement Is so Important

 

The world tells us an overwhelming amount about how we should view ourselves. We hear feedback about our bodies constantly. Eat better. Eat less. Tone up. Slim down. Ask for the dressing on the side.

The media glorifies one type of “perfect” body. Friends and co-workers talk. And let’s be honest, you’ve been self-conscious in a swimsuit since you were 9.

Rarely do people — women especially — express love for their bodies because we’re conditioned not to. We’re taught, though subtly, to pick apart our flaws and to shame our bodies (and other’s). This self-hatred epidemic ignited the body positivity movement.

What’s the Body Positive Movement?

The definition of being “body positive” is accepting the idea that all bodies are beautiful and valuable. The movement says you alone, not everyone else should decide what feels good.

Throughout the 20th century, beauty standards shifted drastically — from Marilyn Monroe’s curves and iconic hourglass shape to Twiggy’s tiny, rail-thin frame. Today, a fit culture is trending in which muscle definition and strength become markings of a desirable body. Corinne Santiago behind BodyPositivity.com says, no moment in time was ever inclusive of all bodies. The body positivity movement was born in the 1960s and has had a recent resurgence. It aims to celebrate all body types and sizes — inclusive of all genders, ages, races, people with disabilities and those of diverse sexual orientation.

Can I Be Body Positive?

Yes. Anyone can! It seems there is more pressure on women than men to have perfect bodies, but the movement includes men too, as well as those who identify outside our gender binary norms. At this point in our culture, there is also more pressure on plus-size women.

BuzzFeed recently gave a voice to five women who are black and body positivity influencers on the pro-plus-size scene. These leaders represent what it means to be big, yet “also seen as beautiful, intelligent, desired, loved,” says Lauren Nicole Coppin-Campbell, blogger and plus-size model.

Wait, So Is This the Same as the Fat Acceptance Movement?

No, but we get why you might get them confused.

Fat body positivity can be misunderstood as critics condemn the movement as an excuse for being obese. Body positivity, however, is rooted in loving your body and gaining self-confidence, rather than trying to replicate a prototype specially crafted by society. That could mean a curvier, heavier body or a straight and narrow body, as both types can yield self and outside judgement.

The movement encourages everyone to lovingly accept stretch marks, cellulite or sagging skin, which have nothing to do with the number on the scale. This is a movement that doesn’t try to normalize obesity but invites people to dare to like what they see in the mirror.

Does the Media Influence This?

You betcha. Think about how women in the media are portrayed. Petite, not disabled and light-skinned are what society has decided is attractive. Consider Victoria’s Secret Angels and Guess Girls, for example — women we’ve seen in ads and on billboards and on talk shows so many times we subconsciously think we too can be like that with a little work. Men experience it too. Not every guy looks like the cover of Muscle & Fitness Magazine but they sure are encouraged to strive for it.

Businesses like diet programs and gyms and fashion brands thrive off this idea of achievability because it makes you buy more stuff from them. Some businesses have even been accused of taking it too far for sales purposes. Of course, there are also brands who do good with their message. Body positivity campaigns from brands like Dove and Aerie feature models who aren’t photoshopped and promote self-acceptance and diversity.

How About Social Media?

Of course. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter — social media is a perfect storm for a digital space that empowers body self-confidence, as well as perpetuates people feeling like they don’t measure up.

About 500 million people use Instagram daily and 1.37 billion active users on average log onto Facebook every day. Every account, every post, every photo makes an imprint on another person in some capacity.

Social media can become a home for people to connect with others and find support — a place where a powerful message can go viral. Instagram sensations like model and body activist Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence, NEDA ambassador and AerieReal Role Model, garner millions of followers who scroll through positive images and messages about body liberation. Following someone whom a person can relate and look up to can make such a difference in their own self-perception.

But it can also be a toxic environment. In the pursuit to live better and healthily, people follow fitness and food accounts. “Fitspo” and clean eating photos can have the reverse effect though, deepening people’s body insecurities and creating reactions of emotional self-judgment. A survey of social media users conducted by researchers for Spring Open Choice found that social media has “negative effects on body image, depression, social comparison and disordered eating.” Instagram users interested in eating healthily have been linked to orthorexia nervosa, a detrimental obsession with healthy eating.

This Is Cool. Where Can I Find More About This?

This movement to free people from societal ideals about the size and fight inequities that make certain bodies worthier than others is important! Organizations and platforms like The Body Positivity, The Body Image Project, The Adipositivity Project and BodyPositivity.com took action and gave a voice, as well as a supportive community, to all who suffer from low self-esteem and body discrimination.

Choose Body Positivity

Choose to bravely love your body. It’s an everyday struggle to stop hating your body. Every day you have to make the choice to shift your perspective. If you need help with low self-esteem or body consciousness, there’s always a listening ear and professional support available. Connect with a certified therapist at Thrivetalk.

Uncover ways to grow the connection between your mind, body, and soul. Work out and eat well to be kind to your body and nourish your soul. Stand up for social equality in body size and shape. Surround yourself with people who believe in your ideals on body positivity in a community where people boost one another up rather than tear each other down.

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What Do You Do After Your Partner Cheats?

 

In the last 24 hours, you’ve gone from crying your eyes out in the closet to throwing your shoes across the room to blasting music to blaming yourself. It’s devastating to learn your partner has cheated on you, and those first few days can feel like you’re living a real-life nightmare.

After the tears and the shoes and the music have passed, you have some tough decisions to make: Should you stay? Should you try couples counseling? Is the relationship worth saving? Can you ever trust them again?

What to Do After Partner Cheats

Decide: Do You Want to Stay?

Quick, what’s your gut reaction to that question? Do you want to fight for your love, or do you know — deep down, even if it’s difficult to admit — that it’s over? Opinions will run to extremes on this one, but don’t let anyone else make this decision for you. This is the time to do some soul-searching. Use these questions to gauge how you feel:

  • Is your love strong? Is your partner normally a loving and supportive ally who lifts you up?
  • Could this be a one-time mistake, an aberration? Or is this another link in the chain of disappointments you’ve been experiencing with your partner?
  • Do they, in general, treat you well and make you feel valued?
  • Are you constantly unhappy with their behavior, this episode of cheating aside?
  • Is fear of being alone the main thing keeping you in the relationship?
  • Is the quality of your life better with your partner in it?

If you choose to discuss this with friends or family, understand that they will be rightfully protective of you. It is possible to repair a relationship after a partner has cheated, but first, you need to decide if it’s worth repairing. Dealing with a cheating spouse or partner can be hard, but you and only you can decide if you should stay.

If Yes, Communicate & Identify

If you want to stay in the relationship and try to re-establish trust, you’ll need to do two things:

1. Communicate openly about the infidelity.

2. Identify why it happened.

Even if it doesn’t feel good (and it won’t), don’t attempt to ignore this important part of the healing process and just “move on.” Both of you need to be willing to talk this through.

It’s OK, at this stage, to tell your partner how hurt and angry you are (what’s not OK: lashing out violently, destroying property and trashing your partner on social media). They need to know how their behavior affected you.

You are (understandably) angry at first. When you can explore these kinds of things without blowing up, ask your partner some pointed questions to learn more about the infidelity. For example:

  • Why did they cheat?
  • Why did they decide to tell you (if they indeed did)?
  • If they got caught: Would they have continued to cheat, if they hadn’t been discovered?
  • Are they just sorry they got caught?
  • How will things be different?

Ultimately, the goal is to learn why they cheated. Once you get to the heart of the matter, you’ll both better understand how to fix what went wrong. You’ll both need to be patient with the other during the “fix it” stage — yes, there’s been betrayal and hurt feelings, but if they truly seem apologetic and intent on changing and getting through it, you’ll have to work on forgiving them, too.

Consider Couples Counseling

If the pain of the infidelity is too great or too messy to navigate just the two of you, consider going to couples counseling. A licensed therapist is trained to guide this type of discussion in healthy, productive ways and will teach you couples counseling exercises or couples therapy techniques. Oftentimes, an objective third party is exactly who you need to help you communicate and process your feelings. People do heal from infidelity, and it is possible to forgive, grow and deepen your bond.

If you decide to seek couples counseling, your therapist will likely start the process by facilitating an honest evaluation of the relationship. Together, you are trying to establish:

  • What are the relationship’s strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Are there any major issues, such as codependency or any kind of abuse?
  • Why does each of you think the relationship should continue?

Cheating is often a sign of deeper troubles in the relationship, so your therapist is trying to get to the heart of the matter. Now, in the course of couples counseling, it’s not uncommon for the therapist to unearth individual issues that you and your partner should work on outside of couples counseling. You, for example, may be struggling with long-standing codependency issues that are independent of your partner; your partner may have, for example, anger issues or feelings of inadequacy that predate you as well. In this case, your therapist will recommend separate and simultaneous individual therapy.

If after couples counseling, the relationship still doesn’t work out — at least you know you took this step. Many times a couple will enter couples therapy and, through the process, decide to end the relationship. A therapist can be helpful in this case, too. They can help you both cope with the heartache of the breakup.

Know When to Say When

Sometimes, the damage is just too great, or a relationship has too many other problems to survive. Don’t live for months or years angry and victimized — and don’t make your partner pay for their mistake that long, either. If you can’t forgive and move on, it is best to end the relationship and part ways. Again, a licensed counselor can help you work through the pain of a breakup and onto a healthy and happy life.

After a partner cheats, it may seem like nothing will ever be OK again. It is possible to heal and forgive, but it takes work. If you’ve decided to stay in the relationship, commit to discovering why it happened and how to move forward.

Reach out to a professional counselor for help. ThriveTalk provides teletherapy services for busy people who need help getting through tough times, such as when a partner cheats. Couples counseling may be what you need to survive this period and emerge even stronger.

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As You Seek Grief Counseling, Recognize the 6 Needs of All Mourners

 

There’s no rule book for grieving. When someone you love passes, you may feel a wide range of emotions anger, sadness, shock, guilt even if the death was expected. Everybody mourns in their own way and go through the 7 stages of grief or the 5 stages of grief.

There are, however, certain things we all need to mourn in a healthy fashion. As you undergo grief counseling to cope with the loss of a loved one, keep in mind these six basic needs of all mourners, according to the Center for Loss & Life Transition:

Grief Counseling: Six Basic Needs of Mourners

1. Acknowledge the Reality of the Death

This means you understand that your loved one will never physically walk this earth again.

You don’t have to swallow this one whole, though. It’s OK to take it piecemeal; grieving is a process, not an event. The best way to meet this need is to talk about the pain of the death when it hits you, as often as you need to. This can be with a bereavement counselor or a friend, family member or partner. Journaling about your feelings also helps you acknowledge the reality of the death.

2. Embrace the Pain of Loss

Few people welcome pain and suffering with open arms, and you don’t have to. Simply open your head and your heart to the idea that grief is painful, and understand that it will hurt. Some days will be worse than others, but you embrace the idea that you must feel painful feelings as part of the process.

3. Remember the Person Who Died

Yes, you should tell stories about your loved one. Yes, you should keep pictures up. Death doesn’t wipe away your relationship with the person who passed, and these precious memories will be how you honor that relationship. Well-meaning people might tell you that you need to “move on” and not talk about your loss, but that’s not true. Keep their memory alive.

4. Develop a New Self-identity

People understand themselves in relation to the world around them — and the people who inhabit that world along with them. When a loved one passes, things (and roles) inside that world must be rearranged to account for the change that has taken place. Perhaps you were a wife, and now you are a widow, or maybe you were a daughter whose parent has now passed. Be patient with yourself as you reconstruct your self-identity. It will take time to get comfortable with your new role in life, but it will happen.

5. Search for Meaning and Purpose

Most people question the meaning and purpose of life after someone close to them dies. This is normal. You may find yourself asking any of the following questions:

  • How could a benevolent God let this happen?
  • Is there an afterlife? Is my loved one there?
  • What’s the point of going on?

Confronting your spirituality and doubting your belief system is a normal part of grief. As you go through this process, bring up these thoughts and feelings to your grief counselor, spiritual adviser or a trusted friend.

6. Receive Ongoing Support from Others

Not only is it OK to lean on others during this time, you should. Humans weren’t meant to live in a vacuum. We need the love and support of others to make it through trying times. Don’t be afraid to let others know what you need and how they can support you. People want to help. Recognize that this need for support will last longer than a couple weeks. You can start by searching for local grief support groups online.

Life is never the same after a loved one dies, and as sad as that fact is, that is how it should be. You will adjust to your new normal, but it will take time. Be patient and loving with yourself. As you navigate your grief, reach out to a certified grief counselor at Thrive Talk. Online therapy can help you in dealing with grief and loss.

If you feel that grief or depression is negatively impacting your life, please reach out for help today. Contact NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to help get you connected with the right support services in your area by calling 1-800-950-6264. If you or someone you know is in crisis, whether you are considering suicide or not, please call the toll-free Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.

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Porn Addiction is Sex Addiction: 6 Signs That You Need Help

 

Women’s relationships with porn have typically been contentious; it can be misunderstood and feel like a threat to women in relationships. Pornography has evolved though and is now practically considered mainstream media, especially internet porn. It’s free, easily accessible, anonymous and unlimited. Porn is not only less taboo than it’s been in decades previous, but it’s openly enjoyed by women too.

Porn-ormalcy for Women

Amanda de Cadenet, a contributing editor for Marie Claire, explored the porn culture among women in her two-year documentary project on the subject. In her study of more than 3,000 women, 31 percent watched porn every week or so, 90 percent watched internet porn and of those women who watched porn with their partner, 54 percent also watched alone and often.

Exposing women’s desires to watch porn can feel liberating and a way to embrace modern-day female sexuality. But if women are increasingly enjoying porn (and frequently), then subsequently women are also susceptible to developing pornography addiction just like men, a common type of sex addiction.

6 Red Flags of Porn Addiction

Medical Daily defines porn as problematic “when it starts to interfere with your everyday life.” Project Know, an online resource dedicated to treating addiction, identifies this form of sex addiction as a “behavioral addiction” with an insatiable compulsion to view explicit content. You may crave it, hide it, think nonstop about it and feel your life revolves around it. Your consumption of the material has reached an unhealthy level if you experience any of the following signs. These red flags indicate that you may be developing a pornography addiction in need of professional counseling and online therapy.

1. Increasingly Withdrawn

For addicts, watching porn is a secret. You may feel guilty or ashamed; your self-esteem declines. Porn may start to consume you to the point that you become isolated — seeking more and more porn over spending time with loved ones, and then finding it harder to find pleasure in everyday life. This can lead to anxiety disorder and depression, which intensifies a disconnection from others.

Example: You decline social events to stay at home alone with your laptop and feel bad about it.

2. Choose the Internet Over Anyone/Anything Else (Including Sleep)

Your partner, friends and family have questioned the amount of time you spend online. You can’t seem to satiate your cravings and continue to increase your screen time. The obsession to watch becomes all-encompassing and your only priority.

Example: You wake up in the middle of the night to get your fix. The sun comes up and you still can’t stop.

3. Emotionally Unavailable

Addicts are so fixated on watching porn that there’s no attention left for relationships. With porn as the focus of your life, you may become emotionally absent and disinterested in anything but the next moment you can access the internet.

Example: You’re on a date night at a movie and can’t stop counting down the minutes until you can get home to your ritual.

4. Lack of Interest in Sex & Low Sexual Attraction

Porn becomes your hobby, passion, best friend and now, new lover. Watching porn stars on screen is more sexually gratifying than real sex. Porn addicts may also become critical of their partner’s body or appearance, explains Hypersexual Disorders, which causes their sexual attraction to nose-dive. As your sex drive lowers, so does your partner’s self-esteem.

Example: You and your partner’s sex frequency becomes a heated topic. You’re barely aroused and just go through the motions during sex.

5. Sexually Incompatible

Over time, you explore more explicit types of porn to meet your needs. You may find that “traditional” porn is no longer pleasurable as you cross over into other more extreme pornographic areas. This translates poorly into your (non-existent) sex life.

Example: You prefer outrageous sexual fantasies over real-life intimacy. Your partner becomes a stranger.

6. Lying & Deceit

Your porn obsession really starts to spiral out of control when you catch yourself lying — about watching it, how often and why you’re distant. Not only is your relationship dissolving, but your honesty is disintegrating too. Feeling defensive or afraid that your partner will ask you to stop can lead to this habitual lying.

Example: You leave late for work or come home early to watch porn. You lie about your work schedule and that your job is on the line.

Recovery is Possible

Recovery from sex addiction is possible. The first step is to restore your relationship and gain control over your pornography addiction — and your life — is to truly want to. Next, open up to your partner and be honest that your strong urges overcome any attempt to stop. Project Know provides a list of statements, and if you agree with any of these, then treatment may be necessary. Ask your partner to become your support system as you seek online therapy at ThriveTalk.com. Remote counseling is a convenient way to connect with a certified therapist. Make an appointment and start your journey to recovery.

If you feel that a porn addiction is negatively impacting your life, please reach out for help today. Contact NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to help get you connected with the right support services in your area by calling 1-800-950-6264. If you or someone you know is in crisis, whether you are considering suicide or not, please call the toll-free Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.